This interview with character Victoria, by A.M. Justice, author of Blade of Amber and A Wizard’s Lot, will be difficult to stop reading once you start.

Interview with Victoria of Ourtown, Year 2986 After Landing

“Thank you for meeting with me today. Can you state your name, please?”

“Victoria of Ourtown, but I go by Vic.”

“Vic the Blade, correct? How did you come by that moniker?”

“My parents always called me that. My mother won a mast-scaling competition when she was pregnant with me. She used to call me her ‘little Victory’ and my father just called me Vic, for short.”

“That’s a charming story, but I meant your other nickname—the Blade.”

“Well, army folk call me that, because of what I do.”

“Yes, that’s why we’re here. You don’t have to stand—have a seat. For the record, please state your profession.”

“I’m a captain in the Lathan army, assassin class, in command of a reconnaissance unit.”

“Sounds dangerous.”

“It is—for the Relmans. Hence my nickname.”

“You’re very sure of yourself. Have you always been that way?”

“Is this necessary? The army already has a shrink in my unit.”

“You know about that?”

“This one didn’t hide it well.”

“There were others?”

“I suspect the king’s kept a close eye on me from the beginning.”

“Well, you are a ward of the royal family—that seems natural.”

“It’s also natural they’d keep an eye on the Relmlord’s mistress.”

“What does that mean? You were his lover?”

“You know what a mistress is.”

“That word means something different here than it does there. For the historical record, can you explain it?”

<…>

“I know this is difficult for you, but you are here under orders. Please answer the question.”

“What historical record?”

“Excuse me?”

“You said, ‘for the historical record.’ I thought this was a shrink session.”

“Oh, no. I’m sorry if you were misinformed, but this interview is for the Archives.”

“Why?”

“Your presence here has not gone unnoticed. Well, how could it—you’ve made yourself famous, and infamous among the Relmans. Many Loremasters believe Elesendar has a great destiny in store for you.”

“What?”

“You are among the blessed of Elesendar’s children, and destined to do great deeds. We would like to capture your thoughts on this, for the historical record.”

“Look, I’m just a soldier.”

“Hardly. The Blade is no mere soldier; you’ve proven yourself capable of far more. You were made a Logkeeper at fifteen years of age. That is no small accomplishment—unless such a thing is common among your people?”

“No, it isn’t. It didn’t mean squat once the pirates came.”

“Still, something to be proud of. For the record, what is a Logkeeper?”

“You already know—”

“In your words, Captain.”

“Fine. Among the Oreseekers—my people—a Logkeeper is a scholar of the Ancients’ knowledge. We preserve the Elesendar’s logbooks and memorize them, so we can reproduce them if they’re lost or damaged.”

“You don’t believe in Elesendar, do you?”

“Huh. That’s right. I’m what you Loremasters call a heretic. You think Elesendar is a star and the god who fathered humanity. I know it’s a spacecraft orbiting this planet, as it has for the last 2986 years. And for the record, Elesendar isn’t the ship’s name. It’s just the phonetic pronunciation of the ship’s registry number.”

“Excellent! Thank you, Captain. Now, can you define ‘mistress’ with the same vigor?”

“Whose idea was this interview? The queen’s?”

“Captain, please. Does it matter? Regardless from whom the orders came, you are commanded to be here and answer my questions.”

“This is why I didn’t study under you people. Loremasters are the worst kind of prude—promoting chastity while you’re starving for lascivious details.”

“You need not be vulgar, Captain. Just state what a mistress is.”

“For the record?”

“Of course.”

“A mistress is a slave, male or female, whose purpose is to satisfy the physical desires of his or her owner. Satisfied?”

“Yes, Captain. That definition was sterile but will do very well.”

“So let me ask you something, for the historical record.”

“Go ahead.”

“What’s my destiny?”

“Oh, how could I know that?”

“Shrine, you people piss me off. You must have an idea, or you wouldn’t have brought it up.”

“Well, how much do you know of the War of the Council?”

“Enough. It was a war between wizards, a thousand years ago. It was fought in Kragnash, which was all rainforest then, but by the end of the war the trees were gone and it had become the desert it is now.”

“Did you know one of the wizards who fought in that war was an Oreseeker named Victoria of Ourtown?”

“Really?”

“Really, Captain. We find the coincidence of this historical fact and your arrival in Latha…interesting.”

“Hmph. Fascinating. Well, since time travel’s impossible, the only destiny I foresee is cutting the Relmlord’s throat.”

“You failed to do that, the last time you had the chance.”

“For the record? Sure, I froze up and the bastard survived. Next time I get to him, he’s dead. You can stick that in your Archive. Are we done here?”

“I’m satisfied for now. Thank you for your time, Captain.”

“Yeah, you’re welcome.”