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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Young Adult

Lexi (of Toxic, by Karina Kantas)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman from a faraway planet, craving adventure against her people’s drag existence. She is here to tell us about acid rains, desolate lives, friends, emotional scars, and independence.


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

You can’t have much of a life when you’re stuck living in a mountain, ruled under a Committee of Tyrants. Sorry for sounding bitter. But I was bullied most of my childhood because I had two very pale blue almost white eyes. My best friend, someone I cared deeply for, left our mountain to train in another. He was always there for me and when he left my world fell apart. There’s no rule about not leaving the mountain, but who would dare without the proper equipment to protect themselves from the acid rain, that could melt your body within minutes

Were you close to your family? Do you have a favourite memory as a child?

I wasn’t close to my family. We were taken away at a young age and put to work, everyone had to pull their weight to make the running and life in Mount Elta go smooth.

I was forced to move in with Aron, my boyfriend. Although I never wanted the relationship to move forwards, others did. He was a Ranger and would always brag about his explorations and adventures he’d have whilst protecting the Trackers as they searched for the Terra plant. We could not live without this plant, as scientists created a substance called Dozax. This was then used in agriculture, medicines, recreation, protective clothing and shelter, basically in all parts of our lives. As for childhood memories, the only thing that stands out for me was how Marcus, my BF would always know when I was feeling down. He taught me how to survive outside the mountain. We would go on adventures together whilst trying to track the Terra plant down ourselves. But we never strayed too far from Elta.

I never did get to meet a savage face to face. These were Maloks just like us, who used the plant in another way. Boiling the leaves, they would ingest the juice, which gave them a high. A feeling of euphoria. The Committee soon put a stop to that, and they were cast out of the mountain, with no food, shelter, nothing. They would either have their skin and bones melt to nothing from the acid rain or would meet up with a savage and be killed. Those that were lucky enough to survive and find some form of shelter, turned into the monsters that now hunt for the plant and kill Trackers and Rangers.

What do you do now?

I’m a medic. Some injuries can be horrific, especially if the Ranger or Trackers were attacked. My job is to assess the situation and put the patients in order of who needed to be treated first. Of course, Dozax is used in all treatments I just have to decide in what form, where and how much to use. Dozax in its natural form is potent and too much in ones’ body can cause the opposite effect. That‘s why we can only get a massage once a week and even then, we get tested to how much Dozax is in our body. Too much can be a VERY bad thing. What I want to do and what I’ve been secretly training for is to become a Ranger. But Aron lectures me, every time I leave the safety of the mountain. He knows how much I want this and even though there are females Rangers he’s told me plenty of times that I’m not a good fit. But he’s not going to tell me what to do. I will listen to no man except my commanding officer.  Just a while ago we lost him to a vicious attack. We couldn’t save him so now we’re waiting for another CO to come and take over the Ranger Corp. I have my exam in one week. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. But I know I can do this. Marcus taught me everything. I’m not sure if Aron has been informed about my training, being as everyone knows we are together, and although I’ve asked for it to be kept on the down-low. He asked me to marry him so we can move into the West sector where the Rangers, Trackers and Committee lived with their family. But I refused. In fact, I don’t want him to be here anymore. He’s too controlling, and I feel like he uses me for sex, never giving me any satisfaction as long as he gets his. No this is not the way I thought my life would turn out. I have to speak with Aron and kick him out of my life, for now. If I do pass the exam, then I’ll be working with him and he holds a high rank, so I’ll have to put up with him giving me orders again. And I know he’s not going to go easy, but the sacrifice I have to make if I want to leave this mountain and make something of my life.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Only a few days ago, I was out exploring when the sky turned to a glowing red, the sign that it was about to rain. I knew no matter how fast I ran I wouldn’t make it back to the Elta in time. I was wearing a protective suit made of a rubber material from Dozax. I don’t know how they made the material, but it was certainly acid-proof. This wasn’t the first time I got caught in the rain. I grabbed the tent that was folded into a pocket of my backpack, I threw it out onto the floor, and it sprung up into an oval tent, I dived in just as the first drops started to fall.  I laid down and relaxed while hearing the rain splatter on the roof of the tent, I must have fallen asleep as I was having a very good dream 😉 then I woke to a burning on my hand. I sat up and watched the acid burning into my skin. I wiped the residue off my hand using my clothing and then looked up at the roof of the tent and saw a tiny hole where the rain was coming through. I watch it hit the floor of the tent and be soaked up. I’ve never heard of a leaking tent before so I knew that once the rain stopped, I would have to take it to the scientist in the North sector, after getting treatment on my hand which was still burning and stinging, but it’s happened before so I knew what the pain was like and how bad it could get.

