I found Artbreeder and have been playing around on there, seeing if I can get anything that looks like any of my characters, since one thing I can never do is draw a face that looks remotely how I want! The Artbreeder portraits aren’t perfect, but this one looks quite a lot like Alis (though the colors might be a little off; specifically, the color of her hair might be too light). It is also the first one I did!
Alis is a sixteen year old human born into the nobility of the Valor Alliance. She has wanted her whole life to ride horses and play with animals, and she has hated every minute of having to learn courtly behavior. Her parents are desperate to get her married, and she does not want to, but in the Valor Alliance a woman has two options: get married or join a religious order. When Alis and Tara-lin, the main character of Children of the Dryads and the Legend of the Singer Duology, meet, they become instant friends. Tara-lin convinces Alis to run away with her, and tries to help Alis get over her fears about the gods. Eventually Alis will discover some self-confidence and that she has an unheard-of talent, and bond to the gryphling Kushon.
In Sorceress of the Dryads, she is Tara-lin’s best and oldest friend. The two are mutually supportive, Alis supporting Tara-lin and being someone who just cares about her and who she is and is a friend, who will talk things over with her as nothing more than two friends, and also who will talk about things that have nothing to do with the new developments in Tara-lin’s life. At the same time, Tara-lin supports and aids Alis in her endeavors to give the women (and, it seems, men) of the Valor Alliance a way to choose their own lives and the hope to do so. Neither of them could do what they can without the other. Oh, and … well, I guess you will find out in the snippet!
When the applause died down, Tara-lin fled and sought Alis. She found her grooming Kushon on the rocks behind the Tower.
Alis turned from polishing the gryphon’s feathers and greeted Tara-lin. “What’s wrong, Tara-lin?” she asked.
“I – I don’t know how I can do this! I can’t do this! I just can’t! I don’t think I could manage this for another human lifetime, let alone multiple centuries. I can’t stand all the people standing and calling my name and clapping and waving their cloaks in the air! It feels like, I don’t know, it makes me feel like my head is going to explode! It makes me feel like I’m going to melt and fall apart into different pieces. I just can’t!”
“Maybe you should get a gryphon or a drake-lizard if someone finds one again, Tara-lin,” said Alis. “Somehow, I think an animal’s companionship would help you deal with this.”
“You might be right,” said Tara-lin, stepping past Alis to stroke Kushon’s flank.
Excerpted from Sorceress of the Dryads, Copyright © 2020, 2022 Raina Nightingale
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