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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Adventure

Captain Phileas Nemo (of The Lone Captain, by Lewis Crow)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a submarine‘s captain – the son of the most famous captain the Victorian-era has ever seen. He’s here to talk to us about exploring shipwrecks, aiding the oppressed, and supporting freedom fighters, abnd about the fragile international balance of power.


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

I was the son of a wealthy Polish count, and my life certainly had its advantages.  I received a rigorous and thorough education in Warsaw, both at schools and from Papa.  My family traveled across Europe and hosted many social functions at home.  But despite our wealth, Papa always showed concern for the less fortunate.  He never let me and my sister forget how blessed we were, and he was a champion of the downtrodden.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

Papa was an engineer, and he actually made some of my toys himself.  I loved spending time with him.  My favourite moments were when he and I created simple toy boats out of wood, paper, and paint.  In general, I just enjoyed being together as a family, whatever we did.  I thought our happy life would never end—until the rebellion started and the Russians destroyed us.

What do you do now?

I am captain of the NAUTILUS, the magnificent submarine Papa built and sailed in for many years.  My crew and I explore the oceans to further man’s scientific knowledge of them.  We also gather wealth from sunken treasure ships of old and use it to help finance independence movements around the world.  The oppressed find allies in us.  Some of my activities draw (unwanted) attention from the nations, particularly Britain and America.  We are no threat to them, so they should let us be.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

In the last couple of years, we have been significantly involved in a certain island nation’s fight for independence.  We made a bit of military history in the process, I might add.  After that, circumstances forced us to take on the task of confronting a dangerous man in an even more dangerous ship who was trying to bring a mighty nation to its knees.  If a powerful country can be so threatened, what hope would the poor and defenseless have against such an adversary?

Continue reading “Captain Phileas Nemo (of The Lone Captain, by Lewis Crow)”

Toil Deshar (of The God Fragments series, by Tom Lloyd)

Dear readers, tonight we transcribe the records of a psych evaluation of a customs investigative officer. It seems like her job involves rather more magical relics and ancient horrors than is normal, and she has turned into a merciless killer.


Now Ms Deshar – you’ve been assigned to me for psychological assessment and we’ve been warned about you in advance, hence the bars. I am a professional, however, and mean to do my job properly. So – let us start with your childhood. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small town just outside the city of Su Dregir. Da always joked that we had to live there because he wasn’t allowed in the city and… well. Turns out the commander of a famous mercenary company isn’t exactly encouraged to visit and take in a show.

All the same, it was a nice place to grow up, if you didn’t mind all the drinking and fighting. I was the luckiest girl in town of course, no one messed with me. I grew up around (and learned from) some of the more evil and dangerous reprobates in the world. By the time I was sixteen, men knew not to mess with any other girl in town too.

And this explains… ah, the way you are? The trauma of being in this violent world from an early age?

Oh nice try, but for this daddy’s girl the upbringing wasn’t traumatic, it was perfect!

All the same, I wish to explore it a little further. Tell me about your cherished memories from childhood, your favourite toy perhaps.

Whenever Da came home from campaign, it was like a whirlwind hit. Almost the entire Red Scarves company lived there so it was like every feast day rolled into one! It seemed magical to a girl who loved chaos, but I remember the small stuff just as fondly. My brother whispering at night about city-ruins and monsters. Creating elaborate plans to steal treats from the pantry, building secret dens. As for toys, there were two. A doll Ma made – she had red hair just like me and went on all kinds of grand adventures. I also had a Duegar relic Da had picked up on his travels. A metal box with a lens in, look through it and it’d draw patterns with the stars, the constellations of a dead race.

And now? This happy little girl, active and imaginative, albeit rather spoiled perhaps, became… um, well, what is your job exactly?

Oh you know, this and that. I’m a girl who doesn’t like to get bored. I do have an official job title, customs investigative officer, but I’m rarely found on the docks of Su Dregir. My boss appreciates talent and after I stopped a gang war, he decided my skills could be put to use elsewhere. My hobby of relic hunting means I wander far and wide – if on my travels I hear information that might benefit the city or I accidentally kill someone who deserves killing, so much the better.

