So, I finally managed to have one of my dreams come true, getting art by Michelle Hoefener. This character isn’t part of the Ancient Dreams trilogy, nor any of the books on my immediate calendar for the future. In part this is because Jacqueline is one of my ultra-villains on the continent of Kavarn, in the world of Senkar. I’m not certain how to work her into a story as of yet, but rest assured, I plan to do so. In the meantime, I’ll give you a bit of background on her. Not everything, since I haven’t decided how much of my old plans I want to stick around, but some of it. Some names may change, but Jacqueline’s name is set in stone. There are two versions of this art.
Jacqueline was born in the sleepy elven country of Erinith, a realm most well-known for fine woodworking and wines. The second of three children, she was not set to inherit the throne, and was learning magic instead. Everything changed the year that Erinith was invaded by an army of mercenaries.
The mercenaries were an eclectic lot but skilled in warfare, more skilled than the vast majority of Erinith’s defenders. The capital was sacked, and Jacqueline doesn’t care to remember how her father, mother, older brother, and younger sister were murdered before her eyes. She only escaped being forcibly married for threadbare legitimacy when Koral the Crimson, the most skilled mage-knight in the kingdom, broke in and rescued her. But even so, Koral was just a few hours too late, for something within Jacqueline broke that day.
Forced into exile, Jacqueline focused entirely on training with Koral to strengthen her magic. She was determined to reclaim her kingdom and protect it from any attacker, no matter what price she, or others, had to pay. Any sense of sympathy she had was lost, her morality gone with it. Eventually, unable to deal with her frustration at how slowly she was gaining power, she entered the sinister depths of the Thorned Wood, on a quest to reach the World Tree in her pursuit of power. Not even Koral knew what she encountered there.
When Jacqueline returned at last, she came with an army at her back. The Illisyr, or dark elves, had sent a group of elite bodyguards with Jacqueline despite their legendary derision of other clans of elves, and even considered it a high honor among their people. A dozen dragons had pledged fealty to her, and she had conquered several clans of hobgoblins, ogres, and other monstrous races. Her eyes, originally soft blue, glowed with ruby light, and in her hand was a stave carved of one of the World Tree’s own branches. Her power had grown to immeasurable heights, and she forged her army into a disciplined weapon.
The decade of rule by the mercenaries had left Erinith in shambles, and despite their skill in battle the defenders had no chance against such an army, many of them attempting to flee. Tracking them down mercilessly, Jacqueline reclaimed her throne and forged a new crown of floating rubies, one which she imbued with a terrifying amount of power. For a short time, it looked as though everything would end at last.
The next five years plunged into chaos as Jacqueline conquered every neighboring realm to Erinith, and fortified them to protect her homeland from invaders. She ruthlessly destroyed those who resisted, and only Koral could calm her rage, and keep her from doing too much harm to those nations she’s conquered. Only when Erinith no longer had open borders that she did not control did Jacqueline halt her expansion, and many neighbors live in fear of the army that she has forged. Even more are terrified of the woman whom many consider to be the most powerful sorceress Senkar has ever seen.