Behind The Scenes With “The Wicked King”

Uncover the backstory to the latest Saint James mini-adventure, “The Wicked King.”

If you haven’t checked it out, head over to the Saint James site and read the mini-adventure I wrote, The Wicked King. This little 8-page story takes our Ex Occultus heroes, Wakefield and Hollander, to Antarctica to hunt a mythological behemoth from Japanese legend, the ningen. After you’ve done that, come back here and read on to delve into the back story.

First things first, if you’re not familiar, Ex Occultus follows the exploits of adventurer and fortune-hunter Francis Wakefield, the gruff and grizzled Englishman with a tortuous past, and his protégé, a young man only known as Hollander, as they journey through the arcane in search of treasures and fortune, righting wrongs as they go.

What Are Ningen?
The inspiration for writing a story about the ningen came from the interwebs, off a post on BoingBoing. Are the images photoshopped? Sure. But there’s a myth, and there’s no better world to make myths come to life than Ex Occultus.

Ningen are essentially giant humanoid whales that live in the arctic regions.  They’re 20-30 meters long and typically albino. Now, other than the renown, why would the boys chase after these beasts in such a harsh area of the world? Chasing down cryptids is their MO, but the Antarctic is positively frigid.

Enter Admiral Charles Wilkes
In the late 1800s, not many people were going to the Antarctic. Some countries did send scientific exploratory expeditions, but there was a 40-50 year gap from the 1840s to the 1890s where no one was going there. And most of the Ex Occultusadventures take place in the 1870s and 1880s. So I had to get creative.

After reading up on the 1838 – 1842 United States Exploring Expedition, led by Admiral Charles Wilkes, I noticed that Wilkes was a real ball buster. So much so, that Herman Mellville is rumored to have based his Captain Ahab character on him.

Return to Antarctica
Inspiration struck. Admiral Charles Wilkes encountered a ningen, became obsessed with the beast and finding him again. The ningen was Wilkes’ “white whale,” before Mellville had even written about Moby Dick.

So, he leads his own expedition, not sanctioned by the government, on his own dime. All the expeditions at that time brought along a whole manner of scientists and naturalists – so it would make sense that Wilkes would bring two famed hunters of mythological beasts with him on a hunting expedition.

What happens when they all come together? You can find out what happens when Wilkes takes Wakefield and Hollander to the icy antarctic in search of a giant beast that isn’t supposed to exist.

Read “The Wicked King”