Jul 2, 2012

Interview with Fairivel, Part 2

Part one here.

I turn back to the notepad to hide my smile. The smell of baking bread begins to infuse the air and I inhale deeply, deciding on a less threatening question. “What about your best attribute?”
I swear he nearly blushes. Without meeting my eyes, he picks up his elegant teacup, swirls whatever’s inside, and sets it down again. I recognize a gesture I can incorporate and file it away. I know he’d love to put up a modest front about this one or laugh it off, but he’s answered all the others truthfully so I don’t think he will.
“Mmm,” he says again. “I would have to say I’m…dependable.” I nod; that’s an understatement. “Did you know everyone said I’d give up the irrigation system for Calrogil after it failed two years in a row? I didn’t.”
“Impressive,” I mutter, unsurprised. It’s in his personality type, right at the top. Of course, you could always interpret that as ‘uncommonly stubborn.’
“That’s my son you’re thinking of,” he chuckles, “not me.”
“Both of you.” I cut him off before he can argue. “Would you rather drown or burn?”
“Drown.” He dips a piece of fish in the sauce. “Faster, less pain.”
Logical as always. “Would you rather take a beating or watch one?”
“Depends on who was being beaten and who was doing the beating.”
“Say…your son and Klista’s head general.” I grin; this is foreshadowing, though he doesn’t know it.
“I’d take it.”
“Even with Varac doing it?”
He nods casually. I don’t figure he thinks this will ever actually happen. Ha.
Fairivel looks up. “What are you grinning at?”
“Nothing.” I clear my throat and glance out the window. The sun is a little higher now, letting me see what is actually outside. The window overlooks the private palace gardens. Pink-blossomed trees spread below us and a path of ivory steppingstones wends through them. A wall made entirely of prisms fractures the sunlight hitting the garden in millions of tiny rainbows. I grin again. There’s a scene there later. “Are you proud of your accomplishments as king?”
He straightens and smiles, leaning back against the cushions. Here’s a question he likes. “I am. Not that there’s been a famine or a war or anything” – yet, I think, and he falters, then goes on – “but I was younger than most when I took the throne. Many thought I’d fail. I’ve enjoyed proving them wrong.”
I’m sure you have. “Is there anything you deeply regret?”
His mouth twists and tightens up in a funny way. I’ll wager I’d disarmed him with a couple of relatively innocent questions, but we have to answer these sometime. “I regret the way my son and I never…connected. I swore I’d never be like my father, but he doesn’t understand everything I’ve done for him and I’m afraid I look worse to him than Barron Rey did to me.” I don’t know why, but the fact that he calls his father by his first name jars me. Fairivel doesn’t seem to notice. “I just want to understand him,” he sighs.
I let out an exasperated puff of air. I know his son better than he does and even I don’t understand him. And, all right, maybe I’m exasperated a little because it’s hard doing this without mentioning names, too. Stupid spoilers. “If you could go back and change that, would you?”
“Yes,” he mumbles, staring out the window. “If I could.”
“Who knows how,” he growls, picking up his teacup again. This time he glares at it as if he wishes it was something stronger than tea and drinks it all. One of the kitchen staff seems to magically appear with a pitcher. I wonder what he would do with the cup if there was nothing to swirl in it. “For nineteen years I tried to figure out how. I don’t know what good going back would do.”
The blonde, freckled maid glances at me, clear gray eyes concerned, as if she’s afraid he’ll get too angry and exile me. She must be new here. Fairivel never loses his temper. He gets annoyed, but he never loses his temper. Well, once. Okay, twice. Almost never. “Is there a single memory you wish you could relive?” I ask as the maid leaves us.
“Are these all questions from this Hannah?” he demands, surprising me. I nod. He swears under his breath. It’s the only time I’ve heard him swear. Hannah must have a knack for stirring up fictional people.
He sighs and pushes his hair back behind his pointed ears. “I think…it would be the one time Varia persuaded me to cancel a meeting. Apparently where she comes from, they hand their children off to nursemaids, but not here, unless there’s a problem with the mother. It was about a week after she gave birth and she was tired and irritable and the baby was restless because it was so warm.” He rests his elbows on the table, turning a spoon between his thumb and finger, his breakfast forgotten. “I was hot and tired too and not in the mood to deal with the barons, so I told her I would come and help. We took turns walking the baby up and down the room so he wouldn’t cry.” He smiles into the bowl of the spoon. “It was almost the only time we were alone together. With our son.”
I’m actually close to crying, feeling the hot, humid night, hearing the baby whimpering in his father’s arms, seeing Varia sitting with her frizzy red hair draped over her shoulder and sweat glistening on her ivory skin, looking wearily up at Fairivel. I never wrote this scene but I think, now that I know it happened, that it might be worth writing.
Fairivel looks up and puts down his spoon. “Elizabeth?”
I sniff and hide behind the notepad. “How do you feel about your son?”
I glance back at him and discover that he has apparently found something of interest on the ceiling to stare at. “You would have to bring that up now.”
“Sorry,” I say, though I’m not.
“Frustrated,” he mumbles. “How does anyone feel who has to deal with my son?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I hear some of the court women are quite pleased with him.”
