Character Notes

Please note that everything on this page could be considered a spoiler, and that even though most elements are left vague, particular events have been updated through Book Four. Also to note, I put many of these character profiles together a looooong time ago, so there are sparser sections for characters introduced in later books. Have something you’d like to see added? Feel free to send it! Find any mistakes? Let me know! 😀

Ren CrownOlivia PriceAlexander DareConstantine LeandredWill TaskyNephthys BauChristian Crown

Mike GivensDelia Peoples

~Mike & Delia added! Asafa, Patrick, Bellacia, etc. to come!

Raphael VerisettiPhillip MarsgroveLucille StevensGanix GreyskullDraeger

Helen PriceEnton StavrosArchelon Kaine

~Marsgrove, Greyskull, Stevens, Draeger, Stavros, Kaine, Helen added! More campus adults to come.

Guard Rock, Guard Friend, OKAI, and campus spots to come!

Florence (Ren) Crown is an art prodigy and gifted engineer with wavy brownish-red hair and blue eyes. Average height. Bright-eyed, studious, curious, mischievous, hardworking, and highly loyal. 17 at start of series, 18 for most of it.

Ren’s skillset gives her abilities that, when combined with magic, make for a rare mix. When combined with a disregard for limitations and boundaries, however, they make for a volatile and dangerous combination. At times, she can be too focused, and she will do anything for those she loves. These character traits repeatedly lead to issues.

As the first person POV character in the series, everything is shown through the lens of Ren’s vision and experience.

Christian Crown is Ren’s twin brother. Brown hair with red highlights, teal eyes rimmed with sapphire, 6’2.” Highly popular, intelligent, athletic, and kind. Socially and physically gifted, Christian is the quarterback of the football team, as well as a high level player in a slew of other sports. He’s a physical learner, always needing to be a little active to learn best. Highly protective of Ren. The twins will do anything for each other.

Olivia (Liv) Helena Price, Ren’s roommate at Excelsine University. Brown hair usually severely bound, brown eyes, 5’8”, 18, sometimes wears glasses. Intelligent, driven, cutting. Majoring (focus) in law. Highly intelligent and skilled in debate, she is deficient at interpersonal interactions, having few healthy examples to draw from. If given enough time to plan, she could take over the world, but she is less adept at things that require immediate response. Her superpower is thinking, not action.

Olivia starts as a neutral-nemesis in Ren’s world, but quickly becomes something far more. At first she finds Ren an interesting specimen for study purposes, but she transforms under Ren’s constant care. Freaked out by this, she pushes Ren away, but Ren is doggedly persistent. And, far more like Constantine than either of them wishes, Olivia’s world soon has Ren at its center.

As the series advances, Olivia would murder—without regret—anyone who tried to do Ren harm.

Potential new roommate Olivia Price was dressed in a tailored black and gray dress that looked very severe on her tall, thin frame…Her hair was pulled tightly into a bun as severe as her clothing, and rectangular black glasses perched on the bridge of her very straight nose.

I wondered if this was a side effect of my soul rituals, with me now tasting a bit of her soul. Unnerving. But my brain, my heart, and my magic told me that I was doing something right. And I knew better than to mess with that feeling.

So I drew the net toward me. Some sort of essence—eau-de-Olivia. And I inhaled. Sadness. Anger. Loneliness. Dark intentions. Hope. Black certainty. The hope was a tiny flame, a mere wisp of light, and all of the darker emotions suddenly grabbed it and pinched, leaving only snuffed residual smoke.
Olivia whirled around and disappeared from my sight.
That cool, haughty, unaffected girl was a fraud.

I wouldn’t let that loneliness continue. Determination gripped me. The desire to be occasional allies was gone. I would be Olivia’s friend, and she would be mine.

Keeping Olivia safe develops into a primary goal for Ren. This drives Ren to make choices that frequently put Ren, and others, in peril.

Alexander (Axer, Ax) Dare is a combat mage prodigy with ultramarine eyes and dark hair. Athletic, tall, 19. The only child of a warlord and Sera McEllian Dare (a highly feared rare mage), he is extremely powerful in both magic and influence, but continuously tested for abilities he has yet to show. He is considered the protector of Excelsine University.

The Dares’ large and powerful extended clan lives on a fortified island called Itlantes and are very much a “family first” tribe. Extremely insular in his choice of friends, after a rough start, he eventually becomes one of Ren’s closest confidantes. Everyone except Ren questions his motives.

