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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Lady Gwenhwyfar (of A Cup of Blood, by Troy A. Hill)

Dear readers, tonight we print an interview carried in an alchemist’s shop, in an alternate history where the Arthurian legends are real.


The woman strode into my shop, head and back erect. Dressed in light green woolen dress of an early medieval cut. The sleeves and neck were embroidered with the swirling points of Celtic patterns of olde. I waved her to a chair.

“Toss your cloak on the rail, milady,” I said, giving the cauldron a final stir and taste before I raised it another notch above the coals and left it to simmer.

The woman’s cloak was a dark forest green, embroidered with the Celtic Tree of Life symbol. The cloak seemed to shimmer and dance. That’s when I realized the fabric was of the finest wool I had seen, and the design was not embroidered but woven as part of the cloth.

My guest seated herself, still formal. Almost regal. Her blue-grey eyes sparkled in the dim light of the shop. Her silver-gold hair danced with reflected colors from our surroundings.

“May I offer you a potion, or spell after your travels? Your home in Penllyn is far is it?”

“Tea would be preferred,” she said. “But whatever you have about is appreciated. No, Penllyn isn’t far when one have magical means to travel.”

I busied myself getting the water poured and the leaves steeping. I passed her a cup a few moments later.

“Diolch,” she said. “Thank you in my native tongue.”

“Do you take anything with your tea?”

“This is perfectly fine, and appreciated,” Lady Gwen said. “I understand you’d like to learn more about me and my story. Please.” She waved a hand in invitation.

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

My early years were in my father’s kingdom, north of the Humber River, though on the west side of our island, in what you would know as Strathclyde, part of Britain. This would have been in the period of time you refer to as the Dark Ages.

What do you do now?

I am first disciple to The Lady, Goddess of Sovereignty of Britannia.

Goddess of Sovereignty?

She rewards the leaders of the land, giving them sovereignty over the people and land, as long as they fulfill the mission of protecting those lands and the people. The goddess is the land, and Britannia is her. The goddess’ concern is that her people thrive and prosper.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

The goddess sent me to find her second disciple. This woman would become the new champion of the land. When I found Maria dead, along with the corpse of two Witch Hunters, I couldn’t understand why the goddess needed her, that creature she was, to be the new champion of Britain–

The new champion of Britannia? You mean like King Arthur

My former husband was…

Continue reading “Lady Gwenhwyfar (of A Cup of Blood, by Troy A. Hill)”
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Kantees (of The Dragons of Esternes, by Steve Turnbull)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a slave responsible for a feathered racing dragon. She is here to tell us about how her life changed when she was forced to ride one.


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

I don’t know where I was born or who my parents were. I don’t really think about it. I was born a slave, as far as I know. It’s easier not to think about it. The only thing I’m sure of is that I am pure Kadralin. My skin is not as dark as some but, as far as I know, there’s nothing in me that looks like a Taymalin, and I’m grateful for that.

My first master was Kevrey of Tander. He kept a shop in Dakastown, on the south coast of the Isle of Esternes. He traded in knowledge, that didn’t make him popular with the Brothers of Taymar, of course, but he had lot of interesting visitors anyone from lords to ship captains to ordinary people.

I learned a lot there, even though slaves aren’t supposed to be educated. They think that if you’re educated you might rise up against them. And they’re right, of course.

Dakastown is very big, it’s home to the Otulain family and even among the lords they are very rich, because of all the trade from the mainland. Apart from the sea trade, it’s got a big ley-circle too.

I remember the sea and the gulls, but most of time I was cleaning or fetching and carrying.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child?

Being a slave means you don’t own anything, I didn’t have toys … but there were so many interesting things in Kevrey’s shop. I would play with them sometimes, in secret when I could find a moment. There were shells and different stones, the stuffed animals and insects. But it was the zirichak feather that I loved the most, golden and blue, as long as I was tall.

What’s a zirichak?

You don’t know?

I’m not from around here.

It’s what I ride now, a ziri, some people call them dragons. The racing ziri have beautiful feathers, not like the wild ones which are just grey and brown.

Continue reading “Kantees (of The Dragons of Esternes, by Steve Turnbull)”

Origon and Rilan (of Tales of the Dissolutionverse, by William C. Tracy)

Dear readers, tonight we publish the transcript of a recorded interview from another universe.

They are adventurers, magicians, and technomancers, and we have a unique opportunity to learn about their fascinating world.


