Dear readers, tonight with us is a magician, who rather fancied a life of adventure than the safety of the guild.
The Ancient Order of the Learned Archive
Senior Recorder, Dtlag
Our chapter in Kaber City turned up the record below. They interviewed a number of venturers as part of a project on mortality in the Wild. This was filed under “Discard on Notice of Death”. An attached note – presumed made by the interviewer – read ‘This jerk won’t last long or make much’. Clearly our judgements are not always accurate.
Yours in the pursuit of knowledge
Azbai, 146 12 Ghei 14 (3 Harvest, 184 of the Revelation)
Interview conducted at Kaber, 12, Month of the Marten, Year 216
Seyvyar Trist, Venturing 2 years, age 22.
Seyvyar agreed to meet me at Anni’s Bar in Kaber City, a little place on a side-street near the Fur and Pelt Union. It’s a steady place, the kind of bar senior clerks and journeymen crafters go for a quiet drink. A kitchen at the front selling skewers to the passing trade, booths at the back, dark and bright ale on tap, a warmth welcome in this season of cold rain. I wore a yellow jacket, as arranged, and Seyvyar stood up from a booth to wave me over. I saw a young man with fine, long-fingered hands, hair neatly confined in a pony-tail, perhaps over-dressed for this meeting in a flared coat and tight breeches. Oddly, he had wrapped a narrow scarf wrapped about his head so as to hide his nose, and wore sandals despite the cold. We gave our orders to the hummingbird which darted over from the bar, I opened my notebook and we started.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
Well, the family’s from Irrus – that’s on the Chir, about a day from Chiran. But my folks moved to Chiran a while back, and that’s where I grew up and studied. Ah – you wouldn’t know, would you? Chiran’s a city, quite a big place if not the same size as the capital at Azbai, a centre of learning in the art. It’s a river port as well, of course, and folks come from all over to study there. Still lost? I’ll show you on a map some day. I’d say I had a normal childhood – playing around the docks, school, then college. I came third of the whole city when I got my scroll, which is a pretty good result, let me tell you.
By ‘the art’ you mean magic? And you got your scroll when you graduated from a school teaching magic, is that right?
That’s right. Don’t they test for sensitivity to ether-flows where you come from? I was at the top. My family could have paid, but I got a scholarship and, like I said, I came third. Ah, here’s our drinks.
Doesn’t the world talk to you? It does to me – to anyone with the wit to hear and the learning to understand, really. The art is about sensing the mood – we call it the surround – and asking accordingly. At least for us it is. Those with craft have a different approach, one much inferior in rigour and flexibility. It’s only us with the art that you can move across the world in the blink of an eye.
I understand you did not pursue the usual career in magic after graduation?
Yeah. I mean the usual is three more years learning to make glow-stones or herd-sticks or fire-wards or whatever, and then a place in a guild and you get a pension and a reserved seat at the festival after 20 years in the job. I’m not in for that – I’m more of a free spirit. I wanted adventure, freedom to grow as a magician, and money. Lots of money. You can only get those in the Wild.
How is that going for you? If you don’t mind my saying so, your appearance does not suggest current wealth.
It’s had its ups and downs. I’m definitely much stronger in the art – in the Wild you get better fast or you die. I can cast spells my class-mates back in Chiran could not begin to grasp. I’ve seen things would make them blench, I tell you. Demons and Spirits and weird beasts, I’ve faced them all and lived.
You mentioned getting rich?
Okay, so things are not too good right now. Mind you, if you’d seen me even six weeks ago, things would have been different. I’d have shown you some awesome gear. Ever seen a Reaching Glove? Pick your purse right through a wall. Or a Fearsome Noise? Shatter every glass in this place and send everyone blind (except me).
I see you are now wearing sandals. Can I ask why you have a piece of cloth over your nose?
Like I said, ups and downs. Just a temporary inconvenience, occasioned by some cheating low-life rivals who pulled a totally unfair stunt. It would never have worked, either, except for a slip-up on the part of my colleagues. I feel really let down, but I’m big enough to let it go. Anyway, let’s not talk any more about that.
Can you tell us about your current plans?
I can’t say too much – I think your saying is that even walls can hear. But it’s big. Really big. The gang is with me on this, but there’s room for another one if you want in. I can’t say there it won’t be dangerous – it is the Wild after all, but we’ll be rolling in it when this comes off.
I’ll think about it. What is the scariest thing you have faced to date?
There’s not much fazes me now, but let me tell you about the first time I went into the Wild. There I was – three spells and a knife – and we stumble on this old temple and dog-spiders start coming out of the walls. I wanted to run, but my friends were relying on me. So I stood firm and, well, we won. I finished the last one off with the Winged Dagger. Since then, well, there was this delving where the frescoes would melt your eyeballs, and a pack of rabid undermen and some kidnappers looking for saleable body-parts. The Wild is not for the faint-hearted.
What is the best thing about being a magician?
Ether-sense! I can feel the currents of the ether around me all the time. To be a magician is to be in tune with the world, part of its thoughts, able to talk to it and have it respond. It’s wonderful and exhilarating and I don’t know how ordinary folk live without it. In the Wild the ether-flows are much stronger, and the feeling is intense. The surround is moody and fractious, and you have to be on your toes. I can’t really describe it to a non-magician but it’s better than beer and nearly as good as sex. In fact, many magicians think it’s better than sex, but I like both.
Tell us a little about more your friends.
I’ve put a great team together! Strong Saram’s one of the best with a sword, Kelve’s gifted with craft and Rudrin’s nearly as talented in the art as I am. We’ve done some amazing things together, and we’ll do even more amazing things in the near future. Of course, I’m the one who does the planning, but they’re all with me.
Any romantic involvement?
I’m not seeing anyone at the moment. There’ve been a few – nothing serious. I’ll start looking again when I’m back in town with a shipload of money.
Is there anyone you really hate?
I don’t hold grudges. After all, what happens in the Wild stays in the Wild. That said, if you hear of three thieving sods from Dravish called the Kat Sisters, well, let me know. What those women did was totally out of line, even for the Wild, and I intend to pay them back, with interest.
(Here Seyvyar became so vehement his scarf slipped, revealing a nose of a hideous shade of blue. He hastily adjusted the scarf, gave me a weak grin, and waved the incident away)
Anyway, let’s not talk about the past. I’m a future-oriented kind of guy.
What’s your favourite relaxing pastime?
Well, the art’s a bit consuming. It’s like music – if you’re serious you have to practice every day. But I’m not a hermit – I read, and go to concerts, and I like a good meal and the company of friends. Like now – it’s good to just chat and enjoy this beer. Speaking of which, shall we have another? Your turn, I believe.
What does the future hold for you?
Accomplishment in the art, and adventure, and wealth. Mark my words, before too long my name will be on everyone’s lips all around the Green Sea – and beyond.
Peter Thomson was born in Sydney, Australia, spent a few years wandering the world (caught up in a few riots and revolutions, but claims innocence), then had a lot of fun in the public service before retiring. Along the way he played a lot of RPGs, starting with the first copy of D&D to reach Australia, and now writes about the people in a world built over the years from his home in Canberra (a much under-rated city). It’s a world where magic is everyday but the land has the last word.
Join us next week to hear from an ex-truck driver, now infected with an alien sentient substance. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.