A Taste of Celta: Interview with T'Ash of HeartMate
Robin: Hey, T'Ash.
Robin: Tell me a little about yourself. Why don't we start out with the physical?
T'Ash: GLARES. Why?
Robin: I need to know more about you so I can do your story justice.
T'Ash: SNORTS. Huh. I don't care to talk about myself, to be--
Robin: Really, T'Ash.
T'Ash: GRINS. Like that, are you? Sort of like Danith?
Robin: (uncomfortable) Come on, T'Ash, please? CLEARS THROAT. The basics, including physical?
T'Ash: Can't you see?
Robin: WINCES. Puh-lease?
T'Ash: SIGHS HEAVILY. My name is T'Ash. Head of the GreatHouse Ash. It is who and what I am. I am less than 2 meters tall and of a wide build, both inherent in my genes from my family and because I am not only a jeweler, but a smith. My eyes are blue. Light blue, I suppose you would say, and to be precise, the color of a sky-crystal. My hair is fine, thick and shoulder length, I don't pay much attention to it. I am 37. Sometimes I feel old.
Robin: Any distinctive physical marks?
T'Ash: You mean scars. Yes, I have scars. From my Downwind boyhood, from the vengeance stalk. Blaser scars, knife scars. I have hard, working hands with callouses, but am not any sort of beast, my body hair is light.
Robin: Shoes and clothes size?
T'Ash: Shoe size. Large. Clothes sizes, large, need built shirts for my shoulders, but all nobles have their clothes built.
Robin: What are your favorite clothes?
T'Ash: Why should this matter? None. I like the embroidery on my cuffs, showing I'm T'Ash. When I was a child, I never anticipated being T'Ash, it was beyond the realm of possibility. My oldest brother Nuin would be T'Ash.
Robin: CLEARING THROAT AGAIN. Have you been married before?
T'Ash: You jest. I slake my needs in the willing bodies of tavern wenches, pay them well. Noble ladies and their seductive glances make me wary, they do not charge a price up front, so who knows how much they will soak you for? Never married because I was busy walking the vengeance stalk, re-establishing my GreatHouse, rebuilding my Great House, practicing my Flair with gems and making my reputation as a jeweler and my shop, T'Ash's Phoenix, a success. I have been extremely busy. I -- I must admit I crafted a HeartGift during my last Passage, many years ago, 17. I briefly touched my HeartMate then, so I know one soul is made for mine. Why should I settle for anyone else? So, I wait.
Robin: Good idea. Any children?
T'Ash: I am not a libertine. No.
Robin: How about your father?
T'Ash: What of yours?
Robin: Let's not.
T'Ash: See how YOU like questions? SIGHS. Father was Nuin, as all the first sons of Ash GreatHouse are named Nuin T'Ash. He had the responsibilities of the head of a Thirteen First Family, the head of our own family. His Father, FatherSire Nuin, had retired, being bedridden. Father's Flair was for Storms. Lightning. Thunder. He could predict, cause, deter. That's what he did when called upon by the Noble Council. He taught my brothers and me to fight. He paid more attention to my brother Nuin, of course, teaching him the things he should know to be House Head. I loved Father, he was hard but fair. Father's dead, he perished with Mother and Nuin and Gwidion. I, the youngest, survived.
Robin: And your mother?
T'Ash: MOUTH TWISTS. Mother was Jasmine. And she smelled of jasmine, not the Earth plant, but the hybrid Celtan. What a scent. It haunts me sometimes. She made perfumes, light things, she didn't have a great Flair, but was a daughter of a GraceHouse. But my father loved her. They were HeartMates. She chose to die with him. I think she could have 'ported from the window. I guess the firebombspell, the explosion, smoke and fire was too quick for the others to 'port out. I don't know. Rue, the bastard, said if the fire gained a touch on you, it would eat you. I don't know if that happened. I don't know why they couldn't escape. Father would have checked on my brothers, Nuin and Gwidion, then me, first, before 'porting to the HouseHeart or outside, where I watched. I can't recall, now, how quickly everything happened. Except in dreams. Ah, Mother. Father loved Mother. Nuin loved Mother. Gwidion loved Mother. I loved Mother, too.
