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Warning! This page contains spoilers for The Royal Ranger.
Alyss Mainwaring is an Araluen diplomat, and is one of Will's oldest and closest friends. As a young child she was orphaned and sent to live in the Redmont ward; she was the first ward, with Will being the second. On Choosing Day, Lady Pauline accepted Alyss as her apprentice.
Alyss was an orphan, having been raised in the ward in Redmont castle. She later becomes a Courier trainee, then a diplomat, soon becoming very experienced and taking after her mentor Lady Pauline. The bond between the two is similar to the bond between Will and Halt, except Will and Halt have a father-son relationship, Alyss and Pauline have a mother-daughter relationship. Pauline & Halt both seem like parent figures to Alyss & Will, as neither knew their own parents very well or at all. Both mentors are very proud of their protegees.
Alyss trains to be a courier throughout the first few books in the series, taking on her first mission by herself in The Burning Bridge, which doesn't go as planned due to the knight (who has been refusing to comply with a treaty signed between himself and Redmont Castle) insulting first her, then Pauline and ends by insulting Baron Arald. This episode ends with the knight being thrown from a one-story window by Halt who had been accompanying her as escort. Alyss, however, handles the situation with impressive composure.
Alyss plays a larger part in books five and six, traveling under the disguise of Lady Gwendolyn to Castle Macindaw to act as Will's contact. She is captured though and Will eventually rescues her, leading an attack on the castle. The two then realize that they love one another.
In The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, she and Will are on board Wolfwill, Will proposing in a clumsy way. Alyss pretends to be angry, saying that he will "have to do better than that", but is actually very happy; Will however does not know. They marry in The Lost Stories in And About Time Too....
While in Nihon-Ja, Alyss and Horace go to rock outcrop to enjoy lunch together. Horace tells her that "when they were riding back from Macindaw, he thought he was gonna have to take the two (Will and Alyss) and knock their heads together," and " it was so obvious that something was going on and neither would admit it." He said that he believed the best plan was if you love someone, you should just come out and say it. She got back at him by asking how things were going between him and Evanlyn/Cassandra, and was pleased to see him turn an embarassed shade of pink.
Alyss was raised as an orphan in Redmont and is one of the wards who have been there the longest along with Will. The night before their Choosing Day, Alyss says it would be strange for them to be perfectly calm about their Choosing Day, though Will doesn't find this comforting, as she had already been accepted by Lady Pauline to become a diplomat.
On Choosing Day, Alyss is the first to walk into the room and is immediately accepted to become a courier.
On Harvest Day, she meets up with Will, Jenny and George, as all apprentices are traditionally given the day off. Despite her usually unreadable, calm, visage, even she is eager to try one of Jenny's famed pies. When Horace later arrives late and starts a fight with Will, she is puzzled at his irritable behavior.
At the end of the book, her relationship with Will deepens as she tells him how proud she is of him after he kills the Kalkara, following a dinner celebrating Will's victory. She gives him a soft kiss on the lips over the table which surprises Will, though he enjoys it all the same.
In The Burning Bridge, Alyss is sent on her first diplomatic mission as a Courier. She is escorted by Halt because Will is far away in Celtica on a mission of his own. Halt was also assigned to the task as he is a close friend of Lady Pauline, the head of Redmont Fiefs Diplomatic Corps, and she beleived it would help his foul mood. Alyss' mission was to send a message to Cobram Keep about the false reading of a treaty that led to the Keep's refusal to make alliance with Castle Redmont, even though it is inside the boundaries of Redmont Fief. Along the way, Alyss attempts to cheer Halt up, but Halt is reluctant to part with his grim countenance.
Upon reaching the keep, they are greeted by a snooty secretary and an overlord named Sir Montague who is no better. Sir Montague is a fop in both Alyss and Halts' point of view, meaning he takes great measures to ensure that his phyisical appearance is noticed and awed by others. To fit this description, he wears a gold satin shirt and a powdered wig.
They are off to a rocky start when he says that Alyss slammed her credentials on the desk too hard. Sir Montague is boisterous at the time, and cannot see their point of view. In addition, he needs to be constantly reminded by Halt that he should not call Alyss "sweetheart" or other such names. On top of that he calls Baron Arald "fat", and proves to be offensive by describing Lady Pauline as a "sour-faced shrew who should have gotten married and raised a brood of squalling babies years ago, surely there would have been a half-blind and deaf man who would have taken her," which Halt and Alyss cannot stand. Alyss, however, gets no better treatment as she is told to "leave that sour-faced Lady Pauline, get a husband and learn to cook, because that's all you're good for."
