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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Month

August 2019

Igmar (of The Ashen Levels, by CF Welburn)

Dear readers, tonight we print an interview with a member of the supporting cast of a fantasy novel. The interview was conducted on his home fantasy world by native crones, and discusses the protagonist and the Good Company, swords and sorcery, and the ashen.


Igmar blinked.  “Where am I?”

“The island has no name. Though, some call it Coal.” He squinted as two figures swam into focus before him. The one who had spoken was a withered crone, all crows’ feet and brown teeth; the other, a girl of about eight winters, sat wide-eyed, clasping a doll.

“How did I get here” he asked, frowning.

“Storm.” the crone said, as though it were as natural an occurrence as another dawn. “Drink your tea.”

Igmar looked down at the steaming mug beside him. He raised it, sniffed and was about to take a sip when he paused.

“Who are you?”

“Heggerty.” said the crone. “Welcome to our abode. This here is—”

“Belitha!” shot the girl, enthusiastically, her small feet kicking, making her chair wriggle and creak. The crone smiled fondly then turned her eyes upon him once more.

“Now you know our names, and since you’re our guest, tell us of yourself?”

“Guest?” he repeated absently, rubbing his head and staring down at the tea in his hand. He took a sip. Strangely bitter and sweet at once; quenching his thirst to leave him parched once more. He took another and sank back into his chair. After a weary sigh, his words seemed to drift unbidden from his mouth.

“My name is Igmar. I recall no storm… perhaps a boat…” he searched his weathered boots for an answer, before giving up. “Anyway, I’ll need to get back soon.”

“Back where?” Heggerty asked.

“Back to the wilds, of course. The north. The sea is no place for me. I’ve duties to uphold.”

“The wilds are vast—compared to our small island, at least. Might you be more specific?”

“I roam. I’ve no home. If I were to name my origin, I suppose I’d say Warinkel. You’ll not have heard of it.”

“We know of it.” she said, surprising him. But just then his gaze was drawn to the doll Belitha was caressing. An uneasiness grew within him.

“What’s that you’ve got there?”

“A doll.” she said, turning it until Igmar looked upon his own likeness. Bald head; large, hooked nose; long, dark beard, streaked with as much grey as black; a missing ear; small, black ashen eyes.

“What’s that for?”

“Just a souvenir.” Belitha said, sweetly. “For my collection. I hope you don’t mind.”

Igmar was about to say that he did mind. That he minded more than he could reasonably explain. But just then the crone broke in, as if reading his thoughts.

“You’re not the first ashen we’ve met. One of your kind caused us great distress, in fact.”

Igmar swallowed, something in her tone threatened.

Continue reading “Igmar (of The Ashen Levels, by CF Welburn)”
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Det. Celeste Hackstraw (of Ghostkiller, by Marc Vun Kannon)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a police homicide detective, who assisted the world’s original medium and ghost hunter in unravelling a very strange case.


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

Are you sure you don’t want to ask about John? He’s much more interesting than I am. Two childhoods, for example. He was originally born centuries ago, somewhere in Europe, raised by a sorcerer and left to make his own way when he was about fifteen. His second childhood is coming along much better. At least, that’s what I’m trying to do. I can’t give him a normal life but I can give him that.

Anything left over from that first childhood? No cherished mementos?

Every memory I have of him, every day, is a cherished memory. I can’t have children of my own, so John is a blessing. And a bit of a trial, I must admit. His birthright makes life…complicated, so my best days and my worst days are often the same ones. He has a complete set of grimoires from his foster father, the greatest sorcerer in the world. I can’t wait until he manages to decode those. And that sword he used as a Ghostkiller, the one that John left sticking out of the street? I have nightmares about that sword, you know. It’s gonna come back, I’m sure of it. It’s going to come back and stick itself in John’s hand and say ‘use me’, that’s what it always does. What happens after that? No idea. That’s when I wake up.

For most people parenthood is simpler.