Robin: How about your schooling?
T'Ash: You have a stupid list. Why do you wish to know? I was schooled at home by FatherSire, Father, Mother and tutors until I was six. Then. Do you mock me? It is true I grew up Downwind, so I learned to survive and be smart on the streets. I can protect what I own. My Flair had just blossomed before the destruction of my family. I had undergone my first Passage, so I knew a little on how to develop it. And I had the book, the history of the Ash family, I had been reading it when Rue and his scruffs took the Great House. So, I did go to a drunken old woman who was once a GrandHouse lady. I paid her precious pennies to give me a smattering of manners, to help me with my speech, even though I continue to lapse into Downwind shortspeech now and again. You would be wise not to ever hint that my education is lacking. I have mastered my Flair, and it is powerful. I weathered three Passages. I can smith weapons, I can quarry stones and shape them, I make excellent pieces of jewelry, all with my Flair. I learned most of this on my own, but for two years I apprenticed with a glistensmith on the edges of Downwind. He was a scruff, a scroungy, stingy master, but he knew his trade and I learned it. My reputation is great and will get greater. My work is sought after. I can turn down commissions and craft what I please. Don't forget that.
Robin: Any previous occupations?
T'Ash: When I was a youth Downwind, it was whatever I had to do. Steal. I didn't do much begging, I came into my size in my early 'teens. Nor did I whore. When I was young and nubile, I scuttled around like a frightened mouse. By the time I was older and tougher, I had other means to me than selling my body, even then I had an affinity for stones. I made divination dice, polished and imbued cheap jewelry and amulets with charms. Things of that sort.
Robin: Your skills?
T'Ash: IMPATIENT LOOK Haven't you been paying attention? I am the best with stones, my Flair is great, I rarely lose a fight. I can design and create new patterns for jewelry and weapons and divination dice. I am a tolerable shopkeeper.
Robin: What was the worst thing that happened as a child?.
T'ASH: SCOWLS. You know. I don't need to say it again.
Robin: Then the worst thing that happened as an adult?
T'ASH: CONSIDERING. I would like to say my last Passage, but that was not so fearful to me as the last two fights that I was in on the vengeance stalk. I went berserk. I deeply fear that. I hate the idea of all that uncontrolled violence within me. Let's not talk about it.
Robin: Your best childhood memory?
T'ASH: I've been having trouble with my memories, even the good ones. I will have to think on this. Waking up on one warm and sunny day, my Nameday? Having all of my wishes fulfilled? A picnic in the grassyard and games later. My Mother holding me. My Father placing his hand on my shoulder in pride. He did that once.
Robin: What about your best adult memory?
T'ASH: Hard to say. Triumph when I got my title and my GreatHouse back, when my family's murderers were dead or banished and I was vindicated before the entire Noble Council. That was sweet. I also felt good when my shop was a success and I knew that my Flair for jewelry was prized. Or when I saw the last layer of armourcrete go onto my new Residence. All very good memories.
Robin: What does your best friend think of you?
T'ASH: BLINKS. My best friend, Holm Holly, thinks that I am too staid lately, that I don't take enough chances or risks. That I have ordered my life too much. I like it this way. Adventurous lives are frightening lives. But most of all they are dangerous lives. I cannot have danger in my life because I haven't yet refounded my line.
Robin: What of money?
T'ASH: I don't think about money too much. My annual income is such that I don't need the annual noble gilt allowed to me, don't want it. I prefer to earn my own through my Flair and my pieces. I charge much and receive it. My jewelry is worth it.
Robin: Who was your most recent lover?
T'ASH: LOOKS ASIDE. I don't have a lover. I visit the taverns when the need is upon me. It doesn't matter which woman I have. I'm not celibate. Well, perhaps this last month or so. Sex is overrated, a physical release and nothing else. I know what a HeartMate marriage consists of. I will wait.
Robin: (glad the sex stuff is out of the way) What is your least liked social situation?
T'ASH: Noble society social events, not rituals, particularly if there are a lot of ladies. I am not comfortable around ladies, I know I am not smooth and do not express myself well.
Robin: Do you have a pet peeve?
