When people ask me who is my favorite character in my novel MarcoAntonio & Amaryllis I find myself in an internal debate between Damian and Rye.
Yet, after ruling out the more shallow reasons why it's hard to choose between them, I always find myself acknowledging that Rye is absolutely my favorite character.
Let take a day to look behind the curtain. Allow me a moment to tell you all a little bit about Rye, from MarcoAntonio & Amaryllis.
Excerpt of MarcoAntonio & Amaryllis:
Rye had been following the smoke and the scent of fire in the air for some time now and was certain that someone was roasting their day's provisions. It had been some time since the last portion of food that Rye had eaten. Great hunger was taking over.
It was surprising and alleviating all at once to see the camp site. Food was sure to be here... somewhere. Rye ran in, invading the space, yet saw no one immediately around.
If stealing was what would be necessary, in order to eat... oh well. So be it! Stealing was nothing new to gypsies. And to this gypsy in particular, it was a way of life. This specific gypsy was a bandit. A conman. A common criminal. Even to other gypsies. It was no wonder Rye had been deemed an outcast. No wonder, at all.
Yet Rye's perspective and opinion of this little inconvenient interpretation of his actions led to the old saying, “Sticks and stones (swords and arrows, even), may break his bones, but words would never hurt him.”
Rye was such the outcast that not even a race of outcasts wanted him around. Everyone knew the phrase, “Don't trust a gypsy.” Well, in this unique case, gypsies said, “Don't trust Rye!”
Even with all of that, first thing was first; food was utterly necessary!
Slowly snooping around, Rye began to search. The first thing that he noticed was the hare, which had not been completely eaten, on the plate. So marching towards it as if this was Rye's home, the crazy gypsy grabbed the plate and began to eat, and then continued to scope the perimeter.
“Feet? Are those feet?” Rye said out loud, then immediately walked over.
MarcoAntonio was laying there flat on his back, coated in blood. The busybody, puny, gypsy man also noticed the two dead guards. Not that Rye particularly cared about dead guards. They were better off dead.
Rye looked at the passed out Spanish soldier and with no warning, a rush of shivers ran up and down his spine. Then he heard a whispered, ghostly voice, which spoke in his head and heart that said, “It has begun!”
“Surprised” didn't even begin to explain his sensation at the moment.
Be that as it may, what else was a gypsy to do in regards to a helpless man? It was apparent that this man was the one that offered Rye these much needed provisions. Marco was a little heavy, yet dragging him by his feet Rye managed to somehow get him away from this place.
What most people do not know or understand about Rye is that he is a complex character, hidden behind a layer of comic relief. Imagine if you will the annoying sidekick that no real hero wants to have by his side. Now, add to that if you will a silver tongue, witty attitude and Napoleon complex. Now throw in a good heart and desire to help. Include a knack for building things--ingenious things. However, the recipe isn't complete unless you add a hidden past.
THAT, in a nutshell is Rye.
Now, you're probably wondering where the name came from. Well, the name actually means "man" in Romani Gypsy, which is the tribe from which Rye hails.
Rye was such bad news within his tribe that they ultimately kicked him out. They'd had about enough of his schemes and thievery. Yet Rye was happy to oblige them in their need to get rid of him. As the matter of fact, it was exactly what he wanted. He wanted out. He craved.
Low and behold, while snooping around in the woods whom should he encounter but our hero MarcoAntonio, and in bad condition at that. And having a nosy personality, need for company and in his own way wanting to help, Rye drags MarcoAntonio to safety.
His eyes fluttered with instability. He drew in a few deep breaths. The blackness that had taken over was beginning to subside somewhat. Shapes were a fog and a blur, but at least they had color. His eyes finally staying open, MarcoAntonio squinted, and then upon drawing in one last deep breath, he felt a sharp pain. “Ah!” he silently moaned. Moving a sore arm, he reached over to touch the area from which the pain pierced him. It was bandaged.
Curiosity began to abound. He reached over to his face. His facial hair had grown. His five o'clock shadow had grown into a beard. He touched his chest—it was bare. He looked around further to better analyze the vicinity. Lying on a bed surrounded by bed curtains, he realized that this was a single room, yet the sole room was living room, bedroom, and kitchen all combined and lit only by a single candle.
He unexpectedly heard a voice that sort of startled him. “Finally!” the voice said in half aggravation and half relief. “You've no idea how long I'd been waiting for you to awaken. It was beginning to get quite tiresome. Last thing I would have wanted was to feed you to the bears. Though, considering your size and the work that you've caused, feeding you to the bears may not have been such a bad idea after all.” Marco could clearly hear the tone of sarcasm.
