Dear readers, tonight with me is a former city guard, turned pathfinder for the spymaster.

He’s here to tell us about his love of scouting and archery, his travels, and the arcane plague that befell his lands.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

Wesson? It’s not bad, as cities go, but growing up there was fun, to a point. The sea air is nice, although I prefer the smell of green. You know? Out in the fields and forests of Altoln. No cramped living. Less sickness and people! Childhood was running the streets, fighting with sticks and making slings and makeshift bows. It’s that sort of play that led to me enlisting in the City Guard.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

The bows I mentioned. They weren’t all that good, but I loved them alright. Set me apart from the other lads who were all wooden swords and axes and such. Heh, I remember one time when this little shit came up out of Dockside with his mates, slinging rocks at us, one of which slotted poor little Dayn in the face. What did I do? I loosed my shitty shaft across Kings Avenue and… hit a passing coach. Not my finest moment, but I remember it because the arrow stood proud of the wood. Honest truth! I’d been lucky in finding a scrap of iron behind a smithy, which I used as a makeshift arrowhead, and the Dockside shite was lucky the coach passed when it did.

What do you do now?

I’m a bloody pathfinder under the command of Spymaster Burr! I kid you not. After my stint in the City Guard, side by side with my mate Fal for several years, I got my dream chance at travelling the borders of Altoln; the captain of the guard was so impressed with my archery skills he offered me up as a scout! And off I went. Fal was pleased for me and I him, since he got a swanky position as a sergeant-at-arms in Tyndurris. And we went our separate ways. Until… I bumped into him whilst on leave, just before that awful, arcane plague. What happened after that was a whirlwind of confusing shenanigans that led to us both serving under Spymaster Burr!

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Our mission to Broadleaf Forest, to request the aid of the elves to thwart the arcane plague? Or our current mission to The Marches? Well, the former worked out in the end, but it was an arduous journey, to say the least. From crystal-darts raining down on us in caverns and giant bleedin’ lobsters emerging from the sea, to a horde of goblins besieging the one town we decided to take rest in. Oh, and that’s not to mention the bastard Samorlian Witchunters that had it in for us, and still do, if recent events are anything to go by…

What did you first think when you found out you’d be off to The Marches?

I was over the moon! I’ve never been to South Altoln; never anywhere near The Marches, let alone Sirreta, which could be our final destination if Correia doesn’t find out what she needs to know from the Marcher Lords. Correia reckons there may be trouble on the border before long. We’re not exactly sure from whom, or what, but if it’s not the usual border disputes, then I’ve no clue who it could be? I’m excited, truth be told.

What was the scariest thing in your adventures?

It’s hard to narrow that down. The plague itself was one of the worst things, I’d say. So many dead and no way to fight it. Put a hobyah on the road before me, all slobbering and gnashing teeth and I’ll place a shaft through its bastard face. The plague though? What do you do about that? Nothing! Nothing but die if it touches you, and die horribly.

What is the worst thing about being a pathfinder?

Not sure there is a worst thing, for me. It’s everything I could have wanted. Mind you, everyone and everything seeming to have us marked for death isn’t exactly a winner. If the shits out there could leave off just a little, we could enjoy a bit of downtime and have a cheeky drink or ten. Hah!

What is the best thing about it?

The camaraderie, for sure. The company I keep is what makes it for me. They’re my family. Lost mine as a lad, as folk do, hence my skipping over that earlier in our little chat. But yes, the family I’ve found myself a part of is the best thing for sure; Correia, Fal, Errolas, Starks and Gleave.

Tell us a little about your friends.

Hah! Well played and well connected, mate. Fal and I go way back, to our days patrolling Dockside for the City Guard. I’d die for him, as dramatic as that sounds, and he for me. Saying that, I think any of us would take a bolt for another. We’re that close. Gleave’s a hard bastard, but soft inside. Starks wears his heart on his sleeve, but he’s a wicked shot with a crossbow and I respect that. As for Errolas, he’s an elf ranger, need I say more? And then there’s our leader, Correia Burr. She’s alright, I suppose.

Any romantic involvement?

Why would you say that? Just because I left Correia until last doesn’t mean there’s anything in it. It’s not like she’d go for a bloke like me anyway. Would she, eh? Eh?

Whom (or what) do you really hate?

You’re quick to change subject. Hate? Oh yes. Oh yes indeed. Those Samorlian bastards, that’s who. Allegedly following the teachings of Sir Samorl, the legendary knight who jabbed a black dragon with a lance, only to centuries later be held aloft as a god. Absolute cocks, the lot of them.

What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?

Drink! Now you’re talking. Anything, really; small-beer is a must when there’s no clean Wesson water about, so we’ll leave that be. I like a good cup or jug of ale, the darker the better. And mead! Mead holds a special place in my heart, next to the ladies, of course.

What does the future hold for you?

Who knows? As I say, we’re off down to The Marches at the moment and have already had a run in or two whilst on our way. And if we end up in Sirreta itself? That’d be interesting, to see what life is like down there. It’s all part of the adventure of it, isn’t it? On the road with your mates whilst doing your damnedest to protect Altoln from whatever shit of an enemy is knocking on our door.

Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

I did hear something before we left Wesson. Rumour has it that the Black Prince sailed to the Tri-Isles! I’ve no clue why the heir to Altoln would sail his big bastard ship there, but you wouldn’t get me stepping foot on an island ruled by three ancient, mad elves. Not with the reputation they have. Anyway, I’m off now. It’s been nice chatting to you, mate. Take care!

Born Lancashire, England, J. P. Ashman is a Northern lad through and through. His parents love wildlife, history, fantasy and science fiction, and passed their passion on to him. They read to him from an early age and encouraged his imagination at every turn. His career may be in optics, as a manager/technician, but he loves to make time for writing and reading every day. Now living rurally in the Cotswolds with Wifey and their little Norse Goddess Freya, he’s inspired daily by the views they have and the things they see, from the deer in the fields to the buzzards circling overhead.

You can find Sav on the pages of Black Cross, the first volume in the Black Powder Wars series.

Join us next week to hear from the heir to the country’s richest family – whose fortune was built by both business and magick. Please follow the site by (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.