Simon Do you have to talk so loud? And what ungodly hour do you call this?
Hmmm, afternoon? Most folks are up well before this.
Simon Yeah, well, I’m more of a nocturnal creature.
Nathan You’re more of a big, fat liar. He did exactly what Kitty told him not to do and went out and got plowed last night.
Simon Shut up, Nathan! This is my thing, not yours!
Nathan Just sayin’.
All right, boys. Nathan, Simon is right. This is his turn to speak. So Simon, tell me – what is your favorite thing to do.
Nathan Crawling round pubs, getting plowed and trying to kiss the pretty girls.
Simon Yeah, Nathan! Shut up! Actually, he’s right. That is my favorite thing to do.
Generally, pretty girls aren’t fond of that.
So you like annoying them?
Simon That’s what they’re there for, isn’t it?
Catherine Simon, you’re hopeless.
Simon Yeah, butcha love me anyways.
Catherine Do I have a choice?
Simon Aws, is ‘oo smudgie!
Catherine Gah!! Stop it!!!
Nathan Oh, dear lord. Must we continue with this? He’s embarrassing.
OK, everyone who isn’t Simon – GO AWAY!
Now… surely there is more to Simon than pints, pubs and pretty girls.
Simon Well, I’m an earth mage – basically, I talk to animals. Unfortunately, it isn’t a very useful skill, so there’s not a lot for me to do that’s very interesting.
What do you use it for?
Simon The animals know a lot about what’s going on that people don’t sense at all. They tell me what the weather is going to do, unless it’s one of Nathan’s tantrums. They don’t hold him in high regard because he’s always springing storms on them.
Nathan That is a bold-faced falsehood! I haven’t thrown….
OUT NATHAN! Go on, Simon.
Simon So I can warn the Keep about bad weather coming. If we’re in danger, I can usually ask for help, but that’s so infrequently it’s not even worth mentioning. When I was young, my father and the other village folks wanted me to tell them where the fishing and hunting was best, but I don’t like using it for that sort of thing. It’s a cruel advantage, and I won’t do it.
I’ll bet that got you into a lot of trouble.
Simon Yes, it did. Kitty pointed out to me that I didn’t have to tell them the truth, or even the whole truth. So, I’d send them in the wrong direction, and then tell them, “Well, they were there before.” They didn’t buy that for long, so I ended up getting whipped a lot. Seems to me that if they’d been better hunters and fishermen, they wouldn’t have needed me.
You and Catherine had a pretty brutal upbringing, didn’t you?
Simon Maybe. I dunno.
In fact, it seems like a lot of the mages had difficult childhoods. Would you say that’s correct?
Simon No, not at all. Jahx, for instance, had great parents. Thor came from a close community, and a very close family. Jasper’s father cared enough about him to bring him out here before the Keep was even here, because he didn’t want to his son to get hurt. I suppose a handful of us had a difficult time, and for whatever reason we sort of drifted together. But we’re not the usual.
Now, I understand that your village is somewhat unique in that they shun magic and magickers. Is that correct?
But not your magic.
Simon They didn’t consider it magic; they called it ‘intuition’. It was okay if I knew where the best hunting or fishing was, but if they caught me talking to the animals, I got in trouble for ‘acting mad’. It was worse for Catherine.
Simon She got cooped up in the house a lot, but plants love her, you see? So if she didn’t come outside, they’d go inside, and she’d get into trouble for it. But she didn’t know how to stop it. She tried talking to them, but they didn’t take much notice. Seems like we were constantly tripping over vines and pulling leaves out of our clothes.
I understand you sit on the Council of Mages and serve as the Greeter. What exactly does that mean?
Simon Being the Greeter for the Circle means that I welcome every new mage when they arrive and later present them to the Council of Mages and give them the mage-mark. I also act as sort of a guide until they are presented to the Council and have a representative and mentor appointed. They usually arrive in pretty rough shape, so it takes them a while for all that to happen.
How does that work exactly? I mean, how do they even get to the Circle?
Simon We’ve got it down to a fine science. The seers tell us when and where there is likely to be a maging, and someone is appointed to go and retrieve the poor kid. I don’t really get into all that – there’s a lot of ethics involved, and I don’t agree with most of it.
Simon Sometimes, they find both the kid and the coubirigh alive. Then they have to decide whether to let the kid die and the coubirigh live, or kill the coubirigh and let the kid mage. Honestly, I don’t feel equipped to make that sort of decision. I don’t think I ever could.
I can understand that. So where do you come into it?
Simon Once they're coming in with the kid, they inform me and I take up my post at the hospice and wait for the first waking. I tell the kid what’s happened to them and what’s going to happen, most of which goes in one ear and out the other, and then they go back to sleep. Then I’m off duty until Cullen or one of his minions lets me know the kid has really wakened, and I go and do the whole spiel over again.
If they don’t remember it, why bother the first time?
Simon It helps to settle them. Even if they don’t remember it, they know they’re in a safe place, so they can relax and start mending. The maging process is long and painful – we’ve found that being terrified and vulnerable on top of that slows the process and makes for a more aggressive mage. Then that has to be trained out of them, so even if they don’t know it or remember, the first Greeting is a very important part of the process. But I’ve been told by some that they do remember and appreciate it.
That must make you feel good.
Simon Eh. It’s what I do. Are we almost done? It’s just about opening time at the Buck. You wanna join me? It’d be fun!
Nathan Yeah, for him. He’ll stick you with the tab.
Simon Shut up, Nathan!
Thanks Simon, I’ll have to pass. Thanks for talking to us today.
Simon Aw, come on!
Simon Just one pint!