This is a character interview with King Alekseidir, Father of King Vladdir—protagonist of Jennifer Rahn's #fantasy Wicked Initiations, Legends of Temlocht I.
Vladdir, King of the underground Temlochti State, is cast out into the Desert when his kingdom is invaded by Aragoths—strange soldiers controlled by the Sorcerer Ilet, who has made no demands and is destroying everything without reason. On the brink of losing everything, Vladdir gives in to a curse that fills him with cannibalistic desires, and gains him access to the capricious, dark magic of the Desert. With his new powers, he overwhelms the nearly indestructible Aragoths—but finds that Ilet was not the Aragoth commander at all. His true enemy is the mysterious Desert Priest, who taps into Vladdir's curse to ensure the King will never know peace, and to make him pay for the near obliteration of the Aragoths with all he holds dear. There is only one way out—to set free the Pure Continuance of the King who roamed the Desert before him.
“SEN BYRNAE!” he roared, trying to funnel his anger against the building lust. “BYRNAE! I NEED YOU NOW!” He sat up and took in a great breath of air to yell again, and his vision faded out. Not to black, as it usually did, but this time everything washed out to white.
“My Dear. King. Alekseidir.” Sen Byrnae had finally entered, clapping in mock appreciation. “Look at you. This time you’ve managed to fall out of bed.”
Aleksei realised how pathetic he looked. Wearing a white nightshirt stained with sweat, half his hair falling out of his braid, unshaven, he stood on one foot while suspended between two servants who held his arms and a third who had one of his legs.
“You insolent pig. I’ll have you whipped.”
“Certainly, My King. If you can muster the ability to give the order. And then, I wish you the best of luck finding another doctor who will tolerate your tantrums. Put him back in bed, will you? And change the sheets. It smells in here.”
Aleksei gasped and wrenched against the hold of the servants, who released him as soon as he was over the bed. He felt another of the energy pulses surging within him and turned his face into the pillows, hiding the changes that would be crossing his features.
“I can give you more laudanum,” said Byrnae.
“No,” Aleksei rasped through the pillow. “It’s the blood. Take the blood.”
“Why the blood? And what blood? You hardly have any.”
“It’s the blood that curses me! Take it, I tell you!”
Character Interview. Written by Jennifer Rahn
“Welcome to Ink & Magick. I’m your friendly neighbourhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you today?”
My visitor takes a few unsteady steps forward before pulling off his hood with a bony hand. I blink as he moves into the light, and his face resolves from something rotten into that of an older, once-handsome man.
“Who am I?” he askes dazedly.
“My King Alekseidir,” I reply. “Father of King Vladdir, who also walks in the Shadow.”
He chuckles as I take his arm to lead him to one of the chairs waiting along the walls of my shop.
“Am I still he? Sometimes it’s hard to remember.”
“Tea?” I ask, and he nods. When the steaming cup is warming his hands, he looks up at me again. The half of his face that rests in darkness still appears skeletal and dead.
“You offered me a spell. I have need of one that can break a curse.”
I leant against my workbench, my arms folded, waiting for him to continue.
“I once drained myself of blood. That was the only way I could escape the hunger the Desert Wizard had placed on me.”
I shuddered, remembering the tales I had heard of Sen Vernus, and the dark magic that he mixed with science. A curse rendered by him would have been horrible indeed.
“And that is how you came to be dead. The Undertaker.”
“I cannot cycle into the next life while this affliction sits upon me. Whenever I again have blood, the purple venom will consume my will, and fill me with unnatural hungers. Its weight also fell upon my sons.” His expression collapses in grief. I’d heard rumours that he had eaten his two eldest. “Can you break the curse, Lady?”
I had not anticipated such a heavy request upon opening my shop this morning. Break a curse set by Sen Vernus? Would the Old One come after me if I did? Surely, he’d become aware of my meddling. And yet…I would have the gratitude of King Alekseidir, and all the Yrati Priests with their Red Ghoulish masters who would push back the Heat of the Desert with their Water magic.
Vernus did not like rivals. Better he if were removed. I picked up my pestle and began to crush herbs.
Jennifer Rahn is the author of two dark fantasy novels, Wicked Initiations and The Longevity Thesis (Dragon Moon Press), and two science fiction novels, The Cyanide Process and Dark Corridor (Bundoran Press). She has also published short stories in several anthologies, including Podthology (Dragon Moon), Tesseracts 18 and 19 (EDGE), and Blood & Water (Bundoran). While not writing, Jennifer researches brain tumours at the University of Calgary.