“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”
The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.
“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”
As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “He quite quotably described himself in the fourth of the Wilderhark Tales novellas thus:
I am called Gant-o’-the-Lute, by most. Lute only, by my friends. Jackillen, by my dear beloved. Minstrel extraordinaire, by anyone with any musical taste to speak of. And far less pleasant things by those who’ve had occasion to meet more than their match in myself in this field or that and were inclined to be rather sore sports about it.
“Welcome, Lute!” Will greets the minstrel in blue now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – what are your thoughts regarding the multiple people who have seen you on the cover of your latest book and assumed it’s a girl?”
Off-camera, Allyn buries his face in his hands. Lute’s eyes, meanwhile, flash a bit over-bright, but the fingers softly tickling the strings of the lute in his lap never tense. “It’s bothersome,” he says coolly, “but I suppose they are not wholly to be blamed. I was an uncommonly pretty lad.”
“An aesthetic you’ve yet to outgrow. Now, though I just now called it ‘your book’, the fact is that it contains a number of stories, only three of which feature you. Tell us a bit about those?”
“Certainly. Chief among them is the titular tale, ‘The Sky-Child’. It follows me from my infancy through the daring escapade that would later land me in the middle of the infamous Seventh Spell – all of it excellent, though in my opinion, it’s not ‘til I make the transition from child to minstrel that the story really starts to sing. Somewhat literally.” He smiles. “The narrative is interspersed with original songs.
“The second story of which I’m a part is a companion to ‘The Seventh Spell’, offering perspectives on the adventure not seen during Book Three of The Wilderhark Tales. And the third, the collection’s finale, serves to echo the poem at the book’s opening, as well as matters touched upon in ‘The Sky-Child’. Prepare to shed tears, Scarlet; I happen to know you’re an easy cry.”
The corner of Will’s mouth crooks upward. “I’m an easy lot of things. A slight switching of gears: Of the stories in the book that don’t include you, which is your favorite and why?”
“Hmm,” Lute hums, his inner eye skimming the table of contents. “‘Skie Welduwark ’.”
Will blinks. “Was that English?”
“Welken, actually, as is the story – an account of the genesis of earth and Sky. I’d have given much to be there,” he says wistfully. “How marvelous would it have been to watch the world first awake? Oh, the songs of it I’d sing!”
“And well worth hearing, they would be,” Will concedes. “One last thing I’d like to hear from you, if you please. Tell me, Lute, what is our mutual author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He bats his lashes. “Or would you rather kiss me?”
Lute’s laugh rings ‘round the stage. “Now, that would set you crying. I’m too much for you, Will Scarlet, and I think you know it well. That leaves secrets to tell. What shall I disclose?… Mm, not the most mortifying.” He shakes his head. “She’d not soon forgive me, and I’ve need of her yet. A deep secret, then: As an author, there are truths of her to be found in near every character she writes. But of all those who populate her Wilderhark Tales – and though I would have once been mortified to admit this is so – I believe she is most like me. Not in musical skill, mind you, or in most skills at all; she’s far beneath me there. Yet in spirit, we have much in common. Far too much. Though she’s got it the worse,” he says, his smile as bright and sharp as sunlight, “for I less often bother to play at what you call ‘being nice’.”
“So I’ve had opportunity to observe,” says Will. “Hey, Allyn, how ‘bout a quick word from our sponsor?”
“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “was brought to you by Danielle E. Shipley’s ‘The Sky-Child and Other Stories (A Wilderhark Tales Collection)’, Book 6.5 in the series.
Born into a world his heart knows as beneath him, an extraordinary boy becomes a man of music, hopeful that someday he’ll find a way higher.
As the first day dawns, a world comes awake, order and disorder striking a dangerous balance.
Under the stars, a princess and tailor trade age-old lore, little dreaming of the future that could trap them in the past.
All of it in, around, and far above the timeless trees of Wilderhark, the forest whose secrets reveal themselves slowly, if ever at all.
Tales of beginnings. Tales of quests for belonging. Most of all, tales of true love.
Once upon a time, you knew something of Wilderhark’s tales. Now for the stories that fall in between.
“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thanks to you as well, Gant-o’-the-Lute. And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”