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Please tell us a little about yourself. My name is Eriale Bareny. I’m seventeen years old. I’m a mage, almost an Adept, which is the highest rank for a mage, although I haven’t applied for the Adept license yet. I live with my mom and dad in our manor. Our family belongs to the minor nobility of the kingdom.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Short, skinny, pale, long black hair, gray eyes.

Do you have a family? Tell us about them. I love my family. My mother and father are my best friends. My father is also a mage, an Adept, and he is my mentor in magic. He owns a magic school, and I help him tutor the younger students.

My mother is a healer. Both my parents were married before. My father’s older daughter from his first marriage, my half-sister Tamara, is the queen of our kingdom. She’s much older than I’m and a pain in the butt, very ‘royal’, if you know what I mean. Her husband, Axelor, the king, is a much nicer guy. When they married, he was pretty far removed from the throne. Nobody thought he would inherit. Only a tragedy made him king. It happened a few years after they got married – I was twelve at the time.

I also have a half-brother from my mom’s first marriage. His name is Toller, and he’s a healer, like my mother. He is also much older than me, but we’re buddies.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses? I’m a very powerful mage. My father (and mentor) says that I might be the strongest mage on the continent. I can do anything with magic. In fact, my father says I do too much with magic, even things that could be done without it, like drying my hair after washing or getting a ribbon from another room. I disagree with him. Of course my hair could dry without magic, but it’ll take too long – I have very long hair, almost to my knees. And I have magic to spare anyway, so why not use it productively?

My weakness – my relationship with people, I suppose. I’m usually awkward in company. It’s much easier for me to deal with magic than with people – often I don’t understand them. I spent all my time studying magic, so I never had friends growing up. Now, I have to learn some useless things like small talk or flirting (my mom said I should learn to flirt a little) but I’m not sure why I should bother. With my magic, I can help people. Did flirting ever help anyone? Or empty chat? But both my parents consider those my weaknesses, so I’m willing to learn.

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you? My magic manifested when I was three. At first, my dad had to be with me always, to control my magic; I was too young to do it myself. Later, even after I learned to control it, I sometimes got in trouble because of my magic. I always tested it, tried to find the limits. Once, when I was seven, I think, I flooded the cellars of my parents’ manor. It was a mistake, of course, in the alignment level of the spell, but my dad got mad. He grounded me for a month. Another time, I made my mom’s ball gowns dance by themselves, and I danced with them. I was nine. We danced a polka, and it was fun, but my mom panicked when she saw it. Of course, dad grounded me again. Eventually, I learned the hard lesson: I couldn’t use my magic for pranks or practical jokes – ABSOLUTELY NEVER! My magic is too strong for that. Of course, sometimes I still do, but I’m careful now, so my dad doesn’t learn about it. And I know my limits now. I’ll never hurt anyone or damage anything with my magic.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Yes. I suppose my moral code is like most other people’s: don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie, the usual. The ‘don’t steal’ clause is a bit flexible though. I would never steal from a friend or from poor people, who can’t afford to lose anything, but a rich merchant who gets richer by deceiving others is a fair game.

But there is one prohibition that’s sacred to me as a mage: Don’t use blood magic! Blood magic is the magic one can derive from the pain and death of other creatures, human and animal. It’s easy power, but it’s dirty. Mages who use blood magic are evil.

My father taught me to use and recognize blood magic. With my level of power, I need to know, but I always feel nauseated whenever I perform anything reminiscent of blood magic. Some spells come close, they’re on the borderline, and as an Adept, I must know them, but I’ll never use them if I have a choice. Fortunately, there is usually a choice in magic, a selection of spells one can apply to accomplish the same goal.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. This fact is mostly about what happened in this book, Almost Adept. The book is about me, but I wasn’t planning to leave home and go on adventuring. It was a piece of bad luck. I just finished my studies and was going to apply for the Adept license but I got into a scrape and had no choice but to disappear for a while. You see, it’s about this guy, Gordin. He is a duke’s nephew. We danced together at a few balls. I liked him and I thought he liked me, but he only pretended. First, he insulted me behind my back, and then he humiliated me in front of his friends, almost raped. I’m no wussy; I’m a princess, well, kind-of anyway, so I had to retaliate. I turned him into a muttonhead.

