Dear readers, tonight we reprint an interview, gathered while eavesdropping on one character in the book interviewing another. It seems like a case of mistaken identity — a boy thought to be an orphan and taken to the palace. We’ll let you judge for yourself.


Sit down, son, I just want to talk to you.

I’m not your son! Who even are you? Just let me go!

I apologize. I should not have addressed the King’s adopted son in such a way. Please forgive an old man’s habit. My name is Hiraku and I am only a second captain in the Palace Guard. I was tasked with ensuring your safety.

I… I… didn’t mean. Don’t do that. Don’t talk to me like I’m some kind of royalty. I’m not… I just want to go back home. Why won’t you people understand?

Perhaps you can help me understand. I would like to know why you are so eager to escape the palace. Tell me about the orpha-

I’m not from the orphanage! Listen to me, I live with my mother in a little house by the Shining Lake. Why don’t you just let me take you there and you’ll see?

You understand how dangerous it is out there, don’t you? With the Sorcerers and…

I understand that better than any of you cowering here in the palace behind your huge walls! I need to go home and make sure my mother is alright! She was injured by the men that kidnapped me! She… she’s all alone now without me or father!

Very well, Dargoth. I will speak with my Lord Commander and ask for permission to take you wherever you want to go myself. It will certainly be easier than trying to protect your while you are so bent on escape. Just tell me a little about your home and about the King’s City.

The King’s City? Why do you people call it that here? The King’s this and the King’s that… you know what we call him in Dalaiabeth? We call him the Weak King. He ran away from the Fortress City to hide in this palace and he just hides here while the sorcerers attack Dalaiabeth again and again!

Tell me about Dalaiabeth, then.

It’s… it’s a beautiful city. Especially when all the ships are in the dock with their sails open. Father used to let me climb the rigging on the ship, I could climb higher than the old clocktower. And when there’s a celebration we always make little boats and see whose boat can stay afloat the longest. The boatmaster’s son won last year, but that doesn’t even count. My boat was the second best. And the bakery… you must have passed mother’s bakery when you were in the city, it’s the best bakery there is. She makes the most delicious sweets and the best hot bread for everyone at the school when we pass our exams.

Didn’t the sorcerers attack the docks a few months ago? There must have been a lot of burned down buildings… you must have been very scared…

I’m not a coward! My father and his friends protected the dock and drove the sorcerers away! He’s such a good fighter he’s famous! Even his sword is famous. They call him the Longsword.

Your father is the Longsword? I… yes, he is indeed very famous. But he died in that attack, didn’t he? That must have been hard for you and your mother.

He died defending us, defending his home and his people. If the coward soldiers in this palace had helped maybe he wouldn’t have died. But… mother says he wouldn’t want me to blame others and act like I regret his heroic deeds.

She sounds like a very strong woman.

She is. If there hadn’t been so many kidnappers they never would have been able to take me away from her. But they injured her and I need to go back and see if she’s alright. Please…

What do you remember about that day, Dargoth? They found you on the verge of death near all those bodies. We can only guess at what happened. We can only guess how frightening those Sorcerers must have been.

I saw him. The Mad Sorcerer. The Sorcerer King. He… he killed them all with one movement of his arms. They were… all messed up and scaly. He… he even killed the other Sorcerers. And he was surrounded by Demons.

Demons?

Well… what else would the Sorcerer King use for bodyguards? They looked scary… and they all carried so many weapons. How can one person lift that much weight? They must be some kind of demons…

Did you ever see these demons and the sorcerers hurting anyone. Anyone you love? When they attacked the city perhaps.

No… they made all the children hide so we couldn’t see the fighting. But… but my father’s body had all kinds of strange wounds on it. And… when I was kidnapped I saw the Sorcerers’ magic. One of them made an arrow that split into two and went around a soldier’s shield and hit him on either side of the neck. And then the birds came… they… it was…

That’s all behind you now, Dargoth. You’re safe here. Tell me about your time in the palace. Hasn’t it been good? Haven’t you spent some good time with the Lady Shila?

She’s a spoilt little baby who doesn’t stop asking questions. And she really thinks that I’m her brother now, just because they brought me here and said so!

Well, under the law, the King has adopt-

He doesn’t get to change people’s families just because he’s the King! Just because he can make up laws that doesn’t mean they’re right! I have my own family! I need to get back to my mother. You can’t just keep people hostage like this!

Is there anyone else in the city that you want to go back and see? Any friends?

Many of them! But they all have their own families. Mother has no one except me. And she won’t know where to look. She won’t know they’ve brought me here.

I’m going to request permission to take you to the city. But I need you to promise me that you won’t try to escape again in the meantime.

Very well. Just remember that I am only a second general in the Palace Guard and my request may not be granted if you go and do something stupid. Give me a day or two without an escape attempt at least. Guard!

*Door opens and guard steps in*

Take him back to the King’s quarters.

Yes, sir!

*Door closes behind Dargoth and the guard*

Ahhhh… what will I do with you, you poor boy. Without Lord Commander Falcon here they’ll never give me permission to take you out to the city. But I must try. You’ve witnessed horrors I can’t imagine and clearly your mother’s death was very recent. Perhaps those idiots at the Orphanage didn’t even give you a chance to see her buried. You need closure.


Noor Al-Shanti is a bit of a mystery, as she has no online bios and barely any presence. You can find her on Twitter as @IIronglove.

You can find Dargoth on the page of Children of the Dead City.

Keep and eye out for more mid-week SPFBO fantasy specials! Join us this Friday to meet a super-villain. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

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