I had recently been appointed as official Bard of Elannort. While we were planning for the siege and subsequent Battle of Elannort and Simon was lost in the past, I took the opportunity to interview Manfred. I asked him about his early days, the fall of his mentor Bedwyr, the coming of Gilgamesh and his battle with Gadiel and his hopes for Simon and the future. He was refreshingly honest with me and spoke about the three great mistakes of his life. You can download the transcript of the interview for free here or read it below.
Interview with Manfred
Manfred the Magician Leader of the Wise interviewed at Melasurej on 12th day of Autumn Year of Creation 50506 by Kris the Bard.
Kris. Manfred, thank you for your time. I appreciate that you are worried and distracted because Simon is lost in the past and our enemies are gathering at the gates. I would like to ask you about your early days and the last time Gadiel threatened FirstWorld.
Manfred. You are welcome, Kris. We have done everything possible. I have faith that Simon will return and we will defeat the enemy. Ask away.
K. Can we go right back to the beginning? What is your first memory?
M. That’s a long time ago.
K. Forty-three thousand nine hundred and thirty-nine years to be precise.
M. You don’t have to remind me; I feel very old. I suppose my first memory is seeing Melasurej for the first time together with the rest of the Sages and feeling very small and impotent. I remember the scales in the great hall were perfectly in balance. It was the only time that I saw them like that. I was a very minor wizard and most of us didn’t have a clue about what we were supposed to do. We looked up to the seven Great Sages for guidance.
K. Did you ever see the Great Old Ones?
M. No, only the Great Sages met them and received their orders. They did not speak about it.
K. Where did you find guidance?
M. Fortunately the Great Sage Bedwyr saw something in me, though I don’t know what it was. He took me under his wing and I learned much from him. I guess that I was almost his apprentice.
K. What would you say were the most important things you learned from him?
M. Well, I learnt many small things, particularly how to use the power in my staff effectively. But it was the big things that I fall back on now. A belief that we are doing the right thing defending the Balance; that we can make a difference; that even when things are at their darkest there remains a small light of hope that will eventually lead to victory over adversity.
K. Bedwyr fell defending Elvenhome from Gadiel’s forces in YoC 11144. How did he pass to stone? I read somewhere that Gadiel himself wasn’t present. How did you feel?
M. I was devastated and felt so guilty. I felt that I should have been there with him. If I had been, perhaps he would have lived or I could have fallen in his place. He had sent me to discuss certain aspects of our battle plan with King Endymion. The enemy was on the borders of Elvenhome and threatening to cross the Buranan. We needed some special elven magic to wash them away as they tried to cross. He was planning to delay them and then fall back across the river. He had a small army of men and elves with him. It’s true that Gadiel wasn’t there and that’s probably why the rest of the Great Sages thought that one Great Sage was enough to deal with it. Adapa was never very keen on getting his hands dirty. There was a powerful being leading their army. Just like Gadiel seems to have recruited Weylyn this time, he’d done something similar then.
K. Was it another wizard gone bad?
M. No. I think it was a minor God of Chaos. He brought a host of Chaos creatures with him that terrified the humans in the defending army. I heard a first-hand account from an elven commander who survived the battle. Bedwyr was magnificent, moving around the battlefield, raising men’s spirits and destroying the chaos creatures. Eventually, he and the God came face to face. It was an almighty struggle. It appeared that Bedwyr would win and the God’s power waned as his supporters began to panic. With one final surge of power the God shattered Bedwyr’s staff, but the wizard wasn’t finished and jumped forward, grabbing the God around the throat all the while shouting incantations. The two of them died together. I arrived back at the battlefield just in time to see his body turn to dust and blow away. I was overcome by grief and anger and I shocked myself by the way I used my staff that day. I received a first-hand understanding of what the Hero must go through. Without its leader the enemy was routed and we carried the day. I vowed then that Bedwyr’s death would not be in vain.
K. Were the remaining Great Sages more open to fighting Gadiel after that?
M. Unfortunately not. My pleadings fell on deaf ears. However the dwarves and the elves were more open to action because they knew how close they had been to destruction. I had a feeling that the combination of Excalibur and the Blood Ruby would be quite a weapon. The King Beneath the Mountain, Darian son of Dail son of Dallin and the King of the Elves, Endymion, brought together the symbols of their cultures and handed them over to the elven smiths to create Fleischaker. The Sword immediately killed the two smiths who made it and we used all of the magic available to the three races to fashion Vasek to partially control it.
K. And you found a Hero in Gilgamesh to wield it?
M. Well, he found us actually. It was either fate or great synchronicity. He was the greatest Hero to have ever existed and really the first incarnation of the Everlasting Hero. He could control Fleischaker and revelled in using it to kill.
