I’m going to work from a prompt today. It’s not as contrived as it seems, but it is a little dorky.
“Today I am speaking with Ailchas PcKarræ, Magna of the Tilted Castle. Ailchas has been one of my favorite main characters since I conjured him up for a truncated short story in college. Sorry about leaving you hanging like that.”
“Just get me some work, no?”
“I’m looking for the perfect job buddy. Hang in there. Let’s just dive in with these questions. I got them from a website.”
“Ok, so…’how do you learn best?'”
“How do I learn best?”
“That’s what is says…’Observation…participation…trial and error…rumination and cogitation….consulting experts…writing?'”
“Rumination and cognition.”
“No. Brack’s Tears, I’m a soldier, man. I. Do. Stuff.”
“Sure. Of course. No need to get worked up on the first question.”
“I’ve been on ice for some time now, no? I’d like to be doing something.” He rubs his thighs with his hands to warm them up. I move on.
“Good point, Magna. ‘How open are you to new ideas and information?'” He exhales and locks his gaze on me. “Another good point. Number three then. When you walk into a party, what do you notice first?”
“I look for the exists and entrances. I find the man no one will talk to and the man every one talks to. Same with the women. Then I go get some food, yes?” He asks that last for a thin laugh.
“You don’t look for people carrying weapons or…up to something?”
“Yes and no. I don’t need to look for weapons. I can handle whatever comes out—you did say it was a party—so, probably just knives. I once pulled a garrote of a lady in waiting. After you find the quiet one and the talker in the room you’ve got the temper locked, no?”
“OK. You’d know better than me.”
“No. No, I wouldn’t.”
“Yea, thanks. I get it. ‘Is one sense more highly developed than another?'” I can see he’s giving this some thought.
“I don’t know what that question means.”
“It’s asking about your senses: sight, smell, hearing, tou…”
“Oh? Ah. Yes. Then, yes. I see now. Um, I guess everyone is good at seeing things. I don’t know that I’m an expert at seeing though. I will tell you in a sword fight I like to listen to the cadence of the fight. You can gauge quite a bit from the rhythm of those sounds.”
“Same fighting from a horse?”
“Somewhat. Hooves muffle those sounds. And horses, even trained ones, are unpredictable. So they move oddly. Having said all that. I guess I’m a movement guy too. Is movement a sense?”
“Proprioception. Let’s call it part of touch. ‘Do you notice problems around you?'”
“Like it’s too cold or the tankard on the edge of the table is about to fall?”
“Probably not like that. Like social problems. Like Queen Susan wants to kill Lady Gwen because she slept with Steve…the knight…but he’d also been the Queen’s lover.”
“Brack’s, boy! Did you just make all that up? Susan? Steve? Those are names where you come from, yes?”
“I did make that up. They are names where I come from.” He waves a hand like he’s pushing away his accusation.
“I don’t think like that. Those aren’t problems to me,” Ailchas says. He looks around the room. I can see his eyes darting from window to floor to bookcase. He’s already drunk in the layout when he entered the room, but now he’s seems to be looking for something he hadn’t seen yet but knows is there. Somewhere. “I can’t place it. If that’s what you mean by problem—I understand what you’re saying—but those aren’t problems to me.”
He stops talking and I am left to assume he’s not going to continue on to put better words around his answer. “No. I think I get what you’re saying. What’s next here…’are you and optimist or a pessimist?'”
“Kimberelle thinks I’m an optimist. I think I’m a pessimist.” I laugh. I know a little more about why that is, but I don’t say anything. It would be too painful for the old man.
“Number Seven. ‘Are you more interested in the past, the future, or living in the now?'”
“Living in the now? Are you gay?”
“I am not gay—not that that there’s anything wrong with that.”
“So you say.”
I lean in like the roller about to impress a blank page with words of life, “So I do say.”
He sighs. “I don’t think much on the past or the future.”
Which is true. He doesn’t. Sure, he thinks about things like who he might marry and where they might live and how his sons will grow up, but he doesn’t care much for where the world is heading—though he should.
“Almost done here, Ailchas. Two more and we can get you back to what you were doing.”
“Sitting on ice?”
“Uh. I’ll think of something soon. Promise.”
“So you say.”
I smirk back. “‘How do you decide if you can trust someone?'”
“With most people you can just tell. They move like people who don’t lie. Mind, I didn’t say couldn’t lie. Some of the best, most trustworthy men I’ve known were spies. Those guys always seem to be trying to prove they’ve not doubled, no?”
“And what about the others? The…not most?”
“Once you kill them you find out soon enough if they were lying. If you don’t find out it doesn’t much matter anymore, no?”
“No. I guess not. OK. Last one. You ready for this?” He glares, “Never mind. Here we go. ‘Are you a deliberate, careful speaker, or do you talk without thinking first?'”
968 words on day 547