I’m a mother, raising a son who has already changed the world once and will again. Fortunately, thanks to the circumstances that gave me that son in the first place, I have a lot of high-powered help. The head of the Wizard’s Union, for example, and the local representative for the Medium’s Guild. And Colonel Saxe on speed dial. John may not have power yet but we’ve been teaching him how to handle it when he does.

Continue reading “Det. Celeste Hackstraw (of Ghostkiller, by Marc Vun Kannon)”

Lady Gwenhwyfar (of A Cup of Blood, by Troy A. Hill)

Dear readers, tonight we print an interview carried in an alchemist’s shop, in an alternate history where the Arthurian legends are real.


The woman strode into my shop, head and back erect. Dressed in light green woolen dress of an early medieval cut. The sleeves and neck were embroidered with the swirling points of Celtic patterns of olde. I waved her to a chair.

“Toss your cloak on the rail, milady,” I said, giving the cauldron a final stir and taste before I raised it another notch above the coals and left it to simmer.

The woman’s cloak was a dark forest green, embroidered with the Celtic Tree of Life symbol. The cloak seemed to shimmer and dance. That’s when I realized the fabric was of the finest wool I had seen, and the design was not embroidered but woven as part of the cloth.

My guest seated herself, still formal. Almost regal. Her blue-grey eyes sparkled in the dim light of the shop. Her silver-gold hair danced with reflected colors from our surroundings.

“May I offer you a potion, or spell after your travels? Your home in Penllyn is far is it?”

“Tea would be preferred,” she said. “But whatever you have about is appreciated. No, Penllyn isn’t far when one have magical means to travel.”

I busied myself getting the water poured and the leaves steeping. I passed her a cup a few moments later.

“Diolch,” she said. “Thank you in my native tongue.”

“Do you take anything with your tea?”

“This is perfectly fine, and appreciated,” Lady Gwen said. “I understand you’d like to learn more about me and my story. Please.” She waved a hand in invitation.

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

My early years were in my father’s kingdom, north of the Humber River, though on the west side of our island, in what you would know as Strathclyde, part of Britain. This would have been in the period of time you refer to as the Dark Ages.

What do you do now?

I am first disciple to The Lady, Goddess of Sovereignty of Britannia.

Goddess of Sovereignty?

She rewards the leaders of the land, giving them sovereignty over the people and land, as long as they fulfill the mission of protecting those lands and the people. The goddess is the land, and Britannia is her. The goddess’ concern is that her people thrive and prosper.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

The goddess sent me to find her second disciple. This woman would become the new champion of the land. When I found Maria dead, along with the corpse of two Witch Hunters, I couldn’t understand why the goddess needed her, that creature she was, to be the new champion of Britain–

The new champion of Britannia? You mean like King Arthur

My former husband was…

Continue reading “Lady Gwenhwyfar (of A Cup of Blood, by Troy A. Hill)”

Fionn and Harland (of The Withered King, by Ricardo Victoria)

Dear readers, tonight we are privy to something unique. We are lucky to get a glimpse at how these interviews are conducted in the myriad alternate universes of books.

From a fantasy world where magic and science intermingle and anything is possible, please meet a immortal hero and his interviewer.


Fionn entered the room. He was still nursing a headache, even after the shower. The past days had been, to put it mildly, an odyssey. The worst part hadn’t been the fight, but dealing with the aftermath of all what happened. Mostly because of the bureaucrats. Damn bureaucrats. He was still dubious this whole justicar for the Crown would work. But he needed the money to support the little girl currently sleeping in the next room. He had to be thankful that Harland had been nice to offer them a place in his family’s state.

I could swear, no matter the century, middle management remains a bane of the world.

Harland was already there, sitting on a comfortable leather chair. His legs dangled from the edge of the seat, understandable given his condition and the short stature resultant of it. He was nursing a black eye and a probably broken nose. Harland was drinking a cup, probably some red wine. It meant that he was trying to be serious with this. If Harland wanted to get wasted with him, he would have just brought applelime ale.  Fionn dropped into the seat opposing Harland put the cup on the table to his right and then grabbed a notepad and a pen.

