“Come in,” Captain Almanian calls when I knock on his office door. I open it and step inside, finding myself in a lamplit room that was looks as though it was once a small sitting room for palace guests, now turned into an office. The captain sits behind a large desk covered with a map and several sheets of parchment.
“Have a seat.” He waves me to a chair before the desk. “Let’s make this quick; I have a lot to do today.”
“I understand,” I assure him. “Thank you for being willing to meet with me.” I pull out my list of questions.
1. Do you like your job? Why or why not?
“I do my job.” His voice is expressionless, and he leaves it at that. I wait, but nothing else is forthcoming, so I go on to the next question.
2. Do you have any friends? Significant others?
“Not here in Alasia. I have friends and a wife back home in Malorn. Our two daughters are both grown and married.”
3. What is your idea of success?
4. What do you hate?
“Incompetence. Laziness. Insubordination. People who are supposed to have joined my side but refuse to cooperate and follow orders.” From the annoyance in his voice, I can tell Captain Almanian is thinking of someone in particular.
5. What do you do in your spare time?
“When I have a moment to sit down by myself, there are always maps and reports to study. I’ve also been looking through different parts of the palace over the last couple of weeks, trying to familiarize myself with its layout and get a better picture of what Alasians are like as a people. It’s fascinating how much you can learn from what you find in an art gallery, a throne room, a royal suite, not to mention a library.”
6. What did you have for breakfast?
“Steak and eggs and weak Alasian coffee.”
7. Did you ever have a pet? Describe it.
“My wife keeps a couple of cats at home. I don’t care much for them, but as long as they stay out of my way, we get along all right.”
8. Do you believe in luck? Why?
“I believe a good soldier makes his own luck.”
9. What is your favorite scent? Why?
The captain frowns as though the question irritates him. “Scent? I don’t know.” He shrugs. “Fresh coffee, maybe. The Malornian kind, of course. I’ve got to ask around and see where to buy it here. There must be merchants who bring it over.”
10. What is the strangest thing you have ever seen?
He considers this for a moment. “People who refuse to accept change,” he replies finally. “Look at Alasia, for example. The citizens know there’s no going back to the way things were, so you’d think they’d settle down and accept our authority and the many advantages of Malornian rule. And yet we continue to face uprisings and rebellion, which only make things worse when we have to crack down harder. I don’t blame the people for being angry about what happened; for hating
us, even. But how will it help them to keep struggling even when it’s obviously too late to save their kingdom?” He shakes his head. “Pride is a funny thing.”
11. What is the most frightening thing that has ever happened to you?
Captain Almanian shrugs again. “It’s always a little frightening planning a campaign or working out a battle strategy. Lives will be lost one way or another, but how many usually depends on how I decide to do things. The men under my command have all accepted the risks, of course, but there are often civilian casualties too. It’s unfortunate when that occurs, as it had to here in Alasia, but sometimes that’s what it takes to accomplish a mission. And like it or not, we all do what we must.”
He pushes back his chair. “Speaking of which, I have to get back to work. I hope this has been helpful.” Rising to his feet, he gestures to the door, signaling that the interview is at an end.