...Probably not. It was one single blog post ages ago. (I think like July of last year, ages ago. It wasn't immediately after creating Red Hood Rider, but it was definitely more early than late in terms of creating the Rubyverse.) Even if you are the type to do an archive binge and read my entire blog in one day (to which I say: very impressive, but are you crazy?!?), it was a detail that's very easy to miss; I don't think the blog I did on him was very long. But, well...I never forgot. I've wanted to work him back in for ages.
And, in a dual stroke of brilliance, I figured out how as of today. He'd be Amy's counterpart (but not her opponent), as an eighth member of the seven survivors: fully human, but otherwise fitting their qualities. For a start, he is in fact Last of His Kind. He also completes their elemental powers, as he's of the darkness element loosely speaking. He fits a unique role in the team, as a token good teammate, while also bringing unique powers to the table. He also despises all seven other members, has very little loyalty to them, and yet works with them anyway because of a similar-enough goal to them. This was my first breakthrough.
The second breakthrough? (Well, some of this was described above partially.) I realized the power set I envisioned from him was familiar. Specifically, the powers were nearly identical to those of the protagonist in my Bleach-knockoff story. (I've blogged about it some before; it's one of my mega-universe, mega-scale stories which has taken on a life of its own, akin to Disease in scale in spite of me mostly hiding it from the world.)
Even more specifically, from the official unofficial followthrough, a canonically-optional (as in, "if you want this to be canon, treat it as canon; if you don't want it to be canon, discard it; neither is right nor wrong and it is entirely up to the reader to decide") sequel. Further brilliance? Know how I, originally, when first creating Red Hood Rider, addressed Herald as 'weaponmaster'? That term originated from that story, as a title shared between two characters: one a hard-worker swordswoman, and the other the protagonist thanks to his power set, with them able to fight the other to a draw and being undisputedly co-owners of the title.
So, for an import into the Rubyverse, it fit perfectly, especially given how the original book ended. (Well, now said book would probably be last book in a series of books, but oh well.) Now, since I still intend to write this story, no spoilers will be given in this blog, but needless to say: the connection I could make was absolutely brilliant. All I had to do was apply a trait of the main villain to the protagonist (something which in that story was at risk of happening canonically!), give it a different explanation, then bam! Instant tragic villain. I decided I'd even copy his name, though instead of birth name, it's an alias. (I think his birth name would be something like Randall Gerald Masters, but that's not set in stone.)
So! Meet Brigand. He's a Magic Knight with a twist: he was a member of The Black Order, a 2,000-year-old organization involved in fighting dimensional creatures primarily, which involves a partnership between a human and a spirit: a spirit who has a soul, obviously, but was never mortal on earth and therefore by default hasn't experienced the world...in short, a partnership between a human born on this world and a person born in an afterlife. There was one particular afterlife most of the partners came from, one where they communicated telepathically and didn't have names, which meant most of the partners bonding with their humans gained names from their human partner.
In his case, he named his partner Robin. (Robin, in this case, is male; that name is of course androgynous, so I need to specify.) The basics of each partnership remain the same: the human is the 'Knight', and the spirit is the 'Magic'. The human gains a weapon, and some sort of unique ability (unique to them) for that weapon; they also gain some sort of unique magical armor. Primarily black, and usually having common traits with other members, but no set, strict uniform. The spirit also gains a weapon, but it is mostly manifested as some sort of magical ability, again, unique to that spirit.
For instance, a good friend of his had a scimitar as her weapon, with the unique power of light magic, and her spirit partner had a rapier capable of creating illusions. In his case, the power he inherited was...much, much stronger than that. He inherited the ability to summon/master any weapon; Robin inherited the absolute mastery of the arcane...and we're talking, literally, "Fought Master Azev to a draw", level of mastery.
This is what they could do separately, on their own. Magic Knights of The Black Order could, in close proximity to one another, amplify the others' power, as to allow for a fusion of their abilities, and a resulting devastating attack. In the case of Brigand...he's limited in the weapons he can summon by himself. With the aid of Robin, he can summon any weapon: mythological weapons, modern militaristic weapons (we're talking, could summon a division of tanks), even hypothetical future tech of weapons.
For his part, Robin would get the ability to tie different magics together, fusing styles of magic that would otherwise be impossible to fuse. He was a master of the arcane, but even a master of the arcane knows what magic cannot normally do; his fusion with Brigand was able to bypass this. (Even outside of combat, Robin could combine magic, especially his own natural Black Order-powered spells, which he was known for pioneering a ton of. But this ability is what got amplified.)
Unfortunately, in a climactic battle, time travel got involved. Brigand and Robin, as the two strongest members of The Black Order, were sent back in time, to a point right before their order was founded. They learned that their order was founded in response to the creation of the dimensional creatures they most commonly fight...and that the one who time traveled in the first place was trying to boost the first, so that the first of these dimensional creatures would be able to kill the first members of The Black Order before it was even born.
In the ensuing fight, on the verge of victory, their opponent sent off a much weaker split of itself, in the hopes of regenerating. They were able to defeat this, but only too late realized that this splinter shade was in fact what was supposed to help spawn their order in the first place: there was meant to be a stable time loop, of the creature creating the order, recuperating 2,000 years later, and time traveling back, being defeated, and splintering off, creating the order. The creature had forgotten about this, and was attempting to change history by wiping the order out with its increased power. The heroes never knew about this in the first place.
