Dear readers, tonight with us is a recently ascended prince, here to talk leading his people against ruthless invaders to his kingdom.

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

I’m Rogan, Prince of Blythinia – the central kingdom of Elyria, and younger brother to Rodar.  We both reside at the capital, Blythia, the seat of power of our late father.  It is a pleasant place: a sprawling city atop a hill, that sits both overlooking the upper lake of the River Slow Water and nestled beneath the first marches of the Spine mountains that separate the kingdoms of men from the north and the distant elurons.  Blythia is both rugged yet beautiful, modern yet old.  I’ve spent all my life there, apart from following our father to neighbouring Courlan to visit the Rennes, his – and now our – great allies.  Other than that I spent my three years at the Citadel like all of my rank and birth, learning the ways of war, courtly affairs and scholarly, educated strands.

You mentioned your father; what happened there?

He passed away nearly a year ago.  Unfortunately, I would be lying if I said I was stricken about it.  He and I never saw eye to eye.  Rodar was his favourite son, the very image of him in fact: cock-sure, confident, a talented soldier.  He decided to take Rodar with him to Sacaria during the troubles with the Avonners, whilst I was due to be married off to some merchant’s daughter.  Rodar would rebuke me for saying, but I think things have turned out for the better, despite King Jaime being perhaps the best military leader we need against this invasion plaguing Elyria.

What will you do now in light of your father’s passing and this invasion?

My brother and I will share rule and forego the expected passing of power to the eldest son.  Rodar’s a capable military man and will be able to lead our forces against this new threat.  I have confidence in him, and so too do the generals.  We have mustered all our strength and marched south to meet this invading force of ‘Bronzemen’ as they are commonly called.  The pride of Blythinia has ridden out: the White Lancers, the Retinars, our personal Blue Cloaks.

What has been your greatest achievement?

I suppose it would have to be ascending Retinars’ Rock, the lower peaks of the Spine that tower over Blythia.  It’s the final hurdle to pass into the ranks of the Retinars, one of our elite cavalry orders where any man can join despite his birth or heritage.  There upon that frozen precipice I carved my name into the rock amongst the hundreds who had surpassed me.

And a more recent affair would be the recent peace that was forged with Avon.  It wasn’t all my success, but I played a significant part, and I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that it was my words at the end when our treaty was looking to fail that saved it.  I think it was a great achievement nonetheless; we couldn’t march to war without securing our western border.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I wouldn’t call this campaign against the Bronzemen an adventure – there’s nothing light-hearted in taking on this foe.  Our journey to Avon, however… there was a surprise or two along the way, let me tell you!  Namely a little girl called Brook.  We didn’t even know she was a girl at first, so covered in mud and grime she was.  Poor thing ran out unwittingly under Rodar’s lestriel in one of the outlying villages.  Thought he’d killed her – him, at the time.  Lost her parents several years ago.  I’ve left her in the safety of Chaden, the city of the Old Forest.  And once this war is seen through to its completion… I don’t know what I’ll do.

What did you first think when you heard about these foreign peoples on Elyrian shores?

Complete shock, that’s what!  We were all astounded!  Never before has there been word, nor knowledge of anyone and ultimately other lands beyond Elyria’s shores.  Needless to say that there was an air of confidence in facing them regardless.  Afterall, we do boast amongst the strongest militaries in all Elyria, if not the strongest, so why not ride south with confidence.  Alas, things haven’t unfolded as one would have hoped.

What is the worst thing about being part of this coalition force of Elyrians?

Having too many self-righteous, hot-headed lords, kings and generals that all think they know best, half of whom distrust the other half, and the others falling into line because one realm has always had poor relations with another.  We’ve already had our fair share of scrapes before even meeting the enemy on the field. 

What is the best thing about it?

The men they bring to bear.  Courlan alone has brought the entire might of their Knights.  Altogether we stand at over thirty thousand strong, and perhaps the largest gathering of men since the wars against the elurons a millennia past.  Still, Ludorr and the others estimate the enemy’s might to number two hundred thousand… a staggering figure.

Tell us a little about your friends.

Well, Lucindor is my closest companion.  He’s a pompous bastard with a kind heart, golden locks and has an annoying habit of attracting the eye of any female on two legs without trying.  But he’s one of the best men I know.  Then there’s Caru.  He’s actually from Courlan and King Lauren’s youngest.  Rodar and I grew up with him and few of his brothers, as our fathers were close, hence the great alliance between Blythinia and Courlan.  I would trust and rely on him more than some of our own inner circle, and I’m glad that he and his brothers are with us today.

Any romantic involvement?

Any… Er, no.  Not as such.  Well, there might be, but I’m not entirely sure.  I – I don’t seem to do especially well in that particular field, to the great amusement of Lucindor and Caru.  I’d rather not talk about it.

Whom (or what) do you really hate?

Besides these invading peoples, a scourge on our land!  Hate is a strong word, but if there was one person then I suppose he would fit that mark quite aptly.  Roharo of Ilonia.  Sadly one of the few Ilonian Lords besides Lord kayliegh to make it out of their lands alive.  He and I went through the Citadel together and he never liked me, and nor I him.  What can one do when someone hates you but to hate them back?  Even now amidst this invasion he has tried to belittle me, spite me and mock me in front of the command at every turn.  If he came to fall in the upcoming battle then I’d shed no tears, that is for sure.

Aside from the war, what did you do in your free time before?

Before all this… it was a bright and promising spell.  Lucindor and I had set out grand plans to change this kingdom, and for the better!  Increase the trading wharves on the lake, expand the fisheries, employ the military to build a new network of developed roads to benefit the people – though Rodar was loath to that idea.  I was working with the Guilds: masons, scholars and so forth.  It all seems like that was a very long time ago now.

What does the future hold for you?

Victory.  I hope.  It must be, else… else Blythinia is lost.  I don’t know what will happen if we lose at Claxton.  Our full strength will be marshalled to meet them, aided by allies we risk losing at a wind’s change. 

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

A secret?  Alright then.  Though no doubt some may have read it on my face, I was entirely petrified on the Aldor Hills when the Bronzemen ascended, despite Rodar and our best men around me.  If it wasn’t for Feylindor carrying me forth with the rest of them I may have been rooted to the spot in fear.  Still, as much as that pains me to admit, I still fought and laid low my share of the enemy, and will continue to fight in the upcoming battle.  We must.  I must.

Jamie Powell-McCrae is a serving Officer in the Royal Navy, former teacher and keen fantasy enthusiast.  His childhood and much of his adult years were spent in and around the New Forest, Wiltshire, which he believes is the closest physical  portrayal to the Shire that one can get, and much of the inspiration for the world he created.  Currently he is living with his fiancé, Meg, and beloved rescue cat Monty in Devon where he continues to pursue all things fantasy when time allows.

You can find Rogan on the pages of Forward Banners.

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