Yes. This fiercely proud “thunder tiger,” with the beautiful head and wings of an eagle and the sleek hindquarters of a tiger, is named Buruu. As Yukiko gets to know him under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, she finds keen intelligence in this unlikely ally. We’re very fortunate that Buruu has permitted us to submit some questions to him, as arashitora do not often deign to speak to mere mortals.
Character Interview with Buruu
Your relationship with Yukiko starts off on a rocky note. I guess it’s a little hard to swallow when puny, insignificant humans decide they want to capture a living legend and bend him to their will. What was your initial reaction to this outrageous affront?
I VOWED TO KILL THEM. THE GIRL, HER FATHER, HER FRIENDS. WEAKLINGS, CRAWLING THROUGH MY SKY IN THEIR WOODEN SLUG WITH NO WINGS. LOOK AT THE RUINS THEY HAVE MADE OF THIS PLACE. LOOK AT THE HELL THEY CALL HOME.
IT HAS BEEN… DIFFICULT. TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND THEM. WHY THEY DO THE THINGS THEY DO.
Were you surprised when Yukiko began speaking to you in your mind? There aren’t many telepathic samurai girls around, after all.
MY KIND REMEMBER WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE. ONCE WE WERE A PART OF THIS PLACE, ONCE YOUR HEROES RODE UPON OUR BACKS. WE REMEMBER THE TALES OF THE STORMDANCERS. BUT THAT IS PAST. THE MONKEY-CHILDREN WHO LIVE HERE NOW ARE UNWORTHY.
WE DID NOT THINK THE GIFT TO SPEAK TO THE CHILDREN OF THE STORM WOULD HAVE SURVIVED. IN TRUTH, WE DID NOT CARE. WE LEFT THIS PLACE LONG AGO.
BUT YES, IT SURPRISED ME.
MANY THINGS ABOUT YUKIKO SURPRISED ME.
In the beginning, you are pretty matter-of-fact about human expendability and are quite ruthless in battle, in no small part because of our tendency to destroy ourselves. What was it about the “wretched monkey-thing,” as you call Yukiko, that won you over and made you look at humans in a different way?
SHE IS SMALL, YET SHE IS BRAVE. SHE IS WEAK, YET SHE FIGHTS. SHE SEES THE TRUTH OF THINGS, THOUGH SHE MAY DENY IT. SHE USES HER EYES, AND SHE USES HER VOICE. THOUGH SHE MAY FEAR, IT NEVER RULES HER.
THAT, AND SHE GAVE ME A NAME…
…BUT YOU WOULD NOT UNDERSTAND ABOUT THAT. AND I WILL SPEAK NO MORE OF IT. NOT YOUR BUSINESS.
Dare I ask how old you are, Buruu? What does this mean if you are the last of your kind?
DO NOT UNDERSTAND YOUR KIND’S OBSESSION WITH NUMBERS. HOW MANY TURNINGS OF THE MOON HAVE YOU LIVED? HOW MANY OF THESE SMALL ROUND PIECES OF METAL DO YOU OWN? HOW MANY HOUSES? HOW MANY SLAVES? WITH THE MALES OF MY KIND, THERE IS ONLY CUB AND BUCK. I AM BUCK. THAT IS ENOUGH.
I AM THE ONLY ARASHITORA IN SHIMA. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN I AM THE ONLY ARASHITORA ALIVE. THERE ARE OTHERS.
|Fan Art by Genzoman|
Every scene that features you is my favorite. I especially love the dialogue between you and Yukiko, which is both touching and hilarious in turn. As you listened to her, you must’ve overheard some stray thoughts here and there, too? She moons over a boy with sea-green eyes for a big portion of the story. Maybe you have some gossip, er, insights to share.
DO NOT UNDERSTAND YOU MONKEY-CHILDREN. SO MUCH TIME WASTED OVER COUPLING. I WONDER HOW THERE CAN BE SO MANY OF YOU, FOR ALL THE TROUBLE YOU SEEM TO HAVE WITH IT.
IT IS A SIMPLE THING FOR MY KIND. THE FEMALE FLUSHES AND THE MALES FIGHT FOR HER AND THAT IS ALL. WITH YOU IT IS ALL WAKING DREAMS AND BLUSHING CHEEKS AND BAD POEMS.
YUKIKO IS NO DIFFERENT TO ANY OF YOU IN THIS RESPECT. MORE IS THE PITY. BUT I WILL NOT SPEAK OF HER INNER THOUGHTS. THEY ARE HER OWN, RIDICULOUS AS THEY MAY BE. SHE WILL LEARN.
PERHAPS THE HARD WAY.
What happens now for the humans and what role will you play in the Lotus War? This battle is far from over.
BLOOD. BLOOD LIKE A RIVER. LIKE A STORM. CAN YOU NOT SMELL IT? CLOSE YOUR EYES AND BREATHE DEEP, MONKEY-CHILD. HOLD YOUR BREATH, LEST YOU DROWN.
A WOUNDED ANIMAL IS THE MOST DANGEROUS. SHIMA IS WOUNDED NOW. BUT THERE ARE THOSE IN THIS LAND WHO WILL NOT ALLOW THEIR GRIP ON POWER TO SLACKEN. THE ONES WHO FILL THE LAND WITH FLOWERS AND THE SKIES WITH POISON. THEY WILL NOT STOP UNTIL PEOPLE CHOOSE TO STAND IN THEIR WAY.
YUKIKO WILL STAND. BUT NEVER ALONE. NOT WHILE I LIVE.
Umm…I must say, it’s very hard to resist petting such a handsome fellow. Would you permit me to approach you? Ever since Yukiko first made you purr, I have been dying to run my hand along your gorgeous feathers.
…IF YOU MUST.
HIGHER. A LITTLE TO THE LEFT.
< PURRS >
Ahem. Now that we’ve momentarily satisfied my curiosity (next time: Wendy brings out her saddle for a test flight!), we’ll finish on a more dignified note.
< GROWLS >
Oh, all right. I just miss flying, that’s all.
Who would win in battle: a thunder tiger or a sea dragon?
WE RARELY BATTLE THE CHILDREN OF THE SEA. THEIRS IS A REALM OF OCEANS AND TIDES. OURS IS ONE OF WIND AND STORM. WE DO NOT FLY IN THE WATERS. THEY DO NOT SWIM IN THE SKIES. WE ARE FIRE AND ICE.
WILL FIRE MELT ICE? WILL ICE DROWN FIRE? IT DEPENDS ON THE WILL AND STRENGTH BEHIND EACH. BUT THERE ARE DRAGONS FAR OLDER AND FAR STRONGER THAN ANY THUNDER TIGER ALIVE TODAY. YOU MAY NOT REMEMBER THEM. BUT WE DO.
PERHAPS YOU WILL MEET THEM ONE DAY.
Thank you for granting us the favor of your presence today, Buruu. Until we meet again.
THE STORM COMES, MONKEY-CHILD. BUT I LIKE YOU.
I HOPE YOU DO NOT DROWN.
STORMDANCER, a Japanese-inspired steampunk fantasy, is available online and in stores now. Look for our review very soon!
Our thanks to the always gracious and always entertaining author Jay Kristoff for stopping by The Midnight Garden today as part of the official Stormdancer tour! Get to know him on his website, GoodReads, Facebook, and Twitter.
|Photograph by Christopher Tovo|
About the Author
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