Tarvek wakes on the Fourth of July, a date that means only slightly more than nothing to him -- and that only because he's been told of it. Except today? Today, he knows what the Fourth of July Means To Him, because He is a Patriotic American! (And let's ignore the faint Romanian accent, shall we? He will, today. Some of today. The parts where he's entirely convinced he's a native of Mayfield and These United States.)
He wakes as he does every day, and goes down to breakfast, as prepared by his darling wife, Betty. As he sits at the table listening to the chatter of dear Catherine and Perry, he frowns, slightly.
Something.... something is wrong. Wrong...
No. Of course nothing is wrong! What could be wrong? It's a holiday, he's free from his legal work for now. Later today he'll take the family to see the parade and then go to the big Fourth of July Picnic. There will be games, and later fireworks. Right now, what he must do is tell the kids about the importance of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the value of freedom.
Wrong. Something is wrong. Wrong... not freedom.
This is not freedom.
Betty smiles, and fills his coffee cup, and in his mind he sees two figure: one, his dear wife, Betty. Childhood sweetheart, date at the senior prom, first and only girl he ever kissed. But behind that image, is someone else... Lola? Lottie? No. Luka. Luka is a...Luka isn't...
(Gone, part of his mind says. The Betty is gone: Mayfield took her away when it brought in Luka. You mourned for her. The Betty is gone...)
His hand trembles as he picks up the coffee cup, and scalding coffee slops over his hand and wrist. He mutters, careful not to swear in front of his wife and children. His heart is racing, and he can't quite explain why. Part of him is terrified, and he can't articulate that, even to himself. Instead he continues to sit in his place, sip his coffee, talk to his wife and children, preaching on and on about freedom...
He isn't free. He knows he isn't free. He shivers, and finishes his breakfast: sausages, eggs, toast, juice, a half a grapefruit on the side. He excuses himself, and retreats to his office, still shaking.
In the silence of the little home office, he battles for his memories.
He's Tarvek -- Tarvek Sturmvoraus. That much he is sure of, regardless of what's happening. But beyond that, he can now sort out two sets of memories: one, like a flat, bright advertisement, gives him a broad, bold picture of his life in Mayfield: childhood, youth, early adulthood. Schools and parties, dates and dances, marriage and the birth of his children. The slow building of the life of a respectable professional in a small American town.
But far more vivid, shot with passion and pain, hope and loss, are memories so unAmerican, so unlike Mayfield, they are like acid contrasted with sugar.
He is Prince Tarvek Sturmvoraus, of Sturmhalten: a spark, a royal, a trained assassin and a spy and covert agent by necessity. He's fallen in love more than once -- and even here, in Mayfield, he's got an old love who has disowned him, and a new one who seems to embrace him. He is not who Mayfield says he is.
He has lived his whole life in fear of the many ways his own world can steal his mind and his will. From the Summoning Engines his father was fixated on, to the wasps that ripped his world apart; from Klaus Wulfenbach's "economical" use of former enemies as brain-core guinea pigs to the Order's careful mind controls, he's always known there were people who would wish to possess and control his mind... and that they had the ability to do it. Few threats have so motivated him to lead the cautious, secretive, defensive life he created to protect himself. Being under Mayfield's thrall, half-droned, is as terrifying to him as being bound and nailed into a coffin would be to a claustrophobic. In some corner of his skull his mind screams and thrashes, panicked.
Mayfield, however, does not care, and has no room for panic.
So Tarvek STurmvoraus, lawyer of Mayfield, returns from his office and prepares for a day celebrating the great and glorious value of freedom.
The irony would appeal to his more-real self, if his more-real self were not terrified beyond belief.