“So you are serious with this? I told you already, I don’t want people to know that… well…”

“That the legendary Greywolf, the hero of the Great War is back? Or that you are basically immortal?”

“Both. Neither. I don’t know. I just want to be left alone. The last thing that little girl needs is to be in the spotlight after what happened.”

“You mean the little girl that is technically your great-granddaughter?” Harland pointed with his pen to the direction of the room next door. “Exactly what happened is why we need to do this because sooner or later is bound to happen.”

“What?”

“You, saving the day. No offense, but I’ve read pretty much every text mentioning you. I’ve been with you since the first day you came back to the land of the living, or the awaken… or the unfrozen. I’m not sure of the correct terminology…

“It was a spell that…”

“Nevermind. Bottom line, you, my friend have this chronic need to be the hero. Sooner or later, you will end saving the world but the aftermath won’t be contained, everybody will find about you, and speculation will start. So I prefer that you have your story ready to tell, written by someone of your entire trust, like a friend, to keep the narrative with the public under our control. That’s a good way to keep Sam out of the spotlight.”

“So we are friends now?” Fionn shook his head.

“I would like to think so.” Harland smiled.

“Go on. Shoot.” Fionn smiled back. He signaled Harland to continue.

“I have a set of questions ready for you here?” Harland grabbed a piece of paper.

“Where did you get them? Did you download it from… how do you call it? Aethernet?”

“No… yes… I downloaded it from a blog I follow.”

“What’s a blog?” Fionn asked, confused.

“That doesn’t matter. Let’s start. First question: Where did you grow up? Or where you were born? I don’t think I have seen that mentioned in any text.”

“For a good reason.”

“Humor me,” Harland pointed to his face. “You owe me as much.”

Fionn sighed.

“Fine. I was born around 120 years ago I guess, in a freefolk settlement north of the World’s Scar, into the Mistlands, around the Humbagoo forest. My dad, Fraog, was a human, a wanderer that fell in love with my mother, Dawnstar, a freefolk for the Wind Tribe. We had a good life until the tribe got almost destroyed in a sneak attack. I was too little to recall who attacked us. I only know my dad died giving us a chance to me, my mother, my grandfather and other families to escape. We were protected by his best friend, a Kuni demonhunter named Hikaru. After some wandering, we arrived at Skarabear, in the northern part of the Emerald Island. There we settled in. I was basically raised by my mother and Hikaru, who was a great warrior. I really admire her.”

“So you were raised by two women.”

“Freefolk don’t have the hang-ups about gender roles that humans tend to have. And they were two of the three strongest women I’ve ever met. I’m lucky I had them and my grandfather to teach me all I know.”

“Hmm, let’s move into something less heavy-handed.”

“That’s better,” Fionn replied, as he got up to pour some red wine in a cup for himself.

“Did you have a favorite toy growing up? Or any other memento you still have with you?”

“Really?” Fionn looked at a Harland. “Fine, it was a small wooden dragon wolf with wheels that my dad carved for me. As for memento, my only current possession is Black Fang,” Fionn pointed to the curved fangsword, currently resting next to the couch, safely sheathed in its black lacquered sheath.

“Ah! The legendary Tempest Blade. You will have to tell me one day how did you get it.”

“The one and only. And I thought you had read all there was about me.”

“Which is not much, truth be told. So what is your current occupation?”

“A friend of mine convinced me to get a license as Justicar for the Crown, which seems to be a special agent in charge of solving odd cases involving magick and the supernatural.”

“You are welcome by the way. A good form to put your skills to good use. Like a few days ago. Wanna talk about that?”

“What’s to talk? I just went to find about my descendants and I found my granddaughter and her husband murdered by an insane cult and I had to rescue their daughter, my great-granddaughter from those guys.”