Continue reading “Toil Deshar (of The God Fragments series, by Tom Lloyd)”

Mathew Slade (of Gaslight Gunslinger, by Sugar Lee Ryder)

Dear readers, tonight with us is an ex Pinkerton Agent turned detective and gun for hire. He’s here to tell us about the 1870’s Wild West, and of how a gunslinger used to open plains and prairies can deal with the criminal underworld of a crowded metropolis.


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

I grew up on the prairies of Nevada. It’s a dry, dusty sort of place. My family moved to Virginia City where my father got a job in the mines during the Comstock silver strike. As soon as I was old enough to hold a rifle, I honed my tracking and shooting skills killing varmints around Virginia City. People in those days didn’t care about the pest control, so whatever I bagged went into the pot.

My father was killed in a mine accident. He’d gotten us into debt, and mother and I still needed to eat and a place to rent, so I took a job as a wagon guard for the silver shipments. People who’d fallen on tough times or slid face first into the bottle were everywhere in a mining town. I got more practice with my gun than I care to admit before I left that town behind.

What made you leave Virginia City?

Mother caught the fever and after she died, I had to leave town to avoid payin’ off the rest of my father’s debt and caught the first train out of town. I ended up in Springfield, Illinois and since I needed to keep body and soul together, I lied about my age and I enlisted in the Army.

I looked as green as grass but shooting skills were in demand due to the start of the Civil War. So when I told them I was 18 they believed me.  I ended up 6th Illinois Cavalry under General Nathaniel Banks. I saw combat, I saw ‘the elephant’ as we then called it. Dreadful, just dreadful. I don’t want to talk about what I saw during the war right now.

All right, then. So what brought you to the current place in your life?

After the Civil war I joined the Pinkerton Detective Agency. First job I really liked, so I spent several years becoming the best agent there could be. Until my last assignment, where I was assigned to track two young women heading along the Oregon Trail to San Francisco.  

Turned out that Samantha Williams and Charlotte Hart were two tough young ladies, gave me a hell of time finding them. Hell of a job – I had to bring Samantha back to an abusive father. Idiot only wanted to marry her off like a damned cow.

Wild Bill Hickok was travelin’ with the two. He told me flat out what a lousy job I had. And when a legend of the West tells you that you’re in the wrong, you plain just listen. A year or two later, I quit Pinkerton and decided to head to San Francisco, where I am now.

Continue reading “Mathew Slade (of Gaslight Gunslinger, by Sugar Lee Ryder)”

Seyvyar Trist (of The Servant’s Story, by Peter Thomson)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a magician, who rather fancied a life of adventure than the safety of the guild.


The Ancient Order of the Learned Archive

Herriam Tnar

Senior Recorder, Dtlag

Esteemed Colleague

Our chapter in Kaber City turned up the record below. They interviewed a number of venturers as part of a project on mortality in the Wild. This was filed under “Discard on Notice of Death”. An attached note – presumed made by the interviewer – read ‘This jerk won’t last long or make much’. Clearly our judgements are not always accurate.

Yours in the pursuit of knowledge

(illegible)

Azbai, 146 12 Ghei 14 (3 Harvest, 184 of the Revelation)

Project Attrition

Interview conducted at Kaber, 12, Month of the Marten, Year 216

Seyvyar Trist, Venturing 2 years, age 22.

Seyvyar agreed to meet me at Anni’s Bar in Kaber City, a little place on a side-street near the Fur and Pelt Union. It’s a steady place, the kind of bar senior clerks and journeymen crafters go for a quiet drink. A kitchen at the front selling skewers to the passing trade, booths at the back, dark and bright ale on tap, a warmth welcome in this season of cold rain. I wore a yellow jacket, as arranged, and Seyvyar stood up from a booth to wave me over. I saw a young man with fine, long-fingered hands, hair neatly confined in a pony-tail, perhaps over-dressed for this meeting in a flared coat and tight breeches. Oddly, he had wrapped a narrow scarf wrapped about his head so as to hide his nose, and wore sandals despite the cold. We gave our orders to the hummingbird which darted over from the bar, I opened my notebook and we started.

