I’ll be Honest with You


My favorite character in The Shimes Mission isn’t the nicest one. He’s the villain.

Maharmpa Karsla (not to be confused with his stepbrother, Menlabi Karsla) is the visionary first cousin of the king of Keynoni. The king is getting old and slightly out of touch with his unhappy subjects.

Maharmpa, on the other hand, understands the people. He talks to them and bears their troubles. In fact, it has been whispered by some that he has the makings of a ruler. The only things blocking his way to the throne are the king’s two sons …


Aaaaand the Interview


“Good evening. I’m Maharmpa Karsla. How has your day been? Good? I’m glad.”

“Yes, thank you. I was here for the interview.”

“Ah, the interview! How clumsy of me.”

“All right. Could we start off with your family?”

“Of course. My parents were drowned at sea when I was an infant.”

“Oh, not them. I mean your siblings.”

“Well … I had five, all younger.”

“Did you get along with them?”

[A little put out.] “You understand that siblings don’t always live in perfect harmony.”

“Tell me about Menlabi.”

[Forced smile.] “Oh, yes, Menlabi. He was the second, and he and I were always competing for everything. In a friendly way.”

“Are you sure?”

“Well, if I’m being perfectly frank, he and I never got along. We’re so different. But, objectively, Menlabi’s a good person. He’s actually quite intelligent, but he’s not ambitious.”

“Do you miss him?”

“Not especially. And certainly not at first. He was always so approved of. He was so normal. Then there I was, dreamy and jealous, and a little odd. I wanted to walk in my own sunlight, away from Menlabi.”

“I can see this isn’t the happiest memory. Tell me, Maharmpa, do you have many friends?”

[Smiling broadly.] “Yes, as a matter of fact. People interest me. I like to learn about different ways of thinking.”

“Different cultures?”

“Exactly. Listen to this: what if there was a whole culture that thought like just one person?”

“That’s a fascinating proposition.”

[Getting excited.] “If everyone thought the same way, so much could get done. I could do so much for people. The world could be near perfect. I would have no arguments, only people together forming something greater, always improving, always expanding, always agreeing.”

“On what would you have them agree?”

“That the man is nothing, and the country is everything. Once we can explain (and we are near) to every man the validity of this idea, there is nothing in the world that can stop our progress.”

“Oh. My. That sounds a little forced.”

“Perhaps, but, in my plan, everyone has a place. Everyone does what they’re meant to do. And, when people are doing what they’re meant to do, they’re happy. They’ll be momentarily unhappy, and that’s unfortunate, but it is necessary.”

“I’m picking up on something: you’re of the leader type. What would you say is the most effective means of leadership?”

“It is quite simple. Give the people someone to hate. Then focus everything on strengthening that hate.”

“Who or what bears the brunt of this hatred?”

“The Keynonian Rebels. We do our best to trace disasters to the Rebels. That way, when our military and our hate is strong enough, we can defeat the Rebels and expand our empire.”

“Wait a minute. You ‘trace’ disasters to the Rebels? Does that mean you lie to the people?”

“I never lie to people. They never forget. It’s the context that counts. Context is everything, but it’s not for everyone.”

“Wow. Do you consider yourself a good person?”

“Yes. What I’m doing isn’t for me. It’s for the country. I’m not a nice person, but I am a good person.”

“I also heard that you were working with Kamazul but secretly planning to betray him when he became less useful?”

[Stiffly.] “That is correct.”

“Do you not see that as wrong?”

[Gaining velocity.] “I don’t feel badly at all about betraying Kamazul. He’s a villain. He’s a tyrant. All he cares about is his personal vendetta. He’s only for himself. There is no ‘greater good’ in his plans.”

“Okay, this is getting a little heated. Let’s get back to the happier questions. What do you admire in others?”

“I admire people who used their intellect and social skills to become something great.”

“Good, good. How would you describe life?”

“You do ask difficult questions, don’t you? Very well. I shall do my best to answer. Life is not about what you are, but what you do. I see life as a beautiful thing. There are horrors, yes, but they only serve to make the bright things brighter.”

“That’s nice. What is your opinion on music?”

“I really do love music of any kind. Music is a language all of its own, and it contains each passion of real life, but in a pure, untainted form. Music is liquid emotion.”

“This is going to sound weird, but do you have a favorite color?”

“Actually, it’s a combination of two. Is that cheating?”

[Note to self: don’t disagree with this guy.] “Oh, no, that’s not cheating.”

“Good. Then I like the color of sunsets. I like the deep, noble, tragic orange of the sun, superimposed by an ancient, wise purple. Those colors inspire me. They say, ‘This is the end of a day and the beginning of the rest of time.’ It is a dirge and a birth at the same time. I love those colors.”

[Sniff, sniff. I can’t believe he’s a villain.] “You don’t seem afraid to show emotion. Do you have much self-control?”

“I have quite a bit. You have to in politics, see, or everyone will realize you’re human. We can’t let them know that. I’m also very disciplined. I get up two hours before sunrise to take a brisk walk.”

“What does the rest of your day look like?”

“I practice speaking and memorization for an hour, and then I go visiting peasants. By that time, it is almost nine o’clock in the morning, and I go and see what the politicians are up to. I get to know people every day, and I make a point to remember their names and what they had for breakfast and whatever else they told me. The rest of my day is, if you will forgive me, sensitive information.”

“Do you have any fears?”

“Yes. I fear people falling into that dark place of curiosity. We should strive not to make people wonder, because they can become curious. Then they can develop doubts, and before you know it, the whole country is in an uproar over some falsehood developed by one little thought of curiosity.”

“So you believe all curiosity is negative?”

“Curiosity is a strange thing. It kills us, it saves us, it makes us stupid, it makes us brave, it makes us feel, and it makes us think.”

[Hoping this wasn’t pointed at me.] “Well, Maharmpa, we seem to be mostly out of time. One last question. If someone wanted an accurate forecast of the next few years in your country, what would you tell them to expect?”

“I would tell them to stand strong and weather the fight like a man, because there will be teeth, and there will be blood. But there will be progress.”


What is your opinion of Maharmpa? Is he cheesy, intimidating, yawnworthy, or something else?  Let me know in the comments!


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