For C in my A-Z Wilds Duology Challenge, I wrote a character interview with one of the two leads in Haunt of the Wilds–a gay romance/adventure fantasy novel.
Caliebb Renaveri – Character Interview
He takes up little space on the bench seat, as if trying not to call attention to himself. His blond hair seems darker in the muted light of the office, as if shadows stain the strands.
“Caliebb, it’s so good to meet you,” I say. “Your name, it’s a bastardization of Caleb, isn’t it?”
His smile is tentative. “If you say so,” he says. “I think you would know better than I considering you’ve had such a huge role in creating me.”
“Eh, it doesn’t work exactly like that. People sort of…”—I wiggle my fingers through the air as if to mimic the magic of the process—“create themselves. I just try to listen.”
His smile turns patiently disbelieving, but he doesn’t contradict me.
“Right. Let’s start easy. How old are you?”
“And you’re employed by the Founteinn Society, correct?”
“That’s one way to put it,” he says softly.
“How else might you put it?” I ask.
“With only rare exceptions, mage springs are beholden to Founteinn. We owe them much: our education, our care, room, board, sustenance. We work to pay that debt off, except for those few who came from very well off families. So, yes, technically we are employed by Founteinn, but unlike the guards or analysts or contract negotiators, etcetera, we don’t exactly have the freedom to quit.”
“Sounds more like indentured servitude,” I say.
Caliebb shrugs noncommittally. “There’s safety there. My country relies on Founteinn to defend our borders, just as Founteinn relies on us mage springs.”
“What exactly can you do as a mage spring that requires you to need safety, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“We bolster people, allow them to perform far beyond their normal capabilities.” He hesitates, then sighs. “Essentially, we’re only as powerful as the people around us and that makes us vulnerable, which is the whole purpose behind the creation of Founteinn. We’re protected from abuse from a very young age and in return we support our country.”
“Put that way, you have a pretty good deal going on then.”
His gaze slides off me and he nods, but the motion feels more like an acceptance of my statement rather than agreement. He certainly doesn’t seem inclined to respond.
So I clear my throat and say, “You mentioned you’ve been with Founteinn from a very young age. About how old were you when you came under their protection? And can you tell me a little about where you come from?”
A pained expression flits across Caliebb’s face and his eyes lose focus. Then he shifts on the bench seat and tiredly rubs his temple. “I wish I could. I was too young to remember the transition clearly. I get…” He trails off, obviously uncomfortable.
“But you remember some things?” I push.
Caliebb’s face shutters. “I don’t know. I can’t tell anymore. My memories from then are muddled.”
I contemplate pushing further, but he looks so self-conscious I decide to move on. “What do you do for fun? When you’re not working.”
His slight smile returns, but doesn’t reach his eyes. “I play a bone flute, and no, that’s not a euphemism.”
I laugh and he relaxes, tension releasing from his shoulders.
“Since you brought it up,” I say, still chuckling, “this gives me the perfect opportunity to segue into a question about your love life. Anyone special you want to talk about, someone recent or not? Anyone playing your flute—and that is a euphemism.”
Caliebb brushes a hand through his hair. “Nothing,” he murmurs. “Then again, it’s hard to create anything meaningful when you’re constantly traveling all over the country. Plus—” But here he cuts off, blinking languidly, calling my attention to the curved shadows under his eyes.
“Plus?” I prompt.
He bites his lower lip in a nervous gesture. “I don’t spend all night with anyone.” He blows out a sigh and adds, “I get nightmares and I don’t like disturbing people. I’ve had a few willing partners, but no one I would have trusted for anything beyond a shared moment.”
I frown. “I was hoping for at least a tantalizing hint of some love lost or a fun story about an ex.”
Caliebb shakes his head slowly. “Sorry to disappoint. No stories, unless you think my boyhood crushes are worth a mention. But nothing ever came of them and I’ve since grown beyond caring.” At my sad expression, he laughs quietly. “I’m boring, I know.”
“You’re not boring. But you do look tired.”
He nods. “Always that,” he says.
“Then why don’t we cut this short and let you get some rest before you have to head out on your next job. I hear it’s going to be on the strenuous side.”
He gives me a look full of suspicion, but I merely smile innocently. As he moves to leave, his movements purposeful and overly thought out, like a drunk worried he’ll fall, I stop him with one last question.
“Do you think it’ll happen?” I ask.
He turns with confusion in his eyes. “What?”
Caliebb seems to take the question seriously, shifting his weigh as his expression turns contemplative. “I don’t know,” he says. “I don’t see how it would be feasible since I’m beholden to Founteinn, but…” He swallows. “I wouldn’t be adverse to it,” he finishes.
Then he gives a last nod and slips from my office.
Haunt of the Wilds
The Wilds Duology: Book I
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