Interview with the Willow

J: Willow Srinoris, thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us a little about yourself, for those of us who don’t know you?

W: Alright. My name is Willow Srinoris. I work at the palace. I am a losah in the Alekasylic army and I am currently working as swordplay instructor to High Princess Nahldria.

J: Mm. And how is that going?

W: [Long sigh] Well, she is… um… trying. I think. I mean, she has shown some signs of improvement…

J: I see. Maybe she just needs a new angle of instruction?

W: [Laughter] No. No, the instruction is not the problem.

J: Then what is?

W: …

J: I assure, this interview will never get back to anyone of the royal family. You can speak freely.

W: The thing is… well, she is plain awful. I mean, really terrible. It is hard not to laugh sometimes, if I was not so busy choking on frustration.

J: Hm. And after you are done with the princess, what do you see yourself doing after that?

W: [Leaning forward eagerly] I am only doing this until my father sends back permission for me to deploy.

J: Because you’re underaged?

W: Yeah, but not by a lot. Once I have permission, I would like to apply for his unit. My older sister is already there and I have not seen her or Father in ages. I think it might be nice.

J: You’re not worried about going into a war zone?

W: [scoffs] No.

J: You seem pretty confident.

W: [shrugs] The only thing I worry about is that this war will be over before I have a chance to get out there.

J: What do you think it is that makes you such a good soldier?

W: [sits up] The thing is, most of the time you want soldiers that can just take orders and get the job done. But you need to have people who make up those orders, too. You need to have people who are able to think the problems out. That is why I got promoted so quickly: I do not let myself get trapped into the thinking of just taking orders. I have to be able to look at whatever situation I am in and figure out the best way to work it out.

J: So that is why you got promoted so quickly? Because you do not take orders?

W: Well, not exactly. I mean, I can take orders, sure, when the situation merits it. But you need to be able to make up your own orders in some situations.

J: Willow, if you don’t mind my saying, your character has made some radical changes in just a short time in this biography we’re putting together about Nahldria. When we first met you, you were, if you’ll excuse my saying, just some skittish servant boy.

W: [laughter] Okay, come on. Not really.

J: No?

W: I mean, maybe in those few interactions that you catalogued for your biography, yeah. But there were other moments, too, things you hardly even mention. I mean, you allude to my language lessons with Princess Nahldria, but you never actually show any of them. You cast me in these moments where she is being cranky at somebody else and I just get caught in the middle of it. Of course I am going to seem skittish! Have you seen what her face looks like when she is glaring at you? And I do have a life outside of the princess as well, thank you very much.

J: Alright, how would you describe your life outside of Nahldria?

W: Well, I have friends. I like sparring. And exploring the city.

J: Now you came from a pretty small village, right?

W: Yeah.

J: Was that a big adjustment?

W: At first, yeah. I mean, back in Sarea-Nesinin, everything is slow and simple and kind of boring. But there is always something happening in the Keritnas. If you do not figure it out quickly enough, it passes you by.

J: And you like that?

W: I was just… I am not really cut out for village life. I am meant for a little more excitement. That is why I came to the capital. That is why I became a soldier. I mean, who wants to spend their time as a backwater wood carver their entire lives?

J: Huh. Is that what you think of your uncle?

W: Huh?

J: Your uncle Oak. The man who raised you. Is that what you think of him? I mean, he is a carpenter, right?

W: [long pause] No. Not really.

J: He’s not?

W: No, he is.

J: He’s backwater?

W: No! He- he is a carpenter, yes. But he is not- Look, can we just talk about something else? Ask me what I am most proud of or something.

J: [laughter] Alright, what are you most proud of?

W: I can learn anything.

J: Anything?

W: Anything. I mean, if I want to, I can sit down and figure out just about anything. I certainly did not grow up with a sword in my hand, but you would never guess it to look at me now. Here, stand up. [draws sword]

J: [leans away] Ah- no.

W: Aw, come on-

J: How did you get that in here?

W: What this? [swings experimentally]

J: Would you put that thing away?

W: Alright, alright. Jeez. [puts sword away] I am just saying that-

J: Sit down.

W: [sits down, muttering]

J: Alright. Anyway. Where were we?

W: You were asking me what made me most awesome.

J: I’m pretty sure I wasn’t.

W: [laughter]

J: Willow of Srinoris, you have a baffling ability to do something completely dangerous and irresponsible, and then treat it like some kind of joke.

W: [straightens up, frowning] I do not. When am I ever dangerous and irresponsible?

J: Well, so far in the story, you give away personal information about the princess to someone she hates, nearly impale said princess with a pair of scissors-

W: I did not know she-

J: -hurt her repeatedly throughout her lessons-

W: That was-

J: -and generally belittle and embarass her from time to time.

