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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the protagonists of your favourite books

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Dark Fantasy

The Hunter of Voramis (of Darkblade Assassin: Hero of Darkness, by Andy Peloquin)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is the best assassin the world has ever seen. Driven by a cursed dagger with an unquenchable thirst for blood and death, he kills only those who truly deserve to die.

He’s here to tell us of his world and of fight for his life as he tries to find a way to atone for his mistakes.


Tell us a little about where you grew up and your history before becoming the legendary assassin of Voramis.

I have no memories of my childhood or anything before arriving in the city of Voramis. My earliest memories date back to the day I walked through the city gates, with nothing but the clothes on my back and my dagger, Soulhunger. But even despite the absence of memories, I discovered I knew one thing all too well: the art of killing. With no other prospects, I took on the profession of assassin-for-hire, and have spent the last five decades building my legend.

What is it like, spending your life killing people?

Death comes for us all, I simply hasten its arrival. But I do not kill at random. I find those who deserve death for the suffering they have caused others, and I deliver justice. In Voramis, many hide behind their wealth and use it to not only evade retribution, but to inflict pain and suffering on others. I am the one that sends them to the Long Keeper to stand trial for their crimes.

What can you tell us about the contract to kill Lord Dannaros?

When I discovered the truth of what he was doing, importing young women to sell as slaves, I knew he deserved the justice I delivered. It was a simple matter to use my pre-existing relationship with the nobleman—through my disguise of Lord Anglion of Praamis—to receive an invitation to his annual soiree, where I could find him alone and put an end to his cruelty. Continue reading “The Hunter of Voramis (of Darkblade Assassin: Hero of Darkness, by Andy Peloquin)”

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Clara (of The Relic Guild series, by Edward Cox)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young woman touched by magic – in a world where that is punishable by death.

She is here to tell us about her struggle to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, about the great Labyrinth, and of the Relic Guild – a secret band of magickers sworn to protect it.


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

Horrible. Labrys Town has some nice places and the denizens make the most of what they have, which isn’t much, to be honest. And when you have as little as me, you don’t get to visit the nicer places much and life can be a little dangerous. When you’re stuck at the centre of a giant maze that doesn’t end, there’s not much chance of getting out, and folk tend to turn on themselves.

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

I never really had many possessions, but I have plenty of fond memories of my mothers. They treated me like I was the most important in the Great Labyrinth and wanted so much more for me in life. I think they’d be proud.

What do you do now?

Well, that’s a little tricky to answer, given the secrecy surrounding my profession. Let’s just say I’m an agent of the Relic Guild, and ask no more. Continue reading “Clara (of The Relic Guild series, by Edward Cox)”

Girton Club-Foot and Merela Karn (of The Wounded Kingdom series by RJ Barker)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint an intercepted missive containing what appears to be notes for an ancient play – a transcripted conversation between an interviewer, a master assassin, and her apprentice. Without further ado, we’ll also print the letter that accompanied the play.


Princess, I found this when going through the unfinished works of the famed playwright Horir ap Valuth and, knowing your interest in the stories of the past, thought of you. It purports to be a conversation between the playwright, the murderer Girton Club-Foot and his master, the assassin Merala Karn. It is probably little more than a mummers play but the parchment appears old and I know you have an interest in these people so I have copied it out for you. From what is said I think this takes place quite a bit earlier on in the life of Girton and Merela than in the other documents I have sent you.

Please do not tell your mother that you got this from me.

 

Rikkoneth, high scribe of Ceadoc. On the first day of Yearsbirth in the rule of Arakoneth III

~ ~ ~

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

G – I grew up a slave. Then my master…

M – Girton.

G – What? I was just saying that you –

M – Girton. Enough.

G – But the man is interested, Master, and I so rarely get to talk to anyone.

M – And why do you think that is?

Pause.

G – What we do is secret.

Did you have any favourite memories? Any toy or somesuch that you remember?

G – Slaves do not have toys.

M – You are not a slave, Girton.

G – Yes, but I did not have toys. Oh!  My master gave me a knife, would you like to see my knife?

I have seen knives before.

G – But not my knife! Look. When my master gave it to me it was rusty and now it is so sharp it can cut mount claws!  My master showed me how to sharpen it, to remove the rust with sand and to rebind the handle. I used pig leather and I dyed it with the blue berries you find at the road edge in Yearslife and…

M – Enough of knives, Girton. I do not think Horir is interested in the possessions of those he sees as slaves, Girton.

G – But you said I am not a slave, Master. Continue reading “Girton Club-Foot and Merela Karn (of The Wounded Kingdom series by RJ Barker)”

Richard Parsons (of Shadows Over Seattle, by Timothy Bateson)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a lupine – a werewolf, one of many breed of shape-shifters – from Seattle. He’s here to set some things straight, what is true and what is merely myth in our understanding of lycanthropy.


