Dear readers, tonight we print the secret files about the first female Dragoon warrior. We get a peek into the entry exams of two very remarkable young girls.
Highlord, as you requested, I have enclosed all records we could find of the Dragoon, Taliesimon Tothrangan. I am afraid nothing here appears to give any indication of her current whereabouts, but it makes for interesting reading nonetheless. She and her friend were apparently quite the pair, even then.
What follows is a fragmentary copy of the entrance exam transcripts for Taliesimon Tothrangan (age: 9) and Okara Dorgauna (age 7), the first girls to be accepted into the Dragoon Order in recorded history. Although normally these exams are processed singly, in this case it was thought best they interview the pair together. [ink blots obliterate a note following this line, a new note following the blots reads:] To ensure no accusations of wrongdoing came at the dragoon conducting the interview.
Where did the two of you grow up?
O: On the smooth side of your mother’s–
T: Okara! [clears her throat] I grew up on a farm just outside a small village called River’s Edge. My pa raised sheep and grew grapes that he made into wine that we sold in town and, sometimes, we would even go as far as Cuularan!
O: [sighs] okay. I grew up in a village with no name that I know of. It’s very small. When my family lost favor with the dragoons, we became destitute and were forced to take whatever menial jobs were available.
I see. What possessed you to enter the Gauntlet?
T: [laughs] You say this as if girls entering the Gauntlet is unusual.
O: [scoffs] You see, Taly? I told you they don’t get out much.
T: Not so, Ser. Girls enter every year. It is only that either they never make it through the Gauntlet, or they are “disqualified” in The Combats.
Clearly you do not know what you’re talking about. We are Dragoons. We would never disqualify any entrant who did not earn such.
O: If you say so.
T: So you think, what? That girls are just naturally inferior and so never manage to join? Not ever? What kind of rock have you been living under, exactly?
Enough! We need to address this entrance exam. What were your favorite playthings as children?
T: Well, you see, I used to have this ceramic doll…
O: Be serious, Taly. I think I speak for both of us when I say that for as long as I can remember the only things I ever played with were implements of combat. The sword I fashioned from a broken slat fence was my favorite to practice with.
What do you imagine is in store for you as a new recruit?
O: Honestly? Torment, pain, and unfair treatment.
T: Now who needs to be serious? Training will be hard, I have no illusions about that. I expect we will be pushed harder than any of the male recruits, at least for a while. I don’t see as there will be any way around that. But eventually we will prove ourselves and that’s when I think the real training will begin. I can’t wait to start learning the sword for real.
Do you jest? From the accounts of your showings in The Combats, I’d say you have some skill already. Could we discuss where you learned such things, especially at such young ages?
T: I blame my brother.
O: [laughs] You’re just being modest, Taly. That was all you. For me, though, I’m sure I mentioned that my family used to all be Dragoons? For centuries. It was something of a family tradition. But since we fell out of favor with the Dragoons, most of them stopped trying. But I refused. I know our potential. We were among the greatest of the dragoons long ago. My ancestor, Okaro, was one of the small band to cross the Thurgian Sea with Captain Eiryk of Katharc three-hundred years ago in the first of the Lost Voyages. So I’ve dedicated myself, almost since I could stand on my own, to learning the sword. I fought with anyone in my village who dared.
T: [nodding] Okay, you’re right. When I was very young I watched my brother and his friends playing “Dragoons” and I knew then that I could beat them. So I trained on my own with sticks in the barn until I felt confident I could at least compete. After I carved my first sword, I started joining the boys. Within a year I beat them as often as not, and a year after that none would face me for fear of being humiliated. My brother has never forgiven me for it. But I suppose that’s why I’m here and he isn’t.
What was your first thought when you came upon the river in the Gauntlet?
T: Perhaps sorcery shouldn’t be outlawed after all–
That is a very poor attempt at humor.
T: My apologies, Ser. I’ve never seen anything so daunting in all my life. Not even the masses we faced in the last of The Combats.
Tell us a little about your friends.
T: Friends? I think the closest I have to a friend is Jonah, the boy I helped in the Gauntlet. I sincerely hope he makes it in someday. He deserves it far more than any of those other bullies that I was forced to cooperate with.