“…ing on? …about now? Alright, Ori. Now it’s working. “

A majus would see the swirl of color as Rilan adjusted the audio and visual recording system. She’d forgotten she and Ori made this interview back when the recording Systems were introduced. The Council of course thought each maji should have one, to be able to communicate with each other in an emergency. Now, they mostly sat unused in maji’s apartments.

They’d done the little mock interview back when she and Ori were a thing, at the height of their adventures across the ten homeworlds. When they’d gone separate ways, she on the Council and him trudging about wherever, the crystal containing the recording sat in the back of one of her closets. But now that he was back in her life…

Rilan sat down in a chair to enjoy the old recording.

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

O – “I am to be from Asbheriton. It is a small village in the mountains of the Syra province of Kiria. But I would rather not be talking about touchy family matters such as this. Ever since my brother departed for the ancestors, I have had little reason to be going back. The ancestral house was given to my third cousin, you know. A dreadful bore. She would talk about anything and everything that was to be coming into her head.”

R – “Not like you at all.”

Rilan tempered her retort with a smile, but Ori’s crest still spiked in aggravation. Good she was here to prick his pride.

R – Just one more question about your family home and then we’ll move on. Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

O –“Toys? No. But, I was to be having a pet wingdrake. Delphorus and I begged our father for it for most of a cycle. Father was quoting the old fright-tale that it would steal the souls of your ancestors, but even he was not so entrenched in his religion that he really believed it. Eventually he relented and was letting us have it. Delphorus and I trained the drake to be taking grubs from our hands, and to be fishing for swimmer larvae in the nearby pond. Delphorus took over care of the beast when I was to be leaving for finishing school. Eventually we had to set it free to find a mate and complete its lifecycle before joining its ancestors. Wriglifon was a good pet.”

R – “I’ve never heard that before, Ori. That was a nice story.”

Rilan cleared her throat. She didn’t imagine this would really get Ori to talk about his past.

R – So, what do you do now?

O – “You are knowing this, Rilan.”

R – “Yes, Ori. It’s for the recording. Just play along.”

O – “Ah, I am seeing now. After retiring from my philosophy position at the university, I was able to be traveling across the ten homeworlds full time. I would not be alive if you were not saving me on many occasions, Rilan.”

Rilan saw her recording blush. It would only be a few cycles after this that she joined the Council of the Maji and she and Ori went separate ways.

Continue reading “Origon and Rilan (of Tales of the Dissolutionverse, by William C. Tracy)”

Riwenne (of Riwenne & the Mechanical Beasts, by Kristen S. Walker)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman from a utopian floating city, dreaming of serving the gods as a priestess. Armed with the power of the sea goddess, she must fight Mechanical beasts which are attacking innocent people on the streets at night.


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

I grew up in a city that’s floating in the sky. It’s scarier than it sounds. We have high walls so you can’t see the ground. We get clean air, but there’s also not a lot of open space and everything has to be flown in by airship. Some people say city dwellers are snobs, but I just think we’re different, y’know? The gods choose the best places for everyone, so we’re just suited to here, and I’m sure people on the land have things they like about it.

Anyway, I think it’s exciting to live in the city because there are so many things. I can hop on a cable car and be at the bookstore in a few minutes. A few stops away, there’s a chocolatier and pastry shop. I can buy cute clothes from all over the empire, and see my favorite singer at the concert hall. There’s always something fun to do!

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

I have a rag doll. We’re supposed to give up our toys when we leave school, but I held onto her. She’s a little ratty but my best friend, Nexita, she fixed my doll up nice. So I couldn’t give it up.

Nexita has been my best friend for years, and I don’t know what I’d do without her. We were roommates in school, so she was the one who always made sure I cleaned up our room, got to class on time, and helped me with homework. I know it sounds like she does everything for me! But I try to be a good friend, too. She’s really shy, so I help her talk to other people and I stand up for her. We’re really close. We don’t know who our parents are (no one knows their family), but we pretend that we’re sisters.

We were supposed to be apprenticed together . That’s what we dreamed of, being priestesses. It’s so weird that I got to be a priestess and she’s an engineer. It’s tough to be separated, but I visit every chance I get.

How do you like studying to be a priestess?

It’s not really what I expected. I thought we’d be able to talk to the gods, y’know, since we’re supposed to be serving them. How do we know that we’re doing the right thing if the gods aren’t speaking to us? And there’s so much work. Like, not just learning about priestess stuff, we have to do all our own chores like cooking the food and cleaning the temple. Since priestesses are so important, I don’t know why we have to waste time on chores. But the Sister says we have to be self-sufficient.

