Elsabeth Soesten is always in trouble. Her comrade-in-arms Brother Hieronymus has just dragged her into a deal with the Abbot of Friuli to recover stolen church property, but what began as a simple good deed (with a bit of church coin as incentive) soon finds the pair swept up into a conspiracy against the Prince-Bishop of Bremen. Trapped between an agent of the Bishop on one hand and the Abbot on the other, the only way out is to unravel the Abbot’s plans and find out just what they have to do with the reclusive Baron of Leyen.
And just maybe they can work their way out of the whole mess with heads still attached and purses a little fatter.
We have with us Elsabeth Soesten, protagonist of the fantasy novella No Good Deed…. Accompanying her uninvited is Brother Hieronymus of the Olivian Order, who has rather brusquely pushed his way past security with a tankard of ale in one hand and wielding his staff of office in the other.
Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Hieronymus: There was no greater moment in my life than the day I took my vows and was made a Brother of the Order of St. Olivus.
Elsabeth: It was quite a feat indeed, and I am still wondering what secrets you hold over whom to coerce them into admitting you.
Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Elsabeth: It is a private matter, and I have no desire to speak on it.
Hieronymus: Though I imagine it must be found either at an ale tankard’s bottom, or while yours is upturned to whichever passing minstrel catches your fancy. I, however, have found contentment in the austerity of my service to God.
Elsabeth: Which he makes up for with one debauchery after another every time we make town.
Q: What is your favorite occupation?
Elsabeth: I would love nothing more than to hang out my shingle and establish a fencing school of my own. Unfortunately there is a little matter of the Schwertbrüder, who take their control of the Boehman scholas very seriously and have already made their disdain for my existence rather clear, and would not deign to admit me by any rank into the guild.
Hieronymus: Judging by our reception in Tuebingen it seems they are but one part of a very large majority.
Elsabeth: I told you that was a misunderstanding!
Hieronymus: As I recall the story that was told, your “misunderstanding” very nearly sparked an all-out feud between the baron and the landowner whose daughter his son was due to wed.
Elsabeth: I had no idea he was the baron’s son! And you are the last person who has any place chastising me over such indiscretions. Need I tell them the story of how we first met?
Hieronymus: Pay no heed to this harpy’s slander! I hold my vows closely to my heart.
Elsabeth: It is certainly easier to hide them at the sight of a pretty face that way…
Hieronymus: As for myself, aside from my fruitless endeavors to keep my dear Tetty here on a righteous path, I am already content as I am, shepherding the souls of the people and bringing the word of the Lord of All as I wander under the dictates of my Order.
Elsabeth: And of course you will not complain if it puts a bit of coin in your purse and leads you to every tavern and nunnery in creation in the meantime.
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
Hieronymus: Elsabeth clings to that sword of hers like a babe clings to his mother’s bosom.
Elsabeth: At least I have something I hold dear.
Hieronymus: Bah! I have my faith and my vows.
Elsabeth: Which you discard should a laywoman so much as glance in your direction.
Q: What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Elsabeth: Can we move on from this please?
Hieronymus: Too many anonymous minstrels from which to choose, my dear?
Elsabeth: Say another word and you will find yourself two heads shorter. And I will begin with the useless one below your waist.
Hieronymus: Well, someone is rather testy today. Perhaps it has been too long since one of your scandalous liaisons.
Q: What is your most marked characteristic?
Elsabeth: It is my sword and the incongruity of a woman carrying it that draws their eye first more often than not.
Hieronymus: Really? I would have thought it was the attention you call to your finer assets by the manner in which your hose clings to your limbs and posterior.
Elsabeth: At least the looks I get are ones of approval. When last you wore hose it looked like two overfull sausage casings.
Hieronymus: Well, if we must speak of approval, let me at least thank you for all the times you have chosen to take the lead along the road, for it certainly improves the monotony of the scenery.
Elsabeth: If you do not remove your right hand from my asset before mine finds my sword, you will not be getting it back and will have to work your crozier with your left from now on.
Q: When and where were you the happiest?
Elsabeth: Soest. A long time ago.
Hieronymus: As I have said before, I am quite content wherever I wander, as I have the good work of the Lord to fill my days with meaning.
Elsabeth: And the bed of every woman from here to Navarre to keep you warm.
Q: What is it that you most dislike?
Elsabeth: Tournament fighters. Preening and arrogant pirouetting fools the lot of them. Russdorffer and his disciples are among the worst, though at least they might offer some sort of entertaining minstrelry after a few rounds of ale. Ludovico da Lucca, however, could not keep the most base of simpletons entertained.
Q: What is your greatest fear?
Elsabeth: That when I die I shall be punished for all my sins by being forced to endure Hieronymus’s company for an eternity.
Q: What is your greatest extravagance?
Hieronymus: I am a servant of the Lord of All, I have no place in my life for extravagances.
Elsabeth: Mostly because no sooner are we paid after we finish a job than he is off to the taverns to spend it all on ale and whores by sunrise the next day.
Q: Which living person do you most despise?
Elsabeth: Hieronymus, depending on the time of day. He is particularly insufferable during his occasional bouts of piety when he chooses to chastise me over where I make my bed, as if he is in any position to judge.
Hieronymus: I am merely looking out for the good of your immortal soul, my dear Tetty. Someone must since you seem to hold it in such poor regard, hopping from pike to pike and stirring up the wrath of wives and mothers wherever you go.
Elsabeth: And yet it never stops you from trying to entice me to sit on your pin for a spell.
Q: What is your greatest regret?
Hieronymus: All things in life are a part of the Lord’s plan, thus I have no regrets, for whatever comes is as it should be.
Elsabeth: I do not wish to speak on this.
Hieronymus: Having trouble remembering his name, are you?
