Dear readers, tonight with us is a young man who decided to act against the monsters from beyond encroaching on his world, and has embarked on a quest to restore the barrier – even as he’s accompanied by one of the monsters.

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

Although not born there, I was raised behind the walls of Terratheist castle. While the outside world was struggling to create a peace treaty with a recently usurped neighboring kingdom and battling each other with the monsters summoned from another realm, since the age of six, I was being taught to summon monsters so I could one day venture into that world myself.

Why did you choose the path you took?

The reason I was taken in and taught the ways of a caller is a mystery to me. Having never been exposed to the dangers outside the castle walls, my first glimpse of the surrounding horrors was when my Master of Pacts summoned a Melkai (the monsters from the other realm) and it attacked me, coming bare inches from killing me. I knew would need my own Melkai to protect me, so I summoned Taiba, my Melkai companion.

What do you do now?

I’m an apprentice caller. My ambition is to become an Advanced Summoner who can summon and command Melkai from the second circle of the Melkairen (the realm of the Melkai). After not summoning another Melkai after Taiba, I naively believed that forcing myself out into the world on the quest I’m sent on was the best way to get the experience to become one. However, the barrier to the Melkairen was weakening and the Melkai without pacts were now roaming the lands, so it probably wasn’t the smartest decision. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

So you know that the souls of the monsters (the Melkai) can be taken from their realm (the Melkairen) and put into objects (pact items) to be summoned from them at a callers behest, right? So, when the barrier between the Melkairen and out world weakens, the Melkai without a pact are freed to terrorize the land. Now only those who can summon Melkai like me can survive outside the castle walls, and a magical relic must be found to reseal the barrier. I have one half of this relic, so naturally I have to find other half before the barrier breaks entirely.

What did you first think when one of the characters turned into a dragon?

In a world where monsters are transforming from objects, I didn’t know why I was so shocked that someone might use their own body for a pact item. After all, people are objects and dragons are monsters… so why wouldn’t someone use this magic to transform themselves into a dragon? I’m just glad Aisic’s on my side.

What was the scariest thing in your adventures?

Every time I’m forced to fight a Melkai on my own. Taiba may be a Melkai, but he’s only from the first circle and is tiny compared to some of the second-circle Melkai that have gotten free. I’ve faced giant quadruped beasts, a giant snake, and scorpion with a tail that looked humanoid in shape, however, none of this was as terrifying as being stared down upon by a third circle Melkai.

What is the worst thing about being a caller and journeyman?

The issue with being a caller is that horses are terrified of Melkai of any variety. They grow skittish and irritable and can barely trot in a straight line. This is the reason why most callers try to make a pact with a Melkai that they can use as a mount. I wasn’t that skilled unfortunately, and because of that, our journey had to be taken by foot.

What is the best thing about it?

The best thing about being a caller is knowing that you have the power of the Melkai to protect you. When your greatest threat out in the world are monsters, it’s good to know that you can make a pact with an even stronger monster to fight it.

Tell us a little about your friends.

My best friend is Taiba, who I summoned when I was twelve. My oldest friend is Michael, prince of Terratheist, who’s the closest thing to a brother to me. My newest friend is Aisic, a mysterious warrior who has decided to protect me on my journey. I also have the vague memory of a friend I had when I was much younger, but I can’t quite remember who that girl was.

Any romantic involvement?

I wouldn’t say romantic, but Kendra, that Kydian girl, is nice, and when she smiles at me, I feel weak in the knees.

Whom (or what) do you really hate?

I don’t hate anyone. I don’t know enough of the world to hate. But there are those I fear. Of those that aren’t Melkai, the king that took over Avatasc, Kissick, frightens me. From what I’ve heard, he takes after Ramannon, the emperor who ruled the lands five hundred years ago, before it was split in two.

What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?

I like watered down mead, the red and gold color of the Terratheist flag, and I enjoy reading and playing with Taiba in my spare time. Of course much of is this determined by whether I’m not I’m safe at home, which in this adventure, I am not. On this quest, listening to Aisic’s lessons on history is one of the few things that can take my mind off my sore feet.

What does the future hold for you?

Well, after how my last quest turned out, my luck would really have to take a turn for the worse for my lazy author to have to kick me out of my house again, but I’m sure my ancestors are going to have to deal with the inevitable issue of having objects possessed by the souls of monster. I shudder to imagine what would happen if technology in the future is possessed by such monsters.

Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

I’m still bitter about not being as competent a caller as some of the callers I met on my adventure. Despite my accomplishments and starting out as a prodigy, I don’t think I’ll ever be as good as them.

Growing up in the small town of Timaru, New Zealand, Christopher Keene broke the family trend of becoming an accountant by becoming a writer instead. While studying for his Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Canterbury, he took the school’s creative writing course in the hopes of someday seeing his own book on the shelf in his favorite bookstores. In his spare time, he writes a blog to share his love of the fantasy and science fiction genres in novels, films, comics, games, and anime.

You can find Nathan on the pages of War of Kings and Monsters.

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