Richard Stirling, the son of Aldous and Laura Stirling, is the current king of Wallachia. He is married to Wilhelmina Sutherland, with whom he has a son, Tobias. By his mistress Karen Liu, he fathered Kai and Hans.
As king, his primary concern was in maintaining balance and peace with the Exekians. However, troubles at home boiled over into conflict abroad, particularly over the line of succession.
Richard is the eldest child of King Aldous and Queen Laura. Upon his birth he was immediately named heir to the throne.
His sister Eleanor was born two years after him. The siblings soon became rivals, teasing and provoking each other. Once, Richard dared her to walk across a frozen lake; she fell through the ice and nearly drowned, but was saved by John. Richard was so stricken with guilt he eventually confessed to their mother what he had done. She punished him by making him work as a servant for a week, and told him it was his duty to look after his sister.
Laura died when Richard was ten. As Aldous began plotting to get rid of John, Richard feared for his brother's life and tried to convince him to run away, but John refused. Aldous eventually decided to imprison John in the Ivory Tower. Richard promised John he would set him free when he became king.
Over the next ten years, Richard grew into an eager young man. He kept up a secret correspondence with John, writing him letters whenever possible. As a teenager, he began a relationship with Karen Liu, a noblewoman from an impoverished family. Aldous forbade them from marrying, as Richard stood to gain neither wealth nor political leverage from the union. Instead, Aldous arranged the marriage of Richard to Lady Wilhelmina Sutherland, a girl from a noble family in Bodai. Richard was fifteen and Mina seventeen when they married. While Richard would later claim the marriage was never consummated, the union produced a son, Tobias, who heavily resembles Richard. Tobias' twin brother, Mathias, was stillborn.
At the age of twenty, Richard ascended the throne upon his father's death. He immediately began petitioning the Council to let him divorce Mina and marry Karen, thereby legitimizing his children. Richard instead released John from imprisonment and sent Sir Gorrister, one of the greatest knights, to escort him safely back to Castle Vallon.
Richard is somewhat short for a man and has a thin, slightly muscular build. He has bronze skin, tousled dark hair and amber eyes. He bears a strong resemblance to his father, King Aldous, and is considered handsome.
- Richard is, first and foremost, an idealist. At the beginning of his rule he stubbornly bent and broke his forefather's laws as he saw fit, driven by a belief that they were outdated and should be changed anyway. His actions angered the council, particularly Logan Brynner, who believes Richard is unfit to rule. Since others put so little faith in him, Richard has developed a lack of confidence in himself, becoming unsure and indecisive.
- While not as brooding as John, he is sentimental and absent-minded, often becoming lost in his thoughts and feelings. Ironically, he has shown a staggering tactlessness when it comes to sensitive subjects. He loves Karen and Kai dearly, but his growing distrust of others in light of his ascension to the throne has driven a wedge between them. He is unsure if Karen will betray him if it suits her, and his duties as king have caused him to neglect his daughter.
- As a boy, Richard was a mischievous troublemaker. While he is no longer as immature as he was then, he has retained a more playful side. He seems to have inherited his mother's famous wit, and often jokes or makes sarcastic remarks to lighten otherwise bleak situations.
- Richard is a lover, not a fighter. He has never mastered any form of combat, but took a liking to hunting with his crossbow as a hobby. As a boy he aspired to be like the knights, whom he still admires greatly. He is fascinated by water and the ocean; he has said that if he could choose not to be king, he would rather be a sailor.
- In contrast to his aggressive, war-mongering father, Richard dislikes violence and hates war. He doesn't particularly enjoy being king, either, since he chafes when given great responsibilities. Richard prefers to live life somewhat recklessly, and the constraints and worries of being ruler have taken their toll on him.
- Failure as a king and father
- Betrayal by those close to him
- Being blamed for situations that were out of his control
- Losing those close to him/the people he relies upon
- Lacking in self confidence
Laura - Richard was very close to his mother. His memory of her is romanticized; he cannot recall her as having any flaws. In his eyes, she could do no wrong. He refers to her as the "queen of peace", and focuses on her achievements. He will come up with excuses for all her failures, usually blaming his father. But Laura will soon prove to be no angel. She was manipulative in her way, and no one played more into her hands than her own children.
Aldous - Richard despises his father. Their relationship was never a good one; as a boy he saw his father, who was often away fighting, very little, and when he was around he was verbally and physically abusive to all his children. He resents Aldous' meddling and controlling, especially his exiling John and forbidding Richard from marrying the love of his life. He wished him dead when he was alive and bid him good riddance after he died. He can't help but fear that he might become him, though.
John - Richard's best friend since boyhood, his adoptive brother is a rock he leans on for support. He deliberately kept up a correspondence with John even during his ten years of captivity. In the smuggled letters, he shared many secrets with his adopted brother. However, the absence of John in his life did eventually take its toll, and he began sending fewer letters after his marriage was arranged. Now that he is king, he has fulfilled his promise to free John from the tower. The only question is, what will he do now?
Eleanor - Richard's baby sister. When they were young they bickered often, and Richard enjoyed teasing her. His antics once nearly got her killed. This incident proved a changing point in their relationship, and after John was banished, he took on the role of protector to "Ellie". Now that she may become an obstacle in his way, he wonders what will become of his dear sister.
Mina - Though they are lawfully wed, Richard rarely even speaks to his wife, much less is intimate with her. When they married, it was painfully obvious that she considered him an annoying, awkward, immature child. There is no more warmth between them now. Richard is aware of her extramarital affairs, and he does not blame her. Rather, he has been working to free them both from their toxic marriage. How she still wound up giving him a son is anyone's guess.
Karen - The love of Richard's life, the two began their affair when they were thirteen with a kiss in the castle gardens. Since then they have been nearly inseparable. Aldous' forbidding did not prevent them, and she has already borne him two illegitimate children. There is perhaps nothing in the world Richard wants most than to have Karen as his wife. But now that he is king, his trust is wearing thin. For the first time, he has begun to have doubts about Karen's motives. Is it possible that she has only been using him? Is power her true goal? Does she want to become queen more than she wants to be his bride?
Tobias - Richard's only lawful child with Mina. Richard knows he cannot call him his son if he is to have Karen, and so he has denied his parentage of the boy who looks almost exactly like him. The result is a relationship as cold and callous as his marriage. Bizarrely, John has begun to replace Richard as a father figure in Tobias' life, and for that Richard is relieved. He was beginning to feel sorry for the boy.
Kai and Hans - Richard is very fond of his children with Karen. He laments that he has so little time to spend with them, but has certainly made sure they have a happy, carefree childhood. It is most concerning, Hans' strange ailment. And Kai is such an odd, moody girl. He hopes they keep in good health, seeing as he wants them to become his heirs.