His final crime is the destruction of Alyss's credentials, a crime which warrants a jail term, and Halt grabs Montague by his satin collar and hurls him out a window where he lands in his own moat (note that moats are often stagnant, smelly and cold). In the end he does sign an acceptance of alliance to Redmont. On the way back Alyss gives Halt a kiss on the cheek and says it's for Will. Halt replies by saying,"You won't mind if I don't pass it on in person" and Alyss gives him another kiss saying "and that's for you, you jaded, old, bad-tempered Ranger." Halt had previously described himself in this manner, and Alyss saw an opportunity to tease him about his word choice. At the end of their journey, Halt realizes what a good influence Alyss has been on him, and unwillingly accepts the fact that enjoys being around young people.
In The Sorcerer in the North she travels to the fief in which Will is posted, saying that she's there just on a routine Courier's mission. However, she later reveals to Will in the evening that she is really there to give him instructions to go to the Ranger Gathering grounds where Halt and Crowley have a mission for him. Will suddenly realises that someone is trying to get into the cabin where the two are sat. Alyss pretends to be talking to Will whilst the Ranger walks quietly over to the door and throws it open to reveal John Buttle, a local thug who had injued Shadow, Will's dog. Alyss distracts him using her dagger and Will knocks the man unconscious swiftly and ties him up. Alyss suggests that they may have to kill him as he has overheard their conversation, but Will comes up with another idea, giving him to the Skandians as a slave.
Alyss then leaves, the two parting with a gentle kiss.
She later poses as the gormless Lady Gwendolyn on her way to her fiancee's castle and is Will's contact after he is sent to Norgate Fief in disguise as a jongleur. She manages to talk to Will by asking Sir Keren to allow Will (still under the guise of a jongleur) to sing for her. One of Alyss' "servants" then manages to imitate Will's exact playing style leaving Will free to talk with Alyss.
Her disguise, however is penetrated later when John Buttle, who has escaped from the Skandian wolfship, recognizes her. She is imprisoned in the tower in the castle by Sir Keren.
Keren then later interogates her using a crystal to hypotize her so he can find out who Will and she are and what they are planning. Alyss initially is able to resist his attmepts but later succumbs.
Will launches a rescue attempt, climbing up the walls of the tower where Alyss is imprisoned and taking the window bars off using a special acid. He tells Alyss to climb from the window and get down using a rope but before she can Keren arrives and Will is forced to leave and climb down the rope without his friend. Keren hypnotizes Alyss again and unable to resist she tells him what Will is doing. Keren slices through the rope but thankfully, Will has already climbed off it. Alyss faints due to the turmoil in her mind so Keren is unable to interogate her further. The Ranger retreats back to the forest to rethink his plan.
The Siege of Macindaw, starts straight off from where the previous books stops.
She is able to contact Will by signaling with a lantern from her window using a courier's message code which Will also knows and manages to respond to. Will has made an ally in a talented healer who lives in a forest by Macindaw and lives under the guise of a legendary sorcerer, and has also made allies in a group of skandians who were shipwrecked nearby. With help from Horace he plans to free Alyss from Macindaw.
Malcolm gets Will to send Alyss a small pebble which he calls stelite and says that it came from a star. When in face it is actually just a regular river pebble. When Alyss focuses on it she is able to resist Keren's mind control and learns what he is planning.
Later, Keren proposes to Alyss, but she immdiately declines the offer and tries to persuade Keren to stop what he is doing before it is too late but to no avail.
At the end of the book she is almost made to kill Will with hypnosis but Will breaks the hold over her by saying: "I love you." After the hold over her was broken, Alyss fell to the floor crying, in shock at what had almost happened, then was told to run by Will. But instead, she grabbed the vial of acid that Will used to burn through the bars and threw it on Keren's face. Keren lost his balance and fell on the bars, and, weakened by the acid when Alyss used it on the bars before, they broke and Keren fell to his death.
At first she cannot remember what he said or what happened in the tower, but she has dreams of what happened and tells Horace, who says that they might not be dreams but memories, so she writes to Will saying that she loves him. Will immediately leaves Seacliff Fief to see her and to tell her he loves her in return.
In Erak's Ransom Alyss is Lady Pauline's bridesmaid during her and Halt's wedding. She is a joint bridesmaid with Jenny and wears a light-coloured blue dress.
When the time comes for the Bridal Dance, Will panics a little, not realising earlier that he has to take to the floor and dance with Alyss. The courier then tries to teach him to dance but isn't all that successful. The two leave the floor when Alyss spots Svengal, who comes charging through the door with news that Erak has been captured.
