Dear readers, tonight we meet a supporting character, right before they met the protagonist at the opening of her book. He’s here to tell us about his war-altered world , and about the prison from city ruins where he met the protagonist.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

My mother, Fenna, was a prostitute.

I never knew my father, but Fenna said that he was a military man, and some even alleged that he was a noble. Regardless, my life began in Girion, the greatest Illiri city in western Illirium. Fenna and I did not stay in one place for long, however. She sought to change her life by becoming the mistress of Lord Goreb who resided in Tïrmen. At that time, I was still young, but old enough to recognize the dangers of his character. Goreb’s persistent abuse of my mother drove me to rise up on her behalf. She did not want me to, but I could not stand the man. At first, I challenged him with words; yet a disease clung to my throat, reducing my voice to a quiet, raspy sound. Therefore, I learned action is the truest measure of strength. Though we had to ultimately flee from Goreb’s estate, I felt greater liberation from the thought that he would never again be able to walk properly.

Meandering from one terrible relationship to the next, my mother stood tall at first, never letting anyone see how tired and lost she felt. I admired her for that. She was a survivor in spirit. Yet, she also never fought for herself, and for that I nurtured resentment. Dragged from place to place, I tried to learn all I could, such as from the baker who showed me the care and strength necessary to bake bread—the timing, the kneading—or the blacksmith who taught me about the focus and power needed to shape iron.

When Fenna and I eventually found ourselves living on the streets of Girion, I did all I could to provide for us. She came to both rely on and scorn my presence. “It is because of you that we are here,” she would say, acting like the trappings of Lord Goreb were worth all the pain. At other times, she desperately wanted me to hold her close. Her unpredictability taught me patience, while at the same time gnawed at it. When I reached manhood and could tolerate her madness no more, I left. I never saw her again, but suspect that she died on the street.

What do you really hate?

From my mother, I came to realize that what I hate most is weakness—not so much physically, but a lack of fortitude. 

What do you do now?

I never had any formal education, but poverty and war proved to be considerable tutors.

Around when I left Fenna, the Lord of Girion, Dwairian, was beginning to build an army in the west. All able-bodied Illiri men were welcomed into his ranks. I joined, and strove to outperform my peers. I eventually met Dwairian who lauded my ambition. “You are the kind of leader we need,” he said, and thereafter personally invested in training me for a command. Dwairian was the father I never knew, but always wanted. At times, I even wondered if he is my real father, though I dare not ask. He helped me appreciate the order of law, and that each person can make a place for himself if attentive and determined enough. He said that it was time to do so at a larger scale: an uprising against Nemenelor, the Alöwean Empire that had so long governed our lives. Dwairian began by asserting his kingship of the west, of Siligen, and I gladly fought his campaigns of conquest that over a year spread eastward across Illirium.

Leading the siege of Tärm Tower along the Elentari River, I ultimately proved myself worthy of Dwairian’s confidence. Yet, as a reward after the war, the king put me in command of the ruins of Tïrmen—what remained of the Nemenelor’s western capital. There, a prison was to be built, and I was to serve as its warden.

This is not what I wanted.

What’s your favourite way to relax?

I enjoy falconry for the serenity of nature as well as the pure freedom and power embodied by the falcon.

What does the future hold for you?

One day I hope to leave this place, this prison. King Dwairian knows that I am capable of doing more. He will bring me back to Girion to stand by his side; I am sure of it. In the meantime, one of our new inmates, 43-1-12, continues to stir trouble in Ward 12. I have been observing her for the last few months. She intrigues me, her posture and actions exuding an admirable strength of spirit. It is time for us to meet.

Passionate about art, outdoor adventure, and world travel, J.D. Grubb has lived chapters in the United States and Europe, and intends to explore every corner of the world. He currently works in San Jose, California.

You can find Nabilak on the pages of There was Music.

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