This is going to need a minimal amount of world building to make sense so skip two paragraphs if your not interested in that. It’s really not that important. Basically magic is like any science or skill for the most part, anyone willing to dedicate a few years can learn to use it. That being said it’s extremely difficult can can take over a year of intense work before you see any results if you don’t have a talent for it. Anyone that practices magic and develops their abilities will have kids with some talent for magic, even if they weren’t born with said talent. Magic itself basically works like a programming language where you write down a script in a magic ring or staff before hand and channel aether, basically this worlds equivalent of mana, through your body and into the magic script to transmute it into something useful. Aether itself is beneficial to life in small amounts but becomes toxic or lethal if you use more than your body can handle, if a person isn’t capable of handling the amount a spell needs then it either fails or the person that tried to use it will faint, die, or worse. That’s simplified but that’s all that you need to know about the magic system.
Most mages learn their craft in colleges or similar places, and the amount of work and cost associated with learning it makes mages pretty rare. Because of this, mages are highly valued in the military. Though they’re rarely conscripted unless it’s really necessary, the ability to use magic means that they automatically hold a position above grunt soldiers and are generally paid more than someone of equal experience.
Ok now this is where the actual character writing starts.
Basically this character, I’ll call him Garrick for this but his name might change later, was the son of master of summoning magic and teacher at one of the larger magic schools. Garrick and his older half sister were the result of two separate arranged pregnancies. Long story short their mothers were both powerful mages that their father paid to mother and carry his children until they could be magically removed after a few months and raised in a artificial womb. It’s exactly the kind of fucked up magic eugenics it sounds like. He did this in an attempt to have children capable of using a ancient magic that his family had been researching for years.
Anyway, he put them through 24/7 training and physical/mental abuse for most of their childhood. This ended In Garrick’s sister taking her own life when she was 16. Their father’s reaction was to organize a quick funeral that he didn’t attend and double down on Garrick’s training. Fast forward a few years and Garrick decides to join the military, the problem is that he needs a master’s mark in combat magic to do that. The only way to get that is to take a test with your master’s permission (his father as you probably guessed), or beat them in a duel.
These duels usually don’t end in any serious injury because the officiator calls them off when a clear winner is found, but Garrick’s dad insulted Garrick’s sister at the beginning to taunt him. This had the predictable effect and his dad was dead before he could get off a single shot.
He runs off to join the military and get the position of a field commander pretty quickly. He’s a ball of rage for a while and is more than happy to take stupid risks and is the sort of person that would poison a city’s water supply without a second thought. This changes once he starts working directly under a general that sort of becomes a father figure and second master. He teaches him combat and strategy, but also tries to pass on life lessons because he has a good idea what kind of shape he’s in mentally. The general dies a few years later because of a character that shows up later in the story that I don’t have to mention here.
In the current point of the story Garrick is a cold Machiavellian general but has a rule for his men to treat civilians with respect and not kill non-combatants. Basically he’s a cold hearted bastard to enemies but believes that civilians shouldn’t suffer unnecessarily. In the story he fills the role of a mentor to the protagonist. A lot of the internal struggle for this character is that he’s unsure about how he should handle training the protagonist because he’s afraid of becoming like his father.
I’m just worried that this characterization makes sense for this backstory. Specifically if his time under the general I mentioned devalues his concerns about being a good teacher and eventually father figure for the protagonist.