And now for our second character interview – Ye Olde Akarian News chases down Miara.
This takes place between Mage Strike and Star Mage, so if you haven’t read Mage Strike yet, spoiler warning! If you’re new to the series, get started with Mage Slave and come back after Book 2!
No spoilers for Book 3.
And now for the interview. If you’re vegetarian, you might want to sit this one out! Some of my best friends are veggies, but Miara is of a quite different persuasion….
Arms Master Floren! We hear you are quite up and coming in Akarian society. Can we have a few moments of your time for Ye Olde Akarian News?
Moments of my time? Why?
Our readers would like to learn more about you. We have questions.
Me? Why me?
To be blunt, rumor has it that you’re going to be married to King Aven. Our readers are clamoring to hear more about their future queen.
Maybe it was sort of more a mildly inquisitively raised eyebrow. No matter. I have questions.
I am sure I will bore you, but fine. You have until Aven gets back here.
Excellent, thank you so much, my lady. First question. Do you have a favorite fruit?
It’s a warm up question. Everybody likes fruit, right?
Well… yes. In Estun I had these poached pears that I might have killed someone for—
Killed someone? Did I hear that correctly?
I mean, I would never do that. I just liked them a lot.
Is that a dagger on your belt?
It’s a set of ten daggers, actually. Anyway, the wine-poached pears in Estun were magnificent. But I do have a soft spot for wild black cherries, the kind you can find just at the beginning of their ripeness in late summer. And raspberries have the best texture. But also pumpkins in fall—are pumpkins a fruit?
I have no idea. For the purposes of this conversation, let’s say yes.
Pumpkins are delicious a thousand ways. Oh, and plums. And—and I think that’s it. Maybe.
All of those are your favorites?
Oh. Yes. Should I have picked just one?
No, no, not at all. Let’s move on. Next question! Do you have a favorite magical spell?
Hmm, well, I’m not sure if it’s just one spell, or many, but being able to transform into other creatures is a wonderful experience. Strange. Beautiful. Sometimes awkward and confusing.
What does it feel like?
Well, to some degree it feels exactly the same. Just the body trying to interact with the outside world is different. Except some creatures have different eyes, sharper senses of smell, different instincts and urges that come along even with the form. Talking to them brings those instincts much more strongly.
Do you have any favorite forms?
Oh, there’s so many. Eagles are definitely a favorite, with a lot of utility. Cats are great for slinking. Bears are great for fighting. Those are close to the surface of my mind, and I can always see it when I have to transform without really thinking, it’s always one of them. But there are so many, it’s hard to say for sure.
Along those lines, Steve asks, “Are there certain animals you actively avoid communicating with?”
Dung beetles. They just have this extreme passion for collecting excrement that I have absolutely no desire to empathize with. Found that out the hard way, stuck with me for days.
Be glad you don’t understand.
Are there any others?
Oh yes. A lot of other insects are very strange, although it is a form I benefit from time to time. Leeches, worms, lampreys, maggots—I could go on and on. They perform important service to the Balance, but that’s just not a reality I prefer to exist in.
Because of what they eat?
Yes, among other things.
So… wait. Do you talk to creatures you eat? Like chickens and cows?
*eyes widen* Well… yeah. Have you ever talked to a chicken?
They’re kind of jerks. So I do avoid talking to them, yes, but they don’t have much nice to say either.
Doesn’t it bother you to eat sentient creatures?
Creatures that can talk. Think.
Oh. I mean, it did at first. A normal phase all young creature mages go through. But the plants talk in their own way too, not with language, but they’re just as alive. And just as dead when you eat them. And we can’t survive without eating some of it. Although most plants are actually fairly enthusiastic about animals eating their fruit.
And why is that?
Uh… maybe I can explain that some other time. It’s rather involved. And not pretty.
Actually, seeds and eggs bothered me the most for a while. You’re not just consuming another living being, but one that had the potential for life and you snuffed it out before it even had a chance. That seemed somehow worse. Of course, most chicken eggs do not actually have a chance to become chicks, but you think I couldn’t have fixed that? Ugh…
I guess, for better or worse, consuming other creatures is part of the Way. And part of the Balance. The way our teachers advised was to spend time in the minds of predators like us. Wolves, bears, falcons, even just average cats. They serve the same function in the Balance as we do, although our tools have sort of skewed things.
How do you live with the idea that your existence requires you to sacrifice other living beings so you can survive?
*eyes widen again* Well, not easily. But I mean, I didn’t make the Balance that way. It’s just how it is, animal or plant, we’re all consuming each other. But I try to honor their sacrifice, show my gratitude, and waste as little as possible. And who am I to question the Way of Things?
So you said you can transform into other animals. How do you know what you’re eating isn’t a human transformed into an animal?
That’s a terrifying proposition. You might be trying to give me nightmares.
I might be giving us both nightmares.
Most of the time, a mage would transform back into themselves to stop you from eating them, unless they were already dead. And I guess if they’re already dead, does it matter? Then they really are a chicken. Sort of. I think you’re overthinking this. Can we just hope this never happens?
And could we maybe not go to extra efforts to point this out to your readers? Unless you want to scare the sweat out of them.
I’ll consider it.
Magic can do so many good things. It’d be nice if they didn’t associate it with cannibalism.