Quentaris Home.
Main - Quentaris Home.Quentaris.Creators.Authors.
The Ancient Hero - Sean McMullen

A lot of the problems of being a teenager involve getting people take you seriously, even when you are good at something or have something important to say. I thought a lot of readers would sympathise with someone getting this sort of treatment, so I put Corran together. He is fourteen, scrawny, and fences with an iron pipe because he can’t afford a sword, but he is really dedicated, rather like a teenage hacker trying to crack some important system. Even though people do not realise it, he is already very good.

His sister, the student Zelder, has very different problems. She is very bright, but is only seventeen, and did not realise how nasty upper class boyfriends could be until her first sweetheart got her thrown into jail just so his parents would not think he was dating the wrong sorts of girls. Now her worst nightmare has happened, because she is in the care of her little brother. Her parents have sent Corran to Quentaris “look after her and keep her out of trouble”.

The challenge was now to get a happy ending for both Corran and Zelder. There was no challenge at all getting comedy out of their situation, that part wrote itself. Most of the book revolves around the idea that appearances are not always what they seem, and that even infuriating people can help to save the day. Corran’s over-enthusiastic, unstoppable bravery keeps Zelder alive through some very bad situations, while Zelder’s scholarship and incredible memory are what finally saves everyone.

The fencing and martial arts are all fairly accurate, as I tried out most of the moves at the karate and fencing clubs before writing them into the story. Years ago I did actually know a young fencer who could not afford a competition sabre, so he practised with an iron pipe. The story also helped Quentaris develop, as well, because I needed to develop details of parts of the city that were not yet laid out clearly.
An ancient stalker prowls Quentaris. He seeks to destroy a powerful book of spells, and has defeated the Murderer’s Guild, the City Watch, and the City Militia. No one is safe, or so it seems, until a student called Zelder translates a spell that could be the key to his undoing…
Chapter 3: Examination
Zelder lived quite close to the rambling, scattered mess of buildings that was the University of Quentaris. By the time she had washed, dressed and made her way down into the lane, nearly all traces of the fight the previous night had been removed. One of the remaining traces was a witness, and that witness was her fourteen-year-old brother, Corran.

‘Hey Zel, big fight last night, out here in the lane,’ he said as she emerged. ‘One swordsman put five from the Murderers’ Guild on the cobbles.’

‘Good morning, Corran, lovely day,’ responded Zelder.

‘Er, oh, hullo - and this swordsman had the greatest spin-dodge you ever saw! A guildsman charged him, and he parried, dodged, deflected, then he did a sort of hop-step so that he changed the weight on his feet, and tripped the guildsman as he stumbled past. It must be some advanced combat form, he couldn’t have thought of that on the spot.’

‘Why were you getting mixed up in Murderers’ Guild business, little brother? There are big fines for that sort of thing.’

‘Well, you know how it is. I do the laneways at night, watching for fights and learning what I can. I am training to be a warrior, after all.’

‘Father is paying you to learn a trade and be my escort.’

‘True, but you spend your nights studying, and all the best fights happen at night.’

‘If you think I’m going to go wandering the streets at night so that I can attract attackers for you to fight off, then think again. Don’t you get enough fighting in the Sabre Academy?’

‘I can only afford four lessons a week with the miserable allowance that I get from home. Anyway, this swordsman - the stalker, people are calling him - is abroad, so you need to be protected.’

‘Corran, you’re only fourteen. You were sent to Quentaris to learn a trade.’
‘I was sent to Quentaris to guard you. Besides, I have a trade: bodyguard.’
‘With one client, me.’

‘That’s enough to make me a professional.’

‘I’m your sister, and anyway you’re meant to be an escort, not a bodyguard -’
‘Shhh! Keep your voice down. If I’m seen with you, then my status as a bodyguard is maintained.’

‘Status? Corran, you’re a laughing stock! You have a brick tied to each foot and you’re armed with an old iron pipe -’

‘I keep it polished and clean!’ retorted Corran.

‘My brother, the deadliest iron pipesman in Quentaris,’ sighed Zelder.

Zelder and Corran were the fourteenth and fifteenth children in their family. There had been little money left to provide for them after the other thirteen children had been educated, married, and established in trades, so they were sent to Quentaris. They had a small allowance each and instructions to be self-supporting within a year. Zelder was trying hard to establish herself as a translator, but Corran wanted to be a warrior. Since the age of seven he had been practising swordwork with his older brothers, and now he was determined to join the Quentaris Watch, the army, or the militia - once he was old enough.

Suddenly a hand reached out of a laneway and snatched at Zelder’s sling bag, but Corran had his iron pipe drawn before she had even finished shrieking. A circular, rising strike caught the thief’s wrist from below, then Corran looked behind him, saw another thief behind him and spun his pipe in a circle to parry the second thief’s sword before turning to drive the end of his pipe into the first thief’s stomach. Corran drew his pipe into a high parry position as he spun to face the second thief again. He caught a cut on the pipe, kicked the thief between the legs, then took Zelder by the arm and faced the three other members of the Thieves’ Guild who had appeared out of the crowd of onlookers and were regarding him with their arms folded.

‘Six,’ said one.
‘Five,’ said the oldest.
‘Seven,’ said the third.
‘Seven?’ asked the other two together.
‘Nice spin-turn, with his pipe in seconde for a parry.’

‘Should have turned in a crouch, to protect his legs,’ said the oldest.

There was a short silence. Zelder suddenly realised what had really happened.

‘You mean this is a Thieves’ Guild examination?’ she cried.

‘Just the street-sword requirements,’ said Corran hastily. ‘It was for Surprise Attack 2C. The Bodyguards’ Guild would not take me seriously because I’m one third of their minimum weight requirement, so I approached the Thieves’ Guild examiners. The examination fee was a steal at one royal.’

‘And you used me as a victim?’ demanded Zelder.

‘Well you were free, and -’
‘Do you realise I have my translation work for the past month and a rare, ancient book in my bag?’

‘Is it worth much?’ asked one of the thieves innocently.

‘Corran Cartessian, go and find yourself someone else to guard!’ shouted Zelder, who then strode off down the street.

‘Hey, but thanks for helping me to pass Surprise Attack 2C!’ called Corran.

bullet The Gimlet Eye
Equen Queen
Battle for Quentaris
The Spell of Undoing
Vampires of Quentaris
The Skyflower
The Prisoner of Quentaris
Pirates of Quentaris
The Forgotten Prince
Stars of Quentaris
Stolen Children of Quentaris
Nightmare in Quentaris
The Murderers’ Apprentice
The Cat Dreamer
Princess of Shadows
Rifts Through Quentaris
The Plague of Quentaris
The Mind Master
Treasure Hunters of Q.
The Ancient Hero
Angel Fever
Stones of Quentaris
Dragonlords of Quentaris
Quentaris in Flames
Swords of Quentaris
The Revognase
The Perfect Princess
Slaves of Quentaris
Beneath Quentaris

Subscribe to the Quentaris Newsletter

Fontagu’s Folly
Torby’s Terror

Back to Top Site by Elephant Graphics © Copyright 2009