“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”
The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.
“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”
As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Author Alyson Grauer describes Aurael thus:
A manipulative, scheming, slippery, chaotic air spirit whose moral code is basically nonexistent.
“Hoo, boy… Welcome, Aurael!” Will greets the air spirit seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – how terrified of you do I need to be, right now? ‘Cause my own story may or may not involve an air-spirit-esque creature trying to kill me and my band, so, um, hahaha, yeah.”
“Oh really?” Aurael twists his mouth into a bemused grimace and goes back to peeling the wings off of a dead dragonfly. “Sounds like a good time to me… And terror is in the eye of the beholder, Will Scarlet.” He shrugs. “I’m only really terrifying if I get bored.” He smiles thinly.
“Right,” Will says brightly. “Good to know. We’ll try to keep things interesting, then. I understand you currently find yourself bound in servitude. Just between you, me, and our viewership, how would you describe your employer? Any perks to working for him? Paid holidays, dental, that sort of thing?”
Aurael’s expression darkens, his eyes like blank slates of lead as spiky protrusions begin to bump out from his brow, cheekbones, nose, skull… He clears his throat and the spikes vanish. He smooths his windblown, silver-blue hair back with a narrow glare. “Dante is a disgusting piece of mortality, if you ask me. He’s manipulative and selfish and snide. He’s self-centered beyond all reasoning, and he’s got eyes for nothing but his own power. Everything else is barely a blip on his brain.” His teeth bare for a moment and they’re shark-like and jagged. “But seriously, no perks, no vacation, nothing.” He pouts thoughtfully. “It’s like being the only trick pony at the circus, if you know what I mean. Complete garbage.”
“Man, and I thought working under Merlin in an immortal Renaissance Faire could get old. But your existence is sure to have some bright spots. How about this: Of your island’s few locals and those recently washed ashore, who do like the most (…or most enjoy tormenting), and why?”
Aurael’s eyebrows shoot upwards thoughtfully at this. A mixture of emotions cross his face as he ponders. Then he squints shrewdly. “I’ll never tire of torturing Karaburan,” he breathes slowly, his lip curled. “Witch-born that he is. His nightmares taste the sweetest.”
The authoress, from the back corner, lifts her hand in contestation of this. “Ahem, if you’ll pardon me,” she says neatly, “Aurael’s favorite person in all the world is Mira. You could go so far as to say he treasures her.”
Aurael’s hair curls into hornlike protrusions, coiling tightly as steam begins to rise from his brow. He scowls and says nothing.
“Adores her, even,” Aly adds.
Aurael’s eyes go black and he stares back at his author, daring her to take one more step.
Aly pauses. “Why don’t you talk about Mira, Aurael? I’m sure Will and the audience would love to know what it’s like for an all-powerful, immortal air spirit to pine for, long for, and against all odds absolutely love a little mortal girl.”
Aurael’s body breaks apart like cloud-puffs, and is replaced with the shape of a massive hideous, steel-silver harpy with terrible talons and a flesh-rending beak. He roars at the author, climbing over the chair to get at her, but bashes face-first into an unseen wall of some kind. The author goes back to taking notes in her book, and harpy-Aurael snarls and snaps and claws at the wall for a moment before hunching its shoulders and peering back over its wings at Will Scarlet.
Will gapes blankly until Allyn coughs from off-camera. “Pun unintended, Will, but we’re still on the air.”
“Ha! Yes! Sorry, I got distracted by the, um, distracting things. Something about a flesh-rending beak. Aaaaanyway, getting back to our happy place: If you were to be granted your freedom, Aurael, what do you suppose you’d want to do with your life? Any long-term dreams or ambitions? Where do you see yourself in— wait, how long does an air spirit tend to live, anyway?”
The question seems to pluck at Aurael’s heartstrings – indeed, if there are any left within him – and he sighs deeply, melting back into the demi-corporeal shape of a silvery-blue man with dark, dark eyes. He sits in the chair again with dignity, as though the harpy form had not occurred. “Immortality is different for everyone,” he admits slowly. “I don’t make plans like that, because I have all the time in the world. Or at least, I did, before I got exiled and captured and all of this grand nonsense.” He seethes quietly. “But I’ll get free again. I will. And Dante will be sorry.”
“Oh, I don’t doubt it for one moment,” Will says in placating tones. “Of course, a cunning creature like you will have seen my next question coming from a mile off. Tell me, Aurael, what is your author Alyson’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Nerves and excitement roil in his eyes. “Or would you rather kiss me?”
Aurael considers this with a long, smug stare at the author. The author does not look up from her note-taking. Aurael purses his lips and at last folds his arms, putting his feet up on the chair next to him and slouching like a teenager. “Her secrets guard themselves in plain sight,” says the air spirit. “Now that the book is out, anyone at all might stumble upon them. It’s all downhill from here.” He pauses. “And kissing never did anyone any favors, Will Scarlet.” His eyebrows arch, and he smiles that same snarky grin from before. “But if you’re offering, I don’t bite.” His teeth show a little through the grin, still sharp and menacing.
Aly looks up. “He won’t bite you. But watch out for your soul, please – he’ll jab a straw into you like an orange in the old Tropicana commercials and schhhhhluuuuurrrrrpp.”
Aurael scowls. “I don’t even know what that means,” he hisses.
“I know you don’t.” Aly shakes her head. “Never mind.”
“Yeeeaaah, we’ll maybe take a rain check on that kiss,” Will decides. “Or should I say, a full-on tempest check?”
“You shouldn’t,” Allyn advises.
“Oh, come on, it’s perfectly hilarious! Let everyone in the joke with a quick word from our sponsor!”
“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn dutifully, “was brought to you by Alyson Grauer’s newly released debut novel, ‘On the Isle of Sound and Wonder’.
“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thank you, Aurael; you, too, Aly! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided in this post, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”