Theloq and I now sit, ensconced in a small cove in the library. I’m fairly certain this time that I have the right Theloq. He’s the perfect mix of stern and well. . . stern-er. But let’s not get into that. He’s polite, at least, and doesn’t wear his emotions on his shirtsleeves. At the moment, we’re nursing twin cups of coffee. Theloq’s is as black as an ace of spades, and of course he disapproves of my waste of cream and sugar.
“So, I’m here to ask you some questions.”
He nods. He knows this. I’ve said it probably three times, but I haven’t fished my notebook out of my bag. I’d rather sit here, enjoy the silence, and smell that perfect mixture of old-book scent and coffee. He takes a long drink and his eyes calmly meet mine. “So ask them.”
“Right.” I fumble in my bag, and fumble again to find the right pages. I’m not going to re-ask the questions I’ve passed. . . it’s just safer that way. Aha! Here’s the page.
“Well, Emily wants to know if you have a best friend.”
Theloq doesn’t even really acknowledge my question, but rather sits back, crosses his ankles and his arms, and just sits there for a moment. I busy myself with peoplewatching and my coffee.
“Having friends is dangerous enough,” he said quietly. “I would not choose anyone to bear the burden of being a ‘best’ friend.”
Hm. Makes sense. “But who do you trust the most?” I asked. “That’s almost the same thing.”
“Trust?” He snorts. “I trust Gnaash the most out of all the people I know.”
I feel my jaw drop open. “Um . . . what? You –”
Just as evenly, just as carefully, Theloq replies. His voice is thinner this time. “Gnaash’s only loyalties are to himself, therefore they cannot be bought. I trust him to remain as black and as evil as he always has.”
“Oh.” I plainly look down at the sheet. “What’s your middle name?”
“Don’t have one.” He drained his cup and tapped two fingers on the table. Silently and efficiently, our cups were refilled, and I was provided with an entire carafe of cream and bowl of sugar. “There’s no need for one.”
“What about this one: Did you ever have a hero or someone you looked up to when you were younger? Still from Emily.” I’m trying to keep copious notes, but the books, and the coffee, and the fact that I’m here keep distracting me. I watch someone glide through the doors wearing white. I’m pretty sure, too, that it’s Cayrn. Thought she was gone . . .
“There were Keepers when I was a child. Three men. Before the elfhunters, when we could still trust men.”
I want to know more. I want to know their names, see their faces, know what their talents are. But Theloq’s not one to offer details. Bummer. I know so little about his childhood. It’s really quite unfair. I even pause for about a minute, not writing, not saying anything, just watching him. He carefully watches back.
Nothing. No more information.
“Okay . . .” I sigh and glance down at my book. The woman in the white dress is across the room, just vanishing down a book alcove. “Is Cayrn here?”
“That’s one of the questions, is it?”
“Well,” I swallow. The white dressed woman is gone. “I just wondered. Maybe she would know who was masquerading as you–” I turned back to meet Theloq’s raised eyebrows and the message on his face. “But . . . I suppose that doesn’t matter. Yes. Okay. Well . . . let’s skip over to some questions from Hannah.”
If I’m not mistaken, I nearly see a Theloq eye-roll. He masters himself admirably, though, and doesn’t respond positively or negatively.
“What are your thoughts on puppies?”
“Basically useless, unless they’re ratters.”
This gives him the slightest pause. “Depends on its origins. Some cheese can be quite questionable.”
I hide a smile and scribble down his answers. Even if these questions are ‘basically useless’ in the realm of giving me insight into his character, they’re harmless and fun, which is more than I can say for most of the other interview entries.
“If you had the chance to kill your worst enemy right now, who would that be and would you do it?” I paraphrase Hannah’s question to get a little more information out of the taciturn elf. As he sits in silence, I tap my pen on the pad of paper and stare into the floor-to-ceiling shelving. There are books here, written by Elenathians that I will never know and never meet, about subjects that I could not hope to grasp, in languages that I will never understand. If only people knew how big their books were on the inside!
“The answer is yes. I would kill my worst enemy if I ever got the chance. I’ve done it before, with Ermalan, though I can’t say he was my worst enemy, and I will do it should I meet any of the others.”
“Er- the others? Worst enemy is like ‘best friend’. You only have one.”
“They have different degrees of evil. I’d say whoever I was going up against would be my worst enemy at that moment.”
Yes. Yes, indeed.
The white-dressed woman appears again, and I squint. I don’t think that it could possibly be Cayrn. Too short. And her blonde hair wasn’t white enough for it to be Cayrn. I’m a little surprised that I don’t know the answer to Hannah’s next question.
“Where did your name come from? Does it mean anything?”
“My mother. Yes.”
“Um.” I bend over my notebook. “What does it mean? It’s elvish, yes. I know that. But what does Theloq mean?”
“That wasn’t part of Hannah’s question.” He pointed at me. “No additions.”
My jaw drops. He can’t not answer this! I sputter. “It’s implied that you tell us what your name means.”
He snorts and lifts his mug to his lips.
“It’s the imitation of how a hawk shrieks.” He concedes finally. “My mother must have known I’d never be without a hawk in my vicinity. “
“Emily wants to know if you dream up ways to torture Gwaeron.” I smile a little, because I can totally hear her saying that.
I hear footsteps pass by, but my back is to most of the room, and so I don’t turn and look. I’m watching Theloq’s face for any sign of an answer. He makes no motion, and his eyes are very still.
“Of course he does! And if he tells you any different, he’s lying,” says a sudden voice, rather laughingly.
And of course, when I turn, I come face to face with an Elenathian version of myself.