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Realm Explorers Part XCVI: Visit Cerion with Missy Sheldrake
Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don't forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name: Missy Sheldrake
Title of book and/or series: Keepers of the Wellsprings Series
Brief summary of the story:
The Wellsprings are revered pools of magic, fiercely guarded and hidden away by fairies for decades. The Keepers of the Wellsprings series is the sweeping tale of a time when the threats of ambitious Sorcerers forced these secret sources to be revealed.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
The world itself is commonly called the Known Lands. This refers to all the areas surrounding Cerion which have been explored and mapped so far. It’s a world with distinct countries and cultures much like our own, but this world is filled with magic, fairies, and other enchanted creatures. In this interview, I’ll be focusing mainly on Cerion, which is where the story begins.
If we were to visit The Known Lands as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
For a lively, exciting visit where you can get a taste of countries from all over the Known Lands, Cerion is best. This coastal kingdom is well known for its kindhearted people and its peaceful acceptance of all races and creeds. Cerion’s thriving seaside marketplace is a treasure trove of goods from all over the world. If you’re looking for a more magical adventure, you could try to gain entry to Kythshire, a fairyland where the air is thick with magic and no wish goes unanswered, but that’s no easy feat. You’ll need a good reason to visit, and a native fairy to vouch for you at its magically guarded borders.
What dangers should we avoid in The Known Lands?
Sorcerers. If you see a man or woman with black swirling marks creeping across their skin and a wild look in their eyes, keep your distance. The markings are Mage Mark, and warn of the presence of Sorcery. It doesn’t matter which country you visit, you might encounter a Sorcerer anywhere you travel. They are unpredictable, ruthless, wicked people and should be avoided at all costs.
Azi's Sword
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Cerion?
Lately, there’s a trend in two-handed broadswords. This fighting style has mostly been a favorite of girls aspiring to be like Azaeli Hammerfel, the youngest Knight of His Majesty’s Elite. Traditionally, Cerion’s fighters have favored the longsword and shield. The kingdom’s peace hasn’t been threatened for over a century now (a fact its people pride themselves on), but if a war were to break out, Cerion’s Mages would absolutely step in to level the field with battle magic.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Cerion?
As you might imagine for a coastal kingdom, Cerion’s fish dishes are the most delectable you’ll ever taste. Mouli, the well-known cook and housekeeper for His Majesty’s Elite, has perfected a recipe for Azi’s favorite crab-stuffed rolls. This famous recipe has made its way to most every market stall worth visiting. Definitely worth a taste!
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Cerion?
Typically, the usual methods are used to travel these lands: Horses, carriages, and ships. In Ceras’lain, the White Line (the elite force which guards the White Wall at its border), fly on cygnets. These are sort of swan-like dragons. In the frozen lands of Hywilkin to the far north, the patrols are made on wyverns. In the jungles of Elespen, it’s not uncommon to see people riding elephants. There is another, very secret way to travel: Teleportation. This method is rarely used, though, because it’s prohibitively expensive and requires the traveler to be unarmed.
A Dragon, Woken from Slumber
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in the Known Lands that we don’t see on Earth?
The Known Lands’ races vary from humans and elves to fairies, mermaids, and giants. The world is filled with magical creatures, familiar and unique. You might even catch a glimpse of a dragon.


