Typically when I write the backstory of a character, it’s somewhat uncomplicated and in the background. The whole reason for starting a story at a particular moment is in that this point is the moment where an irreversible change occurs. A dull life is shaken up. The left fork in the road is taken instead of the right. That sort of thing.
With Darshan… being who he is… his life couldn’t possibly be described as “dull”. He’s been the first character that I’ve had to form a timeline to keep everything neat and correct for some time. Even Tracker wasn’t this hard to keep straight without a timeline.
Things start off a little bumpy for him, but not entirely abnormal. He’s the eldest of twins, with his mother dying whilst giving birth to his sister, Anjali. From there, the pair were gifted the elven slave Daama from the mother’s family (all perfectly standard for Udynea) who becomes their wet nurse.
At two years old, the twin’s governess makes an assassination attempt on Darshan’s life. He’s spared thanks to Daama’s intervention. This is where things veer a little to the left as their father has Daama tutor them, often learning things just before having to teach the twins.
Things go swimmingly for a bit, until around his fifth year. That’s when his magic blossoms and he accidentally sets fire to the bed after a nightmare. Daama is forbidden to use magic (she’s leashed anyway and has little experience in using her own power) so different tutors are brought in, under the watchful eye of both Daama and the nulled ones who are owned by the Mhanek.
Between the ages of six and seven, Darshan starts to join the Crystal Court and meets Lady Rashmika, who is of similar age and is being groomed as Anjali’s handmaiden. Whilst they become close friends, her father forms a plan to have her wind up as Darshan’s wife.
On his seventh birthday, Darshan begins private healing lessons and excels in this disciple. It also serves to have him survive being shot in the gut by his half-sister, Onella, during a vacation to their summer estate about a year later.
At nine years, he learns he’s expected to sire children and that the general line of thought is for him to marry Rashmika. This is where he informs his father that he’s gay. Not much fuss is made over the announcement, but the expectation of marriage and siring children still looms.
The Khutani ceremony (a rite of passage into manhood involving circumcision) is performed on his twelfth birthday. Both Anjali and Darshan are given direct control over the slaves they were gifted throughout their childhood. Nanny Daama is elevated to the overseer of these slaves.
At seventeen, he has his first sexual encounter and is horrified to learn afterwards that the charming elven man had also been a slave. Around this time, he also discovers that Rashmika’s father beats her for not being able to procure Darshan’s hand. Upon hearing this, Darshan steels himself to go through with marrying his childhood friend only so she can be free of her father. At the time he’s looking to announce it, a distant cousin of Darshans arrives at Minamist on vacation and becomes enamoured with Rashmika, who is likewise charmed by the cousin’s gentle nature.
By the time Darshan’s eighteen, he’s helped arrange a marriage between said cousin and Rashmika. Sadly, Rashmika’s father still punishes her because the cousin’s family has a far lower status and the father was looking to get closer to the throne, not further. Darshan signs the order to have Rashmika’s father assassinated as a wedding gift, leaving the estate and title free for her to claim.
He spends a lot of time between his late teens and early twenties flitting through the Crystal Court, causing scandals and minor upsets as he bounces from one self-serving partner to another, much to his father’s dismay. During this time, he meets Vihaan, a trans man who is a few years younger than him. They grow close, not enough to be lovers but with that possibility blooming, only to have Vihaan back out of Darshan’s life when the Mhanek pushes the idea of siring children with Vihaan. This germinates the seed of resentment Darshan has towards his father.
His relationship with his father crumbles further when Darshan finds two women in his bed, having been sent there by his father in an effort to at least get a child out of Darshan. In a fit of rage, he ignites the bed (once the women had evacuated the room), then goes on to order having his bedchamber set alight and storms right into a meeting with the imperial senate to scold his father.
Darshan continues his downward spiral into hedonism, indulging in whatever and whomever he fancies without a care to the consequences. This culminates during his thirty-third year when he’s caught sleeping with an engaged man and winds up causing a feud between two powerful houses. His father, knowing there’s no threat he can give within Udynea that’d have Darshan actually behave as he should, sends him to the kingdom of Tirglas as punishment to be an ambassador and negotiate trade relations (because everybody knows there are no gays in Tirglas).
Enter Hamish, the quiet giant of a man who could’ve walked out of Darshan’s dreams.