Sharp Dark Things VIII - Rufus
For all you Sharp Dark Things [SDT] devotees, Sarah has once again been working her artistic magic. The two of us always meet in a little cafe called Gaby's on Leicester Square. I interrupted the peace and quiet of the place with my exclamations of delight at the sight of Sarah's latest offering. Customers dropped bits of salt beef sandwich and spilled their drinks at my exuberance. But when you see her drawing you'll agree that I was totally justified.
While Sarah has been working her favourite HB pencil down to a nub, I continue to edit SDT. At the moment I have it resting, like a good wine or whisky. I often find that if I'm a little stuck with a project (e.g. I know it needs drastic measures but am not entirely sure what those measures are) then setting it aside for a time always means I can see it with fresh eyes when I come back to it. In the case of SDT, this setting aside has happened 3 times. This suggests to me it's going to be one hell of a vintage when it finally hits the streets.
Call me delusional if you like, but I'm going to stick with that theory.
But now, let me introduce you to Rufus.
Even though Faetaera is a fairy world it still needs policing, especially since it has been subject to a particularly turbulent past. You've already met one member of the police force in the shape of the lovely Larell.
Larell relies on the information Rufus passes on to him. Rufus is a gargoyle and is basically a form of fairy CCTV. As head of the gargoyle surveillance network in Faetaera he sees and hears almost everything. This means he has to be deaf, blind and dumb when the situation calls for it.
Rufus, the Head of Gargoyle Surveillance, was the most reliable trouble detector Larell had ever worked with. The ancient gargoyle could feel the rumblings of the city far beneath the bedrock of its foundations, down to the very core. He knew when the magma wheezed, when the crust cracked, when the bubbling at the centre wanted out. It made little difference how small the tremor, Rufus felt it. The mere fact he experienced a shift made Larell’s insides go cold.
From his vantage point on the roof of the cathedral Rufus watched the action below. Pixies always wandered round in paggles but this was different.
This mass gathering of pixies made the quartz in Gargoyle Rufus' system fizz like he was being acid etched. The familiar tingle had served him well throughout history. It never failed him. A millennium ago it had warned him of things to come when Faetaera's very existence was threatened. He did not like the implication of the crackle emanating through his column.
© Rae Stoltenkamp
Rufus is a seriously cool dude. He's like a favourite uncle you want to spend time with because he's so wise, compassionate and completely centred. Think Yoda meets Mr Miyagi.
Apart from Larell and Curly, the goat (more about him in another post), Rufus is one of my favourite characters. He was easy to write. He did not complain about not having enough dialogue or argue with me about his psychological profile.
For you non writers out there – you would not believe how demanding characters can be.
If you think writing groups give us writers a hard time about our offerings then you've just not encountered a confrontation with a character.
But back to Rufus.
He's ancient and gentle and kind. And from time to time even Rufus thinks about taking life easy.
Rufus liked the quiet life. When you'd lived as long as he had you saw a good many things and there came a time when you hankered for a bit of peace. He wasn't sure he could take another big event like the War to End All Wars. He sighed and began to de-stone. Larell would want to review his vision link with him directly. It was time for a big rethink.
As Rufus made his slow but measured way along the roof tops to his meeting with Larell he felt the old stone in him crunch and crumble in a new way which warned of an end to all things. It wasn’t that he feared his own end coming. Instead it was the end of all things he felt saddened by. For his queen to strive so hard to keep their world from drifting apart only for it to be happening again. Was this an inevitability? He longed for the knowledge of the ancients.