narratives

Origin Story

As a child, Austara was a quite ordinary young girl; the only strange thing about her was that she often had fainting spells, leading to a couple of days of weakness that left her bedridden. After several years, her parents and family began to realize a cyclical pattern: the fainting spell occurred most often on the first day of a new moon, and the days of weakness usually ended as soon as the moon began to wax again.

Attempting to strengthen her apparently weak constitution, Austara's father and grandfather started to put her through intensive physical training at age 10, including running, swimming, and calisthenics. Her grandmother highly disapproved; she believed Austara was of a gentler nature and should not be forced into such militaristic training. Unbeknownst to everyone, Austara was beginning to enjoy herself, and was indeed finding herself becoming stronger. She was willing to put herself through the strain, and found herself more and more able to push past her spells of weakness.

By the age of 13, Austara had reached a level of physical strength of which her father and grandfather approved, and she was proud of her abilities. But one day after her training had ended, she collapsed unexpectedly and could not be awakened. Her family rushed her to the hospital, where it was discovered that she had begun her monthly courses. Doctors could not find a cause for her collapse; only her grandmother suspected that the new moon had combined with her body's change to exhaust her. It was then that her grandmother realized why Austara needed to strengthen--she must, in order to withstand what was happening to her with every moon cycle.

While Austara was nearly catatonic, she experienced a strange vision in which the moon rapidly cycled from new to full and back, over and over again. Then a woman's voice said quietly, "It is time, daughter," and the cycle halted at full. The woman was silhouetted by the full moon's light--Austara could not see her clearly at all, but could only catch the hint of long dark hair whipping about, and the outline of a bow held at her side. "Take up the sword for me, and you shall never fall in battle. You will be a warrior unlike any other. It is time, daughter--take up your identity and fly," the woman said.

When Austara awakened three days later, she found that her strength had returned, and even increased. She was able to return home, and discovered that a pair of blue gladiuses had mysteriously materialized under her bed. A watchful neighbor across the street reported seeing an unusually tall woman with flowing black hair walking into the house around 3:00 AM the morning of Austara's release. The woman appeared to be armed with a long, lithe bow and a quiver full of arrows. The neighbor could not recall if she had ever left the house, however. No one could explain how the swords had ended up under the bed, but 13-year-old Austara thought she knew what had happened.

From then on, Austara continued her training, except now armed with the swords. She is now highly practiced in using both blades in battle, and uses her incredible endurance gained during her years of physical training to keep her going. Also, the crescent moon is embroidered on her dress, to remind her of what (and who) triggered her awesome powers.

Creating Austara

Concept

In looks, Austara looks much like her creator, but her origin story is not a thinly-veiled biography for me. When I first created the costume for her and added the moon symbol to the outfit, I knew I wanted to do something more with the moon symbology, since the moon has always been a unique source of inspiration for me.

The fluctuations of power that Austara experiences in her origin story is not often reflected in gameplay, mainly because I have reduced the cost of endurance on most of her powers and taken powers that help regain endurance faster. That does tie in with her story, however--I figure she's able now to push beyond normal human endurance and keep fighting through exhaustion. I put fluctuations of power into her story mainly because even human women experience some fluctuations of physical endurance in their own lives (as any Midol or Pamprin commercial will attest). Austara's situation is slightly exaggerated because her origin as a superhero comes from these cycles of weakness and strength, and these cycles are related to the moon and the moon goddess from which she now draws her powers.

Name

"Austara" is originally drawn from the word "austere," meaning serious, Spartan, and unembellished. But there's also a hidden "star" in the name as well, which is fairly significant. Much like her costume, her name represents her wish to be simply who she is, not overly decorated; however, in battle, her "star" certainly appears. It is also a happy accident that the first two letters of her name comprise the symbol for gold in the Periodic Table of the Elements.

Character Development

As I played Austara in-game, I realized that the moon symbology could most easily tie in with the Greek goddess Artemis and the Roman goddess Diana, both goddesses of the moon and of the hunt. Both goddesses enjoy the sport of war as well, so it seemed right to have Austara be a sort of "earthly daughter" to such a goddess figure. The strange woman who appears to Austara in her vision (during the origin story) is thus a reference to Artemis/Diana.