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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Swords & Sorcery

Igmar (of The Ashen Levels, by CF Welburn)

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)”
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Finn Featherstone (of The Bizarre Blades, by Stevie Collier)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a former painter turned master swordsman. He is here to tell us about his adventures, about swords and sorcery, sabertooth tigers and bizarre blades.


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

I grew up in the frozen wastelands of Shimoshimo. It’s absolutely terrible, especially for me. Everyone is brutish, rude, and primal while I’m… just different. Not saying I’m more artsy and sophisticated but… I am, which has been more of a curse.

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

My favorite toy would certainly have been a paint brush. I grew up with a painter for a father and a kind, intelligent mother who had the job of growing the few types of vegetation possible in Shimoshimo.

What do you do now?

I am fortunate (or unfortunate) to have become a Champion and a graduate from the Champions of Arbitration. I, and my team of Champions, help to keep the peace between Bizarre Blade wielders around the world as Champions can be either good or evil.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I recently just ran away from a massive T-rex that was bent on eating me for lunch! It wasn’t her size that scared me the most (which it certainly did scare the crap out of me) but that of her amazing intelligence!

Continue reading “Finn Featherstone (of The Bizarre Blades, by Stevie Collier)”

Corin Mal-kin and Kett Peter-kin (of the Kalima Chronicles, by Aiki Flinthart)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint a chat we overheard, between the stoic trainer of a protagonist and spy and rogue from a planetary colony reminiscent of Asian myths and legends. It takes place during a brief interlude when the characters are in the fortress-city of Shenzhen, heading into the climax of the first book.


Corin Mal-kin: settling comfortably in a seat at the Fire Salamander inn and slurping the froth off an ale. So, what did you want to chat about, Kett? All very cloak-and-dagger, dragging me out to a tavern like this. Afraid Alere might overhear?

Kett Peter-kin: with a level look and a quick, professional survey of the room. Something like that. clears throat Look. You know I’ve been Alere’s shifu and weishi-bodyguard at Xintou House for the last ten years.

Corin: No, really? grins and sips from ale Cut the feihua, Kett. You’re worried about her. You’ve noticed she likes me. You think I’m not good enough for her? Do just ask. Much more dignified than me guessing.

Kett: Fine. I’ll lay it out. I don’t entirely trust you. I want to know you’ll take care of her. Where are you from? Who are your people?

Corin: You sound like a protective older brother. pushes aside an unveiled jiaoji-whore attempting to sit in his lap. Fine! We’ll do it your way. I’m from Asadia – nice little place west of Madina. Full of the more unpleasant branch of the Jun First, Zah-Hill family’s relatives. I was quite glad to leave. They annoyed me. After all, the Zah-Hills slaughtered my family and my fiancé. That kind of thing tends to be a tad irritating.

Kett: Scowling. Jiche, Cor, those gouri kin-child laws! I thought I’d heard the worst of it, but… I’m kin-child, too. So are Alere and Mina. And Rohne. We’re all in danger. But I don’t think the Jun First was entirely to blame. Nor any of the Zah-Hills. Hanna Zah-Hill created the laws, and she married into the family. frowns Do you remember much of Asadia?

Corin: swigs the rest of his ale Not a bad place. Lots of farmers. Not a lot of skullduggery. Boring. Until the Zah-Hill weishi started slaughtering the illegal kin-children, of course. Then it all got very interesting. sighs At one point I was considering joining the Artists House as a musician. Before it all went suilie and I came home to a burnt home full of corpses. Then a life on the road felt like a much safer option.

Continue reading “Corin Mal-kin and Kett Peter-kin (of the Kalima Chronicles, by Aiki Flinthart)”

Trilisean Conn (of Broken Crossroads, by Patrick LeClerc)

Dear readers, tonight with me are an acrobat turned burglar and a jaded former mercenary. They have been thrown together into an unexpected adventure involving deadly blades, subtle schemes, glittering treasures, dark sorceries and fell servants of forgotten gods. They are here to tell us about it, and of Fate’s sense of humour.


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

Trilisean: I grew up as a slave. I don’t know who my parents were, whether I was taken in a raid or sold as an infant or born to slaves. I have no idea what a normal childhood should have been. Eventually I learned I was being prepared to be sold as a concubine or to a brothel. So I escaped. I knew how to smile and put men at their ease, which was useful, and I knew dancing and etiquette, which would come in handy. I managed to join some traveling performers, learned to tumble and do sleight of hand and throw knives. When we made it to the big city, one of the leaders of the troupe got…presumptuous, so I ran away again. Knowing a bit about disguises and a lot about knives made it challenging for them to find me again. And made my living on the edges of polite society.

