|This is about how I picture Rampus.|
Pushing my way through the heavy blue curtain that hangs across the entrance, I step into the throne room of the Alasian palace. Regent Rampus sits on the ornate golden throne in the center of the room, watching regally as I approach along the red carpet.
“Thank you for being willing to meet with me, sir,” I greet him, stopping before the throne. “I have a few questions for you, if you don’t mind.”
He waves his hand expansively. “What better way for the people of Alasia to get to know their new ruler? By all means, ask what you will.”
“Very well, sir.” He does not offer me a seat, so I pull out my pencil and parchment and prepare to write standing up.
1. Do you like your job? Why or why not?
“Of course I like my job.” He laughs as though this is a stupid question. “Regent is the most important job there is, except for king, of course. But since his royal highness Prince Korram is still too young to take on that position, I gladly offer him the benefit of my counsel and services.
The young prince is so grateful for my years of experience and the load I daily shoulder on his behalf. All of Malorn benefits along with him, of course, and I humbly submit that our kingdom has thrived under my management as never before in its history. And now Alasia and its citizens are beginning to experience the benefits of my leadership as well.”2. Do you have any friends? Significant others?
The regent laughs again. “Need you even ask? All of Malorn is my friend. My kingdom loves me, as Alasia soon will too. Any man in Malorn would do anything I asked of him. Any woman I smile at falls in love with me. The wealthy and powerful sit at my table; the wise and skillful lay their riches of knowledge and talent at my feet. All the resources of both kingdoms are at my disposal now. It’s all mine!” His eyes are alight and his voice has been growing in intensity, but abruptly he seems to remember where he is, and his gaze focuses on me once again. “And of course I use it all in the service of Prince Korram, soon to be King Korram. The dear boy has been like a son to me since his father died.”
3. What is your idea of success?
“Complete power, of course. Again, to be used in the service of my prince.”
4. What do you hate?
“People who stand in my way.”
5. What do you do in your spare time?
“Enjoy the benefits of my position.” He smiles, fingering the intricate designs carved into the gold on the arms of his throne. “Look around you. Life is full of little luxuries for those capable of earning them.” He leans back on the velvet cushions, obviously comfortable and satisfied, then seems to recollect himself again and quickly sits up. “But of course that’s only when my long day’s labor is done, and even then I spend most of my spare time trying to think of more ways to serve my kingdom – both of my kingdoms – and my prince.”
6. What did you have for breakfast?
“Eggs, sausage, warm oatcakes with some delightful sort of syrup, and three kinds of fresh fruit from the palace greenhouse.” Rampus smiles again. “Quite a treat in winter, wouldn’t you agree? A small example of those benefits I was speaking of. Oh, and I had a cup of that sweet spiced tea that they make over here. Supposedly the late royal family was fond of it; I thought partaking of a local beverage for breakfast would be a nice tradition for Alasia’s new ruler to carry on.”
7. Did you ever have a pet? Describe it.
The regent gazes thoughtfully into the distance. “I kept a hawk for nearly fifteen years. Trained it myself and used it for hunting. You don’t know anything about grace and power until you’ve watched a hawk bring down its prey. I always admired its deadly speed, its unfailing accuracy, its efficient use of that hooked beak and razor talons to shred some helpless creature’s flesh.”
8. Do you believe in luck? Why?
“No; I believe in power. People who sit around waiting for good luck never get anywhere, but with enough power – wisely applied, of course – a person can do anything.”
9. What is your favorite scent? Why?
The regent’s expression grows dreamy. “There’s something about walking into a banquet hall where a feast has been prepared in my honor. It doesn’t even matter what’s being served – the mingled aromas are almost intoxicating.” He inhales deeply as though smelling them now. “For some reason other people’s feasts never smell as good. When I received word that the Invasion had been successful, we had quite the celebration back in Malorn. You should have smelled the royal banquet I ordered for the occasion.” But then his smile fades into a frown. “It would have been a perfect celebration, commemorating a practically perfect victory, but then that fool Arden had to go and ruin my evening.”
“Arden, sir?” I venture.
“The palace minstrel. He was supposed to prepare some music in my honor – that is, in honor of what our army had accomplished in Alasia. Instead he decided to be clever and sing some dreadful ditty denouncing me as a butcher and calling for a quick end to my rule and victory to my enemies.” The regent glares down at me as though it was my fault. “He completely ruined my celebration!”
10. What is the strangest thing you have ever seen?
Regent Rampus’s expression darkens still more. “People who think they can defy me and get away with it. Like Arden. But I showed him; I had him thrown into the dungeon, where he can rot until the end of time as an example to anyone else who may be tempted to follow in his footsteps. And he’s lucky to have gotten away that easy.”
11. What is the most frightening thing that has ever happened to you?
The regent glares at me again, still in a bad mood. “Frightening things don’t happen to me. I make frightening things happen to other people. To those who defy me. To those who get in my way. To those who think they can keep me from attaining everything I want. Everything!” He rises to his feet in anger. “Tell that to your readers! Tell them that no one can stop me, no one can stand against me, no one had better dare to ever try to thwart my plans. Or they’ll regret it, and they don’t know what fear is until they have felt my wrath.”