On May 2nd, the anthology of fantasy short stories Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life was released by Dancing Lemur Press. The anthology is comprised of 12 stories. One of them is my story Captain Bulat.
As a promotional effort, several of the authors, me included, decided to interview our leading characters on the anthology-dedicated website. Here is a re-blog of that interview I conducted with the heroine of my story, Altenay.
Tell me about yourself—name, profession, home, family, the usual.
I’m Altenay. I’m 19 years old and am a Bessar. My people, Bassars, were nomads for centuries before they settled in this kingdom a hundred years ago. We keep our traditions and clothing and we look different than the rest of the citizens. They mostly have white skin and blond or sandy hair, while we have brown skin and dark hair. Otherwise, we are all the same, under the same laws. Now and again, some troublemakers would stir troubles between our nations, and someone would break someone else’s stall in a marketplace, or a fist fight would erupt in a tavern, but our King is fair to everyone, and his guards always maintain peace between Bessars and the rest. Some people intermarry, of course, but most keep to their own nation when starting a family.
My best friend, Vasilisa, is not a Bessar. She has beautiful honey-colored braids and cute freckles, and I love her to distraction. I owe her my freedom, but that is another story. You can read it here.
Both Vasilisa and I don’t have any family but each other. Vasilisa is a taxidermist. I’m a Finder. We live together in the same house… until Vasilisa finds the love of her life and gets married. I think it will happen soon: she is too lovely to stay single. Already several young men are courting her. When she picks the best one, I’ll move out and get a place of my own. I doubt I’ll ever marry but I’ll love Vasilisa’s children. I’ll spoil them rotten. I hope she has many.
Councilor Shamer, one of the most powerful men in our city, hired me to find Captain Bulat. That’s what I do. I’m a Finder. I Find things and people that are lost. The man, Captain Bulat, had been a hero of the last war, which ended 25 years ago. He disappeared a few days after the peace treaty had been signed. The City Council wanted to put up a statue in his honor, to commemorate our victory in the war, and they wanted me find their lost hero. If he was still alive.
It was a strange case. Usually, I’m hired to find something like a misplaced brooch, a stolen bolt of expensive fabric, or a pony who wandered off in the night. Something lost recently, not two decades after the fact… although there was one other memorable occasion. Anyway, in the Captain Bulat’s case, my Finder’s magic started misbehaving from the moment I attempted my first search. I knew something was wrong about this fellow, although I didn’t believe he was dead. Perhaps he was hiding from my magic, or someone else was interfering with my search? Someone definitely didn’t want me to find him.
I shouldn’t have accepted the job, it felt dangerous from the beginning, but I had no choice. I did take the Councilor’s money. I had to deliver the results: either find the man or at least find proof of his death.
Could you tell me about the most interesting case of yours?
The most interesting? It was probably my first case in the city, soon after Vasilisa and I arrived here. A lady came to me – I won’t embarrass her by disclosing her name; I promise full discretion to all my customers – and asked me to find her illegitimate child. Fifteen years ago, she had been unfaithful to her husband, and the baby was the result. The husband, a high-ranking officer, had been away from home both at the time of conception and of birth, lucky for her. I heard he had been a brute. He wouldn’t have forgiven her betrayal.
Her labor was hard, and she was unconscious for two days after. She never saw her baby. Her midwife, a loyal servant of hers, had taken the baby away, as instructed, and never returned. The lady didn’t know what happened to her or the baby. She didn’t even know if she had given birth to a girl or a boy. After her husband’s recent death, she wanted to find her baby again and adopt it formally. Her late husband and she didn’t have any children of their own.
It was a fascinating case: both the search and its results. But that is an entirely different story.
The anthology is available everywhere books are sold. Or you can buy it from the publisher’s website.
The cover art for my story is a painting by the Polish artist working in France Emile Eisman-Semenowsky (1859-1911).