While they are secondary characters in the Deveran Conflict Series, the roles that Lord Lynden and Lady Alexina play are essential in grounding the story’s background, and providing a context into the way that Brenna – in particular – and, to a lesser degree, the Ravenwood siblings view functional family relationships. Their story as a couple begins long before the series starts, as Alexina is 70 in The Long Journey and Lynden is 68. Since longevity is characteristic of Lithians, among their own people, Lynden and Alexina remain a young couple.
Lynden met his wife during a lacrosse championship tournament hosted by Lady Alexina’s alma mater, Sacred Vimlitia. The son of a mixed-breed Kamerese / Lithian father, Lynden is bigger and stronger, as well as slower and far less agile, than purebred Lithians. As a result, he never progressed beyond a third string player on his college team. However, a strange set of circumstances put him on the field during a game against the heavily favored home team. A fateful collision merged his life into hers, and after favorably impressing Alexina’s skeptical parents, Iolyn Lael – her father – granted Lynden permission to court the fleet-footed young woman he’d met on the field.
Delightfully, Alexina defied his expectations. Lynden learned that she’d earned several degrees in scientific and mathematic disciplines. Brilliantly intelligent, willful and fiercely independent, Alexina needed no one to take care of her, and merged her life with Lynden’s because she admired his integrity and appreciated that he, like her, had his own mind. As the youngest daughter of arguably the wealthiest and most influential family in Illithia, she had little to do other than study, work out to hone her fitness, and play lacrosse. Her education and intellect utterly terrified every suitor except Lynden – who soon after meeting her, graduated with an advanced degree in theology. He didn’t feel threatened by his chosen woman’s education, wealth or brilliance. This reason, coupled with the fact that their values and goals easily harmonized, strengthened their relationship from the outset.
Lynden’s conservative approach to textual interpretation contrasted so strongly with the prevailing attitudes of Lithian society, the Seminary College of Iolinnian Advanced Graduate School nearly prevented the young man from completing his degree. His professors and the Department Head repeatedly warned him that his views would not appeal to modern Lithian sensibilities, and that as a result, he would struggle to find a position within the priesthood. That warning proved prescient, as not one Temple, or college faculty accepted Lynden into fellowship. While his family owned vast acreages in the western foothills, where tea production sustained their prosperity, Lynden depended on his skills as a composer and musician to sustain himself while courting Alexina.
However, circumstances for the Lithian people in general, and Lynden in particular, began to change. The Lael family owned many specialized, light-powered factories in the semi-arid foothill country to the south and west of their home. During Lynden’s extended courtship stay at the Lael estate, a cluster of these factories came under attack by various Kamerese warlords, seeking to capture the technology for their own purposes. Lynden, who’d trained in the combat arts with his Relict aunt, Malleah Shevonne, offered to join Alexina’s brothers in the family’s volunteer regiment, and take the light forges back.
In the tough fighting that ensued, Lynden proved far more tactically clever, brave and capable than the regiment’s leadership. Because Lithians hold free will in such high esteem, Lynden’s disagreements with those in command were not only tolerated, but encouraged. Soon, the volunteer regiment began following him, rather than their reticent career officers, into battle.
Lynden returned to the Lael estate victorious. On six subsequent occasions he took on the role of commanding the forces defending the Lael’s economic interests, developing a reputation for efficiency and effectiveness in combat. Sadly, Neirin – Alexina’s eldest brother – fell in battle during a surprise counterattack. Not long later, Sior – the husband of Morwynna, the Lael’s eldest daughter, died in a bomb blast. Iolyn Lael, while proud of his sons’ willingness to defend the family’s light forges, lamented, “I would give up all of my wealth to have them back.”
After this, Iolyn begged Siarwyl, his youngest son, to stay away from combat in order to preserve his life. Yet while on a tour to check the family’s factories, Siarwyl perished during an Azgar bandit attack on his convoy. That left Lynden as Lord Iolyn’s only hope of continuing the family line. Rather than risk his daughter’s fiancé, Lord Iolyn dismantled his light forges, storing their inner workings at a secure facility far from the borderlands, and focused on other business interests in Vimlitia.
However, the fighting didn’t end. Attacks by irregular Azgar forces, supplemented by rogue warlord armies from Kameron, increased all along the Lithian frontier. Lynden left the Lael estate to defend his father’s tea plantations, and soon collected a large and loyal following among Lithian warriors. His army steadily grew in size, but the increasingly sophisticated threats his forces faced diminished their effectiveness. During a particularly grueling campaign, he met Tegene, son of Asabi, a mining magnate who’d fled Abelscinnia with his family. Tegene established four mines on the east-facing slopes of the Angelgate mountains and effectively defended them with an army much smaller than the one led by Lynden. The two men became lifelong friends.
Tegene convinced Lynden to modernize his forces and adapt tactics better suited for taking on large, organized forces armed with rifles and artillery. Lynden soon realized that Tegene’s mind for this kind of fighting surpassed his own and began to heavily rely on his wiser, more experienced Abelscinnian friend for counsel. In time, Tegene took over command of Lynden’s army altogether.