Continue reading “Lexi (of Toxic, by Karina Kantas)”

Montague ‘Monty Hill’ Glupie (of Children of Little Might, by Peter D’Hollander)

Dear readers, tonight we print an interview with a sixteen-year-old boy with autism, who found a book that promised his every wish once he translated it. It took a bit of coaxing and some bickering, but he agreed (so long as it wasn’t face-to-face). He’ll tell us about fantasy kingdoms, princesses and paper girls, and power in adversity.


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

I grew up in Utah (though that’s never mentioned in the book) where I live with both my parents in a small city. Or rather: lived. My father… Well, he’s gone now and I still miss him. But Mom and I still live in our old home. In fact, I even sleep in their old bed – so I can be close to Dad.

I don’t have any brothers or sisters; though my father once said he wanted to have more. They never said so, but I guess my parents didn’t go for more children because I wasn’t always the easiest. You see, when I was eleven – the most horrible year of my life – they discovered I have autism. That same year, Dad… Went away and my best friend betrayed me. But I don’t want to talk about that.

I live in a house with three floors of which the third floor is my bedroom. I also have a game room, there, but I talk about that later. I go to a high-school, but I hope you forgive me when I don’t tell you its name. I’m not one of the popular kids, there, probably because I broke a bully’s arm. Also, the principal has it in for me. He doesn’t understand I had nothing to do with breaking my bully’s arm. I pushed him against a wall, for sure, but is it my fault he has brittle bones?

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

I often sit alone in my room. I don’t have many friends, except for Storm,  but I do speak a lot of different languages. And I love to find the explanations of names. Storm’s real name is Sherwin. It means ‘swift runner’, but since he’s in a wheelchair I don’t think it fits him well. Hence, I called him Storm. He’s like a storm in his wheelchair; fast and hard to keep up; even if I’m on my bike. He’s my only friend, though you should ask him why. Most people find me weird because of my autism. I often think the only reason why he’s with me, is because he can’t run away. I once told him, too, and it made him laugh. Don’t ask me why.

But to answer your question: I love to play computer games. I like Civilization, Humankind  or Minecraft. I love to conquer the world and I am so good at it I even beat Dad at it. When he was still at home… I also like to ride around with my bike. Dad and I did that on my eleventh birthday and that’s how we found the burned down ranch house. I loved it so much, Dad bought it and started to renovate it.

He shouldn’t have. A wall collapsed and since he was alone…

In the ranch house, a week or so later, I found a book that promised to grant me my every wish if and when I translated it. And that’s when I knew it: I wanted to wish my autism away and bring my father back.

My most cherished memory? It’s a Fourth of July – in New York. We watched the fireworks. And we were Mom, Dad and I. Did you know I recreated that memory to help save the Twelve? They are a crack commando and the personal bodyguards of the King of Kalpana – the author of the book I had to translate. But I really didn’t save them at all, I’m afraid. But that Fourth of July? Yes: that’s my fondest memory of Dad and me. Because, you know, he was always there for me.

What do you do now?

