Léal became a favorite of mine the day I began writing a dialog scene with him. It was the first time he and I became familiar with each other, and I think it was also what convinced me that he had a sense of humor. While he has a dark humor in the Magicians series, it is somewhat a relief compared to how most of the other characters are serious with only several funny moments. Working with Léal from the beginning was something I enjoyed and his first conversation with a character from another one of my books went like this:
Léal: My name is Léal. I am traveling through these woods to meet a friend.
Hunter: Your name is Lea?
Léal (annoyed): Léal.
Hunter: What kind of name is that?Originally in the first draft of Cursed with Power there actually were several instances when characters would make strange remarks toward Léal's name. Currently I have removed those scenes because the fact that almost everyone would make fun of his name seems a bit peculiar and ironic anyways.
Somehow, this handsome, striking, funny, mysterious man walked into Celestria's life and won over our hearts. I never expected anyone to fall head over heels for him --so to speak--but it turns out I'm not the only one who found positive qualities in him. Isn't it somewhat ironic we love him, though? He, like Celestria, is a Dark magician. Like Alaire said, he has also gotten involved in fighting...sometimes more than he should have. How was it that Léal came about into the story to win over readers like this? How did he have this effect? Well I can't speak for the readers, but I can tell you a thing or two...
Like I have probably said a thousand times, Léal wasn't originally supposed to be in Cursed with Power at all. His appearance was meant to come in the sequel, New Life. Of course, as we all know this was not how everything turned out because after three chapters Léal was apologizing to Celestria for nearly having walked into her.
If it wasn't for Celestria, though, I cannot say for sure how readers would have felt toward him. I purposely gave Celestria an interesting way to think of Léal. When they talked she acted like he was the worst person she knew. While when she was thinking to herself, she showed signs of having deeper feelings for him than she cared to admit. Their relationship went from heated up to settled down, but when they parted and went their own ways it was not only the main character who felt the sadness in Léal's departure. Readers as well seemed to notice the grief that entered into Celestria's mind after he walked away.
Despite whatever readers may think of him, I have always tried to keep Léal the way he is. He can be serious but humorous; he is handsome yet dark and mysterious. When at last he said his final goodbye and walked away into the distance, we were left to remember that he looked back. For me this was something he had to do. Celestria and I both connected there when she talked about how she had never had anybody look back at her. With Léal doing that he became a man I myself could respect, and in return Celestria gained an ounce of respect and admiration toward him.
Several readers have asked me, "When is Léal coming back?" My response has always been the same, which is primarily saying that if he returns it will be unexpected. We all know Léal is returning in New Life, but if he comes into Cursed with Power again it will be a surprise for everyone... perhaps even myself. Léal has been a great character to work with and I would love nothing more than to bring him back into the book. For now, though, he is missing and if you must make up some bizarre story to reassure yourself that at any minute he'll come running in to save Celestria...then do as you must.
Until his return we may continue to wonder...
Why do we love you, Léal?
"There's a lot that I want." He said. He smirked as he said it like he knew he was pushing my patience.