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Forms of Mental Communication

In many series you will discover characters that possess an unusual form of communication, be that telepathy, empathy, or a psychic link. Most forms of mental communication have limitations based on distance or other factors. Let’s delve deeper into this concept.

  • Empath – an empath is an individdual with the ability to understand or “read” the mental and emotional state of an individual. These people cannot read minds, but might sense when someone is lying or feeling agitated. Some use the term to identify individuals in real life who are sensitive to the emotions of others, but here I refer specifically to the fictional trait. There are studies suggesting that certain animals, like horses and dolphins, possess a form of empathy and are able to sense when other animals, including humans, are experiencing grief or fear.

Most empaths in fiction tend to be born with the ability.

Deanna Troi An example of an empath in television is Deanna Troi, from Star Trek: The Next Generation. She is half Betazoid, a species that can communicate telepathically, but because she is also half human she is only able to read emotions of other non-telepaths. In episodes where other Betazoids or telepaths are encountered she is able to communicate with them mentally. Other famous empaths in fiction include Aquaman, Jean Grey, and others.  (Some in this list may actually be telepaths, and not only empathic).

  • Telepath – a telepath is an individual with the ability to communicate mentally with others, and their communication is typically described as hearing someone “speaking” in your head. There are some who believe telepaths and empaths may exist in reality but the experiments are inconclusive and have been criticized by scientists for lack of repeatability. Betazoids (from Star Trek) are telepaths, as are Vulcans, but they can (usually) only communicate telepathically with others of their species, though Vulcans can use a mind meld to read the mind of another person. This is rarely used as it is taxing on the individuals, and considered invasive. It is most commonly used in cases where verbal communication is impossible due to language barriers or incapacitation.

The source of an individual’s telepathy varies. In some stories, such as the Inheritance Cycle (Paolini) humans can use telepathic powers through magic, while other tales include individuals born with the ability. In many fantasies special sentient creatures exist, like dragons, werecats, and others, that possess the ability naturally.

One of the most well-known telepaths is Professor Charles Xavier, founder of the Professor XX-men (and recently portrayed by my beloved Sir Patrick Stewart!).  In many stories telepathic characters are limited to reading the minds of others and “speaking” to them, but some especially powerful telepaths (like Professor X) can control the actions of others using telepathy. This type of “mind control” borders on Telekinesis, a type of mental power that allows an individual to control and move objects or people. In contrast to Professor X’s mutant abilities is Doctor Strange (another favorite!), who uses learned abilities and magical artifacts to communicate telepathically (with no distance restrictions) and to conjure images, portals, etc. Click here for some other examples of telepathy in science fiction.

  • Psychic-Link – The psychic-link differs from telepathy and empathy in that it is a mental and emotional connection between two individuals only. The link can be created by magic, science, technology, or mutation. The two who are bonded are limited to hearing the thoughts and feelings of the bonded person only. Some examples of types of psychic-links can be found here; (scroll down to see a comprehensive list of linked characters in fiction).

Psychic links can occur in numerous ways. In some cases twins are said to have a special link. Sometimes the connection is developed over time, through a traumatic event, or through a magical occurrence (such as dragon bonding).

bran stark warg

Examples of linked people include Jean Grey and Scott Summers, who eventually became “Mindlink Mates”.  Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time has a psychic link with her brother, Charles Wallace, allowing her to see through his eyes (in a sequel). Several of the Stark children in Game of Thrones are what are known in the series as wargs, people who who have a connection to animals. In the case of Bran Stark, he can become one with his dire wolf Summer, allowing himto essentially share a body with the wolf. In some cases, such as the Vulcan Mind Meld, a telepathic character can impose a psychic link with another individual they would not ordinarily be able to communicate with.

  • Scrying – though not technically a form of psychic communication, I thought it would be interesting to include. (Read the Wikipedia page by clicking here.) Scrying is typically considered a form of magic in which an individual will use magic and other aids, usually a surface such as a mirror, crystal ball, or bowl of water, to observe what is happening elsewhere. In some stories scrying can be used to “transmit” images to another individual elsewhere. Scrying does not include communication between the two individuals (except the limited “sending” of an image, in some cases) though a few tales have included characters who are somehow aware that they are being watched.

 

How Dragons Communicate

  • In The Dragonriders of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey
    • In this science fiction series there are two types of “dragons”, the fire-lizards, and the dragons. Fire lizards are smaller dragon-like creatures that communicate with humans using emotions and brief mental images. The dragons, cousins of the fire-lizards, communicate telepathically with their riders through a bond formed by impression at the dragon’s hatching.
    • At hatching, a dragonet will approach a human and may choose to impress that human, creating a constant telepathic bond severable only by death. The dragons speak to each other and to the Fire-lizards through telepathy. Though they are able to communicate with others who are not their riders, they choose to do so only in rare circumstances.
  • In Eragon, by Christopher Paolini
    • In this fantasy series, dragons communicate mentally with their bonded rider and each other. I have not been able to find a definitive answer as to whether the dragons are able to speak to any human, but I imagine they could if they wished.
    • Unlike the Pernese dragons, the dragons of Alagësia will not hatch until their fated rider is present. They simply know when an acceptable person is near through their telepathic powers.
    • Read the wiki page about the dragons of Alagaësia here.
    • For detailed explanation of the telepathy in the Inheritance Cycle, click here for answers directly from Paolini!
  • In The Speaker of Anglorum, by me!
    • Dragons can communicate telepathically with any human, but typically only choose to communicate with their bonded individual, or people they trust. The sea dragons, bracken, can also communicate sonically with one another. The small forest dragons, wudwincs, can only communicate using images and feelings.
    • The dragon link can be created in multiple ways.
      1. At bonding. A baby dragon will not hatch unless it detects a sentient being able to care for it. The dragonet will instantly bond with the human or its mother, and may choose from among several humans rather than bonding to the first it sees.
      2. A dragon-initiated link. Any dragon can choose to communicate with any human. But the individual may not initiate telepathic communication with that dragon unless that particular dragon has first “opened their mind” to the link. As in the case of a bonding, the human may only speak to that dragon.
      3. By y siaradwr, the speaker. A few rare individuals are given the gift of being able to communicate with any dragon at any time, without the dragon first having to initiate the link.

 

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Sedrick & Eos in Tamworth

            If it the three traveling through the Fyrnwald got along famously, the same could not be said of Sedrick and Eos. Two opposite personalities, both cautious and distrusting of others, both used to leading, they often clashed; they argued about everything.

“I’m telling you, dear, we should split up, so we can cover more ground,” Eos said through clenched teeth.

Sedrick rolled his eyes. “Calling me ‘dear’ doesn’t do much to convince everyone we are a happy couple visiting the capital together, especially if you keep snarling at me. And certainly not if we separate. What kind of man would let his beloved wander the markets alone?”

“Well then let’s get on with it!”

“It shouldn’t be too hard to find an eastern artifact in Tamworth – the king appreciates fine wares. There are sure to be merchants selling something that fits the description. It won’t take long, so you might as well enjoy it.” Sedrick tried to be patient with his companion. He smiled amicably, hoping to disarm her by responding kindly. He received an eye roll for his efforts.