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

Well, the family’s from Irrus – that’s on the Chir, about a day from Chiran. But my folks moved to Chiran a while back, and that’s where I grew up and studied. Ah – you wouldn’t know, would you? Chiran’s a city, quite a big place if not the same size as the capital at Azbai, a centre of learning in the art. It’s a river port as well, of course, and folks come from all over to study there. Still lost? I’ll show you on a map some day. I’d say I had a normal childhood – playing around the docks, school, then college. I came third of the whole city when I got my scroll, which is a pretty good result, let me tell you.

By ‘the art’ you mean magic? And you got your scroll when you graduated from a school teaching magic, is that right?

That’s right. Don’t they test for sensitivity to ether-flows where you come from? I was at the top. My family could have paid, but I got a scholarship and, like I said, I came third. Ah, here’s our drinks.

Doesn’t the world talk to you? It does to me – to anyone with the wit to hear and the learning to understand, really. The art is about sensing the mood  – we call it the surround – and asking accordingly. At least for us it is. Those with craft have a different approach, one much inferior in rigour and flexibility. It’s only us with the art that you can move across the world in the blink of an eye.

I understand you did not pursue the usual career in magic after graduation?

Yeah. I mean the usual is three more years learning to make glow-stones or herd-sticks or fire-wards or whatever, and then a place in a guild and you get a pension and a reserved seat at the festival after 20 years in the job. I’m not in for that – I’m more of a free spirit. I wanted adventure, freedom to grow as a magician, and money. Lots of money. You can only get those in the Wild.

How is that going for you? If you don’t mind my saying so, your appearance does not suggest current wealth.

It’s had its ups and downs. I’m definitely much stronger in the art – in the Wild you get better fast or you die. I can cast spells my class-mates back in Chiran could not begin to grasp. I’ve seen things would make them blench, I tell you. Demons and Spirits and weird beasts, I’ve faced them all and lived.

You mentioned getting rich?

Okay, so things are not too good right now. Mind you, if you’d seen me even six weeks ago, things would have been different. I’d have shown you some awesome gear. Ever seen a Reaching Glove? Pick your purse right through a wall. Or a Fearsome Noise? Shatter every glass in this place and send everyone blind (except me).

I see you are now wearing sandals. Can I ask why you have a piece of cloth over your nose?

Like I said, ups and downs. Just a temporary inconvenience, occasioned by some cheating low-life rivals who pulled a totally unfair stunt. It would never have worked, either, except for a slip-up on the part of my colleagues. I feel really let down, but I’m big enough to let it go. Anyway, let’s not talk any more about that.

Can you tell us about your current plans?

I can’t say too much – I think your saying is that even walls can hear. But it’s big. Really big. The gang is with me on this, but there’s room for another one if you want in. I can’t say there it won’t be dangerous – it is the Wild after all, but we’ll be rolling in it when this comes off.

I’ll think about it. What is the scariest thing you have faced to date?

There’s not much fazes me now, but let me tell you about the first time I went into the Wild. There I was – three spells and a knife – and we stumble on this old temple and dog-spiders start coming out of the walls. I wanted to run, but my friends were relying on me. So I stood firm and, well, we won. I finished the last one off with the Winged Dagger. Since then, well, there was this delving where the frescoes would melt your eyeballs, and a pack of rabid undermen and some kidnappers looking for saleable body-parts. The Wild is not for the faint-hearted.

What is the best thing about being a magician?

Ether-sense! I can feel the currents of the ether around me all the time. To be a magician is to be in tune with the world, part of its thoughts, able to talk to it and have it respond. It’s wonderful and exhilarating and I don’t know how ordinary folk live without it. In the Wild the ether-flows are much stronger, and the feeling is intense. The surround is moody and fractious, and you have to be on your toes. I can’t really describe it to a non-magician but it’s better than beer and nearly as good as sex. In fact, many magicians think it’s better than sex, but I like both.

Tell us a little about more your friends.

I’ve put a great team together! Strong Saram’s one of the best with a sword,  Kelve’s gifted with craft and Rudrin’s nearly as talented in the art as I am. We’ve done some amazing things together, and we’ll do even more amazing things in the near future. Of course, I’m the one who does the planning, but they’re all with me.

