The Inter-Literary Fantasy Cafe is always full. It’s a meeting place for characters from different fantasy novels, created by different writers. A hobbit can meet a werewolf here. A dragon can chat with a vampire. A fairy and an elf can have cake together. They often gossip about their worlds and (uh-uh) their authors.
That was where a character from Legacy of Mist and Shadow by Diana Wicker, Arwyn, met with Eriale, the protagonist of my novel Almost Adept. After ordering coffee and pastries, they talked.
Arwyn: Tell me about magic, Eriale. How does it work in your story? You’re a mage, right? What can you do with your magic?
Eriale: Well, in my story, magic is energy. As to what I can do with it—anything that can be done without it. For example, if you want to carry a heavy load to the other side of the kingdom, you can do it using a horse and a wagon. And lots of time. Or you can employ a mage to transport your cargo much faster. The horse would spend energy pulling the wagon. It would need to eat and sleep to replenish its strength. So would a drover. A mage is no different. He compacts the time and space needed for transportation and uses the same amount of energy for the same job, just in a much shorter time. He pulls this energy out of himself. Of course he is tired and hungry afterwards.
Arwyn: Where does your magic come from?
Eriale: My body generates it.
Arwyn: Oh, yes. Our magic is also energy based, but we tend to only get really exhausted if we are nearing our limits. A good meal, nap, or restorative tea generally fixes everything right up. It is possible to overextend, even unto death, but that is a rare thing indeed. Although, I have friends who have come very close in our adventures. What if you overextend? Can a mage in your world use more magic than his body generates?
Eriale: He can’t, unless he resorts to blood magic. Then he can, if he extracts the energy from the pain and death of others. It’s easy magic, but…it’s dirty. Blood magic corrupts a mage’s soul. [She shivered.] It makes me want to puke, like poison.
Arwyn: Blood magic…I have never heard of such. Surely that would be something brought from the shadows. [She takes a deep breath and shakes her head, as if to clear the thoughts.]
Eriale: Yes. Let’s not talk about it. Tell me about your magic.
Arwyn: Compared to yours, my magic is not very exciting. I am from a creation clan, a grower. I can call to plants, and they respond to me. Generally it’s a magic used for farming and gardening and such. Nothing terribly noteworthy. That’s why I have apprenticed to the scholars. I have no interest in being a farmer’s wife.
Eriale: I think earth and plant magic is great, better than anything I can do. It nourishes the land. I don’t have it and I envy you a little, although I understand your wish to become a scholar. What are you going to study? Are you going to a university? Or is there an apprenticeship system?
Arwyn: University…I don’t think I’ve heard of such before. At your fifteenth summer, you can pledge to the scholars to study the lore of Feyron. The apprentices serve for five years before they are tested to see if they are ready to become scholars. Most girls tend to leave about then. Some become clan storytellers, others marry and start a family. Those who do not pass their test but wish to stay on become scribes.
My friend Neria, a summoner of Vocare, is working with the scholars in the Hall of Gifts, discovering which of the relics from the days of yore have stories to tell. My friend Orabelle has found a passion for the lost worlds beyond the darkened gateways. Me, I like the old tales of the forgotten times. Most of the scholars seem to have more interest in the clan histories and uses of magic, but I like the children’s tales myself.
What about you? How did you learn to use your magic? Do you have scholars or an academy that teaches you?
Eriale: My father is a magic Adept. He owns a magical school, and of course he taught me. Now, when I’m fully trained and an Adept myself, I help him tutor younger students in various applications of magic. Kids from all over the kingdom come to our school, or rather their relatives bring them, when their magic manifests.
Arwyn: What if something can’t be done without magic? Like turning a man into an animal? Is it possible with magic in your world?
Eriale: Why? Do you want to turn someone into a frog? [She grinned.]
Arwyn: No. [She snickered.] I heard a rumor that some crazy mage in your story turned a duke into a goat. I thought they were joking. You can’t really use your magic to turn one living thing into another, right?
