For I have sinned. It has been a full week since my last post. Partly this is because I have been posting on LAM, and partly because I've been working very hard at work. However its also because I've been working on a new quiz book. I know - when will I ever learn ?
Still, coming back to Ermine Stone and the Iron Spider, you'll remember that I said that there was another ingredient which I needed to add. This was the dragon, Gylfi. I wanted to create the feeling that there is this other world beyond the everyday , common world of our own, human experience, and I used my dragon, Gylfi, as an interface between the two worlds, a place where the two worlds meet.
Creating Gylfi gave me a small problem. On the one hand you have this incredibly powerful being - powerful physically, and powerful magically. Yet on the other hand it was important to make him vulnerable somehow. This is why I came up with the idea of his manifestation within our world as just a very large lizard, not unlike a Komodo Dragon. He can transcend this , and appear in his full glory as a true dragon, but only for brief periods. I also had to give in to what might be called "The Superman Syndrome". This is that after DC comics created Superman, and he took on his full range of powers, it became increasingly hard to believe that any villain could ever pose a realistic threat to him. Hence the invention of Kryptonite. This is why I came up with the idea of dragons being vulnerable to silver - a plot device which actually came in handy in another part of the story as well. The next two extracts is from quotations at the start of 2 chapters from the second part of the story. The first is from chapter three : -
"Chapter Three – Gylfi
“There are also among the wise ones of this land some who do say that , unbeknownst to Noah, a nameless servant of the Devil also built an ark, concealing his purpose from everyone save the Lord God. And within this second, secret ark, were borne, two by two, the creatures of light and darkness which the Lord God had forbidden Noah to carry, the basilisks and gryphons, dragons and wyverns, unicorns and ogres, and those creatures whose very names are never to be mentioned. And , in His wrath, the Lord God sent fierce winds to blow the evil ark far to the west, until the waters receded, and it came to rest upon the Isle of HyBrasil. And there the creatures of light and darkness turned upon the nameless one, and devoured him, and fought amongst themselves, and many perished. Yet some survived, and multiplied, and their progeny spread throughout the extremities of the world. “
From “The Book of Things Forgotten “ by Rhodri ap Deheubarth
This next is from the start of Chapter 4
"Chapter Four – Honey and Vitriol
“ Dragons is difficult creatures. Difficult to find, even more difficult to catch and well-nigh impossible to keep for any length of time. And ware ye well, my masters, that dragons is not like other beasts. What’s good for one ain’t necessarily going to be good for nothers. No doubt about it, dragons is difficult creatures.
There’s no use trying to catch a dragon in England as there’s none lyvyng in the wyld. Nor in Wales, not the mainland of Albany neither. The Scots do boast of a colony among the Shet-Lands, but then the Scots do boast of a great many things when they been a-drinking of their malts.
By reputation there’s one thing a dragon is mindful of as a rule, and that’s silver. When you find one – if you find one – a fine silver ring will catch his yellow eye, and the finer worked the better. Them old worms, they like the moon silver as comes from the sky rocks best, but them’s as rare, they do say, as hen’s teeth. When he’s close then bind his jaws with fine silver wire which has been wound around the hair of a maiden which has been cut from her hair at sunrise on Midsummer Morn. He’ll snort and wriggle and make like’s he’s going to fly away, but he’ll do nowt while you have his jaws bound, and he’ll have to follow you.
Silver cages is best for dragons, but silver cages don’t come cheap to my way of thinking. So keep him out of the light. Keep the old worm in the deepest, darkest , nastiest stone dungeon. He expects it that way. Unbind his jaws when he is secure in his new home. He may talk to you, but don’t look into his yellow eyes, as wise men say that there is a deep well of evil trickery in a dragon’s eye. Feed him meat, bloody as you like and lots of it. He’ll probably die soon, but then, dragons is difficult creatures.
