Dear readers, tonight with us is a mage, one of those defending the realm. He’s here to tell us about his life, and about his recent role in solving magical murders.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I grew up in Kalanon but not like it is now. We’re talking four hundred years ago so a lot has changed. The gold mines at Sandilar hadn’t been found yet. Obviously Valda was still the capital city and not much of one at that. People today don’t get how much effort was put into building this country. They know about the war but ask them about the years before that and they know nothing.
I know I have a bit of a reputation as a grumpy old man but, well, appearances aside I AM old. And not always entirely patient when it comes to fools. There’s a tiredness that comes with that, no matter how much power you have.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
Toys weren’t really a part of my childhood. You have to understand what’s necessary for someone to become a mage. It’s not like wanting to be a baker or a soldier when you grow up. The dedication required is…relentless. Magic has a price and that price is sacrifice. I prefer not to dwell on it. Nobody truly understands anyway.
What do you do now?
I’m the magus of Kalanon. I’ve done more to defend this country than anyone – both during the war and before it. These days I’ve been tasked to help Sir Brannon Kesh solve a series of unusual and magical crimes. I suppose I’m a consultant and a guide for him. A soldier grunt can’t be expected to know about the true mysteries of the world so he needs my guidance.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
The Djin shamans are a dangerous lot who work with elementals and death magic. So when a member of the royal family is murdered in what looks like a Djin ritual…well, it’s either them or the Nilarians, in my view and both of those options are bad!
What did you first think when the prince turned up dead?
That he’d been a fool and overestimated himself as young rich men so often do and it got him killed by a street thug or a jealous husband. But when I saw him it was pretty clear that this was something different. Something dark was involved – maybe magic and maybe not but definitely darkness.
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
I don’t scare easily. I’ve seen too much for that. But the last thing I want is for Kalanon to go back to war with Nilar. We’re not ready for that. I thought that possibility would be the scariest thing we’d encounter as we searched for this murderer but I was wrong. A Risen in Kalanon is much scarier.
What is the worst thing about being essentially immortal?
Watching people make the same mistakes over and over every generation. Honestly, regular folk can be absolute Hooded morons. It doesn’t matter how much magical power you have if those making the decisions about how you use it are stupid. My relationship with the Kalan royal family means I’ve seen more than my share of kings with their heads up their asses.
What is the best thing about it?
The chance to be significant. Being connected to Kalanon as I am gives me purpose and that’s important when you live as long as mages do. I’ve done more for my country than most people can even imagine.
Tell us a little about your friends.
Brannon is pretty much revered by anyone who fought in the war. It’s amazing what a few lucky battles and a catchy nickname will get you. They still call him Bloodhawk even though he hates it. He and the king are close – they grew up together in many ways – so Aldan puts up with Brannon’s desire to be a physician rather than a soldier these days, but if these murders rekindle the war with Nilar there will be no hiding from his duty. Brannon will be back on the front line whether he wants to or not.
Any romantic involvement?
Did Brannon put you up to this? Or Darnec? Look, I didn’t really have a youth, okay? I gave it up to study to become a mage and serve my country. So yeah, now that I’m young again, I enjoy the physical aspects of romance. Just because this woman might have distracted me during an attack or that man might have turned out to be a villain who locked me in a box doesn’t mean I should have to go another 400 years without being touched.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
I don’t like Nilarians. A threat to Kalanon is something I cannot forgive so any country that starts a war with us had better be ready for a fight. They say they’re keen for peace now but… I might be old but I don’t forget
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
I’ve only returned to youthfulness recently so I’m enjoying some of the youthful pastimes I missed the first time around. I enjoy a bit of distracting company to pass the time.
What does the future hold for you?
King Aldan seems keen to have his Champion investigate mysterious crimes on an ongoing basis. I imagine he’ll need my assistance quite a lot.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
Mages have a lot of secret knowledge and anyone who lives as long as I have will have their share of secrets and things they’re not proud of. We have to do certain things for the greater good. Some things…well, what I did to give myself renewed youth is perhaps not for a greater good but…actually, yes it is. I’m much better able to protect Kalanon when I’m not crippled by arthritis and I won’t be ashamed of that. I don’t believe I will explain myself now, other than to say, sometimes the ends do justify the means.
Darian Smith writes mainly speculative fiction (fantasy) and lives in Auckland, New Zealand with his wife (who also writes) and their black cat (who doesn’t) and by day works with people living with neuromuscular conditions. He has been lucky enough to have his writing win him two Koru Awards, the SpecFicNZ/Steam Press manuscript competition, a Sir Julius Vogel Award, and assorted short story competitions. Darian is a qualified counsellor/family therapist and has used this knowledge of psychology to create a resource for writers on developing characters and conflict in fiction. He can also be seen – by those very swift with the pause button – on television shows such as Legend of the Seeker and Spartacus where he is invariably a henchman of some kind and is most easily recognized on screen while being murdered by Spartacus.
Join us next week to meet a woman who speaks to the dead and dates gods out of slavic myths. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.