Search

The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

Tag

Epic Fantasy

Erevan (of Sword and Sorcery: Frostfire, by Ethan Avery)

Dear readers, tonight we print an interview overheard with a swordsman-to-be on the eve of a great adventure. He’s here to tell us about friends, family, past mistakes, and the chance to fix them.


Brisk steps tap along the grass as an upbeat man carrying a quill and parchment approaches a young swordman watching merchants unload bags of goods from a wagon.

Palon:  Hello there, young man, would you mind if I ask you a few questions? I’m Palon of the New Longaiya Gazette and I promise you’ll be well compensated for this discussion.

Erevan:  Is it about age? You’re probably used to seeing mercenaries that are bit older, huh?

Palon:  I am indeed. But I was more curious about where you’re from. For that traveling merchant wagon there to have hired you on for protection, it must’ve been a long road.

Erevan:  I’m from Bogudos on the other side of the country. It’s pretty common to learn how to use a blade when you’re still young there. You never know when you’re going to need the skill. But you will need the skill.

Palon (scribbling with quill and parchment):  I see. So you’re saying New Longaiya is a much better place then?

Erevan:  Well, I didn’t say that.

Palon:  So you hate New Longaiya and all its people?

Erevan:  I didn’t say that either.

Palon:  But you do support a culture of violence.

Erevan:  Not at all. It’s just that I haven’t always had a choice. It’s not like I have cherished memories of stabbing people. Swords aren’t toys.

Palon:  How does one as young as yourself become a mercenary anyway?

Erevan: To be honest, I’m not a mercenary yet. But I will be. I’m going to duel my father for his blessing later today, and when I beat him, I’ll be able to officially claim that title.

Palon:  Who’s your father?

Erevan:  Sir Lee—

Palon:  Sir Lee?! Then I think it’s more fair to say if you beat him. My sources have heard of his swordsmanship from three dozen travelers. How is it you and Sir Lee ended up escorting these merchants?

Continue reading “Erevan (of Sword and Sorcery: Frostfire, by Ethan Avery)”

Sir Ritter of Valkeneer (of The Last Keeper, by Joe Hilliard)

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?

Toys? No.

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.

Continue reading “Sir Ritter of Valkeneer (of The Last Keeper, by Joe Hilliard)”

Constance Nicolette Neethe (from Of Slaves and Exiles, by Margaret Gaffney)

Dear readers, tonight with us is the heir to the Throne of Men — but that doesn’t matter anymore since all humans have been enslaved. She is here to tell us about the immortal overlords, about drug addiction, and about fighting to save the world her addiction makes her susceptible to every evil enchantment.


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

I didn’t get out much. Well, not that I didn’t try. Anastasia was always trying to find ways of keeping me occupied in our little forest cabin. She did have a point there. When you’re supposed to be dead it’s best not to draw attention to yourself, but why not interact a little with your people, even if they’re all slaves?

Where was I? Oh, I grew up in the forests around the Freand estate, a sort of mini village owned by one family and the home of hundreds of slaves and their Curae guards. It wasn’t the most exciting childhood, but the occasional visit to the slave tavern for cards and a drink (maybe don’t mention that bit to Anastasia – she’s my guardian – please?) made things a bit more interesting. I always had to pretend to be a slave to blend in, which was no fun at all, but it was for my own safety.

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

Anastasia worked hard to provide me with little toys here and there, but that didn’t happen often. I would make dolls out of grass – that sounds pathetic now that I say it out loud.

But I suppose … it was nice when Anastasia would brush my hair in the evening. I always complained, but I also always slept better when I’d let her do it.

What do you do now?

I’ve wanted to travel since I was a child. I know it isn’t safe, but I can’t help it. I devoured any books Anastasia ever had the chance to get me, but geography was always my favorite. There’s a whole world out there, and now that Prince Ewan has come to find me and is taking me to Ephaniest? I mean, that’s the main port city for all Verdania! Though, I hope the smell of fish isn’t as bad as the travel accounts claim …

Though, if I were to answer more seriously, I’m scared. I only agreed to this expedition because my companions know I’m scared and that I might not decide to rise to my throne. Asking someone to pick a fight not even their parents’ could win is a big request. Ewan’s told me repeatedly that it’s my choice … I just hope I don’t choose wrong.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

We haven’t gone very far yet. I never knew a forest could be so large. Though, we did come across a Curae outpost the other day and … I can’t help but shudder thinking about it. I’d really rather not describe what happened, if you don’t mind. Suffice it to say it left me sick and even more terrified than I was before. Time will tell if going on this journey was a mistake.