Their breath is the foulest smell on God’s clean earth. “
From “The Catchynge and Carynge for of Magickal Creatures” by Nerojin Fallowhide"
Finally this is from one of the meetings between the hero ermine, and Gylfi, who has allowed himself to be captured, and locked in the Tower of London Menagerie, in order that he may get to meet Ermine. This is right after the start of Chapter Four -
"Ermine stared down at the dragon from his ledge, his mind consumed by disbelief. The dragon had just spoken to him. More than that, it knew his name as well, the name that Harold Halfdan had given him, which was the closest thing to a real name that he had ever known. Not it was just waiting, staring at him, sending gusts of its foul breath up to the ledge. It still looked like a large lizard, although its eyes now seemed more orange in hue than yellow. Ermine began to doubt the evidence of his own eyes.
“If you don’t want to talk to me Ermine Stone, then I can’t stop you leaving. Come back when you are ready to talk with me. “
“ I . . . I do not understand. “
“I am well aware of that. “ The dragon’s head lowered, and it circled the filth ridden floor of the well three times, slowly, before speaking again, “ But it is a good thing that we speak now. A good thing for you.”
The dragon’s voice was not human. Although all of the words were clear and distinct, the sound of the voice was not a remotely human sound. If Ermine had ever had the chance to read about dragons he would have known that it was believed by many magicians that a dragon’s voice is made from the sound of a bell tolling in a graveyard at midnight, a bowstring which has just fired an arrow, and the sound that a moonbeam makes when it strikes the surface of a mirror. But he didn’t know all this. All he knew was that the sound of the voice made all of the hairs on his arms stand on their ends, and yet at the same time made him feel as if he wanted to sleep. It was a voice which had been forged from sugar and acid. It was an inhuman sound, yet behind the words there was a warm, sickly sweetness which made him want to sit down, or better still, to lie down and close his eyes.
Many questions clamoured for answers in Ermine’s mind. But the dragon was impatient, and allowed him to no time to think of any answers.
“Ermine Stone, it is very difficult for a dragon to narrow his thoughts so that they will fit into human speech. So let us be brief, and open with each other. Do you wonder why I do not look as you imagine that a dragon should look ? Little magician, why would a dragon allow you to see more of him than he thinks that you are ready to see ? “
Ermine shook his head to clear his mind a little. He couldn’t think at all while the dragon was actually speaking.
“What – are you telling me that you’ve got wings, but I just can’t see them ? “ Speaking seemed to lessen the effect that the spell of the dragon’s voice seemed to cast over his senses. Ermine began to edge closer to the rim of the ledge, his curiosity beginning to overcome the fear he had felt at the first sound of Gylfi’s voice.
“Yes, little magician, and also no. I cannot answer that question in your speech in a way that would have any meaning. “ He looked upwards into Ermine’s eyes. “ Why don’t you come down from the ledge ? We can talk more easily, eye to eye.”
Ermine knew relatively little about dragons, but he knew enough not to agree to anything quite so foolish .
“ I think I ought to stay where I am , thanks all the same, dragon. “
“You’re afraid of me. Even though you see me here, imprisoned by darkness, stone and a ring of silver. Well, Ermine Stone, even though you have me at this much of a disadvantage, I suppose that your fear of me is only fair. Because I fear you too. You must call me Gylfi.”
“ I don’t understand almost anything you say , dra – er, Gylfi. And I don’t get it why you want to talk to me and not my master, Absalom Havelock. “
The dragon seemed to wince at the mention of Absalom’s name. He had the same effect on Ermine, who realized that his master might be starting to wonder what was taking him so long.
“I must go. “ he announced, then whistled at the torches in the same way that Absalom had done earlier. Before he opened the door, Gylfi’s voice again caressed him through the darkness.
“ I would ask you not to say anything about me to . . . your master. But then I think that you will not say anything to him anyway. But you will talk with me when you are ready, Ermine Stone. It is destined. And I am not going anywhere. “