Elsabeth: If you wish to press me, right now it is in ever having joined up with you, and any more words from you on the matter and you shall be regretting it as well.
Q: Where would you like to live?
Hieronymus: The tenants of my Order call for me to wander, so who can choose one place when one has the open road and whole wide world for his home?
Elsabeth: And yet when we are on the road he does nothing but grouse and grumble about when we will make the next inn.
Hieronymus: Well if you must insist on pestering me for a favorite, I think it would be the fair seaside city of Lucca in the Free City-States, where the waters are blue, and the company kissed by the sun and most welcoming.
Q: What is the quality you most like in a man?
Elsabeth: I am quite discerning when it comes to men—
Hieronymus: Yes, her foremost concern would be: “Has he a pulse?” And then I suspect even that would not necessarily be a disqualifying factor.
Elsabeth: That you do not fall within my tastes is no reason to belittle them.
Hieronymus: My dear, half of Boehm falls within your tastes, which you seek to sample and placate at any opportunity, and the very sight of a man with a lute in hand makes you salivate in the most unseemly manner.
Elsabeth: Me unseemly? Need I even mention what manner of “ministrations” you perform when the laywomen kneel before you?
Hieronymus: Blasphemous harpy! I am a servant of the Lord of All, and I never sully my vows with such base depravity.
Elsabeth: I stand corrected, you need not debase your vows to find willing conquests when you need but visit the local nunnery and have them much more affordably for a bit of coin.
Q: What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Hieronymus: I try, but Lord help me, I cannot reach this woman! The path she sets herself upon will only lead to damnation in the next world. Ever with the drinking and fighting, and debauching herself for whatever passing man catches her fancy! It is the sad state of youth in this age that they abandon God in the name of decadence and sin!
Elsabeth: Yet who was it that I saw taking his “indulgence” of the daughter of that shepherd who hired us to run off the fellows poaching his herds a week back? If you have any one vice in abundance to match your piety, love, it is your hypocrisy.
Q: What do you most value in your friends?
Elsabeth: For all his faults, Hieronymus is loyal nonetheless, and try as I might he will not leave my side no matter the danger. Even if such valor is often misplaced it is still welcome at need.
Hieronymus: Tetty has a good heart inside her exquisite breast. Oh, she has her mercenary moments, but is softer for a good cause than most hired swords in this day and age I assure you.
Elsabeth: Must every compliment you give me include an appraisal of my figure?
Hieronymus: I am merely answering the question with the honesty and thoroughness it deserves, as it is certainly one of your virtues for which I am most appreciative.
Q: Who are your heroes in real life?
Elsabeth: I will always hold in high esteem my late master and mentor, Paulus von Soest, the greatest swordsman in Boehm.
Hieronymus: Far be it for me to dispute your knowledge on this subject, my dear, but Soest for all his skill was but a student before the mastery of the great Leonardus, with whom I had the privilege of studying in my intemperate youth.
Elsabeth: Leonardus was undeniably talented, but I find his focus too narrow for my liking. The sword is only the beginning of the art, and is incomplete without study of the polearm, dagger, and wrestling to supplement it.
Hieronymus: Hmpf. Well, we can at least agree that neither of them is that flailing imbecile da Lucca.
Elsabeth: That I would drink to.
Q: What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Hieronymus: For Tetty it would be chastity.
Elsabeth: For Hieronymus it would be humility. And piety. And cleanliness. And…
Q: On what occasions do you lie?
Hieronymus: I am a servant of the Lord of All, my word is unsullied by the spreading of falsehoods.
Elsabeth: Which is itself a lie.
Hieronymus: And why should they believe you? Every time you open your mouth your tongue waves falsely.
Elsabeth: Because I at least am honest about my dishonesties, and will admit that should the occasion call for it I will let a little honey on my tongue do its work.
Hieronymus: Well, that is a truth, a least.
Q: How would you like to die?
Hieronymus: In God’s Grace, of course.
Elsabeth: But he will in all likelihood expire on the floor of a nunnery.
About the Author
Hello! I’m a St. Louis native and die-hard Cardinals fan (go Cards!), and have been writing something or other since the late 80s and into the 90s. I first developed an interest in fantasy with the release of pretty much the best adventure game of all time: Sierra’s Hero’s Quest (or Quest for Glory after the name rights confusion with Milton Bradly’s board game). I still wasn’t reading much of it myself yet (I wasn’t even in my teens yet when QfGI was released) but I just fell in love with swords and magic, and mythical worlds.
I remained a tremendous nerd all through Middle School and High School. And now it’s time for me to be cliche: I was in either my Sophomore or Junior Year when my dad put the Lord of the Rings in my hand, and I got hooked. I finished the Hobbit and the Trilogy, and moved on to the Silmarillion. Then he handed me the Sword of Shannara and I went about finishing the original Shannara Trilogy on my own, and picking up the Scions series. I discovered Goodkind next, but of course Tolkien remained my favorite, and even more than ever I wanted to create a world of my own.
After several starts and stops, all that work and dreaming culminated in the release of my first book, the novella No Good Deed…. I am currenlty working on a follow-up novel, Bait And Switch among a number of different projects
In addition to my writing I am also something of a 3D modeller, and some of my work will be available for viewing on this website. I do have a small interest in game design (mostly because no one makes the sort of games I want to play anymore) and would love to explore that industry as well, with a couple different ideas including a game set in the world of my novella.
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this sounds like an interesting read … I very much enjoyed the character interview!
Thanks for the post. I enjoyed the interview.
What project do you think you’ll complete first? It looks like a lot to take on at the same time, hope book 2 Bait And Switch is among the first.
The draft for Bait and Switch is finished and I’m currently working on finding a publisher for it, so that will indeed be the next one up on the block.