In a similar fashion to drawing Raziya with the construction method, I decided to do the same with her beau. Not totally sure where Maia popped into my designs, but I do like her a lot, just as Raziya too likes her foxy fox. Of all the B-list characters I've had in recent times, I feel like Maia herself isn't strongly defined. She's just kind of handled as Raziya's girlfriend, and doesn't go farther than that in outward lore.
But despite this, she's likely the most static character I've had in my recent era of artwork. Even when experimenting with different names, abilities and designs for my characters, Maia's lack of fleshing out also lead to her having the most staying power as she is. Why fix something that ain't broke, after all? Even as Raziya changed from being an arcane trickster to a monk, Maia has inherited the illusory talents of her lover.
Her fantastical costume, though more detailed than I used to draw it, is also an evolution of her original design. Her sleeves, inspired by Renamon's design, are still there. Her crop top too is still there, and so are her half-skirt, shorts and knee-highs. The only addition from her design from this year prior was her crescent-moon choker, defining who she is more clearly. Her weapon choice has fluctuated a lot, but I think I can settle on a ritual dagger (not unlike pre-monk Raziya's) as opposed to a hunting sword or rapier. Direct combat is not her MO, by both martial or magical means.
In adding detail to Maia's design, I also feel I should add a blurb about she's become in my mind. I've written backstories for both Jengo and Lovella (both of whom I wanna redraw in the near future), but never really wrote one for Maia. I'd prefer to not set anything in stone without actually featuring it in a story, game or whatever; Jengo and Lovella's backstories have elements I'd want to tweak, but are good starting points. As such, there is a vignette about Maia below. In closing before that vignette, it is refreshing to demystify an under-utilized character, even one that is as dear to my favorite imagination-child as she is.
The end of the Elven Wars had ushered in a new peace to the known world, with unforeseen changes nipping at its heels. The elves, whose kingdom in the Arcane Forests had come crashing to ruin from their fealty to the eldritch Titans, had thinned substantially in number due to an unholy plague. The epidemic, a paranormal disease now called Feysbane, was believed to have been summoned from Sheol itself to punish elves as a whole. After all, it was that fell monarchy that tried to take over the world. But even those elves who rebelled against the regime fell ill among their kind. In the changing world, even with an invitation of the plague's survivors sent to join the land's Republic of Kindred, the elves isolated themselves in the deepest conclaves of the Arcane Forests. Many hoped in time that the common folk of this new republic could forgive their people for the crimes of a cruel majority, yet knew this was not that time. So with their long lifespans almost all remaining elves hid themselves away in this coming renaissance, waiting patiently for a day that the other races could extend their trust. But not all of the fey had that luxury, and some were ushered into this new unity. The dwarves shared their technology, which humans later innovated upon to the world's Renaissance-era tech levels. The gnolls, largely seen as titan-worshipers and sub-human raiders, have fought for acceptance after the trickster god Rotorzi adopted them as his own. The leonine learned they could not keep to their proud city-state of Brigalia alone, spreading across Arakhavia and even the northern Targatona. And the fey-foxes, of whom Lady Maia of Grant was an example, fought bravely alongside the elven rebels while rediscovering the lost art of enchanting inanimate objects. Among the various dens of fey-fox kind, one such noble house held the honor of many veterans: the Grants. Many reynards and vixens from House Grant gave their lives in the Elven Wars; some managed back with their crossbows, targe shields and hunting swords in tow, now lauded veterans. Maia was the youngest kit to the head of the Grant den, under the star sign of Cancer. Her mother fostered the child's imagination and intuition early on, devoting the young Maia to the temple of Veravela. It also helped that the youth had a leaning toward the subtle arts of a so-called "trickster", caught with an unseen hand lifting a fresh-baked pumpkin cookie from the cooking tray. This chief goddess of the fey-foxes, reflecting domains of knowledge and wisdom, would surely challenge the girl to expand her mind and harness her potential. And thus Maia was brought into the faith at a young age, enriched in worldly lore that the books of both monks and dwarven printing presses created. By the time Maia had hit puberty, the devout vixen was stoked at the offer to join the convent of her people's goddess. A perfectionist and a bookworm by nature, something happened as Maia began to mature. Something that distracted her from her religious devotions. Among the nuns of Veravela, Maia had developed a kinship with a daughter to a fellow veteran den, the MacNameras. The proud sailors had but one son, a proud fencer named Basil; while many tried to court him, Maia found herself falling in love with his sister Iseult. While being gay wasn't necessarily taboo among the fey-foxes, Maia's convent was sworn on celibacy. Focused on learning and sharing knowledge, romance was just a distraction. In hushed whispers, the vixen's heartaches worsened when she confessed her infatuation for Iseult: the other vixen just didn't swing that way. Her studies and practices of magic both fell apart in the coming months, and the heartbroken Maia left her convent of her own accord. Her mother was disappointed, thinking her daughter's dropping out was a denial of her destiny. For years Maia hid the truth, but fate forced her hand as she became a young adult. With Basil having a few suitors, it seemed inevitable that the Grants would try to offer Maia as an arranged wife. Maia tried to hide her sapphic passions; perhaps Iseult's brother was a good runner-up for a mate? However, Iseult remembered Maia's confession of love, and the shared happenstance came forth. In the end Maia's feigned interest in men and women alike wouldn't last. Maia sobbed bitterly at a dinner party among the various suitors, her confession of being a lesbian gushing like the tears from her eyes. But somehow, as much as she thought it would, her world didn't end. Met with empathy, Basil himself hushed what little dissent there was. Thus the lad's words of caring advice echoed in Maia's mind as she made her decision: "Knowledge is taught, but wisdom is experienced". With the blessings of the Grants and MacNameras, Maia left the Arcane Forests and traveled to the southern lands of Arakhavia. She was never fond of the cold up north, and she was willing to preach the lore she inherited. Months passed, and the veritable missionary soon found her illusory arts and arcane secrets served a declining calling well: that of the adventurer. She settled down in the proud city of Horizon, tending to its library while taking heroic quests as odd jobs. For a while, Maia's illustrious background helped her make ends meet. But the going-away gift of gold pieces dwindled away, and she found herself making each silver count. What's more she longed for a shield maiden in shining armor, and her devotion to becoming wise couldn't fill the empty spaces of her heart. One day she was tasked with going out to the countryside, to hunt down a fiendish goblinoid that people called a "Sackman", and which her people knew as an unseelie Bogeyman. Her hunt took her to a humble community known as Dawn's Light, where she traded with villagers that had never seen folk like herself. Her spelunking into what the villagers called the Founder's Cave proved harrowing, the vixen out-foxed by goblins and their attack-rodents. Limping out of the cave after the umpteenth ambush, Maia was out of magical power to even cast a simple healing spell upon herself. And one of the smarter, magical goblins -- an imp -- whisked away her last magic-replenishing potion. The contract to slay the Sackman seemed a lost cause. But as Maia assessed her options, a leonine woman approached her, quarterstaff in tow. She seemed dead-set on entering the infested cavern, and Maia found out that a child was taken in the dead of night. While Maia wanted to give up, she knew that this daft daughter of lions would get herself killed going alone. And besides, there was just something about her determination that rekindled Maia's efforts. As the two young women traversed the cool, dark dampness together, they exchanged names and fought valiantly against the goblin incursion. In time Maia would know her as Raziya; in time, Maia would fall in love all over again.