Yeah. About that. I don’t want to brag, but when I made my wish, I didn’t ask for my autism to disappear or my father to be alive again. I wished for a girl, a Princess for sure, certain she never came. But she did. And because of that…

Don’t let them tell you anything else. She took me to Kalpana – the world she came from. And that’s a funny word, right there. Did you know Kalpana means Imagination in Hindi? So, today I’m still this glupi boy who believes in wishes. And in case you don’t know, because you’re not as good in languages as I am, glupi is stupid in Polish.

Storm says I shouldn’t tell you that. But everyone knows and it’s okay. I guess that I still have autism. I got the chance to get rid of it, but everyone around me wanted me to still have autism, I guess.

No, of course that isn’t true. They really wanted me to remain me. My one real wish was to have friends, so that’s what I do, I guess. I do my best to evade them because while I like to have friends, they also make me feel awkward. I never know what to say around them. If this wasn’t a written interview, I probably sat there and looked at you. Now… It’s Storm and Princess Aislinn who keep pushing me to write answers down. I hope I don’t bore you to death, though. Because I Want to be your friend, too. Even when you look like a very old dude.

Ah. I forgot. Both Storm and Princess Aislinn want me to tell you I have a girlfriend. Princess Aislinn. It’s funny, because I’m not sure what to do around her, but then, she does most of the doing. Even the things I don’t like, but secretly love. She made me to what I am today.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

If I have to believe Princess Aislinn, I’m the hero of the story. But I don’t agree. The true heroes are my friends. Storm, because he’s always there to defend me – even when everyone else ignores him, without asking anything in return. Can you imagine that, though he sits in a wheelchair, he didn’t even want to be able to walk? He called it overrated. The idea alone.

And then there is Aislinn, who you can’t ignore, no matter how hard you try. She’s… Well, she’s her. She stopped my bully. And my teacher. And she took it upon herself to do stuff I ordinarily wouldn’t do. I guess she could do all that because she’s incredibly beautiful. And it helps she’s able to influence people.

Oh, and there is the King and his hateful twin. And the Queen. I still feel ashamed when I am around her because not only Aislinn, but she, too, witnessed the wish I made about her daughter. I’m surprised she didn’t kick my ass. After all, I asked – wished – her daughter to fall in love with me.

And that takes me to Damon. The king’s twin brother, but also my high-school principal. He wants something of me, but I don’t really understand what. By the time I figure it out, it’s too late.

Continue reading “Montague ‘Monty Hill’ Glupie (of Children of Little Might, by Peter D’Hollander)”

Neela Blydes (of Red Blood, by Kaitlyn Legaspi)

Dear readers, tonight we get inside the mind of a seventeen year old girl, forced to participate in a deadly tournament – all to possess the Queen of Hearts card, the ticket to ruling her domain.


            Why is it so dark? I thought. I-I can’t open my eyes… I feel so light… Am I floating? Where am I? Who am I?

            “Neela,” a gentle voice answered, echoing within my mind.“Your name is Neela,”

            Neela… Neela Blydes.

            “Good. You remember your name.” the voice said. “Neela, I’m going to help you get your memories back, okay? A few questions should do it.”

            O-Okay.

            “Don’t be scared. I won’t be telling anyone what you tell me. I promise.”

            Then ask away.

            “Alright,” the voice paused, as if thinking, “do you remember where you grew up? What was it like?”

            Where I grew up… I wracked my brain for an answer. I grew up in two places.

            “Two?”

            Yes, I said. Up until I was five, I lived in a meadow area near the border of the Queen of Hearts Domain with my parents and older brother. My brother and I always played outside, and our father always gave us lessons on the wildlife in the meadows and forest.

            “What about the second place?”

            The slums… I spent the rest of my childhood growing up in a small clinic with my brother in the slums of the Queen of Hearts Domain. It was a dangerous place. Around every corner was a fight, and I had to go through some of my own in order to survive.

            “Man… What made you want to live there?”

            I didn’t want to. Never wanted to. I lived there because it was the only place I could go after people killed my parents and burned down my home.