“You seemed to really enjoy beating them to an inch of their lives. Your smile was like that of a wolf savoring the prey. I’m pretty sure you killed a couple.”

“Good. No one messes with my family or friends. Ever. I don’t enjoy fighting. I do enjoy putting scumbags in their place. And if a friend is ever in need of help, I will be there to help them. It’s what I have always done and I will keep doing. Next question.”

“What can you tell us about your adventures? What do you think about the things you have faced?”

“First of all, I go with the mentality of trying to not die. It’s a risky business y’naw? My experience had been full of meeting new people, traveling to interesting, sometimes mysterious places in search of clues. The downside is the kind of creatures I have faced. Some are truly the stuff of nightmares. Eldritch abominations…”

“Incursions you mean?”

“Yes. Nasty creatures.”

 “Have you ever been afraid? Of the monsters I mean.”

“Always. But the key is to use that fear to keep your ego from extending checks your body won’t be able to cash. And after a while, you get used to dealing with outsiders and other nasty creatures from the Infinity Pits, or Hell as you call it. If you don’t deal with them, innocent people will suffer. And someone has to stop them. I do admit that possessions can get nasty, the smell is unbearable and there is no way the body can be recovered. Once I saw a whole family turned into a patchwork hanged in a wall…”

Harland grimaced at the thought of that.

“Let’s move on. What has been the best thing about your adventures?”

“Sharing them with my friends. No matter how dangerous they were, knowing I had my friends next to me always helped me to survive another day.

“Wanna talk about them? Your friends I mean?”

“Currently I have only one living friend,” Fionn pointed back at Harland. “I’m not keen on talking about what happened to Izia and Ywain. Let’s just say that Izia was the best friend and wife a man could have. And Ywain was like my little brother. Annoying but always there, willing to help. I’ve been wondering how it would be to meet his descendants. But he died before having one.”

“As far as I recall, his body was never found. Who knows? Maybe he survived and something kept him from coming back, got himself a family and maybe his descendants are somewhere, maybe on the other side of the world, maybe in a town nearby.”

“Wouldn’t be that nice? But right now I prefer to focus on my living friend. You. I can’t be thankful enough for all you have done for me… for us. Taking me in, guiding me through a century of changes in a few weeks, for helping me find Sam and offering a roof. You are a good man.”

“It’s the least I could do. I was the one that awoke you from that spell so it’s my responsibility and that of the Foundation to help you.”

“Yeah yeah, still thanks though. I think Izia and Ywain would have liked to meet you.”

“I hope the feeling would have been mutual. Ok, next question…” “You know what? I will better skip that one.”

“Why?”

“It’s about romantic involvements. I think its poor taste to ask that right now.”

“I see. Look. I was happily married to Izia for almost a decade, we had a beautiful girl that I’m sad we didn’t get the chance to see her grow up. She was a special lady. And a kick-ass shaman.”

“Would you ever consider to date again?”

“No. Dunno. I still love my wife, even if she is not here anymore. Maybe if someday I meet someone special and strong and kind I might consider it. But right now I have to focus on taking care of my only surviving relative.”

“Ok, this is a tough one. Do you hate someone?”

“Byron,” Fionn replied. He tightened his grip so hard that he could feel the glass cup almost cracking under the pressure.

“The former crown prince? I thought you were friends!”

“He was an asshole. He betrayed us, killed all my friends and comrades just because his father thought he was not ready to be king. He sold his soul to a demonic entity and my wife died sealing him in a mausoleum, trying to save me from being killed as well. Good thing he is gone or I would…”

“I think is better if we go back to the frivolous questions: favorite drinks, colors, pastimes?”

“Appleline ale. Grass Green. I like reading interior design magazines and making miniature models of houses, siege engines, and wooden toys.”

“Interior design? I didn’t see that coming,” Harland replied taken aback.

“What? It’s good for a former soldier with admitted PTSD. It helps me to relax and fall asleep. And to improve my fashion sense.”

