A couple weeks ago, the wonderful Kelly Blanchard posted her interview of my FMC, Nessix Teradhel (you can read it here!). There’s an interview of me on her site, as well, but I personally find Nes much more entertaining and interesting. If you’re a writer, especially if you’re wanting or needing to explore your characters a bit deeper, Kelly’s service is amazing. I went in to my first interview (of Mathias, posted below) with her assuming to limit it to the publicity and exposure her posted interview would give me, but each one I’ve done has helped shed light on characters I’ve carried with me for the better part of 13 years.
If you’ve read Nes’s interview, you’ve had the chance to get to know her a little bit. To gear you up for Friday’s release of Devotion (YAY!), I’m going to share with your the other two interviews Kelly and I went through. Today is my MMC, Mathias Sagewind. My lovely antagonist, Veed Astaldt, will be posted on Thursday! Hope you enjoy! (ETA: The part of “Kelly” was played by Kelly Blanchard. The part of “Mathias” was played by, well, Mathias, as interpreted by Katika Schneider.)
Mathias Sagewind excused himself from the boisterous festivities to find a place to chase after Etha’s insights, but his prestige made finding privacy difficult. He wound his way deeper through the courtyards of Nessix’s fortress, walking away from the bustle, until he came across a quiet garden. He hadn’t paid much mind on how he got there, and a gentle buzz still filtered through the air, but it would serve his purpose well. Taking a seat on the edge of a raised garden bed, he sighed out his weariness and closed his eyes.
Mother, what can you tell me about where we’re heading?
No ready answer came, which was unusual for his chipper goddess, but he sat patiently. A few heartbeats later, footsteps graced their way toward him. They carried with them an unfamiliar soul and a gentle air.
He met this woman with a confident smile and warm, green eyes. “Well,” he said amiably. “You’re not Etha.”
Kelly gifted him with a warm smile. “Most certainly not, but I’m honored you mistook me for her.” She struck out a hand. “I am Kelly Blanchard, and, according to your reaction to me, I’m assuming you were not expecting me.”
Mathias stood and accepted her hand, stopping short of kissing her fingertips. He still hadn’t figured out the acceptable customs on Elidae, and while it seemed as though Kelly was not among a member of the fleman people, he did not want to offend her. “I most certainly wasn’t, Miss Blanchard, but I would not be so unkind as to turn down your company.”
“Well then, this should be interesting.” Kelly smiled at him as she withdrew her hand. She’d forgotten how different cultures greeted each other differently. “You see, I’ve been given the unique privilege to ask you questions–a lot of questions. I hope you don’t mind answering them.”
He raised his brows at the thought, wondering who got him into this commitment. “I’ll answer what I can.”
“Do you mind if we walk? These gardens are lovely, and I find talking easier when strolling about.” When Mathias gave her a nod, and they began walking, Kelly plucked out her first question. “Now, I understand you had died and was brought back by Ehta.” She glanced at him. “What was your life like before your died? Do you recall?”
His lips twitched at distant memories, eyes wandering far into the depths of his past. “Oh, I remember. Life was simple then, much more straight forward. Ever since I was a kid, I’d dreamed of greatness, but never actually thought I’d find it.” His smile faltered with the smallest hint of remorse, but he buried it behind a sigh. “Wait-” His hand swept through Kelly’s shoulder when he tried to grasp it to direct her the other way in their stroll. That was odd… Shaking off the unusual occurrence the way he typically disregarded the uncanny, he changed his approach. “We don’t want to go that way. It’s rowdy over there.” He turned down a path he hadn’t yet explored that led away from the sounds of the celebration.
She nodded and went with him. She’d noted that remorse in his face and wondered how to touch upon it. “Who were you back then? What did you do?” Then she paused before adding, “And what led you to your death?”
A polite laugh gently shook his shoulders and he glanced toward his feet. He shook his head and looked forward again. “I was an ignorant, starry-eyed kid back then. I was born the oldest of a farming family and was convinced I’d somehow become a knight. My sister was scouted out for her greatness and I escorted her to Zeal for her training as a priestess. We’d spent all of our money on the journey there, anyway, so I couldn’t afford to just turn around and go back home, so I used it as an opportunity.”
He shook his head again, this time with a smile. “I found a knight to apprentice under, learned how to fight demons, and ultimately rose in rank enough to command my own troops.” His lips parted once more, but he struggled for a moment with his next words. “I’m sure even a lady such as yourself can imagine the dangers involved with leading an army against demons,” he said. “That’s where I found my death.”
Kelly nodded as they walked along the quiet path. She had to gift him with a smile. “Well, it could have been worse. At least your death was fairly honorable.” She shrugged. “And how long were you dead before Etha brought you back?” She cast him a glance. “Or does time work differently after you die?”
He barked a short laugh after her assumption of honor surrounding his death, but time had healed his scars enough for him to see past them. “When you only exist as a soul…” He contemplated this a moment, having never really thought about it. “I suppose time doesn’t exist at all. I remember falling. I remember the rushing of blood in my ears and the stench of battle. I remember ringing and haze and then… nothing. There was peace. It was still and beautiful. Next thing I know, I was choking on musty air, and pounding my way from a rotting casket. Julianna said it had been somewhere around 300 years, but even after all this time, I only believe it out of my faith in her.”
