Dear readers, tonight we print an interview with a member of the supporting cast of a fantasy novel. The interview was conducted on his home fantasy world by native crones, and discusses the protagonist and the Good Company, swords and sorcery, and the ashen.
Igmar blinked. “Where am I?”
“The island has no name. Though, some call it Coal.” He squinted as two figures swam into focus before him. The one who had spoken was a withered crone, all crows’ feet and brown teeth; the other, a girl of about eight winters, sat wide-eyed, clasping a doll.
“How did I get here” he asked, frowning.
“Storm.” the crone said, as though it were as natural an occurrence as another dawn. “Drink your tea.”
Igmar looked down at the steaming mug beside him. He raised it, sniffed and was about to take a sip when he paused.
“Who are you?”
“Heggerty.” said the crone. “Welcome to our abode. This here is—”
“Belitha!” shot the girl, enthusiastically, her small feet kicking, making her chair wriggle and creak. The crone smiled fondly then turned her eyes upon him once more.
“Now you know our names, and since you’re our guest, tell us of yourself?”
“Guest?” he repeated absently, rubbing his head and staring down at the tea in his hand. He took a sip. Strangely bitter and sweet at once; quenching his thirst to leave him parched once more. He took another and sank back into his chair. After a weary sigh, his words seemed to drift unbidden from his mouth.
“My name is Igmar. I recall no storm… perhaps a boat…” he searched his weathered boots for an answer, before giving up. “Anyway, I’ll need to get back soon.”
“Back where?” Heggerty asked.
“Back to the wilds, of course. The north. The sea is no place for me. I’ve duties to uphold.”
“The wilds are vast—compared to our small island, at least. Might you be more specific?”
“I roam. I’ve no home. If I were to name my origin, I suppose I’d say Warinkel. You’ll not have heard of it.”
“We know of it.” she said, surprising him. But just then his gaze was drawn to the doll Belitha was caressing. An uneasiness grew within him.
“What’s that you’ve got there?”
“A doll.” she said, turning it until Igmar looked upon his own likeness. Bald head; large, hooked nose; long, dark beard, streaked with as much grey as black; a missing ear; small, black ashen eyes.
“What’s that for?”
“Just a souvenir.” Belitha said, sweetly. “For my collection. I hope you don’t mind.”
Igmar was about to say that he did mind. That he minded more than he could reasonably explain. But just then the crone broke in, as if reading his thoughts.
“You’re not the first ashen we’ve met. One of your kind caused us great distress, in fact.”
Igmar swallowed, something in her tone threatened.Continue reading “Igmar (of The Ashen Levels, by CF Welburn)”