Tomatoes and chamomile from my garden.

I’ve read a lot about world building in fantasy lands. Of course, there’s systems to figure out: government, social classes, transportation, money…the list goes on. But for me, one of the most vital components in creating the Land of Ath-o’Lea was where its population got its food.

There’s the usual places: shops and markets in cities, towns and villages. Like in the old west, supply shops on the trail, where travellers stopped, picked up the necessities, usually food, and carried on, are also found in my stories. I call them keeps. Depending on location and how busy it is, there may be an inn, tavern or a place to camp on site.

Given the Land of Ath-o’Lea is in an archaic setting, it’s easy to surmise many inhabitants grow their food. Those in the city may be dependent on the supply chain, but all other areas possess some form of gardening. Not only does it fit into the world, I love gardening, so it gives me a chance to talk about it.

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My Castle Keepers series has grown immensely since I published the first book in the series on May 6, 2012. Shadows in the Stone introduced readers to several main characters and a host of supporting characters. Although most of them are ingrained in my brain, it might be difficult for readers to keep up with who’s who.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. There are dozens of characters.
  2. I’m a distracted writer who doesn’t release a book every year (that’s going to change right now).

To refresh the minds of readers and to give new readers a place to refer to, I’ve decided to show case one character a week. In addition to explaining their role in the series, I’ll add additional information, such as where I found their name.

Bronwyn Darrow

In short: Dwarf, male, born and living in Maskil, swordsman, at the start of Shadows in the Stone, he was a corporal with the Aruam Castle guard.

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Scattered Stones

The Castle Keepers: Book 2

Released May 6, 2016

Prologue

The ancient dwarf could find no mate to match her. The Elderkin say she searched all of Ath-o’Lea without finding him. A fierce storm struck, and she took refuge behind a rugged stone. For three days and nights, the storm raged on, ripping trees from the ground and hurling large branches into the air. The ancient dwarf kept dry, warm and safe in the crevice of the stone.

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Jack Somerled

Human, explorer, first appeared in chapter 09 of Scattered Stones

“Knavesmire!” The rough voice hacked the name as if it were phlegm.

Jack Somerled’s ears twitched, but his body remained relaxed as his fork poked a potato and lifted it to his mouth. From his corner seat in the tavern, he had a clear view of the scraggly group of mixed-raced men hoarded around a table slinging ale and feasting on plates of meat.

“If he avers to have journeyed there, he’s peddling featherless fletching.” The heavily bearded human chuckled.

“I stated not that he’d journeyed,” said a hauflin, “only that he’d seen it.”

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Lord Dirck Landis

Human, lord of Aruam Castle, first appeared in chapter 05 of Shadows in the Stone

The door slammed and Lord Dirck Landis jumped from his chair to see who had entered. Two of his senior guards dragged a prisoner into the room and tossed him against the wall.

“My Lord,” Corporal Franklin motioned towards the tattered elf sprawled on the floor. “He is suspected of using magic within the town walls.”

“It was ignite powder!” the young man shouted. “Harmless!”

“Witnesses claim otherwise,” said the guard.

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Kellyn Mulryan

Dwarf, sword fighter, prisoner at Blackvale Castle, born Glen Tosh, first appeared in Scattered Stones.

“Stop!” shouted the guard. “You can’t go in there!”

Kellyn ignored the quackpod and kept running. As she drew water from the well in the courtyard, she had seen Merk cross the open balcony and enter his study. He had been absent from Blackvale Castle for several days, and this was the first opportunity to inform him of the tragedy that had occurred to his favourite prisoner.

She reached the door, flung it open and raced inside. Merk stood admiring a painting on the far wall. He glanced in her direction but remained silent.

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Emerson Wheatcroft

Human, cartographer, born Maskil, lives Wandsworth, first appeared in the short story “Destiny Governed their Lives”.

Emerson Wheatcroft neatly scrolled the word Goshen near the circle representing the village on the map. He blew gently on the hide to quicken the drying time. It had taken him a fortnight to reach the labelling phase; the customer required it to be practical yet pleasant to the eye.

He rested in his chair and admired his artisanship. At this point—with the mountains, rivers and settlements dotting the landscape—he felt satisfied. The labelling was a mere detail, an important one, but one many people achieved successfully.

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