Character Spotlight: Bence Mezzohue

Character Spotlight: Bence Mezzohue

Bence (Single)
Artwork courtesy of Ashante Johnson (@earthsong9405)

Name: Bence Mezzohue                                                         Nickname: None
Age:  17                                                                                      Country of Origin: Astranar
Birthday: May 28                                                                      Pet: None

A mysterious boy that you meet in your first week of camp, Bence seems like a pleasant guy with a ready smile who is serious about horses, photography, and not much else. He doesn’t seem to get along too well with the district mentor, but that could just be a clash of personality, since not all of them are easy to be cozy with.  To you, he always seems like a gentleman interested in helping you make the best of your time at Astranar, exploring and finding a sense of freedom and competition.

Effortlessly charming and congenial, Bence is a bit of a flirt, but he treats his friends seriously. Most of his friends are members of the same riding club, but he appears to have a few elsewhere, some from his school, since he attends AEFPS. (Whether or not this includes his cousin Benny, well, that involves finding Benny wherever he is holed up in the mountains to confirm.) He visits people frequently, taking pictures that he develops himself. Bence is also a bit of an explorer, found in some of the wildest parts of Astranar, though what he’s seeking is a bit of a mystery.

An excellent horseman, Bence owns two horses. One is an English Thoroughbred mare named Llamrei that he uses exclusively for dressage and agility events. She is sweet and prim, if snobby. His primary horse is an Astranar Wild stallion named Passelande, who is skilled at cross country and flat-style races. Watch out for him on the turns, because he will bowl you over if you get in his way! Otherwise, he is a stoic but well-trained horse that suits Bence well. Even if it’s rather odd for Bence to own an Astranar Wild Horse, they are rather notorious for preferring girls…

Bence is a member of the expansive Mezzohue family who own a chain of businesses throughout Astranar via his father. His mother attended one of the district camps when she was younger and met his father then, so the rest of his maternal family still lives in India. He gets along well with his younger cousins on that side of the family, particularly one named Mia who he exchanges letters with. He also has a passion for genuine Indian food from his mother, and will instantly pay attention if kulfi is on the line.  While unable to attend the camps himself, that doesn’t stop Bence from visiting them whenever he has a chance.

This summer, Bence can mostly be found hanging out with his friends in the Enchanted Owl Order, who tend to travel among the districts as they find something that interests them. Mostly he seems to be taking pictures of various cultural events or nature. Sometimes, he’ll even help with deciding if someone has the dedication and talent to join his friends’ riding club. He does show an interest in a particular horse who comes in with the spring round up as a possible third horse for his own riding, but they don’t care for him! Perhaps Bence will have better luck with you, that horse’s chosen rider?

Favorite Color: Navy blue
Favorite Horse: English Thoroughbred
Favorite Camp Activity: Photography
Favorite Gemstone: Black opal
Favorite Race: Cross Country

Character Spotlight: Rose Neptuna

Character Spotlight: Rose Neptuna

Rose Neptuna (Single)
Artwork courtesy of Ashante Johnson (@earthsong9405)

Name: Rose Neptuna                                                              Nickname: Rose
Age: Appears 17                                                                       Country of Origin: France
Birthday: Unknown                                                                 Pet: Unknown

Rose Neptuna is the biggest pop star in all of Astranar, and is quickly spreading to the other countries in Argentum too. Originally a rising star in France, she moved to Astranar last year after taking a summer sabbatical in Diamond District, and has been the biggest thing since then. Not only because of her catchy tunes, but also because of her sweet personality. She is a lady of the highest order, though her image seems to also hold a deep sadness, something that is echoed in her lyrics.

In addition to singing, Rose is well-known for playing the violin, even while she’s dancing! She says she looked to Lindsey Stirling as inspiration, and added that she is also classical trained in both violin and ballet. There’s also elements of Indila to her sound, perhaps because Rose is also a deeper toned soprano than most pop stars. She composes her own music, and this makes her widely sought after to work with–she can blend her sound with other music stars, even if they are different styles like country.

If you see her in parades and not on floats or around the city, she can sometimes be seen with her horse, a white Percheron stallion named Papillon Blanc. He’s a giant push over, though watch out if you are eating anything sweet by him. He has a reputation for stealing candy apples from those who come up for a photo op. While not the fastest horse, he’s trained in dressage and show jumping and is very careful with his feet, so he’s an excellent mount for the city streets and for a rider who deals with the public like Rose.

