Ask Luna #69

From: Atomica

Hi Luna, Many congratulations on passing your journeyman tests, what’s next for you and will it involve Chalice?

With regard to Alex and his (and Anne’s) employment situation with Morden, although it saved Alex’s life by elevating him to full Keeper, I was thinking back to what Barrayar said in his last conversation with Alex, “I wonder how much you’ll have to pay for it?”. What’s your take on this?

For what it’s worth, in my experience, the kind of allegiances made by those with egos like Richard and Morden don’t endure well, and cracks will start to appear at some point and the fallout could get very messy. Just wondering, who is superior in the ranks of dark mages currently, Morden or Richard, or someone else…?

What’s next . . . long story. Short version is that I’m now a mage, officially speaking, but getting the Light mages to treat me like one is another story. I had a talk with Alex about it and I’m starting to think I might have to start acting a bit differently.

Regarding Morden and Richard, from what we’ve been able to tell, Morden is the public face, but Richard is the one really calling the shots. As for what Alex will have to pay for Morden’s ‘help’ . . . well, that’s not hard to guess. It’ll mean ‘helping’ Morden in return. We don’t know what kind of favours Morden (and Richard) have in mind, but I think it’s safe to say it won’t be anything good.

From: Kurt Von Bosse

Hi Luna.

As I’m certain you know, a few days ago voters in the United Kingdom made a momentous decision on Brexit and voted to leave the European Union. Short of a draconic prophesy, no one can forecast the long-term ramifications of this result, though many economists are predicting a recession in the U.K. as a result, and worse case scenarios say Europe
and perhaps even the rest of world might face economic recession. (Hopefully none of these come to pass or at worst do not last very long.)

To hear Alex talk about mage life, even a serious economic downturn might be little more than an inconvenience to most mages. I picture a powerful mage walking down a street in their town or city and wondering to themselves why so many small businesses are suddenly boarded up or why their favorite restaurant went out of business. With their wealth and power based on accumulated favors and influence and their specialized abilities which allow mages to make money almost on a whim, earning enough income to live comfortably isn’t a major concern.

However, I wonder if Alex’s view is true for all mages. For example, a new mage; such as you Luna, hasn’t had time to build up many favors, influence and any money which might be thrown into such deals. Aside from doing favors there are mages whose abilities make it fairly easy for them to earn extra income if they desire it. Alex can visit a casino any time he needs a little spare change. Mind mages almost have a license to steal. I sure your teacher Chalice doesn’t have to work hard to pick up extra currency. What about you Luna? Perhaps you’d rather not go into specifics, but did you learn anything from Chalice that can help you weather or ignore hard economic times? Because, I don’t see you becoming some kind of bad-luck assassin for hire. Though now that I think about it, someone like Morden or Richard Drakh might think that would be a perfect career path for you.

One last question Luna, are there certain types of mages who aside from selling their services to Council factions or individuals, don’t have a skill set that makes it easy for them to earn extra income? I’m thinking about Caldera and Varium. If they don’t want to become muscle for hire, and aside from whatever they earn as Keepers, how does an earth mage or fire mage earn extra income on the side?

Well, the thing is, there are basically two ways to use your magic to earn a living. First there’s the direct way, which is the one you’re talking about – you figure out a way to use whatever spells you can cast to get a load of cash. Casinos, working for the Council, stuff like that. (In case you’re wondering, the direct way for battle-mages like fire/ice/death mages to earn extra income directly is by robbing people.)

What a lot of apprentices don’t figure out at first is that instead of using your spells to get money directly, instead you can just find someone else who has money, and trade your services for that. For instance, earth mages could try and delve for gold or something, but that’s pretty hard. So what else could they do? Well, for one thing, earth mages are great at building. And there are a lot of other mages who really like the idea of living in an earth-built mansion, and lots of those mages either have money or can get it, so there you go. Basically, as long as there’s SOMETHING you’re good at, you can probably find someone willing to pay you for it. Kind of like the way the regular economy works, I guess.

So far I’ve mostly gone for the direct way, but the more I learn, the more I’m starting to think that the indirect way might be smarter.

From: Sam

Hi Luna,

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!

There have been multiple instances of mages who are just on a higher level in the power hierarchy than those around them (Morden and Vihaela just to give a few examples). Do you know how a mage can become so much more powerful? Is it just through practice? Is age a factor? Or are some mages just born with a greater natural talent?

Also, since Tobruk was more powerful than Rachel/Deleo, if he was still alive do you think he would win in a fight against Onyx?

Thank you!I can’t wait to read more and I’ve truly hope you gain absolutely control over your curse!3

For your first question, it’s a case of ‘all of the above’. Natural talent helps, practice helps more. Age tends to be the most important of all, but only if you’ve done something with it. A 50-year-old mage who’s spent his life sitting on his backside isn’t going to amount to much, but that same mage who’s spent his entire adult life training up and seriously focusing on getting as good with his magic as he possibly can is going to be scary. The most powerful mages of all tend to be the ones who started out with plenty of talent then worked really hard on making more of it.

For the second question, I never met the guy, so it’s hard to say. From bits and pieces Alex dropped I get the feeling that Tobruk and Onyx were pretty similar as far as power levels and attitude went, so it’d be a toss-up as to who could beat down the other.

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