He was the one who was wounded in the final challenge?
T: That’s right.
O: [pitched whisper] That’s Taly’s boyfriend.
Well now. You two are a bit young yet, but do you have any romantic involvements we should be aware of?
T: I certainly do not, and that’s enough of your tall tales, Okara Dorgauna!
O: [giggling] Not as tall as all that.
And what about you, young miss?
O: What, me? No, I don’t like boys.
Is there a person or thing that you despise beyond all others? Why?
O: Dargon! I wish the blasted prince would just curl up and die!
That’s awfully harsh. Just saying it might be construed as treason.
O: [shrugs] You asked. I answered. As to why, his ego is too large by half! Mister High and Mighty thinks he can do anything with no repercussions! Someone needs to bring his worshipfulness down a rung or two.
T: I fear my answer would get me into just as much trouble.
Why is that?
T: He’s a Dragoon. One of rather high standing, in fact. As to why, well, let us say only that he Is the reason Okara and I were almost denied acceptance into the Dragoons. Only the word of the Prince and his Trevan, who found evidence to help us, kept that fate from becoming reality.
You two are just full of wild imaginings. What do you like to do when you’re not training?
O: Taly, will you remind me why we’re taking this seriously? If he won’t even take us seriously why should we not take the same approach.
T: Remember what we talked about, Okara. We have to be better than them.
O: [scoffs] Fine. What do you mean, when I’m not training? How do you think I became skilled enough to defeat boys twice my size? Certainly not by playing with dollies like the other girls my age.
T: [nods] The sword. Helping Father in the fields. Feeding and shearing the sheep. Going with Father on market days. I suppose you could say the rare excursions into Cuularan when we would dine at a real restaurant after selling all our wares.
That sounds… dreary. What do you suppose the far future holds for you?
T: I want to help other girls get into the Order. Now that we are here, I see no reason the Order cannot allow others to succeed in joining. And I mean to make sure that happens.
Well you two are almost shockingly different in your answers. Let’s see if we can continue that trend. Will you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
O: I’ve always dreamed of taking up where my ancestor left off. I want to follow in Okaro’s footsteps and journey across the Thurgian Sea to meet the Torthugra on their own ground. Those vile creatures should be wiped out before they have another chance to invade our lands!
T: I… I’ve seen a goblin.
Come now, girl. When I said a secret, I wasn’t talking about sneaking a look at a painting in your father’s bed chamber.
T: [angry snort] That isn’t what I meant! I’ve seen one in person. Alive!
Well now. That is interesting. What happened? Did you kill it?
T: I did not! It was wounded. I found it bleeding near the edge of the vineyard. Even though I knew I should hate it just for being what it was, I couldn’t. It was… pitiable. It mewled almost silently as it bled its black blood into the dirt and it just couldn’t help myself. I had to help it.
You did what?!?!
I spent weeks nursing the creature back to health. I closed its wounds with a needle and thread. I’m clumsy with such, I admit. In the country we don’t have the time to become skilled at needlework, embroidery and such like those wealthy “ladies” in the capital. But the work was passable, I think. It was enough to stop the bleeding so the creature could heal. I brought him food and water every day. Until one day, after near on a month, when I went back he was gone. In his place was a solitary shard of sapphire. I still have it hidden in the folds of my boot. I’ve never had the courage to try to spend it. I’m afraid I’d be accused of theft.
(As an aside, Highlord, it should be noted with curiosity that during the Goblin Wars young Taliesimon showed no reticence whatsoever toward battling the goblins. She seems to have been kept from the fighting, along with all other females of the time, but not for want of trying. Also, we have in fact checked records and can find no evidence of the women having taken ship toward Thugra Isle.)
Kevin Potter is an independent author of epic fantasy with a strong focus on dragons, trolls, and other creatures that don’t normally get the spotlight in fiction. He is endlessly fascinated by magic and nearly all things non-human. He lives in Oklahoma with his wife, 2 daughters, and a continually expanding menagerie of dogs and cats.
You can find Taliesimon on the pages of Shadow of the Overlord.
Dear readers, join us next week to meet a woman dragged in to a tale of violence spanning centuries and countries. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.