I’m interviewing two character volunteers from The Mark of Kane. I’d like to introduce, Anne Kidd and Naberius, though Naberius seems to be late showing up for the interview.
LW: “Anne, do you want to go ahead and tell the readers about yourself?”
Anne walked beside me as we made our way through the UCLA reference library. “Can I ask first why we have to meet in the Special Collections section?”
“Naberius insisted that we meet here or he wouldn’t join us,” I said, looking over my shoulder to find the source of the odd chill I had as we entered a small research room. “He said something about a text, The Last Days of the World. Or something like that.”
“Cheery.” She sat beside me and leaned closer to me across the table. “Given he’s a demon, wouldn’t we be better off if he didn’t show up?”
I hesitated a moment, trying to think up a good answer. To be honest, I’d paired these two together because they shared Kane’s attention. Naberius had dedicated several years to teaching Kane. Now Kane was investing the time to help Anne learn how to adapt to her powers in the supernatural world that had awakened around her. “For all Naberius’s power, I’ve found him to be very logical. And this was a small request. You could start while we’re waiting.”
“Can I leave if I’m done before he gets here?”
“Fine. I’m an ICU nurse and very new to Los Angeles.”
“Don’t forget the part where you’re a fledgling sorcerer.” The deep comment ended in a hiss. A soft thud echoed as the door closed. Anne and I both turned. A man with salt and pepper hair and a closely trimmed goatee, dressed in a tweed sports coat, held an ornate ebony walking cane with silver lion’s head handle as he made his way toward us. His posture and smooth stride to the opposite side of the table earmarked him as not only fit, but not in need of the cane he leaned against a chair.
“I’m a wizard,” Anne snapped. “And I’m at least punctual.”
“Once you’ve lived more than ten thousand years, my dear Ms. Kidd, punctuality is relative.”
“I am not ‘your dear’ anything.”
A slight twitch at the corner of the goatee offered the only hint of his amusement. “Is that a challenge? I am an emotional succubus.”
Anne settled farther back in her chair uneasily. I shuffled through the few notes I’d brought. “Thank you for coming, Naberius.”
He sat down, ignoring me for a second as he flicked a piece of undetectable lint from his coat. “If I had not, you would have manufactured some details in my absence.” With a glance at me, he smirked. “One scribe to another, I would prefer to manage my own words.”
“Fair enough.” I tried to remember why I had thought these two would make such a good combination. For now, all I could remember was a fascination with the demon who had spent decades immersed in books, studying humanity and myth as a recluse.
LW: “Now that we have the pleasantries out of the way, how did each of you meet Kane?”
Anne twined her fingers in her lap and pressed her lips together with a look toward Naberius. “I was working in the Intensive Care Unit and Kane was waiting for an update on the condition of his…” I received a raised brow. “Brother. That’s how he referred to the boy.”
“But he wasn’t his brother.” As the author, I understood the boy Kane had admitted to the Emergency Room had a role to play in the story. It wasn’t one of sibling. That wouldn’t change whether Anne approved or not.
“No,” she added. “Though I’ll admit, he did everything he could to make certain the boy survived.”
“He made certain you survived as well.”
Her hands clenched for a moment. “Yes. I wouldn’t be here without his help. Only a few weeks have passed since I first met him and it seems like years. It’s the same with the others that he dropped into my life. Some days I’m not really sure he’s done me any favors.”
“Naberius?” I asked
“If you expect me to add some melodrama with heartstrings about the Kane child, you are in error.” He tapped a finger on the table toward Anne. “You would do well to heed Kane’s instruction. There are worse things than death. He’s fairly adept at skirting them.”
I ignored them both and tried to redirect the interview back to the point. “Kane is what, Naberius, twenty-eight? Even when he was found by your demon clan, he was hardly a child.”
“The entire planet of people today would fit here.” Naberius rolled his eyes and held his thumb and forefinger up a hair’s breadth apart. “You are not even a speck in a calculation so small. When Kane crawled to our home and clumsily fell into my quarters, he still did not register on the timeline of man. He is less than a child. But I grant him an elevated status because he is a work-in-progress, even the half-human he is.”
“You mean the tool you have honed with knowledge and skills so you can use him?” I prodded.
He waved his hand and glanced away. “The same.”
LW: “So you both have a need for his services?”
Anne glared at Naberius and nodded.
Naberius laughed, the sound was void of mirth and drenched in sarcasm. “The child has skills. Many yet to be tested, but he is my Artful Dodger, my Houdini of illusion, the one who walks between worlds. There is value in such a being.”
LW: Whoa, that sounded a little too much like it was headed for Kane’s adventures in the next book, Hallowed Vengeance. Perhaps time to wrap up this happy reunion. “Any final thoughts on Kane’s future?”
Anne took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and sat a little taller in her seat. The challenge to the man/demon across the table was obvious. “I’ve already made my choice to help him. While I have no idea where this will all end, I have no regrets. I know he won’t leave those of us he cares for in the lurch. I guess that’s more than I can count on from anyone else.”
With an exaggerated stretch of his neck, Naberius let out an audible sigh. “Human emotion is so wasted.”
“At least we have feelings. Don’t you have any, somewhere very, very deep down?” Arms folded across her chest, Anne raised her chin.
“You don’t even bother to skirt temptation, do you Wizardess? You walk across the line without a care or caution. Consider well the buttons you push.” Naberius stood, his chair screeching backward as he grasped his cane in the middle. He moved to leave by the door at the end of the room, and then as if by a sudden reconsideration, he turned back.
The salt & pepper hair of his human personae were gone. Tight brown tissue replaced skin and muscle on his skull. An elaborate weave of external bones capped his head instead of hair. He hung before us in mid-air. Robes of deepest purple draped his frame, the sleeves ending at the blue-sheened claws wrapped around the cane. Crystal green eyes, oddly framed by long, dark lashes glowed with the truest depiction of mirth I’d witnessed since he’d arrived. Only the goatee remained from his alter ego.
“Beware writer. I have secrets you can’t even imagine. My use of Thaddeus Kane is far from finished. His journey and that of our clan, is not written in stone. And for you, Ms. Kidd.” He drifted closer to her.
To her credit, she didn’t make a sound thought her eyes were wide and her pupils huge. “As a woman descended from the powerful line of Solomon, be more careful who you tempt.”
With one graceful swirl in the air, he was gone.
Anne stood up, gave one long glance around the room, and then gestured to me with her purse. “No more interviews with him. Promise?”
I nodded, but it wasn’t as if I could control the demon. If he decided to make his way onto the page again, who was I to stop him?