In this interview with Quinn Tyrrell, Deborah Cooke asks about hereditary roles for the Pyr.
DC: Hello, Quinn. I understand you’re the Smith of the Pyr – what does that mean?
QT: The Smith repairs the armor – that is, the scales – of the Pyr. It’s a hereditary role, so only the son of a Smith can become a Smith. It’s also a learned role, because the son of the Smith has to learn about the forge and develop his skill, like any armorer, in order to do the best work possible.
DC: Is there only one Smith at a time?
QT: It tends to work out that way. Generally, the oldest son of the Smith will become the next Smith. I had four older brothers, though, all of whom trained with my father. They all were killed, however, when I was just a boy. I ultimately became the next Smith without the benefit of my father’s training, by honing my innate skills and training with human blacksmiths.
Like so many artisanal crafts, there’s the physical challenge of learning the skills -of working with the iron and the forge and the hammer – but also a mystical elements and arcane knowledge to give the work power. I had no one to teach me that knowledge and thought it was lost forever with my father’s death.
DC: Then how did you learn it?
QT: I was lucky, in that the Wyvern saw fit to send me some dreams which put me in touch with my father and his skill. I couldn’t have learned those things without an apprenticeship with a Pyr Smith, and although the connection is tenous, I’ve managed to learn a great deal more this way, because of Sophie’s gift to me.
It makes me a better Smith.
And being with Sara makes me a better Pyr.
DC: Do you ever have to choose between your immediate family and the greater Pyr family?
QT: All the time. It’s the hardest part of my role, I think. I don’t want to ever put Sara in danger, but usually my fellow Pyr need their scales repaired in the midst of their firestorms. That means Slayers and that means trouble. I can’t leave Sara home, not now that we know the dragonsmoke barrier can be crossed, because she’d be undefended. I have to take her with me, right into danger, and you can imagine how happy I am about that.
DC: Probably not very happy at all.
QT: When she’s pregnant, it’s worse. My protective urges are at full power as soon as I sense she’s conceived, and that’s usually the time I also feel a firestorm brewing.
DC: Is Sara afraid to go?
QT: She understands my commitment to the Pyr, and that my skills are imperative to them. What’s interesting is that as our relationship has evolved, we’ve changed sides on the argument – I used to insist that I had to go, but as our family grows, it’s now Sara who says we have to go.
We work as a team, and it’s a good team, good for both of us.
DC: What about the other traditional roles of the Pyr? Are they hereditary, like that of the Smith?
QT: Well, there aren’t that many roles any more, given the loss of our formal hierarchies and social structures in the Middle Ages. Only vestiges remain of what was once our society.
Sloane, for example, is the Apothecary of the Pyr. My understanding is that he earned that ancient role because of his talent for healing and his knowledge of the lore. You’d have to ask him whether there can be only one Apothecary or not. It’s possible that the Apothecary was once a hereditary role that mutated into an apprenticeship due to some Apothecary’s lack of a son. I’m not sure, but Sloane would know.
Erik is, of course, the leader of the Pyr. While this role isn’t hereditary in strict terms, it was his father who first created and held that role. Erik would have to have been a pretty lousy leader to have not stepped into that role.
But then, our numbers are so diminished. We don’t have as many candidates and opportunities as once we did. All the more reason to make more Pyr.
DC: Speaking of which, I was talking to Niall about affinities. Can you tell me about yours?
QT: I have an affinity with fire and with earth. But because of my time at the forge and maybe because of my role as Smith, I have stronger control over the element of fire than my fellows. I can take an assault of dragonfire and withstand major injury. It’s a case of mind over matter, and I’m trying to teach the other Pyr to have more control over their own link with fire.
DC: And earth?
QT: My connection with earth manifests in an innate understanding of metals. I sing the song of steel, of silver, of wrought iron, and when I sing, I can turn the metal to my will. It takes time, but it’s very satisfying.
DC: Which is why you’re also an artisan blacksmith?
QT: You can’t live on a firestorm! And I like the idea of sending my work, filled with my force of will, into the homes of humans. Many of my pieces are protective talismans, and in these times, we can all use a little extra protection.
DC: Well, said. Thank you, Quinn, for your time and patience today. If you don’t mind, I’d like to admire the work in your studio a bit before I leave.
©2009, 2018 Claire Delacroix, Inc.