They entered the capital city through the west gate. Eos was used to larger cities, but Sedrick boggled at all the sights and smells that greeted him, and the ostentatious buildings. Everywhere he saw the people of Anglorum, but there were many foreigners traveling throughout the city – they spoke in unfamiliar languages and looked nothing like the people of his home town.

Eos sighed. “Well, what exactly are we looking for?”

“The hermit wasn’t terribly specific, unfortunately. He said to look for some religious object of the Easterman, black with a gold engraving. I would assume it isn’t terribly large, if it is something used in worship by individuals. But it has to be large enough to contain within it some other element.”

“Makes sense. Something smaller like a medallion would probably leave little behind once the exterior was melted down.”

“Agreed.”

The city was laid out in a somewhat circular design, like a wheel with several spokes leading to Tamworth keep in the center, and its monastery beside. Eos turned toward a street that seemed promising and started walking. “I’m hungry. Let’s get something to eat while we search.”

The road she selected appeared to have been a good choice – there were many food vendors with fresh fruit, meat, and other exotic delicacies for sale.

“This looks interesting.” She said to Sedrick as she approached the closest stall. Then, of the vendor she asked, “What is this fruit?”

“This, pretty lady, is a fig. It is sweet and delicious, a staple in my home country.” The fig merchant replied with a thick accent, holding one out for her to examine.

“It looks very nice. I’ll take two.”

“Ah, pretty lady, I make you a deal. You buy three, and I will give four. You can share with your husband. He will enjoy the soft flesh of the fruit too.” He smiled winningly and winked.

“Uh, yes, for my husband. Very well, I will buy three.” Eos handed over the coins and picked up four of the dark purple fruit. She handed two to Sedrick who eyed the unfamiliar produce suspiciously.

“Please, taste, tell me if you like,” said the man.

Eos bit into the soft, dark skin, exposing its bright red interior. Her eyes lit up when she tasted the sweetness and the unusual texture of the fruit. The crimson juice dripped down her chin. She wiped it off, rather indelicately, with the corner of her dark cloak. “It’s delicious!”

The little man clapped his hands together, pleased to have another satisfied customer. “Excellent! When you want more, you come back and see old Behrooz, hmm?”

“Of course. Thank you, Behrooz,” replied Sedrick, uncertain of the way the unusual name felt on her tongue.

The two dragon riders ate the remaining figs as they walked through the market.  The raven-haired woman attracted the attention of visitors to the capital; though she was wearing her cloak, it was obvious that she wore breeches instead of a dress. This simply was not done in Anglorum.

When they came to the traders’ row they realized there were far more merchants than anticipated. They scanned the street ahead of them and tried to see past the milling crowd. There were tradesmen hawking traditional wares: cloth, leather, pottery, trinkets and the like. There was even a shop entirely devoted to selling hats. In addition to the vendors selling local goods and everyday wares, there were also traders selling exotic spices, tapestries and rugs from the east, and other things the dragon riders couldn’t even begin to describe. The street was long and narrow, with booths situated on either side, facing each other.

“Looks like you were right,” Sedrick said.

Eos raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“We might have to split up. There are too many for us to visit them each together and finish by nightfall.” Eos smiled smugly. Sedrick added, “But we need to stay close. We don’t know who may be after us. I’ll start on the left, you start on the right, and we’ll work our way down the row. We need to stay within sight of each other, and not get separated.”

The Thulian nodded her agreement and the two parted ways, Sedrick taking the stalls on the north side, Eos the south. The first few booths Eos came to contained items that were interesting, but not relevant to their search. There was a booth selling spices and herbs (she quickly purchased some rare ones for her sister), one selling elaborate tapestries and various textiles, and one merchant that sold perfumes and oils.

Sedrick and Eos worked their way quickly through the row of merchants, until Eos was distracted by a shady-looking man selling exquisite blades. She picked one up and tested the balance, deftly flipping it in the air and catching it. She spent more than a few minutes trying out various throwing knives and daggers before she selected several fine weapons and purchased them.

The next trader’s booth was more promising – it was run by a bearded Easterman with a deep azure turban and flowing robes. On display he had dozens of unusual objects; pots, urns, medallions, statuettes of horses, figurines of strange creatures, and other items, all for sale.

“Can I help the lady find something?” The man asked. He had a kindly demeanor and spoke with the slight accent of someone who has spent years learning the languages of his customers.

“No, thank you. I’m just looking for now.” The Easterman nodded graciously and became engrossed in conversation with another customer.

Eos scanned the rows of trinkets, her eyes finally resting on an ornately carved box. It was round and about the size of a man’s fists when held togeher. She picked it up to examine it more closely. It was smooth to the touch, quite heavy, and on top was carved the image of two intertwined serpents, each eating the tail of the other. The snakes were gilt with gold filigree. It appeared to have a seam splitting the top from the bottom, as though it should open, but there was no hinge and Eos could not figure out how to open it.

“Sir, what is this?” She held the box out in front of him.

“That is an ornamental sunduq, made of obsidian. The black rock is prized for its durability and smooth shine when polished, and the gold is the purest in all the land.”

“It’s lovely. How much is it?”

The kind Easterman told her the amount – more than Eos was willing to pay without first consulting her partner. “Thank you, I will return.” She replaced the artifact gently on the table and left to find Sedrick. By this time, he was already quite a bit farther down the merchants’ row. It took her several minutes to catch up. She told him of her find and they agreed it was close to the description Rhith had given. They returned to the Easterman’s booth. Eos looked for the black box, but it was not where she left it.

“Excuse me,” said Sedrick. “The box my, uh, wife was looking at, we would like to buy it.”

“I am very sorry, but someone has just purchased it. I have many other fine wares in which you may be interested.” He gestured across his table of baubles and trinkets.

Before the pirate captain’s temper could flare, Sedrick placed a calming hand on her arm and asked, “The man who bought it, what did he look like?”

“He was a tall man, regal in bearing. He spoke my native tongue. I believe he was dressed in brown.” The old merchant lowered his voice to a whisper, “He greatly resembled… Qatal Aleazim. When someone who appears to be an assassin wants to buy your wares, you do not refuse.”

Eos sighed in exasperation. “Are there any like it for sale anywhere else?” She clenched her fists, frustrated that they had come so close to their goal, only to have it snatched from their reach.

“There is another who sells items similar, though mine are superior in quality. Are you sure there is nothing else that will interest you?”

Sedrick could tell the man was loath to lose a sale to another vendor (especially one whose quality he considered lesser) so he tried a different tack. “This brooch is lovely. My…our daughter would love this for her cloak for her coming of age ceremony. I’ll take it…and the directions to the one who has the other black box.” It was a simple silver pin crafted in the shape of an acorn. The Easterman smiled brightly. “Thank you, sir. I am certain she will be most pleased with the gift. The man you seek has a stall at the very end of Merchant’s Row.” He pointed in the direction as he pocketed the coins Sedrick had given him.

“Thank you, you have been very helpful.”

The bearded man bowed in thanks. “Salaam Alaikum, travelers.”

The two riders passed quickly through the crowded street without calling undue attention to themselves. As they walked through the milling shoppers and past the vendors hawking their wares, they thought they caught a glimpse of a man following them – a man in brown. They increased their pace. Sedrick took Eos’ hand so they would be less likely to be separated. Normally, she would have protested, but the sight of the renowned assassin caused her breath to catch, and she remembered what the old man at the inn had said about the assassin only being seen when he wants to be seen. This was an unfamiliar feeling for her. She swallowed nervously and reached for her new knives with her free hand, resisting every urge to turn and confront their pursuer.