But being a novice isn’t all bad. My favorite part of the day is when we’re in the temple first thing in the morning, at the dawn ceremony, and everyone sings together. We all pray to the sun goddess and she grants us her power for our city. It’s hard because we can’t have breakfast until after, so I’m always starving, but the connection I feel to the gods is incredible. It’s almost like they’re right there in the room with us, and when I open my eyes, I’ll see them standing there…

What makes you think you can speak to the gods?

Well, don’t tell anyone else I said this, but I think it may have already happened. I had a dream about Sawycha, the sea goddess. Okay, it was a dream, but it felt real. And the weird thing is, she warned me about this giant wolf machine thing. I’ve never seen anything like it, but it was really scary.

I know I have a wild imagination—Nexita says I read too many novels—but then my dream came true. Not the part about talking to the sea goddess, but the part about the wolf. Wait, let me back up. So first this bird started talking to me. Sounds crazy, right? But she told me she’s a messenger from the sea goddess—she’s a sandpiper, I guess that makes sense—and she could give me magic. I thought I was still dreaming. Until I jumped out the window and didn’t even get hurt! So Tika, that’s the bird, she led me to the giant wolf which was attacking Nexita.

Wait, where did the mechanical wolf come from?

I don’t know, we’re still trying to figure that out. I was able to break the machine with the sea goddess’s magic and save Nexita. We got away, but when we went back to look for clues, the mechanical wolf was gone! And everyone just acted like it never happened. It’s so weird, but we’ll figure it out. Nexita’s helping me and she’s really smart.

What was the scariest thing in your adventures so far?

Everything! I’m not, like, good at running or climbing things. I’m usually clumsy and I tend to fall down a lot. These days I’m jumping from one building to another, fighting these giant mechanical beasts, trying to save people and solve this mystery. It would be exciting if I were reading it in a book but it’s way scarier to deal with it for real. Some days, I don’t want to get out of bed! But the worst part was something I don’t want to talk about. I still can’t believe it happened. People are worse than the monster machines.

Tell us a little about your friends.

Besides Nexita, I’m lucky to have a lot of good friends. My new roommate, Kyra, didn’t like me at first but I think she’s coming around. She’s very critical every time I mess up, but she’s just looking out for me in her own way, y’know? And then there’s Janera, she’s a guard at the temple, and she’s really nice. We swap books and she shares my taste in music. Tika, the messenger bird, she’s strict but I like having her around to give us advice. I wouldn’t understand any of this magic stuff without her. Then there’s this guy I keep bumping into, Deryt, he’s an engineer apprentice with Nexita. He’s annoying and he’s probably hiding something, but I didn’t hesitate to save his life because I think he’s a good person. Finally, we found out that Amena, my favorite singer, is actually a warrior like us! I’ve never met a celebrity before and I don’t know if we can be friends, but she’s part of the team now, so I’m going to try.

Any romantic involvement?

Um, I’m afraid it’s way too obvious, because I’m always staring at her… I have this huge crush on Kyra. It’s really awkward because we share a room, so I see her all day long. I’ve crushed on girls before, but this feels different. I can’t get her out of my head. I bet she’d be mad if she found out.

Whom do you really hate?

Whoever is building these mechanical beasts is a real creep. They’re hurting innocent people, but they don’t seem to care at all. And they have to be powerful, because the constables in the city seem like they’re covering it up. There’s nothing in the news about the attacks. When I find out who it is, I’m giving them a piece of my mind!

What’s your favourite drink, food, colour, and relaxing pastime?

I love to drink chocolate and I’ll eat anything sweet! Or fried. Or full of garlic. Or… I really like food. I’ll try anything once, as long as it doesn’t have too many soggy vegetables. My favorite color is pink, like my hair. Besides eating and sleeping, I love to read, especially romance novels. My favorite part is the happy ending.

What does the future hold for you?

That’s hard to say. I guess I’m stuck as a warrior for the gods, at least until we figure out how to help them. It seems like the sun goddess is hogging all the worship, so we have to get people to pray to worship the other gods again. It feels like a lot of work. There’s a lot of people in the empire and they don’t change their minds easily. Even when we summoned a goddess to show them how powerful she was, they didn’t believe she was real. And if you’ve ever seen a god in person, you know that’s not easy to fake. So we have to think of something else.

Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

A secret? I’m not good at keeping secrets, especially from my friends. I tell Nexita everything…

Except…

I’m afraid of what I’m capable of. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I didn’t choose to become a warrior. But if someone was trying to hurt my friends…

I’d kill them.


Fantasy author Kristen S. Walker dreams of being a pirate mermaid who can talk to sharks, but she settles for writing stories for teens and adults. She lives in northern California with her family and a rescue cat.

You can find Riwenne on the pages of Riwenne & the Mechanical Beasts.

Join us on Friday to meet a private-eye from Denver, tangling with gangsters and serial killers. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Dylan of Demarn (of In Pain and Blood, by Aldrea Alien)

 Dear readers, tonight with me is a spellster, eschewing the safety of the spellster tower for the freedom to roam the land.

He’s here to tell us about his life in the army, about how his first scouting mission went awry, and the mysterious and flirtatious Tracker.


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

I grew up in Demarn’s spellster tower. It was my whole world for much of my life, actually. It was more of a complex, us spellsters lived in the tower in the centre, surrounded by gardens and a thick wall where the servants lived.

It was peaceful. Really quiet despite the fact there were hundreds of us. Tracker says the spellster population alone was in the thousands, I don’t know if I should believe him but there were a lot of us. We were expected to train our magic, and compete for a chance to join the army if we were strong enough, but we’d a few choices of how we could apply our talents. I kind of miss the monotony. I used to spend whole days in the library, sometimes weeks without stepping outside.

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

No toys, my guardian didn’t really approve of material attachments, not when an errant hiccup of magic could destroy one. We slept in huge dormitories as children anyway and there were always fights over items, they belonged to the tower as it was. I’d a few books I was fond of, but they had to remain in the library. Any game we played needed only yourself, sometimes it involved magic. Especially when it came to bathing where we’d try to make huge waves with very little water, or steal someone else’s right out of their tub.

I’ve plenty of cherished memories, though. Like the times Nestria and I would sneak off into some out of the way place purely to plot the passage of the stars. We were almost caught on a few occasions, there was a curfew we were expected to abide by. Really makes the heart race to think that we could’ve been sent into isolation. When we weren’t doing that, I’d spend long nights trading elaborate stories with Henrie through a crack in the wall.

What do you do now?

It’s oddly reminiscent to what I used to do back home, which was helping the dwarves decipher foreign accounts of their ruins. The only difference really is that where I used to go through my guardian and the overseers, I now work directly with the hedgewitches, which is both terrifying and wonderful. I’m only an apprentice, of course. Not that don’t grant full status to humans, but you’ve got to not have any romantic attachments. Continue reading “Dylan of Demarn (of In Pain and Blood, by Aldrea Alien)”

Aeley Dahe (of A Question of Counsel by Archer Kay Leah)

archer-kay-leah-a-question-of-counsel

Dear Readers, tonight with us is a political leader, feeling increasingly isolated and lonely after she was forced to arrest her own brother.

Things get more complicated from there, with dead bodies, political intrigue, and the appearance of Lira, a woman she finds strangely attractive.

She is here to tell us about life as the Tract Steward, her involvement with Lira, crimes and law enforcement, and potential romantic suitors.

 

 

Tell us a little about where you grew up in the Republic of Kattal. What was it like as the daughter of a politician?

Thanks for an easy question! I like you already.

Home has always been my family’s estate in Dahena Village, a well-known town here in the tract of Gailarin. (I’m told our tracts are the same as your states or provinces.) Dahena isn’t big, but it’s friendly, always bustling, armed with gossip, and mostly peaceful. My father wanted us to live outside of our wealth and take care of people, so as a kid I spent a lot of time in the village. Dallied too long in the shops, got kicked out of the taverns I snuck into late at night whenever curfew annoyed me… and was marched right back home.

Like the rest of Kattal, our red earth is solid and vibrant like the people, and we love our rules, reputation, and reminiscence… but that’s a whole new mouthful.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child?

My wooden swords and a stick horse one of our guards made for me. I’d gallop around wearing a ridiculous paint-mucked bed sheet and a battered pot, brandishing my sword and shouting “Oh ho! I’ll save the day!” as I searched every room for someone in trouble. After the third time, my father started sending me on quests. Sometimes they required several days worth of good deeds and challenges (I tried, honest, but sometimes I failed spectacularly) or they required serious thought and I’d fall asleep working them out. Father gave me medals of honour and bravery afterwards, little tokens he’d pin on my cloak with the biggest of smiles. Continue reading “Aeley Dahe (of A Question of Counsel by Archer Kay Leah)”

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