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

Seattle’s an amazing city, but then most people would say that I’m biased in my opinion. Because I lost both of my parents before I as even in my teens I grew up on the streets, crashing with friends, or occasionally fellow lupines. Sure, the streets can be a tough place to grow up, so I ran with one of the gangs, and lived off petty crime and handouts.

Now, you may think I spent a lot of nights sleeping on the streets or went hungry a lot, but thanks to my lupine heritage that didn’t happen often. I could head out to the hunting grounds on Cougar Mountain, and hunt down a rabbit or two and spend the night in wolf form.

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

My father left after I started showing signs of having inherited my mother’s lupine abilities. Somehow, she’d kept this side of her life from him even after they married, and she ended up having to raise me on her own. It was a tough time, because she sank into the bottle, blaming herself for my father leaving and she was in and out of jobs for a long time.

I had to learn to hide my shifting abilities, as well as hunt in wolf form just so the two of us could eat. But I’ll never forget those lessons, or the day I lost my mother while we were hunting.

What do you do now?

I miss those simpler days. Running with the gangs didn’t leave me much time for school, and I barely graduated. For someone like me it was hard getting a job or keeping it. I’ve never dealt well with authority, and I’ve had more than my share of run-ins with the police. Somehow, I can’t seem to stay out of trouble, and I know that’s partly how I ended up in my current predicament.

In the space of one night I went from having a great woman in my life, to a drunken brawl which somehow resulted in me being blackmailed into something I should never have agreed to. I couldn’t face being trapped in a cell for what happened, so I made a devil’s bargain and agreed to join a taskforce that investigates and hunts the criminal elements in the supernatural community. Continue reading “Richard Parsons (of Shadows Over Seattle, by Timothy Bateson)”

Ryhalt Galharrow (of Blackwing by Ed McDonald)

Dear readers, tonight we print a magazine interview from the world of Valengrad, where the reporter managed to track down a Captain of the shadowy Blackwings – Ryhalt Galharrow.

All we’ll say, is that we’re glad we weren’t sitting in the interviewer chair this time.


I meet Galharrow on a red-sky day in Valengrad, me on a last-minute effort to grab an interview before heading back to the capital, Galharrow on a rare break from work. He’s been hard to find, harder still to pin down. Slightly glazed, he says that he didn’t have to come far from the office, but he looks like he’s been up most of the night. As I sip at coffee that has been brewing for at least the best part of a day, I can’t imagine an organization with Blackwing’s authority and reputation having an office in this part of the city, or why he’d choose to meet in The Bell. It’s not the worst alehouse that I’ve wandered into, but it’s not far off. Galharrow, to my disappointment looks like he fits in, shirt untucked and stained. He still cuts a daunting figure. He’s six-six, at least three hundred pounds and all of it the kind of weight that doubtless puts fear into the deserters he chases down. I ask if he’d like to share my pot of coffee, but the girl at the bar is already bringing him a bottle of brandy. He holds off questions until he has a drink in hand, by which time the clock is chiming ten. In the morning. The brandy goes down, his hand stops shaking quite so much, and for the first time there’s light in his eyes and a smile on his lips.

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

RG: If you don’t know the story, then I’m not going to go into it in detail and it’s better left that way for everyone. Sounds dramatic, I know, but it was a good place, in a lot of ways. My family had money. A lot of money. I didn’t want for anything. I was always encouraged, which I guess passes for love in some families. There were a lot of expectations. I’m not sure that I ever lived up to any of them.

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

RG: Toys were frowned upon, as a rule. I had the usual things that boys my age get given when they’re expected to serve on the Range as an officer. Practice swords, horses, strategy games. There were a lot of lessons, but I didn’t dislike them. I enjoyed learning, and I was competitive. I had an older brother, and he was always going to inherit the estate, so I tried to better him in other ways.

I don’t find it healthy to hold onto memories and call them good or bad. The days were what they were. Most of them are better left buried.

Me: Can you tell the people back in the capital a little of what you do as a Blackwing captain?

RG: If people are fortunate, they never need to see, or know what Blackwing does, but there are a lot of unfortunates out here on the Range. Not every soldier is good, and not every man is a man. Blackwing is tasked with rooting out the sympathizers that side with the enemy, military deserters, the Cult of the Deep, the Brides that corrupt men’s minds, that kind of thing. If it doesn’t belong here, it’s the captain’s job to find it and neutralize it. Continue reading “Ryhalt Galharrow (of Blackwing by Ed McDonald)”

Tyir (of The Thousand Scars, by Michael R. Baker)

Dear readers, it took us a while, but we were able to secure a meeting with the legendary necromancer Tyir of Irene. We sit in the chambers of the Jaal of Valare himself, where Tyir called a servant over to bring us iced milk sweetened with honey.

He’s here to tell us about the dark and disturbing forces that shaped him to the necromancer he is today.