The shop they were seeking was indeed the last on Merchant’s Row. It butted up against a wall as though it had been stuffed there at the last minute and set up in a hurry. This part of the market was much more dreary, and there were fewer shoppers passing this way, so the vendor was alone.

The companions laid eyes on the black box at the same time and spoke in unison. “We’d like to buy that.”  They briefly locked eyes.

Their sudden appearance and exclamation startled the short, stout vendor. He had a thick moustache and wore a flat, droopy hat. His appearance was strikingly different from that of the Easterman vendor, Behrooz.

“Ey! ‘Ello! No need to scare me, eh? Maurizio will sell-a what you wants.” He told them the price – which was much more reasonable than what Behrooz had asked – and they agreed. The foreign man picked up the black and gold object as though he thought it might bite him. He carefully wrapped it in protective cloths and placed it in a wool sack painted with a large letter M.

The man squinted at them, examining them closely like he might when appraising an item for purchase. “What makes-a you wanna buy the black box, eh?”

Sedrick fumbled around for an answer – they had not prepared for this part of the deception.

Eos covered for him, “My husband’s father, he is a wealthy man and he wants to impress a guest with a rare and valuable gift.”

“Ah, your guest is an alchemist, then?”

“What makes you say that?” Sedrick asked, raising an eyebrow.

The round man shrugged. “It is bellisimo, beautiful, but it does no open. And that symbol,” he put a finger to the side of his nose, knowingly, “is of the old alchemists who live far, far away. Strange, is-a very strange men.”

The two riders glanced at each other, each silently wondering whether there was any connection to the object and the alchemist Nithard Cyning had hired to “help”.

“No,” Sedrick replied slowly, “I do not think he is an alchemist, but, uh…”

“He collects objects, from throughout the land,” Eos supplied.

“Ah. That makes-a some sense. Be careful, eh? You can no tell what might happen with something like that, eh?”

The two thanked the man and left to find somewhere to stay the night. As they walked they speculated on what the connection might be between the object, the hermit, the assassin, and Maurus Bur Adil. There was no sign of the man who had been following them earlier.

“We should tell Alisdair, he would want to know of this immediately,” Sedrick said.

“Agreed. I’ll talk to Miniog, you find us something to eat. I’m starving.” Eos reached out with her mind to her dearest friend and told him everything that had happened in Merchants’ Row. She received confirmation from her bladed dragon that Alisdair had understood the information, and that he also could find no explanation for the connection. She relayed this information to Sedrick as they came upon the inn.

The Mug and Mermaid was larger and more modern than The Weeping Weevil had been. From the open windows they could smell the scent of fresh meat and vegetables cooking. They salivated, anticipating the hot meal they would soon enjoy. The travelers were famished, having eaten nothing but a few figs that morning. Inside the tavern it was well-lit and swept clean. The establishment was clearly one of the most popular in town, and it gave the appearance of being prosperous and well-liked. The barkeep who greeted them was a round man with a balding head and a thick, yellow mustache.

“An how can I help you fine folk this afternoon? The house special today is our famous beef stew, and honey cakes, hot from the oven just now.”

“Yes, thank you. My wife and I will have a table and some of your fine-smelling stew.”

They went through the usual pleasantries, telling the fabricated story of why they were in the capital, and asking about its inhabitants and the local sights. Their host was effusive in his praise of the king and of life in Tamworth.

“Will you and yer wife be wanting a room this evening?” the innkeeper asked.

Sedrick answered, “We will want two–”

Eos quietly stomped on his foot. “—stay just one night. This seems like such a wonderful place, and we really can’t see it all in one day, so we certainly want a room.” She smiled sweetly, pretending to be a cheerful young wife on a holiday to the capital with her husband.

“A room for the lovebirds! Yer stew will be right up.” The innkeeper slapped the table with one beefy hand and left to tell a serving maid to bring their supper.

Sedrick glowered at his companion. “What did you do that for?” He demanded.

“We’re a happy couple, Sedrick, remember?” Eos hissed under her breath. “If we are being followed by that man it will look suspicious if we rent two separate rooms.”

The rider blushed, and stammered, “I…thanks… that could have been a serious mistake.”

“Yes, it could have, but that’s why you have me here, to help.” She replied smugly.

“You can have the bed. I’ll sleep on the floor.”

It was Eos’ turn to be surprised. She was used to being treated as one of the men (after all, she was a dragon rider and captain of a sailing vessel) and alternatively as a hunk of meat to be drooled over. She had expected to flip a coin for the sole bed in the room. This simple act of decency from a fighting man took her aback. She didn’t know what to say, and after a few heartbeats replied, “I appreciate that. I truly do.”

“Don’t mention it. Ever.”

****

Eos awoke sprawled out in the rather large bed in their room at The Mug and Mermaid. The chamber was nearly twice as large as the one she had shared with her sister and Siri at The Weeping Weevil in Wealdhame. It was nicely furnished and included a small table, chairs, and a long window bench, which Sedrick was currently stretched out upon.

While the pirate captain was used to the bawdy comments of the sailors (which were rarely said directly to her, particularly since she was the daughter of the king and captain of a ship), the deferential treatment and respect Sedrick had shown her was new. It wasn’t that people were disrespectful, but such consideration without excessive adulation was not as expected from a commoner. Maybe she was wrong about him.

The morning light streamed through the open window on the second-story of the large inn and it was nearly fully light out by the time Sedrick awoke. Eos was already prepared for the return to their dragons and had braided her long tresses to keep them neat and out of the way. The plait pulled her hair from her face, giving her a more severe and exotic look, especially when combined with her high cheekbones and sharp nose.

“Morning, sleepy.” Eos tossed a pillow playfully at him. “It’s about time you were up. We need to pick up some supplies and get back to Miniog and Nax.

The dragon rider groaned and ran his fingers through his hair. “I must have…” he yawned, “really needed to sleep.”

“Apparently so,” she smirked. “But I need to eat. That stew was delicious and filling, but not that filling. I’ll go see what’s on the breakfast menu for this morning.”

Eos strapped on her knife belts, sheathed her sword, and went down for breakfast. She neglected to wear her cloak.

The dining area was filled with the inn’s patrons as well as other travelers seeking nourishment. She turned a few heads as she moved through the room, which was not surprising, given her striking features and unique dress.  She found a place in line at the bar and waited her turn.

The bartender, skilled at his trade, barely hesitated when greeting the Thulian woman. “Good mornin’ miss, what can I get for you?”

Eos, remembering she was supposed to be a cheerful wife, flashed him a charming smile and asked sweetly, “Have you biscuits and honey? Maybe something warm to drink, for me and my husband. The stew last night was delicious.”

The bartender beamed. “I know just the thing!” He headed back to the kitchen, absently pulling at his yellow mustache.

While the bartender was gone, a greasy-looking man approached her. “Hey there, princess,” he said, not realizing the irony of his statement.  Eos attempted to ignore him. He persisted, not taking the hint. “What’s a pretty thing like you doing here alone?” He looked her up and down approvingly, as a man might appraise a horse.

Eos replied evenly, “Thank you. You’re too kind. I’m not here alone. I’m traveling with my family…and my husband.”

