Dear readers, tonight with us is a man leading a revolution. He’s here to talk about cybernetic implants and fighting immortal dragons.
Beryl? Can you hear me, Beryl?
What? Ow. Where am I? The last thing I remember was being on a train. I used my implant, and… I don’t remember. Ow. My head.
It’s all right. The confusion will pass. It’s normal in these situations.
I don’t know normal. And what is this situation? Who are you?
Just the one asking the questions. You want to answer my questions, don’t you?
I… for some reason, I do. That’s weird. Will you answer my questions?
Not really. Tell us a little about the city of Viridia. What is it like there?
I hate it. I’ve hated it all my life. No one’s really happy here. The green dragon rules over everything. His soldiers and draconics impose his will. If you’re not useful to him, you’re dead. I know that better than most.
Sounds like you really hate the dragon.
Of course I do! I want to kill him. And the other five dragons. They’ve ruled over the cities for too long.
Do you have any cherished memories from childhood? Surely something must have been worthwhile in your early life.
I… don’t like to talk about my childhood. My parents. I didn’t have a good relationship with them after… No, I’m not talking about that. You can’t make me. And they’re dead now, anyway.
Dead? What happened?
An accident. The same one that crippled me. I wouldn’t be able to even walk now if my friend Loden hadn’t given me a cybernetic implant to control my legs.
Interesting. Does this implant do anything else?
I can use it to give extra boosts of energy to my legs. Run faster, jump higher. Wait. Why am I telling you this? It’s forbidden technology!
Never mind. What kind of job do you have now?
Job? Pfft. I work in a bicycle shop. It’s boring and worthless. Except for Kelly.
Kelly? Who’s Kelly?
Um, a co-worker. We’re friends, but it’s, uh, developing. Or at least I think it’s developing. I don’t have any experience in this kind of thing, really. I’m just… Fewmets! How are you making me answer you? This is crazy!
Just go with it. So, besides the boring job, what are you hoping to accomplish now?
Kill the dragon, like I said. I’ve got some friends now and we’re making a plan. I know it sounds crazy. A handful of nobodies planning to kill one of the immortal dragons that has ruled for a thousand years, right? But we know it can be done. One of the dragons was killed three hundred years ago, or so we’ve been told.
And what happened then?
Yeah… that’s kind of the problem. The other six dragons came together and razed the entire city to the ground. We call it the Blasted Lands now. So that’s our real problem. How do we kill a dragon without getting thousands killed in retaliation? Really, it can’t be done.
But you’re not giving up.
No. Never. I hate them too much.
Why is that? Because your parents died?
No, it was before that. When… NO. I’m not talking about that. I don’t care who you are or what you’re doing to my mind. Stop it!
What did you think when the draconic came to your home?
How do you know about that? I was terrified, of course. Have you seen those things? They’ll bite your head off! Literally!
But not as terrifying as the dragon Viridia himself.
No. That’s… that’s real fear. He wouldn’t bite my head off. I’d be less than a mouthful for him. And that’s all we are to the dragons. We’re nothing. Valuable only in the technology we develop for them.
So entering his lair was easily the scariest thing you’ve done?
Yeah, I felt like an ant crawling into someone’s apartment, you know? Scariest thing, for sure. Stupidest thing too. But I had to. It’s part of the plan.
Do your plans make you afraid? What do you fear most of all?
Failing. I don’t care if I die, if I can make a difference, you know. But if other people get hurt because of what I do, that would be horrible. Especially my friends. I haven’t had a family in so long. They’re the closest I’ll ever come to that feeling again.
Tell us a little about your friends.
I’ve already told you about Kelly. I can’t stand the thought of anything happening to her. Then there’s Rick—Richard Onyx. He’s not from here. He actually tried to lead a rebellion in the black dragon’s city and failed. Now he’s helping me. He’s my… best friend. I’ve never had one of those before.
And Bice. Can’t forget Bice. He’s a priest in the dragon religion. Well, not really. He doesn’t think the dragons are gods any more. He annoys me sometimes because he’s too… kind. Forgiving. Forgiveness doesn’t really work with my hatred, you know. And yet, I owe him so much. Without him, I might not have survived after Loden gave me the implant.
Loden sounds very important.
He is. Without him, we don’t stand a chance. He’s a tech genius. He was friends with my parents, you know.
And we’re back to them again. You say it’s not because they’re dead, but clearly, they play a large part in your motivation.
Of course they do. I said that. It’s from earlier. I’ll never forget that sight…
Blood. Dripping from golden curls…
Can you explain that?
Yeah, it was… wait. No. I don’t… Where am I, anyway? Who are you?
Focus. You hate the dragon, remember?
You’re bleaking right, I do. I want him dead.
It seems to be the only thing driving you.
It is. Maybe. I don’t know. I have these friends now. It’s different. I think.
What’s your favourite colour?
What? I don’t know. Anything but green. I hate green.
Because the dragon is green.
And everything else! Have you SEEN this city?
Let’s say you succeed. You kill a dragon. What then?
Assuming we live? I don’t know. Kelly thinks I should be some kind of leader. I’m not a leader. I just… it’s not right. People worship the dragons. And we’re nothing to them. I want them dead. … Hey, what’s that light?
Ignore that. You said you were on a train. Where are you going?
To Caesious, the blue city. I have to deliver something. It’s part of the plan.
The plan to kill a dragon?
Yeah… wait. I can see now. I’m still on the train! How are you doing this?
Don’t worry about it. Tell me about the plan.
You’re not even here. And I’m not speaking out loud. No one else here is talking… what is this?
The plan. What is it?
You’re… jacking into my implant, aren’t you? Somehow, you’re talking into my head!
Don’t be ridiculous. You said your implant controls your legs. It’s not in your head.
Yeah, it’s at the base of my spine. But… if you are jacking it, maybe if I give it an energy boost…
You don’t… fzk.
Are you still there?
Hello? No? … That was weird.
Tim Frankovich has been exploring fantastic worlds since third grade, when he cut up a grocery sack and drew a Godzilla-meets-superheroes story. Since then, he’s gotten a little bit better at the writing part (not so much with the drawing). His goal as a writer is to transport readers to another world, make them care deeply about characters in dire situations, and guide them deeper into life itself. At the moment, he is probably suitably conscious somewhere in Texas with his beloved wife, awesome four kids, and a fool of a pup named Pippin.
You can meet Beryl on the pages of Viridia.
Join us next week to meet a meet a merchant magician. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.