When I asked her about secondary characters who tried to have more of a role her novel, she told me of a young boy, Cephas. He not only plays a bigger part than she intended in her SPFBO novel , but, well, I’ll let her explain in her own words…
Little Cephas isn’t much older than ten going on twenty, he lives on the streets begging and sometimes stealing but he mostly steals everyone’s heart. He was meant only as a messenger for princess Erika when news of an invasion is brought to the castle and Erika pays him and his friend to bring a note to the high commander. But Cephas worms his way into the halls of the rich as well as the poor and pops in again in book two, lies his way into life on board a ship and in book 3 pretty much saves a day.
Gardner also sent this excerpt, so we could all see Cephas in action. Enjoy!
Three days after they had rescued Prince Barin, Cephas came to Erika’s door.
“You have a note for me?” she asked the lad. With Barin’s condition, a cloud of depression hung over the castle as if Skotádi had cursed the entire kingdom. Good news would be a healthy reprieve.
“No note. Just words,” the boy replied. His eyes were open wide, as if what he had to say would terrify her.
“And those words are?” she asked.
“There’s a rumor the sailors wanted you to know.”
“A rumor? Why do you worry me with rumors?” she asked.
“They told me you would want to know. Two anglers who were fishing near the island heard a great noise and threw down their nets. One of them hurried along the beach to see who had called out for help. He said he saw a man up on a hill wielding a great sword about as big as this room fighting those winged beasts. The flock became a black cloud and came at him like a twister swallows a farmhouse. The man didn’t win. The anglers saw him fall.”
She stared at the boy, not sure if the reason he came to her was because the rumor was about Arell. Her skin grew cold as her heart slowed. This is only a rumor, she told herself. It couldn’t be Arell. Odd how he was the first person who came to mind, as if the man were continually in her thoughts. She caught herself from falling by leaning against the door frame.
“Are you all right?” Cephas asked. She nodded.
“After the man fell, chanting began, and the skura were taken up into the sky. The men saw natives put the man on a horse and rode off. The fishers thought you and the king should know.”
Erika reached in the purse strapped around her waist and pulled out a few coins.
“Is that all?” she said, breathless, afraid she would faint in front of the lad if he didn’t leave soon.
“That’s all. Just that the anglers were sure this man was important. Maybe a king or someone. Just bringing the message. That’s what they told me to say. Only they didn’t say the sword was as big as this room, I said that because it had to be if he were fighting those monsters three at a time like they said he was.”
Erika listened intently, her heart sinking.
“Thank you, Cephas,” she said as she dropped the silver pieces in his hand.
“Much obliged!” He grinned just before a blood-curdling scream came from Barin’s room. Cephas jumped and looked down the hall. Feeding time.
“Go now,” she told him. He mustn’t know the condition of the prince. No one in Prasa Potama should know. After Cephas raced away down the corridor, Erika felt her head for fever, collected her balance, and left for her father’s chambers.