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

Hah! What was it like there? Do you really want to know? It was a shitehole. Miles upon miles of poverty, rocks and shite fields where nothing could grow. Irene was the wasteland where the refuse of the world was sent to die. No wonder so many people emigrated north. I was very young when my family joined the latest band of refugees.

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

Toys? Do you really think I had toys as a child? It’s as if you think I had a happy childhood. Most days we lived off crushed acorn paste, which tastes like dying shite, my friend. I do recall making a friend with a rabbit, once. That happy relationship lasted for just a day, before my father chopped it up for our rare meal of meat. It wasn’t the worst relationship I’ve ever had.

So….what do you do, if it’s not being a good-hearted soul?

Please, I’m pretty well known for my kindness. Just ask the Pharos Order, the Quellion family…the two thousand odd Order soldiers I’ve killed during the Sorn Rebellion…the Redure quisling scum…okay. That was meant to be a joke.

You could say I am a sculptor of man. I like studying, you see. There is so much knowledge trapped in the bowels of the underworld, laws that we cannot understand because the only ones who did understand it were dead centuries ago. If only the Order were so willing to accommodate that, but they have less intelligence stuffed into their one brain cell then Horse does when he’s on a good day. I also enjoy cutting up dead bodies and finding out how they work. I’m known as the Peddler of Flesh. If I did not know how bodies work, I would make an even poorer necromancer then I do already. Continue reading “Tyir (of The Thousand Scars, by Michael R. Baker)”

Gairynzvl (of the Dark Fey trilogy, by Cynthia A. Morgan)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a Fey of the Light, captured at a young age and taken to live amongst the Dark Fey – the Reviled.

He’s here to tell us of his adventures.


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

My life has been dichotic.  I spent my first seven years in the village Hwyndarin with my family and the Fey of the Light. It is a place of simple beauty and communal living, where each villager shares life’s responsibilities and burdens.  I was very young, but remember playing with friends and learning to fly amid the forests, streams and meadows bathed in sunlight.

When I reached 7 ½, I was abducted by the Reviled Fey and spent the next 15 years of my life trying to survive the gloom and shadows of their dark realm, the Uunglarda.  No sunlight warms their barren dominion and the skies are choked with soot and poisonous fumes.  I suffered the Integration; five years of neglect designed to turn childfey into monsters and each day was a torment of hunger, thirst, cold, and abuse.

Gosh, that sounds horrible.  How did you manage to hold onto hope?  Was is a cherished memory, a favourite toy you clung to, a friend?

We had no toys in the Uunglarda, and very few friends, but I was determined not to forget the ones I had and to see them again.  I kept the Light alive any way I could, mostly by repeated prophecies I had already learned and secretly studying others.  Although I had to keep it completely hidden, which was not easy in a place where you are forced to do horrible things every day, as time went on, I formed a few secret alliances with Dark Ones who wanted to escape as much as I did and our mutual dream of freedom kept hope alive.

What do you do now?

Even though I have returned to the Light and live in Hwyndarin once again, I spend much of my time training with an exclusive unit of Fey Guards dedicated to the covert operation of returning into the Uunglarda at undisclosed times to rescue younglings and those Dark Fey who wish to escape.  Continue reading “Gairynzvl (of the Dark Fey trilogy, by Cynthia A. Morgan)”

Tobias (of The Court of Broken Knives, by Anna Smith Spark)

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)”

Anastasia Savoy, aka Tazia (of the Written by Birds trilogy, by S M Henley)

Dear readers, tonight with me is half-demon, Tazia of Savoy.

After a century and a half of servitude, she’s finally managed to shake off her shackles and wants to celebrate her freedom. But a psycho angel has interrupted her plans, and instead of a life of tequila on the beach, she’s been forced into an alliance to save the demon who was her jailer.

With a father in Hell, a dead lover, and a demon gangster on her tail, Tazia is here to tell us of her complicated life.


Erm, Tazia, tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

Seriously? It was a hot stinking cesspit of a place where the melted fat of the dead ran down the walls and mixed on the floor with the blood of my father’s victims. Surprise! It was actually hell–in Hell. I was brought up in the Cells of Permanent Incarceration until I was thirteen years old when my father sealed up my soul with magical tattoos to cut me off from my humanity. The Red River flowed less than half a mile from my door. Most of the times I was chained to the wall. Fun times! Just cos I’m a half-demon doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have liked a comfy chair or clean clothes occasionally. Things are better now. I have my own place in Turin. And Netflix. I like Netflix–Billy hacked it for me. Though, that Supernatural show makes me laugh my arse off. Salt? Really? Ha!

Not sure I should ask this… Did you have any favourite toys as a child? I’m so sorry, I’m just reading what’s here…

My first toy was my knife. I love my knife. Got it when I was eight. It’s a Bowie. Come closer, I’ll show it to you. Continue reading “Anastasia Savoy, aka Tazia (of the Written by Birds trilogy, by S M Henley)”

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