Silas: I had just arrived in Bitterbush Springs and found myself in the middle of a shootout. During the shootout I sensed a burst of magic close by. At the time, I was on the hunt for the source of some magical power I’d been sensing, so when the gunfight was over I went looking for the person the magic had come from.
Lainie: When the shooting started, I got scared and hid behind a barrel, and put up a magical shield. My brother Blake got killed in a shootout just a few months before, so it really scares me when the bullets start flying. When the shootout was over, Silas came over to where I was and asked me if I was okay, and escorted me on my errands in town in case there was any more trouble.
2. What was the first thing you noticed about the other person?
S: The first thing I noticed about Lainie, of course, was her power. Bright and strong and clean, with a feel or flavor to it that was different from the Granadaian power I was familiar with. When I first saw her, hunkered down behind that barrel, I took her for a boy, because of her slim build and the men’s clothes she was wearing. As soon as I got a closer look at her pretty face and her figure, though, it was clear she was all woman.
L: He was tall, and so handsome, and looked just a little bit dangerous, but he was so kind and polite to me.
3. Did you know when you met that you would end up together?
S: No idea at all. I was just passing through on the hunt for a renegade mage. Since she was an untrained mage, my legal duty was to either send her back to Granadaia for training or Strip her of her power. I knew that neither of those options would endear me to her. And anyhow, marriages between mages have to be approved by the Mage Council, and I knew that a Wildings-born mage from a mostly Plain family would not be considered an appropriate match for me.
L: I had no idea, either. I was smitten with him almost right away, but he was just passing through town on business of his own; there was no reason for him to hang around and no reason why he should be especially interested in me.
4. What do you like best about the other person?
S: Well, she’s smart, strong, brave, pretty, an amazing cook, an even more amazing lover —
L: (blushing) Silas!
S: But more than any of that, she’s just.. her. She’s Lainie. That’s what I like best about her.
L: (still blushing) Silas is all those things – except handsome, not pretty, and not that much of a cook except for critter on a stick, as he calls it. But he’s so kind to me, and so patient while he teaches me to use my power, and he sacrificed a lot to keep me safe. And also, I’m not sure how to say this, but he lives, you know what I mean? I mean, he’ll think about things before he acts — usually — and see what the lay of the land is, but when he’s ready he jumps right in and does it. He doesn’t spend his life hemming and hawing off to the side. But yeah, mostly, he’s him. And that’s what I like about him.
5. What is something you enjoy doing together? (Besides the obvious!)
S: What else is there?
L: (blushing even harder) Silas, really!
S: We like doing pretty much everything together. Training in magic, traveling, hunting – we’ve taken a few jobs to track down missing family members and the like, shooting practice, bathing —
L: Oh gods, I’m so embarrassed.
S: Sorry, darlin’. *smooch*
L: But you get the idea. We’re a team. We’re partners. I can’t think of anything we don’t like to do together. Even lately, when money’s been tight and we have to be on the lookout for other mages who might know about us and the laws we’ve broken and such, we’d rather be in it together than out of trouble and not together. You know what I mean?
6. How has the other person changed you?
S: Before I met Lainie, I was already committed to protecting the Plain settlers of the Wildings. But since I met her, it’s become much more personal. Lainie isn’t Plain, of course, but her Pa is, and the people she grew up among, and she’s definitely of the Wildings, not of Granadaia. On the other hand, since the people in her own hometown tried to hang her for being a mage, I’m a little less patient with the Plain settlers’ hatred of mages. I don’t know if that’s affected my commitment to protecting them, but I see them less as the victims in the struggle between mages and Plains than I used to. Mages have done a lot of wicked things, but Plains aren’t entirely innocent, either.
The other way she’s changed me is that I used to not be afraid of much of anything. But now the thought of her being hurt or killed or captured scares me to death. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without her.
L: Silas showed me that not all mages are inhuman monsters with no heart and no soul, which is what I’d always been taught, and he helped me to accept my own power and be proud of who and what I am. He’s teaching me to use my power to help people, not hurt them. My life has changed a lot, living on the run with him, on the wrong side of the mages’ law, instead of still being at home, working on the ranch and marrying the man my Pa meant for me to marry. But I don’t regret any of it.