            “Okay, we won’t venture further in that direction. Let’s go a different route,” the voice said hurriedly. “How about this? Any favorite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?”

            No toys, but, the corners of my lips tugged up into a small smile, memories, yes.

            “What’s one?”

            My father always brought home flowers for my mother at the end of every week. The way they made her smile… was angelic.

            “That’s sweet,” the voice laughed a bit. “Neela, do you mind if I ask questions about the present?”

            Go ahead. I’ll answer them the best I can.

            “If you’re not able to, that’s completely fine,” the voice assured me. “Do you remember anything about what you’re doing now?”

            No. Do you?

            “…A bit.”

            Can you give me a hint?

            “Well… people love watching you fight in the ring.”

            My head pulsed. An image of dirt and a cheering crowd filling the stands of an indoor arena flashed in my mind. I’m fighting in a tournament for the title of Card Holder of the Queen of Hearts Domain.

            “That’s right. Do you remember what’s happened recently?”

            The first half of the solo rounds are over, I’ve met the leader of the rogues, and Jacen… my brother… he’s… the blood…

            “I guess you do remember,” the voice interrupted. “Let’s go into another direction, alright?”

            O-okay.

            “Do you remember how you felt about entering the tournament?”

            You mean when I was forced to enter? I scoffed. I didn’t want to enter and be part of the slaughter that’s the tournament. Then… I realized if I won and became Card Holder, I could change how it’s all handled. I still hate it, but I view it as an opportunity now.

Continue reading “Neela Blydes (of Red Blood, by Kaitlyn Legaspi)”

Ishali (of Mara’s Awakening, by Leo Flynn)

Dear reader, tonight with us is a prisoner from the far future, one who claims his imprisonment is for good deeds.


It’s very unusual for a person so young to be in such a high-security prison. What did you do?

Never one to be subtle, are you? I suppose all interviewers always cut to the chase. There was a famine crisis in the neutral world of Livina, and the Council refused to give aid, despite it being in their constitution to always offer such help.

We decided to teach them a lesson. So we hijacked their cargo ship carrying supplies to the latest ball for the dignitaries and sent them to Livina instead.

The people got their food, but I was careless and ended up arrested. With the mounting charges to my name, I was thrown in jail for misconduct, hijacking, and thievery.

You’ve been in trouble with the Council before?

Many times, I’m afraid. I would have thought my actions would be enough to change their minds, but alas, they remain as stubborn as ever.

What brought you into the world of crime?

Crime? I would hardly say the things I do are criminal. I admit some of my methods are more… erring on the grey area of the law, but they function well. I only have one purpose, which is to help end the suffering of the innocent in any way I can.

What inspired you to help others?

My home planet, Anguini, is a neutral world. So I suppose I am fortunate I grew up on a planet with relatively unbiased approaches to the galactic political proceedings. Some years ago, before I was born, our planet was ripped apart by civil war.

The High Council stepped in and sent their most elite peacekeeping forces, the Star Corps, to settle the matter. After a few years of a bitter struggle, they finally did, and they helped us recover and flourish as a planet.

I very clearly remember one Star Corps member, then retired, came to our school to talk about the conflict. It was difficult for her to talk about, but she did regardless. I couldn’t help but admire her.

I asked her why she’d risked her life for people she didn’t even know. She said, “The Star Corps is about helping everyone, in any way we can, because it’s the right thing to do, and it makes the galaxy a better place.”

Their selfless assistance for my people inspired me to do the same.

Continue reading “Ishali (of Mara’s Awakening, by Leo Flynn)”

The character cast (of Unveiling, by Zel Winter)

Dear readers, tonight we host a rather chaotic interview with five characters out of a novel’s cast. They are here to tell us about a world in which powerful Immortal beings battle for justice in a magical world just beyond the veil of our own — all while continually bickering about spoilers.