Continue reading “Constance Nicolette Neethe (from Of Slaves and Exiles, by Margaret Gaffney)”

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)”

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)”

Ammo (of A Voice That Thunders, by Cully Mack)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a man, an Acquisitioner — a mortal who loves taking risks and chances, but lives by a code. He’s here to tell us about immortals conquering as gods and a tiny band of rebels preparing to take back their world.


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

I spent my early years on the island of Mallach.  It’s a paradise tainted by my father and his thieving cutthroats.  As ya can imagine, it has the usual sweat reeking beerhouses like this one, and houses of pleasure to keep the men entertained.  Fortresses govern the hilltops, piers rule the docks, and impenetrable defences stand sentry beneath the waves.   

Keeping with tradition, I was born at sea.  The night of my mother’s anguish was the only time my father released her from her cell.  Ya see, she was the one person he couldn’t control, a Chashmalim, a mind speaker, so he’d locked her away.  

From the moment my legs held my weight, I began learning the Acquisitioners trade.  I can see by ya expression ya have heard of em.  Then ya know we take pride in knowing our enemy. 

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

Are ya serious?  I just told ya, he locked my mother away. 

Apologies, I never set the questions.

Well, I cut my teeth on a dagger handle if ya want to call that a toy. I did have a dog for a while.  My father said it made me soft.  I ain’t cherished nothing since.

As for memories, after several failed attempts to free my mother, and swearing I’d never give up, my father killed her as well.  The flare in his eye as he waited for my rage is something I’ll never forget.  

That’s quite a history.  So how did you end up working for Meciel and what is it like?

Meciel wanted an Acquisitioner, and everyone knows I’m the best.  We don’t always see eye to eye, and before ya ask, it ain’t coz the old hermit says he’s immortal.  Who cares if he’s crazy, believing he and others like him came from another realm?  He required an army. I knew where to recruit men.  He needed ships. I knew how to build em. 

He pays well, better than I’d make on the hostage racket.  So I put up with his talk of impending war and everything else… Makes me wonder though.  Have you seen the empires they’re building and the size of their gigantic sons?  Maybe they are gods, though Meciel denies it. 

Truth is, he ain’t keen on my sideshows.  He insists I focus on his tasks and nothing else, but I got a reputation to uphold.  Life ain’t only about silver.  I’m the best Acquisitioner on the seas for a reason, and doing the jobs nobody else will keeps me at the top.

What can you tell me about this latest adventure?

I can tell ya one thing, Sojin is excited.  All he wants is to kill the god who murdered his mother.  The way he sees it, we’re finally heading in the right direction.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s got skills, trained him myself, so I know how good he is, but he ain’t ready.  Anyway, we just met Meciel in Lithanos and picked up the one he’s chosen to lead his army. 

Continue reading “Ammo (of A Voice That Thunders, by Cully Mack)”

Taliesimon Tothrangan (from Shadow of the Overlord, by Kevin Potter)

Dear readers, tonight we print the secret files about the first female Dragoon warrior. We get a peek into the entry exams of two very remarkable young girls.


Highlord, as you requested, I have enclosed all records we could find of the Dragoon, Taliesimon Tothrangan. I am afraid nothing here appears to give any indication of her current whereabouts, but it makes for interesting reading nonetheless. She and her friend were apparently quite the pair, even then.

What follows is a fragmentary copy of the entrance exam transcripts for Taliesimon Tothrangan (age: 9) and Okara Dorgauna (age 7), the first girls to be accepted into the Dragoon Order in recorded history. Although normally these exams are processed singly, in this case it was thought best they interview the pair together. [ink blots obliterate a note following this line, a new note following the blots reads:] To ensure no accusations of wrongdoing came at the dragoon conducting the interview.

Where did the two of you grow up?

O: On the smooth side of your mother’s–

T: Okara! [clears her throat] I grew up on a farm just outside a small village called River’s Edge. My pa raised sheep and grew grapes that he made into wine that we sold in town and, sometimes, we would even go as far as Cuularan!

O: [sighs] okay. I grew up in a village with no name that I know of. It’s very small. When my family lost favor with the dragoons, we became destitute and were forced to take whatever menial jobs were available.

