Dear readers, tonight with us is a powerful sorcerer on a mission: to find the elusive, underwater race and secure their help in colonizing one of the newly discovered worlds. He’s here to talk about fast ships, pretty sailors, and giant tentacled monsters.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
When I was born, Dahls was not the superpower it is today. It was just a tiny world, already stretched to the brink of its capacity and connected only with words that were similarly stretched. One of the ways our government tried to save us was by imposing a one-child policy. I guess my parents wanted a daughter, cause they ditched me like an used condom.
I was adopted by Kanven Sandeyron, a corporation that primarily produces technomagic equipment. At that time they tried to branch out into medicine. The problem with it was that they needed to test their inventions somehow. You didn’t think they took me in out of the goodness of their hearts, did you?
So you were something like a guinea pig?
Something. We—there were a few of us—got education, playtime, social contact, even fucking psychologists. None of it meant shit if every day each of us was taken to a special room, strapped onto the chair, and injected with some miracle cure meant to dissolve our brains and remake them to their liking.
Yeah, I know your next question. One of the side effects of their treatment was strong telepathy that I can’t shut off. I know you weren’t going to ask; that’s fine.
You’re already intruding, if you wanted to be tactful you shouldn’t ask about my fucking childhood.
Seriously, did no one teach you to shield your mind?
Yes, that’s better. Thank you.
Anyway, I hated everything that came from them. Their focus at the time was increasing humans’ magical potential, so of course they were trying to get us interested in magic. Everything they gave us, books, toys, etc. was connected to magic-using.
I’d tell them to shove it. Except they didn’t teach me to cuss. Obviously, I made up for it when I left.
What I played with were illusions. I was instinctive, you see. I can use magic as you can use hands, whether it’s because I was born this way or because of Kanven’s bloody experiments. But when I was locked in, surrounded by people I hated, choking on the smell of antiseptic, I could already weave imaginary landscapes around me. Pretend I was somewhere else. Not just in Dahls, but other worlds. Big, open spaces. Organisms other than humans. Animals, plants, all that shit I barely learned about at school. I thought myself pretty clever. Until I actually went outside and realized how woefully limited my imagination was.
As for friends? It was hard to form attachments if you knew that any day one of you could go for testing and not come back. That you could not come back. Yeah, we tried… not to get attached.
No, we don’t keep in touch. We don’t really like anything that reminds us of those times. Put this damn shield back.
You talk about getting out. How did that happen?
If you were imagining some great escape, releasing all of Kanven’s pupils and burning the site to the ground, I have bad news. Once I became an adult they had no legal right to hold me, so I showed them the finger and took off.
What? Dahls is a civilized world. We’re not perfect, but we have laws and even those bastards have to follow them.
And yes, some bastards can do unspeakable evil and get away with it. If you think everyone gets what they deserve and good always triumphs, what bloody world do you live in?
What happened when you left?
At that time Dahls reached critical mass and just when it was about to break, our sorcerers found a way out. A merge between our world and some unknown and uninhabited world we called Sfal. And a couple thousand others beyond it.
But, just like that, we were the only thing standing between the old worlds, all not much better off than ours, and unimaginable wealth. With no way to keep that to ourselves, the geniuses in the government decided to open the way for everyone, no matter their species, culture, or where they were from. All tightly controlled, obviously, but don’t tell anyone that. Anyway, they needed an army of bureaucrats to handle the influx of immigrants and that was my first gig.
How did it go?
Great. My telepathy makes normal socializing painful but allowed me to communicate with people who didn’t speak Dahlsi-é. Or didn’t speak at all, for that matter. Not all of them were humans, did I mention that?
Until my bitch-of-a-boss got smitten and wouldn’t take no for an answer. So she set out to ruin me.
But maybe that was for the best. With nothing to do and a burning grudge against humanity, I set out to explore new worlds. The business was unregulated at the time. There was The Cosmographic Society, using their magic to locate new merges, but after that, anyone could grab the coordinates and set off. A lot of people got themselves killed. Not all worlds are habitable. There are wild beasts, irregular magic, even shitty, inhospitable environments. One world, I shit you not, is completely filled with water, top to bottom.
“Top to bottom”?
