Welcome to the first ever CI (character interview) on Muse Sings! The idea is to find another writer who wants to play and have them pick a character for me to interview. They may need help fleshing out the character, or they may just want to have fun. The idea comes thanks to Jodi Becker. She interviewed a character from an old serial idea of mine and it helped a lot. I’ll know how much when I get back to that story. I only got to record the end of that interview, so it makes little sense as a post.
Today’s victim is Sethalor, from Kyrias‘ work in progress, Estyria. By Kyrias’ request, I needed to play the part of a minor (bodiless) goddess of Estyria’s world, Tavaneth. Apparently, Sethalor only talks to deities, the arrogant guy. Oh well, at least I get to poke at him harder this way *cackles* Enjoy!
Saronai: The weight of Tavaneth wears you, Regent. Stretched thin and taut.
Sethalor: It does, but less than I like. I am, after all, regent and not king. *smiles bitterly*
Saronai: King is not the only seat that matters. Is that really the only reason for your flagging spirits?
Sethalor: You and your cohorts have kept me from my revenge. That, perhaps, wears more heavily than most. Is justice to be kept from me and mine? Will I be forced to bear the shame of not avenging my family? And to be denied my birthright because of my desire for revenge — it is intolerable.
Saronai: It is not our place to deliver or withhold such things. What does Tavaneth need of vengeance?
Sethalor: You, you let it be known that I was not fit to wear the crown. You denied me on the very day I should have been crowned, and yet you dissemble now? Pfah. Tavaneth might have no need of vengeance, but what matters it if I sought my own revenge? Did the gods not see fit to allow my parents’ and siblings’ blood to be shed? Why not the blood of murderers, of king-slayers, of those who would kill mere babes in their sleep?
Saronai: Tavaneth needs more than vengeance. More than a thirst for power through birthright. Tavaneth needs qualities you’ve buried. To what purpose?
Sethalor: *slams hand down on the table* And this is better? This? This endless quest of someone else to carry the throne. Endless days of frittering away time while we wait for the chosen one. And pray tell, just what qualities will the new monarch have that I lack? What will he bring to the throne?
Saronai: Did I say you lacked these qualities? You evade the question, Regent. Why do you bury all but vengeance and power?
Sethalor: Vengeance and power — what else is there? Have you not taken everything else away?
Saronai: Then you answer your own question. Time means little to seat the right person.
Sethalor: I would have been a good king. A decent king.
Saronai: Given time, perhaps.
Sethalor: That’s insulting. My parents taught me well, even if I was third in line. I would not have shamed their memory thus. Not in the way you intimate.
Saronai: You hide from yourself, regent. As plain as the words you would not say. You ask his qualities. You fear hers. What will she bring to the throne that you could not? That’s what haunted your thoughts, isn’t it?
Sethalor: *laughs* So like the gods to turn the question back on its querent. What, indeed. I do not know. These three candidates, who have finally made the grade…. Not to flatter myself, but I’ve sat in on my brothers’ lessons since I was old enough to read and speak. I know more about diplomacy, of kingsmanship, of war than they possibly could, with the exception of Riordan Byrne. What would, what could they bring to the table that I cannot? And her. *voice softens* Do you bring her here to taunt me? She has no memory of me, of our time together. She thinks I despise her. Did you have to rip even that from me?
Saronai: And why does she think you despise her, regent?
Sethalor: I, I do not know. Even as I try to court her, she shies away.
Saronai: You lost your birthright, your thoughts before fueled by vengeance and the right to what she stands to gain. Feelings that strong, to bury what you hide leak out.
Sethalor: My resentment? *muses* I could regain the throne through her. But no, you must needs make it difficult. Now I cannot court her without her thinking that I have an ulterior motive. And do you think I would prefer she gained the throne? That blasted circlet of gold and that overwrought piece of furniture has already cost me the lives of those I held most dear.
Saronai: You fear she lacks the strength?
Sethalor: Having strength doesn’t mean that they cannot be killed by a knife in the dark.
Saronai: There are many types of strength, and all mortals can be killed by a knife in the dark. Do you recall the oath to claim your birthright?
Sethalor: I made an oath to avenge my parents and to see the rightful ruler on the throne.
