It's time for Character Encounters again!!! Character Encounters is a monthly writing link-up hosted by my friend Kendra of Knitted by God's Plan.
For October's CE, we were suppose to meet our character in the kitchen. I've been writing on The Land Beyond the Sunset all month, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when this happened:
I glanced at the clock as I opened the oven. Just enough time for these muffins to bake before breakfast. I slid the muffin tins in, closed the oven and set the timer.
Now to clean up the counter. I turned around... and stopped short in surprise. A teenage boy leaned against the farthest end of the counter. He had black hair and wore the distinctive tunic of the Squires of Esidaraq- denim blue edged with pearl gray. His pants were the same denim blue as his tunic. He was staring steadily at me.
"Why Rickfred! This is a surprise. How are you?"
"Well enough, thank you, Miss Melody," he replied courteously.
"And what brings you here?" I began stacking up the mixing bowls and utensils I'd used to make the muffins.
"I have a question to ask you." A frown crossed his face.
I was puzzled. What could he want to know that was so important that he would seek me out here, instead of waiting until my usual writing hour? "Yes?"
"Debarri's birthday ball is tomorrow night."
"Yes, it is."
"Are you going to make me dance with Lady Deentha? I know you weren't very happy with me when I avoided her, against your plan, at Elsheba's birthday ball."
Oh dear, I thought we'd have trouble over this. I tried to be diplomatic. "Well, as annoying and frankly as bratty as she is, you are still a King of Esidaraq and she is the daughter of a powerful noble, and it would be a polite thing to do."
"I know," he said impatiently. "But she will be twice, no five times as bad this time because I avoided her at Elsheba's ball and she suspects I did."
I pulled out several apples, washed them and started cutting them up, thinking hard.
"I don't blame you for not liking her, Rickfred. In fact, if you did like her, I would be disappointed in you. Deentha is a brat, and Timotheus, Ariana and Madelia raised you better than to like such behavior. But think about it, Rickfred. You brought her anger upon yourself by avoiding her in the first place. Is it really worth angering her and possibly her family, just to not dance even one dance with her?"
He scowled. "Court Politics are stupid. If I don't like someone, I shouldn't have to dance with them."
I hid a smile, "Yes, Court politics of that sort are stupid, sometimes."
"And she is going to be such a pill, because of the incident at Elsheba's ball," he groaned. "I think I'll do something to get sick or lose my voice, or something awful, so I don't have to attend the ball."
Alarmed, I looked up at him. "Don't do anything dreadful, please. I need you all to cooperate for the rest of the month."
"Because I want to write as much as I can on your story before I put you aside for Johari's story next month. And I can't write, if you won't talk to me."
A gleam came into his eyes and he straightened up, no longer leaning on the counter. "I suggest we make a deal, Miss Melody. If you will help me find a way not to dance with Lady Deentha at Debarri's ball, I will ensure that the Royal Family is on the best of speaking terms with you for the rest of the month." He smiled winningly.
I studied him for a moment. I probably shouldn't do this. He did need to be courteous, whether he liked it or not. But, I wanted so badly to put in a good chunk of words on Quara during the few remaining days of the month, and didn't want to risk them taking a pet and refusing to talk. "Very well. You have a deal, young man."
His face brightened and he bowed. "Thank you Miss Melody. I promise we will all be on excellent speaking terms with you until the first of November."
I nodded, then looked at him with narrowed eyes. "So, you have been learning at least a few things in your tact and diplomacy lessons with Ariana and Sojeph, haven't you? You negotiated with me quite neatly."
He grinned sheepishly. "Just a few. Not too many, so I wasn't really lying when I said the other day that I don't learn much from them."
I shook my head, "Well, I'm still not letting you get out of them."
He grinned cheerfully. "I know. Actually, I'd rather sit through those, or even an etiquette lesson, than dance with Lady Deentha." He made a face at the hated etiquette lessons.
I shook my head again in mock exasperation.
The timer rang and I went to take the muffins out. When I returned to the counter, Rickfred was gone. I smiled to myself. The poor boy- I didn't blame him for doing almost anything to escape Deentha. She was pretty nasty. I'd have to come up with some way for him to avoid her, but that I could deal with, now that they had promised to behave for the rest of the month.
There are still a few days to write your own CE and link up!! Go HERE to join in the fun.
Miss Melody Muffin