Amos interviews Grona
Evil Never Dies
by Rick Haynes
Amos peeks into the cottage and sees that no one is there.
“Empty. Just the way I like it.” He lights the candles and opens the file sitting on the table. He is doing our interview today, because he understands hate, unlike Jena’s other characters. He’s still angry over his brother’s survival. He spent good money to knock him off. He turns the page, and reads.
The Maxilla are a peaceful clan but when rumours of dark magic arrive once again, can they survive the latest threat from, Myracadonis, the shaman? Tarn is ordered to lead the Maxilla into battle for the first time, but a man with the mark of greatness will always have enemies. Grona hates everyone, including his son, Tarn. Both are destined to be heroes yet only one can stand before the gates of hell and win. The gods are always watching, but whose side will they ultimately favour?
Finally someone who understands hate. Amos smiles as Grona hammers on the door.
“It’s open,” he yells.
Grona gave a mighty push, almost tearing the door from its hinges as he entered the hovel. Dressed in tight fitting trews, leather jerkin and hat; he looks like another rich lord to Amos. Yet the probing eyes and broadsword strapped to his back make him reconsider.
“Welcome,” Amos says. “Please, sit down.” He motions to a chair at the table.
Grona ignores the invite and moves to the stone hearth, warming his hands over the freshly lit fire.
“It’s good to meet you, Mr. Grona.”
“Do you realize that your clothes look as stupid as the way you act. Now, let’s get this over with quickly. More to the point, where’s the ale in this pigsty?”
Amos points to the far end of the table. As Grona helps himself to a large slice of ham, and pours a measure of ale, Amos begins to wonder whether an interview with a man like this was such a good idea. Yet, he has never seen such power in any other warrior and feels compelled to continue.
“The file says you hate everyone. Have you ever murdered anyone? I’m open for tips if you have any to share.”
Grona’s eyes closed to mere slits, his right hand moving to a dagger on his belt.
Amos shudders, wondering whether he has gone too far.
“You could be my next victim,” Grona said, “but then again, I’m in a good mood today.”
He took a long drink of ale before continuing. “If you wish to live, Amos, never call me a murderer.”
Amos nodded, he could feel a dampness spreading over his back.
“I have killed many men even a few women, but I have never murdered anyone; well at least, none that didn’t deserve to die.”
“Very well," Amos replied. "Why do you hate everyone?”
“Define hate. I have few friends but apart from them I trust no one. My small band of men, have earned my respect and with them my circle of trust is complete. Everyone else is either trying to cheat me, bribe me or kill me. Who wouldn’t hate them? Besides, old men like me have only survived because of our skills and our hatred.”
Amos looks into Grona’s eyes seeking contempt or even lies. The cold hard stare tells him more than words.
“Yea gods! Which one of us is mad? Metaphorically speaking, I’m not alive, merely a figment of my author’s vivid imagination.”
“I understand your predicament, Grona, but think of the possibilities. It’s the only chance that you, a strong character in a fantasy tale, can tell your side of the story.” Amos waits patiently, sensing the turmoil in Grona’s mind as he paces to and fro.
“Maybe it would be fun at that, I’ve nothing else to do these days except wait for a second book. So I’ll play your little game but beware, once the beast inside me is aroused, it cannot easily be returned to whence it came.”
With his heart beating twice as quickly as normal, Amos knew that he had to tread carefully. And if he did, Grona would likely tell his tale. “The summary of your story says there are rumors of dark magic in your kingdom. Who is wielding it, and what does that mean to the people you hate?”
“A shaman has risen in the mountains and is intent on wiping the Maxilla clan from history. Why the Helgs have pledged allegiance to him is unknown, yet they have rushed to his banner and threaten my people.”
“And what does it mean to you?” Amos asks.
“Are you stupid or do you wish to goad me?”
An advancing Grona was never a pretty sight but one with a face of thunder would turn the stomach of the hardiest of men. Amos backed away and composed himself before continuing. “I meant no offence, Grona, merely asking.”
“What the hell do you think it means? I am a mercenary but if any person endangers my people I will fight until I have no more strength to give. The Maxilla people mean everything to me.”
“Who is Myracadonis, and what does he want from you?”
“He is the shaman and has unusual abilities; probably earned from the gods. No doubt, like so many others, he seeks power. But whilst I breathe he will never succeed. With a stupid name like Myracadonis, how could he?”
Amos laughs. “Your son Tarn is leading the soldiers into battle. How do you feel about that?”
”Pah! That boy is no true son of mine. Lucky! That’s what he is. I should be leading the men. What Lord Bokin sees in him is beyond me. He will fail and when he does, so will the Maxilla, unless …”
It would seem that you don’t love all the Maxilla, Amos thought.
