Zandria and Olena are sisters. They live in Empyrean.
More about both of those later.
The first chapter is really about two other characters, the horses. Like any good fantasy, there has to be anthropomorphism. So, in Empyrean horses can talk. Birds, tigers and monkey-like Quzzaks can as well, but in this post, it's all about the horses. Friesians to be exact.
I needed a unique horse that had to represent both the characteristics of it's homeland and be a warrior.
Empyrean is divided into four kingdoms and Friesians come from the Northern Wood. I wanted things in Empyrean to be familiar, so that land shares many similarities to the real world. The Northern Wood is a rustic interpretation of European folklore with beautiful forests and charming villages.
The horse had to be of European descent. I wanted this horse to be strong and impressive. When I saw the first picture of a Friesian, I stopped looking. Thanks to Dawn at Horse Feathers Farm, I even met one in person and I have to say the Friesian is truly magnificent. With some research, I learned that Friesians were actually used in battle for their strength and endurance, even by Kings, Princes and Barons. There is a lot of great info at the Friesian Horse Association of North America (http://www.fhana.com/).
Perfect. I've got my horse. Now what to do with him?
One part Butch & Sundance, one part Jinn & Kenobi, meet Wrath & Fury. Wrath is the experienced veteran. He's calm, wise and dedicated. Fury is the bright-eyed youth, ready to spring into action with little thought to the consequences.
They are impressive animals, so they needed an impressive introduction. Racing across an open plain, pulling a carriage toward a mysterious castle set a tone of urgency and suspense. The endurance of these tireless horses established their unique qualities right away. Fury also provides some of the comic relief to break the tension.
I'm not a "horse person", but I did make an effort to get lingo right. I didn't want them to be trotting when they should have been galloping. I also threw in a few others like Fury repeatedly calling Wrath an "old dam". This is the equivalent of Fury sarcastically saying "yes mother". Wrath takes those slurs in stride, accounting for Fury's inexperience. He even gets in his own "gelding" jibe. Still, they have a stronger bond than most buddy-cop movies.