Character Interview with Lady Leta of Aiven
Welcome Lady Leta! Thanks so much for visiting! Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
Sometimes I hear stories of eastern nations, such as wild Corrilond and exotic Noorhitam. I would love to see the sights described by travelers who pass by my father’s door. Some of them I don’t think I believe . . . I mean, could it be possible for an entire palace to be built of gold? I think not! But that is what the minstrels say the King of Corrilond’s palace is like. It is wonderful to consider.
What do you think makes a good story?
While it is perhaps not ladylike for me to say, I love a frightening story that will make the blood rush with terror on a dark winter’s night. My mother never permitted me to listen to such tales, and she would send me from the room if a minstrel began to sing the familiar chords of the song “The Coward and the Pit.” But I sometimes disobeyed and remained in the frozen passage, listening at the door. What a wonderful, thrilling tale! And so sad. So very sad.
Tell us about your family.
My father is the Earl of Aiven, and he is a powerful man among the lords of the North Country, respected by all the earls. My mother is his dutiful wife, and she has borne him five strong sons . . . and me. But even I have uses my brothers cannot fulfill. For I am contracted to marry the future king of the North Country.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
Possibly the moment when my father told me that I would wed Lord Alistair of Gaheris. I don’t know if it was fear I felt so much as dread. I knew nothing of Lord Alistair, only that he was the Earl of Gaheris’s nephew and that some said he would one day be king. And he is to be my husband? What a thought!
What book are you reading now?
I am not permitted to read. Women do not, you know. And yet . . . and yet I often slip into Gaheris library, where the Chronicler teaches me letters and words. So I am learning to read some of the great volumes he has copied. Perhaps one day, I will be able to read them all.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I believe I wanted to be a Faerie princess. But that is nonsense. There are no such things as Faeries.
But I doubt a Faerie princess would be forced to marry a man she did not know. She would turn into a bear or a wild cat, and she would fight anyone who tried to make her do anything she did not wish to!
What are you passionate about these days?
I am eager to learn reading and writing. Even though it is not considered proper occupation for a woman.
What makes you happy?
My reading lessons. Through words and books, I am able to glimpse worlds and meet people whom I should never have encountered in my own narrow sphere of existence. Truly, reading is a form of magic!
What one word best describes you?
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Secretly, I want to rebel. I want to throw off the shackles of family expectations and duty. I want to run away. I want to fight. I want to . . .
But no. I must keep that side of myself in check. I must.
Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?
One day, when I hesitated to answer a question the Chronicler put to me—hesitated because I feared he would not approve of my opinion, he said this:
“Think something, my lady, think something on your own. Not what they tell you to think or what I tell you to think. You are yourself. You are Leta of Aiven. I want to hear your thoughts, for they are neither mine nor anyone else's. Only yours. This makes them interesting."
I had never considered that my thoughts, purely because they are mine and no one else’s, could be interesting or worthwhile. It was a liberating thought! I will never forget it.
I will never forget it . . .
A New Tale Is Added to this Christy Award-Winning Fantasy Saga!
Submissive to her father's will, Lady Leta of Aiven travels far to meet a prospective husband she neither knows nor loves--Lord Alistair, future king of the North Country.
But within the walls of Gaheris Castle, all is not right. Vicious night terrors plague Lord Alistair to the brink of insanity. Whispers rise from the family crypt. The reclusive castle Chronicler, Leta's tutor and friend, possesses a secret so dangerous it could cost his life and topple the North Country into civil war.
And far away in a hidden kingdom, a fire burns atop the Temple of the Sacred Flame. Acolytes and priestesses serve their goddess to the limits of their lives and deaths. No one is safe while the Dragonwitch searches for the sword that slew her twice...and for the one person who can wield it.
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The Twelve came to the doors of Omeztli Tower and their voices carried from the ground to our high perch above.
"Cren Cru commands. Send us your firstborn."
I clutched Tlanextu's arm in terror. I could not bear to lose him! He took my hand and held me gently.
Then we saw a powerful form rising up from Itonatiu Tower. It was Citlalu, our father. He flew across the city, his wings like a griffin's, like a roc's, blocking the sunlight from view they were so vast! He landed before us, and I shivered with fear and love at the sight of him, for he was King. A true King. Not like the foolish little kings we see nowadays wearing crowns, waving swords and scepters, ruling by feeble kinship-rights. He was King of Etalpalli, bound to the realm by his own blood, by the beat of his heart. He was strong as the nation itself, stronger, I thought. The pinions of his wings were like daggers, like swords, and he shouted down to the Twelve below:
"Be gone, back to your master! You will take none of mine into that Mound, not while I have life yet coursing through my veins!"
His voice shook the foundations of Etalpalli. I thought the Twelve would run, would scream with terror, would flee the storm of his gaze.
They did not. They merely turned and retraced their path to the Mound and the concentric circles of bronze.
But the next day, they returned. Once more they called up to the heights of Omeztli: "Cren Cru commands. Send us your firstborn."
Once more, my father denied them.
Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she's not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of HEARTLESS, VEILED ROSE, MOONBLOOD, STARFLOWER and DRAGONWITCH. HEARTLESS and VEILED ROSE have each been honored with a Christy Award.
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