The following interview of Woden, saint of Wodenberg, gave me a case of the chills.
I'm sure glad L. Blankenship was there with me.
In the world of Disciple, saints are kir-mages with godlike power. Their magic is fueled by kir, which rises from the earth in founts. These rare sites are jealously guarded by saints, who build kingdoms around them for further protection.
(Saint Woden strides into his private den atop the mountain and takes a seat in a massive chair. Rams and stallions carved into its every surface glare back fiercely, the glass beads in their eyes glittering. )
L: You said Wodenberg doesn't have a throne. “The king doesn't sit on his ass”?
Woden: (snorts) This isn't the kingdom's throne. It's older than I am.
L: (with a slow nod) Okay. Now behave yourself for Huntress...
* * * *
Huntress: Saint Woden of Wodenberg, correct?
Saint Woden: (shifts in the chair) Woden will do.
Thank you for coming to chat with us today. Why do you think L. Blankenship chose you to represent her? She told me I was asked for, and that this was owed after all that passed in the story of Disciple. Whatever else you say of me, I see to my duties. So here I am.
Tell us a little about yourself? I ascended to sainthood and claimed the fount on this mountain some two and a half centuries ago. Perhaps three? (shrugs) Memory charms are not my domain. I freed my people and made this kingdom with the aid of my sworn brother, Saint Aleksandr. That is why Wodenberg bears my name, why this mountain bears my name, why its kings are my bloodline.
What is your birth date? (pauses for a long moment and starts cracking his thick knuckles thoughtfully) I was born soon after Winter Solstice. Mother wept in anger, she told me, when she found herself pregnant. There's few steady patrons for whores with children. But the moment I was in her arms, she loved me and couldn't toss me out in the snow as she'd meant to.
Where do you live and what about that area drew you? Much of the time, I am either at the fount, here at the top of the mountain, or in the castle advising the king. The fount must always be guarded; it is my source of kir (magical fuel) and thus priceless. Any saint would kill to claim a fount.
Will we be seeing more of you or are you stepping out of the lime light? I'm never far from those who serve me. When this war requires me, I will be there.
What do you do to relax? (he glances around his den, which is rather spartan) Saint Aleksandr's crafting is a wonder to watch. And he never fails to make good conversation. Or now and then I'll walk among the goodfolk, unknown, and share a few beers with strangers.
Tell us about the war, what are the positives? I would see Suevia freed from the Empire. It is an old score, true, and few now alive remember why, but I would have it in my kingdom. This Empress from the south has insulted us, threatened us, and now thinks we'll crumble quickly. She'll see we aren't to be trifled with.
Do you believe in ghosts? (Woden considers that for a long stretch.) No. Dead is dead. Those that haunt me do it from within.
Why should readers be interested in your story? It's little matter to me, what others think. Focus on the young disciples – Kate and Kiefan, and Anders – and let me see to my duties.
You recently found out about the romantic tangle those three are in – what do you think of that? Kiefan is a fool to pursue her. He knows his duty is to seal our alliance to Caercoed with a marriage, and he will do it – or I will replace him with disciple who will. A royal birth does not require me to give any man or woman the crown to my kingdom, and I will not risk this kingdom, my fount, or my life on a boy's romantic whim. Kiefan did right in seeing that she's married to another, and that's the end of it.
* * * *
Blurb: Kate fought for her place as a healer in the war’s front lines. Serving her homeland has been her goal since her magical gifts earned her a coveted apprenticeship with the kingdom’s greatest healer. She believes she’s prepared.
But nothing’s simple when defending a besieged capital city — or her heart.
She loves the prince, who means to protect her even though his duties as a knight keep him on the battlements, fighting the enemy’s monstrous army.
Kate’s husband is the one who checks on her, lingers over dinner, and slowly but surely charms her. She’s all too aware that her beloved prince threatened to kill him if he touches her.
As the enemy thunders against the city walls, the kingdom needs more from Kate than just her healing magic. All disciples must put aside their tangled feelings and stand in the homeland’s defense.