L: Well, he’s from an elite family of Island mages, and I was born to Plain parents who don’t have a lot — I mean, for folks in the Wildings, my Pa does all right with his ranch, but he worked his way up from nothing and compared to a rich mage family in Granadaia, I guess we’re still pretty poor. And Silas is thirteen years older than me and knows way more than me about a lot of things.
S: None of that seems very important, though. The biggest difference that matters is that she always wins at Dragon’s Threes and I never do. She had to ban me from playing for money. Oh, and she can control powers found in the Wildings that I can’t. That doesn’t bother me; I think it’s mighty impressive, and it’s come in handy a time or two.
8. What do the two of you have in common?
S: Magic. A love for the Wildings, for the beautiful country out here and the freedom. A commitment to protecting Plain folks from mages who want to take away their rights and freedoms. A hope that one day, mages and Plain folk can live peacefully side-by-side in the Wildings. And our love for each other.
L: That pretty much covers it. Well, and we both like horses, and think the same things are funny.
9. What are the greatest challenges you have faced in your relationship?
S: Well, besides the fact that our marriage is illegal under Granadaian mage law, and I also broke the law by not making her go to school in Granadaia or Stripping her, and she can do a few things with magic that are supposed to be impossible and just in case they aren’t they’re also illegal, and we’ve got renegade mages and Plain folks trying to kill us and mage hunters hunting us, and we’ve spent a good amount of time homeless and broke… nothing, really.
L: I’ve almost lost him a few times, and I’ve almost died a time or two. It’s scary, knowing how much danger we’re in, but it also makes us appreciate each other more. No matter how bad things are, we’re just glad to be together. And there was a time when I was afraid he didn’t really want to be with me, he just got himself stuck with me because my Pa made him marry me. But he’s showed me pretty well that isn’t true and he does want to be with me.
10. What does your family think of your partner, and what do you think of your partner’s family?
S: My family has not met Lainie, and likely never will, since I’ve pretty much cut myself off from all relations with them. I doubt they would approve of her, a Wildings girl born of Plain parents; her power came from her grandmother, the illegitimate daughter of a married mage and a Plain servant. As for her family, her Pa is a good man. I have a lot of respect for him, and I mean to keep the promise I made him to take good care of his daughter. Her mother and brother are both dead, but I’m sure I would have liked them as well.
L: My Pa didn’t like Silas at first, because he’s a mage. But after he rescued me from Carden and saved my life and put himself on the wrong side of the mages’ law to do what was best for me, I think Pa started to respect him. If they had time to get to know each other better, I think they’d get on pretty well. Silas’s family… I know he don’t think much of them, and from what he’s told me, they sound like the kind of mages I was taught to hate and be afraid of. But if they raised a son like him, I have to think they can’t be all bad.
11. What role does magic play in your relationship?
L: Magic’s what brought us together. Mages is what we are.
S: I would love her even if she wasn’t a mage —
L: And I would love him if he wasn’t a mage, too.
S: But working together so closely, and both of us knowing what it’s like to have power and use it, I think that brings us closer together than we would be, otherwise.
12. What are your plans for the future?
S: Keep our freedom and stay alive.
L: Well, that, and it would be nice if we could find a place to settle down and live in peace, get some land of our own, raise some cattle. And if we could get the fertility block removed from Silas — the Mage Council puts it on all mage children, and it can’t be removed until the Mage Council approves their marriage — if we could find a way to get the block removed and have some kids together, I’d really like that. I’ve always wanted to have children. But even if we can’t, maybe we can find an orphan to adopt — there aren’t many, folks in the Wildings take care of their own, and if a child loses their parents, their other kin or friends and neighbors will step in and care for them. But if we could find one, we could have a family that way.
S: I’d like that, too, but first we have to stay out of the Mage Council’s hands and not get ourselves hanged by any Plain folks.
13. “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” How is this true for the two of you?
L: Working together, we’ve helped some people, and stopped some powerful and dangerous renegade mages. We’ve done some good.
S: Working together, teaching each other, loving each other, we make each other stronger. Like Lainie said, we’re a team. We’re partners. And together, we can do great things.