After the paperwork was done, we flew back to the city. Me of course on the Midi-Dragon’s back, Crimson using his own wings.
We landed in the hub, where I was immediately greeted by Garrett, who was just helping out another group of passengers arriving.
“Ah, you are back! I assume this is ...” He gave Crimson a quick glance.
“Yep, this is Crimson. He will be staying in our city for some time.”
“Th- thank you!” Crimson didn’t quite know what to do with himself. I guess he wasn’t really used to being treated that way.
“Oh! My! God!” Suddenly we were greeted by loud fangirlish screams.
It was a woman maybe in her late-twenties, who had just gotten out of her carriage. She was wearing odd, possibly fancy clothing consisting of a sunhat and a wide dress and blouse with a black tie. Quite frankly it reminded me of some old-fashioned dolls. Behind her she dragged a huge suitcase, one that easily could fit another human inside.
“Are you that huge black dragon that we saw on our flight?!” She seemed awfully excited, but it was a different kind of excited than the other passengers exhibited, when they realized it really was that big, scary dragon from earlier. I could hear some gasps and noticed a few people taking a couple steps back.
“Well-spotted! Indeed! It is I!”
That dragon could barely make all that ego fit in his human form.
It was my turn it seemed.
“You flew on the back of another dragon to save your people?!”
“That ... kind of is what I did!” I still didn’t know how to handle praise. It just seemed so misplaced when directed at me. Back at my old job it was nothing unusual for me to get praised by a lot of different kinds of people, but I always felt undeserving, because in the end I only did it for my own selfish reasons. I mean, even in this case, a Giant Dragon destroying the city would have really inconvenienced me.
“I need to know everything about it! Are you free for an interview?” She asked me and I noticed her already taking out a fancy fountain pen and a notebook out of a tiny purse, that honestly seemed as if it was made to just store these two items and nothing else.
“I ... sure! We just need you to fill in your entry form ma’am?” This whole situation really caught me off-guard. I had nothing like this happen to me before! Usually, I was the one doing the interviews ...
“Oh, of course.”
It suddenly became awfully silent. She really had enough energy to make it seem like we were in a room full of people despite it only being the three of us at this point.
She made some tiny hand motion, and I realized I should now do the talking.
“Oh, follow me, please! My office is this way,” I said and pointed towards my door.
I fished for one of my coworkers/subordinates and asked them to guide Crimson towards the exit.
“Oh, and if you ever have any questions, do not hesitate to visit me in my office,” I offered Crimson, just after the woman had entered my room. I know at this point it seems like a generic phrase I say to everyone, like small talk with a Walmart employee, but I genuinely meant it. Maybe it is just me living out my god-complex, playing a real-life city builder or something.
No, but honestly, it feels so great and satisfying to be creating something!
Anyway, I’ll shut up now and get back to the story.
“So, your first time in the city?” I asked the woman who had already made herself comfortable in the chair in front of me.
“Yes,” she answered plainly.
“Then we will have to fill in your first entry form,” I said fishing for said form. “Your name?”
“Martina. My name is Martina.”
“Occupation?” I don’t know why I was filling the form in for her, considering she appeared to be human. Maybe it was being confronted with so many different species that couldn’t write human script that day.
“Oh,” I uttered before writing it down. “Well, now you wanting to interview me makes much more sense. Is it for a book?”
“Exactly,” she answered and as if she just remembered again, she took out her fountain pen and notebook. Interestingly she did not seem to use any magic for writing, instead just placing the notebook in front of her.
“Ever since the war ended I have been traveling around, visiting different nations, living with different species, noting down every experience. Of course, spicing it up a bit.”
“Oh really, have I maybe heard of your books?”
“Maybe! One is called ‘Fantastic Restaurant Guide.’ Mostly it’s just about where to find the best food in which city, the other one is called ‘Chronicles of a Traveler.’”
“Oh, I heard of that last one!” I haven’t really gotten around to reading any books over the last years, but every time I came near a bookstore ‘Chronicles of a Traveler’ was on display, front and center. Apparently, it just is what it says in its title: A guy traveling through our world and talking about various experiences.
“Wait a minute, isn’t the author a man? Martin Colt or something like that? And the protagonist too!”
“Yeah, well, according to my publisher people prefer these kinds of books written by a man starring a man ...”
“Oh crap, that is so sad.”
“Eh well, maybe I owe my success to that.”
“I wish I could console you in any way, but I haven’t gotten around to reading the book, so I’d need to lie, hahaha.”
“Oh, would you like a copy?”
She was already rummaging about her human-sized suitcase and fished out a copy of her book.
“Here you go.”
“Um, I feel bad about this.”
“Oh no, don’t! After all, I wrote this book for people to read. Traveling around the world, taking in all these different experiences and impressions is fun, but what really got me going was telling these stories to my friends and family at home. And now, not only those close to me can take in these little pieces of our huge world.”
What Martina said struck a chord with me. I too, every day when I get home and eat dinner with my family, I tell them about all those weird and wonderful people I met.
“I- thank you, I’ll make sure to read this book. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll read one of mine.”
“I will be looking forward to it.” She gave me a gentle smile.
“Now, may I ask you for your name?” She added.
It was an unusually busy day. I met an unlettered [JP1] vampire, an unworldly dragon, and a famous author. This would be quite the story to tell my family. And in that moment, it hit me.
The sun had already begun to set, so I knew I had to hurry up. I started jogging down the stairs from my office, onto the ground floor of our hub. It was sort of like a shopping mall, with all sorts of different stores. Thankfully the stationary store that supplied us with paper, quills, and ink was still open. I bought a notebook and I decided to just this once be a bit extra and also purchase a fountain pen with it.
I arrived at home a lot giddier than people might expect. And also, maybe, a couple minutes earlier than usual, since I was occasionally skipping along the road.
“Daddy’s home!” I could hear my youngest daughter Sana shout when I was just passing through our gate. The door opened and all my kids came running into the yard. My wife Zenia was just standing in the doorway.
“Daddy, today I learned the Ah in Sana! I can now almost spell my name!”
“Really, maybe you should become a teacher then!” I shared my daughter’s excitement, thinking of Babylonia for a second.
After adhering to our family’s ‘entry regulations,’ consisting of giving every single one of my family members a kiss and having dinner, I decided to stay up a bit after putting the kids to sleep. I sat in an armchair in our living room, spreading the freshly bought notebook in front of me and taking the quill into my hand.
The truth is I had always wanted to be an author in my old life, but I never managed to do that. Not until now. And I want to tell people my story.
Instead, I stared blankly at the page for a couple of minutes.
“Oh no,” I merely uttered.
It seems I wasn’t prepared for the true enemy that was already lying in wait.