So I completely forgot to ask for votes for this weeks character interview so I made an executive decision and welcomed Ailig to my office for a chat.
Ailig arrives at ten minutes past the hour. He lets himself in, smiling an apology as he runs a hand through his neatly combed hair.
I look up from my notepad and indicate he take a seat. He sits on the couch, one arm stretched along the back of it, and crosses one leg over the other.
“Help yourself to tea,” I say, gesturing to the teapot on the low table between us. “Although it might be cold by now.”
“Thank you,” he replies, pouring himself a cup. He lifts it to his lips and takes a sip. Grimacing, he sets the cup down on the table and reclines back on the couch.
“Have you heard from your father recently?”
He frowns and looks from side to side, as if expecting someone to jump up from behind the desk or the large vase by the fireplace. “I thought this interview was for the chronicles? Why do you need to know how often I contact my father?”
I shrug. “I don’t, I was merely curious. Forgive me.”
He smiles, the darkness passing from his face as swiftly as it had come. “Think nothing of it.”
“I do have to ask some personal questions, though.” He nods and I continue, “We’ll start with some background. Previous chronicles have been a bit…sparse…on Farilien/Savlisian relations. Rather one sided. I hope to make this chronicle more objective. So can you summarise for me the current position of Savlis in Fariel?”
“I mean, well, you could find this in a book, surely.” He leans forward to sip again at the cold tea, buying time. “Fariel has been kind to us, given us refuge after the Haelean’s conquered Tir Sabhalis decades ago. King Farenel, Kara’s father, allowed my family to bear the title of Prince-”
“How does your father feel about the title?” I interrupt.
“He is grateful to have his head. The title makes no difference.”
I raise my eyebrows but move on to another line of enquiry. “How do you feel about Kara’s alliance with Bashraan.”
“It was a savvy move.”
“There is talk of a permanent alliance, once the war is over. Do you have any interest in ensuring Savlis’ place in that alliance?”
He tilted head, calculating his response. “The war isn’t over yet.”
“So your loyalty to Kara, the supply of men, weapons, food, has nothing to do with securing a nation state for your people?”
“Fariel is our home now. Kara is protecting Fariel. It makes sense to help her. And besides, the people of Tir Sabhlis wear the memory of Haelean occupation on our hearts. And we do not wish it on anyone else.”
I jot down his words, my writing turning to scrawl in the scramble to get it all down. After a few moments, I look up from my notebook. Ailig is watching me, his pale eyes guarded.
I meet his gaze. “You studied at the University in Bal Briad, before the war.”
His hands curled and uncurled. “I needed a change.”
“Savlis may be a large province, but it is a small place for a whole people to live. And Ir Haes-”
“The capital?” I confirm.
He nods. “It’s like living in a very large house with all your gossipy relatives. Stifling. It is easier to get lost in Bal Briad, less people recognise me. I blend in. And, I suppose, I liked the challenge. The University only takes on students it deems worthy.”
“You studied engineering. Was that because you sensed war brewing?”
“Honestly,” he said. “It just fascinates me. I’d rather be building bridges or towers or domes than war machines.”
“If you could build one thing for history to remember you by, what would it be?”
His lips press together as he thinks. “Do you know the headlands around the Bay of Ostella?”
I nod. Like pincers, the headlands enclose the entrance to the bay and to Bal Briad itself. Pointing high towards the sky, they were almost a kilometer apart.
“I would build a bridge spanning between them, the most delicate, wonderful bridge in the known world.”
I smile at the image, and the joy which lights up his face. “Do you think it’s possible?” I ask.
He considers. “Anything is possible, if you’re daring enough.”
Let me know who you want to hear from next week. 🙂
Lorcan Aelysk is a Haelean nobleman. Caught up in his father’s schemes, he is torn away from the one he loves and sent far to the south, to conquer a place called Fariel.
Anjez is a proud man, a prince of Bashraan…and an ex-slave. He seeks to forge new alliances with Fariel in defiance of his father, the king, but can he truly leave the traumas of his slave past behind him?