“Too much information… next question. What do you think the future does hold for you?”

“Right now? I just want to raise Sam. Knowing my luck, I will probably end, sooner or later, embroiled in some crazy adventure trying to stop an old monster and traveling from one point to another in a race against time. The bright side is that I might get to know new people. That always brightens the quest.

“And who knows? You might get a mentee or two. The world would benefit from your experience.”

“Tried that, didn’t work. Not gonna happen again. Next question?”

“What’s your secret? How do you do what you do? How do you survive?”

“Off the record?”

“Off the record.”

“At the end of the Great War, I obtained something the legends call ‘The Gift”

“I have heard rumors of it. What’s it?”

“No one knows for sure. It’s like this energy generated inside me that grants me improved senses, greater stamina, and reflexes. And some special abilities. Those vary from people to people. In my case, it helps me with enhanced healing.”

“So that’s why you don’t look injured. Do you know where I can get some of that for me?”

“I wouldn’t recommend it. It also has several drawbacks and to get it you have to be dead. Or almost dead.”

“That’s… that’s grim.”

“Y’naw what? Let’s leave it here and continue tomorrow. Both of us could really use a good night of sleep.”

“Agree. Besides at this pace, I will have enough material to write your biography.”

“Ahh, we are moving from interview to biography.”

“Maybe even a movie someday.”

“Ha! Well, I admit this was fun, to have someone to talk about… things. Thank you.”

“No. Thank you for trusting me.”

“Harland, as an old story said: this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”

“I drink to that.”


Born in the (formerly) frozen landscape of Toluca, Mexico, Ricardo dreamed of being a writer. But needing a job that could pay the rent while writing, he studied Industrial Design and later obtained a PhD in Sustainable Design, while living in the United Kingdom and working in a comic book store to pay for his board game & toy addiction. He is back now in Toluca, living with his wife and his two dogs where he works as an academic at the local university. He has short stories featured in anthologies by Inklings Press, Rivenstone Press, and Aradia Publishing. He was nominated to a Sidewise Award for the short story “Twilight of the Mesozoic Moon”, co-written with his arch-nemesis, Brent A. Harris. He also won a local contest for a fantasy short story during college. But hey! That one doesn’t count, does it?

You can find Fionn on the pages of The Withered King.

Keep an eye out for our mid-week special SPFBO interviews! Join us next week to meet a girl who ran away from home to discover a world of strange creatures and dark magics. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Doctor Fid (of Fid’s Crusade, by David Reiss)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint a transcript from March 23rd, 2018 radio interview with a man on a two-decade quest to punish the unworthy, with a long trail of blood and misery in his wake. He’s here to tell us about painful memories and profound guilt, and how a veteran supervillain must race against time to save the world.


Presenter: Aaaaand welcome back. This is John Tanner for HeroChat, WBPR News. Joining me via teleconference is noted forensic psychologist, Dr. Stephen Cronin.

Guest #1: Good afternoon.

Presenter: Before the break, Dr. Cronin and I were discussing his recent work consulting for the Department of Metahuman Affairs.

Guest #1: Yes. My team has been tasked with developing psychological profiles for some of the world’s most dangerous supervillains. It’s been a fascinating project.

Presenter:  Also a very important one.

Guest #1: Again, yes. We’re very hopeful that the profiles that we’ve put together will be useful to law enforcement.

Presenter: And to hero teams associated with the DMA.

Guest #1: Of course.

Presenter: Now, before the break we were discussing your analysis of Slaughterion; was there anything else you wanted to add?

Guest #1: Not really.

Presenter: In that case, I’d like to move on to your next high-profile assignment. It’s my understanding that you also prepared an updated casefile regarding one of the most feared villains in modern history: Doctor Fid.

Guest #1: And after recent events, one of the most controversial. But I’m here to say that the Mercer-Tallon incident changes little of what we know. Doctor Fid is a vicious criminal who has been active for two deca-

*silence*

Presenter: Dr. Cronin?