Hello everybody, tonight on the interview couch are part of the cast from Unveiling. Could you please introduce yourselves, and helps us know who’s who?

🙋♀️ Hi, I’m Nina. (a little wave)

🦇 Dan. (quick short nod)

🙎🏻 My name is Maya. (curtsy)

🐺 Lupus. (short snort)

🧛🏻 Hey, (speaking in a heavy Spanish accent) I’m Franco. (sits further away from the rest).

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

🙋♀️ My early childhood was with my adoptive parents, and they were great. I wouldn’t say, though, that’s where I grew up. I was in foster care from the age eleven. I’m not gonna lie to you or the fans, it was tough: but I learned how to stand up for myself. I remember Tony, one of my foster brothers, he would get into kids faces and intimidate them to do the most ridiculous things one could think of. He told this one kid to shave our foster dad’s eyebrows. The kid did it. When Ronny woke up, he freaked! We had to run and hide. Three days, (she puts her 3 fingers up), three days I slept outdoors. He tried it on me a couple of times. I told him to get lost. For some reason, he stopped bothering me.

Lupus, do you have any cherished memories?

🐺 Funny you should ask. My generation was the first to start shifting into human form. AncientWeres could, but didn’t. There was no reason. So, when this new thing started to happen, all of us left our parents’ and started our own pack. At that time, we didn’t know we were supposed to walk on two legs, so we walked on all four. We also had no control over it, so when it happened it was both surprising and painful. We were clumsy, slow and hungry all the time. One time, my brother stopped shifting halfway so his right side was human while his left was in wolf form. When we saw him, we didn’t recognize him and ran away. It took him hours to calm down and complete the shift. Sometimes, we still laugh about it. I wouldn’t change a thing, I cherish those memories.

Franco, what do you do now?

🧛🏻 Me and my kind, have a grand plan. I can’t talk about it, but we are going to stick it to those other immortals. They won’t even know it’s coming, and then, KABOOM! (he makes a gesture of explosion with his hands).

🙎🏻 KABOOM?

🧛🏻 Well, not really kaboom, but you know what I mean.

🙎🏻 No, I really don’t.

🧛🏻 (He faces the host) See? That means I piqued the curiosity, yet didn’t reveal anything specific. Mission accomplished.

Dan, Lupus, what can you tell us about your latest adventure?

🦇 It was a good fight. We won.

🐺 It was fantastic, and loads of fun. Just imagine bursting into the enemy compound, killing the monsters, freeing the dam…

🦇 Spoiler!

🐺 So much more I can’t tell you about. This guy, (he points to Dan), he goes under the radar, in more ways than one, but mostly because he is dust

🦇 SPOILER!!!

🐺 What did I say?

🦇 You said ‘dust’.

🐺Dust is nothing, it’s dust.

🦇 Dust is a spoiler.

🐺 Fine, I hate being interrupted. Where was I? Oh, ya, this guy, (points to Dan), if you piss him off, it’s your funeral. I saw him once kill eight beasts, before the first one hit the floor. That’s how lethal he is.

Dan, you gonna show us some moves?

🦇 (vaguely smiles) I don’t think so.

C’mon Dan, just a couple of moves.

🦇 I’m not really pissed off. (He turns to Franco). Any volunteers, Franco? No? (Dan shrugs). Sorry.

Maya, what did you first think when you saw Nina?

🙎🏻 I thought I was going crazy. With the ordeal that happened the night before, I still thought I was drugged or hallucinating. It was like looking in the mirror but not. I remember blinking repeatedly and looking around for monsters. It took me a while to compose myself. The cup of coffee helped, along with hearing Nina through my ears and not as a random voice in my head.

Hey Dan, what was the scariest thing in your first mission?

🦇 I thought she might turn. There is nothing worse than accidentally turning someone you ca…

🙋♀️ Spoiler!!

🦇 What? I thought they already knew.

🙋♀️ (quietly) Spoiler.