K. Do you think Simon will be the same?
M. Simon is very different to Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was much more like Ubadah is. I think that Simon will learn to temper the Sword’s excesses with compassion. At least, I hope so for the sight of the Hero destroying entire armies is not something I’d like to see again.
K. Is that what happened on the Battle Plain?
M. Yes. Gilgamesh destroyed Gadiel’s army single-handedly. It was a terrible slaughter.
K. Were you not involved?
M. When the Everlasting Hero is in full flight, it is best to stand well back or you are likely to become collateral damage.
K. As Simon has already discovered to his cost with Juliana.
K. What happened between Gadiel and Gilgamesh?
M. To the best of our understanding, with farsight and hindsight, they fought themselves to exhaustion. They were so evenly matched that neither could seize the advantage. Then Gadiel tricked Gilgamesh. He offered him the thing that he sought most; immortality. When Gilgamesh dropped his guard, Gadiel tore his still-beating heart from his chest.
K. So why didn’t Gadiel carry the day?
M. In his moment of triumph, he picked up Fleischaker and the Sword reacted as it had with the elven smiths. It couldn’t completely absorb Gadiel because he has no soul, or at least not one like ours. However, it severely damaged him. Somehow, he managed to flee the field and sought refuge in the mountains. Along the way, he had to abandon the Sword, which otherwise might have completely destroyed him.
K. Why didn’t you finish him off while you had the chance?
M. I have made three terrible mistakes during my long life. I know that there are a myriad of smaller ones but there are three that gnaw at my conscience even to this day. The first was to lose Bedwyr. The second was to allow Gadiel to flee the field that day. I know now that I had the power to destroy him but at the time I was too afraid. He had just destroyed Gilgamesh and he now had Fleischaker. I’m ashamed to say that I too fled the field that day.
K. You may note a tear in my eye and a quaver in my voice. I was, still am, a craven coward. I have never seen you afraid, even when the wargs threatened to overwhelm us. There is hope for me if even you were too afraid to act.
M. Only a fool is never afraid. The test is whether we act through our fear or are frozen by it. I learned a great lesson that day. Your time to act will come, of that I’m sure. Try not to freeze.
K. Did the wise not act and follow him into the mountains?
M. The Council of the Wise eventually met. Five of the six remaining Great Sages decided that they would seek out Gadiel. Dammar decided to go off and do his own thing. Because of my prior involvement, I volunteered to go with them but I was snubbed. I was sent away with Mandred on a series of missions to live with primitive humans and help to preserve the Balance with minimum interference. It was the worst time of my life.
K. What happened to the Great Sages?
M. I’m not even sure that they did anything. My research in recent years has failed to turn up any information. One by one, over time, they passed to stone. Gadiel slowly recovered and here we are today.
K. You mentioned three terrible mistakes. What was the third?
M. All the things that Bedwyr taught me, I forgot them all. I was so wrapped up in my own misery that I neglected everything. The greatest event in the history of the universe was taking place under my nose and I didn’t even notice. I witnessed the Sundering and didn’t even realise.
K. What did that teach you?
M. Well, specifically it allowed me to identify Simon Redhead as our next Everlasting Hero. More generally, it made me work hard ever since to put things right. Jhamed had been born in Elannort just before the Sundering. I admit that I caused a bit too much trouble trying to get the wise to search for Simon. At the 776th Council of the Wise, I made a bit of a fool of myself. So much so, that I was renamed Manfred the Fool and banished from Elannort. Jhamed was grown up by then and he decided to travel with me. Our adventures would fill many a book, but we were always seeking the incarnation of Simon Redhead that would be our Everlasting Hero. Unfortunately, not everyone at the Council of the Wise was on our side. My efforts also alerted the enemy to Simon’s importance and they sought him too, to destroy him.
K. Do you think that we have found him, the right incarnation I mean?
M. Yes, I’m confident we have. I’m sure he’ll be back soon, the Sundering will occur as it did all those years ago and we’ll defeat the enemy at the gate.
K. Manfred, I appreciate your openness and candour and I fervently hope that you are right. Thank you for your time.
M. Thank you, Kris.
Certified as a full and accurate transcript of my interview with Manfred the Magician at Melasurej on the 12th day of Autumn Year of Creation 50506 by Kris the Bard.
The complete FirstWorld Saga can be purchased here. Payment is safe by PayPal. If you don’t have PayPal you can find the FirstWorld Saga at Smashwords, Amazon, and most other reputable E-Book sellers. Volume 1, Quest for Knowledge, can be downloaded for free.