Dear readers, tonight with me is the last disciple of a militaristic order, that for generations have protected the empire.
Her monastery was destroyed and all her sisters slain. She now travels the country on a mission to avenge her sisters and preserve what is left of her heritage.
She is here to tell us about a war-ravaged empire, of betrayal and freedom, and of family secrets she has uncovered.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I grew up in the Monastery of the Eternal Blade, which I think is the largest of the Illindrian Monasteries. It was an okay place to grow up. Every girl wants to be Faoii, right? The Preoii used to always tell me I should be grateful for the chance to be there. And for the most part I was grateful. I loved learning swordsmanship and war magic, it’s just… do you have any idea how long the Preoii can babble on for during Chapel? I always hated that part. Why should Faoii have to learn about Preoii spells? Or Cleorii? And when am I ever going to use calligraphy? That kind of stuff was just so boring.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
I remember the wooden fantoii I got one summer. It was full-sized and weighted and everything! Most of the other girls were still in smaller blades then, but I was already the tallest in my class, and the Ascended Faoii decided I was finally worthy. It even had “my blade is my arm” engraved on the side! Can you believe it? Part of the Oath right there! For everyone to see! Mollie was so jealous!
What was the worst thing about living in the Monastery?
Early Morning Chapel. Seriously. If the Goddess is Eternal, why would it matter to Her whether I’m up at Dawn or two hours later?
What was the best thing about it?
Fantoii training! There is nothing like wielding a blade and feeling the power in it. And the Ascended have blades that SING. It’s the most glorious sound in the world! You can almost hear the Oath when they swing their weapons. Someday, I’m going to have a sword like that too. The Croeli can’t stop me from being Faoii. I will make it on my own if I have to, but I WILL be recognized as the last of the Order.
What do you do now?
Now that the Monasteries and the other Faoii are gone, I need to find out why the Croeli are killing my people. I can see them spreading over the land like a plague, and there’s no one left to stop them. They burned all the monasteries. They slaughtered all of my sisters. They’re using a magic I’ve never seen before. It isn’t right and the Goddess should never have allowed it! Someone other than Faoii using magic! MEN using magic! It’s blasphemy! They’ve already killed everything I love. I have to protect everyone that’s left. I have to.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
The Croeli are evil. They’ve attacked our lands, burned our monasteries, enslaved our people. They thought they killed every last Faoii when the final Monastery fell. But they were wrong. I’m still here, and I will see them pay for having killed everything I’ve ever loved. The Oath is right. ‘My blade will sing with the voice of every throat that has cried out against injustice and dance with the steps of every innocent child. For I will lead the choir, and the voice of my sword will deafen the ears of my enemies.”
What did you first think when the Croeli attacked?
I was angry. I wanted to kill them ALL, bury them for even DARING to touch our home. And I didn’t think it was possible to fail. The Faoii NEVER fail. Have NEVER failed. We have been the harbinger of justice and truth since the first time the Oath was spoken! And the Oath is eternal. So how… how could we have lost?
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
There… there are so many. Finding out I was the only one to survive the monastery attack. Waking up to all that blood and death. Leaving everything I’ve ever known. Finding out that the world is so much bigger than the Monastery made me think it was, and that not everyone loves Faoii as much as the Ascended said they did. All while Croeli-Thinir added more and more bodies to his bloody war. How can one woman, even a Faoii, face all of that? I’m not even Ascended. It just… it seems too big for me.
Tell us a little about your friends.
I didn’t think I’d ever have friends again after what happened to Mollie. But the people I’ve found on this trek are more than I ever expected. Tendaji definitely surprised me the most. A year ago I didn’t even know that I had a brother, and now I can’t imagine a world without him in it. Emery isn’t even a Faoii and he’s the most loyal person I’ve ever met. Asanali makes me want to dance beneath rainclouds and howl at the moon. Eili scares me sometimes, but she could stop a warhorse with a stare, so I’m glad she’s on our side. And none of this would have ever been possible without Lyn being there for every uncertain step. I don’t know how, but somehow we all found each other. It makes this campaign seem a lot less like suicide.
Any romantic involvement?
What? No! Or… Well, Lyn is… but we… No. There’s too much going on right now. We have an army to raise and a country to save. There’s no time for anything else. Maybe after this is all over and if we’re both alive. We’ll see.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
Croeli-Thinir. He’s the man leading the army against my people, my home. He’s the man that attacked our monastery, killed my Preoii. I don’t know what he wants or why he’s doing this, but I don’t care. I am going to stop him. He WILL know me. The Goddess and the Oath demand it.
What’s the Oath you keep mentioning?
*Stacks her fists one over the other as though gripping an invisible sword hilt and bows her head*
“I am Faoii. I am the harbinger of justice and truth. I am the strength of the weak and the voice of the silent. My blade is my arm, and as such is the arm of all people. Wherever I am, there will a weapon against injustice always be. And with this weapon, I will protect the weak and purge all evil in the land.
I will be ready to perform my duty for the weak at all times. And through this, I shall remember that all things are sacred and all souls worthwhile. But my blade will be held above all, for it protects all, and shall be a part of me. For I am Faoii.
My tongue will never forget the words of truth, for when I speak, then will the Goddess hear, and I am only Faoii in Her presence. We are the Weavers of the Tapestry. We see the threads through all the world and guide them with the Goddess’s eye. Above all, we are Faoii.
Our blades will sing with the voice of every throat that has cried out against injustice and dance with the steps of every innocent child. We will lead the choir, and the voices of our swords will deafen the ears of our enemies. For we are Faoii.”
I am Faoii.
Tahani Nelson grew up in Mesa, Arizona amidst towering saguaros and a blissful ignorance of snow. Now, she teaches high school English in rural Montana and lives with her husband, two cats, and (somehow) an adamant disregard for the existence of snow boots. The Last Faoii is her first novel.
You can find Faoii-Kaiya on the pages of The Last Faoii.
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