An interview with Prince Ruadan for the "Elven Women’s Home & Fashion Magazine"
Could you please confirm your name and status for our readers?
Ruadan, prince and heir to the throne of Fearann – but soon I’ll be crowned as your king and sovereign. As if you didn’t know this, foolish woman.
Heir? But you are the youngest brother, Your Royal Highness. Isn’t Prince Elathan next in line?
[Ruadan sneers] He lost the right to the throne when he committed high treason.
Yes. You can call it murder if it’s preferable to you. Centuries ago, he secretly built an army to overthrow the king and claim the throne for himself. Fortunately, I was able to stop and expose his treachery before he succeeded. He was in hiding for a very long time, like a rat in a sewer, awaiting his moment. I did everything to protect my father, but with the help of his magic, my brother sneaked into the castle. Everyone knows that weapons don’t work in the royal chambers so the king is protected against assassins. But Elathan used a forgotten, secret corridor to enter his own rooms and get the magic dagger our father gave him when he was born. Then he entered the king's chamber and killed him in his sleep, like the coward he is. [Ruadan turns away for a moment, tears welling up in his eyes]
Will he be punished?
Oh yes. As soon as my guards find him, I’ll officially accuse him of high treason. A member of the royal family can only be sentenced to death by a court of the oldest ones. If they find him guilty, he’ll die. Beheaded by his own sword - or an axe like a common murderer. I wish they’d let me do it. It would be my pleasure.
(Shocked gasp) But he’s your only brother!
Brother? [spitting: a very un-royal behaviour in the humble opinion of the interviewer] Only by name. I am not even sure if we share the same blood. His mother was a whore. I have been told she had many lovers. He might be the son of a peasant for all I know. Everyone knows how committed our former queen was to the simple people. I know a loyal servant, an old nurse, who will testify to that. When I was young, I looked up to him as any younger brother would. But he only despised me, used every chance to humiliate me before the king so he was the only one to own his love. It will be the best for the kingdom if he dies.
How was your youth?
I grew up between servants who looked to my every wish and whim. I seldom saw my mother, only on rare occasions when she visited my nursery. She was like the softest touch of the wings of a butterfly, light as air. She looked at me, called me her beautiful son and kissed me. Oh, how much I loved her! She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, and no other compares to her still. On rare occasions I was allowed to watch from a balcony when my mother and father held court or hosted a feast. I only had eyes for her. But there he was, my noble brother, always standing beside the king’s throne or sitting at his right side, the place of greatest honor.
Even when I grew up I was rarely called to appear before the king. He always loved him more than me, being strict with his education because he wanted him to reign over the kingdom one day. He thought that it would make Elathan weak if he showed him his love. I think the king lusted for my mother’s … attentions, but he never loved her or me. He couldn’t forget his first wife, his undying love. [smiles ironically]
What are your plans for the kingdom when you’re king?
I’ll bring the kingdom back to its former glory. I will lead my people into war. First we’ll conquer the wild lands, the giants, the meerfolk and the creatures of the underworld. Finally, I’ll rage war against the humans. The poor souls aren’t aware that only a thin curtain separates our worlds, and that we can cross the threshold any time we want.
We are all around them, watching them … well, those of us who are interested in their foolish doings. The strong ones will be useful as slaves to build the new palace I’m planning. The rest of them will die, as they are destined. The king has kept the peace for many years, but he has left his people weak and unprotected against any enemy who should choose to attack the elven realms. Now the reign of Ruadan has begun.
Talking of peasants, are you aware that many of your simple folk who don’t have the gift of magic suffer hunger because their fields lay bare without the help of the king and his magicians, the dues to the palace are so high that they hardly have enough to eat themselves? Have you seen the poor conditions of the villages?
Next question, please [yawns]
What will you do if Elathan decides to build an army again and attack the palace to reclaim the throne? The people still love him and think that he’s the rightful heir. They haven’t forgotten all the good his mother, the late queen, did for them. And he’s still said to be the best swordsman in the kingdom. Do you think you would stand a chance against him if it came to a direct fight man-on-man?
[Deadly sneer] You clearly overestimate my brother. I can assure you, he will die, be it by the hand of the executioner or my own. Even if he finds a way to become a real threat to me, I will find a way to defeat him. His damn pride and sense of honor will stand in his way. Besides, every man has his weakness, and I’ll make sure I find his, whatever it may be.
Thank you, Sire. It was a great honour to be received in audience by Your Royal Highness. Interview concluded.
Now, let me relieve you of those interview notes to ensure they don't fall into the wrong hands.
Oh, that’s very kind of you, Sire. [blushes]
[To the guards] Throw this woman into the dungeon for her impertinent questions. (After a moment) Wait. The wench is quite comely. Bring her to my chamber to warm my bed later. Tomorrow, you
can introduce her to the wolves. And make sure not to feed them at all so they’ll crave a little snack in the morning. This interview is over.
(Never published since the interviewer mysteriously disappeared. Her notes were found much later in the sewers beneath the palace.)