“Why was he chosen instead of you? Seriously, someone who hates everyone sounds like the perfect commander to me. Get the job done.” Amos watches the warrior carefully. He sees Grona’s eyes narrow as he hears the word hate. Words form inside his mind but Amos decides, wisely, to keep his lips firmly shut.
“Tarn was fortunate; right place – right time. At the last battle all those years ago my men gave everything, yet he received the glory. A young pup succeeded but I bet he still pisses his pants when he remembers the fight. He stole my glory, hatred doesn’t even come close to how I feel about him.”
“You have enemies. Who are they?” Amos asks. Such information might be good to have one day.
“Ha! Ha! Ha! I can’t remember the last time anyone made me laugh. Perhaps I won’t cut your throat after all.” Grona drew his sword and held it aloft. Rubbing his fingers lovingly over the blade, he grinned at Amos before placing it to one side of the hearth “Everyone is my enemy. Many want to be the one that felled old Grona, and all will say that they were there. I spit on all of them, for as you can see, I am still alive.”
“What will happen if Myracadonis gets his way?”
“Over my dead body. We can’t lose; the author wouldn’t allow it, would he? How could he write the follow up novel, ‘Heroes Never Fade,’ if he did?”
“What will happen if he doesn’t?”
Grona takes a long draught of ale before continuing. “The shaman will die and we all go home as heroes, but think how boring that would be.” Grona looked into the flames of the fire. Amos guessed he had more to say. “Sometimes … I wonder what is in store for me. I have my faults … perhaps my author will decide to kill me off.”
“I’m from the Victorian Era. Jena has a fantasy world, but I’ve never been in it. What is your world like?”
“The lands of the Maxilla are rich. Not in gold or minerals but the soil is full of goodness. We can grow virtually anything and our ale and mead is the envy of our neighbours. The Stormborn to the west are noble horse warriors. The Seafarers to the south are, as their name suggests, masters of the oceans. The Temujin live all over the great plains to the north east, a land so vast that even a well travelled mercenary like me has seen only a tiny fraction of their realm. All are our sworn blood brothers. In times of need we aid each other and as each season passes the bond of nations strengthens.”
“If you could have anything you wanted, what would it be?”
“Rolling back the years would be good. I’ll have to ask my author,” Grona chuckles. “I have more money than I can spend these days but I’ll never stop wandering. Give me a whore every night to warm my bed, a good ale, my band of men around me and that would … nearly … be enough.”
“I want the glory in saving my people. No son of mine, nor anyone else, will ever take that away from me … twice.”
“Jena’s kind of a fickle Author. She’s into tormenting us, so she doesn’t usually show us in the best light. Do you feel Mr. Rick Haynes, portrayed you well?”
“No!” The words echo off the stone walls. “What else do I want? I want to meet him, tell him my feelings, explain that I have to win … for nothing else matters.”
“And if your author refuses?” Amos asks.
“I’ll find a way to meet him. And if I can’t persuade the man, I guarantee he won’t be writing another book.”
Not for the first time Amos is trying to understand the complexities of the man. He tries to make sense of the contrast between Grona loving his people, yet admitting that he hates everyone at the same time. He looks closely at the warrior. Grona’s face is afire with anger, his body tense as he clenches his fists together.
“Is there anything you would change?”
“My son Tarn, I wish him … dead. I should be the one showered with gold and land for saving my people at the last battle. If my lord had any guts he would acknowledge the better fighter, the better man, for I never take a step backwards.”
“Never?” Amos spoke without thinking, the word rushing out before his brain engaged. “Sor… sorry.”
“I have no scars on my back.” Grona snarled.
Amos quickly changed to something less contentious. “Who’s your favorite person?”
“Your least favorite? Mine would obviously be my brother. I hate him.”
I have already answered this question, but if the truth be known, I do hate everyone, even you. But perhaps I hate my author the most.”
The doorknob turns and Amos and Grona see Juliette walk in.
“What are you doing?” Amos asks. “I’m trying to conduct an interview here.”
“You were supposed to be finished an hour ago,” Juliette says. “And this is my house.”
Amos flushes, and turns to Grona. “Is there anything you would like to add?”
“She looks like a whore. How much does she want for a ploughing in the back bedroom?”
Amos ignores the comment. “Any images you want to share?”
“You want to read my mind now? But wait, there is one I would share with you. I can see a dagger sliding effortlessly over an exposed throat. Now I wonder whose neck that would be?”
Amos rises and tips his hat. “Maybe we’ll meet again someday. Thanks for coming.” He sneers at Juliette and leaves, slamming the door behind him.
“Now girl, let me show you what a good time really is.”