According to his adoptive mother Queen Laura Stirling, John was abandoned underneath the branches of a sycamore tree as an infant. Laura discovered him while walking alone in the woods outside Castle Vallon and took him in. Knowing that her husband wouldn't tolerate an Exekian child in his home, she kept John a secret until after the birth of her son Richard.
King Aldous, known for his hatred of Exekians, refused to accept John as his son. The boy's interactions with other children and adults were strictly controlled out of fear his poisonous blood would cause them harm. Nonetheless, he grew close to the young Prince Richard and Princess Eleanor, with whom he was raised as a brother. In one particular instance, John rescued Eleanor from drowning in the Antoi river by diving in after her.
Laura died when John was eleven years old. Aldous immediately began plotting to get rid of the child, and decided to imprison him in the Ivory Tower, a castle spire known for having held various political prisoners and troublesome relatives of the royal family.
John spent ten years in the tower. During his exile, John and Richard communicated via letters, which were smuggled in by bribed guards. The letters became fewer and far between as time went on, and John began to believe that Richard was forgetting about him. Through these letters, John learned of Richard's relationship with Lady Karen Liu, which made him jealous and frustrated.
Shortly after John's twenty first birthday, King Aldous died and Richard ascended to the throne. Richard used his newfound power to release John, and sent Sir Gorrister to retrieve him. Gorrister was meant to stand guard outside of John's chambers permanently, but was dismissed by John at the request of Princess Helen Stirling, who wanted to speak with him alone.
Helen warned John not to trust Richard, whom she believed intended to use John for political gain. Specifically, she claimed that Richard would give John the title of prince at the feast that evening in order to place him ahead of Eleanor in the line of succession. John doubted this, but was still cautious.
John, escorted by Gorrister, attended the feast being held to honor Lord Logan Brynner, who was visiting Castle Vallon. He was warmly, if awkwardly, received by Richard and Eleanor. Others were not so welcoming; Karen was so stricken by fear of John that she asked to be excused, and Logan insulted him. John was attacked by a madman wielding a dagger, slashing his arm. The madman was reprimanded by Gorrister, and Richard apologized to John, but the damage had been done. The king then gave a speech, announcing that an Exekian ambassador was on their way to the castle, having been invited there by Richard.
Later that night, John confronted Helen, who was attending to Vincent. Helen seemed confused that her prediction was incorrect, saying that Vincent had told her it would happen, and Vincent has never been wrong. Still, she shrugged it off, claiming it could still happen eventually.
- John is tall and lean, with broad shoulders and a small waist. He has tousled straight black hair. His impish features haven't changed much since he was a child, with an upturned nose, a small mouth, and narrow, diamond-shaped black eyes. His face is angular in shape, and he has pointed ears. His voice is low and quiet, with the accent of a human noble.
- John is an outsider. He belongs neither with the Exekians nor the humans, and so walks the fine line between their worlds, never truly at home. To protect himself, he has developed a cool, stern, serious persona. He rarely shows what he is feeling, leading many to wonder whether he feels anything at all. His demeanor allows him to appear restrained, but also retain the more intimidating aspects of his character. He is, after all, not human, and everyone fears the unknown.
- Though he rarely smiles and almost never laughs, he has a strong sense of humor and can be quite witty. He also has an arrogant streak, looking down on both humans and Exekians for their petty conflicts and violent natures. His long imprisonment in the white tower has affected his worldview and sociability.; he is somewhat awkward and aloof, having just been reintroduced to a world that has changed a great deal in his absence.
- Perhaps his greatest weakness is his love for his brother Richard, who is heavily dependent on him for companionship, protection, and advice. In return, Richard is John's best friend. If anything were to happen to Richard, John would never be the same.
- Losing his loved ones
- The passage of time
- Accidentally causing harm
- Falling in love/emotional attachments in general
- His adopted mother. John was very close to her. Laura sought to instill in her children a strong sense of morality and compassion for others. John and Laura were always honest with each other and he trusted her completely. Like Richard, his memory of her was somewhat unrealistic, but he is more willing to realize that she was human and flawed than his siblings. He is not particularly surprised to learn that she was deceptive and doesn't really blame her for lying to them.
- The king. Aldous never accepted John as his son and either bullied or ignored the child altogether. John in turn avoided him, afraid of his wrath. Once Laura died, there was nothing to keep John safe from him. Though it was within Aldous' power to have him killed, he opted instead to send John away to the tower and erase all sign he had ever dwelled at Castle Vallon. John is not as haunted as his siblings regarding the subject of Aldous, but the scars are still there.
- John's adopted brother. John's earliest memory is of standing over Richard's cradle. As soon as he could walk, Richard followed John around. The two were inseparable as youngsters. When John was sent to the tower, Richard sent him letters whenever he could, and promised that he would free him when he became king. Upon Aldous' death, he fulfilled that promise, but his motives are no longer clear. Helen suggested that Richard freed John, whom he had not seen in ten years, for purely political reasons. Only time will tell.
- John's adopted sister. Eleanor was never afraid of John, but didn't become devoted to him until he saved her from drowning. Losing him was particularly painful for her, as she was ashamed to admit she loved him. When he returned, she continued to hide her feelings, and as a result they grew into romantic love, impossible and tragic. John cares for her as his sister and discourages her stronger feelings. He is one of the few people who can get through to her.
- All feelings of attraction he had toward the Exekian ambassador were dashed when she turned her nose up at him in disgust. Like most of her kind, Yori does not think highly of John, and she makes her opinions plain. Nonetheless, he can't help but admire her wit, which matches his own.
- Helen's role in John's life is uncertain. She is considered obsolete at court, but it is plain that she really holds much more influence than she seems to. Her parasitic relationship with Vincent is worrying, as is her nosy nature; John does not approve of how Helen uses his ability for petty blackmail. He would like to ignore her, but he admittedly needs her knowledge of court intrigue if he is to survive at Castle Vallon. He is concerned she will try to manipulate him, however, and thus is always wary of her advice.
- John feels a strange connection to Vincent. Since the minstrel was close to Laura, they have that much in common. But Vincent also has an air of mystery about him - just how far do his visions go, and how much does he know? Vincent asked him to "save his daughter", but frustratingly he would not reveal her identity or even where she is, giving him only the cryptic assurance "you will know soon enough". He feels more compelled to follow Vincent's advice than Helen's, but what exactly are the bard's motives?