“Julianna’s your sister, correct?” Kelly raised her brows and made note that these people had exceptionally long lives–even the mere mortal ones. “So what has become of her?”
“Julianna is my sister, yes.” He cast her an amused glance at her skeptical expression. “As I mentioned earlier, she’d been scouted out for her divine gifts, traits that are uncommon for mortals to wield. As a little girl, she was brought to Zeal and trained under the clergy, continually refining her talents. Before I’d died, she’d become made quiet a name for herself as a priestess and sometime between me dying and coming back to life, she’d been blessed by Etha herself as High Priestess. I blame Julianna’s influence for the reason I was brought back to life to begin with.” His chuckle suggested he harbored no ill will toward his sister for the action.
“Jules is still alive today, but where I get to run around and play hero, she has to sit around in stuffy Council meetings. I think I got the better end of the bargain, in the end.”
“Well, I should probably thank her some time for her influence in bringing her back because otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” Kelly gave him a bemused smile then fixed her gaze ahead as she tucked her hands behind her back while walking. “So, I understand you are charged with protecting Nessix. How fares that task?” She glimpsed his way with a slight smile on her lips.
Mathias started to speak, but his words croaked out with dwindling enthusiasm. He didn’t wish to publicly shame the young general, but she hadn’t done much to earn his glowing reviews. “That task…” He blew out a slow breath from puffed cheeks. “It’s a good thing I was assigned to that task, I’ll put it that way. She needs a hand that isn’t afraid to be firm and a guide that doesn’t mind being senselessly beaten. Her heart’s in the right place, but…” His words trailed off again and his face twisted as though he had a stomach ache. “Her heart’s in the right place.”
“But what, Mathias?” Kelly stopped walking, forcing him to do the same. “Be honest with me. Say what you will. I will speak of this conversation to no one. You have my word. You can trust me.” She watched him closely, wondering if he would believe her honest words.
He turned to face her reluctantly and scratched the back of his head. “She’s got some deep-seeded issues that only experience can force her through, and I’m honestly not sure if she’ll get there in time.” His eyes grew sad and distant. “There is only so much I can do to protect her; she has to make the decision to grow by herself.”
“I’m going to be speaking with her eventually as well–don’t worry, I’m not going to mention you at all, but is there something you’d like to tell her that she may not accept from you but might accept from a total stranger such as myself?” she raised her brows.
He smiled at her offer but shook his head. “I wouldn’t want to burden you with that responsibility. It was just a few days ago that I was a complete stranger to her, and she’s been pretty resistant to advice. I was warned that her life hadn’t been gentle. If I knew nothing else about her, the fact that she’s barely a young woman and is tasked with leading her father’s army is enough. She lost her god, most of her family, and has never faced a threat she didn’t know how to handle on her own. The demons came. I came. Nothing makes sense to her right now and I can’t fault her for that.”
He met Kelly’s eyes with a sorrowful depth. “If you can convince her to push aside her pride, even just a little bit, it will be better than what I’ve been able to do. Her pride will be what gets her killed. There is no way for her to do this on her own.”
She gave him a warm smile. “I’ll see what I can do. Can’t promise anything, but I will bear that in mind when I speak with her.” And they finally resumed walking once more. “You seem so very sad, Mathias.” She glanced at him. “What troubles you?”
The thought struck him, as it had been ages since he’d considered himself sad. He looked around them as they walked and reflected on what Kelly saw in him. After this eternal existence of fixing Abaeloth’s problems, maybe he was sad. “I’d never really thought about it,” he murmured. “I suppose I’m just tired.”
“Tired of what? Existence? Always helping others, fixing problems? Or something more?” Kelly motioned to a nearby bench for them to sit, so they could focus on the conversation, and she watched his face for anything he might not verbalize.
Mathias waited for her to take her seat before sitting beside her. “I’m tired of the suffering,” he said slowly. “I’ve seen the best times Abaeloth has ever seen, and I’ve seen the worst, believe me, I’ve seen the worst. Then I’m told to help this naïve, inexperienced girl navigate a holy war…” He sighed and cast his eyes to the stars. “I help people. It’s what I do and what I will continue to do, but knowing that there will always be that need for people to be helped.”
He sat in silence for a second longer before a smile slowly crept on his lips. “And I suppose that’s why it’s a good thing Etha won’t let me die, huh?”
Kelly furrowed her brows at his last remark. “What do you mean by that?”
His smile broadened into a grin. “The reason Julianna begged for me by name and the reason Etha listened to her prayers was because I’m the only fool that’s ever lived that doesn’t mind throwing himself in the fire. Repeatedly. You’d think I’d learn.” He shrugged. “I was born with the heart to protect and serve-” he pounded a fist against his chest. “Etha just equipped me with a body that can handle whatever gets thrown at me.”
