Dear readers, tonight with me is the chief’s daughter, a fierce warrior but now threatened by the prospect of a brother as heir. Before all that, though, she must overcome the odds threatening to drag her clan into inescapable darkness.
Lidan? Hello, Lidan? Excuse me, I wanted to ask you a few questions about where you grew up. What was it like there?
Wait, what? Who said that?
What are you doing behind that tree? I wouldn’t stand there if I were you. If the meat ants don’t get you, a snake will. Seriously, get out of there—just looking at you is giving me the shivers.
Now, what were you saying? Where did I grow up? Well, here—my clan’s range. We’re south of the Malapa. People in the north call them the Ice Towers, and they call our place the South Lands, but we don’t see much of them down here.
It’s a bit dry and dead this time of year. Cold as well, so you’re going to need more than that on once the sun goes down. Probably a good thing you’re not here in the wet season though. Rain for days, bugs bigger than your hands and heat that will choke the air from your throat. You’ll be right if you get inside the walls before dark, though. There are things in the shadows you won’t want to meet.
Ah, right. Noted. Maybe a lighter topic then. Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
I don’t… I don’t know that I did. I wanted a horse more than anything. My people ride. We range. It’s what we do, but my mam never wanted that for me. She always said it was too dangerous—certainly too dangerous for the daari’s first daughter and heir. She said it was beneath me, but I never saw it like that. Not ever.
Thing she never understood was that I can’t be my father’s heir if I don’t lead my people, and I can’t do that from the ground! The other clans won’t ever accept a woman as a clan leader if she can’t show them her strength in battle as well as her care for her people. But Mam got her way. It was her decision, according to the Law. But then things changed. For everyone…
What’s changed? Something tells me this isn’t a good thing.
The world outside the walls of Hummel used to be full of promise, of adventure just beyond my grasp, until they weren’t. We knew who our enemies were, and they were far off, chewing at the borders but never fierce enough to truly bite through. Until they weren’t. We used to trust our weapons to keep us safe. They made us strong, because there wasn’t anything stronger. We know that’s not true anymore.
I used to think my place in all of it was set too. That’s what Mam always said. If I did as I was told, I would have everything I’d ever wanted. That was a lie. She couldn’t control the world any more than she could turn the sun in the sky, or wave away a storm. By the ancestors, she’s tried! She’s still trying, and I don’t know if I can stop her. I don’t know if… I’m not sure it’s enough.
I’ve heard talk that your half-mother is pregnant again.
You heard true…
What did you first think when you found out?
Honestly? The thought of my father laying with his wives doesn’t exactly make me feel all warm and fuzzy. Then there’s the jealousy, I suppose. It’s childish. I’m not proud of that, but that’s the truth. I can’t help wondering what happens if it’s a boy. Mam says I’m as good as invisible if it’s a boy. I’m not sure that’s true. I’m not sure Da would do that to me. But I’m not sure what my mother would do to make sure none of us ever find out.
But how can she think about that when rangers are coming back from patrols cut to ribbons?! How can she be so wound up about Farah maybe having a boy, when there’s something out there attacking our people and bringing a war to our door? I’m sure she thinks I’m weak. I’m not weak. I might bide my time, but I’m not weak.
Aren’t you afraid?
You’d be mad not to be afraid. Have you seen the spiders around here? Ever tried to shoot one of those with an arrow? Oh, you were talking about the looming and life altering prospect of my half-mother’s unborn child, my parent’s loveless matching and the unseen creatures lurking in the shadows of the bush?
Yes. I’m fucking shitting myself.
What is the best thing about living here? There has to be something!
You see that horizon? There’s nothing out there but open space and a wide blue sky.
That way, into those tablelands? Possibility. Endless, terrifying possibility.
Across the mountains to the north? A whole world I’ve never seen, places I’ve only heard about in stories.
Out west, across the plains and rivers, there’s a sea. A forest of rocks I’ve heard called a reef.
The best thing about living here, is that I could go anywhere. Maybe one day I will…
Tell us a little about your friends.
Behn is really my only friend. He’s an apprentice in Master Rick’s forge. I’m not sure how they do it, but they melt rock into metal and I’m not entirely convinced it’s not magic. The forge hasn’t been here long, and Rick had to come from the north to show us how to use it. He won’t make the rangers metal arrow heads though. We don’t have enough ore to replace them. It’s knives and axes for the most part, and even then we’ve only got a few.
I’ve got a mob of sisters, all younger than me too. Not sure I’d call them my friends. Sometimes I wish Elva had been drowned at birth, but that’s only because she insists she knows everything. Abbi is probably my favourite of all of them. She’s quiet and calm and curious. She loves and she laughs. She’s like the sun. You can’t help smiling when you see her.
Any romantic involvement?
WHAT? NO! My parents would kill me! Don’t bring that up again. What if someone heard you!
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
Whatever it is tearing our people apart. Whatever it is tearing my parents apart. I hate them both equally.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
Well I do have a horse. His name’s Theus and he’s wild-born, from the high country. He’s cheeky, strong willed and understands much more of our tongue than a horse should. Behn hates horses, which is odd given that our people have tamed and bred them since giants built the mountains to hold up the sky.
What does the future hold for you?
We’ve got a fight on our hands. There’s a war coming, not just from beyond, but within our walls. I can feel it rising. I don’t know who, if any of us will make it through in the end. I’m not sure what it’s going to take to win, what we’ll have to sacrifice, how much of our lives will be changed.
I do know the life I thought I had in store is fading fast. The future I thought was waiting for me is almost gone. It’s slipping away, and I’m worried how much of the person I am now will remain when it’s all said and done.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
I really hate tomatoes.
Living in Central Queensland, Australia, surrounded by coal mines, snakes, marsupials and a wide blue sky, Alicia is a writer, a mum and a cat-herder. There are rumours she may in fact be a quokka in disguise, but these are not to be believed. She began writing in her teens and never grew out of the phase, working in her spare time until the birth of her son allowed her to focus on writing full time. She has also dabbled in editing and blogging while completing a Bachelor of Education and studying a Post Graduate Certificate in Ancient History.
You can find Lidan on the pages of Blood of Heirs, and the about to be released Legacy of Ghosts.
Join us on Friday to hear from two sisters who explored the Amazon basin in search of monsters. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.