“Remarkably effective.” With its sharp air of authority, the voice cut through the fog of noise and confusion. It was dry, throaty, and deep for a woman’s voice, though unmistakeably feminine... The stern face of an elderly woman appeared, hovering over him. Black hair framed her pale face, and eyes the faded blue of the spring sky studied him.
Seated on the platform, as though to oversee everything that was happening in the room, was an elderly woman with pale skin and black-dyed hair, dressed in a gown of rich black fabric. Jewels glittered at her ears, around her neck, and on her fingers.
My name is Elspetya Lorentius. I chose that name myself to represent the life I aspired to among the highest levels of mage society. It is modeled after Island names, since mages of Island descent are the elite of the elite among mages.
2. How old are you?
It's bad manners to ask a woman her age. But I will admit to having achieved a certain maturity of years, and that I am old enough to have adult grandchildren.
3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
My father was a mage of high standing and considerable power. Unfortunately, my mother was a Plain servant girl, and because of the undesirable circumstances of my birth, I was raised and lived my earlier life as a Plain. I married a Plain man and had five children before my power developed when I was around thirty years old. Of course, I left my Plain life and family behind when I went to be trained as a mage, and ever since then I have taken my proper place in mage society. Shortly after I began training in magic, I entered into a close connection with a gentleman from the highest levels of mage society, a member of the Mage Council. Our connection is highly gratifying to both of us, though, for various reasons, we have never seen the need to marry.
4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
That's really none of your business, as well as being something I don't care to remember. My life before I was acknowledged as a mage means nothing to me.
5. What is your occupation?
At the moment, I am pursuing certain plans regarding the Wildings, the large, sparsely-settled region west of Granadaia. I am discontent with the Mage Council's hands-off approach to the Wildings and its resources, and have decided it is necessary to take control of the situation myself.
6. What are your best and worst qualities?
I am highly intelligent, and gifted in magic, and very focused on achieving my goals. I have the ability to organize and lead. I have a large number of men working for me on my current project, and none of them have ever objected to taking commands from a woman.
Some might say I am cold and selfish. But I see those as being merely offshoots of my drive and ambition. One cannot achieve great things if one is easily overcome by emotion and sentimentality.
7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
Ah. [smiles] My gentleman companion embodies all those qualities I require. He is intelligent, talented, and ambitious, and willing to place all of those at the service of my plans. As well, he is extremely wealthy and has placed a large portion of his funds at my disposal. He is also handsome, and has the vigor of a man one-third his age. And he is quite devoted to me, although from time to time circumstances have required him to keep his devotion a secret from society.
8. What is your favorite thing to do?
I wish to do everything I can to raise the wealth, status, and influence of mages in the world. I enjoy making plans to do so and carrying them out.
9. What is your greatest fear?
I've worked hard to secure my place in mage society. It has not been easy, as the bastard child of a Plain servant girl. My greatest fear is that something, whether it be foreign interference or Plains not keeping to their proper place, or any other catastrophe, will undermine all I've worked for, both my own position and the high status that mages enjoy in this world.
10. What is your most treasured possession?
[holds out her right hand to display a gold ring set with a deep purple stone] My mage ring. It represents everything I've hoped and worked for, the things I've achieved since leaving behind the degraded circumstances of my earlier life.