Ether Astrum was born in Ofeilia and has a twin brother named Caelum. He comes from a wealthy family, though his father committed suicide when Ether was 2 years old, and his mother died of disease when he was 12 years old. He used to be fairly close to his brother, but later became his foe. He is Munne Servil's cousin, and is also related to Evelyn Astre. He is the leader of Wrath, and was the founder of the Angel Project.
He moved to TSWCAtS/Eltalor when he was about 22 when he went after Mage Ofeilia, who he wanted to punish for ultimately causing his downfall. He failed to find her, however, and instead got caught up with other matters.
A Bright Future
Ether and Caelum were born into a very big, very wealthy Ofeilian family that all lived in a vast manor together. They were a well-renowned clan that had ties with the royal family.
When Ether was a child, he was always extremely anxious, and as a result frequently had meltdowns and lashed out at even the people he cared for, but he always regretted it afterwards and found himself apologizing quite often.
His twin brother, Caelum, tended to get on his nerves and managed to make him angrier than anyone else at times, but the two got along great nonetheless. They were always the best of friends. Even though Caelum wasn’t always great at understanding his brother’s anxieties, he always wanted to protect Ether and make him happy.
Their mother, despite being rich, was a very humble, very generous woman. Her name was Stella, and she always went the extra mile to make sure Ether turned out all right despite his autism. She was the very reason that Ether so well knew how to empathize and connect with others. Ether idolized and adored her, looking up to her and striving to be like his mother.
“Despite our wealth, my mother was never the type of person that would ever come off as greedy or snobbish. She dressed in modest, plain clothing and rarely wore her jewelry, despite the fact that she had an entire drawer full of nothing but necklaces and rings. She may have been used to such a glamorous life, but she was the most generous woman I knew; sometimes she would actually give some of her precious gems to strangers she would meet when we traveled - even the ones that I knew were special heirlooms from my grandparents.
Sometimes, I used to ask her why she just gave away such expensive, such beautiful things to people she hardly knew. Every time I asked her, she would always laugh her soft, ringing laugh and tell me, ‘I can always see it in their eyes - they deserve something nice...when the poorest of people muster a warm, friendly smile for a stranger, especially in times of grief and poverty, you have to admire their strength.’”
Ether might've been an unmanageable child at times - having a tendency to be a whiny brat - but he really always was a sweet kid, and he was very passionate about magic, being an Aethereus. Though their kind is generally shunned in Ofeilia, Ether, being from a wealthy family with an excellent reputation, was treated as if his magical talents were “a gift from God” rather than taboo. Stella, who believed strongly in equal rights despite being from Ofeilia, encouraged Ether to use his talents to make their country a better place, and to show the world that there was a certain beauty to being a wizard, or even an Aethereus. He and Caelum made plans, with their mother’s support and encouragement, to make their kind less feared.
Rejection and Loss
When Ether was about 12 years old, he became aware that he had become smitten with another boy, and he spent a lot of time wondering whether or not this was normal. Initially, he thought it had to have been since it just felt so natural to him, but then he started overthinking it and wondering if something was wrong with him, so he confided in his mother.
Stella might have been open-minded, especially for an upper-class Ofeilian, but homosexuality was a foreign concept to her. She simply hadn't been taught about it other than the fact that it was illegal - it really wasn't her fault, nobody had ever told her otherwise, she was sheltered - so she thought something had to have been wrong with her son. She completely rejected him, in a bit of a panic, and told him that it was, in fact, not normal.
Ether looked up to her so much and genuinely expected her to accept him and reassure him he was fine and healthy - as she always did when he was anxious - so he was completely shattered when his worst fears were confirmed. It made him feel oddly unclean and contaminated, as if something was severely wrong with him, like an incurable, humiliating disease.
Being the sort to suppress his emotions so as to not burden others, Ether pretended not to care, and kind of just laughed it off. He pretended that the world wasn’t spinning around him, he pretended he wasn’t on the verge of a mental breakdown, and assured his mother that he didn’t actually have a crush on another boy. It was at that moment he started suppressing and denying the fact that he was gay.
