Dear readers, tonight with us is a captain of rangers, from a kingdom facing many threats – within as without. He’s here to talk about a blind boy with visions, an elven princess with a secret, and defending his home.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
My family hails from a small town called Valkeneer. It sits on the border of Ravenwood, at the foothills of the Dragon’s Breath Mountains.
I live in Castle Valkeneer, but locally the castle is known as “the Bridge.” The Bridge is my ancestral home, and it rests atop a windswept mountain. It overlooks the crystal lakes and the blue waters of the Gossamer River, which rushes below the castle. In the early mornings, when all is quiet, you can hear the river from a distance, whispering you awake. The tip of the castle is at such an elevation that sometimes the clouds break upon the peaks and surround the town, which is how the Dragon’s Breath Mountains got their name. The locals once thought that the clouds could only come from the nostrils of the mythical beasts. In the winter, the snow gathers in pillows on the firs of Ravenwood. It’s my favorite time to be in the woods. Its purity and beauty are unequaled.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
The dangers of the Dragon’s Breath Mountains and the trollborn tribes of the north left little time for games. I guess if I had to answer this truthfully, my favorite “toy” growing up was my longbow. I learned to hunt and defend myself (and my people) at an early age and was taught the life of frontier noble since I can remember.
Although I had little in the ways of toys, we did have many pets. I know that may not be the answer you are looking for but my mother Amandaris is a Raven elf from nearby Ravenwood, and she is a sorceress. The powers of her magics tend to attract stray animals and she passed that on to my sister, Aerendaris and a little to me.
My first pet was my only pet—a war falcon that I named Storm—that found me when I was six. I convinced my parents to let me train with him, and now he rarely leaves my falconhand.
What do you do now?
I am the captain of the Longmarchers, a team of rangers and scouts, that protect the people of Valkeneer and those pilgrims and merchants traveling to and from the Bridge.
The term “Longmarcher” was a moniker given to my rangers by my father, Lord Hertzog Valkeneer, because he felt it perfectly befitted the scouting element of my small retinue of woodsmen. We operate outside of typical military protocols and spend extended periods of time in the field.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
I am defending the realm of Warminster from a man known as Graytorris the Mad, a fallen Keeper of the Forbidden, that is seeking revenge on the Cathedral of the Watchful Eye. His sect excommunicated him when he tried to use their vast powers of prophecy for his own purposes, and his Ancient, Erud, the God of Knowledge, cursed him by stealing not only his physical sight, but his powers of seeing the future.
Graytorris has many allies, however, including Baron Dragich Von Lormarck, a man who is in open rebellion from the crown of Thronehelm. Von Lormarck has moved against King Godwin Thorhauer and has brought Warminster to the brink of war. Valkeneer is just a small province in the barony of Queen’s Chapel, but it is a pivotal one. Without the Bridge to guard against the trollborn tribes of the north, Thronehelm and its army may starve over the harsh winter.
I cannot fail.
What did you first think when you met Daemus Alaric, the last Keeper?
I felt hope for the first time in many moons. Until we met in Castleshire, we were on the run and outmaneuvered. Times were bleak and we were desperate, barely escaping Von Lormarck’s mercenaries and privateers. They had chased us from Thronehelm all the way to the capital.
But now that I have seen Daemus’s eye aglow with the Sight, our spirits are raised and hope springs eternal. He is young and cannot control the powers of the Sight yet, and Graytorris’s plan is already in motion. It is all I can do to protect him from the Antlered Man, Graytorris’s cryptid creature that hunts him. If I can give my life to save his, I would.
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
The Bone elf assassin, Incanus Dru’Waith. His skills as a swordsman I cannot match. I am not sure anyone can, save for perhaps Jessamy Aberdeen, Princess Addilyn Elspeth’s champion. But he possesses great prowess with his bow too, and I fear that in our encounters so far, he’s had the upper hand. I need to find a way to turn the hunter into the hunted and stop this assassin for good.
Any romantic involvement?
In truth? I have fondness for Princess Addilyn Elspeth. But our love cannot be. She’s a highborn Vermilion elf, and I am but a trollborn—a half breed of part human, part elven blood. My feelings for her, I believe, will remain unrequited.
I—I really don’t like to talk about that. I can’t believe you actually asked me that question. Can we strike this from the interview? Your people told me there wouldn’t be any “gotcha” questions…
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
Wha—what is this? A Monty Python video? I’m not falling for this trick. Seriously, my favorite color? I’ve seen The Holy Grail too many times. I know what happens. Nice try.
But for the record, the Queen’s Nectar, a rich wine rumored to contain a powerful aphrodisiac would be my favorite drink. It’s not for the effects, of course, but it is aged in the wineries of Queen’s Chapel, so I like to support local products. You know…
And pastime? I don’t ever relax. I am Sir Ritter of Valkeneer. If I relax, bad things happen.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
I think my younger sister, Tishara, might be better than me with a bow. She’s a bit younger and wants to become a Longmarcher, so she’s been practicing. I have to admit, she’s quickly becoming as good as I am, but I won’t tell her than. It’ll go to her head.
Whoa–she isn’t going to read this is she? Strike that last part then.
Uh, my secret? Uh… uh, I like to cook. Yeah, that’s it. Print that.
Born of steel, fire and black wind, J.V. Hilliard was raised as a highlander in the foothills of a once-great mountain chain on the confluence of the three mighty rivers that forged his realm’s wealth and power for generations. Hilliard’s earliest education took place in his warrior uncle’s tower, where he learned his first words. HIs uncle helped him to learn the basics of life—and, most importantly, creative writing. He lives in the city of silver cups, hypocycloids and golden triangles with his wife, a ranger of the diamond. They built their castle not far into the countryside, guarded by his own two horsehounds, Thor and MacLeod, and resides there to this day.
You can find Sir Ritter on the pages of The Last Keeper.
Join us next time to meet a man hunting witches, in a post-apocalyptic world. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.