And all of a sudden, all I could see was blue. Two circles of ultramarine, the color straight from the deepest shade of The Last Judgment.

One boy stood untouched in the middle of the field without a weapon. His familiar Last Judgment blue eyes barely spared a cold glance at the next challenger in front of him—nor the one sneaking up at his back—as lights shot from his palms and fingertips, his arms performing a deadly dance.
Michelangelo would have dearly loved him.
Will was saying something about avoiding mages who wore three rings, but I couldn’t hear over the pumping of my heart in my ears. I stared at the hue of the boy’s eyes and watched as he annihilated everyone around him.
“Huh? Oh, that’s Alexander Dare, combat mage. Best on campus, and that’s saying something since the university encompasses ages sixteen to twenty-two. Considered a prodigy. Even beat Marsgrove last year when Dare was a second year. The combat mages all call him Axer for good reason. I’d, uh, stay away from him.”

He was dark, athletic, and wind-blown, sporting the echo of the smirking smile he had worn upon making the catch—the kind that appeared only on the faces of guys who were totally convinced of their own skill.

Alexander Dare, who was standing with his arms crossed at the edge of the pile-up, looking down at the bodies and blood in amusement.

Constantine Leandred is a materials mage with caramel-colored eyes and dark hair. Lean, tall, 19 (for most of the series). Extremely narcissistic and bitter. Genius-level intellect. Uses people frequently. Is very good at manipulating people, and finds it a game. Constantine doesn’t “do” friends. Ren makes him one anyway.

His dark hair was too long in the front and the back, and he was extremely good looking in that charmingly sordid and insouciant “I buy the best designer drugs and use them frequently” way that old money kids sometimes had. Everything about him screamed wealth, privilege, and youthful waste.
He laughed. Even that was dark, sparkling, and edged. False, like black champagne.

He lazily twined a long dark ribbon around his finger, piercing eyes at odds with his seductive smile. He probably had a list of conquests as long as his designer clad legs. Slick and cool and slippery.

But Constantine’s posture and magic now mirrored what his eyes had hinted from the beginning—a sharp and deadly focus threaded through his external insouciance.

Stevens was muttering as she grabbed something from her desk. “Look at him standing there after working them over. Stupidly brilliant and horrible. Bane of my existence.” She stalked out of the lab.
I could clearly see the drama through the glass panes. The boy smirked at Stevens. Ballsy. And made a “who me?” gesture, but innocence clearly wasn’t his forte. If sexuality could ooze off someone, this guy was constantly perspiring. He was one of those guys who was a little uncomfortable to look at.
My eyes narrowed. Actually, his posture, height, and hair were the same as the firesnake thief’s. He said four words and the others sputtered and began arguing again—with each other. He gave a slow smile, his hair hiding it from the others, but not from me in my viewing position. Dangerous.

Ren and Constantine frequently work together on illegal projects. He becomes one of Ren’s closest confidantes, but his motivations are always suspect and motivated by self-interest. Constantine’s aims increasingly coincide with Ren’s as she slowly shifts to becoming his main interest.

Constantine has a complicated history with Alexander Dare. Dare is #3 on the list of people he wishes dead at the start of the series. #2 is his wealthy and politically untouchable father, who he loathes. #1 on the list is revealed when Constantine’s true motivation in the series surfaces.

Constantine has shown an affinity for mind magic, but his skill with it isn’t registered in an official capacity.

William (Will) Archenwald Tasky is a good-natured inventor and delinquent with gray eyes and dark hair. He wears glasses that contain enhanced capabilities. Will has a specialized interest in Layer Shifts and transportation magic. Scientifically-minded and easy-going, Will is frequently in trouble because his experiments tend to go awry, and he doesn’t understand the concept of not continuing even when the earth starts to shake. Will is Ren’s engineering soulmate, and they would likely destroy the world (on accident!) if left alone together for too long. Will is always up for mad schemes and science, and is a highly loyal friend. He is one of Ren’s closest confidantes. Unlike some of the other characters in the series, no one doubts Will’s motives.

He looked my age, but I had never seen him at school. The jacket of his tailored suit was slightly askew, his gray eyes sharp. His dark hair and silver-rimmed glasses mirrored the black and silver of his pinstripes.
He looked terrified, but squared his shoulders, held out a device and made a sweeping motion with it over the black spot, as if he were scanning the space.
The boy’s face brightened. “I knew it. I knew one could work here. Ha. Suck it, Rational Engineers’ Club. The Department can suck it too.”
He cleared his throat and pushed a finger to the tablet. “On this day, I, William Archenwald Tasky, report that I have found traces of portal pad technology in the First Layer. Bookmark this report under Will Is Always Right.”
He looked smug as he quickly tucked his tablet into an inner pocket. “Suck it.”

He cocked his head, eyes agleam. “You aren’t in the system yet. Crap. We should have run from your parents and gone on a road trip. There are a thousand things I can’t collect here without using magic. Stinking museums and alarms. Why the devil did I call Dean Marsgrove?”

Nephthys (Neph) Bau is a Terpsichore mage and Ren’s personal muse. She is physically beautiful, with warm brown eyes and hair. Neph creates magic through dance and, along with the other members of the muse community, is peripherally influential on mages of all types who walk the halls of Excelsine. There are many who caution Ren on having a personal muse, but loving Neph as she does, Ren never does quite enough research to understand why.

There was a dream-like quality about her, conjuring visions of sand and veils. She smoothed a hand over her dark hair in a self-conscious way, and I realized she was the girl I had followed through the library earlier.

Her dress whirled as she danced, and a beautiful shimmer of green shot out from it, blanketing the crowd. It was lovely, like a feeling of peace settling over the top of me. Calm and reassuring, and oh so Nephthys.

Neph is ostracized by the muse community because of her family’s ties. Neph is too powerful for the community to ignore, though, and she still participates in all muse events on campus and in the Second Layer. There are many things that have yet to be explained about this side of the muse community and Neph’s life, but massive changes are brewing for the world…

Will and Neph are the core support system (and enablers) for Ren, and as such, they tend to be in the background instead of the foreground for large chunks of plot, but they are vital to Ren, and if something happened to them, all hell would break loose.

Mike Givens is an easy-going and socially popular weather mage. He is athletic and has auburn hair and green eyes. Mike is very protective of Will, his roommate, and takes Ren under his wing just as easily (they are “his” nerds). He gives Ren the idea to sell her pencils and make a profit. He is a loyal and steadfast friend and often the voice of reason.

Sports came first for Mike, then girls, then food, then weather.

“If you have the talent, it is the best major on campus. Who else gets revenge by making rain clouds follow people around?”

“And sometimes a mage just gets a freaky skill at something. I can make it hail in a two-inch space at any velocity I desire. Can I make it snow without also causing a deluge of rain? Noooo. Stupid snow. Stupid rain.” He forked a piece of steak. “But I can outdo any fifth-year with precision hail.”

Delia joined us at lunch every other day from then on, and Delia and Mike got on like crack partners on…crack. That they had never found each other before was almost sad. And Mike had taken to teasing her in a disturbingly flirty way.

Delia Peoples is a long time community service member with stitching and earth magic affinities. Dark bob with bangs, magically drawn black eyeliner, green eyes. Cleopatra-esque. Very fashionable. Has a monitoring bracelet due to her continual misuse of suggestion enchantments.

Delia has Third Layer roots and is uneasy frenemies with most of the Second Layer Magicists. She hated Olivia at the beginning, but grudgingly sees a different side of her over the course of events in the books.

Delia is a hardcore delinquent, always pushing at the boundaries of the Second Layer authorities who will never fully accept her family.

A girl with short black hair and a distinct Erté vibe—sleek, stylish, and outrageous—that perfectly matched the architecture, stood behind a desk, looking down at a device and bopping along to some inner playlist. She looked to be about seventeen too and just as short as I was.

The Adults

Raphael Immanuel Verisetti is the main antagonist of the series, but he is also frequently Ren’s ally and mentor, much to her dismay. Raphael is a protection magic prodigy, and a gifted art mage. Posing as the substitute art teacher at her high school, his abilities make it easy for him to tether Ren when she Awakens.

Raphael wants to destroy the Department and will do anything to obtain that goal. He has a very focused type of insanity and is very smart and motivated. He loves using chaos to achieve results, even though he is very strategically driven. Willing to burn the entire world in pursuit of his goals, Raphael is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people, and is #1 on the terrorist threat list in the Second Layer of the world. Born in the Second Layer, he now works to sow chaos and destruction in it. He frequently does “favors” for the Third Layer terrorists and is more of a partner to them than a soldier. Tortured past the point of sanity by the Department, even the terrorists are wary of crossing Raphael.

