Delaney on the Elixir

Winter Kiss, #4 of the Dragonfire Novels, a series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke

In this interview with Delaney Shea (the hero of Winter Kiss), Deborah Cooke asks about the Dragon’s Blood Elixir, shadow dragons and the Dragon’s Teeth Warriors.

DC: Hi Delaney. Thanks for joining me today. The other Pyr keep saying I should talk to you about the Dragon’s Blood Elixir. What can you tell me about it?

DS: Well, it’s nasty stuff. The Dragon’s Blood Elixir was created by the Magnus, who has since become the leader of the Slayers. It confers immortality upon those Pyr and Slayers who consume it. They also heal more quickly and are able to learn some skills that have traditionally belonged only to the Wyvern. Some of them learn to cut dragonsmoke, for example, and others to spontaneously manifest in other places. Some learn to hover on the cusp of transformation, half man and half dragon. It’s really strong stuff.

The catch is that one sip isn’t enough. The Elixir is like a drug, one with effects that wear off, so those who have drunk it will always need more. And they have to go to Magnus for it, because he controls the source. No surprise that he’s never been in much of a hurry to tell anyone that part.

DC: So, there are Pyr and Slayers who have drunk the Elixir, and have become hooked on it?

DS: No. The power of the Elixir has only been seductive to Slayers, maybe because they can’t see beyond their own ambitions. The true Pyr haven’t wanted it, either because it’s evil, because immortality is unnatural, or because we guess that there’s a trick. Magnus never did play a straight game.

DC: I’ll guess that those Slayers who have drunk it are harder to kill.

DS: You’d be guessing right!

But it’s not just Slayers, you know. Magnus came up with this scheme to build himself an army that was completely obedient to him. He learned through all his research that when Pyr and Slayers die, there’s a chance of what humans might call limbo – we have to be exposed to all four elements within half a solar day (12 hours) to be dead. But the spark of the Great Wyvern leaves the body of the dead Pyr immediately. We have a tradition of personally ensuring that any fallen Pyr is given the full exposure, but the root of the tradition wasn’t clear until recently. (So much Pyr lore was lost in the Middle Ages, after we were nearly hunted to extinction.)

What Magnus learned was that he could forcibly administer the Elixir to the remains of these Pyr and Slayers who were dead but not exposed to all four elements within the required time period. They were re-animated, like zombies, and completely susceptible to his will. They have no moral code, no real life force or spark of the divine anymore, and can’t feel pain. They fight until they can’t anymore, no matter what happens to them, like automatons.

We call them shadow dragons, since they’re shadows of their former selves.

DC: That sounds pretty creepy.

DS: The worst is when you confront a shadow dragon that’s been made of someone you knew when he was alive. It’s really hard to kill that shadow dragon, because of the resemblance – and the shadow dragon might have been made of a decent Pyr. Magnus uses that against us deliberately, setting the shadow dragons we know upon us.

DC: How is it that you know so much about the Elixir?

DS: Well, I was an experiment, the only Pyr to be forced to consume the Elixir. I was nearly killed in the defense of Quinn’s mate (KISS OF FIRE) and the Slayers took my body. Magnus had me taken to his secret academy and force-fed the Elixir. Not only had I not been exposed to all four elements, but the spark of life wasn’t completely extinguished in me. There was enough left for me to fight the Elixir and to be aware of the pain it created in my body.

DC: But were you turned into a shadow dragon?

DS: Not quite, again because I wasn’t dead. I was drawn to Donovan’s firestorm, maybe because he’s my brother, and that seemed to kindle the spark of life within me. I was able to fight Magnus’ command that I should destroy Donovan’s mate (KISS OF FURY), but I still didn’t trust myself. I exiled myself from the Pyr after a nasty incident during Erik’s firestorm (KISS OF FATE), and decided to eliminate the Elixir myself forever. I was heading into that suicide mission when my own firestorm sparked – and Ginger changed everything.

DC: That’s pretty bold to take on a mission like that.

DS: My life wasn’t worth living as it was. My body raged for more Elixir, especially during eclipses, and drinking more of that crap was the last thing I wanted to do. I thought that if I could ensure that no other Pyr had to endure what I did, that my death would be worthwhile.

DC: But Ginger changed everything.

DS: You bet she did. You know, I never used to believe in the healing power of love. Guess I had that wrong.

DC: Let’s talk about something more cheerful! I’m intrigued by these Dragon Teeth Warriors who appeared in Erik’s story (KISS OF FATE) Do you know anything about them?

DS: The Dragon’s Teeth Warriors are a military group who were enchanted eons ago, around the time of the ancient Greeks. They were turned into teeth, like the teeth of a dragon. And the story was that these teeth could be sown, like seeds, and they would turn back into an army of men ready to fight. No surprise that Magnus thought they would be a great addition to his army of shadow dragons, so he really wanted the teeth. In the course of Erik’s story, they were freed from their enchantment, although they’re really different from us modern Pyr.

DC: How are they different?

DS: They don’t talk much. They have a tougher moral code. They’re great fighters and have trained a lot together. They seem to anticipate each other’s moves without any communication that even we can hear. They’re a force to be reckoned with, that’s for sure.

DC: Do you know where they are?

DS: Last I heard, they were getting used to our world. I have feeling we’ll hear from them again, once they come to terms with what’s happened to them.

I hope so. We could use them on our side.

DC: You mentioned the challenge of facing a shadow dragon you’ve known before – did you have to do that?

DS: No, it didn’t happen to me. My brother, Donovan, had to fight our father, Keir, but given their history, I don’t think it was as hard for him as it might have been otherwise. Quinn faced his older brothers and Rafferty, his grandfather. The toughest fight, though, is between Niall and his twin brother Phelan – Phelan’s a shadow dragon, but he had already turned Slayer before he died. He looks just like Niall but isn’t nearly as good of a friend to have. Phelan is one vicious shadow dragon.

DC: You and Niall are good friends?

DS: The best! We’ve been buddies for a long time, and were partners in an eco-tourism business, too. I sold my half of the business out to him, so I could take on the Elixir without leaving any unfinished ends. He really argued with me about my choice, which is what makes him such a good friend – he’s not afraid to tell me that he thinks I’m wrong.

DC: But you didn’t listen to him?

DS: (laughs) Niall argued that life was always worth living, but he wasn’t as persuasive as Ginger. That’s probably a good thing!

DC: Thanks Delaney, for sharing your experience with us. It must have been a nightmare. Good for Ginger that she helped you to heal!

Interview ©2009 Claire Delacroix, Inc.