Dear readers, tonight with me is a foul-mouthed cynical mercenary. He was hired to lead his rag tag troop to the capital city, infiltrate the Palace, and take down the decadent and indifferent Emperor.
He is here to tell us about the Yellow Empire, about ordinary soldiers and gritty heroes, epic battles and blood-soaked revenge.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I grew up in village in Immish. Immish is rich country. My village is piss-poor. I lived with my mum and my grandma, and if you ask about my dad I’ll lamp you one. My mum and my gran were weavers. Gods, the cloth they could make you. Silk and cotton. Patterns in the weave: flowers, faces, luck charms all woven in. And I was a damn good weaver myself. Lovely bit of cloth, I could make you. Top notch.
Then Garet the dyer died, and his dyeing secrets died with him. And that’s a pun that never gets stale, even after I’ve nicked it off someone else. And now the village is poor as piss.
Lovely country, though, Immish. Black soil, rich bloody soil, there’s bits of southern Immish where you can get in three harvests a year. Fruit and veg like you wouldn’t believe. Borders on the Bitter Sea, and nice beaches, even, some of them, if you like that sort of thing. White sand and all that. The city of Alborn: now that’s a place worth seeing. All made of white marble, the city walls are white marble and silver, the Great Gate is white marble and gold. Flashy? Hells, yeah. New money, all of it, and its bigwigs feel kind of insecure. So it’s not exactly what you’d call refined. And the back streets stink of bloody sewage, like anywhere, and half the kids have got worms and lice and rickets and gods know bloody what. Price of progress, as they say. But it’s a place worth seeing, if you ignore all that.
May we just only visit the nice bits?
The rest of Irlast, the wider world … Well, now. I’m well-travelled (perk of the job), I’ve seen quite a lot of it, mostly when it’s on fire and drowning in blood, admittedly, but hey. Different building styles still look different when they’re on fire. Desert and forest and corn-land look … actually, you know, desert and forest and corn-land look bloody identical once they’ve been burned and trampled and soaked in the blood of innocents, and I can’t pretend otherwise. We walk through the unburned bits, though, to get to them to burn them, and they’re all pretty enough in their way. Continue reading “Tobias (of The Court of Broken Knives, by Anna Smith Spark)”