Nathaniel Ballard: MystHaven’s Sexy Steward
Everything you always wanted to know about the Beguiling Mr Ballard (Almost!)
—by Cherish Gelato
The Castle of MystHaven rises high above the village, dwarfed only by the mysterious peaks behind it. Stories say no one has ever been to those mountains, and we’re not going to prove them wrong, at least not today! Today, we bring you an exclusive, one-on-one interview with the mysterious Steward of MystHaven, Nathaniel Ballard, who’s captured the hearts of queens, dryads, Victorian vampiresses, and of course our readers!
Could you be the lucky winner of a private date with Nathaniel? Read on to find out how!
The village itself seemed quiet when I arrived there, a few townspeople talking, animals grazing on the common, the sort of thing you’d expect to find in a quiet, unassuming little place. Of course, this quiet, unassuming little place is connected to Faerie, and its leader has a very strange reputation, indeed.
Nathaniel met me in the castle’s reception room after I’d been waved through by the Mysthaven guards, a daunting force of armed men who work tirelessly round the clock to keep the population of MystHaven safe from whatever lies out there, in Faerie.
I just have to say to start out: What a dish! I had to concentrate on the interview, but of course it was impossible not to keep sneaking glances at such a feast for the eyes. Nathaniel explained to me that because Lord Maric, the ruler of MystHaven was busy much of the time, he had the day-to-day responsibility for everything from the town treasury to defence, as well as the diplomatic liaison between MystHaven and the fae courts.
CG: Goodness—that’s a lot of responsibility for someone who looks so young. But you’re not as young as you look, are you, Nathaniel?
NB: Well, don’t believe everything Gwyneth says about me, sometimes she exaggerates. As to my age, that’s a kind of tricky question, since I don’t really know what year it is any more. I was born, by my reckoning, in the year 1853. In 1885 just before my 32nd birthday, shortly after the death of my wife, Alexandra, I was embraced, that is to say, was made a vampire. That was when I stopped aging, in physical terms, so, I look 32, and will look 32 so long as I choose to. The one who made me disappeared, and I spent six years searching for her in Germany and America, before ending upin London in 1891, six years later. Since then, due to various adventures, I seem to be somewhat disconnected from the normal streams of time. Since you are familiar with fae matters, you will understand that. By my reckoning, I have experienced four years since I arrived in London, which would mean that, were the calendar linear, it would now be 1895, which would make me 42 in terms of elapsed years.” He chuckles. “On the other hand, given some of what I have experienced over the past few years, sometimes I feel a lot older.
CG: I could never imagine Gwyneth exaggerating, but of course, I am familiar with fae matters, and I do know that everything is not what it seems in Faerie! Of course, what my readers really want to know is, what’s it like to be the Consort of the Summer Queen?
NB: I have only been Consort, formally, since Ostara a couple of months ago. It is a formal acknowledgment of my relationship with the Queen, as opposed to my relationship with Gwyneth. It gives me an official position and status within the courts, a place at official functions etc. I suppose it gives me some measure of authority within the fae realms, but so far, I have not needed to exercise it. It’s largely a political matter and to my view, anyway, irrelevant in terms of our relationship.
CG: So your position as Consort gives you ‘some measure of authority’. Would you then, be leading the Shining Throng, say, into battle, in the absence of Queen Gwyneth?
NB: [laughs] I’m an accountant, not a warrior. Though, of late, I have become more and more of the latter. Leading the armies is matter for the rooks and ravens and such like, but, when it comes to the defence of the realm, then I would be there at the forefront and if the Shining Throng would accept my leadership, I would provide it, but I would take their advice. It is the same here in Mysthaven. Captain Kustav is a far more able warrior than I, yet he would accept my lead on the battlefield, but I would lead based on his advice.
CG: Good, good; so you do have a good head on your shoulders, despite your long sojourn in Faerie. But yes, what about your relationship with Queen Gwyneth? Are there wedding bells in your future?
NB: I met Gwyn in a place far from here, now long gone, called Jasper Cove. I had not long arrived there and had found myself a position as accountant and barkeep at the tavern there. Gwyn arrived a little later and started working as a barmaid. She was not as you see her now then. She was a short-arsed girl from the East End of London, and that was the London of the 21st century, as opposed to the London the 19th century I knew. She had a mouth on her that would make a sailor blush, and I should know, I was a sailor, but, despite that, she was smart, knew a lot about literature and poetry, which was about the only common ground we had. I used to call her a potty-mouthed polymath and she called me a posh fuck. She also thought I was, what was the word she used, gay – a homosexual. Nevertheless, we became friends. It was while we were in Jasper Cove, as a result of some defences we had to erect to protect ourselves from attacks from fae creatures, that Gwyn discovered she was of fae blood, that she had been left with human parents, a changeling. Anyway, Jasper burned and we found ourselves here. Gwyn was still coming to terms with her fae nature. We were still friends, but became closer. Then, one day, we found ourselves facing almost certain death at the hands of the Raven of the then Unseelie Queen. I decided to take a chance on feelings that seemed to be developing, and kissed her. We survived said battle and things developed from there. And, a couple of weeks ago, I did propose and she accepted. We are trying to play down the whole ‘marriage’ in the political sense, because that opens a whole can of worms in the fae courts. We want it for ourselves, for love, but…
CG: What a sweet story! I am trying to picture Queen Gwyneth saying … well, anything unpleasant, really, and I just can’t. What a different side of her you must have gotten to know. So she’s changed a lot, then, from when you first met and fell in love with her. Is that ever a hardship for you?
