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.
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……
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Original artwork by: Shuangwen on DeviantArt