T'ASH: AGAIN STARING.
Robin: (feeling really foolish)
T'ASH: A peeve? Something so trivial? A pet peeve. Ha! Zanth smells. He likes killing sewer rats and prowling Downwind, and when he comes back he reeks of this awful odor. Though he is not really a pet, he is my Fam.
Robin: SPEAKING FASTER. Your favorite food?
T'ASH: I like cocoa. In anything.
Robin: Least favorite food.
T'ASH: Internal organs of any animal. I ate too much of that when I grew up. Any sort of spoilt meat or vegetables or fruit for the same reason.
Robin: You hate people who.......?
T'ASH: I hate people who abuse others. Are bullies, or evil and kill for the sake of killing or for ambition or greed, like Rue and Flametree killed my family.
Robin: You respect people who......?
T'ASH: I respect people who stand up for their rights. Who fight for what they want. Who endure and survive.
Robin: What was your favorite vacation?
T'ASH: What's that? I love my work.
Robin: Tell me about your best friend and how you met.
T'ASH: FLASHING A GRIN. Holm Holly. I met him when he got caught Downwind during his second Passage. I was in a tavern looking at my beer. He started a fight. T'ASH LAUGHS. Zanth took a couple of pieces out of a couple of scruffs. T'ASH SLANTS A LOOK AT ROBIN. You tell THAT story when you tell his story.
Robin: Maybe, come on, let's hear more.
T'ASH: BEGINNING TO FIDDLE WITH SOME JEWELRY WIRE IN HIS HANDS. Holm's emotions were too strong and influenced me to also flash Passage. I helped him, saved his life, during those innumerable death duels of his. He helped me on the vengeance stalk and before the council.
Robin: Do you have a pet?
T'ASH: A pet? Don't let Zanth hear you call him that. He is a Fam. A mature cat of common origin, but very large, some genetic strain there, I think. He is sentient, and my familiar and my family. He is a tom with an attitude. I love him.
Robin: You live in?
T'ASH: PAYING MORE ATTENTION TO WHAT HE IS DOING WITH BEADS AND THE WIRE INSTEAD OF THE QUESTIONS. I live in my rebuilt Residence.. T'ASH Residence>
Robin: And before that?
T'ASH: I lived in a guest cottage on the Holly compound before my Residence was built, but I spared no expense on the construction and it happened quickly with top-rated Flaired magecrafters. Before that I lived in a shack Downwind. Before that at my master's when I was an apprentice. Before that -- why think of this? Any hole I could find.
Robin: What do you admire most?
T'ASH: SERIOUS. I most admire whole GreatHouse families, with extended family members working together to perpetuate the line.
Robin: What would you never do?
T'ASH: I would never cheat, do something dishonorable, betray a friend. Why do we have to speak of this?
Robin: What do you want most?
T'ASH: I would most like to find my HeartMate and continue my life and my line. I want her to love me.
Robin: When working through a problem, you talk to.......?
T'ASH: Zanth. Even if I don't talk to him, he talks to me.
Robin: What do you procrastinate about?
T'ASH: Dealing with society women. I do not place myself in situations where any lady is expecting me to do anything whatsoever.
Robin: What do you dislike?
T'ASH: Asking for favors or exchanging services with the Thirteen First Families. You have to be careful, or you will lose more than you gain.
Robin: Your overriding need?
T'ASH: My overriding need or want is to win my HeartMate! She is here. I can have her and her love, and she will be the mother of my children and my line, the Ash GreatHouse, will be assured. This is important because no one has loved me for a long time. Or no human. Cats love in a different, more selfish manner. This is important because I am the last of my line, a line that began on Terra, before the generation ships, continued on the ships and on Celta. It must continue. I cannot let it die, to do so would be to betray my murdered family and all my ancestors.
Robin: What obstacles stand in your way?
T'ASH: I'll not let anything stand in my way. I will change the mind of my HeartMate, make her love her by my HeartGift. I am tired of talking to you. Too much talk and not enough action. Bide well. STALKS OFF.
Robin: SIGHS, BUT IS STILL SURPRISED SHE GOT SO MUCH OUT OF HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE.