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The Order of Oddfish

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The return of Mallory Woods!

April 4, 2012

Last time on the blog, I talked about how much I enjoyed doing author visits in the Mississippi Delta in March. But there’s one thing I didn’t mention, because it deserves its own post. I finally got to meet Mallory Woods, a.k.a. DarkshireWarlock! There we are in the picture above.

Mallory is the first person to have made Order of Odd-Fish fan art after the book came out. Here’s when I posted about it, from way back in November 2008. I’ve repeated the art below: on the left, Jo dressed in costume armor as Aznath, the Silver Kitten of Deceit, and on the right Fiona dressed in costume armor as Ichthala, the All-Devouring Mother:

Mallory lives only two hours or so from Indianola where I was presenting, so she drove in and I got to meet her in real life. It was a treat for me! Mallory sometimes threatens to make an Aznath costume. To that I can only say, YES MA’AM BRING IT ON. Such a development would probably be enough to make me throw another Dome of Doom fan art show / costumed dance competition party so she could show it off.

Mallory also brought to Indianola surprise treat: an Odd-Fish OC (original character) she created. The name: Cassia Hemingway, of the Order of Wormbeards. Mallory gave me the art and sent me the character description later. I was so pleased and impressed with this I got Mallory’s permission to reprint it all on the blog. Enjoy—this is a brilliant and well-thought-out addition to the Odd-Fish universe!

Mallory, take it away:

Her name is Cassia Hemingway; I figured she’d be one of the older characters, somewhere between 15 and 17. She’s a Wormbeard, but she doesn’t get into the whole vs. Odd-Fish attitude because she simply doesn’t see a point in it.

She has artisan sewing skills and, on a good day, can sometimes hand stitch as fast as a machine. This is her primary skill among the Wormbeards, as she’s often sewing dueling costumes for the other members, though on occasion she gets commissions from Eldritch City civilians. When Cassia started sewing outfits for Fiona, the latter insisted she attend her Dome of Doom battles. Cassia found herself somewhat enjoying the “colorful” atmosphere and became a regular attendee as a result, even when Fiona wasn’t dueling. It was here she met Dugan, and while the two did not get off to a good start, they had a silent agreement to not cause trouble for one another, and they eventually got on better terms with one another. Cassia was also noticed by Oona Looch for one of the outfits Cassia had made for herself to wear at the Dome, and was quickly appointed to be Oona’s personal designer and seamstress (a paycheck Cassia couldn’t disagree with and a client even the dumbest tailor wouldn’t think of refusing).

Though sewing is Cassia’s primary skill, her true passion is making perfume, with a dream of opening a shop that sells scented items such as perfume, soap, and candles. However, she has limited space in her room to work on both hobbies, so she usually has her perfume-making supplies tucked away, unable to touch them for months at a time.

Cassia for the most part has a very dry, sarcastic personality. She comes off as antisocial, and on some level is. As hard as she is to approach, Cassia can be friendly and helpful to whoever needs it, though her kindness is often hidden behind a shell of apathy. She’s just noted for having a very serious work ethic, and since she’s usually working most of the time, her personality’s never had the chance to waver into anything short of diligent and no-nonsense.

Her parents are Brandon and Azalee Hemingway, also members of the Wormbeards. Azalee’s family specialized in flower arrangements, a profession passed down from several generations since before the founding of the Wormbeards. Brandon is a highly skilled calligraphy artist, and is responsible for most of the signs seen around Eldritch City.

Brandon is very protective of Azalee and Cassia, and when he was younger he was known break noses and declare duels if anyone was dumb enough to upset Azalee (though he has since then mellowed out, mainly because people have learned not to mess with his loved ones by the time Cassia was born). Azalee is a very soft-spoken, kind individual who is most known for never getting angry and being a doormat, but she doesn’t seem to mind as long as people are somewhat respectful. She is not entirely weak, however, as in order to obtain the more exotic flowers for her business she occasionally has to travel far into the wilderness, and has gained the ability to navigate difficult terrain and fend off predators with ease.

The incredible success of both of their professions come from the same source, which results in a mysterious trip the duo would take every few months or so, and they started bringing Cassia with them once she was old enough, though the where they go was a complete mystery to everyone except the Hemingway family.

This mysterious place is a town called Navalla. It is a harbor city and is located one and a half days away from Eldritch City if traveled on foot. Navalla is estranged from Eldritch City because its residents, the birdmen, did not believe in the story of Eldritch’s 144,444 gods, and as such the two cities have refused to have any alliance or negotiations with each other.

Brandon and Azalee stumbled upon Navalla in their younger years during a traveling period of their lives. While the birdmen were reluctant to have humans in their city, Brandon and Azalee’s tolerance of their society’s views and culture lead them to quickly become accepted by the town’s residents.

It was here that Brandon finally found the mythical rainbow squid, a species of squid whose ink comes in one of the seven colors of the rainbow and, when mixed with a special solution, the ink never fades. Azalee also took advantage of the city’s fauna to take and use for her arrangements. During their first stay, they became friends with the Cazador Corvo, a squid merchant, and his wife Seda, a fabric weaver. The Hemingway family stay with the Corvo’s whenever they visit Navalla, and their son, Shinzo, is just a few years older than Cassia. Shinzo is very quiet, calm, and a diligent worker, but he sometimes shares his father’s hardheadedness. After the Itchthala’s rebirth, the birdmen saw the truth in the 144,444 gods and helped rebuild Eldritch City after the attack, and the two cities have more or less been brought to good terms with one another.

What an epic! A worthy and inspiring addition to the Odd-Fish world. I want to hear more about this Navalla in particular . . .

Thanks so much, Mallory! I’m glad I finally got to meet you for real.