Kelly pondered over his words, but finally she had to turn to him. “And what do you get out of it? It is tiresome to serve others endlessly day in and day out and put up with people’s demands and expectations and having to make people unhappy because they are stupid at times. I do that, and I’m merely mortal. I cannot imagine what it would be like to do that for an eternity. Is this all you want your…life to be? Is it all that is allowed you to be? To give yourself to others tirelessly without expecting anything in return?”
Mathias tucked his lips in a tight line and his gaze hardened. “I’m not sure what I want out of life anymore,” he confessed at last. “I won’t lie. When I was still mortal, I chased this path for glory and riches and fame. I reached the very cusp of that before I died, and looking back, I’m not sure it was worth it. Now…” He scratched his palm and feigned interest in a smudge that wasn’t there. “I can’t quite explain it. Etha is infinitely powerful, but her laws forbid her to intercept free will. She needs me to help maintain balance in this corrupt world as much as I need her to breathe. I can’t explain it. This is who I am.”
Kelly nodded. “I understand that, but does it make you happy? I mean, sure, you’re probably very satisfied when you’re successful and everything, but admit it–it’s not always easy, and people won’t always heed your advice, and that will get others killed. No matter how hard you try, they might not listen, and that…that wears on your soul. Surely Etha is aware of this. Does she allow you any kind of break or…simple enjoyment where you don’t have to intervene in the daily lives of mere mortals?”
“Does the process of reaching success make me happy? No, I can’t say it does,” he admitted. “But the people who I touch along the way, the difference that my hope can make for them, the good that my strength can give to them, that is enough. There are lives I cannot save, and there is nothing I can do to alter time, but each life that my influence can positively affect is a blessing. I doubt I’ll ever retire, but the flow of the world gives rise to mortal heroes often enough that I’m allowed the occasional reprieve.”
Contemplating his words, Kelly gave a slow nod but voiced her observation. “You’re merely tired. I can see that, but it’s not just physical exhaustion but a spiritual weariness.” But she knew she couldn’t be of much help regarding that, so she tried to find a brighter topic. “Tell me of one of you more…positive differences you’ve made since you’ve been charged with helping mortals?”
He breathed away the burdensome thoughts on his mind and relit the fire in his eyes. “Can you still hear the commotion over there?” he asked, waving a hand in the direction of bubbly music and boisterous cheering. “That’s an example of what I do. Before I came here, Elidae had never seen a demon before, barely even had any lore about them. A few attacks were made, stirred up concern. Don’t tell her this, but it had Nessix practically paralyzed with fear. That exhaustion we were just talking about? Part of that was earned through having fought demons for a long time, but if it weren’t for that experience, that party you hear going on would be the last few gurgling chokes of a dying army instead of drunkards making stupid bets with each other.”
“Fighting demons–yeah, I can see why that would be so wearisome.” Kelly cast her gaze in the direction of the celebration. “I’m glad you were able to be here, but…if I may be honest, this was only one fight with the demons, and you’re already exhausted, and I think both of us know that there is *much* more to come. The fact that you’re already exhausted concerns me a little.”
He chuckled at her sentiment and stretched against the back of the bench. “I’ve got a chunk of god-slaying goodness siphoning Etha’s grace into my heart,” he said, eyes glittering. “Physically, I’ll be fine. After a good night’s sleep, I should be able to put today’s dose of Nessix’s temper aside long enough to recover on the mental front. After all, this is far from my first campaign.” He grinned.
“I understand, but still…” Kelly sighed as she rose to her feet to pace before him slowly. She supposed she should get back on purpose at hand with this interview. “So, you are a duty-bound, god(dess)-sent protector with all of eternity before you. Do you have any hopes or dreams for yourself? Have you accomplished all you’ve wished to? or have you no such…dreams anymore?”
Mathias leaned forward and propped his elbows on his knees. “There’s not much of a reason for me to dream anymore, not in the way I had when I was a mortal.” His mouth twisted at how unsatisfactory that answer came out. “I have hopes, instead. I hope for this world to find peace. I hope for the demons to find peace.” That thought made him frown for a moment. He’d tried for ages to convince them of that intention, and the vast majority of them wanted nothing to do with it. “I hope that someday there is balance so that I can resume doing whatever it is that I want… spend a week immersed in the library, visit the ocean and do nothing but smell the air. I was born a simple man and one day, I hope to become that man again.”
Kelly smiled. “Isn’t it ironic how that works?” But then she lifted her gaze to the darkened heavens and sighed before looked back at Mathias. “Unfortunately, my time allotted here has come to an end. I will speak with Nessix…eventually, but don’t mention me to her please. Thank you though for your time, your answers, your patience, and for all you do for this world. I’m not sure how many people thank you for it, and even though this is not my world, I thank you.” She bowed her head to him.
He smiled back at her. “The pleasure was mine, Miss Blanchard,” He stood and stretched his arms out, glancing up at the heavens. “Best of luck with Nessix. If fate holds it in her hand, I would be pleased to speak with you sometime in the future.”
Kelly smiled. “That would be nice. Now, get some rest. You need it.” Then she headed down the path from which they came and soon vanished altogether.
Mathias watched Kelly’s after image fade and smiled. “Alright, Etha,” he murmured into the night. “It’s your turn to talk.”