I'm happy to welcome Olek and Ozena, from The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles by A.L. Butcher. And be sure to go check out A.L.'s big birthday and Valentine's giveaway at her site!
1. How did you meet?
Olek: Ozena came running into my life. Her village was raided by slavers, and her people killed or taken. Ozena herself is a hunter and, fortunately, was in the forest at the time,she ran to my master for help, there was no one else who could have assisted. Elves are not free, even those who live in the forest but not all humans treat us so. We live beyond the law, at least in part. Although my master and friend Lord Archos treats us well and the villagers respect us it is not the case elsewhere. Elves are often taken by slavers simply because they can. It was not the easiest first meeting.
2. What was the first thing you noticed about the other person?
Ozena: He was kind and confident. Most elves, even forest elves do not have that confidence. It was fascinating. Olek didn’t treat me like a child, I was just nineteen summers, and he was genuinely interested in me. I was very upset about what had happened but he made me feel safe.
Olek: Ozena was very pretty, very fresh, like a forest pool. I liked her innocence, but also she was brave, she would not be forced to do something she didn’t like. She even stood up to Lord Archos when he wanted to leave her behind when we went to the city and so it was she went along with us. I cannot imagine how terrifying it must have been for a young female elf who had never been beyond a small village to go to the large human city.
3. Did you know when you met that you would end up together?
Olek: I hoped so. There have been other women, but no one I wanted to spend my life with. When we met it depended on the outcome of trying to rescue her companions of course. If the outcome had been different then perhaps Ozena would have returned to her village and we might not have stayed together.
Ozena: No. It was not at the forefront of my mind. My sister was missing and my neighbours dead or missing, so of course that was what I was thinking about. In my village one did not take a lover, it was marriage or nothing, but times were strange. Everything I knew was gone, and with it some of my innocence. Times change. Olek got me through that terrible time, he was my rock and with him I learned to live for each day. My relationship with Olek and my friendship with Dii are a positive aspect from something terrible.
4. What do you like best about the other person?
Olek: She makes me a better man. Ozena is feisty, I have met my match there! Even now she can sometimes be endearing naive.
Ozena: Olek does what needs to be done, even if it is unpleasant. He also makes me laugh and he is very loyal. I have never met anyone like him.
5. What is something you enjoy doing together? (Besides the obvious!)
Ozena: Hunting. We will ride to the high hills or the edge of the forest and spend the day hunting rabbits or birds. It is a good way to work together, to keep our skills sharp and even risk danger. We’ve killed a bear, boars and wolves.
Olek: What do you think we like doing together (winks)?
6. How has the other person changed you?
Ozena: I think I am braver now. I will try things I had never dreamed I would do.
Olek: I am probably kinder now. Our work can be…difficult. I kill, I steal, I lie but I know that there is a side of myself which is loved for kindness, for being generous and brave. That means a lot to a man like me.
7. What are the biggest differences between you? How important are these differences?
Olek: Ozena is kinder than I am, but she is still very much the forest elf. Sometimes she does not understand the nuances of life with humans, or the life of a city elf. It can cause problems in our work, but Ozena is learning. I am older, and more worldly.
Ozena: Sometimes Olek can be cruel. Not to me, of course, but he sometimes enjoys the darker side of our business a bit too much. His loyalty is to Lord Archos first, then to me. Sometimes that is hard to deal with. I shouldn’t complain, he has been with Archos longer than I have been alive and they are very close, but you know I am his wife.
8. What do the two of you have in common?
Olek: We both like to hunt and explore. We are both loyal and know what must be done. We both like to tumble.
Ozena: (Laughs) Trust Olek to think of that! We are both elves, well he is a half-elf and we have both lost people we care for. We like to hunt, we like to swim in the thermal pools and we both like elven lore.
9. What does your family think of your partner, and what do you think of your partner's family?
Olek: My family is Archos and Dii. Fortunately he cares for Ozena. Dii and Ozena are like sisters.
Ozena: My family is Olek, Dii and I suppose Archos, although I am never quite sure what he is thinking.
10. What role does magic play in your relationship?
Olek: Archos and Dii are mages, and we are adepts. By law we are all illegal, as the possession of magic is forbidden. We are surrounded by magic every day so to us it is important. I would die to protect any of those three from the Order of Witch-Hunters.
Ozena: My sister was a Spirit Child – a magechild who could converse with spirits. Now I live with two mages and the best weapons-master I have ever seen. I did not really understand about adepts before I met Olek. Basically the magic enhances what we can do. Perhaps I would not be so skilled with a bow if I were not an adept.
11. What are your plans for the future?
Olek: We have much to do and many allies to find. There is a war to win.
Ozena: I would like a child but at present the time is not right. We have elves to find.
12. "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts" How is this true for the two of you?
Olek: Together we are stronger. Ozena is much better archer and wild tracker than I am. I am better in an urban setting and at close quarters. It is good to have some else I can rely on to watch my back.
Ozena: I would agree with that. We both possess knowledge the other does not.
Be sure to check out A.L. Butcher's big Valentine's Day giveaway - tons of books to win!
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I am Kyra Halland, author of tales of fantasy, heroism, and romance.
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