Dear readers, tonight with us is a prison guard, talking about self-sacrifice for the greater good, how humans join with the dragons to become Dragonborn, and his adventures as he slipped through a tear in time to the past to change the future.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
In my early childhood, I lived in Resallat’s capital, Prudek. My father was the glasssmith there. I started to learn his trade while very young, but I lost my parents in a tragic mudslide. So I went to live my grandmother on her small farm on the outskirts of Prudek, in the foothills. It wasn’t an easy life, but we helped each other through the loss. I grew strong, developed an interest in the different purposes of plants, and learned how to work without complaining.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
I didn’t have many toys, but my father had crafted a stick horse for me. I remember galloping around in the glassmaking shop which was at the front of our home. Da and Mother were always telling me to “take care.” Then one time I bumped the table and a tall bottle fell and knocked the next, and the next until they all came crashing down in bits. From then on no riding allowed in the shop. Da started teaching me how to blow glass orbs and a few basic shapes, but then the accident happened. I’m not sure what happened to my horse when I moved in with Grandmother. Life totally changed. I had to grow up pretty fast. We both worked hard, but we had a good life together.
When my chores were done, I used to sit in the shade of the nut tree watching dragons circle over the mountains to the north and wondering what it would be like to fly. To visit places beyond the mountains. Grandmother watched them too. She said that dragons communicated with animals but only very special people. I was still young enough to believe her and said, “I wish I was special like that.” I can still see her smiling at me and saying, “I think you are, but that would be up to the dragons.” For a good while I believed such tittle-tattle, until the other children at school started calling me a dull-headed nimwit. I still watched the dragons circle, but overtime I didn’t believe in them the same way. Then Grandmother died just as I was coming of age. I closed up the house and moved to Prudek. There I found work as a prison guard. It provided a place to live and a wage. I liked the discipline and the work except for the dungeon. I hated the dark and the odor smelled like death.
What do you do now?
That’s a bit complicated. I’m what you call Dragonborn. Not something I’m free to talk about in full, but since you live on this side of the portal, I can tell you that the Dragonborn are part of a select group of humans who have joined with the dragons to overcome the evil of a living book I came into contact with through a prisoner. He cursed me with its dark magic. As part of my oath to the dragons, I must be careful how much I say about some things, so if I sound like I’m evading a question, you would probably be right. I can tell you that the curse trapped me in an…unhuman body. Don’t ask me more. I’m not saying, but he locked me in that dungeon, in the dark, and I didn’t even have a voice I could use to call for help. Long story short, I thought back to my Grandmother’s teaching about the dragons. She said they had powerful magic and with no other options, I hoped they might be able to help me…maybe even change me back. If they didn’t eat me first.
Because I wasn’t human, I found a way of escape. I made my way to the mountains, to the dragons. I kept calling with my mind believing that dragons could communicate with animals who can’t talk, it made sense to me. I thought of nothing but the dragons while keeping my eyes open for predators like snakes and hawks. The suns hung low in the sky when I broke through the foliage and onto a wide stone ledge. A dark shadow loomed above me and asked. “Who calls for help?”
As you can see, I’m human again. The dragons offered access to the Labyrinth of Times. Within the corridors of time, all magic, other than dragon magic, is erased. But there was a catch…a cost. I can tell you no more, for I gave my word. But, I can say, that I work with the Dragons across time to shut down the Book Darkmore. I’d like to say destroy it, but it can’t be destroyed.
You work with dragons then. What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
Adventure? Well, that same prisoner who changed me into…something else. He escaped from the dungeon and stole people’s identity. I mean their face, voice, how they dressed. Everything. The dragons wanted to get the book and I wanted to get the prisoner. So we worked together. But when we found him, he looked like my friend Claus and was ready to escape into the Labyrinth through an unsanctioned portal. The book’s dark magic gave him that power, but that forced opening into the Labyrinth also caused a tear in time and a vulnerability. Everything that Book does is bad for the world. As we spotted him, the portal was swirling with red energy. He stepped through, and I ran after him and jumped through. As it closed, I hit the floor in the darkness. Pain wracked by body as I turned back into a man. I had to get that book away from the prisoner, because as long as he had it, he could draw power from it, but if I got the book away from him, it would draw life from him. He’d get weaker, and lose his magic.
