An Interview with Caleb

Q: Tell us a little about yourself… Where are you from, Caleb?

A: I was born in the province of Brenton, raised in the castle there. It’s a province along the border. It’s a little less civilized that the central provinces, but the people are decent. My mother was a handmaiden of the Lady, and my father was a traveling merchant that frequented the castle. Both are dead now. I had no brothers or sisters.

Q: How did you become a knight of the Lord of Brenton?

A: Brenton is a small province, and there is a lack of trained fighters, especially being on the border to the wilds. The life expectancy of a knight isn’t all that great, and if only those of noble birth were allowed knighthood there’d shortly be no knights. I worked hard from the time I was a small boy learning to fight, learning the ways of a knight… At least as much as a knight of Brenton is supposed to act. I don’t hold much stock in the courtly ways of knighthood.

Q: So you trained for it, and when you came of age you were knighted? It’s that simple?

A: No. Even in Brenton only the most skilled warriors become knights. I trained my entire life with the swords I carry and I am the most skilled fighter in the Lord Sanok’s castle. I proved myself on patrol, and the other warriors looked up to me. Lord Sanok rewarded that.

Q: These swords… they aren’t the usual heavy weapon of a knight. In fact you are the only knight that uses such weapons as their primary fighting style, isn’t that right?

A: That’s right. The swords I use are very much shorter and thinner than a broadsword. I use two of them to fight. They allow me to utilize my speed and flexibility to its full advantage.

Q: Do you find yourself at a disadvantage against more heavily armed opponents?

A: Never. Force is no substitution for speed and agility. I can cut a man to ribbons before he can land a single blow with a heavy sword. I also carry daggers for back-up weapons, but it’s rarely needed.

Q: This fighting style also causes you to go under-armored, does it not?

A: I wear lighter armor, a combination of stiffened leather and steel plates. It allows for less restricted movements and means that I don’t tire as quickly as a knight in plate armor. It’s much easier when traveling though, and much less likely to attract unwanted attention.

Q: It also leaves you more vulnerable.

A: If a blow lands, yes.

Q: Now you left Brenton to be a candidate for the Witch Knights… Why was that?

A: One of the Knights came to Brenton and stayed with us for a time. He was greatly interested in my fighting style and in my outlook on the world. He asked my Lord to allow me to travel to the fortress of Kaltesh and become a candidate.

Q: Did you want to?

A: No… Don’t misunderstand, it is a great honor, but I had duties in Brenton. I had men that needed my leadership and people to defend. Going to Kaltesh was a… distraction. At the time I also thought it was a waste of time, as I never once believed I’d be chosen.

Q: Then why did you go?

A: My Lord Sanok ordered it. I didn’t think anything would come of it, but it was a great honor for a knight of the province to be chosen to stand in the candidacy. Brenton is a small province, and often overlooked for such things. It would bring my Lord some bit of fame among his peers.

Q: So you traveled to Kaltesh, and you met the Witch?

A: I met Mari, yes.

Q: She had quite a reputation in Kaltesh when you arrived, didn’t she?

A: She was known to be… difficult. She is a very gifted Witch, and very headstrong. She had done everything she could to avoid being paired with a Knight. Even the candidates complained about her attitude.

Q: Yet you seemed to get on with her right from the beginning, didn’t you?

A: We bumped into each other the day I arrived, literally, and it broke the ice somewhat. I think that she appreciated my more realistic outlook on life. Some of the knights from larger provinces can be a little egotistical. In Brenton, like many of the border provinces, we can’t afford to be egotistical.

Q: What do you think of the accusations that the two of you “fixed” your being paired together?

A: It’s ridiculous. There’s no way to fake what happened. Every pairing happens differently, and there’s no way to tell what sign will be given. Even a Witch of Mari’s strength couldn’t have summoned that creature, much less controlled it.

Q: What were you thinking when the pairing was happening? When that “creature” as you put it, appeared?