Any romantic involvement?

I’m not seeing anyone at the moment. There’ve been a few – nothing serious. I’ll start looking again when I’m back in town with a shipload of money.

Is there anyone you really hate?

I don’t hold grudges. After all, what happens in the Wild stays in the Wild. That said, if you hear of three thieving sods from Dravish called the Kat Sisters, well, let me know. What those women did was totally out of line, even for the Wild, and I intend to pay them back, with interest.

(Here Seyvyar became so vehement his scarf slipped, revealing a nose of a hideous shade of blue. He hastily adjusted the scarf, gave me a weak grin, and waved the incident away)

Anyway, let’s not talk about the past. I’m a future-oriented kind of guy.

What’s your favourite relaxing pastime?

Well, the art’s a bit consuming. It’s like music – if you’re serious you have to practice every day. But I’m not a hermit – I read, and go to concerts, and I like a good meal and the company of friends. Like now – it’s good to just chat and enjoy this beer. Speaking of which, shall we have another? Your turn, I believe.

What does the future hold for you?

Accomplishment in the art, and adventure, and wealth. Mark my words, before too long my name will be on everyone’s lips all around the Green Sea – and beyond.


Peter Thomson was born in Sydney, Australia, spent a few years wandering the world (caught up in a few riots and revolutions, but claims innocence), then had a lot of fun in the public service before retiring. Along the way he played a lot of RPGs, starting with the first copy of D&D to reach Australia, and now writes about the people in a world built over the years from his home in Canberra (a much under-rated city). It’s a world where magic is everyday but the land has the last word.

You can meet Seyvyar Trist on the pages of the Tales of the Wild series, starting with The Forked Path and continuing in The Servant’s Story.

Join us next week to hear from an ex-truck driver, now infected with an alien sentient substance. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Dayna Chrissie (of the Fantasy & Forensics series, by Michael Angel)

Dear readers, tonight we host LAPD’s best detective, or at least she was until transported to the magical world of Andeluvia. She is here to tell us of applying modern forensics to crime scenes involving centaurs, dragons, and other creatures.


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

I grew up in Pike County, Illinois. Pike County is known for deer hunting, farming, and apple cider, in that order. The kind of place where people say ‘gosh’, ‘darn’ and ‘shucks’. Very wholesome. I couldn’t wait to up stakes for UChicago as soon as I was accepted there as an undergrad.

You didn’t like where you grew up? Surely you have some cherished memories of the place?

It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t fit in. I took a lot after Wednesday Addams. Moody, dressed in more black than my Mom would’ve liked. Put it this way, I was the only kid who looked forward to dissecting frogs in biology class.

As far as memories…one winter when I was seven years old, I found a trail of blood spatters leading from the woods towards my family’s garage. I found my father inside, crying over our open chest freezer. In it was a doe he’d shot. He was a hunter, taking game that was in season, but what shook him to the core was that this doe had spoken to him right before she died.

I don’t know if I’d call that a ‘cherished’ memory…but it was my first encounter with the magical land of Andeluvia.

It wouldn’t be my last.

What do you do now?

Officially?  I’ve been working as a Crime Scene Investigator for the Los Angeles Police Department for the past few years. I’m the one who the cops call in after they find the body, and I also perform the follow-up in the lab.

Un-officially, I’m part of the Andeluvian Royal Court. I do my best to solve mysteries in a land of magic using good old fashioned forensic techniques. I also try to help out whenever a magical creature’s in trouble.

You know, that is kind of wild now that I said that out loud…

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Anything happening with me is like C.S. Lewis meeting modern CSI!

Right now, I’m busy solving a murder case. The Andeluvians believe the Good King Benedict was killed by the ruler of the Centaur Realm, King Angbor Skullsplitter.

I’ve got about three days, max, to solve the case before the two kingdoms go to war. Hey, no pressure, right?

Continue reading “Dayna Chrissie (of the Fantasy & Forensics series, by Michael Angel)”

Othrun (of A Drowned Kingdom, by P.L. Stuart)

Dear readers, tonight with us is an exiled prince, leading his people to a new continent to found a new kingdom. He’s here to talk about troubled past, a cursed sword, the mysterious spirit guiding him, and the truths of kings and legends.