Conn: I grew up on a farm until the Jarvings invaded. I fought my first battle at thirteen. Then I spent a few years as a rebel until they finally beat us. I ran off to join a mercenary company, until I realized that I was just fighting for the glory and gain of the men at the top. Figured if we weren’t going back to liberate my homeland, I may as well fight for my own.

What do you do now?

Trilisean: I’m a thief. Don’t look at me like that. It’s true. I like the word “thief.” It’s honest. I’m a very good thief, and it’s hard to take pride in your profession if you won’t even say the word. Euphemisms make my eyes roll. “Acquisitions expert” sound like someone who works in a bank.

Conn: You’ve done some work in banks.

Trilisean: But never for banks. There are limits to my villainy.

Anyway, I can support myself picking pockets, but the bulk of my work is contract burglary. If somebody wants something stolen, word will come to me, and I’ll plan and execute the job. Quite a few come from a fence I know. People will talk to him about a thing they want, and he’ll pass that on to me, taking a cut for his services that he will lie to both me and the client about.

Conn: I’m along to carry heavy things, act as a lookout, and to deal with any guards she might have underestimated, including bloody demonic temple guardians that bleed fire. Just standard soldiering stuff, really.

Trilisean: That made us a lot of money, and you figured a way to defeat it. I had faith in you.

Conn: Aye, well, the prospect of a hideous death if I didn’t was quite the incentive to get creative.

Trilisean: You see? You get to expand your skills and challenge yourself an get paid for the privilege. I really think you should show a bit more gratitude for these experiences I’m opening for you.

Conn: I know I seldom lie awake in fear that I may die peacefully in my old age.

Trilisean: There you go.

Conn: And in between this one trying to get me killed, I run a fencing studio. Teaching swordsmanship and self defense in a city where that’s like to come in handy.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Trilisean: It’s…embarrassing.

Conn: We did save the city.

Trilisean: Working at the request of the Watch.

Conn: Not the Watch officially. Just one sergeant.

Trilisean: But it’s still the law. And we didn’t get paid.

Conn: True enough. But at least we didn’t get any credit, either.

Trilisean: Well, that was a relief. And I got my lip split. I’m sure we agreed taking punches is your job.

Conn: But you did get to match wits with a criminal mastermind and come out on top. Expanding your skills and – what was it – challenging yourself and all.

Trilisean: That was nice.

Conn: And you managed to only give the good sergeant half of what he wanted and survived.

Trilisean: That was even nicer. What kind of criminal would I be if I let the Watch dictate terms? If I’m going to do that I may as well just get an honest job. That was just a lesson he had to learn. Still can’t buy much with gratitude. Even less with grudging gratitude.

Continue reading “Trilisean Conn (of Broken Crossroads, by Patrick LeClerc)”

Lt. General Quain Marln (of The General’s Legacy, by Adrian G Hilder)

Dear readers tonight with us are two companions – a lieutenant general, second in command to the general, and an archmage. They are here to tell us about bloody battles, about a world of warriors and magic, and of a war without end.


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

Quain: I grew up in the port city of Halimouth on the southern coast of Valendo. When I got to the age where watching canal barges and ships coming in to dock became dull, Halimouth lost its appeal. Trouble with Halimouth is it’s full of sailors — men. That means too few women to go around and—

Disembodied man’s voice: Just eight heartbeats to start talking about your women conquests. These people are sophisticated intellectuals interested in higher learning. They want to know about Valendo’s snowcapped mountains, the sweeping green valleys, enchanting waterfalls, the history of the Ruberan pilgrim fathers establishing of the Church of the Sun here. They want to know about the civil war that almost happened and the subsequent invasion of the Nearhon army. They want to know about the legendary General of Valendo, Garon.

Quain: Eight heartbeats? You seriously counted eight heartbeats?

Man’s voice: What of it?

Quain: You think that’s normal, to count—

Man’s voice: Shall we get back to the interview?

Quain: Sorry. Anyway, you missed mentioning Valendo’s famous Vale horses. Indomitable beasts but I prefer Ruberan horses. Less hairy, sleek with a much better sense of rhythm.

Man’s voice: Why is a horse’s sense of rhythm relevant?

Quain: It’s way easier to teach them to dance and the way their mane swishes from side to side is enchanting.