Kate believed she's ready for a war. She isn't.
Excerpt from Disciple, Part III
(Kate and her teacher, Elect Parselev, were readying the infirmary near the city gates. The enemy army is just outside, preparing its first attack.)
Atop the tower, a yell and the catapults thrummed, sending loose shot over the wall. The crews were at them in a heartbeat to winch the long arms back down. I looked back to the royal company at the foot of the towers and saw half the horses standing with riders, half without.
“I must…” I began, looking about at the rows of cots, the stacks of bandage rolls waiting. The nurses and orderlies stood waiting, too, watching the wall as I did. Waiting for someone to bleed. “Should the orderlies be in the gate towers?”
“When the rhythm’s set,” Parselev answered, though that only puzzled me.
“Is Saint Woden here?”
“His concern, not ours.” Through his hand on my shoulder, I felt kir pulse into me and my next breath came easier, deeper. “Take a little more.”
“But you —”
“Drew all I could hold from the Pool this morning. Don’t worry.”
The catapults, once reloaded, shot again. The tower’s trumpet announced something new and behind me, on River Road, orders were shouted.
From the tower came a scream: “Cover! Cover!”
A black cloud rose over the city wall, peaked and began to fall. My feet froze as the arrows plunged toward me, hissing, striking the kir shield and shivering from the effort. They thudded everyplace else, on wood and earth. Then men scrambled up from under their shields, on the wall, and resumed their work. I realized the enemy had largely missed; our archers were further up River Road.
From there came an order: “Loose!” Our smaller flock of arrows answered, cresting lower over the parapet above the gate itself and vanishing.
And again: “Cover! Cover!”
The cloud rose more sharply, this time, and fell onto the wall and towers. Screams followed. But still, the moment the storm passed, they were up again. Most of them. Our archers answered, as well as the catapults.
“Orderlies!” Parselev shouted. “When their next volley falls!”
Thers were ordinary men, most of them Saint Aleksandr’s disciples, who’d taken an oath to serve the Mother and Father through serving others. No armor, not a sword among them. When the next cloud of arrows rose over the wall and thudded down, our Thers sprinted for the nearer gate tower with their sling stretchers. They made for the open door and vanished inside.
Those of the royal company who’d stayed with the horses were out of the saddles and holding the animals close to the lee of the towers. There was a space in the shadow of the gate itself where arrows weren’t falling, and they’d sidled into it. Impossible to see if Anders was among them — I couldn’t make out the details on their tabards at this distance, and there were a few dappled greys among the horses.
There should’ve been another volley, but it didn’t come. Someone shouted, “Elect!” behind us and my teacher’s hand left my shoulder. I turned, spotted a wagon-driver with an arrow-studded friend slung on his shoulder. My frozen feet thawed; this was something I could help with at last. And our Thers would be back soon enough —
A thud against the city gate shook the earth. Then a second. Lower and heavier than any thunderbolt. Horses screamed. My mind shot back to the earthquake at Ansehen and my blood turned to ice. The third blow shuddered the massive timbers and I looked to the gate towers, searching for cracks, for falling stones. A clutch of the warhorses bolted across Wallside Street, torn loose from their knights.
Our enemy knocked. Like a giant.
Thunder answered thunder. Lightning struck, danced white-hot as a knot of brilliant kir landed on the parapet above the gate. The man within was only a faint silhouette, and further vanished in the glare as lightning swirled around him. Kir arced from the mountain above, massed into a brilliant wall before Woden’s hand, and slammed down upon the enemy. The earth shuddered and wood tore, rumbled in collapsing.
After-spots whirled in my eyes, but I saw a squire running, half across Wallside Street already, chasing the fleeing warhorses. Gregor — paying no heed to the arrows peppering the ground and the danger.
“Loose!” the archery officer hollered, and a volley launched over the wall. Woden stood above the gate, his hair nearly parted by the low arrows, and folded his arms across his chest as he surveyed his handiwork outside.
On sale now! See the list of retailers