Jul 2, 2012

Interview with Fairivel, Part 3

Part one here.
Part two here.

An oven door clangs open in the kitchen, making us both jump; we’ve been so immersed in the interview we’ve forgotten the world outside. More elves are bustling around the kitchen now, tying on their aprons, staring at us with questions in their eyes. Probably wondering why their Lord is talking to a strange girl and why he’s still at breakfast even though it’s an hour past sunrise.
The baking bread smell multiplies tenfold and I perk up, wanting to gobble down the air. It smells that good. Fairivel grins at me, and it’s that genuine smile that doesn’t reach his cool eyes again. “Laon has quite a treat he fixes up when I ask. Mostly on festival days. I imagine he’ll make it for you. It’s not every day we have a visit from our author.”
My heart begins to shrink with guilt because he’s still not upset with me even though I’ve been sitting here for an hour digging up his most painful secrets. I consider the remaining questions. We’re only about halfway through, which makes me cringe, but the rest of them shouldn’t require such long answers. Probably. “Let’s do some more from Emily next. Do you like to read?”

“Of course! You should see my library. You would love it.”
I wonder briefly if his truthful, vulnerable side has retreated for a break. I’ll ask innocent questions until he’s recovered. Surely no one else would be able to get this much out of him. “I have seen it. I designed it. I have a scene there. Remember –” I stop. No, he wouldn’t remember, because here it hasn’t happened yet.
I know he’s waiting to hear what he should remember, but I’m not about to spoil the end of his story for him. “Do you ride? Do you have a favorite horse? What breed and what color?” I glance up. “Girl likes horses.”
“Evidently.” He gives another absent-looking half-smile and for a moment he looks ordinary. “I love riding almost as much as I love swordplay, and my favorite would have to be my light draft mount, Whisper. He’s a red roan and the loudest horse you’ll ever hear.” A chuckle bursts from him. Soon he’s laughing outright. Some of the kitchen staff stare, but then they smile as he slaps his leg and leans over the table. “Whoever named that horse ought to be sold to the pirates! You should hear him when the groom is late with his feed. Wakes me up all the way on the fifth floor some mornings.”
I laugh with him, my voice sounding like a little girl’s giggle next to his hearty chortle. When we stop, he rubs a hand over his face and picks up his teacup. I scan the list. “What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?”
“Oh right.” I hiccup from laughing and press a hand over my mouth. “This is fantasy.” I think of ice cream in a cone, ice cream on pie, ice cream on my little sister’s face. Fairivel’s brow furrows in puzzlement. “A treat made with frozen milk,” I explain. “And even if you don’t know what it is, I know your favorite flavor would be vanilla.”
“If you say so.”
“Would you rather be imprisoned or wander in the desert with just enough food and water to keep you from dying?”
“Odd question.”
“Odd people.”
“I suppose so.” He sips his tea and sets the cup back down on the saucer. I can hear the crumbly sound of Laon slicing the new-baked loaves and my stomach flops over, purring.
“Imprisoned. Prisons you can escape from. And we Fairbrows supposedly sunburn easily.” He flashes a smile, so wide and white and playful that for a moment all I can see is his son’s face, staring out at me. I swallow. “Do you have any other siblings?”
“No, it was just us two. We were probably enough for mother, especially. Barron Rey was always too busy to bother with us. Except when he wanted something.”
Laon interrupts, carrying in a little teacup with some of what Fairivel’s drinking and a gilded saucer holding a steaming slice of fresh bread. He sets them down in front of me and smiles, indigo eyes locking on mine for a moment, dusts his hands on his apron, and leaves. I gape at the food he left me.
It’s a slice of steaming bread, yes, but there’s some kind of creamy, brown-flecked yellow sauce oozing from it. Tiny, paper-thin slices of pink apple adorn the top in a delicate fan and a sprig of mint peeks from the center. I pick it up, my fingers tingling, and bite in.
It’s like a carnival in my mouth.
Fairivel is over there rediscovering his own food, but at my incoherent grunt of admiration he chuckles again. “I told you.”