What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in the Known Lands?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Magic is a sacred art in the Known Lands. Because of the scourge of Sorcery recently lurking in shadows in every corner of the world, study and performance of magic are approached cautiously and with great reverence. This is because the practice of magic is intoxicating. It’s very easy to be lured from simple magical practice into the rapture and inescapable draw of Sorcery. In Cerion especially, Mages are held to a high standard. To practice magic, you must be marked as an Apprentice by a Master at an early age. You must take your learning at the Mage Academy, a strict and serious school carefully watched over by Cerion’s top Mages. Tuition is incredibly expensive. To be a Mage is a highly prestigious occupation. Mages, especially in Cerion, are respected by all.
The Crimson Warrior
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in the Known Lands?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
The Known Lands are much like our medieval times. There are, I’m sure, some ingenious inventions used, but they don’t play a major role in the books. In the third book, Tib is working on one such invention, but I won’t reveal what it is. You’ll have to read it for yourself.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in the Known Lands as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
Yes. There are seven days in a week, and twelve months in a year. In Cerion, the months are named for the seasons. For example, the year begins at Midwinter. Then comes Winterswan (winter’s waning), Springsdawn, Midspring, Springswan, etc. Holidays in Cerion generally follow the seasons as well. The two biggest holidays of the year are Midwinter and Midsummer. Midwinter is similar to our Christmas, where families and friends gather to feast, dance, and exchange gifts. Since winters are harsh in Cerion, most of the Midwinter celebrating is done indoors. It’s a charitable holiday, when the well-to-do open their doors to the less fortunate for feasts and warmth. Midsummer in Cerion is a huge affair. People come from all the countries of the Known Lands to spectate at Cerion Day, a day celebrating peace in Cerion which falls exactly on Midsummer. The revelries are held outdoors, with festivals, parades, and tournaments in the Arena.
King Tirnon Gets an Unexpected Visitor
Is there a particular religion practiced in the Known Lands?  Please describe what it involves.
I have always been vague about religion in my books. My characters hold a certain respect and faith in a greater power, and have even been known to say grace at mealtimes. I’ve always assumed that certain magical abilities such as healing and Lisabella’s Peace come from a divine power (or maybe more than one), but that divine power and the worship of it has never been a central theme in the story.
What is the political or government structure in Cerion?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Cerion is ruled over by King Tirnon Plethore. The Plethore Dynasty has been in place for over a century, since Asio Plethore overthrew the Sorcerer King Diovicus as he tried to breach the borders of Kythshire. Tirnon is a humble, wise, kind king. He is fiercely loyal to his friends, a loving husband and father to family, and a thoughtful ruler. He has a council of Mages and Advisors who he listens to daily, and his respect for his people and the neighboring countries has kept Cerion at peace throughout his reign.
Flitt: Our Favorite Rainbow-Colored Fairy
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Cerion?
It’s best not to mention the fairies. It has been so long since anyone has seen or heard from a fairy that people might think you’re touched in the head if you talk about them as though they might be real. Also, it’s rude to ask a Mage to perform magic for you. Magic is a serious practice. It’s used to ward off dangers, and for practical reasons like clearing the ice from the treacherous cliff steps between the sea market and the harbor. Mages do not perform parlor tricks. Asking them to do so is an insult to their integrity.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
My books are inspired by my childhood influences. I was an eighties kid, so many of the movies I watched as a child have stayed with me throughout the years. Legend, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, Dark Crystal, Disney’s Fantasia, and even Star Wars have all had an influence on my stories. I played Dungeons and Dragons as a teenager, and various fantasy-based MMORPGs for most of my adult life. My love of nature and of travel are also apparent in my books. Ceras’lain, the land of the Elves, is a tribute to my love of the forest. Elespen, which will be the setting for the next book in the series, will invoke the jungles of India and South America. I enjoy studying different cultures and traveling to new places, and that spirit, I hope, carries through in my books.
The Forest Wall in Ceras'lain
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
I think the hottest button I’ve touched, and it wasn’t intentional in the beginning, is having a strong female protagonist. Azi, my lady knight, isn’t your typical fantasy heroine. She’s valiant but modest. She has confidence, but she also has self-doubt. She doesn’t try to do everything herself. She listens to those who have more experience than she does, and takes their counsel whenever she can. She truly loves her best friend Rian, and their friendship blooms into a respectful, mutual partnership. There are women in leadership roles. Aside from that, there are same-sex couples and bi-racial couples. I try to integrate many different beliefs into the books as I can, without calling attention to them. It’s accepted as the way things are. This is my way of showing the importance of love, friendship, family, and respect for all people.
Author Autobiography:
Missy Sheldrake is an author/illustrator who has been conjuring images of fairies in one form or another since she was very young. The wind in the trees and the rich scent of forest earth are her most treasured sources of inspiration, and on most mornings you will find her wandering the wooded paths, dreaming of the next adventure she hopes to put to the page.

Missy was born in Connecticut and attended Western Connecticut State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Art with a concentration in painting and illustration. Even then, in her free time, she was writing. She moved to Northern Virginia several years ago and lives there now, on the outskirts of Washington D.C., with her true love and their son. She published her first novel, Call of Kythshire, in March of 2015 and intends to keep writing as long as the fairies allow it.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books?
My books are available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Click here to learn more about the series.

Where can readers connect with you online? 
Almost everywhere! Click below to follow me on whichever platform you prefer:
My website (check out the "illustrations" tab to see more artwork from the series)

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Cerion.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world in next week's edition of Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima


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