Flay is a character in the Gormenghast novels by Mervyn Peake. He is the personal assistant of Lord Sepulchrave, Earlof the castle. His sense of loyalty is huge and he rarely talks. When he does his words come out in broken sentences and very simple language. Near the end of the first book, his banishment is caused by Steerpike, who taunts Flay until the man becomes so angry that he throws one of the Countess' pet cats at him. The countess happens to see this and banishes Flay from the castle. Before he leaves the castle though, he battles with the chef Swelter, killing him, and witnesses the Earl's death by owls. After this he flees the castle in the middle of the night.
In the second book, we discover that Flay has become a solitary hermit in the woods around the castle, and moreover has adapted to the life rather well. Although banished, his loyalty to the castle persists. He is especially driven by his distrust of Steerpike's intentions and his desire to protect Fuchsia and the young Titus.
Flay is described vividly as tall, gaunt, and stiff. He has a pronounced tendency to stoop in a vulturish fashion and his walk resembles a slow-march, complete with a slight pause in each step before the final descent of the foot. In the first book, his knees make sharp cracking sounds with every step, and when he stalks Swelter through the darkened hallways he has to muffle these sounds with knotted rags. In the second book outdoor living has mitigated this condition.
In the BBC miniseries Gormenghast, the character was played by Christopher Lee, who required heavy make-up in order to look sufficiently decrepit.
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