Dear readers, tonight with us is the leader of a snatch squad, tasked with clearing an old mine from the psychotic savages that took over. The savages – known as the Unbound – are followed by dark magic that mutates living things and liquefies rock, and Kiprik and his crew must make it to very bottom of the mine, where the deepest magic and the darkest truths lurk.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I was a Sendal lad, born and bred. Village like any other, bunch of scrags for the main part. Trouble followed me everywhere, no damn surprise there, by the time I was in double digits I’d already broken a full-grown man’s skull. Don’t think no one was sorry to see me go, truths be told.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
Toys? What are you on, son? Only toys we had was sticks. Liked a spot of fishing with Denrak, the weaver’s lad – does that count?
What do you do now?
I’m a ranker, son, a gods’ honest regular soldier in the Primearch’s glorious army. Cannon fodder for those bastards back home, just like the rest of us sorry clodhops. If you want a type to lay in a ditch for two nights then slice open a dozen arseholes’ necks before breakfast, I’m yer man.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
Adventure? Bah! I’m too old for that billyshit. This ain’t no adventure, it’s a godsdamn feeding frenzy for the crazies down that feckin’ hole. We ain’t bloody miners, son, but they expect us to go down into that pit and search out the Unbound like they were bloody waiters at some vache tea party. Only tea party I ever went to, the staff weren’t trying to rip out yer bloody necks. Bet yer top brass wouldn’t go down there. Damn pigjubbers couldn’t swing an axe to chop firewood.
What did you first think when you saw the cloud over the mine?
Run, son. That’s what I thought. Last time I saw one of them there Miasmas, no one was staying around for second helpings. Godsdamn freaky shit, unnatural, evil I reckon. And then I thought, damn it, they’re gonna send you in there. Ha! Too feckin’ right again! That’s the job though, innit? You take the coin, you save a bit from yer ale bill to pay the reaper, just have to hope he’s got too much on his plate to fit you in.
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
So far today? Probably the feckin’ pile of puke that yaldson Pups spewed in the tent this morning. Either that or the state of m’ kegs.
What is the worst thing about ranker life?
You’re always too festering odorous to attract a decent woman. And paying for whores ain’t one of m’ things. Yeah – sexual frustration, that’s the worst of it, still, you should’ve seen me twenty years ago. Had ‘em flirting with me like wasps round a jam pot back then. Too tiring now, even the talk wears me out, anyway, m’ back’s no good for shagging these days.
What is the best thing about ranker life?
Comradery, son, pure and simple. Round the old fire with the boys, singing some epics, shell pipe to m’ lips. Then passing out after a skin full. So, basically unconsciousness, yeah, that’s the best of it. Feck, don’t take it to heart, son, I‘m just havin’ a moan. Mind you, maybe there’s a bit more truth to that than I might like to admit.
Tell us a little about your friends.
You mean my men? Well, there’s Stack, o’ course. He’s a solid lad. Bit simple, but reliable, which is how I like ‘em. He’s also built like a shit house, which is always a good quality on a night out, given the number of fights we get in. Then there’s Abs, he likes a moan, but he’s got some nouse to him, knows when to pipe up with a good idea. Pups, well, he’s just a kid, the son I never ‘ad you might say, he makes me laugh, not that I let on, have to maintain a sergeant’s demeanor, ‘n’ all that.
The rest of ‘em are all bloody dead, son, Doesn’t do to make friends in the ranks. Doesn’t do, at all.
Any romantic involvement?
Think I covered that already, son. Not much romance in a whore house, is there?
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
Top brass. Those bastards think we’re meat. Feed us to the birds they would if they thought they’d get a few extra yards of ground to march us up and down on. Apart from them, any scrag with more mouth than balls. And that feckin’ priest, Brax, he’s the worst of the lot, hypocritical fat shit.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
You serious, son? Fine. A Knights Ale, blue, and playing m’ pipe, or a bit o’ fishing. And taking a crap, don’t get much more relaxing than that, does it?
What does the future hold for you?
Doubt there’s much in the way of future for an old dog like me. Supposed to retire in a week, if I make it that long I’ll get myself a place up in the mountains next to a lake, with a solid wench to rub almac oil in all the right places…
M’ knees, son, where did you think I meant?
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
Truths, son, I was never meant to be here. I’m a feckin’ healer by trade. Ha! That surprises you, don’t it? I lied to get in the army, rubbed the feckin’ skin off m’ neck to hide the damn Assignment mark. And you wanna know what else? I made the wrong feckin’ decision. All those bastards I’ve killed, they may ‘av deserved it, most of ‘em, but I reckon I’ve wasted m’ life, if I got the chance I wouldn’t repeat one single blasted second of it again. But there you go, I’m a feckin’ dreamer, what can I say?
Now feck off and bother someone else with your damn questions.
Born in London in 1972, Shaun Paul Stevens spent his formative years in the shadows of the dreaming spires of Oxford, before moving to Nottingham where he graduated with a degree in English and Media. Navigating a path through music, art and the internet, he began writing in 2016, firmly ensconced in alternate realities and gritty fantasy worlds. Shaun lives in Brighton, on the south coast of England, where he splits his time between his fiction and family life.
You can find Kiprik and his crew on the pages of Deliverance at Van Demon’s Deep.
Join us next week to meet a young woman who managed to mess up the uneasy status quo between werewolves and vampires on an epic scale. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.