The man sidled closer to her left side. “Izzat so? Where is your husband? With another woman?” He licked his lips salaciously. Eos restrained the urge to throttle the slimy man.

At that moment the bartender returned. He nearly dropped the tray of steaming food as shouted at the man leering at his new customer. “Nagaem! Leave the woman alone! She’s married, and she clearly doesn’t appreciate your advances.”

“I don’t need your help,” Eos replied through gritted teeth, her eyes never leaving the man’s face.

“I’m sure you don’t, miss, but I do not tolerate this kind of behavior toward my customers.” The innkeeper was indignant. “Now behave yourself, Nagaem, or I’ll have to do something about it.” He shook a sausage-like finger at the man, who was a regular customer and known for flirting with the ladies. Whether they flirted back was another question entirely.

“Aw, come on,” muttered Nagaem, inching closer to the gorgeous woman. “She doesn’t mind, do ya, sugarplum?” He reached out to stroke her thick braid with one hand.

Eos suddenly withdrew a knife from her belt and stabbed it expertly between the webbing of Nagaem’s left hand, which he had foolishly placed on the bar counter in front of her. Having trained with knives for many years, she knew exactly where to stab to immobilize and cause pain without maiming.

The man shrieked, “My hand! She’s cut my hand!”

Eos pressed the dagger firmly into the wood beneath the countertop, damaging its finish. “Don’t. Touch. Me.” She snarled, pressing the knife with every word. Nobody touched Eos Talorc, Princess of Thule, without her permission.

“N-n-no, miss. I’m sorry!”

“Do you know who I am?” growled Eos. “I am—”

“My wife!” Sedrick appeared at her side. “Now, sweetheart, you don’t want your mother to see you with blood stains on your new blouse, do you?”

The Thulian realized now that the tavern was completely silent. All eyes were watching the spectacle of their conversation, tense, ready to take cover if a fight should break out. Sedrick was not a large man, but he was well-muscled and his bearing was that of someone who could handle himself in a scuffle. Wisely, no one dared challenge the rider.

Eos forced herself to take a deep breath. “Thanks for reminding me, darling.” She removed the knife from Nagaem’s hand, glaring at him as she did so. He clutched the bleeding appendage to himself, staunching the flow of blood with a handkerchief.

“Here’s your cloak, dear,” Sedrick said. He draped it over the woman’s shoulders as she grabbed their breakfast and paid the bartender. The dragon rider put his arm around Eos protectively and escorted her from the inn. This time she did not protest.

****

“What were you thinking!” Sedrick practically yelled once he and Eos were a significant distance from the Mug and Mermaid.

She was silent, cowed, a rare occurrence in her life. She had almost given them away. If Sedrick hadn’t walked in when he did…I don’t know what might have happened, she thought miserably.

“Not only did you forget your cloak, but you created a scene and attracted the attention of the entire tavern!” Sedrick threw his hands up.

“Look, I’m sorry, all right?” Eos mumbled. In a rare show of vulnerability, she added, “I’m not used to having to sneak and be under cover, I’m used to slashing and killing whatever gets in my way, or having Miniog do it for me.” She shrugged.

Sedrick’s tone softened, and he sighed. “I know, I know…I just hope your actions won’t have negative consequences. If someone were to recognize us…”

She looked down at her hands, as though they held the answers.  “Sometimes I wish I wasn’t like that,” she said softly. She shrugged, unable to explain what she was feeling.  Sedrick reached out and took her hand. She lifted her head toward him, gazing into his hazel eyes.

“Eos, we were all created the way we are, and for a reason. Some parts of our personality may need smoothing, but who we are at the core is exactly who we are meant to be. Your natural and impulsive response may someday save someone, in a way that your sister’s tender healing arts may not.” He smiled reassuringly.

She smiled back, a sweet rarity. If anyone else had seen the tender scene, they would have believed the ruse the two riders had intended them to believe. Eos blushed.

Suddenly feeling awkward and far too vulnerable, she pulled her hand away from Sedrick’s and searched for a distraction.

“Wait a minute…this is not the right way,” she said, the beautiful smile of a moment ago replaced with a look of irritation.  She realized they had turned down the wrong side street when leaving the inn.

Ever the realist, Sedrick replied, “Nothing to worry about, it’s just a wrong turn. It won’t take long to get back to the west gate and to Miniog and Nax.”

The area of Tamworth where they found themselves was the most disreputable part they had yet encountered. The buildings lining the streets were old and crumbling; they appeared to have been abandoned. The houses made of wood rotted with decay, and those of stone brick were not maintained well, and rough vegetation grew out of any crack it could find. There was nobody on the street, which was odd for midmorning in the largest city of Anglorum.

“Something doesn’t feel right,” Sedrick said, his hand moving toward the hilt of his sword. “Be alert.”

The pair slowly turned around, keeping an eye on their backs, and began retracing their steps. The air was still and quiet, except for the distant din of the market a few streets over. The dragon riders made it to the end of the lane, when a tall man appeared from an alleyway to block their path. He was garbed in dark, finely-made clothes, and his face was concealed. Sedrick tightened his grip on his sword, and Eos surreptitiously reached for her knives.

“You must come with me,” he said in a thickly accented voice.

“We are fine where we are, thanks.” Sedrick replied.

“Not you, her.” He gestured toward Eos with his scimitar. “There is no choice, come or die.”

Eos and Sedrick made eye contact, somehow wordlessly agreeing on what they were to do.

Sedrick made a big show of drawing his sword from its scabbard, distracting the man. He spoke loudly, drawing attention to himself, “I challenge you to a duel, to defend the honor of this fair maid!”

Feigning distress, Eos stepped away from the dueling men and covered her face with one hand as though she could not bear to watch. With her other hand she readied her throwing knives. Sedrick and the man took up fighting stances.

WHOOSH!

The masked man instinctively grabbed his neck, reacting to the searing pain. He pulled his hand away, covered in blood, and then crumpled to the ground as the dark liquid seeped through his already dark robes.

“Good aim,” Sedrick said, his expression grim. He raised an eyebrow as he scrutinized the man’s appearance, prodding the body with a booted foot. He bent over to get a closer look at a clasp in the man’s cloak. “This man wears the symbol of a slaver.”  The clasp was wrought in gold; two diamonds overlapping in the center.

“Are you going to stand there all day with your mouth hanging open? Let’s GO!” Eos said emphatically.

The two strode toward the Western gate, Sedrick with his sword still unsheathed. Eos pulled her hood up to cover her face. As they moved through the streets they noticed men lurking in the shadows of the city, clothed similarly to the slaver they had just killed. They men attempted to blend in with the growing crowd, but they were still observed by their prey.

“Why would they be following us?” Eos swiveled her head from side to side, taking stock of their surroundings.

“I don’t know. Maybe someone sent them after us. Or they could just be seeking a unique prize to take to their master.”

Eos gave him a piercing glare.

Sedrick sighed, “You did catch the attention of some unsavory sorts at the inn.”

Eos ignored the jab. “Keep moving. They’re getting closer.” Knowing it would likely come down to close-range combat, she withdrew her dirk and concealed it beneath her cloak. She removed her hood, no longer caring if she was seen; she wanted to be alert and aware of her surroundings, which she could not do while hooded.

