|This character is no longer on the boat. But they do have a rather lovely page, don't you think?|
Royston is on a boat! And he's not too damn pleased.
Page is currently under construction.
TL;DR Canon Information Edit
I tried to keep the spoilers vague, but, well. Read at your own risk!
Royston was raised in the country of Volstov (which is essentially an alternate version of Russia), in the middle of the rural country surrounded by sheep (which he has a particular dislike of) in a place outside of Nevers, called Tonerre. He spent most of his youth there; he was a young man with a thirst for knowledge surrounded by men and women who were essentially aristocratic country bumpkins. He himself admits that he cannot entirely hate the countryside, and regards it as a first lover that he cannot quite rid from his heart. He leaves Tonerre and the countryside as soon as he can to be in Thremedon, the capital of Volstov and the city Royston loves above most things in his life. He studied under several different mentors, honing and refining his latent ability into a real Talent (for his Talent, please see the abilities section).
Within the world of the novel, war between Volstov and Xi’an (ruled by the Ke-Han empire) has been raging for a very, very long time. Reasons for the war’s beginnings are shrouded in incomplete histories and legends; it is known that Volstov inherited the war after they took over the Ramanthines, a country that previously stood between “Old Volstov” and Xi’an. Royston joins the war efforts and embarks on a couple of major campaigns in his mid-twenties. He sees great suffering on his side, but is at least compassionate towards his enemies. He returns from the war (temporarily) and is bestowed with the title of Margrave—a title only given to magicians who have done a great service to their leader, the Esar.
Royston’s story within the book, however, starts after he is exiled from his beloved city of Thremedon for having an affair with the prince/heir apparent of Arlemagne, a country in slightly testy diplomatic waters with Volstov (This is also happening at the same time as ANOTHER scandal in Volstov, ALSO to do with Arlemagne, which probably is why Royston’s punishment is so harsh). Royston’s sent to the country where he is forced to stay with his brother, a man referred to as the chatelain, who is in command of Castle Nevers, vaguely near where Royston grew up. It’s here, as he wallows in depression, that he meets Hal, a really sweet young man who lives at the Castle as the chatelain’s childrens’ soon-to-be tutor. They eventually start to fall for each other, Hal blissfully smitten and Royston completely aware that he’s falling for the younger man and DETERMINED to not give in to that lovely temptation mostly because of Hal’s precarious standing in the household. At the time, he’s not sure how long his exile is slated to last for—if they were to conduct a relationship within the house, it could end very badly for Hal.
Fortunately, the Esar calls Royston back to Thremedon, and after much debate and persuasion, Hal accompanies him back.
After a very awkward “welcome back” party for all of the people the Esar had exiled, Royston is called back into service in what seems to be a last-ditch effort to destroy the Ke-Han once and for all, though the “hows” have yet to be determined. The metal-forged, magic-powered Dragons that Volstov had so recently been winning the war with (to public knowledge) cannot carry enough fuel to get all the way to the capital of the empire and back. Royston marches back into the mountains in an effort to aid the troops’ advance, to test the tactical waters. While he’s in the Cobalt Mountains, however, in the midst of battle, the magicians all collapse, falling very ill very suddenly. One, before she falls, mentions that it feels like there’s “nothing there”, nothing inside. Royston, when he attempts to use his Talent, discovers what she means—there’s nothing inside. Their Talents, which are so tied to their blood, are absent. Royston passes out.
Royston is eventually transported back into Thremedon and, along with the other magicians in the city who have all fallen ill, and stashed away in the Basquiat, one of the important policy/political/magic-based buildings in the city. They are kept in quarantine and kept away from their loved ones as they all slowly begin to die of this inexplicable plague. Eventually, Hal finds his way in, and after MANY long talking sessions and a trip to a library where Hal meets a mind-reader lady, they FINALLY figure out how to save the magicians. The Well, the source of their power, they figure, has been poisoned by the Ke-Han magicians. So they send the Airmen (the guys who ride those awesome dragons) on a suicide mission to go destroy the capital city.
And it works and Royston lives and Hal saves the day and it really is a lovely book. That’s pretty much it, up to the point in canon Royston’s from.
Beyond being a very smart man and being able to make farmboys swoon, Royston is a magician. Magic works in a very fun way for the Volstovic magicians—it is tied to The Well, the source of all magical power in Volstov. Legends say that people used to drink from the Well when the Ramanthines were in power and that’s how magic got into people’s blood, but the Esar keeps it under a tight guard. Magic manifests itself in interesting ways—each person has one skill. One might be able to manipulate water, or to read minds, or to camouflage themselves and others. Royston’s Talent lies with combustion. All he needs is the oxygen in the air and a little concentration and he can create explosions of varying intensities. If he loses his temper, the explosions tend to be more violent and less precise. (Fortunately, about 85% of the time, the man has a wonderful grasp on his temper.) His power comes from within himself—as Talents are tied to one’s blood as well as to the Well.
Tl;dr version: Royston can blow shit up with his mind. On the boat his powers are dampened somewhat, he will only be able to create small explosions—probably enough to start a fire but no more.
Hypothetically speaking, if he tried to do more than he was physically capable of, he could easily kill himself. In the book, he blows up a wall surrounding a city early in the war and it almost kills him. It's not said explicitly HOW in canon, but it seems like it would be an overdose of power that probably poisons a magician. So if he tried to create a huge explosion on the boat, it would probably kill him.