"Adults can't be trusted. They might have read more books in their lives and spent more time at school, but they see so much less, and understand so little of the world now because of that cynicism of adulthood."
Ilja is the ringleader of a group of children jokingly called the wildcats. Born to the northern country of Niebroy, he was sent away from the country after his parents' execution in the fear of something happening to him as well. Initially upon his arrival Ilja was rightfully shaken by the traumatic events and came off as timid and meek to others, but after having sorted out most of his feelings, he has since then bounced back and become more like his old self: a rebellious leader with a strong sense of justice, and a knack for getting himself and his friend into trouble.
Although Ilja admittedly has a somewhat intimidating and thuggish attitude as he is now, he's a rather fair and just leader who really cares about other people, especially those who are his friends or who look up to him. He might still be a little rough around the edges and come across as haughty, arrogant and annoyingly headstrong, but he's always willing to walk the extra mile to prove himself to be worthy of his leader position. Blessed with a silver tongue and sharp wits, he's often bending the rules and trying his limits with adults and the authority: Ilja is well aware of his own intelligence and maturity compared to most of his peers, and he constantly wants to see what is capable of doing. As such he is often getting into trouble, causing mischief in his neighborhood and sometimes getting into fights with his classmates and rivaling children groups of the town.
Despite his small stature Ilja is known to be impulsively fast to get into fights and fare well in them, earning himself the reputation of something of a local delinquent. Added by the fact his uncle hardly looks after Ilja and his antics, he's very free-spirited and often considered trouble by the parents of other children. But while it's true Ilja might not necessarily be the best influence and is quite the risk taker, other children admire him not for his recklessness, but for his charisma and sense of right and wrong.
Best friend and classmate of Rosemarie, and a close friend and practically a brother to Karl and Thomas. He's also friends with Archie, Gerda and Titus, and a relative to Claude from his father's side. Ilja and Vivian are also affiliated, and he hates the woman with all his being, but is unable to resist her and her ruthless blackmailing.
As Ilja is still young, he doesn't have very noticeable physical features. He is below average height for a boy his age and has a slim, somewhat androgynous frame. However, he is often seen wearing baggy clothes or multiple layers of clothing, making him look slightly larger than he actually is and giving him the sort of intimidating aura he prefers to have. He is first seen wearing an over-sized brown sweater with sleeves over his arms, a brown had and dark brown pants partially stuffed inside his black boots. He later changes his trademark clothes to a light brown collared cotton shirt and a long jacket, but occasionally still wears baggier clothing too.
Ilja has a cream blond hair, first seen as overgrown and unkempt but later he cuts it shorter and neater. He has gray blue eyes with very dark eyelashes and a permanent narrow in his eyes, making him look somewhat arrogant or that he has mischief on his mind. His nose is of average size and pointy and his skin is light with permanent red shade on his cheeks, around his eyes and on his nose. His ears are large, but not so that people would point it out or make fun of him for that.
Ilja is undoubtedly the hotheaded leader type; courageous, passionate and determined, but also short-tempered, impulsive, reckless and often tends to overdo things. He has a lively if not a slightly cunning disposition and tends to roam outside a lot, causing mischief and getting into trouble either alone or with his friends. He has a delightful and friendly way of conversing with others for the most part and especially with adults, but he does have a more threatening and thuggish side to him that surfaces when things don't go as planned, or if someone of his own age tries to start a fight with him.
While Ilja is undoubtedly a rowdy boy, he is also very intelligent for someone his age, and has the ability to pick up small things fast. As he has a habit of mulling things over and over in his mind and sometimes even overthink things, he tends to think about things a lot and come up with explanations to even complex things. He is no intellect, but enjoys discussions more philosophical in nature and genuinely enjoys sharing his thoughts, partially to boast but also because he genuinely likes to talk about these sort of things with others. Adults sometimes find this impressive, which is exactly what Ilja likes to hear from them.