Eriale: Ah. You can transform one living being into another, but it’s a very complicated spell and a brutal one. It takes lots of power and lots of knowledge. You have to learn every detail of the anatomy of your original creature and the target creature. Otherwise, you’ll create a monster. And the overall masses of both creatures should be the same. You can’t turn a man into a tiny frog. Where would the extra mass go? Unless you want a frog the size of a man. [She hesitated.]
I didn’t turn him into a goat, honestly. I used an illusion to make his head look like a sheep’s head. A complete illusion too, so even he was deceived. But he is a nasty piece of work, that guy. He deserved it. And I only set the spell to last one week. I was merciful.
Arwyn: Tell me more. What happened with this sheep incident?
Eriale: That’s actually how my story started. The guy was wooing me in my face—he could be very charming—and spreading rumors behind my back. He didn’t really care about me but he wanted my royal connections. When I learned about his duplicity and confronted him, he decided to secure his position by raping me. He thought if he did, I would have no choice but to marry him. Stupid man. Nobody can rape a magic Adept. I was so angry with him I turned him into a sheep. But he is a duke’s nephew, and the entire duke’s family was angry with me. They wanted retribution. I had to leave home for a while, until the furor died down. There was an article about it in our local news sheet The Looking Glass:
Arwyn: Truly you must be from a sorcerer’s line, for there is only one clan of Faie that can control all forms of magic, and I’m not certain that even they can transform a living being into another.
Eriale: But you do have shapeshifters in your world?
Arwyn: Yes, we do have a clan of shapeshifters, but their size changes to match the true form of the new animal. From what I understand, it does take a great deal of study and practice, and most of them only learn a handful of forms. Almost always one of the forms is a flier. They all seem to love to fly.
Eriale: I love flying. No, I can’t really fly but I can levitate. I must tell you that it takes lots of magic to fight the land’s gravity. Enough about me. What are you going to do when you finish your studies? Do you want to teach? Do research? Travel? How do the scholars make their living in your world?
Arwyn: Make a living? I’m not certain I understand the question. Everyone helps everyone else. Farmers farm, herders herd, fishermen fish, creators make things, the Court of Clans arbitrates, the scholars teach, everyone does the job they are best suited to. And, as people age and grow tired, they step aside to their rest and let the younger generation tend to things.
My favorite studies are the old tales, the stories that storytellers tell to the littles who are too small to attend summer academy yet. Many from the Worlds Beyond think them to simply be fanciful tales, fairy tales some from Worlds Beyond will say. I would like to find the truths behind them, and maybe more relics of forgotten things. I have found relics contain wondrous stories.
As to what I would like to do, I’m not really certain. Most people from Feyron don’t travel much, and I’ve been both to the Beyond and a World Beyond so far. I suppose we will have to wait to see how my test with Lord Grypos goes when I have completed my apprenticeship.
Do you travel?
Eriale: Yes, mages in our world travel a lot. They work for hire, like everybody else. As you said, farmers farm, fishermen fish, and then they sell the products of their toils and buy things they don’t produce. The same with mages: they sell their services and get paid. That’s why they travel. I like traveling. That’s how I met a men I fell in love with. Well, maybe not in love, precisely, but I liked him a lot. Do you have someone you love, a guy or a girl?
Arwyn: Someone I love? Well, I…I would never have expected such a question. It’s not the sort of thing one usually talks about, at least not with a stranger.
Growing up I was paired with an earth-child, and together we helped set the fields for planting with a water-child each season. It is considered traditional to marry your planting day partner when you come of age, but after my sister’s big adventure, I realized I wasn’t ready to pledge before the Sacred Fire, and I had little interest in becoming a farmer’s wife. That’s when I pledged to the scholars.
Now, I have a best friend, who is sort of a…what did you say…a guy, I guess. But, he’s not actually of the Faie. He’s a guardian-child, the son of Lady Kali herself. He’s tall, with dark eyes that go on forever and hair as silky and fine as a little babe. He is so excited to learn just everything, and he takes good care of me when we find ourselves on a…misadventure.
He’s mute, can’t make a sound louder than a raspy barking when he’s in puppy form, but I can hear his thoughts. I’m the only one that can actually hear his voice, at least that I know of. [She blushes.] I don’t know what I’d do without him.
To learn more about the authors and their books, roam this [Olga's] website or check out Diana Wicker’s website.