Saronai: The oath in your heart, before she refused to come back. Vengeance. You ask what makes these candidates worthy. You tell me of experiences, necessary ones, teachable ones. What truly makes you worthy?
Sethalor: And you do not tell me what **I** lack that cannot be taught as well.
Saronai: You do not ask a question, you pose a denial. You heap more ground over what is truly needed.
Sethalor: Do I flatter myself by saying I’m a good man at heart, a decent man? What more do you ask?
Saronai: You bury a good man, Regent. You ask what you lack, truly refusing to believe you lack anything. Taventh needs a servant, not a resentful king with his mind on vengeance.
Sethalor: *slaps both palms on the table and roars* Dammit to the eighteenth hells!
Saronai: It is not what you lack, but what you bring.
Sethalor: Fine. Be that as it may. Just take everything. At this point, I shall be glad to be rid of you, of this place once the rightful monarch is decided.
Saronai: Are we really taking it away? Or are you shoving it away? Which hurts more in the end?
Sethalor: And what will I have if I stay? To rule as a lord when I could have been king? To have no say over the governance of what should have been mine? Hah! If you think I am bitter now…
Saronai: Still your mind focuses on the wrong things. You refuse to admit what you truly lost. What you stand to gain. Is the throne really more important to you?
Sethalor: What I have truly lost? What I have truly lost is those I loved. All of them. The throne would have been meagre enough recompense, if at all, for their lives. But to lose what my parents died for — that I could not tolerate.
Saronai: Did your parents die for a chair, or for Tavaneth?
Sethalor: A chair, or Tavaneth, is there a difference? They certainly didn’t die for a cause. They were cut down in their sleep when out on journey to another kingdom.
Saronai: And what of your betrothed? Is the throne, her memories, more important than her life?
Sethalor: Estyria. You mean her? She betrayed me. She told me she would come, and then she didn’t. Even as I was on what I thought to be my deathbed, she refused to come. A paltry two years, and she forgets the face of the man she claimed to have loved, the man she claimed she would marry. What need have I for such a fickle woman?
Saronai: You assume her memory loss was recent.
Sethalor: Whether it took her two months or two days to forget is hardly important when her betrayal is still a fresh stain on her soul.
Saronai: Or are you letting your fears stain reality? What makes you so sure she had any more control than you? You accused us of taking her memories. Now you blame her for giving them away.
Sethalor: Ah, no. I blame her for giving them away.
Saronai: Why does she shy away, indeed.
Sethalor: I blame you for bringing her back to this land with her memories gone. Was that necessary? And now, my betrayer is a potential candidate for the throne. What delicious irony is this? I’d give anything to spit in your face.
Saronai: You misplace your blame, your hate at the true betrayers. She is here because, despite who sits on the throne, Tavaneth calls her. And Tavaneth is not the only one who needs her either.
Sethalor: The true betrayers. The true betrayers. Rest assured, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Saronai: Yes. You assume your vengeance denied. You assume she remembered to follow. You assume she chose to forget. You assume much. Have you ever thought, losing the throne is the best course to gaining your vengeance? And losing her memories, an opportunity to prepare, rather than shelter her?
Sethalor: I shall have my vengeance sooner or later.
Saronai: Or perhaps chasing one, will lose you the other.
Sethalor: Bah. You and your riddles. I tire of them. Her, her I might be persuaded to forgive. But wait, you imply the loss of her memories is no accident. That it’s not the logical erosion of memories left untouched in a frivolous mind.
Saronai: And so I repeat another evaded question. Would you rather she remembered, and died with the rest?
Sethalor: Evaded? No. You speak in riddles and assume I understand them. I would have rather she forgot and been safe.
Saronai: And yet she needs forgiveness for a choice never hers.
Sethalor: Will you never speak plainly?
Saronai: Would you truly listen?
Sethalor: Did she, or did she not willfully forget her promise?
Saronai: The real problem is your assumption she did, your lack of trust. Your lack of thought for another, for the one you claim to love. What do you suppose a bond feels like across worlds when one is on his deathbed? What decisions do you suppose the parents would make? *Withdraws her presence*
Sethalor: *runs his hands through his hair* Damn, damn and triple damn. Damn you gods for being interfering busybodies. Damn you for always having the last word.