Man’s voice: And the relevance?

Quain: It puts on quite a show at the head of a marching arming as I get them singing, and forgetting about the prospect of burning to a lump of greasy goo in mage fire. If they avoid that, it’s swords or whatever necromantic horror Magnar conjures up next. Which reminds me, the Nearhon scout network thinks you’re dead, or at least too sick to function. Aren’t you blowing your cover coming here invisible and gate crashing my interview?

Man’s voice: I might be a lost soul come back from beyond the funeral pyre to torment you for the rest of your life.

Quain: Are you sure I’m the one that would be tormented by that situation?

I’m sorry, I have to interrupt and ask who your unexpected companion is?

Quain: He’s called Jade.

Man’s voice: My name is Zeivite Quarntaker. I am Archmage of Valendo. I would appreciate it if you kept that silly Jade sobriquet to yourself. It’s a girl’s name that thankfully hardly anyone knows.

Quain: What about the five thousand two hundred and twenty-five members of the Valendo army at the last Battle of Beldon valley in 1852? That’s including the ladies of questionable repute, if you take my meaning. Can’t forget to include them.

Zeivite: The one’s that aren’t dead have probably forgotten about it now.

Quain: And anyone reading this interview?

Zeivite: Shut up.

Quain: You will go around wearing a dress—

Zeivite: It’s a robe and—

Quain: It’s very important to your station as Archmage. It has pockets and everything. Because you need somewhere to keep your tea making supplies.

Continue reading “Lt. General Quain Marln (of The General’s Legacy, by Adrian G Hilder)”

Halea (of Torn Apart, by J.M. Riddles)

Dear readers, tonight with me is Halea, a priestess in the service of the dragon goddess, roaming the land hunting demons and sealing tears caused by the Chaos Dimension.


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

I don’t remember much about where I was born, but I was brought to the holy city of Ruinac after my father died when I was quite young. I’m one of very few born blessed by the dragon goddess, Tiamet, which means I’m far faster and stronger than an average human, and I also have the power to purify evil.  That was a bit much for my poor mother to handle all on her own, and it just so happened my paternal grandfather is a cleric of Tiamet who lived and worked in Ruinac, so we joined him, and he mentored me on the path to becoming a priestess. Tiamet worshippers are tasked with fighting the evil of the Chaos Dimension that seeks to converge with our world. As for Ruinac, it wasn’t so great, just a crowded seaside city and it was hard to fit in because there weren’t many children like me. Sadly, when I was about twelve years old, a convergence destroyed the city, killing everyone in it, including my mother, and at the time, I thought it had killed my best friend Varg too. A convergence is a massive dimensional tear that can only be banished by sacrificing the life of a priestess, and let’s just say the ritual didn’t go as planned.

Did you have any cherished memories from your youth?

My fondest memory will always be of the day I first met my best friend, Varg. He was in the form of a wolf when I first saw him, and then he turned into a scrawny little wolf boy and threatened to eat me. Those were good times.

What do you do now?

These days I am an official oath-sworn priestess of Tiamet. Priestesses are given immortality in exchange for serving the goddess. We roam the land hunting and slaughtering demons and using our powers to seal dimensional rifts called tears. The work hours are kind of crazy and we’re not allowed to put anything or anyone above our duty, so no marriage, love, children, or anything else that can distract us from our calling. Kind of a thankless job, but it pays well, and if the demon’s don’t kill you or you don’t get chosen as a blood sacrifice, you get to live forever, so it’s not all bad.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, it would seem my long term career plans didn’t turn out as I expected and I’ve been unwittingly thrust into a managerial position for which I’m vastly under-qualified. I’ll make the best of it – somehow.

Continue reading “Halea (of Torn Apart, by J.M. Riddles)”

Corbett (of Rocks Fall. Everyone Dies, by Eddie Skelson)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a wizard. He is part of an adventuring group (because he’s broke), and he’s here to tell us about dungeons, dragons, quests, and bad attitudes.


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

Well I lived in Trestfall with my parents, two brothers Vine and Berek, and my sister, Shana. It was nice I suppose. My father was a baker and I always hoped to become a baker myself, or perhaps an accountant. Unfortunately, when I discovered that I had the ability to mess with the elements and blew my father’s kitchen to pieces I was shipped off to the local witch, Our Sharon, to be assessed. After that it was off to the Elementalists School for me.