Of course, it was only for a week and only his head. His body remained human. I really intended to give him a ram’s head, but I miscalculated (it was a spur-of-the-moment spell), and he got a ewe’s head instead. His family was furious. Maybe they wouldn’t be so angry if I gave him a ram’s head, but still. I had to flee until the furor died down.

I probably shouldn’t have used my magic on him. I should’ve broken his nose instead or kneed him in the balls, but I was angry. I should control my temper better; that’s another of my weaknesses, I think.

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. I live in the kingdom of Varelia. My brother-in-law, King Axelor, is a good king and popular. The commoners love him; I heard it myself when I sneaked to a marketplace last year. People said that our laws are reasonable and our roads are safe. Of course, they complained about the taxes, but who isn’t?

I saw beggars too but not too many. Maybe they hid from me, or maybe I just didn’t go to the right places. Later, I saw terrible poverty and suffering during my travels through other kingdoms. I hope my own country is better. I’ll definitely check it out when I return home. Maybe I can do something to improve everyone’s life. I have so much power I should be able to do some good. As my dad always says: “With power comes responsibility.”

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? I have distant relatives, my mother’s cousins, in the Roodiman Empire, so that was where I headed after the muttonhead disaster. I stopped in Grumesh at my father’s request, for some magical guild business, but then things got complicated. I became embroidered in their freedom fighting controversy and I met the most wonderful man, Kealan. And then I had to challenge a blood mage to a duel. Scary stuff, but it happens, when one is an Adept. I’ll get to Roodim eventually. I like traveling.

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world? Of course. I told you already, I’m a mage. People in our world use magic for everything: weather adjustment, harvest enrichment, sending and receiving messages, honesty control in gaming houses and in court, building inspection. Lots of different applications. Mages work for hire like anyone else. And like any other profession, mages have a guild which governs the members’ conduct. I’ll apply for a guild license as soon as I return home from my trip.

What form of politics is dominant in your world? Mostly, it’s monarchy. My country is a kingdom, and so are most of our neighbours.

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another? Yes. There are elves in different enclaves around the continent. They live in most cities and in big forests like Sisiry. Their university in Pereyaslon in Sisiry is famous for its magical studies faculty, and the city itself is very beautiful. I visited there with my father once, when I was young. There is also a huge autonomy of dwarves in the midlands of the Roodim Empire, and trolls live in the swamps all along the northern crescent. I think we’re all getting along okay. At least, there haven’t been any wars between races for several centuries. Of course, not everyone likes everyone else, but you can say the same thing about humans. Humans always wage wars against each other. Stupid, if you ask me.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. I like elven legends most of all. Some of them talk about another race – letuns, the elves with wings. According to the tales, they lived here a long time ago, until humans started hunting them for their wing membranes. Then, they all flew away, to another continent, but nobody ever proved it. No human ship ever reached that continent and returned. Maybe it’s just stories after all, but every elf I’ve ever talked to says it’s the truth.

And then, there is this famous saga about a dragon-shifter, who turned into a human at will and loved a human girl. That one is definitely a myth; nobody could turn a man into a dragon and back. The transformation spell is brutal and requires tons of magical power. Trust me, all the stories of shifters – dragons or wolves or pythons – are just that: stories. No scientific descriptions and no chronicles ever mentioned even one real case. The same with vampires – dozens of tales but not one proof that they exist.

Dragons are real though, even if I’ve never seen one. We don’t have dragons here. They live on another continent and can’t cross the ocean, but sailors sometimes bring their scales or claws as souvenirs. Once they brought a mummified head of a dragon, and it traveled as part of a freak show. I saw it. It was disgusting. I’d like to see a living dragon. Maybe I should sail to their land. I know dragons have magic, at least some breeds of them do, and I wonder what I could do with their magic. Maybe I could talk to them.

Sometimes, I think maybe the stories of letuns and dragons have merged somehow, maybe they’re the same.


Author notes:

Eriale is the protagonist of Almost Adept, a fantasy novel by Olga Godim.

You can find the book


Olga Godim’s website is: http://olgagodim.wordpress.com


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