Character Interview with Journey

The Artifact of Foex by James L. Wolf

Cover for The Artifact of Foex“Your name is Journey, right? That’s an odd name. Why don’t you tell us about it?”

“Well, my goddess, Pelin, gave me that initiate name during my very first lifetime–”

“You have more than one life?”

“Yes, and stop interrupting. My people, the Flame, reincarnate and remember our past lives, thanks to our goddess. In any case, I was given the name because I like to travel, but this week’s been rougher than I usually prefer.”

“What do you mean?”

“Where to start? I came to the city of Wetshul to consult on an archeological dig. The graduate students were digging in dirt that used to be lucid mud. What people don’t realize in modern times is lucid mud was a preservative: living creatures didn’t die when they fell in, they just went to sleep. I came to Wetshul—which is an anti-Flame kind of place—because I knew what was buried at the dig site.”

“Like what?”

“A lecherous spy, now three hundred years old, who was buried with a powerful relic called the Raptus. It’s an ancient, magical mind-control device from when Magicians existed on our planet, Uos. Not something myself or my colleagues wanted in circulation with new technology like telephones and nuclear weapons around!”

“Wait… the spy was still alive?”

“Yes, because lucid mud is a preservative.”

“Sorry. I’ll try to keep up.”

“The graduate students at the dig site had just as much trouble with the notion, I assure you. You should have seen them when the spy woke up—they kept screaming and bumping into each other. Anyway, my colleague Knife and I wanted to take the Raptus somewhere safe, but the spy and a graduate student named Chet Baikson kept arguing with us. We were struggling with the Raptus, and—bam!”

“It blew up?”

“No, it did something it had never, ever done before, not in its whole four-thousand year existence. It tied us together with some kind of energy, so we couldn’t go our separate ways. Abyss, for the first few minutes we couldn’t even let go of the Raptus, it had us so tight, which was a problem because it was about to rain.”

“Rain is a problem? What, you don’t like getting wet?”

“Knife and I are Flame.”

“What does that mean, exactly?”

“We’re shapeshifters who bathe in fire, and we also have an intense chemical reaction to water. On the outside, anyway. So Knife and I were about to burn to death at the archeology dig site. It’s not a pretty death, either. We would have fizzled and screamed while our skin bubbled off.”

“What did you do?”

“We ran as a group, of course. Found a nice prostitute to take us in, got out of our wet clothing… and there we were. Two Flame, a resurrected spy, and this innocent, virginal graduate student who’d never realized he liked both men and women. Or Flame.”

“Oh. I see.”

“Then came all this travel, intrigue and a couple of mysterious murders; we were caught in the center of this whirlwind. It’s been a rough week.”

“Wow. I have a ton of questions, but it sounds like you could use a stiff drink! Would you care to join me? Not to be too forward… I mean, we just met, but…”

“I’ll take you up on that drink. At your place, say? Remind me of your name again…”

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