A jack-of-all-trades, Ilja seems to know a bit of everything, and he doesn't really have many things he is miserably bad at. He is also very much aware of this himself, and although it’s not usually his intention, he often comes off as boastful and arrogant when he talks about all the things he is good or at least alright at. He also has a bothersome habit of testing his limits with adults at every chance he gets, questioning them and trying to get under their skin. This is partially due to his age and the need to do things his way and question the authority, but as Ilja knows he is considered smart and mature, he often wants to see how far he can go with the things he says to get an upper hand of the adults. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he doesn't - it doesn't really even matter to him, because the act of rebellion is already fun in itself for him.
Although he is quite a handful at times and still clearly young and inexperienced, Ilja is very well aware of his position as someone other kids follow and even look up to, and treats it as his job to make sure everyone gets along and problems within the group are solved fairly. He has a strong sense of right and wrong, and he can go to great lengths to demonstrate his skills as a fair leader. Some people might see this as foolish recklessness and a waste of his own time and energy, but Ilja places great importance on making sure to show others his “justice”, and that he is worthy of the respect and adoration he receives. He wants to work hard on things he finds important, and is fast to protect the dreams and ideals of other people as well. He is also a loyal and brave friend, and once you get to know him, he is wiling to do just about anything for your sake.
Still rough around the edges, Ilja is still growing up and figuring his place in the world, so it's expected he is going to mature and become more humble as time passes. He still suffers from the tragic loss of his parents and doesn't exactly have the easiest time with his irresponsible, lackadaisic uncle either, and he has the habit of mulling over his feelings alone rather than confiding himself to others. This has a lot to do with the fact he hasn't really had very close friends growing up, as most children looked up to him as a leader rather than as a friend, but mostly it's just the deeply personal and traumatic nature of his cause of grief that makes it hard for him to talk about it much. Nevertheless, the help of Karl and Rosemarie is making Ilja more open and honest about himself and his feeling little by little.
Born in the cold, northern country of Niebroy, Ilja was the only child of a well-educated upper middle class family. He received a good education and lived a fairly comfortable life, being able to attend both higher society but also freely adventure on his own in the wide forests like a commoner. As such, from very early on he learned to defend himself from the possible dangers lurking in both higher societies and in the woods. At ages 10 and 11, Ilja was also taught knife fighting and general knife handling by a mysterious man in exchange of running information gathering errands for him. Ilja didn't like him and he didn't like the jobs he got for him, but he did enjoy the thrill of learning how to handle a knife, and that was enough for him.
As a result from being from a good family and having a pretty open and honest personality, Ilja used to have a wide circle of acquaintances. He was known as a good natured trickster and especially other boys living nearby often looked up to him, usually making the ringleader of other local kids in after school activities. He was reckless and often a little too daring, but this was just all the more to make other kids look up to him and respect him.
However, at the age of 12, Ilja was suddenly entrusted with a curious key he was told to never show anyone nor talk about it. Ilja did as told and started keeping the key behind the cracks of his room's wooden wall, but it didn't take him too long to learn why his parents had been so anxious and secretive about the key: they were caught in publishing illegal and banned books, and as result the government shot them in public as a punishment and a warning example to everyone else.
Ilja was not supposed to see this, but the resourceful and rebellious kid he was, he escaped his room to watch his parents being publicly executed at the city center. He simply stood there, eyes nailed on his parents as they came to their lives' end, the cold air stinging the skin on his face and making it hard to hold back tears. And just like anyone who watches their parents unfairly executed in public, Ilja was also left with deep wounds and a great deal of trauma and sadness nobody seemed to notice. Likewise, a hatred towards his own country was born on that day, and Ilja vowed he would one day, somehow, take revenge on the people who robbed him of a loving and safe home.
In the fear of something bad happening to Ilja as a result of his parents’ public execution, he was sent to his uncle who lived abroad. Although he loved Ilja dearly and treated him like his son, the man was not particularly good at taking care of children: he didn’t know how to dress up a child or what exactly they needed, and he didn't have much time for the boy as a result of being a rather unsuccessful writer struggling with deadlines and a budding gambling addiction. Ilja, now in a foreign country and far away from his friends and previous home, had become more silent and passive in order to heal his own wounds caused by the tragedy in his home country. He let his uncle dress him up as a he pleased and didn’t particularly bother with his looks either, coming off as a lowborn commoner to his classmates upon arriving to his new school. His puberty also starting to kick in, he found his voice strange and became almost completely silent due to his own embarrassment.