I still can’t say anything. It’s a tart apple and an impossibly sweet, buttery sauce with the hearty burn of cinnamon. The bread is fluffy and soft but still dense enough to keep the sauce from soaking through onto my fingers.
I find myself not wanting to ask Fairivel any difficult questions ever again.
I pull back, my bite half-chewed, wondering if the treat is enchanted. Fairivel whoops with laughter. “Laon!” he calls into the steamy kitchen. “Elizabeth thinks your bread is magic!”
“Ha!” says the cook.
My face burns as hot as the cinnamon and I put the bread down to consult my list again. “What –” I remember the bite in my mouth and swallow, then begin again. “What does your name mean?”
Fairivel eats a forkful of now-cold steamed vegetables and raises his eyebrows at me.
“Right, yes, I don’t know either. Have you ever broken your own standards?”
“Of course I have. Everyone has.”
I stare down at the bread to keep from having to look at him, wondering how long I can make it last. “Any particular example?”
“No,” he says, and takes another bite.
I know there is, but I don’t have time to force it from him. Besides, that could be an interesting scene. I file it away along with the little tidbit about him swirling the stuff in his cup and begin to think that this interview might be useful after all. “Have you ever done anything off the cuff?” He looks confused and I realize it’s a phrase that’s new to him. “Unusual for you.”
“I…tipped over my brother’s boat once,” he says, almost shyly. I take another bite, letting him know by not being ready to ask another question just yet that I want more of this story. “I think I was fifteen, and we were out boating past the coast. Little things, barely big enough for three people. Vytorin and Barron Rey were sitting in one and mother and I were in another, and I had our oars.” A sly smile seems to catch him unawares. “Mother was in the back seat of our boat and I in the front, but Vytorin and Barron Rey were both in the front of their boat. Unbalanced. It didn’t take much of a push to send them over.” He coughs. “Of course they were both furious.”
“I didn’t know you were a prankster.”
“I’m not. That’s why it was…off the bluff?”
He nods, but I know he doesn’t understand.
“What was your happiest moment?”
“There were several with Varia,” he says, but doesn’t share. I’m relieved. She freaks me out. “I almost won a tournament once. Just a little too slow. On my tenth birthday I got my first practice sword. I would say that would have to be it.”
Go figure. “Would you ever give up the throne if it meant saving someone or something you care about?”
He looks up and an unnerving hardness comes into his eyes. “No.”
“No.” He finishes the last bite of fish slowly, but I know he wants to say more. I nibble on the bread in between.
“There’s too much at stake here to just…give it up. Leave the outcome uncertain. There’s war out in Lalind and I have to protect this country from it. There are too many lives, too much knowledge here to risk. It’s taken us too long to get where we are. No. I wouldn’t give up the throne.”
“I see.” I stare down at the saucer holding my half-eaten slice of bread. It’s white with a thin gold inlay, with eight-pointed stars at four points along the rim.
Fairivel swirls his tea. I wonder how long it would take for all his teacups to get thin at the middle.


Sandra said...

You got the recipe of that wonderful bread, right? O, please get it before you leave. It sounds delicious. Wow! B) Nice library. Can I ask a question? What type of books does Fairivel read? History books? Information books? Poems? Romance? Or a little of everything? Just wondered.

Sandra said...

Part four! Part four, please!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, wonderful! I'm really starting to like this Fairivel character ;) Part four! We must have part four!!

Meaghan Ward said...

Our mouths are watering at that bread! I'm with Sandra... where's the recipe? Cause if you don't have it, my mom is determined to try to reinvent it herself!

And as always... *starts chanting*
"We want more!
Waiting is a bore.
Where's part four?"

ElizabethLiberty said...

Part four is posted! ;)

Well, I don't know about the bread. I kinda made it up on the spur of the moment. I got the impression, though, that it's got something to do with fresh bread, a sliced pink lady apple, warm applesauce, melted butter, honey, cinnamon, and a sprig of mint. Will that do for all you wonderfully creative people? :D