Raphael is insanely fond of Ren and thinks of her like a favored sibling/daughter. He has stated that he will mourn her death in the fulfillment of his plans. He frequently gives Ren gifts to aid her, but his gifts are almost always beneficial to his aims. He has complicated relationships with a number of the other adults in the series, and has repeatedly told Ren to seek allies, not friends.

“Miss Crown. Lovely work,” an accented, luxurious voice said from behind me. Mr. Verisetti’s long fingers placed a wrapped toffee next to my sketchbook. “Keep it up.”
I looked up at Mr. Verisetti, and the classroom lights caught on the small gold cuff around his upper ear, the only jewelry he wore besides a wide black band around his left wrist.

He chuckled. It was warm and rich, gliding along the surface like everything he did. With his dark hair, smooth skin, and golden eyes, it was hard to guess his age. I thought thirties, but had heard all sorts of weird opinions from others—everything from being in his late teens to early fifties, as if he was whatever the person wanted him to be.

He had helped me get through four horrible weeks of school. Had given me an outlet in art and a mentor who always seemed to know what I needed. All so he could use me when the time was right.
“I’m crushed, Butterfly. I didn’t betray you. I just subverted your will. Here, let me make it up to you. You are delighting me.”

“I’m a little possessive of my acquisitions, Butterfly. I am thinking of adopting you as the dark daughter I will never have.” He made a theatrical little gesture around his heart with the ornate box clenched in his palm. “You are so useful to have around.”

“Never. There are so few people around to surprise and intrigue me.” He smiled. “In fact, I have something to reward such bewitching gall. For such a lovely, dark treasure who is beginning to bloom.”

He smiled. It was a gorgeous smile. And in that moment, I knew that he somehow had. “But now is not the time for that. They are entirely the wrong questions for you to be asking. A chess master plots and plays other pieces, waiting for the perfect moment to deliver a checkmate.”

“Oh, Butterfly, yes. I look forward to it. We are linked, you and I. A chain that cannot be escaped. Our journey together is just beginning.”

Phillip Marsgrove, Dean of Special Projects at Excelsine, is a main antagonist to Ren early in the series, but an ally to everyone on the “side of good.” He is a political force for Excelsine and the Second Layer, in general. A powerful combat mage, he is brutal on the field of battle and is a mage even the terrorists and the Department walk softly around. Marsgrove has interests that frequently diverge from Ren’s. He has ties to the Dare family, the Price family, and Raphael Verisetti. Other ties come to light throughout the series. Marsgrove has complicated relationships with most of the adults in the books.

Marsgrove views Ren as a threat, even when he helps her. He is an advocate for justice and peace, and he will do what the others cannot, if Ren falls to evil.

A man dressed in pinstripes and glasses was running toward the doors of the school. He carried a clear aura of authority, even while sprinting, but no one looked at him as he passed. He reminded me of Mr. Verisetti in an indefinable way.

I looked at Phillip Marsgrove, who was trying to appear relaxed even as his hand hovered near his pocket. Glasses and pinstripes were similar to Will’s, but his gray eyes were arctic. When he had first arrived and assessed me there had been horror and revulsion in his gaze. The same expression was there now.

His nostrils flared, and his lips tightened together. “Use your finger and concentrate. Destruction should be easier than creation for you at this point.”
“What do you mean?” I asked sharply.
“Do it.” He looked scary all of a sudden. I could believe that this man might waste someone in a fight.

Phillip Marsgrove and Raphael Verisetti had the same intent focus to their gaze. But whereas Mr. Verisetti looked upon me as if I were an adored pet, Phillip Marsgrove looked upon me as if I were the neighbor’s rabid dog that he needed to put down.

Professor Lucille Stevens is the master professor of chemistry, materials, and chem-creations at Excelsine University. Stevens is Ren’s mentor at school, as well as Constantine’s, and has complicated motivations for helping Ren. Stevens’ past directly impacts Ren’s present. Stevens has complicated relationships with most of the adults in the books.

