Character Interview with Keshlik from STORM BRIDE by JS Bangs

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When Saotse rode across the treacherous ocean on an orca at the bidding of Oarsa, Power of the Sea, the blind maiden believed she had been chosen for a great destiny. But she hasn’t heard Oarsa’s voice in decades. Aged now, she has found her place among a peaceful, long-lived people, though her adoptive sister, Uya, still blossoms with youth. Then, pregnant Uya is kidnapped, and the rest of her family is slaughtered when an army of mounted warriors strikes the defenseless capital, leaving Saotse grief stricken and alone.

After Saotse finds refuge with strangers in a distant village, a new Power makes contact. Saotse embraces the opportunity to bury her bloodthirsty enemies in vengeance, but wielding the Power’s bitter magic could cost her everything she is.

As war escalates and allies flock to her side, Saotse believes she finally understands Oarsa’s purpose for her. But the Powers may have set events in motion that even they cannot control, and the fates of gods and men alike hang in the balance.

Reporter: Hello, I’m reporting for Prasa Evening News, here talking with Keshlik, war leader of the Yakhat. Please don’t kill me.

Keshlik: Oh, I never kill reporters. Some of my best friends are journalists.

Reporter: That’s reassuring. So, Keshlik, will you introduce yourself to our readers?

Keshlik: Hello, everyone! I’m Keshlik son of Keishul, leader of the war bands of the Yakhat, and I’m really excited to be here today. This is going to be a big year for me and the Yakhat warriors, and I think that things are looking up for us.

Reporter: As I understand, you’ve had a tough winter but have big plans for this spring.

Keshlik: Oh, yeah, BIG plans. Lots of pillaging—but I’m getting ahead of myself. This winter was a little difficult for us here in the Yakhat tribes: we have to slaughter all of the people living in the mountain passes in order to have room for our herds, and we weren’t sure where we were going when the snows melted. Most of the people living on the east side of the mountains were prepared to fight us off, and weren’t happy to have us as neighbors—

Reporter: Is that a problem you face a lot?

Keshlik: Call it an occupational hazard of the nomad warrior lifestyle. It was gonna be tough for us to go back east, but the west side of the mountains was virgin territory for us, so we’re moving that way. It’s a special opportunity for us.

Reporter: Do you have specific plans now that you’re coming down the west slope of the mountains?

Keshlik: In the short term we’re going to do the usual, plundering the small villages and farms that we find, and trying to get a feel for the geography. Supposedly there’s a big city further on south. It’s been a while since we’ve done urban warfare, and I think our younger warriors will find it a nice change of pace.

Reporter: I’m from Prasa, you know.

Keshlik: Is it nice there? I hear you have good beaches.

Reporter: If I tell you, will you refrain from plundering us?

Keshlik: Probably not. I guess I’ll have to find out about your beaches when I get there.

Reporter: Right… maybe I should take this information back to Prasa.

Keshlik: Don’t make me take back what I said about not killing reporters.

Reporter: So, enough about Keshlik the warlord. What can you tell us about Keshlik the man?

Keshlik: . Well, I got married a few years ago, which was a big change for me. My wife, Tuulo, is just fantastic. I don’t know what I would do without her. And I’m happy to announce that she’s pregnant.

Reporter: Congratulations! When is the baby due?

Keshlik: In about three months. Ironically, the baby will be born right in the middle of fighting season. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to take some time off for the birth.

Reporter: Has the new baby been a big change for you?

Keshlik: There’s all the taboos for pregnant women, the isolation, the sacred salt, the blessed circles of the goddess Khou, etc. And our midwife is a terrible ball-breaker. But Tuulo has done pretty good so far. As for me… becoming a father has changed my perspectives a little bit.

Reporter: How so?

Keshlik: A lifetime of slaughter and pillaging is nice and all, but eventually a man does want to settle down. I’ve been thinking about retiring after this next campaign, maybe spending some more time with my wife and kids. My brother should be ready to lead the Yakhat soon…

Reporter: Are you worried about what this means for the future of your people?

Keshlik: My brother is a little green, but hopefully that won’t be a problem. And as for me, with a baby and a retirement on the way, what could possibly go wrong? Wrong for me, I mean. Obviously things will go wrong for our enemies.

Indeed, what could possibly go wrong? In “Storm Bride”, two womens’ lives are changed by Keshlik’s invasion, and all three of their fates become entangled in strange and dangerous ways.

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  1. Thanks for inviting me over, guys! I hope you liked the interview and the book.

  2. fun interview

  3. Nikolina says:

    Enjoyed reading the interview, thank you!


  1. […] An interview with Keshlik at Long and Short Reviews. […]

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