*silence*

Presenter: Ladies and gentlemen, we seem to be experiencing technical difficulties. While my producer attempts to reconnect us with Dr. Cronin, I’m going to open up our lines for callers to discuss what the people think about Doctor Fid.

Guest #2: *synthetic, disguised voice* I think not.

Presenter: What th-…Rob? Did you put a caller through?

Guest #2: Your producer is no longer in control of your telecommunications system. But fear not. Your ‘technical difficulties’ will cease before it’s time for Karl’s Traffic Round Up. The commute this evening looks particularly troublesome.

Presenter: Wh-who is this?

Guest #2: You know who I am.

Presenter: Oh, fuuuu- cough Okay. Okay. What do you want?

Guest #2: Primarily, to inform your listeners that Dr. Cronin is a plagiarist, a perjurer, and a fraud. His assessments are dangerously inaccurate; D.M.A. agents and associated hero teams should make use of his supposed ‘insights’ at their own risk.

Presenter: That’s, um, a very strong accusation.

Guest #2: Documentation has been provided to your producer and to other relevant authorities. It’s not unexpected that the Department of Metahuman Affairs failed to perform their due diligence, but I will admit that I expected better of local public-radio talk shows.

Presenter: Okaaaaay. So, what, you’re just here to set the record straight?

Guest #2: I suppose so, yes.

Presenter: Then would you, uh, be willing to answer a few questions? I mean that respectfully! 

Guest #2: Ask, and I will consider answering.

Presenter: Well, to begin with…could you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?

Guest #2: Hah. Very well. My name is Doctor Fid and I have been terrifying the world’s most powerful so-called ‘heroes’ for the last twenty-one years.

Presenter: What do you mean by ‘so-called’?

Guest #2: I mean that they are unworthy of the title.

Presenter: Heroes like Valiant are unworthy?

Guest #2: Of course not. Valiant is a good man.

Presenter: But you still fought him on the White House lawn.

Guest #2: Valiant is an exceptional hero, whereas I—according to the analysis that Dr. Cronin posted to the remarkably insecure Department of Metahuman Affairs servers, at least—am a murderous sociopath with delusions of godhood. Of course we fought.

Presenter: And you battled against him again at Mercer-Tallon-

Guest #2: Untrue.

Presenter: The currently-most-popular video clip on the Internet says otherwise.

Guest #2: Whoever edited and added sound effects to that video has a magnificent sense of comedic timing, but…that wasn’t Valiant.

Presenter: Yeah, I get what you’re saying. Yeah. But, what about the Red Ghost? He unworthy?

Guest #2: The Red Ghost earned my respect a long time ago.

Presenter: So…you seem to spend a lot of time beating up people you seem to respect.

Guest #2: I do. An entertaining yet unfortunate side effect of my chosen vocation.

Presenter: So, why do you do it?

Guest #2: Obviously, it would be a poor choice to offer too much detail. It must suffice for me to say that, when I first began—in those first five bloody, violent years…when I built the Mk 1 powered armor and donned my helmet for the first time—I had a very specific goal in mind. It was not a kind goal, but it was…needed. When that goal became unattainable, I withdrew.

Presenter: This would be after that fight in D.C.? When you disappeared for several years?

Guest #2: Yes.

Presenter: So, why did you come back?

Guest #2: I will freely admit that the number of genuinely admirable heroes is higher than I once imagined…but they are not enough. There exist dangers that those heroes cannot or—for ethical reasons—will not address. There exist tasks which require a monster’s touch.

Presenter: That sounds…almost admirable.

Guest #2: Also, I missed hurting people.

Presenter: …Admiration retracted.

Guest #2: That’s fair. I am not the thing Dr. Cronin claims me to be, but I am also not a hero.

Presenter: What are you, then?