Sad and emotionally unstable, Ilja started school in this new country. He was very capable with the language and understood it almost fluently but was deeply insecure of his own spelling and accent that always cut through his word. He didn’t really want to make friends at school as he was so occupied with dealing with his own problems and staying away from others in fear of getting hurt. However, Rosemarie, a girl from his class, seemed to set her eyes on him and eventually befriended him. Ilja tried to push her away at first but Rosemarie was stubborn and they eventually started bonding, resulting in Ilja also becoming friends with Karl and Thomas as well. Together they managed to trick the people who had followed Ilja from Niebroy to retrieve his key, and after this Ilja gradually started gaining more confidence, finally getting back on his feet again and becoming more like the person he used to be - even if everything would never return back to how they used to be.
Since then Ilja has assumed the role of the leader of his group jokingly called the wildcats, and together with some new friends he is up for new trouble and misadventures.
Skills & Abilites
He picks up small details easily and makes connections fast, resulting in him being quite perceptive and very witty. That being said, Ilja isn't quite as verbally eloquent as his best friend Rosemarie is; he wouldn't make a poet or a writer like she would, but his words are usually more than enough to impress people his own age. Occasionally though he might misuse or misunderstand words he has heard adults using.
Ilja has a very questioning and somewhat philosophical nature, often contemplating life and the role of him and other people in it. He delights in discussing things like life, death and the universe, but as a downside it easily goes into his head: he considers himself something of a great thinker and smarter and deeper than he is, which can occasionally (and rightfully so) annoy others. Generally though he avoids bragging about such things in the fear of losing a conversation partner.
Ilja had a good education in a private school when he was living in Niebroy but is now attending a very common school. At first he was too sad to really bother with studies and he was seemingly dragging behind, but as his confidence built up with his new friend group, he started catching up on his studies again. While not the top of his class, he is above average in most subjects and certainly does well enough that he doesn't at least need to worry about his education. He'd probably do better though if he had the motivation to, but sadly most things seem more interesting to him than studying.
Due the fact Ilja has a good eye for movements, fast reflexes and is no stranger to fights, he is a formidable opponent even to kids bigger and older than him. His small stature is often overlooked and his strength underestimated, and many find it surprising how strong the boy physically is when actually in a fight. Regardless, he usually trusts his wits more than physical strength alone.
An excellent knife user, Ilja might not be able to carve anything good with it, but he was taught how to fight with it. He never uses it in fights against people his age though: it's a weapon to be used only when his own life is threatened and his physical strength alone won't save him.
Actually knows the proper etiquette, but just downright refuses to live by it
He tends to assume responsibility despite being pretty rowdy, but often in ways people don't necessarily notice: for example he takes good care of his uncle's household, and usually arrives to meetings right in time. He also tends to more or less discreetly look after people to make sure they're doing alright.
He is originally from the country of Niebroy, born in the capital Tsakar. However, he spent most of his childhood in the villa at the outskirts of the capital, closer to forests and mountains than the bustling city. Nevertheless, Ilja is no stranger to large cities and does have more than enough street smarts to get by even in his new home.
He is not a big bookworm but does enjoy talking about the books he has read. Ilja also enjoys having discussions of more philosophical nature especially with Thomas despite their age difference. Partially because Ilja likes to boast off with his own theories, but also because he genuinely respects Thomas as a conversation partner and finds his thoughts interesting especially for a child so young.
Rosemarie is his best friend and they wear matching red ribbons as a sign of deep bond. They initially intended to do a blood pack, but figured blood red ribbons are less messy and are more practical and fun than slitting their palms open for a blood oath.
Ilja appears as a supporting character in Sinfonia visual novel, where he's around 17-18
He and Claude are relatives: Ilja's father and Claude's mother are first cousins, making Claude and Ilja second cousins. However, Claude and Ilja don't meet each other until the events of Sinfonia.
I once saw a dream where he was claimed in the praise/compliment thread and the user claiming him only typed "wow hat" and it's now a running joke