Her agent is Yvenne DuNoir, who came with her from France and often is your first point of contact with Rose before an event. A haughty blonde, it’s…hard to miss her. Otherwise, not a lot is known about Rose, such as who her family is, or even what her natural hair color is! She lives in the penthouse suite of the largest hotel in Diamond District, but good luck making it past security to see her there. There are also rumors of her attending AEFPA, but the administration is very hush-hush about it. But all that mystery just adds to her charm. The only one who seems to be upset about her being here is the hip-hop star, Hi-Fidelity.

Her summer tour is an anniversary special for her first year in Astranar! She’s touring all over Astranar, leading up to the big summer blow out with every big musical act in Argentum joining her. There’s also a competition to sing a song with her on stage that has some of the locals eager to impress her. Maybe the player will have to give one or two a helping hand…

Favorite Color: Rose pink
Favorite Horse: Percheron
Favorite Camp Activity: Dancing
Favorite Gemstone: Topaz, pink or blue
Favorite Race: Show Jumping

 

The Mysteries of Diamond District

The Mysteries of Diamond District

We keep mentioning our wonderful districts, so now we’re going to start introducing them. Astranar has eight districts, each with their own individual flare, and they can be quite competitive with each other. In Astranar, the districts are named after gemstones. This week, we’ll be discussing our final district, Diamond, where the mystery of Harmony magic haunts all of Astranar.

(Note: Diamond can only be accessed after you complete one of the other seven districts, and you will need to return to it after each district before you can move on to the next because each district unlocks more story within Diamond.)

tuileriesgarden4

Set on the coastline and towards the middle of Astranar, Diamond shares its borders with Morganite, Citrine, and Ruby. Ginny used different cities and boardwalks to pull together for Diamond from all over Europe. While there are outlying villages and stables, the biggest (and only really big) city in Diamond is the capital, which over time has absorbed a few other larger towns to form six parishes within the city. Don’t think all the green is gone, however. There are plenty of open fields to run through, though the grounds and woods are probably much more manicured than anywhere else, and make sure you don’t stumble on private property! There’s a lot of nobility in the capital for government purposes, so there’s a possibility…

With a beach and boardwalk, the capital is an even mix between casual tourism and the elegant prestige of the nobility and royals, all depending on which district you are in. The capital is also home to both elite riding schools of Astranar: the Royal Riding Academy and Astranar Equestrian Federation Preparatory School. One of the two schools actually uses the Old Palace, the original palace of Astranar for the royal family and other key figures. While both used to be housed together, as the school grew, the royal family moved their seat of government and themselves over to the New Palace, making everyone much more comfortable. The fashion of the capital is a blend of seaside apparel, school clothing (or at least what Morganite hasn’t claimed), and formal wear, but you can find a little bit of everything as many fashion designers have stores, either in the mall or in the base of a famous hotel!

pantskirts

While there aren’t any specific races in Diamond District, there are horses. High bred and highly trained, these are horses of the nobility and they have the paperwork to prove it. Friesian, Lipizan (or as we know them in America, Lipizzaner), and English Thoroughbred are the three types of horses you can find here. Each of them has a different type (or types!) of race they do well in, so it’s a great place to pick up a spare horse if your stats are off before going into a new district. However, these are all considered extra horses, so you will have to pay out of pocket for them.

lipizzan2

Not a lot is known about Harmony magic. It requires a very special person to use it, and they are very rare. While a Light magic rider is skilled with one element very strongly, a Shadow magic rider is skilled in two side-by-side elements. With Harmony riders? They have skill in many elements. It’s the first sign to look for in a Harmony user, and since they can need training in all the schools, it takes a while for them to be able to access their own spells! Now if only they knew what that one spell was…

If you following Ginny’s twitter blog, you’ll know that all of the districts, including Diamond, have their own little specialties and symbols. I won’t bore you with all of them, and I want you to get to enjoy finding them out on your own! Unlike the other districts, Diamond is probably not as obvious with its clues. Also unlike the other districts, there are no specific mentors tied to Diamond! Instead, Diamond is a meeting place where you can run into several different mentors all in one place, and each time you finish a new district, there’s more people available in Diamond for you to meet.

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So, Boarding Schools Are a Thing Here…

So, Boarding Schools Are a Thing Here…

(In our defense, boarding schools is at least one of my favorite tropes, I am endlessly amused by them if they are done right.)