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

I was Second Prince and born with all the advantages accorded to one of my noble birth.

I was born in the greatest kingdom the world has ever seen: the beautiful island of Atalantyx. My birthplace was in gloomy Westrich, the solitary castle traditionally given to the First Prince of the realm, for my Father was First Prince at the time of my birth. Westrich is perched atop a hill, amongst the misty heather-filled moors, where the winter rains loved to blow and bluster down from the murky highlands.  Westrich was located on the northwest coast of the island, in the Earldom of Urtlan.

My favourite part of the kingdom was the Circle City, which was the capitol city of Atalantyx. It was the biggest and most glorious capitol in the world, and held a populous in the tens of thousands.

Atalantyx was the world’s leader in terms of sophistication, culture, language, arts, and of course religion. Besides that, we were the military and naval power that dominated the globe for the past five centuries. We were an unstoppable force, that conquered and subjugated many ungodly nations, and brought the proper worship of the Single God, to those heathen lands.    

My new friend Hert, who never saw Atalantyx, perhaps described it the most eloquently in terms of how the rest of the world saw Atalantyx, “..Atalantyx was almost a fable, in many ways, to us in Eltnia. Atalantyx was a vision…a place where summer reigned eternal, and towers of stone taller than mountains rose above the plains. Where women more beautiful than ever seen wore gowns of silk and satin in the streets, and tall men were warriors few could contest. Where steel was so sturdy it shattered the blades of common men.”

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

My favourite toy is a child’s sword, that my cousin Glathan, the famous explorer, brought me back from a market in the country of Lifren, a land in the continent of Atramland. I believe I was about nine years old when Glathan gave me the sword as a birthday present. I still have the sword, now that I am a man. I used to pretend that sword was Suresteel, the fabled sword carried by my hero, the Purple Prince.

My beautiful mother died, bearing me into the world. I never met her. He who I knew as my father, Atalan Ninth, the King of Atalantyx, was consistently cold to me, and always seemed dissatisfied with me. He greatly favoured my older brother Erthal over me. Meanwhile, Erthal was horribly mean to me. Overall, both my father and brother treated me unkindly, and it very much hurt me. I was determined to prove both of them wrong: that I was worth far more than they valued me. I did love Grandfather, for he was kindly to me, and he used to put me on his knee, and tell me wonderful stories. Oddly enough, though Grandfather had a reputation for kindness and benevolence, he didn’t care much for his own sons: Atalan and Yedwol. My Uncle’s wife, Aunt Lolove, treated me like her son, and she was my mother-figure. Her husband, my Uncle Yedwol, despite his grouchiness and sharp tongue, was more of a father to me than the king. I never liked my cousin, also called Yedwol, the son of my Uncle. He was always scheming and conniving. I think he was jealous of my relationship with his parents. I think they liked me better than their own son, and the younger Yedwol, known as the Ready, knew it, and resented me for it, though he was careful how he dealt with me, as I was his superior. My family life was very complicated.  

What do you do now?

Right now I’m the high lord of the last survivors of my people. Only about two thousand of them remain, following the destruction of Atalantyx. By rank and title, I’m the heir to the last King of Atalantyx. When we establish a kingdom in exile on the continent of Acremia, in the land of Eltnia, I’ll be a king. The kingdom I establish will be called Eastrealm. I’m charged to protect my people, in the strange and hostile continent of Acremia, in the region of Eltnia, where we plan to establish our kingdom-in-exile.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I was once Second Prince of the mightiest kingdom in the known world. Now I must lead the last survivors of my exiled people into an uncertain futures far across the Shimmering Sea from our ancestral home, now lost beneath the waves. With my Single God binding my knights to chivalric oaths, intent on wiping out idolatry and pagan worship, we will have to carve out a new kingdom on the mysterious continent of Acremia – a continent that has for centuries been ravaged by warlords competing for supremacy and mages channeling the mystic powers of the elements – and unite the continent under godly rule. With my troubled past, a cursed sword, and a mysterious spirit guiding me, I mean to be that ruler, and to conquer all. But with kingdoms fates on the edge of spears, alliances, and pagan magic, betrayal, doubt, and dangers await me at every turn. I will be forced to confront the truths of all I believe in on my journey to become a king, and a legend. 