“Of course they are.” His expression goes bland, erasing the glint of softness I thought I saw a moment ago. “Of course they are.”
“How do you feel about your father?” He frowns at me again, and I shrug. “Might as well get these over with.” You’d think my characters would be used to pain by now.
“You never really get used to it. Especially when someone is poking around pasts that should stay buried.”
I rub my mouth but don’t look away, demanding by my very silence that he answer. I thought he might be more businesslike and evasive, trying to dodge my questions, but apparently his truthful side comes out around his author. Imagine that. Hannah is going to owe me.
“Distant,” he finally says. “He was distant. And strict.”
“I didn’t ask what he was like, I asked how you feel about him.” Man needs to get in touch with his feelings, I muse, keeping my lips as straight as I can.
“All right, all right.” He taps the edge of a bowl with his perfectly cut fingernail. “It’s one of the few things I’m still angry about.”
“That and your son.”
“Yes, yes,” he sighs, and I wonder if I might be reaching the edge of his patience. “I tried so hard to impress him, and all he wanted was for Vytorin to do this and Vytorin to succeed at that, because Vytorin was going to rule someday. No one cared about the second son.” He huffs. “That didn’t even change after Vytorin left. I do everything on my own and I always have. I educated myself to take the throne, because I sure as Elchion’s bones didn’t have any help from mother and father.”
No wonder he’s lonely.
“I heard that.”
“Forget it.” I flip a page. That bread is starting to smell really, really good. I’ll have such an appetite worked up from all the emotional hassle I could probably eat a whole loaf. Somehow I don’t think Fairivel would care. Much. “Are you skilled in any weapons?”
“Sword,” he says without hesitation. “I can shoot, but I don’t like it as much.” He smiles a genuine smile at the thought of swordplay. That’s in his personality type too. Athletic and wholesome, the website said. Spends free time with friends pursuing some activity or hobby – probably athletic or sports-oriented. Sure enough. At least football hasn’t been invented in Laecla.
“How do you gain respect?” Another question he’ll probably like. “Fear, threats, strong leadership –”
“The way any sensible person would,” he interrupts. He doesn’t sound offended – he’s far too polite for that – but I can tell he is. “Strong leadership is the only way to get dependable support. Inspiring fear and dispensing threats is like scattering the embers in the grass instead of dousing them. You only get fires all over the place.”
“I’m sure you could talk about that all day,” I say, too dryly. His eyes narrow.
He’ll never willingly do anything for me again, I’m sure of it. I’m ruining one of my most cooperative characters. I hope the League likes the interview, because if they don’t, I’m going to have to completely redo Fairivel. “If you were trapped on an island with Melgred, Caryn, Judas, and Vosh, what do you suppose would happen? Who would die first? Who would be the last one standing?”
“Michelle’s Valentine, I think. I can’t keep the nicknames straight.”
“Oh, that one.” Must remind him of his son. I try to squash the thought.
He taps his chin. “Caryn seems intelligent enough. I would try to ally myself with her. Melgred would get annoyed with and kill Judas, and maybe Judas would take Melgred down with him. If not, Melgred would come for the rest of us. Valentine would probably try to talk Melgred out of his plan, and when that didn’t work Melgred would probably kill him.”
“And you?”
“I’d stay alive as long as possible by negotiating.”
“And that is different from Valentine’s approach how?”
“Valentine has no tact,” Fairivel says in irritation.
“Uh-huh. Who would be the last one standing?”
“Caryn or Melgred. Judas and Valentine are too unpredictable.”
“And you?”
“I don’t like killing.”
“Ah.” I run my finger along the notepad. “We have four questions left from Hannah, and I answered one of them inadvertently when I came in.”
“Which one?”
“Your favorite color. Blue.”
“Oh. Good.”
“So… what do you think about puppies?”
“Puppies?” He tilts his head, resting his chin in his hand. “Again with the animal questions.”
“Lots of girls in this…guild.”
“I see. Puppies are about as much use as kittens. Good for entertaining children and getting in the way and not much more until they’re grown.”
“Puppies are therapeutic,” I mumble, moving down to the next question. “If you were locked in a closet, bound hand and foot with jabber jaws, would you survive?”
“So am I bound with the jabber jaws or am I bound with rope and the jabber jaws are in there with me?” He looks bemused. I know he knows the answer, and when I don’t reply he sighs. “I would most certainly survive. Unless they ate me. I’m not one to exaggerate.”
“Last question from Hannah –”
“– thank the Faithful –”
“– and she wants to know what you would do to her if you could get her alone and helpless in a room right now.”
His eyebrows practically jump off the top of his head. “What does she think?”
“I imagine she’s used to having the question answered by villains.”
“Oh.” He shakes his head. “I would try to figure out why she’s so keen on asking such personal questions.”
“I told them to ask personal questions.”


Amanda Bradburn said...

I like it! :) I'm glad that the characters always want to ally with Cayrn.*chants* Part Three! Part Three! :)

crosscountrygal said...

Hahahaha yeah, ever since that interview with Melgred I've had to watch my back. I've learned that not many characters are *cough* big fans of mine ;) I can't wait for part 3!

Sandra said...

nice picture of a tea cup. Yes, yes Part three! Pretty Please....With a cherry on top