A: I was terrified. Who wouldn’t be? The ground opened up and a creature that could only be described as a demon clawed its way out of the fissure. It struck out squarely at me and we were unarmed for the ceremony. It would have killed me for sure if Mari hadn’t screamed and distracted it. It made the most god-awful noise I’ve ever heard, and it looked straight at me, like it was looking into my soul. Then the morning sun peeked through the clouds and it vanished like fog. The fissure didn’t close up, it had to be roped off and magically filled a few days later.

Q: What did the Witches foretell from your pairing in that manner with the Witch?

A: Well… nothing good. There was a lot of talk about doom and gloom, and more than a few of them foretold complete destruction. Many of them thought it was due to Mari’s “unrestrained” gift and my “undisciplined” attitude being paired together.

Q: There was talk about rescinding the pairing, wasn’t there?

A: A bit. Sir Colvaer wouldn’t allow it though. He said that it was obvious that the pairing was valid. He believed that Mari and I were meant to be paired, that Fate had brought us together for a reason.

Q: Something else happened that day, didn’t it?

A: Yes… Mari was attacked by a specter of some kind. It was after she’d gone off to her room. I had the strangest feeling and decided to follow her, and heard her scream outside her room. When I got there she was cowering in the doorway. I drew my swords and advanced, but the thing disappeared into the shadows.

Q: Has it appeared since then?

A: Occasionally… It terrifies her… It seems to leave her helpless. It appears with no rhyme or reason, and is chased away with barely any effort on my part. So for now I just try to stay close. We aren’t even really sure what it is, but it can’t be anything good.

Q: What is your relationship like with the Witch?

A: Mari. And our relationship is exactly what it should be. She is a Witch, and she has certain duties to perform. I am her Knight, and it’s my job to make sure she performs those duties.

Q: So there’s no romantic relationship between the pair of you?

A: Mari is my charge. Our lives are twined together for as long as both of us are alive. We’re bound by magic. Some pairs become more, some don’t. It’s frowned upon.

Q: Do you see it becoming more?

A: I can’t say.

Q: Fair enough… What about your fellow Knights. Is it true that you’re an outcast?

A: I’ve always been set apart. Mari and I don’t do things like any of the other pairs. Her gifts make her different, and my attitude makes me an outcast. We aren’t particularly welcomed when it comes to group work, as we’re considered somewhat dangerous to have along.

Q: Is there a reason for that reputation?

A: Possibly… Things seem to go wrong for us… Perhaps “wrong” isn’t the word I’m looking for. It’s more like if anything odd can happen, it does. Coincidences. Strange occurrences. The Weird seems to follow us.

Q: The Weird?

A: It’s what Mari calls our luck. When strange things happen to us, she says it’s the Weird.

Q: What kind of things?

A: All sorts. Dying men find us in the wilderness. We stumble across artifacts in the streets. Weather grounds us near wondrous caves. Our campfire attracts strange beasts. Godlings stop to ask us for directions. We’ve had more odd things happen to us in the short time we’ve been together than most people would experience in a dozen lifetimes.

Q: So what are your current duties for the Witch order?

A: We are… exploring. We are given things that keep us away from the fortress, keep us out of the public eye. We’re kept out of the way.

Q: How does that feel?

A: We don’t mind. Neither of us enjoys the company of our peers. We’re outcasts, and being cast out suits us. Sir Colvaer finds us now and again to keep up on what we’re doing, but for the most part we’re left alone, and that’s how we like it.

Q: How about the people you meet? How do they react to you?

A: They don’t react well to Witches and their Knights in the best of circumstances. Witches are a nuisance, but a necessary one. We hide our natures from people if we can get away with it; it’s just easier that way. When we can’t, people react mostly with distrust, sometimes disgust. Once we were nearly stoned in a village on the border.

Q: Doesn’t the order have laws in place to deal with things like that?

A: Law arrives late, if ever, in the border provinces. We take care of ourselves. I have more experience than most Knights out there, so I have some advantage.

Q: What is in store for your future?

A: Violent and painful death, most likely. It’s the usual end for Witch Knights. That or madness if their Witch is taken first. Nothing about this life is heroic or glorious, despite what the candidates might think when they’re all lined up like pets on parade. I know death awaits me; it’s just a matter of when and how. All I want is to make sure that Mari is kept safe, everything beyond that is trivial.