As the years passed, the Lithians began losing territory to increasingly numerous and effective armies from the south. Sensing that he could not hold off the larger forces pressing against the Lithian frontier, Tegene abandoned his mines, as well as his home in the mountains, and relocated his family into the Lithian lowlands. He led Lynden’s forces against Kamerese and Azgar incursions many times thereafter.
When Alexina moved into the Velez household, as part of her extended courtship with Lynden, she often found herself isolated. Lynden’s large family accepted her wholeheartedly, yet she never grew close to any of his sisters. Business dealings kept Lynden’s parents busy with travel and meetings, which meant that whenever he took the army out to fight, Alexina felt like a prisoner in Iolinnia, the heavily forested home of her betrothed. While reading and meditation soothed her boredom to a small extent, she needed exercise. Alexina also joined a local women’s lacrosse team, but the reduced intensity of competition didn’t fulfill her soul to the same extent that her favored sport had done at Sacred Vimlitia.
She began experimenting with landscape painting, at first focused on recording the scenes of her childhood. Gradually, she began exploring the local area and started painting scenes of her woodland surroundings. The Velez home is largely decorated with her work.
After Tegene and his family moved into the area, she established close friendships with all three of his wives, particularly Ngoni, Tegene’s first and primary wife. The sense of community that developed among the four women significantly reduced Alexina’s loneliness.
After a 12 year courtship, Lynden and Alexina married. Rather than starting a household on their own, Alexina convinced Lynden and Tegene that they should invest in an estate together and live under the same roof. This unusual interest in communal living testified to the close relationships Alexina developed with Tegene’s wives, Ngoni, Ubequenisha and Penda. Their fellowship sustained all the women whenever Lynden and Tegene spent months away from home fighting various enemies.
However, Tegene’s wives were already mothers, and Alexina struggled to carry a child to term. She felt incomplete as a woman and nearly fell into despair. With Ngoni’s constant encouragement and patience as a friend, the Lithian woman endured her sorrow. After nearly giving up on having children, Lady Alexina finally gave birth to Brenna.
Eventually, Lynden and Alexina had four daughters and a son. Lithians can have very large families, but hormonal changes decrease the likelihood of pregnancy after 70 years of age. Lady Alexina is 72 in the image below.
After Cynthia was born the family relocated to Shirak, the largest city in Illithia. Over the next several years, Brenna grew into maidenhood and Camille, their youngest daughter was born. Conflicts along the borderlands grew increasingly fierce, and as Lynden spent more time away from Alexina, he became convinced Illithia could not remain independent for long. He made several journeys into northern Kameron before settling on a deal with a Kamerese warlord. Shortly after that transaction, the Azgar’s Northern Liberation Army spilled over the passes, conquered Illithia, destroyed the culture and religion of the Lithian people, slaughtered anyone who resisted and enslaved the rest.
Just before the city of Shirak fell, the Velez family, along with Tegene and his family, escaped to Northeastern Kameron. There, they began a tenuous and uncertain rebuilding process that is described in the early novels of the Deveran Conflict Series.
The Lithians were the most technologically advanced society on the Deveran continent before their defeat at the hands of the Azgaril. A significant part of Lord Lynden’s plan to relocate his family to safety focused on finding a region with sufficient insolation to run light forges. These highly technical facilities create flux conditions in their cores that permit the sophisticated manipulation of matter. By exporting the Lael family forges into Northeastern Kameron, Lord Lynden and Lady Alexina created a brand new industry in a region desperate for wise investment.
Much of the back story concerning Lord Lynden and Lady Alexina is focused on how Lithians use technology to solve problems. From evaporating water in the Virgin River in order to sink steamships, to using teleportation portals in a unique manner that delivers pinpoint accuracy to an outgunned and outnumbered force of Lithian and Abelscinnian defenders, Lady Alexina uses her advanced education to protect her family and her husband’s interests.
Some of the technology is more mundane. Using ideas from maiden garments worn by unmarried Lithian women, Lady Alexina develops a new industry by creating undergarments for women that offer three-dimensional support to the wearer. She creates room-temperature superconductors, uses holographic discs to communicate with Brenna – and Brenna subsequently uses the same technology to help Algernon find his way aboard a Lithian steamship – and creates a new robe for Algernon that features many mystical properties.
One of the most important roles that Lord Lynden and Lady Alexina play in the novels relates to their life experience. They are both considerably older than most of the other characters, yet they retain cognitive capacity that makes their counsel quite valuable to younger characters. Lord Lynden has a strong relationship with Brenna that allows him to guide her through an emotionally-challenging set of circumstances after her imprisonment at the Casa del Matados. Garrick respects his military mind and honors him as Brenna’s father. For Algernon, who never benefitted from paternal wisdom, Lord Lynden serves as a guide, a counselor, and someone to whom he is willingly held accountable – even when doing so exposes the young priest to well-deserved reprimand.
Likewise, Lady Alexina advises younger women in the story – especially her own daughters – but also including Bronwyn, who experienced many doubts about her marriage.
Lady Alexina’s watershed remediation work, and Lord Lynden’s land reforms, earned the respect of the Kamerese living on their estate. Their integrity endeared them to a people whose previous landlords had only been interested in extracting rents, inspiring a loyalty to foreigners that raised the ire of many wealthy families further south.