MarcoAntonio's throat was dry, so he cleared it with merely a scraping hum, and asked only two questions. “Where am I? And who are you?”
“I, my good fellow, am the person that saved your life. I go by the name, Rye,” the voice without a face declared with absolute pride.
Marco only had one thought. Oh, no. A gypsy! Hearing footsteps walking towards him, he sat upright in the bed. There was no hiding the fact that no one trusted gypsies, so Marco prepared himself.
“It appears that you are not much of a talker,” the voice spoke, this time obviously closer than before. From the corner of the bed, MarcoAntonio saw nothing but a hand extend with a cup of water within it. “Here, take it before I change my mind,” Rye spoke with decision. Carefully, Marco reached out for it, and then pulled it to his lips to sip. It wasn't until then that Rye peered out from behind the bed curtain to stand in front of MarcoAntonio.
He was a puny, tiny, little man, Marco observed. Without a doubt the runt of the litter. His mouth was far too big for his little, scrawny size. After taking the third sip of water, MarcoAntonio said, “You have yet to answer my first question.”
“Ah! Yes, my good sir.” Extending both hands outward to his sides, introducing his surroundings, Rye answered, “This is my humble abode.” Then like a flash, lowered his hand to his waist and took one quick, skipping leap forward. “I saved your life!” Rye said with pride, making it notable that a “thank you” was in order.
MarcoAntonio pondered with a bit of self-contained humor. “Wow! Big deal!” yet verbalized nothing—his poker face, unchanged. With that, Marco set the glass of water on the floor, and stood. His covers fell to the ground and it was only then that he realized that he was completely undressed, yet it meant nothing to him. They were both men. There was nothing showing that they both hadn't seen before, he was sure.
Rye's eyes quickly fell to the ground. His face went red, heated with embarrassment. “Would you please put some clothes on?” he demanded. “We gypsies are not the kind to walk around naked before each other.”
Marco marched forward, standing in nothing but his birthday suit, right beside Rye. He asked in a rather monotone note, “Where are my clothes?” Rye, still trying extremely hard to not look at the naked man, merely lifted his hand and pointed to a chair where Marco's clothes were set, clean, repaired, and dry.
Rye mentioned with inconvenience, “You could have at least warned me first,” a comment that Marco merely ignored and then moved forward to dress himself. “Where would you be going?” Rye questioned with interest.
MarcoAntonio's eyes went upward as he pulled on his pants, trying to get a better look at the annoying boy. He was indeed a measly thing. His long curly hair fell to his sides and was tied back with a scarf. Like any other, his eyes were filled in with black paint all around.
He wore a loose fitting dingy white shirt, covered by a vest. The vest was decorated with fake jewels and tassels of string. The tiny man also wore loose fitting pants, tied at the waist with a long scarf. Boots covered his feet. “Just like a Gypsy,” Marco quickly pondered, yet said nothing.
“Where?” the little man inquired once again with agitation.
MarcoAntonio's only reply was a sharp, piercing look as he fastened his boots. The little gypsy man’s expression changed quickly from agitation to fear, yet he put up a front. “Very well, then! You can't go anywhere without your horse. And only I know where he is.” MarcoAntonio stood to his feet after tying his last boot and whistled. Within seconds, both men heard Altivo's loud neigh and hooves stomp.
Gathering his bearings Rye tried again, scratching his throat he retorted, “All right, very well then, 'Tis only I that knows where your weapons were placed!” MarcoAntonio quickly scoped the room once again with an eagle eye and noticed a chest that was set in a corner of the room. Standing, he marched over to the chest and opened it, pulling out both his sword and shield. Flustered, Rye huffed, “Damn it!”
Rye jumped to his feet and ran in front of Marco and asked again, this time with resignation, “Come on! Tell me! Where are you going?” Marco intentionally, making Rye feel small, looked right over the little man’s head as if he were invisible and walked forward, not so much as even acknowledging him. Rye was not the type to give up, so he bounced around in front of MarcoAntonio. “Hey! Hey! Hellooooo!” he repeated annoyingly. Marco was good at ignoring fools, so this was nothing he couldn't handle, and he merely continued his march out the door, with the pint size man bouncing in front of him.
Rye moved with the speed of the wind. He was a small person, so this was easy for him. In the time that it took for MarcoAntonio to gather his things and mount Altivo, Rye ran in and out of the house. When he exited the house, he had a sack in hand.