Professor Stevens was a thirty-something, tall blonde with impossibly spiked heels, cheekbones that could cut glass, and a hairdo just this side of severe. The severity was echoed in every clipped stride. However, when she turned her head to look at something to her left, I could see the wisps of hair at her neck seeking escape. She was like a beautiful and dangerous natural creation by Constable—a veneer of painted perfection underscored by wildness. Thunderstorm clouds caged and leashed only by strict control. Perhaps Constable had known someone like Professor Stevens, and the mixed medium of weather was a representation of that woman.

Doctor Ganix Greyskull (Grey), is the head of Medical at Excelsine. He is covered in constantly shifting tattoos that he uses to heal and diagnose. Has a complicated past with many of the adults in the series and his loyalties are split between factions. But he has made a binding vow to protect Excelsine and her students above any other loyalty.

He heals and aids Ren repeatedly, but is also honest about his split loyalties. He steadily helps her more than any other adult as the series advances.

The man, whose face was unexpectedly more rugged than his voice, looked at me sharply, then ran a scanner over me. A blue beam slid across my vision.
I could see his tattoos moving along his skin, peeking over the collar of his coat as if peering at me before retreating again.

A tattoo slithered down his arm and wrapped his pointer finger in dark coils that ended in a point at the tip. The tip touched my skin and the tattoo rotated forward, like a screw being drilled into my flesh. I could feel the magic, the familiar foreign energy searching and examining blocked pathways.

I’d had an “older man, awesome, safety crush” on Doctor Greyskull since he’d gotten my Ewok reference when I’d been recovering from Death #1. I’d never questioned my instinctive liking of the man and how my magic hummed alongside his when he was fixing me.

Lieutenant Marcus Draeger is Ren’s virtual guide from the “self-selecting” guide package she purchased at the bookstore. He is both a copy of the “real” Liuetenant Draeger and a learning AI tailored to Ren’s needs. He is available to Ren whenever she plugs his cartridge into an appropriate outlet. She usually accesses him in the practice rooms in the Kratos Battle Building where he schools her unmercifully. Ren wouldn’t trade him for anything.

My subconscious chose a shaved-headed, big-chested, tree-trunk-legged, total hardass, who liked to wear seventies-styled workout shorts, one-size-too-small white t-shirts, and tall athletic socks. A guide who liked to shout dire warnings and weird animal curses.
Apparently, not only was I not Zen, but I was in need of magical boot camp.

“As Marcus Draeger, I was brought into this world, ordinary-born, at the age of thirteen,” he barked. “And all those born mages were the enemy. I conquered them! You will call me Lieutenant Draeger, as I’m going to make a soldier out of you, Cadet Feral. You will not be squirrel meat! You will give those born-tos hell.”

The Department

The Department is both the legal and shadow organization that protects the entire Second Layer of the world. The Department answers to the Council of the Second Layer, which is made up of representatives and elected officials from the multitude of diverse governments of the Second Layer world, but the organization will also do what it “must” in protecting the citizens of the land against any threat, internal and external.

Helen Price, Second Layer Councilwoman, member of the Department. Helen is Olivia’s mother, who is anything but nurturing. Powerful and ruthless, she serves as one of the primary antagonists in the series, though she is usually pulling strings from afar.

A woman in a posh living room sat with her ankles crossed and her posture perfect. She looked like a bird of prey that would launch at any moment…Her voice was as icy as the smile on her face.

Enton Stavros, the head of the Department, goes by the title Prestige Stavros. He has a fatherly demeanor but soulless eyes. Mid-sixties during the books, he was mid-thirties and a rising star when Sergei Kinsky came under his control. His leadership has made the Second Layer strong, and though he is feared, he easily maintains power. He is not interested in the daily matters of government, and gives little reason for people to revolt against his stewardship of the Second Layer’s security. But when he wants something, he gets it. His only loss was to the Dares, who annihilated everyone allied against them twenty years ago, when Stavros was still consolidating power.

Stavros’ full abilities are unknown to the public, and he is usually seen as reclusive, as he leaves Department public relations to others. He never leaves the Department, but parasitically attaches himself to minions. This attachment is explained away as an enchantment, but it unsettles even the mages who believe the lie. The minions are frequently assassinated by those trying to kill him.

Stavros collects rare mages, is ruthless, and has dark plans that he means to realize through Ren.

Archelon Kaine is the lone Shadow Mage in the Second Layer and a ruthless enforcer for the Department. He is Stavros’s pet and the head of the Praetorian Guard. His magic helps keep the Department shadowed and Stavros hidden.