Today I am continuing this week's Lucky 13 theme with an interview with the 'villain' of my upcoming book The Oathbreaker's Shadow. I've had to travel pretty far to meet my main antagonist... but then again, whether he's the antagonist or not is surely in the eye of the beholder (or the reader). I'm sure that he would beg to differ...
The air is thick with incense, heavy and cloying. I’ve been stuck in this yurt for two hours already, waiting for the rare chance to interview Prince Khareh. When the coarse cotton door over the yurt entrance swings aside, I scramble to my feet, but it’s not the Prince. It’s one of his minions.
Minion: I’m very sorry, but the Prince isn’t going to be able to see you today. Perhaps come back tomorrow?
Of course, tomorrow they could be anywhere. They’re nomads. Disappointed, I pick up my notepad and pen and head outside.
The sharp, metallic clang of swords clashing draws my attention. I’m in luck! The Prince is there, sparring with a friend in a make-shift arena enclosed by a low wooden fence.
Amy McCulloch: Prince Khareh! Do you have a moment?
They stop their duel. The Prince looks over at me, shrugs and then tosses his sword at his friend, who nabs it out of mid-air. He strolls over.
Prince Khareh: How can I help you?
AM: Prince Khareh, I’m honoured. Would you mind answering a few questions?
PK: For my adoring public? Of course, anything.
AM: You seem pretty good out there. Do you spend a lot of time practicing your swordsmanship?
PK: Pretty good? [He raises an eyebrow, then laughs]. I’m the best. It’s not me who needs the practice – that’s my good friend Raimanan over there. He’s in training. Me? I was born to do this.
AM: I see. My apologies, Prince, if I insulted you. What else does a Prince do in his spare time?
PK: Whatever a Prince wants! But I suppose if I had to narrow it down… I like inventing. Making things. Like this. [He lifts his arm up and shows off a crudely-made under-arm knife sheaf, pieced together out of different straps of leather.] It’s just a prototype, of course. But it means I have more convenient access to a weapon. You can never be too careful.
From across the way, Raimanan yells: “So that’s where my new bridle went! I’ve been looking for that everywhere!” The Prince just shrugs again and smiles.
PK: You’re not from here are you?… Are you from the South?
AM: I thought I was doing the interviewing here! But… um, no. I’m not from ‘here’ at all.
PK: Ah, shame. I suppose, then, you know nothing of sages?
I shake my head.
PK: Then we are done here.
He spins on his heels and walks away.
AM: Prince, one more thing! What about those rumours that your uncle’s wife, the Seer-Queen, might be expecting?
Before the words have even left my mouth there’s a dull thud and the fence shudders in front of me. Buried deep in the wood is the Prince’s knife. Had the fence not been there, that knife would have been buried in my gut instead.
Raimanan rushes over. He looks me straight in the eye, his face solemn. “You really shouldn’t have done that.” He yanks the knife out of the wood and retreats after the Prince.
Amy McCulloch is a girl of many publishing hats: author, editor and reader. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, she currently lives in London, UK. Other than books, she is addicted to travelling, running and Starbucks coffee.