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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 582 Response

Kyran and Friends

with Sarah Ann Watts

Winter Ship, chapter 5: “Ash and Blood” appears in issue 582.

Why is Kyran out cold for three days? He is the victim of a plot, but what is it?

Kyran is drugged and is out for three days because Mireio’s page put a drug in the bath herbs, and the effect is topped off with Khal’s coffee. Kyran’s absence discredits him with the king. After all, he did act as though he were drunk at the banquet, and the king noticed.

Why does Mireio take Kyran with her? Can’t she rescue the child princes on her own?

Mireio needs Kyran’s authority as Lord Protector to gain access to the children. Ultimately Kyran is set up to take the blame for their apparent deaths. He doesn’t see that coming at all. After Garaile condemns him, he is in no state to fight back.

Why does Kyran not shapeshift into his falcon form more readily than he does, especially when it seems convenient?

Princes aren’t supposed to shapeshift. There’s a certain amount of superstition about it due to a legend of a past shapeshifter king. Kyran’s family all know he has this ability, but if he did change publicly at court he’d risk execution as a kind of heretic. Shape-shifting is very much his last resource.

Why doesn’t Majvaz kill Kyran outright rather than cripple him and leave him to die in the fire?

Majvaz can’t kill Kyran without being cursed. He can let someone else do it for him, and he can let someone else kill the children for him.

Khal dislocates Kyran’s shoulder so he can’t fly, hence the “broken wing” effect when Kyran plummets into the moat. Majvaz also does an efficient job of making sure Kyran can’t fly or run, even if he can shapeshift.

If Kyran dies in the fire, Majvaz’ hands are technically clean. Besides, it’s far more sadistic to maim Kyran and leave him to die. And even if by some fluke Kyran does survive, he’ll be crippled and condemned as a murderer and traitor.

Consequently, Kyran has powers he can’t use. When he loses them to injuries, he has to get by without them.

Kyran is ready to drown, but “no one dies of grief.” He would have killed himself before confronting Majvaz, but Garaile takes his knife.

[Don W.] Thank you for the clarifications, Sarah! They’re very helpful.

I didn’t know why Kyran doesn’t just go flying about as a falcon whenever he feels like it or whenever he needs to escape. Since shapeshifting is a strong taboo, we can understand why he wouldn’t do that.

The taboo seems to be a kind of dramatic axiom in the story. Since it’s common knowledge, the characters wouldn’t talk about it, if only because they’d be telling each other what they already know. Kyran might tell us about it with interior monologue, but it might be hard to find a plausible reason for him to do so.

The legend of the shapeshifter king raises questions, such as: Who was the shapeshifter king? What did he do that brought the supernatural power into disrepute? But that seems to be another story entirely.

And poor Kyran! If it weren’t for enemies, he’d have no friends at all.

He was right to be suspicious of his sister Mireio. She contrives to give him a three-day hangover without his even having drunk very much. She thereby leaves him no choice but to flee the court and go with her, ostensibly to help her protect the two princes from Majvaz.

After Mireio transforms the princes and is ready to smuggle them off to the Empire, Kyran is no longer useful to her. She can leave him to be betrayed by Garaile, roughed up by Khal, and sliced, diced and roasted by Majvaz. And now we know why Majvaz can’t yield to the temptation to give Kyran the coup de grâce.

Since Kyran does escape, he must want only to “get out of Dodge,” to quote Wild West films. We can sympathize with him if he feels cynical and depressed. He was born a prince but has become a political football. He’s been disinherited, exiled, used and abused every step of the way. Maybe his luck will change. It can hardly get much worse. Or can it? We shall definitely stay tuned !

Copyright © 2014 by Sarah Ann Watts
and Bewildering Stories

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