NB: She has changed a lot, it is true. And it was hard on her. She came into her fae maturity a lot faster than was normal, because of circumstances. A fae prince here adopted her and we had to do a lot of negotiation for her to continue in the relationship with me because, in fae terms, she was far too young. Also, during this time, I discovered that I was part fae myself, through my mother, who was descended from the Tuatha de Danaan. And my fae nature was .. amplified through my dealings with a fae goddess and the late Unseelie Queen, so I have changed a lot too. As to it being a hardship, maybe so. She has a lot of responsibilities as do I. We have to be aware of the political implications of what we do. But, for all that she has changed – she is taller now, and more beautiful, even when you discount the glamour. She has matured and become more fae in nature, which can be … trying at times, when starts talking in ways that are normal to the fae, but to mortals seems a little crazy.. especially when her words start making flowers grow and butterflies appear.” He laughs, “Sometimes, I think it irritates her too, because she can’t swear properly any more. Even when she is frustrated and angry and wants to curse like a sailor, it still comes out like the dulcet tones of a refined princess, which rather ruins the effect. But, when it is just her and me, underneath it all, she is still my Gwyn, I am still her Nathaniel and our love is as strong as ever, and gets stronger every day.
CG: That’s so lovely. Now, of course our readers will be curious about your upcoming wedding! I know you said you wanted to play it down, but surely there’s no way for the Queen of Faerie to have a tiny, private wedding ceremony. Have you set a date? Do you have a theme?
NB: [rolls eyes, curses under breath] Let’s say that the political implications are still being sorted out. As I said, I am 1/8 fae by birth but probably a lot more than that by … adoption and quickening, but, that isn’t going to be fae enough for some. I’m not a huge fan of great ceremony. The only reason my first wedding turned into a bit of an event was because the town mayor attended, and that was because he was a family friend, rather than us having any great significance as a couple. I keep hoping that it can be an event for us, rather than a theatrical extravaganza, but,” he sighs, “I suppose, if it were down to me, I’d probably want to go for an Arthurian theme. The stories of King Arthur were my first great love as a child. Or maybe something Shakespearean. But, it’s not about me, is it? Weddings are all about the bride, and usually, her family. I know Alexandra’s parents more or less took over ours. There’s probably less chance of that happening. We haven’t succeeded in locating Gwyn’s mother, Sia, yet, and I haven’t heard anything of her adoptive father for some while. Though, there is a chance we could find him, if we could work out where Roanofa…. or something like that is. As for a date, I don’t really know. We’re too late for Beltaine, the solstice is coming up way too fast, so I don’t know if we could get organised in time, then maybe Lughnasadh. We haven’t really talked about it yet.
CG: Oh, I was sure you’d say it was coming up at Midsummer. I mean, isn’t that the time your children will be … do we say, ‘born’, or not? Queen Gwyneth explained to me about the crystals when we spoke a few weeks ago.
NB: In an ideal world, midsummer would be the obvious choice, because once that is over, the throne becomes more the responsibility of the winter king, so we will have more time together without having to spend so much time on the throne. And, yes, the children are due then, which is a whole other puzzle, as I have no idea how to deal with fae babies. I guess that is something we will have to work out between us. Like I said, I’m just the groom.” he grins. “If midsummer is what my lady wants, then I will have to apply my extensive logistical experience and do my damndest to see it happens.
CG: You seem to have everything under control, even if you say you haven’t. But moving on to some things our readers have asked about…. Of course, I, and our readers, are very curious about the world of the Fae: that’s why we’re in business here at FaeWatch. When Fae are intimate with one another. Do they- do you really glow?
NB: [laughs, coughs] Well, now, what a curious lot your readers must be. You hear a lot of things about fae intimacy, from glowing bodies to flowers blooming to exploding bluebirds. Though the latter was suggested by one of the fae who was a little strange. I can’t say that my experience is typical, given my somewhat … hybrid … nature. Fae intimacy involves a lot of fae energy, what I like to call the wyld, which is, to me, a life-affirming energy and there is often a lot left over, which can manifest itself in many ways. You may have noticed that Gwyn tends to get flowers growing round her feet, and that’s just be walking around. I’ve learned how to channel much of that energy, soak it up, so to speak. Plus, Blaise, her adoptive father, gave us a crystal that helps to dampen the external effects. Even so, there is often a lot left over sometimes, so, yes, there can be glowing.