One of the goals of the core game from the player standpoint is getting a scholarship to attend the Royal Riding Academy of Astranar. It is considered one of the most elite riding schools in the world, and for good reason! Besides giving its students a quality education, it always turns out quality riders. (And you know, witches technically, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.) So what’s up with this world-famous school?

Besides the collection of winners from the different districts and from the group competition at the end of the summer who win scholarships, other students are also able to attend, provided they can pass the entrance exam. Besides high-level academics, equestrian skills, and active recreational activities, the board also looks for what many think is an X factor for who will be allowed entry into the school. While you don’t have to have all three of the other requirements, you definitely have to have the mysterious factor that they look for. Some of the girls from camp make it in anyway, despite not winning the scholarship, and some locals also attend. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge of people, but that’s part of what makes the environment so much fun.

And for another thing, well, it takes place in a palace. Literally. The Old Palace, as it’s called, makes up a large portion of the campus, with sections being converted to classrooms, practice rooms, lounges, and dorms rather than the spaces they were previously, and the grounds being converted in some cases to courses and the stables deeply expanded. But some passages remain nearly inaccessible…except if the right person goes looking. Dating back to the same time period as medieval Europe, the palace was closed for a few decades after the new palace completed construction, which has not helped stop the rumors of ghosts at all.

(Don’t tell those stories to Lottie, though. She’ll go running to Ves, and that’s not someone you want on your tail.)

There is a uniform that you’ll see some of the characters modeling as we start to gather artwork, but the school does allow some personalization in the forms of accessories and hairstyles. Where the school gets a little quirky is for riding competitions–it’s easy to spot who the scholarship students and who are the normal students, because they get given specific colors to wear. Rather than the small clubs of friends you experience in the summer, the school has “official” clubs that are mandatory participation in at least one because they signify your equestrian training. They have dressage, show jumping, cross country, racing, endurance, agility, and all-around, with one member each being representation on the council that serves as the leadership for the competitions. At the end of last spring semester, Jim Westhorn and Lottie Mistwaltz were made President and Vice President, respectively, so you may see them away from their districts and around the school grounds trying to work out what they want to do this upcoming school year!

Your mentors from the light side and the shadow side of the divide both attend the Royal Academy, and are happy to show you around when the new school year starts. Some other noted teachers include Mademoiselle Whistlesteel, the Russian ballet teacher who has a private dance studio in the city as well, Adelaide Gemstring, the French violinist who teaches all the music classes, and several industry specialist from the fashion world tend to poke their noses into the classes.

If you make it to the Academy though, don’t think you won’t have rivals outside the school. There’s a second boarding school, and their requirements are much more simple. They seek to excel at competition–test scores, media industries, but especially horsemanship. Sponsored by the Astranar Equestrian Federation, AEFPS (Astranar Equestrian Federation Preparatory School) is a school meant for those who want to succeed. The follow the rules to a t, just to prove that when they win, it’s because they are the best. (Now if only they would stop driving their horses into the ground to do it…)

Much like the Royal Academy, they have a uniform that is much more universally applied. To them, it doesn’t matter if you are there on scholarship or not. You are there to compete, not to work together as a team. Because of their federation ties, there is no magic in the curriculum here, so they don’t know what you are talking about in that regard (even if some of the members do have magic, they just have their heads too deep in the sand to see it). For them, it is all about placing at competition, and in fact they’ll even sabotage each other if it helps them. As a result, how well the school actually does in competition versus what they brag… Well, we’ll let you be the judge.

Some notables who attend AEFPS? Well, Rose Neptuna can sometimes be seen walking around the Diamond district in their uniform, but actually confirming her attendance is nearly impossible, the same for her best friend, Loki Tenderlily. We can confirm that Hi-Fidelity is a recent graduate, and there are conversations about perhaps world violinist Renart Mistwaltz will come to teach a special class. And you may have interest in knowing that the secret leader of the shadow rider mentors also attends…

Funny story, we were trying to decide if AEFPS was an all-girl school, and then realized two characters needed separated or there would be a dead body, so there are boys in both schools! We have a small collection of boys, but they make there presence known. Sometimes, loudly… Hopefully you’ll enjoy getting to poke around the schools and meeting the different people. (We promise not to make you attend any classes, lol.)