Dear readers, tonight with me is a PE teacher from a small Midwestern town – or at least, that’s what he pretends to be. His past lies in a different, magical, land.
He is here to tell us about his relationship with Jen, and life between worlds.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I was born and raised in the Lamtu Valley region of Kiamada, in a fairly quiet part of the valley. There are plenty of mountains and rivers to explore. There weren’t a whole lot of other people living there, but I had my twin sister Kira to annoy…err…talk with.
When I joined the Tayamu, I mostly stayed on Bar Truga, the island home of the Tayamu. THAT place is amazing! The island is sentient. Yes, I mean exactly what you think I mean. Bar Truga is alive and conscious, and has complete dominion over itself. It can do whatever it likes, even change the weather patterns anywhere on the island. It knows what we need or want, often before even we ourselves know. I look forward to going back there, especially when Elowyn sees it for the first time. Knowing how curious she is, I suspect she will spend a lot of time exploring the island.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
I didn’t really have any favorite toys, no. My powers manifested at a fairly young age, so I spent a lot of time playing with Nature. Most Tayamu get their powers a few years after puberty starts, but I got mine when I was five or six. I spent a lot of time teaching myself what to do and how to use them, all without even knowing what I was. If I wasn’t playing with Nature itself, I was out exploring the surrounding area.
As for cherished memories, I would say the visits from my Uncle Orlaf and Aunt Cara. Cara was my mother’s sister, and the inspiration for my twin sister’s name. Whenever they’d come visit, they would arrive early enough for Uncle Orlaf to bake muffins. He used an old family recipe of his, and those things were absolutely delicious! The smell always woke us up, and we knew it meant our aunt and uncle were there to visit.
What are you going to be doing in the immediate future?
At the moment, I’m focused on helping Jen recover her lost memories. We need her to remember who she is. I’m also going to rejoin the Tayamu and try to help free our land from that despotic tyrant. After a very long time, the Uncrowned Queen of Kiamada has returned home. The Tayamu have to spread the word, and make sure she is ready and willing to claim her rightful place. I also have to train Elowyn in the use of her powers. She’s already stronger than she should be, doing things she shouldn’t be able to yet.
It seemed like your conversation with the sheriff, in the hospital hallway, was a turning point for you. What did you first think when the sheriff showed you the firetaim?
My heart just about leaped into my throat. I hadn’t been back to my own Earth for over a decade, and so hadn’t seen any of the unique flora or fauna—well, except for Theonus, obviously—in a long time. Seeing that stuff on your Earth, though…I was terrified. The Chiami are the only people I know who use firetaim, and given that I was the only Tayamu to escape the slaughter, I am quite familiar with the Chiami and what they can do. I knew instantly that they were behind the attacks on Jen, even if they were only the muscle and not the true masterminds. And, given how…proficient…they are, I knew that even one Chiami could easily slaughter that entire small town with minimal effort.
You mentioned living on a sentient island. Is that ever unsettling?
Ha! That’s an easy one. Bar Truga, in addition to being sentient, also has some kind of telepathic connection to any living thing that steps onto its shores. The Tayamu have a saying: “Bar Truga knows”….and it DOES. You never get used to Bar Truga just KNOWING exactly what you need and providing it right as you need it. Tired and thirsty while hiking through the forest? You’ll find a crystal-clear stream that wasn’t there earlier, and some kind of fruit you can eat. High up in the mountains and find yourself freezing? The temperature will jump 30 degrees before you can blink. It’s weird, and no matter how much time I spend there, I’m always amazed at how much “Bar Truga knows”.
Honestly, that…sounds awesome!
It is. Sure, it’s weird to have a living island as your home, but at the same time, we never have to worry about anything. It grows our fortress out of blockwood and sand, can guide us where we need to go, and even takes an interest in our emotional and mental well-being. Bar Truga has been known to intervene when some people just don’t know what to say or do with somebody they’re dating. I’ve seen it create a small earthquake to literally pitch a young woman forward into a man’s arms. She must have wanted to do that, but didn’t have the courage to try it, so Bar Truga decided to give her an assist.
There’s something about the bond between Bar Truga and the Tayamu that just makes you feel welcome and comforted. It’s like a doting grandparent or best friend who can’t speak, but still makes their love and affection known.
Tell us a little about your friends.