CG: Exploding bluebirds? That must have been some night! So you need magic to dampen magic? That’s very interesting. Now, Gwyneth has explained to me that the Fae don’t treat relationships as we mortals do: she says she has many lovers and intends to keep it that way. As her future husband, do you have any worries about the sort of … extracurricular company she might keep?
NB: [chuckles] Well now, you really do go for in-depth reporting. I know who they are, at least, I think I do, and, at times, we have shared intimacy, so most of her extra-curricular company, what a delightful way of putting it, is my extracurricular company too. And if there are others, on either side, that end up not being shared, then that is fine too, so long as we are both open with each other about it. It provides variety, it makes sure we never get bored, though that is extremely unlikely anyway, and at the end of the day, we come back to each other, and that’s the main thing.
CG: We ask the questions our readers want to know. I have a list here of questions sent in by our readers, some of which are far more … probing than what I’ve asked you so far. But let’s move on from your relationship with Queen Gwyneth. Is it true that Maric, Lord of Mysthaven, is a Prince of Hell and that this very village rose out of the depths overnight?
NB: [Shakes his head] I am fairly sure he isn’t from Hell. We have dealings with Hell, of course, but he is by no means a fan of the place or its denizens. I’m better inclined towards them, but then, I’ve known some of them a long time. But Maric, no, not a Prince of Hell, so far as I know. It is true that the village appeared her overnight, but I wouldn’t say it rose from the depths so much as emerged from the mists. It is my guess it came from somewhere in the Slavic areas of Europe, from the names and accents, but when it came from, I am not so sure.
Some shots of the village that rose out of the mists, fully formed, not so long ago.
CG: And did that not strike you all as just a little bit, well, creepy? Or do villages generally emerge from the mists in your experience?
NB: [laughs out loud] Ten years ago, I was a ships purser. I went to visit my older lover and she turned out to be a vampire who made me into a vampire. I spent 6 years traveling the world looking for her after that. Four years ago, I sailed into a place that looked very much like London, and discovered there were others like me, and also werewolves, faeries, elves, dragons, demons, a devil, a clockwork bunny rabbit…. a few years ago, I left that London and was shipwrecked. A man on a boat, that at the time, I believed to be Charon, took me across a river to an island outside time, where I met more exotic creatures, including a phoenix. That place burned and the boatman turned out to have also been the prince of that place, as well as a young man I nearly had an affair with when I was in London, and, was once that famous Elizabethan mystic, John Dee. I came here, and once, on this hill, stood a castle run by a vampire. I had a brief affair with a dryad and met an old, and much loved friend I had previously known in London, who turned out to be queen of the Cait Sidhe. That castle was besieged by tree creatures and destroyed, while I took shelter with the Unseelie Queen and she and I became very close friends and more. I have battled great sea creatures, sluagh, the hounds of hell, the Wild Hunt, my girlfriend turned into a faerie queen, the old faerie queen passed on yet still visits me in dreams…. In among all that, a village appearing out of the mysts overnight barely merits a raised eyebrow.
CG: Well, when you put it that way, I guess it might be an everyday occurrence. Now, I’m sure you have to get back to your duties, but let me just ask you one last question, something that keeps coming up from our readers. You must know that you’re quite the heartthrob. I’ve had no less than fifteen requests that Faewatch sponsor a contest to win a date with you. How would you feel about that? Can we sign you up for some fun with a lucky mortal?
NB: I’ve never considered myself a heartthrob. And I’m not sure what sort of date I could offer – it’s not as if we have a wide range of restaurants, theatres etc to go to here. But, I suppose, if Gwyneth is agreeable, I could do that. Is there any way the contest could benefit some worthy cause?
CG: Of course, of course! Charity of your choice? I understand there are quite a few displaced folks wandering around Mysthaven: could we donate a portion of the entry fees to their upkeep? Thank you so much, Nathaniel, for your time and your candour.
NB: Thank you, Cherish. It’s been a pleasure.
To enter FaeWatch’s Win A Date With Nathaniel Ballard Contest, just send your name, method of contact, and the entry fee of $100 to our offices here at FaeWatch. We’ll announce the winner sometime before Samhain!
NEXT WEEK: CHERISH GOES IN-DEPTH WITH HERMETIC HEDGE WITCHES TO PROVE WHETHER OR NOT YOU CAN CURE WARTS WITH HALF A POTATO AND A RUSTY NAIL! DON’T MISS IT!