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

I used to have a couple of wooden dolls that I would play ‘entrepreneurship’ with. Essentially one of the dolls would come in and ask for a loan to start up his own turnip producing business. The other was an investor who would advise him that there was no money in turnip production and had he considered killing dragons instead. But it would turn out that the investor had a scam running with the local dragon who, being in on the deal, would lie in wait for the former would-be turnip magnate and eat him. After getting him to sign over all his capital to a Hoard Based Currency System that is.

Endless fun.

What do you do now?

Well at the moment I’m involved in a questing group. They are an absolute shower. Andreton, typical warrior, as dumb as rocks, five times as hard and ten times as stubborn. There’s this Ranger, you know, nature type. Noble, brave, clueless. A wretched woman named Daisy, I ask you, Daisy, and she’s a fighter. Watch out for your head, she has a habit of removing them. The Cleric, Valeran, as you can probably imagine has his head so far up his own backside he probably needs an Elixir of Nightseeing just to find his own shoes. And a Rogue, Donalt. He’s always behind you. Doesn’t matter where you are.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

So, under absolutely bloody false pretenses I got dragged into this group of sociopathic idiots and now we are faced with angry townsfolk, angry Trolls and angry Demons. I have no idea why but everywhere I go everyone is either very stupid or mad at something, and they naturally take it out on me. God’s save us. Everywhere I go, ‘Why don’t you have a pointy hat?’ or ‘Have you arrived precisely when you mean to? Because you’re bloody late.’ That’s what I get all the time. Look. WITCHES have pointy hats, OK? Wizards can wear whatever headgear they like. And I don’t use a wand either. That’s all marketing. I can point a cake at you and do the same spell.

Continue reading “Corbett (of Rocks Fall. Everyone Dies, by Eddie Skelson)”

Sav (of Black Cross – Black Powder Wars, by JP Ashman)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a former city guard, turned pathfinder for the spymaster.

He’s here to tell us about his love of scouting and archery, his travels, and the arcane plague that befell his lands.


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

Wesson? It’s not bad, as cities go, but growing up there was fun, to a point. The sea air is nice, although I prefer the smell of green. You know? Out in the fields and forests of Altoln. No cramped living. Less sickness and people! Childhood was running the streets, fighting with sticks and making slings and makeshift bows. It’s that sort of play that led to me enlisting in the City Guard.

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

The bows I mentioned. They weren’t all that good, but I loved them alright. Set me apart from the other lads who were all wooden swords and axes and such. Heh, I remember one time when this little shit came up out of Dockside with his mates, slinging rocks at us, one of which slotted poor little Dayn in the face. What did I do? I loosed my shitty shaft across Kings Avenue and… hit a passing coach. Not my finest moment, but I remember it because the arrow stood proud of the wood. Honest truth! I’d been lucky in finding a scrap of iron behind a smithy, which I used as a makeshift arrowhead, and the Dockside shite was lucky the coach passed when it did. Continue reading “Sav (of Black Cross – Black Powder Wars, by JP Ashman)”

Konnon Crillian (of Song, by Jesse Teller)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a bounty hunter from the world of Perilisc. He’ll take any job though – bodyguard, a mercenary, anything – to afford the medication his daughter needs.

He’s here to tell us about taking the job of hunting one of the kingdom’s most dangerous men – together with others just as bad.


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

Dragonsbane is a marvel. It’s filled with landmarks and wonderful things that are mythic and legendary at the same time that they are terrible and magnificent. Your viewpoint on the city really depends entirely on where you grew up. So my viewpoint of the city is disjointed and confusing. I went from a poor child with a loving family, to a child monster, to rich, all within the span of about two years. I was raised in wealth, but never really took to it. I could drink at a corner pub on a mean street, in an angry section of town, or talk art with dignitaries and nobility. If I had my choice, it would probably be the corner pub.

What do you do now?

I’ve got a sick daughter. What do you think I do now? I’m sorry, I, you didn’t deserve that. I get angry when I think about the life she leads and the life I’m forced into. I have no money, though I was raised in wealth, I have no money. My daughter’s medicines are expensive and failing her. So I wander the country trying to cut a living out of the jobs that are available to a man who’s only really good at one thing. So it’s the sword, and whatever it can get me. Sometimes bounties, though I don’t really like that work. Sometimes I’m a bodyguard, a mercenary, anything I can do to put medicine in my daughter. I don’t get to see her much. But at least I know she’s out there, safe and happy, as happy as she’s capable of being. Continue reading “Konnon Crillian (of Song, by Jesse Teller)”

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