When one kingdom drowns, a new one must rise in its place. So begins the saga of that kingdom, and the saga of me, the man who would rule it all.

Continue reading “Othrun (of A Drowned Kingdom, by P.L. Stuart)”

Serena Mendez (of Serpent Rising, by Victor Acquista)

Dear readers, tonight we conduct our interview in a hogan (a traditional Navajo dwelling) on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. We’re talking to a previously unemployed, pill-popping twenty-one year old who suffered from nightmares and PTSD, whose quest to sort out her life leads her to ancient conflict between the Illuminati and a Luminarian sect with origins to Atlantis.


It sounds as though your childhood was pretty messed up. If it’s not too painful, can you tell us about that?

Up until I was ten, things were pretty normal, at least in so far as a little kid can figure out what normal is. After the cave incident–that happened when I was ten–everything went downhill. My parents blamed my great aunt, each other, and me for what happened. I suffered from terrible anxiety–the doctors called it PTSD. I was put on endless meds and began popping pills like candy. Then my baby brother died in a car crash when my mother was driving me to a psychiatrist appointment, and that caused a whole other round of blame. I really wasn’t close to my parents and only realized later in life that my great aunt, Ooljee, was the only adult I felt comfortable with. I’ve pretty much been on my own since age eighteen and I was just barely getting by. It’s only since I went back to the cave and started my Circle training that everything began to fit into place.

What do you mean, ‘fit into place’?

I returned to this Navajo reservation to ‘confront my demons’ as my psychiatrist recommended, and I went back to the cave. That’s where the opening of my first chakra was supposed to happen when I was ten; that initiation was to start my Candelaria training. When it finally happened at age twenty-one, that’s when I began to embrace my destiny and stopped running away from my life. Things began to fall into place, and as my other chakras were opened, I became progressively more balanced.

What are you up to now?

That’s a good question. Even though I’ve completed my Circle training and am a fully realized Candelaria, I feel like a warrior without a weapon. This great War of the Two Serpents isn’t over. Sure, me and Bryson may have won a little skirmish, but the big plans to establish a New World Order haven’t changed. I should say presumably haven’t changed because we really don’t know how the Illuminati are scheming to accomplish that. So, at this point, I don’t know how to use my gifts, there’s no one to ask, and we don’t know how to fight the bad guys. The good news is that I feel great and genius-boy Bryson will figure out something.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I got to travel to India, Australia, Greece, Egypt, Mexico and Peru on my journey to open all my chakras. I learned things about myself along the way and I managed not to get killed. That’s not to say Li didn’t try. Still, he does have my DNA and he’s got the resources and know-how to misuse that. I also realize that Ooljee must have carried a great burden, feeling responsible for all the problems she caused in my life, but she was just doing what she thought best. It’s funny how your opinion of people can change once you can ‘walk a mile in their moccasins’–that’s a Native American expression Ooljee used to say.

Continue reading “Serena Mendez (of Serpent Rising, by Victor Acquista)”

Griever Blackhand (of The Girl Drank Poison, by Keith Blenman)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the deadliest bounty hunter in the world — also easily overlooked, as she’s only two feet tall. She’s here to tell us about legendary pirates, spoilt potions, and a sleepy little town.


Welcome Miss Griever Blackhand. How are you?

Hello! Thank you for having us. This chair is quite plush. We’re a little bit hungry. We’d very much like to flop around in a pile of leaves, should you happen to have one. Or perhaps some dirty laundry.

Um… Right. Now, you are a ferrelf. A lot of our readers might not be familiar with your species. If you don’t mind me giving them a physical description, you look like a ferret or weasel. Maybe eighteen inches tall with black and white fur. You’re wearing only a purple cape, which is crooked, draped over your arm. Can you give us any other insights into yourself or your people? Perhaps some history or culture.

…That was a lot of questions.