So, they accidentally managed to break the time loop, effectively writing their order out of existence. Time began to rewrite itself, as to make it so that all the events The Black Order participated in had identical outcomes in spite of The Black Order no longer existing: all the times they came in to help someone, that person would still be saved by some Deus Ex Machina instead of the much more plausible Black Order. The reverse happened as well: every time someone died as a result of something related to The Black Order, they still died, in spite of The Black Order no longer existing.
In short, For Want Of A Nail and In Spite Of A Nail are not, necessarily, mutually exclusive tropes. This rewriting of the universe to function identically in spite of lacking a key facet of it was only made possible, however, because Robin saw the incoming cataclysm and sacrificed himself to have the lesser of two evils be the outcome.
With the last of his energy, he sent Brigand back to modern times, de-aged to the age when they first met, but with him still retaining all his memories and powers. Now, Robin is trapped in a state where if he is not successfully rescued within a few years, he risks suffering a soul sever. A soul severing is bad enough on a human, but on a spirit, which is by its very nature closer to the soul, it is all the more terrible a fate.
And this is the driving force of Brigand in modern days. It's what caused him to fall from his heroic roots, as he's desperate to save his best friend. And therein lies his connection to the seven survivors: a noble (rather than selfish, as with the rest of the Rogues Gallery) goal, but questionable methods. He doesn't have anyone to talk to, either, because all of his friends are left in a state where they are now normal humans: he's still their friends, but their memories of him are different than his memories of them; he remembers them as badasses and with him as the rookie, whereas they're just...normal humans now, who have a sense of longing for more, and he dare not tell them what they used to be, because he knows the heartbreak they'd suffer if they knew but could do nothing about it, so leaving them with that sense is again the lesser of two evils.
I really like the character now. I knew, from the instant I created him all that time ago, he would be one of my favorite characters. After fleshing him out today and defining his past and his abilities, that has been thoroughly solidified. He's got ties to the seven survivors, ties to Master Azev, ties to Saul (Saul of course knowing about soul severing), and frankly if he were to lead the villains would be able to make them fight more effectively than they ever do otherwise thanks to his inherent charisma. He simply chooses to be more of a follower because he hates the villain life, only accepting it because he's got a deadline for saving someone.
And, as he himself notes to Sally, "If it were your friend, you would do no different." (Sally recognizes that he's right, she would in fact do no different, but she's still morally obligated to stop him, to which he sadly laments that he knows.) Some other trivia about him I find interesting: he can, and has, killed people, but his method of killing people is such that when they die, they get sent to whichever afterlife they most desire. This being a fantasy world, that can include, "oh, whichever afterlife I'm most likely to get revived in". Death's not exactly cheap, but it's not exactly hugely expensive, either. So for him, killing's not too large a deal.
He prefers not to kill, but he won't hesitate to kill if he deems it necessary. This, actually, makes him one of the scarier opponents to fight, especially when it's someone who does not have contractual immortality (in other words, he can actually kill anyone other than Ruby herself, including Sally).
He, in spite of having a physical inability to use magic, is incredibly gifted at exploiting loopholes. See, without Robin, he cannot summon magical weapons, e.g. Excalibur, a flaming sword, a light sword, you get the idea. He cannot summon future weapons, either, nor can he summon weapons larger than himself, e.g. a tank, a plane, a missile, a cannon. What he can do, however, is control existing weapons, either indirectly with focus of his mind, or directly by touch. He can't permanently steal, saaaaaay, Angel Wings (it's a weapon), but he can, by direct touch, saaaaaaaaay, temporarily incapacitate a spirit totem, making it unable to attack for as long as contact is maintained.
He can also summon a barrage of thousands upon thousands of ranged weapons: knives, throwing stars, darts, you get the idea. Even swords! Axes, chainsaws, he can summon them all, either to be held as a weapon, or launched as a ranged attack. He is, in no way, limited to melee weapons: he can summon bows, crossbows, even automatic crossbows...but also, guns. He can summon anything up to the size of a gatling gun...meaning he can summon dozens of machine guns, hundreds of hand guns, multiple RPG launchers, you get the idea. As long as it's a non-magical weapon he can physically hold, it's pretty much fair game for him to summon, and anything he summons he can remotely control with zero effort. (In short, think levitating behind him.)
And every weapon he controls, regardless of whether it is summoned by him or simply controlled by him, gains a magical enchantment. This magical enchantment is very flexible. It can make a weapon that would normally be brittle be very hard to shatter. It can make a weapon that normally lacks penetration able to pierce. It can give a weapon with limited ammo an unlimited supply. And this is where the fun begins.
He can, for instance, create two weapons: a blade dipped in liquid nitrogen can be enchanted so that it doesn't warm back up, staying frozen, and also have the enchantment of not shattering into a million pieces on contact with something: this sword is not magical, but mimics some of the properties of an ice blade. He can do the opposite: a molten blade that should still be liquid can be enchanted so that it maintains a solid form and maintains its temperature.
The best part is his knowledge of what happens when they clash. Pragmatically, when fire meets ice, you get water. But when you get a fire which cannot be extinguished clashing with an ice that cannot melt, the result from them meeting is...an energetic shockwave, so all he has to do is clash the two blades together to create a blastwave, knocking an opponent backwards: something normally magical, but created without an ounce of magic.
I like the concept behind his character, and now that I've fleshed his story out some more, I think he's my favorite villain of all time. It's a shame he won't be seen for a very long time: I have to wait a long time to introduce Amy, and he's not introduced until after she will be. Buuuuuuuut, on the bright side...by that point in the story, all my Rogues will have mostly had all their development, so I can quickly develop him in-canon!