It might not have been so bad if his mother decided educate herself on this abnormality - she probably would've looked into it after their conversation and rectified her crucial mistake - but she fell desperately ill the very day after Ether had confessed.
In summary, Ether and Caelum spent a very hard week waiting for their mother to recover, but she never did. Stella had died before she and her son could reconcile.
"All I ever wanted was to love and to be loved."
Ether subsequently had an extreme meltdown after his mother passed away. He ran away from home - the only person who even tried to understand him and his mental issues was gone forever, even worse, right after she had brutally rejected him.
It was around this point that Ether started getting oddly controlling, probably due to how many things had happened that he couldn't control (death, sickness...his sexual orientation). He wanted power in a world where he, being no more than a mortal child, controlled nothing.
Caelum followed Ether, being loyal to his twin, and being extremely worried for where he would go and what would become of him.
Ether was really quick to snap at Caelum and sometimes physically lash out at him. He was really kind of resentful towards him for reasons even he couldn't really understand - he just felt as if his brother's grief was incomparable to his own: Caelum never had to experience anxiety and the negative sides of autism in its entirety; Caelum would have never known what it’s like to have that one person capable of comforting you in a state of panic and anguish; Caelum would have never known what it was like to have your only ray of hope and light snuffed out...would he?
Not long after the twins ran away, they got caught and were subsequently forced into the orphanage, which...isn't a very good place for autistic children, to say the least.
It was in the orphanage that Ether discovered he was truly, honest-to-god afraid of blood (especially his own), disease, and death. It was such an absolutely filthy, poverty-riddled place compared to what he was used to, and he already had been pretty sensitive to all those things, being a squeamish boy, and the lack of order and control confused and overwhelmed him a lot.
He thoroughly gave up on his idealist views at that point, deciding that it wasn't worth it anymore since the world wasn’t fair. He developed depression and a deep sense of hopelessness. He decided that there was no point in trying to be a good person when all he would get in return was pain and loss. He grew more paranoid, about his health in particular, having been traumatized by Stella’s sudden death. He felt unclean no matter what he tried. His OCD worsened.
He discovered that he was unnervingly good at manipulating and controlling others, however, and that helped him feel more secure in such an unpredictable world.
“I can make them hurt if I want them to.”
A New Home
After an exceptionally nasty experience in the orphanage, the brothers ran away together again, only to run into a visiting relative from Eltalor. She took the two of them back to Eltalor and allowed the pitiful twins to stay there with them. Unfortunately for Ether, this was his cousin, Munne's, mother.
Ether and Munne had seen each other a few times before all this, and they had been friends...sometimes. They were the sort of children to be peacefully playing with each other one moment, and then get into a small disagreement and be screaming their heads off at each other the next.
Ether's anxiety had gotten much, much worse since his mother's death, and he was really hard to deal with in that state, so Munne quickly got fed up with him when they had to spend so much time together. She took his weird behavior as an opportunity to tease him, at first playfully, but it quickly escalated into blatant bullying when her friends got involved (seriously, imagine the poor little boy in the same room as little Terririn on a sugar high).
The day-to-day teasing and irritation he went through was unbearable, and he really lost his tolerance for women and girls when they were all acting so vicious towards him. Munne hadn’t meant it to go that far, but she was very young and a bit of a victim to peer pressure, so it got extremely out of hand when her friends joined in. Ether was teased about his long hair so much in particular that he went so far as to cut all of it off with a kitchen knife (Terririn had asked if he was gay).
The very last straw was when Munne took a dare from a friend at her birthday party. She was to steal her dad's hunting knife, cut Ether as he was sleeping, collect some of his blood in a jar, get Terririn to perform a healing spell on him, and, when he woke up, show him the jar of his own blood to try and scare him.
