Name: Lao Tzu
Age: Undefined. But probably somewhere between his late fifties and early seventies.
Nation: He hails from a Fire Nation territory.
Bender: Undefined, but probably a firebender.
Hair: Light grey. He wears the traditional Fire Nation sideburns.
Clothing: The armor of the Royal Procession, though with slight Roman influences (I imagine his helmet resembles those worn by the Praetorian Guard, though Fire Nation-ized). Gilan, the territory where he's from/current resides is culturally similar, but distinct from the Fire Nation -- so hopefully that justifies me indulging a bit.
Also, he has four fingers on each hand, or at least the gloves he wears makes it look that way. The reason why is because the Coachman from Pinocchio (one of his inspirations) also has four fingers, and similar to how the Coachman may or may not be just an ordinary coachman, Lao Tzu may or may not be an ordinary man. It's stupid, but if you read on, you'll see what I'm going for. Hopefully it's stupid in a good way.
Height/Weight: Average height, but muscular.
Weapons: A spear.
Skill Level: Undefined. I've never pictured him poking anyone with it.
Flaws: This is a tricky one. Being a world-class liar, secretly despising virtue in his heart, as well as having zero empathy for anyone is a flaw of sorts, but if we were to speak of flaws as personal traits that interfere with the character's goals than I suppose that as a person completely lost to vice (especially pride/self-love) he doesn't understand the concept of goodness very well, or at least he refuses to believe in it, which means that when someone acts on motives other than self-interest it can throw a wrench in his plans.
In addition, he also underestimates just how much uncovering the secrets of Yuandao's family has hurt the young noble. After the events of the second Act he thought that getting rid of Meiji and Ling would act as a catharsis for Yuandao and that afterwards, Yuandao would be satisfied and allow Lao Tzu to enjoy the good life in peace, but no, Yuandao had to take his revenge a step further and pick a fight with Azulon, thereby dooming Gilan (and everyone in it, including Lao Tzu) to a certain death.
Family: Not important.
History: Lao Tzu appears in the second Act of the story. He's a member of the Royal Procession (or something like it) for his territory, who was passed over for a promotion by Lord Meiji, Yuandao's uncle. As a result, he despises the elderly monarch and longs to kill him. When Yuandao is finally welcomed back to his homeland he senses an opportunity to rise up the social ladder by befriending the young noble and turning him against his uncle and grandmother. However, there is more to this ambitious officer than meets the eye.
What I want for this character is something more. I imagine Lao Tzu to be this story's Iago. Some of you can spot the slight similarities in the description I gave above. When I was conceiving this character in my imagination, I struggled to come up with a concept that made him more than just a more vulgar/debauched version of Zhao or the typical evil grand-vizier (I also however, wanted to avoid making his goal something outlandish. I flirted with the idea of making him someone that threatened the world, until I realized that having Azulon or any character in this story deal with the apocalypse was completely stupid/hilarious).
Iago, or what I know of him, helped me capture the feeling I'm trying to get at. Namely that this is a character with hard to define motives. Does he simply want a raise in his salary? Is he actually the devil in disguise and wants to damn Yuandao by subtlety luring him into performing acts of evil under the guise of virtue/honor? Who can really say. What we know is that he's a man who has chosen, for unknown reasons, to empty himself of charity. As a result he's a bit of a case study in a completely narcissistic man, given over to self-love. I wanted him to be scary as well. In that I want people who read this story to be frightened by the actions of a soul so completely lost as well as the possibility of such a soul existing. Why does he enjoy corrupting people, lying, and tearing relationships apart?
In addition, he is also a mysterious man with an almost other-wordy amount of knowledge. He knows quite a bit of Gilan's (and Caldera's) dirty secrets. How he came across this knowledge is unknown, but seeing how some of his chief inspirations (Iago and the Coachman) are thought by some to be the devil in disguise, Lao Tzu might be as well (or at least, some other evil creature. The story never reveals if that is the case, I just thought it be cool that if generations from now some student writing a report on this story, if it is ever completed and published, might argue that Lao Tzu is Satan and that some other character is Christ. Actually forget that last part, I don't want any English teacher ever to force that kind of analysis on a student).
Connections to the Canon: None.
So that's one of the story's principle characters. I've chosen to write a great deal about the feel of the character because I'm still trying to capture it as best I can. All this may be pointless since I'm probably never going to write this story. It's coming together in my head, but it's likely going to stay there for a long time. But I want your guy's help in fleshing out this concept of mine. Any critiques are welcome (actually encouraged.) Does this sound like an interesting character? Or am I just a hack trying to create something artistic when in fact it's total nonsense? Probably the latter.
And then there is...
Nation: Fire Nation loyalist. Though from Gilan, a territory with cultural ties to the Fire Nation, but semi-independent from it.
Clothing: She's dressed like a Roman matriarch, though imagine that outfit with Fire Nation influences.
Height/Weight: Average height and lean.
Family: Yuandao's paternal grandmother. Meiji's mother. Jaira's second wife. Step-mother to a bunch of dead people.
Flaws/History: Ling is a person who can see the big picture. Long before the war started, she read the signs of the time correctly and saw that the Fire Nation would expand into an empire. So she thought it would be best to put her proud country's stubborn pride aside and submit to Caldera's rule. Unfortunately, her husband Jaira the Hammer surrounded himself with people with foolish notions of resisting this inevitable march of history. So for the sake of her country, she married him and one by one killed off his children and allies so that her son Meiji could rule Gilan. Meiji however turned out to be grossly-negligent ruler who allowed his country to sink into a filthy sink of corruption. So I suppose her primary flaw is that she doesn't notice the smaller details. She wanted to save her country at any cost and ended up running it to the ground by putting it under the rule of a man who could not care less about running it, simply because he'd do what she told him to do, or at least not get try to do something stupid like start an unwinnable war with the Fire Nation.
I guess she doesn't really have flaws that affect the narrative. She's grossly amoral and thinks the ends justifies the means. But being amoral is mostly a flaw of sorts and not one that informs the narrative. It certainly affects it though. In fact, her scheming is what leads to Yuandao wanting to uncover the dark truth about his family.
Oh and the fact that she was so intent on getting Meiji on the throne led to her screwing him up by forcing him to leave his first wife and marry his step-sister.
Connections to Canon: None.
So there's Ling for you. She's pretty much Livia Drusilla. I'm trying to dial back those influences a bit, but she's minor enough for me to hopefully get away with having her be so similar.