I don’t really have any friends. I rebuilt the Tayamu after the slaughter, but I wasn’t friends with any of them. I was too wrapped up in my own depression and misery to worry about making friends. I do regret that. Hopefully, I’ll be able to connect with some of them and form friendships. It would be nice to have somebody to sit and shoot the breeze with.
I suppose we can call Theonus my friend, although our bond runs much deeper than any friendship.
Any romantic involvement?
Of course there is. I’m with the girl of my dreams. If I get my way, we’ll be married soon. That’s not my decision, though. I know it’s customary on your Earth for the men to ask the women, but on my Earth—well, in my homeland, at least—it is considered highly uncouth for a man to propose marriage to a woman.
Either way, I strongly suspect Bar Truga will intervene quickly. It seems to be a sucker for a good love story.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
I look forward to coming face to face with Mathon. I suspect that he’s the one behind the attempts on Jen’s life. The Chiami tend to do more mercenary-for-hire things, so I don’t think they would have gone after Jen on their own. Mathon stole the throne when the Uncrowned Queen left, and in those few short years before I went looking for Jen, he had already transformed our peaceful land into a place of hostility and unease. I shudder to think of what it’s like now.
Intellectually, I understand the concept of wanting power, but I just can’t understand how somebody could do the things he’s suspected of doing. We were never able to prove any wrongdoing, but we all know he did it. He’s a slippery bastard, but his time is now running out.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
I’m not the kind of person who has favorite things. There are things I like a lot, but choosing a favorite? Not for me.
I suppose if you ask my sister about my favorite pastimes, though, she’d probably say something like, “Alistair has a regrettable tendency to shape his vast intellect into the lowest form of humor. It is really quite disturbing what he finds amusing. Despite my attempts to gently guide him towards being a mature adult, he unfortunately descends into puns and ill-conceived jokes.”
I still can’t believe she and I are twins. How did we end up so different from each other?
What does the future hold for you?
I think I already kind of answered this question earlier, but I can give a broader answer. I’m going to save Kiamada. It’s really that simple. The Queen must be found and restored to her throne. As a rule, Tayamu try to avoid taking life, but in Mathon’s case, I don’t think you’ll find a single Tayamu who would object to ending his miserable existence.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
As you know, I have a tendency to keep secrets, as it’s the Tayamu way. There’s one, however, that will be coming out into the open very, very soon, and I’m afraid it’s going to cause a lot of anger and resentment. Not just from Jen, but Elowyn and Kira as well. Honestly, I’m not sure which of the three will be angrier with me; I just hope that they’ll let me explain the situation before they start throwing punches.
So, to practice for that moment, I guess I can tell you now….but you have to swear to not tell anybody, all right?
While Jen is the love of my life, I’m TECHNICALLY promised to marry another. Before I left to look for Jen, I spent a lot of time with Seaile. I valued her friendship a lot; she did her best to not let me fall back into a depression, even though she had no idea why I was so upset. After a year or so, Seaile asked me to marry her. I thought she was kidding, and jokingly agreed. Apparently, though, she wasn’t joking, which I didn’t realize for another two years. When I decided to leave to find Jen, Seaile did her best to convince me to marry her before I left, and that was when I realized that the proposal had been real. I told her that I didn’t love her, and never would, and that she needed to move on with her life and find somebody who would love her in the way she deserved. I’m afraid, though, that she didn’t listen to me, and that when she finds me—because she WILL find me—things will get very ugly, very fast.
It would be so much easier if she wasn’t the First of the Tayamu, the most powerful and dangerous woman I’ve ever met. True, I was supposed to be the First, since I’m a great deal more powerful than she is, but Seaile is a force unto herself, and isn’t there a saying on your Earth about a woman scorned? I don’t suppose YOU would like to talk to her for me, would you? I don’t think she’d hurt you…much.
From a young age, Ben Cass was in love with the premises of fantasy novels and comic books. He created detailed storylines to act out with his toys, often updating the stories until he was satisfied with the plots. His love of writing began in his senior year of high school, when he had to write short stories for his English class. That story was greeted with laughter and applause by his classmates and teacher, and Ben began to seriously consider writing as a hobby.
Ben lives in beautiful Broward County, Florida, with his wife and son, where he continues his career as an educator and is diligently working on the Legends of Kiamada series.
You can find Alistair on the pages of The Lost Tayamu.
Join us next week to hear from an alternate-history participant in the Napoleonic Wars. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.