They were mere yards from the Western gate when they were swiftly surrounded by the dark-clothed slavers, seven in all. They were garbed less finely than the man who had confronted them minutes before, but their intent was clear.

Miniog, we need your help! And Thurnaxus! Eos cried out with her mind.

I come.

By now the citizens of Tamworth had taken notice of the exotic woman and her companion, and the uniformed men surrounding them. People pointed and whispered, and a crowd began to form. Someone yelled “Fight!” and nearby shopkeepers hastily hid their wares, closing up shop as even more people gathered to watch.

Eos dropped her cloak and took up a fighting stance – Sedrick did the same. The crowd stepped back a several paces.

“Who sent you!” she challenged.

The nearest man leered at her, “It is of no consequence, there is none who will not pay a high price for you.” Some of the other men chuckled, eying her shapely form.

“Rich men would pay their weight in gold to have such a fierce goddess by their side,” said another. More sickening laughter followed.  People in the crowed chuckled nervously, and their number grew.

Sedrick and Eos were back-to-back now, swords raised.  Sedrick whispered frantically, “I can only take about three. I might be able to keep four occupied, can you take the other three?”

“At this close range, maybe. But, I called for–”

A deafening roar echoed across the city.

“…Miniog.” Eos finished, satisfied.

The deep red dragon landed on the top of the city’s wide wall, her talons causing the edges to crumble. Chaos ensued as the crowd fled for cover. She stretched out her neck and let forth a deafening cry accompanied by a burst of flame, sending a wave of heat over the city. The slavers blanched, frozen with fear.

The riders took advantage of the distraction and attacked the mercenaries, swiftly dispatching two and engaging three more. Miniog landed amongst them and grabbed the nearest man in her mouth. The sickening crunch of bones drove the remaining slavers to action – they dropped their swords and fled, shrieking madly. One slipped in his own vomit, and was soon incinerated by the unrelenting flame of Miniog Cwerthin.

Eos wiped her brow and retrieved her cloak as Sedrick cleaned his blood-stained sword on a tuft of grass. “Thank you, my dear Miniog, you have saved our lives again.” She put her forehead to her dragon’s, sharing her gratitude.

No man shall harm my friend. Miniog purred in satisfaction at a job well done. But we must not waste time. Something is wrong with the brown one.     

Alarm suddenly crossed Eos’ face. The Thulian clambered up the back of her dragon and called to Sedrick, “Get on! We must go now…there’s something wrong with Nax!”

Behind them they left the smoldering remains of the slavers. Eos glanced back to the city where people frantically attempted to put out fires, but one man among them remained deathly still as he stared at the departing riders: Qatal Aleazim.

Fight Scene: Dragon-Riding Pirates

The ringing of the warning bells stirred Alisdair from his sleep.  Groggy, he opened his eyes, wondering if he were dreaming. A lingering fog from last night’s celebration left him unable to focus. Blearily he noted Sedrick’s bed had not been slept in, and he couldn’t remember hearing him return the night before.

Sedrick barged into the bedroom, throwing Alisdair’s riding pack on top of him. “Wake up! They’re back! I told you the pirates would return.”

Alisdair sat up in alarm, hitting his head on the support beams of the slanted ceiling. He rubbed the knot forming on his head. “Ouch! So soon? Anyone we combat should be picking up their wounded for days. The blaggards!” He pounded his fist into his other hand.

“I’ll saddle the dragons; you get ready. We need to get out there now.” Sedrick clambered down the ladder that led from the loft where they slept to the common area of their home, skipping the last few rungs and landing heavily on the dirt floor below.

Alisdair attempted to collect his wits, resisting the urge to grumble aloud. How could they have come after us so quickly? He thought, struggling to adjust his belt. We wounded them severely…are their numbers so great that they could send fresh men so soon, or are they pushing themselves to the limit of physical endurance? In his haste, he put his boots on the wrong feet. When he was finally dressed, he hurried to the dragons’ stables to meet Sedrick and their scaly friends.

His second in command was already there waiting, and the dragons were saddled and harnessed. Emerald green Mnentha grunted excitedly while her brother, brown Thurnaxus, was quiet and watchful. Both were ready and attuned to their rider’s emotions, as they had been since hatchlings, when they chose their riders at first sight.

“What’s the situation?” Alisdair asked, mounting Mnentha and strapping himself in to the saddle.

“Haligg’s message said there were pirates on the outskirts of Amthwaite, attacking the farmland and pastures. If we hurry, we can stop them before they reach the wheat farms.”

By this time, a handful of other groggy riders had gathered around, awaiting instruction.

“Sedrick, you and I will go straight to the fray, along with Selwyn and Roarke.” The named men nodded in acceptance, the one older with thinning blonde hair, the younger a redhead with a full beard and ruddy complexion. “The rest of you, divide into pairs and protect the remaining farms and farmers.”

“We may not have enough men to cover all the crops, sir,” Sedrick reflected. “Perhaps they should prioritize the farms with food crops. We can go a season without new clothing materials, but not without food.”

“Wise words, my second. Make it so, men.” He turned to the soldiers standing closest to him, Torygg and Lar, the youngest riders, “Except for you two,” he pointed at the men to whom he was speaking, “See that the families of the farms most in danger are evacuated.” The pair grunted in assent.

“Let’s ride.”

****

“Watch out!” Sedrick yelled.

Alisdair narrowly dodged an arrow fired by one of the pirates. Then his dragon turned abruptly to avoid the flames from one of his own men, Selwyn, who was fighting nearby on his tan dragon, Fartha. “Close one!”

Sedrick fired back at the assailant, but the arrow was deftly deflected by the pirate, who raised a small H-shaped shield at the last second.

The captain groaned in frustration, “I wish these blighters would land, so I could use my sword!”

“I will see what I can do, Alisdair. Circle around behind the lead dragon there. Distract him.”

Alisdair’s grimace turned to a grim smile, anticipating Sedrick’s plan. He flew in a wide arc, to draw the attention of their opponents. His smaller emerald dragon circled around the pirates’ larger dragon with ease, forcing them to direct their attention away from Sedrick, who was by far the better archer of the two.

Sedrick hung back, trying to attract as little attention as possible, waiting to get a clean shot. These raiders were no ordinary pirates, for they were also dragon riders, effectively removing the advantage Alisdair’s men held over most opponents. The beasts the brigands chose were significantly larger than the more agile mounts of the Amthwaite riders. Each of the black dragons the invaders rode had what appeared to be a small boat in the place of a saddle, similar in size to emergency longboats carried on a larger sailing vessel. Using this contraption, each dragon could carry on their backs four men, strapped into the boat with leather belts and harnesses. If an archer was truly skilled, he could get a clean shot at the vulnerable leather straps holding them in place, but it was a difficult shot. Sedrick Sorensen was known for being patient. Alisdair had the full attention of the pirates on board, but the focus of the dragon they rode was not fully diverted. A moment more and Sedrick would have the shot.

Closer. A little more…a little further…wait for it…come on, Sed!

SHWIF!

Sedrick’s aim was true. He severed the leather strap nearly to breaking. It hung on by a thread, the arrow sticking in the soft underbelly of the dragon. It bellowed in pain and tried to remove the arrow with his teeth. The sudden motion caused the boat to shift on the dragon’s back, and the men hastily tried to right themselves. Sedrick notched another arrow and struck the dragon again in the neck. The animal flapped sporadically, and the ground drew ever nearer. The strap broke with a SNAP. The boat and pirates slid sideways. They frantically unbuckled their harnesses to avoid being crushed by the falling dragon.

