Camilla the Apprentice Thief by Nick Avallone

camilla1Camilla the Apprentice Thief, by Nick Avallone

AMBIDEXTROUS, adj. Able to pick with equal skill a right-hand pocket or a left.” —Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

When I first saw this image of Camilla on DeviantArt, it brought to mind a blog post a while back by the incomparable Savannah Houston-McIntyre, author of the lovely webcomic Amya Chronicles. In particular, I thought of Savvy’s argument that “a strong character can be weak,” that physical strength and robustness are no indication of a character’s raw humanity. From her very appearance, Camilla looks like a very relatable character. She looks shy; she looks awkward; she looks weak. But she also looks like she’s been through a lot and come out stronger in spirit for it.

Camilla’s back story intrigues me, that she’s apprenticed to a ruthless enforcer tells me that her very survival depends on her success. It’s entirely probable that she has a regular quota to meet, and missing the quota results in termination of her employment—which likely results in him killing her, or raping and killing her, or selling her into slavery. She’s a survivor, then, having to learn quickly or die.

camilla2I love the hodgepodge look of Camilla’s trappings. It gives her the air of someone still breaking into her trade—as if each piece was acquired separately. Unlike the previous rogues I’ve showcased, who’ve profited from previous successes and can afford custom gear, our brunette heroine gives all of her acquisitions to her employer. Thus, some of Cammie’s gear looks to have been stolen, some borrowed, and some purchased with whatever pittance her boss allows her. At the same time, it makes her look slightly clownish, and thus easy to underestimate. And any thief in her position will have learned quickly how to use this to her advantage.

Camilla’s burgundy mantle may not be as long as a thief’s cloak, but it’s every bit as all-purpose. It can be pulled down to hide her shoulder armor better or pulled up to cover her face. Additionally, it can be pulled up over her head to protect from the weather or to further conceal her identity. The shoulder armor and elbow pads? Stolen, no question. They’re slightly worn, but also sculpted, and thus not likely a pair that her boss would dig out for her to use—plus I don’t think they’re from the same armor set originally. Cammie’s cuirass looks to be made from studded leather strips, weathered and faded—and clearly not masterwork. I suspect the leather was more likely scavenged than stolen, perhaps Cammie even sewed it herself from scraps she found.

Her bracers are also simple leather held together by straps—all of which may also have been scavenged. The tiny knife at her wrist looks almost like a butter knife or letter opener, and probably functions more as a pry bar or purse-string cutter. Her boots look slightly too large, possibly an older pair her employer had no use for. Camilla’s short blade is about as basic as a sword can get, and again is likely an old one her employer gave her to threaten people with. The pouch at her waist might contain tools of the burglary trade—lockpicks and such—but I think it’s more likely for her recent acquisitions. Given Camilla’s situation, I find it unlikely she has the luxury of casing a house and planning ways in and out. I think it more likely she’s a thief of opportunity—one who takes advantage of windows left open, purses hanging in the open, and goods left unattended. Unable to take advantage of large, well-secured payoffs, she instead depends on other people’s sloppiness in order to make ends meet.

I think it says a lot about Camilla’s character that she makes due with what she has. Ideally, there’s a lot of improvements that could be made to improve her costume—I mean, those tights afford no protection at all to her legs beyond modesty. She does the best she can with only what she’s been taught, what little she’s been given, and what she’s learned along the way. That she can stay alive and make her living with so precious little tells us a lot about the strength of her character.

Thanks again to Nick for letting me borrow Cammie for a while, and as always, thanks to everyone for reading. Take care and stay awesome!

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2 Responses to Camilla the Apprentice Thief by Nick Avallone

  1. Fantastic write-up! I’m amazed at how thoroughly you were able to surmise so much about the character, most of which fits exactly with what I thought of when painting her, and some that never even occurred to me. Thanks!

    • Thank you for the complements! The feedback I’ve gotten since starting this blog has been almost entirely positive, but it always means the most coming from the artists themselves.

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