Here’s a fun interview with my heroine, Princess Ly’Tana of Kel’Halla:
“What did you say this is for?” she asked me.
I bowed low. “It’s a brief interview, Your Highness,” I replied. “My master in Soudan pens essays regarding the royal family, and the aristocracy. No few wealthy merchants pay him handsomely for copies. It keeps them informed of potential opportunities to gain entrance in to Khalid’s markets.”
She watched me with suspicion, her fingers toying with an arrow from her quiver. Brilliant green eyes that angled upward at the corners narrowed slightly. A big cream-colored stallion, no controlling hand on his reins, sniffed me from the top of my head to my boots, then blew my hat off in a sharp snort. Ignoring me, it finally lowered its head and grazed.
Princess Ly’Tana came to a decision. “Very well,” she said, settling her tiny skirt under her as she sat down upon a granite boulder. The arrow vanished into her quiver. In the distance, her warrior folk set up small tents and a busy camp. One extremely large fellow with shaggy black hair about his shoulders stood long, watching us, his shadow falling behind him with the close setting of the sun. I hoped he stayed there. He had a ferocious look about him.
“What do you want to know?” the Princess asked.
I cleared my throat. “Er, royal watchers say you ended your betrothal to His Royal Highness Crown Prince Broughton. Is this true?”
“Of course,” she snapped, fair lips thinning in annoyance. “He’s an evil snake who murdered an innocent horse. As well as hundreds of people.”
“But, Your Highness. He’s to be crowned High King.”
She sniffed, waving her fingers arily. “And I’ll be Queen of Kel’Halla. That’s all Brutal wants – my country. That’s why he wants my hand in marriage.”
“Er – Brutal?”
“For goddess sake, boy.” Princess Ly’Tana leaned her elbows on her knees to lean forward. “You know why he’s called ‘Brutal’.”
“So the rumors are true then?”
“Yes, indeed. Your next High King is a monster who should be hung by his ankles in chains.”
“May I quote Your Highness?”
Princess Ly’Tana suddenly giggled. “Sure. Whyever not?”
“Does Your Highness have a new love interest somewhere?”
She turned to glance over her bare shoulder, her lengths of red-gold hair sweeping across her lovely face. A swift finger tossed it from her eyes as she watched the big, ferocious fellow. “Indeed, I do,” she replied softly.
“Isn’t that The Bloody Wolf, Your Highness?”
Ly’Tana smiled as she turned back to me. Her fingers trailed across the griffin-hilt of her sword. “Some call him that.”
“An escaped gladiator?”
“Again, may I use that in a quote?”
“Might one ask your future plans, Your Highness? May I inquire? Our readers will pay much for the information.”
“Certainly,” she replied sweetly.
That sword slid so quickly into her hand I blinked in dismay. It pointed straight at me. I gulped. And sweated.
“I tell you my plans, you tell your master and your master tells Brutal.” Ly’Tana slowly stood, the point of her sword tilting my head back. I swallowed hard.
“Maybe I’ll tell you,” she mused. “But then I’ll have to kill you.”
“Then who will tell your side, Your Highness?”
She laughed. “You are a treat, dear boy. Maybe I can find a use for you, after all.”
As quickly as it appeared, the deadly blade slid back into it sheath. I breathed a quick sigh of relief.
“This is my story and I’m sticking to it,” she said. “I hate Brutal and I love The Wolf. Not even my father will keep us apart. Spread that word to your merchants. Inform the public that their High King will die upon my sword should he continue in his pursuit of my hand. Are your merchants wagering men?”
“Some are, Your Highness.”
She glanced back over her shoulder, smiling gently. “Tell them to lay their bets. Inform them there will only be one winner.”
“And who will that be?”
She grinned, her small teeth glinting in the late sunlight.
“The Bloody Wolf.”
“Your Highness, just how did you come by this information?”
Her grin widened. “I’ve seen it foretold.”
“How so, Your Highness?”
“In a wolf’s eyes.”