(But between you and me, that’s not her real name.)
She’s not mentioned in the story blurb. However, she’s the reason the main character, Catirna, cares so much about the “cursed sage” Axel:
When a young sage turns up in the woods, tortured and cursed, a disgraced healer must regain her gift in order to save him. But it isn’t until she’s captured by the very men who cursed him that she realizes the true nature of the curse, and that the key to its healing lies deep in her past…
Like Catirna and Axel, Kityanka (or Kitty, as she prefers) grew out of an older character — who grew out of yet ANOTHER character borrowed from a friend. Let’s get to know her first …
The Old Kitty: An Adventurous, Antlered Spitfire with a Tortured Soul
Actually, let’s start with the *really* old Kitty — namely Kidu, the character I borrowed. I remember her as an orange-skinned, purple-haired, mismatched-eyed “demon” with a dark past and a whole lot of sarcasm. (Of course, that’s just how I remember her — care to jump in with details, Krista?)
…Anyway, I borrowed her as a side-character for the old story, but in time she took on a more important role and evolved into Kitty O’Driscoll.
Kitty kept her predecessor’s mismatched eyes, tortured past, and sarcasm, but now had white hair, brown skin, and antlers. (Her white-tailed deer to Axel’s bull!) She was of mixed Native American and European descent, and she lived in the South (I seem to remember Georgia?) in the era of the Civil War. As with Caitir and Axel, her death came far too early, under tragic circumstances. The summary is that she died of pneumonia and despair after losing custody of her daughter to her abusive husband.
In Caitir’s house of misfits in hell, she was the rebellious, smart-mouthed, and sometimes annoying little sister. She never put up with anyone’s crap, especially not Axel’s. She would tease and torment him like it was her job — but was also fiercely protective of him. Strangely protective. >_>
Kitty also held great respect for Caitir, whom she considered an elder sister and confidante. Caitir was the only one who knew her secret — that is, the reason she always wore her prudish old-fashioned dress. When she died, the gatekeepers of hell carved her daughter’s name, along with various epithets, into her skin as part of her curse. Kitty kept them hidden under her dress, though at times they throbbed and bled.
The New Kitty: Same Soul, Different Details
The new Kitty’s personality isn’t so different from the old. Just a little more vulnerable and a little more emotional. (She is, after all, only 17 years old.)
The antlers are gone, and the white hair has turned red-gold, but Kityanka Elkela still has the two different-colored eyes thanks to her Calling as an ancient-eyes healer. As an ancient-eyes, she can see into the heart and heal emotional trauma. Even when she’s not healing, she has nearly empathic intuition for the feelings of those around her. However, she also suffers terrible nightmares from her healings, even years after the fact.
Her true name is Princess Alruna Aleshela, and she is the fourth child and only daughter in an extremely dysfunctional (now collapsed) royal family. Her heretic father, the King of Myelna, was mentally unstable and given to violent outbursts, while her mother was an orthodox boyariska (daughter of a nobleman) from an inland city. (Goodbye abusive husband, hello abusive father.) Let’s just say her mother managed to get her out and hide her in a font with Sage Elken, Catirna’s father, before the real violence started. Now the only living blood relatives Alruna has left are her younger brother (the Runaway Prince, Lesher Aleshel) and her maternal aunt, the formidable Boyara of Meska.
At the time of the story, she’s still in hiding with her “sister” Catirna Elkela near the ruined font.
To channel her anger and frustration, Alruna takes archery lessons from Catirna’s trusted friend Dirmad. Otherwise, she spends her time in or near the hill-home, pretending to be “Kityanka,” a consecrated virgin hideously scarred by burns (to explain her excessive veiling).
She chafes at the lack of freedom and often fights with Catirna, while taking any chance she can get to sneak out and meet Axel Pavlekel, her friend and love interest. (Another carry-over from the old story, heh.) From him she gets news from the outside world, including updates on her rebel brother.
It seems to me Alruna/Kitty has more theme songs than she ought to for being a non-POV character, but anyway, here they are:
- Coldplay – Atlas
- Amy Grant & Nichole Nordeman – I’m With You (shared theme with Catirna)
- Sara Bareilles – The Light
- Of Monsters and Men – King and Lionheart
And that concludes our spotlight on the core characters of the protagonist side … or at least the ones I can discuss without spoiling the story. 😉 Antagonists next, maybe?