Marco fixed his things to Altivo and Rye continued his fussing. “You have no common decency whatsoever!’Tis at least the polite thing to do, to thank one for the favor of saving your life.” Marco ignored him, and merely prompted Altivo to walk along.
By that time, Rye had unfastened his donkey and was proceeding to follow the knight. That was the only thing that made MarcoAntonio finally open his mouth. “Where do you think you are going?”
“With you!” was the simple and most natural answer that MarcoAntonio had ever heard.
“No,” was all he said in return.
“Yes,” the smart mouthed little man responded.
“Very well,” was how Marco concluded his argument, with sarcasm. And with a heel into Altivo's side, the horse took off. This caused a bit of a smirk to crack MarcoAntonio's lips. Finally, he was undone of the little, annoying, irritating man.
Rye might be small, but he was no fool. Kicking a heel into the donkey's side the animal too, was off and running. Maybe not as fast as Altivo, but he wasn't far behind. Altivo was fast, but the donkey was quick as well.
Something prompted Marco to look back. A premonition possibly? Possibly a feeling? But whatever it was, it made him turn his head to take notice of the worst thing ever. “No, this cannot be!” he thought. In pure agitated spite, he kicked his heels into Altivo a second time. “Anda, Altivo!” His faithful steed adhered to the command and picked up speed.
Rye did the same, and his animal followed his order, too. This was beginning to infuriate MarcoAntonio to the core. In an ornery mood, just to spite the incredibly frustrating little man, Marco ordered Altivo to come to a screeching stop. This caught Rye off guard, to which he reacted with tarry and abruptly ordering his animal to a stop. He was unprepared, and with the instantaneous halt, Rye went flying head first off the donkey, landing face down in the dirt!
MarcoAntonio is a loner, a man on a mission, not to be deterred by this crazy, prying, insufferable little gypsy man. He didn't have the time for it. All he wanted to do was save his love, Amaryllis. Yet, Rye wouldn't take no for an answer.
And before we know if, albeit grudgingly, Marco finally allows Rye to tag along. What none of them realize is how helpful Rye would prove to be.
So why do I love Rye's character? Well, it's because he reminds me of me. Small but tough. Genuine hearted by obstinate. Loud mouthed by modest. Rye is a walking, talking oxymoron and THAT'S why I love him. While it wasn't my intention at all, Rye seemed to have been forged to be like me. Or what I would be if I were a gypsy.
He may not be much in size and strength, but his soul is greater than that of most men. I believe that that's what matters most.
Rye, is so much more than just bread.
MarcoAntonio remained quiet for a moment. His mind was in deep thought for awhile. This gypsy could quite possibly be the most annoying individual that he'd ever met. However, he was also the person that saved his life. Had it not been for this gypsy boy, Marco could have quite literally been dead at this very moment. And death would serve of no benefit to him, as he would not be able to save Amaryllis. Opening up just a bit—MarcoAntonio thought that he could afford to share at least a bit of the what and why. “The bounty is because I fell in love... with the wrong person.”
Rye quickly became attentive to the story. “How so?” he asked.
“She's English. I'm Spanish,” was Marco's only explanation. None more was needed as Rye understood completely.
“Oh! I see,” Rye nodded.
“I do not know what they have done with her. ’Tis my quest to find her whereabouts and bring her to safety, within my arms,”
“Oh! I see.”
“When I find her, then I will take her from this place, and we shall be free. Free to love each other and be together.”
“Oh. I see!” With every explanation, Rye became more and more intrigued.
“'Tis that all you have to say?” MarcoAntonio said in a bit of amusement.
Rye cleared his throat. “Mhm. Sorry. I just love, love stories.”
“There you go again, sounding as a wee girl.”
Rye's back went erect and he flopped over, trying his hardest to sit like a man. “I mean....” He cleared his throat once more, and deepened his voice. “I mean, love stories interest me because of the adventure behind them.’Tis indeed an adventure, when one can free their damsel in distress. You do understand, do you not?” Rye looked over at Marco, and realized that he had a look of agreement in his eyes. “May I accompany you on your mission?”
“Would you leave if I said no?” Marco quipped back.
“Then I would suppose that I have no choice in the matter. Do I?”
“Very well, insolent little man. I suppose you have just answered your own question.” Catching Rye off guard, MarcoAntonio smiled slightly. “We begin our voyage in the morning.” Marco left to hunt for their provisions for the night.
Rye could also be your next favorite character.
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