Dear readers, tonight we are republishing an article from the premiere newspaper in Latha, on the fantasy planet Knownearth.
After Vic, a former scholar turned soldier, nearly killed her erstwhile captor, the newspaper issued a scathing article condemning her actions.
The newspaper has followed this up with an interview with Vic, to hear her side of the story. We publish this second interview in full. Read on to learn of Vic’s adventures, and what drove her from being a shy scholar to become a warrior and pick up the fight against Relm.
Last week, this paper published the news that Captain Victoria of Ourtown—aka Vic the Blade—had tried and failed to assassinate Lornk Korng, the Lord of Relm. The Monarchy and Prime Minister’s office have protested that the Heralds’ coverage of the incident was biased. As members of the Lathan free press, we stand by our story, but invited the Blade to tell her side. Much to our surprise, she granted an interview, published here in full.
Let’s start with some background. You grew up on the northern steppes. What was it like there?
It was nothing at all like Latha. Before I arrived here, I’d never seen a tree, much less a forest as big and dense as the Kiareinoll. The steppes could be beautiful, especially in spring when the snow shrank into the ground and the sun bathed the purple hills in golden light. But it was bleeding cold all the time, and in winter we had no more than an hour of sunlight a day. And the wind was endless. You’d think I’d have felt claustrophobic in the Kiareinoll, but somehow I’ve always felt more at home surrounded by trees than I ever did on the steppes.
What sort of things did you do as a child? Any special toys or games?
These aren’t the sort of questions I expected. You really want to know about my childhood?
You’re our king’s ward. Our readers want to know everything about the royals, especially ones with a background so different from their own.
Ourtown is a fishing village, like most Oreseeker towns. My mother was a fisher, a strong, fearless one, people said, but I don’t remember her well. A fever took her when I was very young, but before she died she used to make dolls for me out of bits of rope. She’d tie a knot for the face and fray the end into hair, then we’d sew clothes on it so it looked like a person. Those were my only toys. They mostly sat in a box after she died. Playing with them made me miss her, so I’d read with my father instead.
Any cherished memories from that time?
I loved reading with Father. Just being with him, really. He instilled my love of knowledge, made me an irrepressible scholar so that even now, though I’m years away from that life, I still love perusing the Logs of the Ancients. I’d love to know what the Logs mean—really mean. Sometimes I envy you Lathans and your nonsensical beliefs that Elesendar is a god and the Logs are parables, because you don’t really have to wonder what a ‘warp drive’ is, but I would love to understand how the Ancients traveled here across the vast distances between the stars. But, that’s just a dream now. I’m too busy thinking about the best way to defeat the Relmans to really sink my brains into Ancient history.
Speaking of the war, how do you think it will end?
With victory. Why do you think this war has lasted a bloody generation? Because the Relmlord won’t stop until he’s conquered Latha. You Heralds say you want peace, but the only peace Lornk Korng will accept is Latha’s total surrender. Do you think he’ll let you keep your free press free? He’s a greedy, sadistic tyrant, with no compassion or remorse. I know this from personal experience—it’s a horror to be under his thumb. If you really want peace, your paper should advocate for more funding for the military. The Senate needs to equip us better. It’s awfully hard to kill a Relman when you’re distracted by your big toe wriggling loose inside a boot—especially when the boot has holes in the soles.
You could have ended the war by killing the Relmlord, but you failed. What happened that night?
I can’t comment on my missions.
Please, Captain, this is your chance to tell your side of things.
I cannot and will not talk about tactical operations. I will say this though: The Heralds should stop wasting parchment on cheap insults and lies about the Monarchy and start investigating why the Relmlord was in the southern Kiareinoll meeting with the Lathan Opposition. That’s the story people want to read.
Let’s move on to friendlier territory. Rumor has it, you and Prince Ashel are very close.
Well, yes. But there’s nothing wrong with that. I am the king’s ward and so Ashel is…he’s like a brother.
So, he’s family. Is that really all?
We’re friends. He’s a brilliant scholar—a great thinker, even if his views on the Ancients are all wrong, he’s good at…making his points. He’s a wonderful musician too, of course. He has so many interesting friends, all brilliant scholars and musicians, and they don’t mind I’m a heretic, and we enjoy debating whether the Logs are parables or historical accounts. Of course they’re history—I frankly don’t understand why anyone could think otherwise, especially a perfectly rational thinker like Ashel—and his friends, of course.
So the Prince’s faith and your heretical views don’t interfere with your…friendship?
Oh, no. Unlike the leadership of the Minstrels Guild, Ashel is very open to listening to ideas that differ from his own. By the way, he is not a coward. Print that: Vic the Blade vouches for the courage of Prince Ashel of Latha. He is kind and brilliant and cares deeply about Latha and its people. Not everyone needs to take up arms to prove their bravery or their patriotism.
Speaking of bravery, our readers would love to know more about the Dagger. Who are your brothers and sisters in arms, and what sort of people are they?
The Dagger are the bravest and best soldiers in the army; I trust every last one of them to get the job done, whatever it is. I’ve known Maynon the longest, and he’s saved my ass more times than I can count, but I have to give the newbie Geram his props. We wouldn’t have made it back from our last mission without him.
The mission where you failed to kill Lornk Korng. Explain how you could show mercy to the man you claim to hate so much?
I’ve told you, I won’t comment on that.
All right. But you said earlier you have direct experience “being under the Relmlord’s thumb.” Tell us what that was like.
Like I told you, it was a horror. I was only fifteen when raiders took me from my homeland and sold me to Lornk Korng. He kept me alone in a room for months. He was the only person I ever saw, and he made it clear it was his choice, not mine, whether I lived or died. It’s been five years since I was in his thrall, and I can still feel the pressure of his thumb on my windpipe. But while he terrified me, he was also my only source of comfort, and that brought out some feelings I’m ashamed of. I don’t expect you Lathans with your prudish moral sensibilities to understand, but when you’re trapped like that, even the strongest person can reach a point where you’ll do anything to please the one who has power over you. And over time you…you begin to want to please him. Making him happy becomes a warped source of joy. That’s another kind of horror, and one I wouldn’t wish on anyone. That’s why defeating him is so important.
Thank you, Captain, for allowing our readers that glimpse into your private thoughts. Let’s finish off with some lighter topics. What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
Colour? Green. The deep green of summer cerrenil leaves. Drink? The ale at the Cobblestone’s pretty good, but really anything that takes the edge off is all right by me. Pastime? As you should have gathered from my earlier comments, I’m fond of reading. I’ve recently taken more interest in music, truth be told.
No doubt the musical interest is because of a certain prince who’s also a minstrel. Any future plans in that regard?
With Prince Ashel? I’ve told you, we’re friends. He’s like my brother.
But he’s not your brother, Captain. Do you deny you might someday become even more a royal than you already are?
Look, I’m a soldier with a war to fight. I might not see the end of any given battle. Prince Ashel is kind, brilliant, and courageous, and any woman who refused him is a fool, but I have a job to do. And when the war ends—who knows. I can’t see that far into the future, except… Well, I don’t believe in destiny and all that nonsense, but I have a feeling that however things turn out in this war, that the world’s not done with me, or I’m not done with it.
A.M. Justice has danced tango beneath the wings of angels, played hide and seek with harbor seals, and sought distant galaxies from dusk to dawn. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with a husband, a daughter, and a pair of cats.
You can find Vic on the pages of A Wizard’s Forge.
Join us next week to meet a colonel of His Majesty’s Army, leading the fight against the rebellious colonies. Please follow the site by (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.