Thrust into a world of intrigue and mystery, of violence and struggle, is Nicolai, a fascinating player in the fantasy epic Sons of Chenia. He is an amnesiac and refugee, a character whose past and future remain uncertain. Yet his values – loyalty, courage and selflessness– along with his strengths – intuition, knowledge and fighting skills – make him a force to be reckoned with when faced with an impossible task: to protect his people from an invading empire.
Hello, What is your name?
Nicolai, of Sarbin, son of Victor.
Does your name have any special significance?
I can’t remember. At times, I think it does. Perhaps it was my mother’s father’s name, or her grandfather’s. Or the name of a great Shepherd my family admired, who like so many others ranged the lands of Chenia to protect his people. Though such speculation usually fades from my memory after a while. When it does, my mind is emptied and I am left with nothing. Only the present matters . . . and the future of my motherland and her people.
Where were you born and where do you now reside?
That much I do know. I was born in the City of Shepherds, Sarbin, in Chenia. Though my country has no official capital like Czaria or Maricania – due to the nomadic lifestyle of our ancestors – all my people consider Sarbin to have been the center of culture and politics. That city is gone now, its ashes and bones the only remnants of the Purge that claimed it. Now, my closest comrades and I live in Knight’s Harbor, a bustling port city on the western coast of Maricania. We manage a living as hired hands, like nearly every other Chenian refugee who has made it to the shores of Knight’s Harbor. The Maricanians, for their part, would rather not have us there but for our cheap labor and nothing more.
What internal battles do you struggle with or what would you like to change about yourself?
I struggle with remembering. My recent memory remains intact. Recalling my childhood and adolescence is a different story altogether. Fragments of my past ebb and flow through my thoughts. No matter how hard I try, I can’t control it. Sometimes, I wish I could recall everything. But I stop myself from such yearnings because I know from the bits I have that there is much pain in my history. So time and again I convince myself that it’s for the best that I don’t remember.
Do you have a personal creed you live by?
I always try to help others before myself. Many preach this mantra. I try my best to practice this belief, for I know how hard this world can be. The streets of Knights Harbor are especially tough for my kind. There is too much suffering allotted to my people. I consider myself fortunate, for my health is still good and I am well enough to work. Those who can’t have little hope for a better future. So I extend to them what I can, be it a spare coin or a loaf of bread, however hard such items are to come by for my friends and I.
What are you most passionate about and what do you despise most?
I’m passionate about the hidden and lost parts of my country’s history. I have a special inclination to our writings, in particular the sacred text of my people, the Passages of Ada. Its prose and poetry speak to me at all times, and I find solace in the construct of its sentences and beauty of its words.
As for what I despise . . . may Ada help me, I hate Czarians. They are a plague upon my people. Because of the Purge, my generation has had to grow up overseas, as strangers in a foreign land. It may well be that way for the next generation, and the one after that. As if that legacy wasn’t bad enough, the Czarian aggressions have renewed with a more intense vigor. Now the Czarians desire to wipe us from our land altogether. They claim it’s in defense of their borders. But I know the real reason: Czarian uranium. They want to mine the lodes from our land and bleed every resource from our country until there is nothing left. I despise their greed. I loathe them.
What else should we know about you?
I want to grow old in a nation where my people can be free. That may be in the motherland, Chenia. Or it may not. But I will die trying to make that dream a reality.
When and Where is your tale set?
In a time not so distant from yours . . . probably reminiscent of your 19th century. My tale takes place in a variety of settings: Maricania, Chenia and Czaria. Maricania is much like the United States during the early days of the Industrial Revolution, while Chenia and Czaria are like czarist Russia.
Who shares in your adventure and how are they important to you?
My friends – Petrov, Leo and Fyodor – also refugees, have remained steadfast in their resolve to protect Mother Chenia. We share a flat in the Chenian ghetto at Knight’s Harbor, as is custom, for the Maricanians charge our people such high rents. Then there is Dmitri, also a comrade, one we have not seen much of in Maricania. Yet he is one who has joined our cause and braved the journey across the Tartic Ocean with us to the shores of our home. These comrades are more than friends. They are my family.
Then there is one I met when I returned to Chenia. Her name is Katerina. She is a fair maiden. Yet she is also brave and strong. Every word she offers is comforting, every glance my way is a treasure. Granted, my time with her has been short. Oh, but how I have valued it! As a defender of my people, I have not yet contemplated how she fits into my future. If I should dare to hope though . . . well, you can use your imagination.
What is it you seek to achieve, change or create?
I, along with my brothers-in-arms, want nothing more than a safe home for our people. One for those Chenians who have not been expelled from their country and a place that those abroad can return to, without fear of persecution.
What challenges or obstacles stand in your way?
An empire. The mighty nation of Czaria, led by their Premier Stalgrave. The war machine he has created is well-known in my world, as is his most seasoned, battle-hardened general, Morgard. Together, with their army of Czarian Guards, they present an unmatched danger, a new monster. We face the task of defeating an enemy so much more organized and powerful than ourselves. Yet win or lose, in life or in death, we choose to fight, to stand against their tyranny until we can stand and fight no more.
What inspired you to this course of action?
Call it sympathy. Or pain. Or fatigue at seeing so much suffering. Mostly, though, I just wanted to do something rather than stand aside and watch my home be destroyed.
What else should we know?
There is more to my story than grief and blood. There is hope. Fellowship. Love. The tale of our journey and actions, our dreams and prayers, is one all can appreciate, because so much of it focuses on the human condition.
To discover more about Nicolai Visit
Author Joshua Rutherford has wanted to be a writer all his life. Through college and the more than dozen jobs that he has had, his passion for the written word has never ceased. After crafting several feature film screenplays and television pilots that were never produced, Joshua tried his hand at writing a novel. Sons of Chenia is the product of that effort. When Joshua is not writing – which isn’t often – he is spending quality time with his young family, who currently reside in San Diego, CA.
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