🦇 Really? (looks around, everybody nods). Fine…that’s why I don’t say much.

Nina, what is the worst thing about your rescue?

🙋♀️ The previous misjudgement of my rescuer.  In my eyes, he went from hero to zero like this, (she snaps her fingers). I had one view of him and then within a blink of an eye, I witnessed a triple murder, got kidnapped again, this time by him, and then thought I’d became a fugitive on the run from the police. Could that day get any worse???

What is the best thing about it?

🙋♀️ I can’t tell you the best part, but, I’m still here, alive and not running from the police. That’s pretty good, right? (looks around, everybody nods).

Dan, tell us a little about your friends.

🦇 I’ve been lucky. I have friends among all species. All present (except one 🧛🏻) are my friends. But, I think you want to hear about those who are not here. (He adjusts himself comfortably in the chair).

Yes?

🦇 What? Oh, you want me to tell you about them? OK, where do I start?

My brother is by far the person I trust the most.

Weres’ Alpha, Lav – a WereLion, is a strong leader and a good friend to have. Weres are great; they can communicate telepathically. They do it when in their beastly form or if they want to keep a secret from Faes. 

Faes are…refreshing and a little odd. I mostly interact with FaeRaven when passing messages. They like to gossip about everything they know. A little funny, a little quirky, but what can you expect when you put birds and magic together, right?

Dragons…they are real beasts and trump everyone—the protectors of the world. The Wise One is the most powerful. He helped me a lot.  

Any romantic involvement?

🐺 Man, I went nuts. I imprinted and it drove me crazy, I couldn’t eat, sleep, hunt, focus, or talk to anyone about it, because we sort of invaded that place, without Alpha’s permiss…

🦇 SPOILER!!!

🐺 and apparently there is never a good time to talk about it, (he turns to the audience) you’ll just have to read about it, guys. Just trust me, I was crazy.

🦇 Yeah, crazy is a good word, you almost mauled me…

🐺 That’s a spoiler!!

Whom (or what) do you really hate?

🧛🏻 Let me just say…I don’t like humans, but they taste delicious. I despise Nature’s Immortals, and especially the traitor.

🙎🏻 Vampires, for what they did to me.

🐺 The cursed ones (turns to Dan), no offense.

🙋♀️ Tony, and all bad vampires.

🦇 All who disrespect life.

Franco, what’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?

🧛🏻 Fresh human blood. Red, and feeding, or planning how to dest…

everyone: SPOILER!!!

 🧛🏻 (Hisses)

What does the future hold for you?

🙎🏻 Well, I’m going to become…

everyone: SPOILER!

🐺 What about when we broke in the headquarters and took…

everyone: SPOILER!!!

🙋♀️ I had a dream once…

everyone: SPOILER!!!

🧛🏻 Would you like to know about the plan? (wiggles eyebrows)

everyone: SPOILER!!!

🧛🏻 (Hisses) Do you think I would tell the readers with all of you, (he swipes his arm across the cast), listening?

🦇 I spoke to Drezga, and he told me he has a source in Hen….

everyone: SPOILER!!!

🦇 That’s why I don’t say much.

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

🙋♀️ Hm…how about if I share a part of a secret? Everything we witness and experience changes us, and I am no exception. In the words of Nada VaZaki, “They’ve broken the wrong parts of me. They’ve broken my wings and forgot I had claws.”


Zel Winter lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband, two wonderful daughters, two dogs and two cats. She loves nature, animals and children. Zel enjoys cooking and baking, and above all, reading and writing.

You can find Nina, Dan, Maya, Lupus and Franco on the pages of Unveiling.

Join us next week to meet a man playing agent for gods. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.

Grey (of The Ascension Machine, by Rob Edwards)

Dear readers, tonight we print an in-story interview between two teen superheroes, studying in the Justice Academy, the special school for their kind. We’ll learn about assumed identities, alien races, and friendship.