Guest #2: I am Doctor Fid. And now, I believe that it’s time for the traffic report…


While growing up, David was that weird kid with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds. He was the table-top role-playing game geek, the comic-book nerd, the story-teller and dreamer. Fortunately, he hasn’t changed much. David is a software engineer by trade and a long-time sci-fi and fantasy devotee by passion, and he lives in Silicon Valley with his partner of twenty-seven years. Until recently, he also shared his life with a disturbingly spoiled cat named Freya.

You can find Fid on the eponymous Chronicles of Fid trilogy.

Join us on Friday to hear from an immortal hero and his interviewer, from a world where science and technology intermingle. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Beatrice Taylor (of Guild of Tokens, by Jon Auerbach)

Dear readers. tonight with me is a master alchemist. She is mentoring another young woman, and is here to tell us about college quest games and telepathic apples.


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

It was terrible. Next question.

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

Cherished memories? The few moments when I wasn’t hiding in fear from my mother’s drunken boyfriend.

What do you do now?

If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you I run a successful tutoring business, but in reality, I’m a full-time alchemist/quester.

You do know what the Quest Board is, right?

Umm, no.

Ugh, fine.

The Quest Board is a message board buried in the bowels of the Internet where people post real-life Quests to complete in exchange for tokens. Get enough tokens, and you level up. The purpose? To dig up and grind out the last traces of magic left in the world for the upper crust. Most Questers spend their entire lives scrounging up enough tokens to earn a couple of bronze tokens, which they pass on to their children so that they can repeat the same thing.

But not me. I discovered the truth early on. So I forged my own path. I learnt the secrets of alchemy and magic, and made coin doing it.

My alchemic buffs range from low-level Adderrall substitutes that I sell to college students to the actual full-strength version that will make you so focused on your task that you’ll probably forget to eat for several days. Or one that will make you feel like you’ve just had the best nap of your life even if you’ve logged three all-nighters in a row.

I’m sorry, but what’s a buff?

It’s what I call my alchemic gummies. They give you a boost when you eat one, depending on what type. There’s strength, vitality, focus, and speed, plus some other ones that I can’t quite reveal just yet.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I’m a seasoned solo Quester but the Council’s Raids require a partner. So far, I’ve had a bad string of luck with my trainees. They either don’t respect me or become obsessed with me or try to kill me. Sometimes all three. It was a stroke of luck that I stumbled upon my newest trainee, Jen Jacobs, after she succeeded in fetching a particular batch of apples that when eaten, allow you to read someone’s mind.

Continue reading “Beatrice Taylor (of Guild of Tokens, by Jon Auerbach)”

Finn Featherstone (of The Bizarre Blades, by Stevie Collier)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a former painter turned master swordsman. He is here to tell us about his adventures, about swords and sorcery, sabertooth tigers and bizarre blades.


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

I grew up in the frozen wastelands of Shimoshimo. It’s absolutely terrible, especially for me. Everyone is brutish, rude, and primal while I’m… just different. Not saying I’m more artsy and sophisticated but… I am, which has been more of a curse.

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

My favorite toy would certainly have been a paint brush. I grew up with a painter for a father and a kind, intelligent mother who had the job of growing the few types of vegetation possible in Shimoshimo.

What do you do now?

I am fortunate (or unfortunate) to have become a Champion and a graduate from the Champions of Arbitration. I, and my team of Champions, help to keep the peace between Bizarre Blade wielders around the world as Champions can be either good or evil.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I recently just ran away from a massive T-rex that was bent on eating me for lunch! It wasn’t her size that scared me the most (which it certainly did scare the crap out of me) but that of her amazing intelligence!

Continue reading “Finn Featherstone (of The Bizarre Blades, by Stevie Collier)”

Corin Mal-kin and Kett Peter-kin (of the Kalima Chronicles, by Aiki Flinthart)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint a chat we overheard, between the stoic trainer of a protagonist and spy and rogue from a planetary colony reminiscent of Asian myths and legends. It takes place during a brief interlude when the characters are in the fortress-city of Shenzhen, heading into the climax of the first book.