Yeah. Like, you know, when a world bubble emerges from the chaos, it starts filling up with the heavy stuff on the bottom until you end up with a world surface covered with sky-dome? So, there is no surface nor sky-dome, just.. world bubble. Filled with water. It’s crazy.
So, how did you survive?
Three-point-two on Kevar scale. That’s my magical potential. How can you not know that? Most humans have around one. Nonhumans may have slightly more. But this is an official record. I’m the most powerful sorcerer that ever lived. And I’m instinctive. So when I find myself underwater, a protective bubble forms around me before I even consciously realize what is happening.
That, and a shitload of luck.
Are you still doing that? Exploring new worlds, I mean?
Sort of. Some time ago another bitch managed to pass the law granting her merry band—Mespana, that’s how they call themselves—the exclusive right to explore. Why is it always women who make my life difficult?
Anyway, I was with this guy at the time and he insisted we join in, so I did. We broke up shortly after. But I still do this job.
Is it very different now that you’re with Mespana?
More paperwork. And we have all of this fancy technomagic equipment to aid us, help us survive. That’s one good side of joining this circus. Like the modeler, that can create a detailed model of the entire world in a few hours.
Sometimes the colonists are causing problems and we have to sort that out too. Catch a criminal, kill a few stray beasts, dismantle a magical vortex. Dahls doesn’t have an army or national guard or anything like that, we never had to deal with shit like this.
And now I’m getting officially paid for my job instead of having to peddle my discoveries to private investors. So that’s good.
How do you spend your free time? Do you still play with the illusions?
No, not really. I learned that the worlds outside are far more complex than anything I could come up with. That was a bit disheartening.
Now, I have other ways of entertaining myself. There are so many beautiful guys in Sfal, it would be a shame to let them pass. And you can get all kinds of funny substances in Sfal and with Mespanian pay, there are a few things I couldn’t afford. Some drugs even dampen my telepathy, so I can enjoy company without knowing all the shit they think about me, how cool is that?
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
Oh boy. That was wild. I actually had to go to one of the old worlds. We had a problem that no human magic or technology could solve and I needed to seek out nonhuman help. Did you ever hear of hrefn? Yeah, me neither. They live underwater and some centuries ago they decided that we, surface-dwellers, are absolute crap and descended to abysses so deep, we forgot they existed. I have no idea where our esteemed academicians heard about them.
What did you learn on your adventure?
That sometimes it’s easier to deal with nonhumans than humans.
We’re not all bad!
(chuckle) Do you remember what I said about telepathy? I can’t shut it off. I hear everything people think as clearly as if they were screaming into my ears. I hear everything you think. People like to consider themselves noble, but when they think no one is listening… It’s disgusting. You may despise me because I use hard drugs to distance myself from your crap, but at least I’m not as full of it as you are.
So, what, you’re going to waste your life and the incredible talent, in drugs because you hate people?
Do you have better ideas? Let me tell you something: the higher purpose, the sense of our being; it’s all bullshit those in power use to justify their abuse. They will use you, break you, fuck you up, and say you should be grateful because it’s all for some great-bullshit-good. There’s no greater good. There is no purpose. We live, we die, no one cares. The least we can do is have fun while we’re here.
Is there at least someone you care for?
I told you, people are overrated. I had a few relationships, but… Sooner or later they’d drop their shield.
What is the best thing about living in Sfal?
Guys. Dahlsi people are scrawny, compared to us the outworlder boys are wonders. Those muscles… And some of them are completely shameless, walking around half-naked. I know Sfal is a hot world, but that’s… indecent. I love it.
What is the worst thing about it?
Too many minds.
What does the future hold for you?
A Csivelinian prince wants me to verify the authenticity of an artifact he found. That should be interesting. I’ve heard that Csivelinians are promiscuous. I’ve never slept with a prince before…
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
A god spoke to me once. I was sober at that time, so screw you. He told me… Hm. I shouldn’t say that. I may need it later to bring my foe down.
Who is that?
Isn’t that obvious? Kanven Sandeyron.
Natalie Holden is a cat at heart and a hopeless herbal tea addict. She prefers imaginary worlds to the real one, but shamelessly uses fiction to tackle real-life issues. She takes not being good with people to the next level.
Join us next time to meet a powerful alien antagonist. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.