When I began writing the only real image I had was of a dirty, shadowed figure, pitiful, vengeful, seemingly dangerous, deranged even. A boy who was once a prince, captured and forced to work in slavery, taunted and shamed and tortured. That image became Aubrey. As I fleshed him out, I decided that in order to present him to the reader while keeping them ignorant of his true nature, I needed an ordinary main character, a "touchstone" as it were, whose baffled eyes they would see him through. This need resulted in Maxemilia. At first she was not overly interesting to me, though I did make her kind, and brave, as well as saddling her with dangerous, somewhat tragic backstory, which would lead to her meeting Aubrey.
However, at some point I realized that I had failed with her. She was not the simple, sympathetic character I had wanted. She was a veiled character, not sharing her thoughts with the reader, only revealing her feelings and motivations in glimpses. She had grown somehow, unconciously, and become as much a mystery as Aubrey himself, without me realizing it. It was then that I truly came to like her.
Maxemilia is quite a different character from many story-book heriones, being neither helpless or "feisty", "warrior" or victim. At times she seems almost unbelievably cold, at others overcome by fear and despair. She is motivated not by thoughts of glory, but by pity, sympathy, guilt and fear. This makes her brave, tireless, and fiercely loyal and together with her natural kindness and soft-heartedness, willing to sacrifice her happiness and her very life to protect something she cares for.
Though just as loving and sensitive a person as her mother, she is deeply afraid of becoming a slave to her emotions, of being overcome by them and following her mother's path into a life of shame and remorse. Her anger and spite against Ariel as a child helped ruin any chance of friendship, and serves as further insentive for her to think before feeling, making her cautious, afraid that she will regret any reckless action she undertakes.
Her choice to help Aubrey escape may seem just the kind of recklessness she hoped to avoid, yet it is in fact the opposite. She breaks Aubrey out fully aware of the enormity of her actions, and the danger for both of them, but she knows that if she leaves him she will forever wonder about his fate, about what might have become of him if she had acted, and will hate herself for not having the strength to save him.