“Ha ha! That’s the way, my friend!” Alisdair rejoiced as the raiders leapt from their boat. One pirate still struggled with his restraints, panicking. The dragon hit the ground with a sickening thud, crushing the last passenger.

Alisdair bounded from Mnentha’s back, taking up a fighter’s stance as she bared her wicked fangs at one of the four-legged black dragons. “Come and get me, you brigands! I will show you how real warriors fight!” The pirates dropped their bows and drew short swords. Alisdair laughed, brandishing his own broadsword. “Those kitchen knives are nothing!”

He swung at the nearest pirate, who dodged nimbly out of the way. The man was nearly naked but for a short black kilt around his middle and the indigo war paint that covered his body. Alisdair raised his sword again, and this time steel met steel. The joy of battle was in his blue eyes. Despite the difference in height and sword length, the men were equally matched. It would be a fairer fight if it wasn’t three against one, but Alisdair was fighting two at once without losing much ground. The third pirate, who disappeared unnoticed, approached from the side and slowly raised his smaller sword.             Alisdair saw the movement of the pirate out of the corner of his eye and turned to block the inevitable blow. Before he could react, the would-be-assassin fell to the ground, dead, an arrow in his neck. The captain had nearly forgotten about Sedrick, who was still circling above.  He waved thanks to his second, who always had his back.

Alisdair quickly dispatched the remaining pirate and then surveyed the scene. Small skirmishes were still being fought in the surrounding fields. The pirates he and Sedrick had bested appeared to be the leaders of the landing party. Once their defeat became known, the remaining fighters lost heart, and soon retreated.

The pair took to the air and circled the countryside, surveying the aftermath of the battle. Their foe was defeated, but the damage was done. Fields burned all around them and smoke rose from burnt crops in the distance. The farms on the outskirts of the village were utterly destroyed. This included the fields of flax; there would be no material to make linen for new garments. Some of the grazing pastures were wiped out as well; the sheep would produce less wool as they became hungrier while waiting for the grass to grow again. In the distance, the great pirate ship could be seen retreating across the sea, its captain standing defiantly, gazing in approval at the chaos his men had caused.

“We stopped them,” Alisdair sighed wearily, looking away, “but they did us some great harm.”

Sedrick nodded. “Sure enough. Barley, flax…all in flames. Ripe for harvesting, too.”

“The orchards are safe, it seems, as are the wheat fields. Our people may wish for new garments this winter, but they will not starve.” He wiped the sweat from his brow with a dirty sleeve.

The two continued flying, searching the fields for anyone who needed assistance. Here and there they saw other riders transporting townsfolk to safety, or extinguishing the fires still blazing. Two of the other riders, Roarke and Selwyn, could be seen building a pyre and dragging the bodies of the dead pirates to be burnt. Suddenly, Sedrick groaned.

“What is it?” Alisdair was alarmed.

“The apothecary…his herb garden…it’s been consumed by the flames.”

“Serd!” the captain swore. “We need those plants!”

“Dallbern is a wise man; he will have stores of the most important herbs in his shop in town. I just hope he has enough to last us until the next crop can be grown.”

Alisdair nodded grimly. “Let us pray that it is so. The men will need treatment tonight. Burns will be especially difficult without calendula and lavender.”

By the time the pair finished surveying the damage, the others in their company had returned to the village. Mercifully, a light rain fell, dousing the fires and smoldering fields. Smoke and steam mingled as they headed toward home.

The Historical Context of “The Speaker of Anglorum”

Historical Context of the “Anglorum” Series

While the background is meant to be historically accurate (minus the dragons and blood magic, of course), I am sure there are imperfect elements to be discovered. If you notice anything that seems incorrect, or just not quite right, feel free to comment on it but please share where you found your information or what qualifies you as knowledgeable in the subject area.

Cultural influences

Something you must know about this time, and the world at large, is that no culture exists in a vacuum. Saxon, Danish, Norse, Norman, Pictish, and other cultures intermingled often, making the untangling of the cultural elements difficult at times (for me, at least). Cnut the Great was proclaimed as the King of Denmark, England and Norway in 1016; such cultural mixing was not uncommon during the period. If you do even minimal research into such things as patronymic development (names that denote sonship or clan affiliation within different people groups) you will find the varying cultures and languages influencing each other, making it difficult to pinpoint the origins of certain elements. You will also discover significant overlap in religious practices of the Saxons and the Norse, and even similarities among naming conventions and burial practices (Woden vs. Odin, for example). I have found this somewhat confusing in some instances in writing The Speaker of Anglorum, particularly when trying to keep Amthwaite primarily a Saxon village. I use as an excuse the fact that there was so much borrowing of culture and naming, and that it is highly possible settlers from other areas (and other cultural influences) may have brought with them elements of different languages when they passed through or settled down in Amthwaite.

 

Setting

Anglorum: The location of the country of Anglorum is, essentially, Medieval England around the year 1,000. I have kept the year intentionally vague so as not to limit myself to particular political, cultural, and technological aspects. I generally consider the time of my story to be prior to the Norman invasion (1066). Amthwaite is a small Anglo-Saxon village located on the Western coast of this semi-fictional land, most likely in what would be Medieval Mercia (see map). I have tried my best to include cultural elements that are realistic to the time period, society, and location without confining myself to one particular area or time. Words and names in Anglorum are generally Anglo-Saxon, a precursor to the English language (though other languages have influenced it). I used this dictionary quite a bit in my research.

Map of England.jpg

Thule:   The kingdom of Thule represents a mysterious culture living on an island to the northwest of Amthwaite. They are loosely based on Pictish culture. The Picts were a people group that existed and disappeared, leaving little information about their culture. Some believe they may have originated in Scandinavian countries, and nobody (that I could find) is completely sure what happened to them. Some studies have shown that modern-day Scottish people share genetic material with the ancient Picts, and so it is possible they simply integrated with the local people. One of the things they are known for is painting their bodies blue with woad before going into battle.

According to my research (thanks Dorthy-Ann!), the Pictish language is most closely related to Welsh. Foreign words used by the Thulian characters are Welsh, as are most of the names (though some titles and names came from some of the records that we DO have of the Picts.)

Appearance

 The men and women in Anglorum would likely have been pale-skinned with fair hair and light eyes. While it is likely the Picts did not appear significantly different as far as coloration is concerned, I used the ambiguous “Black Irish” as a model for the look of my Thulian royalty.

 

Housing

Anglorum: The homes in Anglorum are primarily constructed of wood or are what is known as wattle and daub.

house2house 3

Most homes would have consisted of one large room with a cooking pit in the center, open windows, and wooden doors.

Saxon home interior

For the sake of the story I’ve added an additional room to the Sorensen household, so Aedelweard can be out of the way when necessary, and a loft space where Sedrick and Alisdair sleep. Siri’s bed is in the main living space.

Thule: Using records that I found online, I attempted to design a semi-accurate home for the Picts in my tale. Many of their houses (according to what I’ve seen) may have been build of stone, and been round rather than square.

Thule city 1

Cair Dun Foither, the Thulian castle, is built of my own imagination and pictures I’ve discovered online.