I see. What possessed you to enter the Gauntlet?

T: [laughs] You say this as if girls entering the Gauntlet is unusual.

O: [sniffs]

It is!

O: [scoffs] You see, Taly? I told you they don’t get out much.

T: Not so, Ser. Girls enter every year. It is only that either they never make it through the Gauntlet, or they are “disqualified” in The Combats.

Clearly you do not know what you’re talking about. We are Dragoons. We would never disqualify any entrant who did not earn such.

O: If you say so.

T: So you think, what? That girls are just naturally inferior and so never manage to join? Not ever? What kind of rock have you been living under, exactly?

Enough! We need to address this entrance exam. What were your favorite playthings as children?

T: Well, you see, I used to have this ceramic doll…

O: Be serious, Taly. I think I speak for both of us when I say that for as long as I can remember the only things I ever played with were implements of combat. The sword I fashioned from a broken slat fence was my favorite to practice with.

What do you imagine is in store for you as a new recruit?

O: Honestly? Torment, pain, and unfair treatment.

T: Now who needs to be serious? Training will be hard, I have no illusions about that. I expect we will be pushed harder than any of the male recruits, at least for a while. I don’t see as there will be any way around that. But eventually we will prove ourselves and that’s when I think the real training will begin. I can’t wait to start learning the sword for real.

Continue reading “Taliesimon Tothrangan (from Shadow of the Overlord, by Kevin Potter)”

Nathan (of War of Kings and Monsters, by Christopher Keene)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young man who decided to act against the monsters from beyond encroaching on his world, and has embarked on a quest to restore the barrier – even as he’s accompanied by one of the monsters.


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

Although not born there, I was raised behind the walls of Terratheist castle. While the outside world was struggling to create a peace treaty with a recently usurped neighboring kingdom and battling each other with the monsters summoned from another realm, since the age of six, I was being taught to summon monsters so I could one day venture into that world myself.

Why did you choose the path you took?

The reason I was taken in and taught the ways of a caller is a mystery to me. Having never been exposed to the dangers outside the castle walls, my first glimpse of the surrounding horrors was when my Master of Pacts summoned a Melkai (the monsters from the other realm) and it attacked me, coming bare inches from killing me. I knew would need my own Melkai to protect me, so I summoned Taiba, my Melkai companion.

What do you do now?

I’m an apprentice caller. My ambition is to become an Advanced Summoner who can summon and command Melkai from the second circle of the Melkairen (the realm of the Melkai). After not summoning another Melkai after Taiba, I naively believed that forcing myself out into the world on the quest I’m sent on was the best way to get the experience to become one. However, the barrier to the Melkairen was weakening and the Melkai without pacts were now roaming the lands, so it probably wasn’t the smartest decision. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

So you know that the souls of the monsters (the Melkai) can be taken from their realm (the Melkairen) and put into objects (pact items) to be summoned from them at a callers behest, right? So, when the barrier between the Melkairen and out world weakens, the Melkai without a pact are freed to terrorize the land. Now only those who can summon Melkai like me can survive outside the castle walls, and a magical relic must be found to reseal the barrier. I have one half of this relic, so naturally I have to find other half before the barrier breaks entirely.

Continue reading “Nathan (of War of Kings and Monsters, by Christopher Keene)”

Grimnir (of A Gathering of Ravens, by Scott Oden)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a creature of myth, the last of a race of those who hunted us, and we hunted them in a war that could only lead to extinction.


We find him in a cave.  At first, he wishes to kill us, for we are interlopers in his world and there is very little we could do to stop him.  We are reminded of a wolf, old and battle-scarred but still hale and as deadly as its younger kin.  Perhaps moreso.  But, we have come prepared.  We appeal to his vanity — and his vanity is immense — until he deigns to let us live . . . and to answer a few questions.

A fire crackles on the crude hearth; ventilation is poor, and the smoke hangs over us like a death-shroud.  He sits on an ancient throne-like chair carved of wood and watches us with his head tilted, his right eye like an ember that burns with a light of its own; his left eye is the color of old bone. His saturnine face is sharp and lean, with a jutting chin, heavy cheekbones, and a craggy brow.  A jagged scar bisects the bridge of his nose, crossing his left eye, and continuing up until it vanishes beneath gold-and-bone beaded braids of coarse black hair at his left temple.  When he speaks, he does so in a patois drawn from Old Norse, Danish, and Anglo-Saxon.  His vernacular is crude and vulgar, and he peppers his answers with curses, snatches of song, and guttural noises.