She stays behind at Redmont when Will leaves for Arridi with Gilan, Halt, Cassandra, Horace and the Skandians. Though slightly sad at staying behind and letting Will go off with Cassandra, she is quickly comforted by Pauline who points out that a Ranger and a future queen of Araluen could never get married as their two stations are so far removed from one another.
In The Emperor of Nihon-Ja she, Halt and Will are in Toscana with Selethen, overseeing a treaty that is being forged between Arridi and that country. She is startled and a little annoyed when Evanlyn turns up as she is jealous of her relationship with Will. She agrees to go with Evanlyn, Halt and Will to Nihon-Ja to help Horace and George, revealing that she knows the language of Nihon-Ja, which proves useful. On board the ship out at sea, things become tense at times between the two girls, esspecially during their sparring sessions. In Nihon-Ja Alyss cuts her hair and dyes it black, to Will's astonishment, in an effort to blend in more with the inhabitants of that country as they are somewhat hostile to foreigners or gaijin as they are referred to.
She later travels with Evanlyn across the Great Lake in northern Nihon-Ja to enlist help from a group of legendary warriors that live on its far side. They travel across by kayak and though the atmosphere between them is often tense they start to thaw to one another.
When the two girls meet with the man who is in charge of the warriors, and also loyal surporter of Emperor Shigeru, he tells them he is unable to enlist the men to help.
When Alyss and Evanlyn inquire as to why they discover that the forest through which the men would have to travel to get to Ran-Koshi is inhabitated by a man-eating creature called the Terror. Alyss and Evanlyn, seeing there is no other way, agree to kill it and then the army is free to march to Shigeru's aid.
Together they set up a trap for the creature. Alyss stays on the ground with a shield, whilst Evanlyn locates herself on an outcrop with her sling. The Terror suddenly attacks almost out of nowhere. Evanlyn injures him badly with a few shots from her sling and Alyss, using a technique the Arridi use, slashes at the Terror's stomach and with Evanlyn, kills it. The Terror is revealed to be a giant Snow Tiger.
Durign the biref fight witht The Terror (the Kyofu), Alyss had been lying on the ground covered by a large wooden shield. She acted as bait for the tiger in the hope that Evanlyn coudl kill it with her sling. However, Alyss also carried her own dagger and helped kill the beast herself.
Later, Evanlyn and Alyss finally resolve their differences to one another and become firm friends, Evanlyn asking her to be her bridesmaid at her and Horace's future wedding.
At the end of the book Will asks her to marry him after Horace proposes to Evanlyn. He does this badly by saying "We should try something like that" Alyss marches away in mock indignation but she has a big smile on her face, unbeknownst to him. (It is likely that Will tried again, with more sucess, later on.)
The Lost Stories
Alyss is mentioned briefly in this story as Halt is wondering what he should do with the recently-orphaned Will.
In the Roamers, Alyss was looking after Ebony, Will's dog, whilst he and Halt were away on a mission. When the two come back Alyss comes riding up to meet them, she tells Will that Ebony has been taken away, presumably by a band of travelers called the Roamers who had been staying nearby. They both quickly set out after the travelers under the guise of brother and sister.
After tracking down the Roamers, Will prepares to set out on a nighttime mission to find Ebony. Alyss accompanies Will. At first, he is unhappy with the decision, but the Courier soon changes his mind for him. The two set off together and eventually come to the camp, in which she disguises herself as a hideous old woman named Hilde while the real person escaped.
In this story Alyss is bridesmaid to Evanlyn at her and Horace's wedding. She wears a dress, made in the Courier style, and Will notices how beautiful she looks (not for the first time, nor the last).
The next day, after Will has foiled the Genovesan's plot to kill Cassandra Alyss takes him aside and mentions how he missed dancing with her at Pauline and Halt's wedding then how he almost missed dancing with her at this wedding before finishing off by saying "You'd better be there out ours."
Alyss and Will finally get married at a small ceremony surrounded by close friends.
Cassandra is the matron of honor and Horace the best man. Alyss is given away by Halt, showing how he has become a fatherly figure to the two young adults. Baron Arald preforms the ceremony, marrying the couple.
Eighteen months prior to the book, Alyss is coming back from a mission when she sees an inn set on fire by Jory Ruhl. She goes into the fire to save a five-year-old girl, and manages to save her by literally tossing her out a window into the arms of three anticipating guards. Tragically, the inn then collapsed, killing her. However, though everyone believes she is dead, her body was never found, hinting at a possible survival.
Alyss's death sends Will into a tailspin; he hunts Jory Ruhl without success and is grim and unapproachable for a long time afterward.