What did you first think when you saw you were a man and the prisoner was right there?
My military discipline kicked in. I had to move fast. The dragon had warned that the spell the prisoner placed on me would wear off quickly as the Labyrinth purged all magic, enchantments, and spells–other than dragon magic. Since the book tapped into contaminated dragon magic, it was not pure. The prisoner’s powers would drain to nothing if he stayed within the Labyrinth for long enough. So I had to figure out how to follow him until his power diminished.
Sounds scary. What would you say was the scariest thing you’ve faced in your adventures with the dragons?
Learning to use the new abilities. I didn’t really know what I was doing while in a life and death chase. While in the Labyrinth I changed into a bat so I could stay hidden, but still follow. Just learning to control flight was a big scary. It gave me great cover, but the corridors of the Labyrinth shift. I had to be careful not to lose him. And just when I thought the prisoner was weak enough I might be able to apprehend him, he opened a portal. He stumbled and I hoped he’d drop the satchel holding the book, but as he faltered toward the portal, the satchel dropped to the crook of his arm. The weight of the book yanked him off balance. He fell sideways through the portal. I thrust into the air cutting a path straight through the portal into natural sunlight. The brightness blinded me. I dropped into the shade beneath some broad-leaf shrubs on a karst hillside as the prisoner collapsed in a cloud of dust. The satchel skidded a few feet and stopped on a patch of sparse grass. My mind screamed for help. I was in the middle of nowhere and I worried his power would come back if he got his hands on the book.
A voice told me to get the book. I transformed into my man form. The pain was bad but I focused on my duty. All that mattered was getting my hands on the satchel. I grabbed the strap and stood over the prisoner. He was so pale. His lips looked the same color as the rest of his face. I told him he was under arrest. He recognized me and scrambled weakly on hands and knees staring at the satchel. I shouted for him to, “stop!” But he didn’t. He grabbed hold of the satchel and the two of us struggled in a tug of war. He hit me hard and pulled the strap free and said, “You’ll never be able to stop me now!” He hugged the satchel to his chest, and I could see his strength coming back. That was the scariest moment. I thought I’d failed.
But you didn’t fail?
Actually, at that moment I did fail. But I wasn’t working alone. A huge shadow eclipsed the sunlight and in one swift blur, talons of a huge claw caught the strap and ripped it from the prisoner’s grasp. He was screaming, “No! No!” I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him to his feet and said, “It seems I have stopped you.” But I really didn’t know what to do next. I looked up at the dragon in the hazy sky wondering where to take the prisoner. “Should I put him back in the Labyrinth?”
The dragon gave me an emphatic “No!” and swooped in and caught the Red Knave by the back of his tunic. As the prisoner lifted into the air I couldn’t let him out of my possession. My training kicked in. I tackled his legs and grabbed hold.
I shouted, “What are you doing?” But the dragon didn’t answer and we quickly gained altitude. My grip slid to the prisoner’s ankles. He kicked his legs. My grasp slipped. I dangled high above the rolling foothills clutching the ankle of the prisoner’s boot. The boot started to slip off and pulled free. I dropped into a freefall as I listened to the prisoner’s laugh fade overhead. I screamed for help, and the dragon’s deep voice said, “Ye be Dragonborn. Help thyself!” Imagine how I felt!
What did you do?
I turned into a falcon. I think because the prisoner turned me into something other than human, that ability to change is a Dragonborn gift. I don’t really know. I’m still figuring it out, but to change, I have to know what I’m turning into. Like the bat I turned into within the Labyrinth was like those in the stables back in Prudek. One thing I can tell you with certainty is that learning about these new abilities on the run is challenging.
