One of the most complex characters of the Dark Fey Trilogy is unquestionably Mardan, the Celebrant-spell-caster-turned-Warrior-Fey-Guard. With piercing, cerulean eyes, platinum blond curls and a powerful physique with imposing white wings, he is undeniably striking in his masculine appeal. Although he does not possess a gift of telepathy, empathy or discernment as most Fey do, he does have a gift of magic, which is far less common; although he guards this secret jealously. He is gentle of nature, yet he can be fierce and implacable; he is spirituality-minded, but irrefutably obstinate and to top it all off, he has a sense of loyalty that no one would dare propose he contradict. Although I introduced him through the romantic affiliation he has with lead character Ayla, it did not take long for me to realize that he was far more complicated than I originally suspected and as his interactions with additional characters evolved, I found him more and more beguiling.
Mardan is a young malefey round about the age of 21. As is the custom of Feyfolk, his parents dedicated him to life as a Celebrant; a leader of spiritual and religious ceremonies (rather like a priest, though with a far less austere in lifestyle.) Loyal to their wishes, he entered into the study of the rites and rituals of Fey mysticism at the Temple complex and, in the onset of Dark Fey The Reviled has only recently begun practicing. He meets Ayla at Summerfest and begins a relationship with her; yet her own self-doubt, as well as the introduction of lead character Gairynzvl, the Dark Fey who seeks Ayla’s help to escape his captivity among the Reviled, alters the course of his plans…and his life.
Mardan may have the gentle devotion of a Celebrant, but he also has the heart of a warrior. Even in the face of potential disaster when facing the imposing ferocity of a full legion of Reviled and its Centurion; Mardan’s selfless courage, as well as his belligerent rebelliousness, shine brightly. Giving his utmost to protect not only the shefey he has grown to love, but even the Dark One that has thrown their lives into chaos; Mardan’s true nature begins to assert itself and, although he stubbornly tries to adhere to the dedication set in place for him by his parents, to whom he is resolutely loyal, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to deny the Fey Guard in his heart.
His struggle to understand and, ultimately, be true to himself is one many share and like many of us, he finds that his true purpose does not find clarity until he accepts the truth about himself and who he is. This does not happen until the middle of book two Standing In Shadows , yet when it does we see an entirely different perspective of him. No longer the tender lover, nor the Celebrant constrained by custom and traditional expectations; once Mardan comes to terms with the truth about himself, that he is a fearsome warrior and a Fey of turbulent passions, his life (and character) finally come into focus. Then, his boldness, often caustic wit and impatience to act combine into a personality that is not only compelling, but beguilingly complex and, possibly, (Hopefully!) irresistible.
(Though this is a close representation- Mardan has much more platinum blond hair)
In case you find yourself intrigued, I’ve included a few Snippets from The Reviled to better illustrate his shifting personality:
From The Reviled:
“Ay, I do not want to upset you and I do not want to argue with you again, but I know something has been troubling you these past weeks. Can we not talk about whatever it is? If I am doing something to offend or displease you, I cannot alter it unless I know what it might be?” He spoke softly and to his surprise, she burst into tears and flung her arms about his shoulders, burying her sadness in his comforting embrace. Tenderly, and without regard to the inappropriateness of the hour, he led her inside her cottage and closed the door behind them….
She tried to contain her emotion so she could speak plainly, but her tears would not relent and then, to her dismay, she realized she could sense his presence.
“Oh, not now!” She breathed in exasperation, utterly confounding Mardan. He turned his head to one side and stared at her with a furrowed expression, bewildered.
“What have I done,” he asked uncertainly, but Ayla shook her head.
“It is not you, Mardan. You have done nothing wrong. I simply…” she struggled to find the words, but they eluded her. Distracted by the sensation that he was unusually close, and desperate to be alone in order to discover his intent at long last, she attempted to bounce to her feet, but Mardan caught her wrist and refused to permit her escape.
“Then why do you treat me this way?”….
For one brief, horrifying second Ayla heard a whisper that made her jump to her feet; wrench her arm from Mardan’s steady grasp and spin round in desperation seeking the source of the sound she had just heard. Mardan watched her transfixed, astonished beyond words by her irrational behavior, but she could not bring herself to stop. The whisper had been so soft, but she had heard it; he had clearly spoken her name.
“Did you hear that?” She turned and asked Mardan abruptly. He got to his feet slowly, perplexed as well as curious.
“What did you hear?” Ayla turned back to gaze out the parlor window, stretching her senses forward like a fisherman casting a net into dark waters. He was there, just beyond the margins of the forest. Yet he had whispered her name and she had heard it.
“Did you not hear it?”
“Hear what, Ay?”
“My name. It was a whisper, but it was my name, I am sure of it!” She exclaimed hurriedly, unaware of how peculiar such a statement sounded. Mardan stood quietly a moment, endeavoring to fathom her suggestion. If she had heard a whisper, then the speaker should have been within the house, within that very room, but she was staring out the window toward the forest. Mardan stepped closer.