Corin Mal-kin: settling comfortably in a seat at the Fire Salamander inn and slurping the froth off an ale. So, what did you want to chat about, Kett? All very cloak-and-dagger, dragging me out to a tavern like this. Afraid Alere might overhear?

Kett Peter-kin: with a level look and a quick, professional survey of the room. Something like that. clears throat Look. You know I’ve been Alere’s shifu and weishi-bodyguard at Xintou House for the last ten years.

Corin: No, really? grins and sips from ale Cut the feihua, Kett. You’re worried about her. You’ve noticed she likes me. You think I’m not good enough for her? Do just ask. Much more dignified than me guessing.

Kett: Fine. I’ll lay it out. I don’t entirely trust you. I want to know you’ll take care of her. Where are you from? Who are your people?

Corin: You sound like a protective older brother. pushes aside an unveiled jiaoji-whore attempting to sit in his lap. Fine! We’ll do it your way. I’m from Asadia – nice little place west of Madina. Full of the more unpleasant branch of the Jun First, Zah-Hill family’s relatives. I was quite glad to leave. They annoyed me. After all, the Zah-Hills slaughtered my family and my fiancé. That kind of thing tends to be a tad irritating.

Kett: Scowling. Jiche, Cor, those gouri kin-child laws! I thought I’d heard the worst of it, but… I’m kin-child, too. So are Alere and Mina. And Rohne. We’re all in danger. But I don’t think the Jun First was entirely to blame. Nor any of the Zah-Hills. Hanna Zah-Hill created the laws, and she married into the family. frowns Do you remember much of Asadia?

Corin: swigs the rest of his ale Not a bad place. Lots of farmers. Not a lot of skullduggery. Boring. Until the Zah-Hill weishi started slaughtering the illegal kin-children, of course. Then it all got very interesting. sighs At one point I was considering joining the Artists House as a musician. Before it all went suilie and I came home to a burnt home full of corpses. Then a life on the road felt like a much safer option.

Continue reading “Corin Mal-kin and Kett Peter-kin (of the Kalima Chronicles, by Aiki Flinthart)”

Kantees (of The Dragons of Esternes, by Steve Turnbull)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a slave responsible for a feathered racing dragon. She is here to tell us about how her life changed when she was forced to ride one.


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

I don’t know where I was born or who my parents were. I don’t really think about it. I was born a slave, as far as I know. It’s easier not to think about it. The only thing I’m sure of is that I am pure Kadralin. My skin is not as dark as some but, as far as I know, there’s nothing in me that looks like a Taymalin, and I’m grateful for that.

My first master was Kevrey of Tander. He kept a shop in Dakastown, on the south coast of the Isle of Esternes. He traded in knowledge, that didn’t make him popular with the Brothers of Taymar, of course, but he had lot of interesting visitors anyone from lords to ship captains to ordinary people.

I learned a lot there, even though slaves aren’t supposed to be educated. They think that if you’re educated you might rise up against them. And they’re right, of course.

Dakastown is very big, it’s home to the Otulain family and even among the lords they are very rich, because of all the trade from the mainland. Apart from the sea trade, it’s got a big ley-circle too.

I remember the sea and the gulls, but most of time I was cleaning or fetching and carrying.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child?

Being a slave means you don’t own anything, I didn’t have toys … but there were so many interesting things in Kevrey’s shop. I would play with them sometimes, in secret when I could find a moment. There were shells and different stones, the stuffed animals and insects. But it was the zirichak feather that I loved the most, golden and blue, as long as I was tall.

What’s a zirichak?

You don’t know?

I’m not from around here.

It’s what I ride now, a ziri, some people call them dragons. The racing ziri have beautiful feathers, not like the wild ones which are just grey and brown.

Continue reading “Kantees (of The Dragons of Esternes, by Steve Turnbull)”

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