Dear readers, tonight we are extremely excited to host a character from a fantasy series we’ve been following since childhood (ours, as well as hers).
Jamethiel’s Priest’s-bane, known as Jame to most, comes to us from down the chain of creation, where her people – the Kencyrath – have been fighting the encroaching evil of Perimal Darkling for millennia. She is here to tell us about her adventures, and about the thin and blurry line between life and death.
Jame: Oh, my head. What happened to me?
Voice out of the shadows: You stormed the priests’ subterranean college at Wilden, tripped, and fell down the stairs.
Jame (sitting up, grumbling): I’m usually more agile than that although, admittedly, prone to accidents. Kindrie. I came to rescue my cousin Kindrie. Your voice is familiar. Who are you?
Voice: We met in Tai-tastigon. You were hunting demons, also dead gods. Some of them, in turn, were hunting you. See if you can remember yourself first. Where were you born?
Jame: In a keep in the Haunted Lands where my father, the Highlord, had gone into exile. I suppose it was a terrible place, but then it was simply home. The gray grass cried. So did the vegetables when put to the knife, and they tasted of watered blood. Nothing was properly dead there, nor properly alive. That’s what it means, to live under shadows’ eaves, because Gerridon’s monstrous House loomed over us, day and night. He sent our mother, the Dream-weaver, to us. After we were born and he reclaimed her, our father went mad. He tried to kiss me once, and ended up smashing his knuckles against the stone wall beside my head. Father hated me because I was Shanir, also because he said that I was too like my mother. He must have known that my brother Tori was Shanir too, but he never admitted that. Tori was his favorite.
Voice: That would be Torisen, the current Highlord.
Jame: Yes, also my twin although now he’s some ten years my senior and I am his heir. Strange, how some things happen.
Voice (wryly): Around you, it seems, many things. Your given name, I’ve heard, is Priest’s-bane, and priests fear you. Why?
Jame: Because I am becoming one third of our god, That-Which-Destroys. My cousin Kindrie will be That-Which-Preserves; my brother, That-Which-Creates. Our Three-faced God created, then abandoned us. If he (or she, or it) comes back as the Tyr-ridan, what role do our priests have then? (Frowns) Wait. Haven’t I told you this before?
Voice: You begin to remember. Yes. In the Tai-tastigon temple. What is that like, to become one third of God?
Jame: Terrifying. What if I also destroy that which I love? Exhilarating. Some things need to be broken. But it doesn’t seem to be a full-time job. Mostly I’m normal, or as much so as anyone else – I think. Then something makes me lose my temper. Oh, that splendid, terrible rage.
Voice: What was the last thing that you destroyed?
Jame: I suppose that was Abbotir of the Thieves Guild. Or rather, I made him remember his name, and realize that he was already dead. Or was it the god Heliot? No, he was already falling apart because he had taken Abbotir’s soul as his core. Men-dalis? But he wouldn’t face what he was or had done. The brigand Bortis? No. Mushrooms ate him. I think. The thing is, people seem to meet their fate in me. Is what happens to them my fault, then, or theirs? Around me, things just keep happening. Am I sorry? Sometimes. But what in general do I hate? Needless cruelty, especially when informed by stupidity. Gerridon is like that. He sees nothing beyond himself, and he is always right. Everyone must pay for his mistakes except him. The shadows are almost pure by comparison.
Voice: I wouldn’t say that our priests are always wise. Perhaps they are, though, to fear you. What do you love?
Jame. My brother. My cousin. Oh, so many people, so many things. I hated the Women’s World where Highborn like me are taught to be subservient breeding stock, even though the Matriarchs have more power than their lords realize. I loved the military college at Tentir where my brother sent me as his heir when it became clear that the ladies wouldn’t take me back, nor was I willing to go. I love Tagmeth, my home, and the people there who, slowly, are learning to accept me for what I am, berserker flares and all. I love Rathillien and will fight for it to the death against the shadows of our ancient enemy, Perimal Darkling.
Voice: That last sounded like a battle-cry.
Jame: I suppose it was. All of my life, I’ve looked for a home, and so have my people. World after world we’ve lost, down the Chain of Creation, with Perimal Darkling and that traitor Gerridon snapping at our heels. Now here we are. If we lose Rathillien, there’s nowhere else to go.
Voice: So that’s what you see for the future: an ultimate battle which only the Tyr-ridan can win?
Jame: No! If we all don’t fight, we are lost. I worry about that. Our people have become so fractured. When our god failed us, honor gave us strength. Now we question honor’s very meaning, and the shadows grow.
Voice: Yes. I see that.
Jame: I do know your voice! You’re the priest Titmouse. You helped Gorgo the Lugubrious escape in Tai-tastigon – me and Gorgo’s priest Loogan too, come to that. But you always had the knack for making me say more than I intended to. All priests are Shanir. So are you, and that’s your power, isn’t it?
Kindrie (blundering into the dark room, tripping over Jame’s feet.) Oh! There you are. You set loose the lichen murals when you tumbled down the stairs and they ate through my cell door. Now landscapes are creeping down the steps and gnawing at the novices’ toes. The high priest is standing on his bed, flailing at them with a slipper. Unless you want to become part of the scenery, we should leave.
Jame to Titmouse: What did you tell your fellow priests about me after Tai-tastigon? What will you say about this conversation?
Titmouse: If they ask, I tell them the truth, of course. To lie is the death of honor. Is it my fault, though, that they tend to disbelieve me? Maybe, as you say, that’s also part of my Shanir gift. Go.
P.C. Hodgell is the author of the Kencyrath fantasy series, starting with God Stalk, now numbering eight novels with the ninth, By Demons Possessed, due out May 2019. She has a Ph.d. in 19th Century English Literature and was a university senior lecturer until her retirement. Now she devotes her life to finishing her series before it finishes her. She can also be found on her blog, here.
If you’d like to read our review of the whole series, go here.
Join us next week to meet a young woman who recently moved to a small town where things are not quite as they seem. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.