Alyss is described as being very beautiful with grey eyes, ash blonde hair which frames her face and a firm chin, she is also quite tall for a girl which can lead to a few problems, such as when John Buttle uncovered her disguise in the Sorcerer in the North after noting her height. She is also described as having a rather deep voice for a girl, with a cadence like a stream flowing over smooth stones.
She is loyal to her friends and at heart a great Diplomat and is said to be like a young version of Lady Pauline.
Alyss is a determined character and a diplomat at heart, capable of easily breaking up arguments and approaching things with a level and calm head. Occasionally, though, this bearing may slip and tension emerge. This is shown between her and Cassandra when the two clashed, but it was soon resolved over the course of the Emperor of Nihon-Ja.
Alyss is a natural choice for a diplomat, shown many times throughout the series. She has learnt a lot from Pauline who has become a mother-like figure to her.
- Diplomat - as a diplomat Alyss is a natural, thus proving very talented at it. She takes after her mentor in manner and diplomacy.
- Linguist - as a linguist Alyss is quite versatile, knowing Gallican and Nihon-Jan as well as presumably other languages.
- Fighting - Alyss is reasonably talented as a fighter, though not exactly amazing. She carries around a dagger and is quite good at fighting with her saber, being quite coordinated with her strikes and parries. She can also use lightweight javelins and is able to defend herself in mild form of unarmed combat.
- Disguise - Alyss is excellent at assuming disguises, first shown in the Sorcerer in the North where she becomes Lady Gwendolyn, copying her mannerisms. She demonstrates this again the Emperor of Nihon-Ja, dying her skin a darker color and coloring her hair black so that she blends in with the locals better. In the Lost Stories: The Roamers she pretends to be an old woman called Hilde who works in the Roamers camp. The disguise is so good that even Will is astonished.
She and Will have been friends since childhood, and develop a deep bond, sharing their first kiss in The Ruins of Gorlan after Will defeats the Kalkara. After The Battle for Skandia the two become closer, Alyss sensing that Will needs someone by his side after the events at Castle Araluen when he gets back from Skandia. In Erak's Ransom Alyss is upset and tense when Will travels off with Evanlyn to Arridi but Pauline points out that the two would never be able to be a couple due to their different roles in the Araluen society. They confess that they love one another after initially being unsure where their relationship stood with regard to one another in The Siege of Macindaw and their relationship becomes more romantic. In The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, Will proposes to her when they are travelling back to Araluen and she accepts though at first acts indignant at Will's very clumsy proposal but is really delighted. They are married in the short story And About Time Too . . . in the Lost Stories.
Alyss initially was very hostile toward Evanlyn in jealousy over Will, realising that there was a special relationship between the two which she thought was romantic, it wasn't however and Cassandra was really in love with Horace. Later, when Alyss realizes this, she starts anew with Evanlyn and apologizes for her previous behavior, this happens during course of the book: The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, and from then on the two are good friends and get along well. Evanlyn asks Alyss to be her maid of honour at her wedding and in turn Evanlyn acts as Alyss' matron of honour at her and Will's wedding.
Horace is like a brother to Alyss and both get along very well having grown up together in the ward at Castle Redmont. Alyss figures out that he is in love with Cassandra during The Emperor of Nihon-Ja and is delighted when the two become engaged and marry. In turn Horace, realised that she and Will were in love with one another during the events of books five and six but was unsure how to bring the two together. He does, albeit in a roundabout way at the end of The Siege of Macindaw by encouraging Alyss to write to Will explaining how she really feels about him. He is present at Will and Alyss's wedding with Cassandra.
She gets along well with Halt, being one of the few people capable of drawing a smile from the Ranger easily, and Halt looks upon her as a daughter. They start to get along well in The Burning Bridge when Halt takes care of Alyss when she goes on a diplomatic mission. Halt gets a little irritated at her behavious towards Cassandra and vice versa in The Emperor of Nihon-Ja and is pleased when they start to get along well. He approves highly of her and Will's relationship and gives the bride away at her and Will's wedding in And About Time Too...
The two are close having a strong master-student bond, Pauline being quite like the mother Alyss never had. Pauline often reassures and gives advice to her pupil and highly approves of her and Will's relationship. Pauline chose her at the job choosing ceremony.
- Ariss-san (Called by the Nihon-Ja)
- Tsuru (Nihon-Jan for "crane")
- Lady Gwendolyn (undercover in Sorcerer in the North)
- Hilde (undercover in The Roamers)
- It is said that Will and Alyss loved each other long before they started dating, but they were both too scared to admit it to one another.
- She is apparently more beautiful than the princess Cassandra.