Thule Castle

Clothing

Anglorum: I attempted to keep the clothing specifically Medieval and specifically Anglo-Saxon. This article from the Medieval Chronicles was helpful (among others). My parents were members of the Society for Creative Anachronism and so I grew up surrounded by armor, costumes, and other similar elements. A good example of the dress of the Anglo-Saxons can be seen in the land of Rohan, from The Lord of the Rings.

Siri 1

A little girl dressed for a reenactment at an Anglo-Saxon village. This is essentially what Siri wears on a daily basis.

Thule: I took more liberties here, since the people group is a mysterious culture of which we know little. Generally their dress is Medieval, but slightly later in the era, with more lacing and complex designs. I’ve allowed them to use more “flowy” fabrics than would have been readily available at the time.

Other: Some characters are from “The East” and wear garb typical to Medieval Arabic cultures.

Left: An Arab Merchant. Right: An Italian Merchant.

Take a look at these AMAZING paper dolls for great examples!

Government/Society

Anglorum: This article from the BBC sheds some light on typical Anglo-Saxon governmental practices.  Their social system is heirarchical; they would haee Kings, Aethelings, Ealdormen,Thegns, Ceorls (the lowest rank of freemen), and more. Check out this amazing article that outlines the social hierarchy. I did not research these thoroughly before I began (I am ashamed to say) and so, rather than make an error, I chose not to delve to far into the societal workings in my book. Most of the characters in Amthwaite are Thegns and other freemen.

Amthwaite is run by three Ealdormen. In times of great distress, when one leader is necessary, they draw lots to see who will be the primary decision-maker. I forget where I read it, but this was apparently a real historical practice (somewhere – sorry!).

Thule: Again, I took license with the societal system, but attempted to remain true to what little we know of them. The Picts held family and ancestry in high regard. They lived in small communities of families from one clan, lead by a chief. Though they would sometimes raid each other, they would band together to fight a common enemy, and one chief would be elected to lead the enemy. In The Speaker of Anglorum, I refer to the leader of Thule as King, the one who would unite all the clans. Check out this article for more details.

There is some evidence that the succession of rulers in Pictish culture was not always passed from father to son, but sometimes through the female line. Names of Pictish women appear in high frequency on boundary and grave markers, etc. (about a fifth of all names) compared to names of other cultures. I took this and ran with it!  In Thule the line of succession is through “the speaker”, also sometimes known as the Dragonwoman or Dragonmother. This woman has the duty of leading the next generation into harmony with the dragons. Her husband would be chosen from among the nobility of the clan, one who had imprinted a dragon. The daughter of the queen was highly likely to also be a “speaker”, but if she was not (or if she only had sons), another Speaker would become queen and marry the son of the current Dragonwoman.

Military

Anglorum: An Anglo-Saxon village’s fighting force was called a fyrd. It was typically comprised of nobles and freemen (and I suppose anyone the Thegn enlisted!)

Thule: See the comments in the “governent/society” section. The Picts are known for painting themselves blue with woad before going into battle.

 

Dragons

Finally! Getting to the good part!

As I’m sure you’ve realized, I’ve done a lot of research to be sure my book has a realistic setting in which to tell my tale. In that vein, I’ve attempted to imagine the world as it might have been if dragons and other fantastical beings had existed at one point in time. Imagine our modern world as though we live in Middle Earth, thousands of years after the tale of The Ring. Could there have been dragons, magic, angels and Elves? Regardless of whether they truly existed, when you read The Speaker of Anglorum I want you to feel like they could have existed.

I have so much to say about the dragons in my world, it’s probably best you read my article on Dragons and Naming Conventions to learn more.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief exploration of the historical background of The Speaker of Anglorum. If you have any questions or corrections (with sources), feel free to drop them in the comments section!

Men of Character

Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.

-Dennis Prager

Men are great.

No, seriously, I love men. But not just men in general, good men. There are plenty of terrible humans in this world, male and female, but there is just something alluring about a strong and confident man who embraces who he is. We all love Peter Parker for his great skill as Spiderman, but we adore him for his genuineness, his quirky sense of humor, and we empathize with his weaknesses and failures. No great story would be complete without a Sam, a sidekick without whose help the hero would never have left the Shire, or survived going north of The Wall.

In my first book, The Speaker of Anglorum, I attempt to createmale characters that are both wonderful and flawed. The kind of characters that young men can be encouraged and inspired by, and women can admire. Here are some of the amazing men of Anglorum!

THOR.jpg

Alisdair

Alisdair walked back to his table by the window and set his flagon down a little too abruptly, spilling some of its contents as he did so. “What a glorious day, Sedrick!” He enthused as he pulled up a wooden chair. “The men are in good spirits – our performance was excellent, as usual!” He smiled at his friend. The two young men who sat at the wooden table were as unalike in appearance and demeanor as cousins could be. The captain: tall, proud, bright and shining like the sun with gleaming gold hair, vivid blue eyes, and a demeanor that proclaimed confidence and leadership with every move.

  • Age: 22
  • Kingdom: Anglorum
  • City: Amthwaite
  • Occupation: Chief of the village’s fyrd, captain of the dragon riders.
  • Strengths: courage, bravery, optimism, loyalty, confidence, leadership, encouraging, honorable, physical strength, skill in battle.
  • Weaknesses: Arrogance, hastiness, impulsive, overconfident

Sedrick

Sedrick was slight of build, had dark red hair and hazel eyes with a narrow face whose expression was intelligent, calculating, and cautious. They had been friends as long as they could remember. Their differences had benefited them in the past – their strengths and weaknesses balanced each other but also caused frequent conflict. With an exhausted grunt and sigh, Sedrick heaved himself from the table. “I disagree with some of your decisions, Alisdair, and I worry for my sister, but you can count on me to be by your side even when I question your actions.”

  • Age: 20
  • Kingdom: Anglorum
  • City: Amthwaite
  • Occupation: Dragon rider, adviser and second-in command to Alisdair.
  • Strengths: cunning, shrewdness, organized, ability to plan, thoughtful, faithful, honorable, good memory, ability to see the big picture, exceptionally skilled with a bow.
  • Weaknesses: negative, non-social, cynical, inflexible, irritable, over cautious.

Bregdan

Bregdan had always been a timid boy. As the son of the boisterous innkeeper he lived in an environment that was always loud and crowded. He was often asked serve drinks if one of the hired help were absent, but he would much rather read a book, draw, or practice his letters. He never expressed his frustrations to anyone – he knew they would not understand. At present, he sat under a tree near the center of town, daydreaming about being a scribe and someday working for the king.

  • Age: 12
  • Kingdom: Aglorum
  • City: Amthwaite
  • Occupation: apprenticed to the brewer, son of the innkeeper.
  • Strengths: quick-witted, thoughtful, intelligent, loyal, creative eager to learn
  • Weaknesses: timid, lacking in self-confidence, not physically strong, shy

Nithard

“Attention! P-please, e-everyone, your atten-ten-tention!” Nithard struggled to be heard over the din of the frightened and anxious voices. The plump man banged his goblet on the wooden table in front of him, stuttering. “S-s-silence!” Slowly, the chattering subsided as everyone turned toward the sound of the Ealdorman’s voice. He mopped his brow with a grimy kerchief. Direct confrontation was something he was generally against, if it could be avoided. For the descendent of a once famous King, he was rather a timid and unimpressive man.

