Years ago when I worked at CYAN, the creators of MYST, Riven, realMYST, and more recently, Obduction, I had the pleasure of working with one of those most incredible artist and illustrators in the industry, Steve Ogden. Steve works at Firaxis Games with Sid Meier and we’ve stayed in touch over the years, so when we were chatting about my book, he offered to do an ink sketch of one of my characters in Iron Will Rust, it had to be Alessandro!
In Iron Will Rust, Alessandro Dumaine is a swordsman and agent-for-hire under the employ of Marco Diamante, the Venetian Ambassador to France. Over the course of writing the novel, I wanted him to be someone you could love and hate. He had to be just as smart and just as skillful as the hero, yet driven by a personal blackness that we only get glimpses of. His actions are both heroic and ruthless.
The protagonist, Lazzaro, is a man of honor, a family man who respects his legacy, a skillful artist with the rapier. He has a keen eye for clues, evidence, and human behavior, giving him that relentless police detective vibe backed up with real skill. When the hero is so perfect, the best way to break him down is to destroy everything around him and allow his honor to be his undoing. And that’s exactly what Alessandro does.
Here is a snippet featuring Alessandro after killing Captain Dubois, a pirate out of Sardinia.
Alessandro fastened the jeweled rapier scabbard to his belt, checking the weight and balance. He grinned, happy with his new prize. He always loved dual wielding, even if he had not done so for a few years. Maybe it was time to sharpen those skills again. He moved his main gauche scabbard to his right hip and secured the hooks to his belt. He sheathed Dubois’ rapier with a sharp scraping click and then withdrew it with the main gauche together in a cross draw. He replaced the blades and snapped them back out numerous times. One last minor adjustment and he then locked the scabbards on his belt, satisfied.
The rapier was heavier than most, almost a straight cutlass of sorts. He sharpened it for a few minutes until the edge gleamed of new metal. To test it, he gave it a ceremonial chop of the anchor rope of the Aquila Velocehi. As the rope spiraled into the sea, the sails curled in red flames, black smoke billowing from its aft castle. The ship began to drift away, and like a panther, Alessandro skipped back across the gap onto the Zaffiro Perso with a spring-like leap. He turned, grinned, and dusted his hands together.