We have edited his answers to appeal to the modern ear . . .

Tell us a little about yourself.  Who . . . wh-what are you?

You tell me, little Mjólkblóð [Translator’s note: “Milk-blood”; this was his name for us, collectively]!  What did you expect to find when you came blundering into my cave, eh?  What am I?  Faugh!  I am called many things, you wretch.  I am Corpse-maker and Life-quencher!  I am the Bringer of Night!  I am the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent!  The Danes of old named me skraelingr.  To your kind, to you bastard English, I am orcnéas

Wait . . . Orcnéas?  You mean, you’re an orc?

If it strikes your fancy, Mjólkblóð.  Call me what you will, but if you interrupt me again, by Ymir, I will tear your blasted tongue out by the roots!  I have a score of names: skraelingr, orc, fomoraig to the Gaels of Èriu . . . but what of it?  I am kaunar!  I am the last!  The last of my kind . . . the last son of Bálegyr left to plague Miðgarðr!  I am Grimnir!

I drew my first squalling breath in the last days of the Butchering Month, forty-eight years before the strife and shield-breaking that was Mag Tuiredh [Translator’s note: Mag Tuiredh, a battle in ancient Ireland, has been tentatively dated to 69 AD; thus, Grimnir’s year of birth is approximately 21 AD].  Orkahaugr, in the Kjolen Mountains, was my home.  You should have seen it, Mjólkblóð!  Your houses of steel and glass?  Faugh!  You lot might as well live under two nīðing-poles and a twine-stretched sheet!  I was raised in granite and limestone, our mines, smithies, armories, and dwelling halls hacked from the mountain’s innards by my sire’s hands – the same hands that once fashioned trinkets of gold and iron for the kings of Jötunheimr.  Columns of living stone stretched higher than a titan, holding up the mountain itself; shafts cut through the rock let in cold air, and hundreds of lamps hung from the branches of great trees forged from iron and bronze.  Trophies dripped from the walls: banners and flayed skins, the shields of fallen foes, the hauberks of heroes slain on the field, the skulls of Jötnar and the thighbones of trolls.  [Grimnir’s eye blazes in the gloom; its intensity is quite unnerving, really]  Aye, Orkahaugr was my home, the heart of the kaunar lands of Miðgarðr, but it has been as dead as your Nailed God for more than two thousand years, now.

You mention Jötunheimr, the Abode of Giants . . . is that where your folk are from?  How did you come to be here, in our world?

Nár!  My folk were wrought in the dark of Niðavellir, by the hand of the Tangled God, Father Loki, himself.  Nine clans of dvergar [Trans. Note: Norse dwarfs] were invited to a feast.  The Nine Fathers, they were called, my own among them: 

“There is Bálegyr | the mightiest made
Of all the chieftains, | and Kjallandi next;
Lútr and Hrauðnir, | Njól and Dreki,
Naglfari and Gangr, | and fierce Mánavargr.”

As Loki looked on, servants doled out bloody cuts of meat from three great platters, and the Nine and their families gorged themselves.  Was it raw hanks of goat’s meat they shoveled down their gullets?  Was this flesh cut from the flanks of Ymir’s prized cow?  Can you guess what it was, Mjólkblóð?  No?  It was the afterbirth of Angrboða, who had that very night borne Loki’s monstrous children: the mighty Fenrir, the serpent Jörmungandr, and silent Hel.  All who partook of that feast, and their descendents, were forever changed.  They became kaunar.

[He is silent for a long moment; when he speaks, again, his voice drips scorn.]  Those wretched beardlings, our dvergar cousins, drove the Nine Fathers from Niðavellir.  We sought refuge in Jötunheimr, under the Tangled God’s banner.  It was he who set us the task of guarding the caves where he’d hidden his monstrous issue from the Allfather’s gaze.  We tried, but when the lords of Ásgarðr came to take Loki’s children with Angrboða off to face the judgment of that raven-starver, Odin, we could not hold them off.  Five of the Nine Fathers died under the blades of the Æsir.  The rest — with only their wives and brats and what goods they could carry on their backs — made good their escape, following Bálegyr across the Ash-Road to this Miðgarðr.  To your world, Mjólkblóð.

Continue reading “Grimnir (of A Gathering of Ravens, by Scott Oden)”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