  • Age: 50s
  • Kingdom: Anglorum
  • City: Amthwaite
  • Occupation: One of three Ealdormen who lead the village.
  • Strengths: cunning, self-preservation, managerial skills, royal ancestry, discretion, attempts to effect change for the greater good.
  • Weaknesses: speech impediment, selfish, opposed to new things, timid, self-centered, primarily seeks his own self-interests, thinks he’s doing the right thing but lacks the self-awareness to see beyond his sphere of life.

Emir

“On my head and on my eyes, it will be done,” Emir replied with a deep bow. If the appearance of the alchemist was surprising to the villagers, it was nothing compared to that of his assistant. Emir was tall, slender, and had skin as dark as coal. Few in the town had ever seen anyone like him, and many people stared, open-mouthed. If he noticed the gawking and the pointing children he gave no indication, but moved quickly to follow his master’s request.   

  • Age: Unknown, probably 30s
  • Kingdom: undisclosed, somewhere in the Eastern realm
  • Occupation: assistant to the renowned alchemist Maurus bur Adil
  • Strengths: honorable, agility, stealth, physical strength, wise, patient, kind.
  • Weaknesses: difficult youth, no family connection,

The Strengths and Weaknesses of Women

A strong female lead is a character who is well written, realistic, and relatable.

In writing prompts people often ask, “Do you see yourself in your main character?” Sometimes the answer is yes, or the MC is a complete opposite of the author, exhibiting strengths she wished she had, and possessing flaws we hope we are never reckless enough to choose. My answer is different: I see myself in all of my female characters.

While it didn’t start that way, my female characters have developed into unique individuals whose strengths and weaknesses are representative not only of my own, but of all women. Some may say there are no differences between men and women (science disagrees), but I think it goes deeper than simple emotional or physical differences — some traits affect men and women differently and have a different outcome. A man who closes himself off from the world emotionally will have a different result than a woman who does the same.

Another common theme is the cry for a “strong female lead.” What does that even mean? Is she physically strong or does it mean something more? Sometimes you’ll see this term applied to a female lead who is aggressive, or violent, or fearless, but I think it can (and should) be so much more. A strong female lead is a character who is well written, realistic, and relatable.

Below you will find details about the women of my novel, The Speaker of Anglorum (working title). Each character is feminine, healthy, and (I feel) representative of many women who live in our world today.

******** SPOILERS ********

Eirian

She had a decision to make: to step forward into the unknown and risk everything she ever loved, or to allow the erosive tide of destiny to wash over her until she grew numb from the constant battering of its inevitable flow. Complacency was not something she was known for.

  • Age: 19
  • Kingdom: Thule
  • Occupation: the speaker of Thule, her island kingdom. She is in line for the throne and is an expert in the healing arts. Eldest daughter of Maelgwn and Rhiann.
  • Strengths: persistence, kindness, gentleness, self-control, desire for truth and clarity.
  • Weaknesses: reluctance to speak up for herself, delaying decision making, often too trusting.

Eos

The raven-haired woman was beautiful in every sense of the word, and the tight riding pants she wore accentuated her curves. One each leg was strapped a knife holster, increasing her bold and daring look. Her green eyes and angular nose gave her a shrewd expression, like a falcon sizing up its prey.

  • Age: 17
  • Kingdom: Thule
  • Occupation: Captain of Thule’s fleet of longships. Younger sister of Eirian.
  • Strengths: courageous, physical endurance, leadership qualities, decisive.
  • Weaknesses: impulsive, blocks others out emotionally, abrasive, often doesn’t consider the ramifications of her words or actions.

Sigrid

The young healer wanted to be certain she was present to welcome her friends home, but particularly Sedrick. She had brushed her auburn hair until it gleamed, and plaited it nicely to one side. She wore her best cloak, the one that brought out the blue in her eyes.

  • Age: 17
  • Kingdom: Anglorum
  • City: Amthwaite
  • Occupation: journeyman apprentice to the apothecary, her uncle.
  • Strengths: devotion, selflessness, hard-working, humble.
  • Weaknesses: lack of confidence in herself, sacrificing too much for others (to her detriment).

Siri

He peered in at the open door of the stable and saw Siri using a long piece of wood as though it were a sword. “I’ll teach you to hurt my friends! You don’t mess with the dragon riders of Amthwaite!” She executed an elegant twirl and a final killing thrust toward her imaginary foe. It would have been marvelous had she not at the last instant noticed her brother at the door. She lost her balance, falling ungracefully in the hay.

  • Age: 11
  • Kingdom: Anglorum
  • City: Amthwaite
  • Occupation: child, the only daughter of Aedelweard, younger sister of Sedrick.
  • Strengths: optimism, loyalty, always looking for the good in any situation.
  • Weaknesses: clumsy, awkward, uncertain

Thank you for reading! While I don’t claim to have all the characteristics of these women (especially the positive traits), I do see a bit of myself in each of them. Women come in all types, and carry their own distinctive beauty, their own set of feminine strengths and weaknesses. I find it encouraging knowing that I am not alone, even in the heroes of a fantasy novel. I hope you will too.

Monster Huntress Character Profile (Guest Post by David Wiley)

Welcome to The Monster Huntress Tour

We’re excited to share with you more about Monster Huntress, a YA epic fantasy by David Wiley. This delightful novel is about Ava, the Monster Huntress, consecrated with her mother’s blood and blessing. But there are a ton of wonderful characters to get to know.

Today we are honored to introduce you to one of the fans’ favorite characters.

 

Name: Edgar Roni

Nicknames: Edge, Eggie

The youngest sibling in his family, Edgar was born and raised in Tirgoth. He has spent his entire life living in the shadows of someone else, whether his older brothers or his best friend, Ava. Most of his time is spent playing Monster Hunter with Ava, usually being the monster that she is hunting down.

Mother: Lucca Roni, Age 43

Father: Folco Roni, Age 47

Siblings: Azaroth, Age 19. Danrod,

Age 17. Lugard, Age 16.

 

Age at start of the story: 14

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Sandy blonde

Slightly short for his age, close to even with Ava in height.

Original Picture credited to Tyler Nix

Education: No formal education, although he has picked up on much over the years of watching his brothers and through playing with Ava.

Motivations: To be noticed and accepted for who he is, rather than being compared to someone else. This includes gaining the attention of the girl he’s been in love with since she arrived in Tirgoth. Edgar also has a strong attachment to Tirgoth and genuinely cares for the safety of the people within its border.

Traumas: Being continuously overlooked by everyone, whether because he is the youngest of his brothers or because he isn’t as skilled at playing Monster Hunter as Ava.

Strengths: His skill with a bow is among the best in Tirgoth. He is a loyal friend and brother. He has a willingness to learn almost anything, being a bit of a jack-of-all-trades rather than trying to master something other than the bow.

Weaknesses: Edgar has no problems seeing himself as being inferior to someone else, even if they are close to equal in talent. His skills with tracking and swordplay are fair, although he assumes the worst about his abilities and that causes him to hesitate too often. He has a massive crush on a girl he grew up with and often places her wants before his own.

Are you adoring Edge as much as we are? Then you definitely want to grab Monster Huntress at the awesome preorder price of $2.99 today.

Like Edge, but want to learn more about The Monster Huntress? Join the Tour today.