I’ve been thinking, Grey. After seeing Sunbolt handling those journalists on Bantus, should we, maybe, practice interview techniques?

Hmm? Sorry, Seventhirtyfour, I was light years away. What was that about interviews?

I was just saying I should interview you; I could get extra credits for my superhero journalism course, Choose your Lane 101. Please? We’re still days away from the Academy, I’m bored, you know.

I’m not falling for that, you have a stack of textbooks still to read, and I know how much you love a textbook.

Sigh.

Go on then. Ask me some questions.

Okay, fantastic. Let’s see. You grew up in one of the wealthiest human families in the galaxy. What was that like?

I thought we agreed to pretend I didn’t have money? We definitely said that. Let’s imagine that instead of growing up as a Gravane, I… I don’t know. Just off the top of my head: I ran away from my parents at age eight. I spent the better part of a decade drifting from space station to space station, surviving on my wits, earning money to survive. Legitimately when I could, but less so when I had to.

Can you imagine if that was true? It sounds lonely.

Lonely? That’s not…  I’ve seen the galaxy, met amazing people from dozens of different species and only swindled a relatively small percentage of them. I may not have stayed in one place very long, I guess. Never really formed what you’d call close friendships. Put that against all the places I’ve been to, all the things I’ve learned. You can’t buy an education like that. In this hypothetical backstory.

What about you, Seventhirtyfour? Where did you grow up?

Oh, nothing special really, you know? Once I was let out of the maturation pod, I was posted to Clone Barracks 17 on Brontom Prime and started my five-year boot camp.  Just me and a couple thousand of my closest vat mates. It was a good time, we learned to fight and—wait, I’m supposed to be interviewing you.

Busted.

So, let’s talk about your time at the Justice Academy. What courses are you taking now?

Sure. I’m a Skills student. No Powers of any kind, no super Tech. That means I’m studying to be the best version of me I can be. To, um, fight crime and rescue innocents and the like. Basic superhero defense. Parkour. Grapnel Gun Basics and Maintenance. A couple of Prof Croft’s Criminology and Clue Analysis courses. Gutted I couldn’t get into Superheroics: A History with you, but, clashes, what can you do? I really want to do Rescueology next term, just to find out what it is.

Continue reading “Grey (of The Ascension Machine, by Rob Edwards)”

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)”

Elias Wilder (of Half a Soul, by Olivia Atwater)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the Lord Sorcier of Regency England. Most people find him handsome, strange, and utterly uncouth—but gossip says that he regularly performs three impossible things before breakfast. We’re here to find out the truth.


“Lord Sorcier” is a French title, isn’t it? How does one go about becoming the Lord Sorcier of England?

It wasn’t my choice, thank you very much. The Prince Regent suggested it, for some mad reason. He thought it was fitting, given that I supposedly defeated Napoleon’s Lord Sorcier in an epic magical duel.

…Supposedly?

You should really exercise more scepticism in your daily life. The ton also believes that I do three impossible things before breakfast every morning.

Three impossible things! Who has time for that sort of nonsense? I limit myself to two impossible things per day, at best.

You spent at least some of your life in the workhouses. What were they like?

I see you have indeed been listening to idle gossip. I would be happy to answer your inquiry in lengthy detail—in fact, I have described the hideous conditions of the workhouses to the House of Lords on more than one occasion. I am sure you could find a record of it. Would you like to hear about the lice, the influenza, or the boy who had his hand cut off from gangrene? I could go into the rampant abuse, the lack of food, or the constant, awful smell—

Er, how fascinating! We really must move on, I’m afraid, since we haven’t that much time.

I somehow suspected as much.

And what are the duties of the Lord Sorcier of England?

Primarily, I am told, I am supposed to defend King and country against black magic of all sorts. In practice, there is little black magic to be found, and I must say, I grow tired of noble ladies insisting that their larder has been looted by faeries.

Continue reading “Elias Wilder (of Half a Soul, by Olivia Atwater)”

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