W: I think you are-

J: And I happen to know for a fact that you’re going to do even crazier things before this biography is over.

W: I- what?

J: It all seems entirely dangerous, irresponsible, reckless, and immature-

W: Hang on-

J: -and just seems to me like you’re an ignorant country boy in a big city, too full of himself, and on some kind of crazy power trip.

W: Wait, what did you say about things I am going to do?

J: Hm?

W: You said I was going to do crazier things.

J: I did not.

W: [standing] Yes, you did! I heard you!

J: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

W: Who are you?

J: What?

W: Who are you? Are you really a news hocker?

J: Listen, kiddo, I’m the one asking the questions here. It’s my interview. So just sit down and shut up or I’m telling Nahldria you have a crush on her fiance.

W: [dropping into chair and blushing furiously] I do not!

J: Okay, maybe not really, but you will admit that you’re completely obsessed with him, right?

W: I am not completely obsessed.

J: In fact, I would say that your radical character changes came about directly in line with your introduction to and continued assosiation with Heir Prince Enthiln of Paleithois.

W: …

J: No comment?

W: He is a good man.

J: He certainly is, but not without his own faults.

W: [rolls his eyes] Oh, like what?

J: The thing that really amazes me is that you are so defensive of this man you have known for maybe half a year, but you have no qualms with, at the very least, verbally abusing the High Princess of the royal family you have sworn to defend with your life.

W: I do not abuse her!

J: Well, we’ll let the readers be the judges of that, now won’t we? But seriously, why do you feel so positively about Enthiln, but you only ever seem to glean frustration from Nahldria?

W: [leans forward] This is off the record?

J: [shrugs] Sure.

W: Princess Nahldria can be… a little intimidating.

J: This coming from the guy who was just waving a sword around in my face?

W: That is different. Nahldria just… she can be awfully serious.

J: And Enthiln is fun?

W: Yeah. He is fun, and relaxed, and he talks to me like he is not tallying up in his head exactly how many ranks lie between us.

J: And you feel like Nahldria is?

W: Sometimes. I mean, do not get me wrong. She can be remarkably kind. And she really does mean well. She has a lot of big responsibilities and just lost her brother. Unlike what you think, I do not hate her by any means. But it is just easier to be myself around Prince Enthiln. Princess Nahldria can just be so stiff sometimes. The Heir Prince does not let social expectations dictate what he is and how he interacts with the world. Nahldria kind of does.

J: So you simply prefer his presence.

W: … yes.

J: Any other burning preferences?

W: Um. I hate the taste of sourdough?

J: Really? Me, too!

W: Yeah? Ugh, I mean, who wants to eat something that has been left out on the counter for three months?

J: I know! And why would you willingly eat something that tastes like sour milk?

W: Exactly. And you know what else? I cannot stand fresh broccoli.

J: … What.

W: What?

J: How can you not like broccoli?

W: [shrugs] I do not know. I just do not like it.

J: [shudders] Ugh. Heathen. Okay, one last big question. Dun da da daaaah! If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

W: …

J: Well?

W: Seriously? That is your big wind-up?

J: It’s a perfectly legitimate question.

W: [grimacing] Not really. When is this ever going to be an issue?

J: Oh, it’s not. Trust me. But our readers are dying to know. Willow. Ol’ buddy.

W: [sighs] Okay. An animal. Um, a dragon?

J: [Gasp!] Racist!

W: What?

J: Dragons aren’t animals, you speciesist pig! They have all the same self-awareness and setience as you and I!

W: Okay, okay! Sorry! Non-sentient animals, got it.

J: Animals aren’t sentient! Bigot!

W: How about… a… …

J: Geez, you’re really putting a lot of thought into this.

W: Well, I…

J: Don’t hurt yourself.

W: How about a wombat?

J: … There aren’t any wombats on this continent. You don’t even know what a wombat is.

W: Well- I- that is why I picked it.

J: Because you’re dumb?

W: No. Because they are… mysterious… and powerful.

J: Good heavens, you really don’t know what a wombat is, do you? Seriously? Powerful? That’s the adjective you come up with to describe a wombat?

W: Well, then you tell me what a wombat is.

J: No way. If you don’t already know, then I’m not going to be the one to tell you.

W: You just do not know.

J: Yes I do!

W: Then what is it?

J: Hey, I already told you, I’m the one asking the questions.

W: You said that was the last one.

J: No, I didn’t.

W: Yes you did!

J: Nuh-uh.

W: Merciful gods, woman! You are crazy!

J: Well then, I suppose it’s a good thing you won’t remember any of this when you wake up, huh?

W: Wha-

J: Obliviate! [Poof!]

Fin

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