“Someone whispered your name from outside?” He asked, clearly bewildered, however when she spun around on her heel to rebuke his disbelief, he reiterated swiftly.
“Ay, I did not hear anything, but if you heard a whisper, surely it did not come from outside.” His attempt to illustrate her actions in some logical context made her pause; of course he was correct. She realized how ridiculous she appeared, but she only wanted to seek answers to her many questions about him before he disappeared again.
“I must have sensed it.” She muttered, half to herself. Mardan raised an eyebrow at this and shook his head, but said nothing more; her conduct simply too baffling to abide.
“You heard nothing?” She asked again, ceasing her restless pacing to gaze up at him realizing at last how he stared at her with a completely confounded expression. Raising her hands to mollify his obvious irritation, she retraced her steps to him, shook her head and drew a deep breath before delving into a long withheld explanation.
“I realize how crazy I must sound.”
He did not deny it. …….
And from later in the book when he confronts Gairynzvl:
A thunderous crash broke the silence filling the room and light flooded inward. Ayla screamed, even before waking fully, and curled into a protective ball upon the settee as the sound of voices echoed about her, harsh words clashing like swords. At the first sound, Gairynzvl spun about to face the unexpected danger. Pushing back his broad wings, he sheltered her from view as much as he was able, fearing his legion had located him and forced their way through the brightening morning to deliver retribution, but as he turned, a powerful blow crossed his face and he stumbled backward.
Tumbling to the floor, Ayla scrambled away from the fray, seeking safety in spite of not clearly understanding what was happening; nevertheless, when she reached the far side of the room where she could cower behind a tall wooden book cabinet, she peered past its shielding structure and watched, horrified, as her Celebrant friend and lover flexed his broad, brilliantly white wings, turned deftly, and delivered a brutal kick that caught Gairynzvl across the shoulder, cheek and chin, sending him stumbling, but his crimson, dragon hide wings countered his balance before he could fall. Stretching outward, he slashed with a twelve inch spine like a blade and a bright crimson gash opened across Mardan’s chest.
“Vile, ruthless demon!” He cursed loudly, gasping at the pain searing across his chest while his opponent regained his balance and momentum. “Come again, Cursed Ghoul!”
Re-centering himself, Mardan faced him more squarely, offering his fists as a focus, but when Gairynzvl stepped closer, he spun and dropped, sweeping his rivals feet from under him and watching with a vitriolic sneer as he fell backward onto a small glass table, which smashed into daggers that ripped and gashed at him ruthlessly.
Ayla screeched in horror and stepped out from behind the cabinet, unable to watch the conflict and not attempt to intercede, but, although Gairynzvl turned his head to look at her, concern clearly expressed in his crimson eyes as well as through the unmistakable emotion of protectiveness, which he directed to her in unspoken thought, Mardan neither looked at her, nor paused in his attack. Stepping forward with a purposeful stride, he stared down at the dark fey lying at his feet and spoke a single, intractable word.
At his speaking, Gairynzvl screamed loudly and cringed into a knot as waves of unrelenting, excruciating agony pierced his body, again and again and again, but his cries of torment did not induce Mardan to break the spell of Inflicted Pain he had cast. Moving to stand over the Reviled One, he looked down unsympathetically and watched him writhe as he considered his options.
And a Final example of yet another side of Mardan’s nature from Standing In Shadows:
“The Legionnaires are coming and I cannot remember the way.” Aware that she had closed her thoughts in order to protect herself, he spoke as softly as he could form the words, but in spite of his vigilance to be as discreet as possible, her honest reaction of startled dismay caught Mardan’s attention who was sitting quietly nearby. Unwilling to arouse fear in the others, he got to his feet and moved towards them nonchalantly, bending close and spreading his wings behind him to shield their conversation while he inquired in a hushed tone.
“What is wrong? Where is Ilys?” Gairynzvl looked up at him without raising his head, gritting his teeth to control his frustration.
“She is behind the childfey. She sent a message to me through them, through their telepathy, that the Legionnaires are coming. I do not know how close or how far, but we must go.” The look of concern that met this report stung like a horde of angry bees, but instead of reacting confrontationally in any other manner, as was his nature, Mardan stayed in his cautious position and merely inquired further.
“Which way are we to go? Do you remember?” Glaring lavender met icy cerulean, but the enmity between them that seemed ready at any moment to erupt into aggression did not propel them into yet another quarrel. Leaning even nearer to speak more confidentially, Mardan said something the former Dark One watching him intensely did not anticipate.
“I cannot blame you if you do not remember; I have found myself confused several times just following you through this murk, but we must keep ahead of the Legionnaires. If you are unsure, you must not appear unsure.” Gairynzvl stared at the Celebrant in silence. The Celebrant stared back, unmoving. Between them, Ayla held her breath nervously, but Gairynzvl looked past the Celebrant’s broad white wings at the others; then got up to reconsider the possible routes to take. Mardan smiled subtly at Ayla, then straightened and drew back his wings……
I hope I’ve tempted you sufficiently 🙂
Original artwork by: Shuangwen on DeviantArt