What is the worst thing about it?
For me, it’s a plan without details. I understand the objective, and I’m equipped to complete my part of the objective, but I don’t know how to use the weapons. In fact, some weapons haven’t even been unpacked. I don’t really understand who I’m serving with. I know the dragons but all dragons? And I think I’m the only Dragonborn but I don’t know, because as part of the oath I swore not to talk about it with another human. I’m really learning to trust the dragons and think they’ve had reservations but are learning to trust me. I hope so, anyway.
What is the best thing about it?
I was able to put that book to rest. The evil is dormant for the present. You’ll have to forgive me. It was a gruesome experience. The prisoner did not survive. While it’s the best thing, I don’t really want to talk about it. Too gruesome. And the job isn’t finished.
Thank you for sparing us that. Let’s change topics. Tell us a little about your friends.
Before all this started, I had few friends. Mostly the fellows I worked with. Claus and Gunteric were the best friends I had. But now, everything has changed. I’ve met new people as I’ve traveled to different times via the Labyrinth. I know Thornose and Goldenhorn dragons. And now I’ve agreed to fly through a tear in time to the past with Nimbus. She’s a huge orange Goldenhorn with yellow highlights and green eyes. We are going to the past to plant seeds of change so we can defeat this evil in the future.
So no romantic involvement, not leaving a girl behind?
Hah! I’ve never had a girl show interest in me. I had just come of age a summer ago. I had no status, no riches, or home. But things have changed. As I’m heading through this tear, my dragon, Nimbus, has shown me a peek at my future as I rode upon her back holding her Goldenhorn. Visions burst into view within my mind’s eye. I saw us fly through a tear in time. On the other side, a pristine valley stretched beneath us. We landed and I built a home. Nimbus hunted for us and I cultivated the land. Then I saw another human…a female. In the vision she became my mate. I can’t explain it, but outside the vision I felt a sense of satisfaction, of belonging. Nimbus taught the two of us the ancient language and together we chronicled prophetic visions. It hasn’t happened yet, but magic will save humankind. Dragon magic. And I’m going to be part of it. It’s the first time in my life I feel like I have a future to look forward to.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
After what I’ve witnessed, I hate the fire spirit and the greedy man that paired with it to create the Book Darkmore. They’ve already spread evil across times. But we have a plan. Well, the dragons have a plan. The Thornose came up with it and the rest of us have come alongside them to help implement it. It’s a massive undertaking.
When you’re not fighting evil or changing into something other than human, how do you relax?
I still enjoy growing things. And I enjoy a good cup of tea. So I like growing my own. I’ve even toyed with different teas that offer benefits like helping you relax, or getting rid of a headache, things like that. Really, my grandmother used to grow teas. I think it’s one of the few links I have to my past that I actually enjoy.
With all this change, what does the future hold for you?
Dragonborn live for centuries. My future is just beginning. I know I’ll be building a home, and I’ll have a wife. I know I’ll be learning the ancient language, and I’ll be living with dragons. I also know, I’ll be dealing with the evil of the Book Darkmore in one way or another. What I’ve already experienced with that book was dreadful, but I made a difference. And whatever I have to do to neutralize that threat, I’m going to do.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
If I’m being honest, I’m pretty nervous. Not about going to the past, but about meeting that woman. I mean, I don’t know anything about her other than what she looks like. How is she going to feel about all this? Where is she from? We won’t even be able to talk about that, so what will we talk about? The fact that she is to be my mate leaves me feeling anxious. Just a little. What if she doesn’t like me?
Originally from the Chicago area, Donna Sundblad now makes her home in the foothills of NW Georgia with her husband, cat and birds. As a child she entertained friends and family with tales from her overactive imagination. As a young teen, she put pen to paper and her love for writing blossomed. A retired editor/ghostwriter, Donna has found a new home for her books with Each Voice Publishing (Atlanta).
You can find Ervig on the pages of Dragonborn (with a sequel to come later this year).
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