In all fairness, Ether was not a saint - he had bullied and manipulated the girls prior to that, at times being more vicious than they were, and it was their way of getting him to leave them alone. None of them knew just how much damage it would do to him, having no understanding of his mental issues and the pain he had suffered.
It was then that Munne's parents decided they really could not take care of the twins anymore (mostly for Ether's sake as his situation with Munne was completely out of hand), so they were sent back to the Ofeilian orphanage.
However, this time two just ran off not an hour after they arrived, and that was when Ether started making some new plans for his future, these ones fitting his new opinions and ideals much better.
“Nobody ever bothered to ask what I had wanted.”
The Angel Project
When he ran away from the orphanage at age 16, Ether decided that he wanted power more than anything else after having so little control over everything that happened in his life. If the world wouldn’t give him sanctuary, he was going to have to take it himself. Using black magic to help him, he slowly started scheming and manipulating others to get what he wanted, forcing Caelum to help him.
He slowly gathered followers in Ofeilia, mostly by threatening and psychologically abusing them, though there were some others who were also power-hungry that he was able to manipulate through their sheer avarice.
When he started getting more and more of a following, it didn't seem at all unreasonable that he could use them to become the king of Ofeilia, so he was able to at last put his plans into action.
This little cult of his became known as the “Angel Project”, founded by Ether’s grief and anguish.
“Say they need but close their eyes for riches -- and they will.”
Personality and Traits
Ether tends to have a pessimistic outlook on life, but is very ambitious and has an extreme desire for power, especially over other people. His magical techniques reflect this, as he is a necromancer. When he is not in control, his anxiety starts to show, especially when it's something he has no power over - for example, illness, or the death of someone he cares for. He tends to be a bit of a hypochondriac and wears a mask over his mouth and nose when he's in out in public (he claims this is to conceal his identity, but his mask has become his most defining physical trait, so most people have guessed the truth). He can be manipulative and cunning when he needs to be, and he has a gift
for being persuasive and using people's internal conflicts against them - which is fortunate, given how he needs to convince people to join his guild. On the surface, he has little patience and respect for women - typical for an Ofeilian man - and does not generally let anybody who isn't white, straight, and male into his guild.
Despite all this, and how unsound he is, Ether is truly just severely insecure and misguided. His true personality, which he tries so hard to suppress, is quite different - deep down, he can be a bit of a sentimental goofball, and, though somewhat whiny and petulant, he is very passionate and cares deeply about his fellow human beings. He is not truly prejudiced, regardless of the front he puts up - he is simply confused about what he's supposed to do, and he thinks that what he is doing is the only way he could gain power in such an unfair world.
He is a natural leader and is much more capable of empathy than one would expect from the coldhearted, brutal leader of the Angel Project. He also enjoys writing (having an entire diary of poems that he'd rather die than share with others) and music. He took singing lessons when he was younger and learned to play guitar by ear. He has a rather sarcastic, yet silly sense of humor.
Despite all that Ether has done, Caelum honestly, truly loves his brother. Even being forced to help him, he rarely hesitated. He was always more worried for Ether's sanity and well-being rather than what evil deeds he would commit. Of course he realizes what Ether is doing is wrong, and he eventually does pluck up the nerve to speak up and rebel against him, but he likely feels some amount of guilt over it and wishes to be a friend to Ether again someday. Caelum always wished to protect Ether, and was always happiest when he made him smile. Ether does love Caelum in return, despite having some pent-up resentment towards him, and finds himself completely lost without his twin when Caelum deserts the Angel Project.
Ether developed a deep friendship with a member of the Angel Project, named Merle Archimedes. Merle was essentially pressured into joining the Angel Project by his abusive father, who, paranoid of his son potentially being gay, teaches him that he has to be tough, masculine, and altogether battle-ready. Merle is told that he must not show emotion, he must stay stoic, or he’ll be condemned. His father beats and punishes Merle harshly if he even expresses the slightest bit of femininity or weakness.