*yes, in all the promos, I called him Zri but I was getting my characters confused. When I went back to my manuscript, I realised my mistake. So here is Zyr.
My face is sweaty beneath the blindfold and I can feel sand leaking into the holes in my boots and catching in my throat when I breathe. I am escorted, by a hand on each arm, from the carriage which carried me from the capital to the rebel settlement. I am led into a building and the blindfold in removed. The room is dim and my eyes a moment to adjust but it is cooler in here, away from the fierce sun.
Seated opposite me on a pile of cushions is a young man, his long hair falling over his shoulders. Zyr tir Miri. I clear my throat, thinking of something to say. Usually, I begin with welcome but I have crossed into new territory here.
“Thank you for agreeing to meet with me,” I say.
Zyr grunts. Obviously, it had not been his idea.
“I just have a few questions for you. We’ll start at the beginning – why are you fighting against the Four?”
His knuckles whiten around the cup in his hand. “They are tyrants. They bring nothing but misery to their people. They help no one but themselves.”
“They are Named by the Sacred Flame of Deshral,” I remind him. “Or don’t you believe in the gods?”
“I believe in the gods,” Zyr swore, making the sign of the trident over his chest. “But how can a flame on earth possibly embody a divine being? It’s blasphemy. An easy way for the corrupt priesthood to control the masses.”
“So it is the priesthood which is to blame, not the Four?”
“Yes. No.” He frowned. “It is both.”
“Tell me about the last Four, the things they did.”
Zyr twirled his cup in his hands, drained it and set it down on the table between us. I force my gaze away from the cup, swallowing saliva to alleviate the scratching in my throat. I haven’t been offered anything to drink, not even water.
“Where should I begin? With the starving children or the enslavement of the people they were meant to protect? The loss of provinces in the east, and the murder of Ereldans? The neglect of their duties or the speed with which they emptied the coffers? The Four bring nothing good. Nothing.”
“And for the past ten years, Erelda has been ruled by a regent. Are you saying there has been no famine, no war, no bad thing, in all that time?”
Zyr faltered. His dark eyes narrowed. “Why are you really here?”
I take a steady breath. “To interview you.”
“Who sent you?” His eyes have narrowed to slits and his thumb rests on the handle of his blade.
“No one.” I pause, trying to think of something that might encourage him to speak freely. “I wanted to hear…to hear you say something I can tell the rebels in Lahiba. Words of inspiration.”
A smile plays at the corner of his lips and he rocks back a little. “Words of inspiration.”
“The Four have been named. People are afraid.”
“Tell them not to be.” He smiles, his teeth shining bright in his face. “Tell our people in the city that the Tribe of Ashes is coming. We shall wipe all trace of the new Four from the face of the earth.”
“Like your mother, Miri, did.”
“Yes, like my mother,” he agreed. “But where she failed, I will succeed. I will enter into the temple and extinguish the heathen fire. And there will never be another Four.”
I nod, but unable to help myself, I ask one last question. “And when the four is gone, what will come after?”
The smile on his face freezes and slowly fades. “After?” he repeats.
“You may want to think about that,” I say.
His features cloud over and he gestures. The blindfold in shoved over my eyes once more.
Next week: the interviews with the folks from Queen of Hearts begin! Don’t forget to vote in the comments. 🙂
Karavere finds herself the heir to her father’s kingdom of Fariel and ensnared in a tangled web of treachery. But unless she finds a way to stop the numberless army marching south, she won’t have a kingdom to inherit.
Hrithur (earlier referred to as Tiemil) is Kara’s cousin. The bastard child of a bastard child, he dwells on the periphery of the court.
Ailig (earlier referred to as Alexandru) knows what it is to be a prince without a country. Forced to flee from their homes a generation earlier, Ailig’s people now rely on the generosity of the Fariliens. And now the same threat that drove them from their homes is poised to attack their new sanctuary. Ailig is determined to make sure his people will not have to flee again.
Anjez is a proud man, a prince of Bashraan…and an ex-slave. He seeks to forge new alliances with Fariel in defiance of his father, the king, but can he truly leave the traumas of his slave past behind him?
Eriden knows forty ways to kill a man with her bare hands. Raised in the slums of Bal Briad, she worked her way up from the child of a whore to the prodigy of the Assassin Guildmaster. But helping Kara defeat her enemy may be Eriden’s hardest task yet.
Gwen was raised with her twin sister, Elia, in the house of their merchant father. For as long as Gwen can remember, they have done everything together. Learnt to fight together. Joined Kara’s Ladies together. But now Elia has chosen to spy in the enemy camp and Gwen must decide where her loyalty lies – with the sister she suspects has turned traitor or with the princess she swore an oath to?