Oh. My apologies. I’ll slow down. Can you tell us a little about ferrelves?

Yes! As a ferrelf, we are more than able to speak on all matters regarding ferrelves.

…Griever?

Yes!

Would you tell us about ferrelves?

We’re a nomadic people, living in tribes throughout the Northern continent. Like elves, we are immortal. But we don’t always get along with them. You know how elves do things like spend five hundred years shaping a tree into a house, then stare at a roaring fire and recall the ancient times of war when their dwarf friend was slain by an ogre, so they planted a seed on the spot and spent five hundred years using that dwarf as fertilizer to make their house. But then they spent so much time reminiscing about their dwarf friend that they forgot trees are made of wood and their entire house burns down? Well, us ferrelves don’t dedicate so much time to such things. All that sitting would make our minds wander, and we’d start thinking about bright things, and how we like bright things. Then we think about how some of the kindling in the fire isn’t burned and we could probably take it out of the fire pit. But then it’s really hot so we throw it away and it hits the wall.

I’m sorry. Are you telling us you burned down some elf’s wood cabin?

…So the main difference between elves and ferrelves is how we regard time. Elf minds are in ages. Ferrelf minds stay in moments. We’re also a lot more carnivorous. We’ve eaten six birds today. Five of them were still in eggs, but we ate them.

Continue reading “Griever Blackhand (of The Girl Drank Poison, by Keith Blenman)”

Harthacnute (of The Cold Hearth; Book 3 of The Atheling Chronicles, by Garth Pettersen)

Dear readers, tonight we interview the half-brother of the protagonist Harald, from a series we visited before. Our guest is the heir to the throne, concerned about the future of his land and the choices of his brothers.


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

I was born in Engla-lond in the early years of my father’s reign, back when Cnute was consolidating his power, playing the sarding earls off each other, and swiving his new wife, Emma, my mother, the widow of Æthelred, the old Saxon king. My father was young then, more Viking chieftain than king. Cruel dastard then, same as now, but shrewd. I’d say my mother is an even match for him—clever, and just as ambitious. Emma got Cnute to promise that their offspring would inherit the throne, not his sons Sweyn and Harald—those stinking curs. So, they had my sister, Cunigard and me. They’re grooming her to marry the next Holy Roman Emperor and I am heir to the throne—a role I am more than willing, and well qualified to play.

So, my childhood was in Engla-lond until Father decides when I am eight years old, to send me to Danmark as future bloody king, under a council led by that nithing, Jarl Ulf. I was just a game piece on Cnutes’ game board, meant to rally the Danes so they’d defend against attacks from Nordvegr and Sverige. Didn’t quite work out that way. Jarl Ulf tried to get the Danish provinces to accept me as king outright, not under Cnute. Stupid Ulf. I think he was half elf-shot. Did nothing to push back the invaders from Scandinavia. My father had to sail from Engla-lond with a fleet. First thing Cnute did after establishing his hold on Nordvegr was kill Jarl Ulf and make it clear to me I was King of Danmark, within his northern empire.

I returned to Engla-lond whenever I was summoned and always chose to stay as long as I could. There are worse things than being young, a blessed gift to women, and heir to the throne. And there is always plenty to drink at my father’s court.

How are your relationships with your half-brothers?

Fine. I hardly see them. Sweyn’s a cruel arseling, but I know what he wants—a throne. I relate well to Sweyn. I understand him. As long as we both don’t claim the same throne, we’ll get along fine.

And Harald?

Harald has more chance of being named a saint than wear a crown. Has no stomach for ruling. And he’s an arrogant turd. He and that slut-wife of his, Selia. Harald says he has no use for the throne. Lying backstabber. We’ve had our run-ins. Beat each other half to death this one time. I was only accepting his wife’s offer to fill her where she’s empty. You know how you can tell some women are ready for you—the way they look at you? Guess it was an act, because she fought like a wild beast. Harald pulled me off her and we fought barehanded. I could have taken him, too, if our father hadn’t stopped us. There will come another time, when I’m ready.

Continue reading “Harthacnute (of The Cold Hearth; Book 3 of The Atheling Chronicles, by Garth Pettersen)”

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