Well, Yap was full of stories about the younger Ergo and he was hoping something would happen to make Yap too a hero whilst he was still young instead of all the hard work at bard's craft that his master was putting him through. But Ergo told Yap that nobody could have a harper's adventures (nor get rich, look you!) unless he had actually become a harper, yet nobody could tell at all how Yap was ever going to achieve such a thing, and so Ergo forbade him to sing any more stories until he would have played his next nine reels on the fiddle but first oil the wooden flutes and polish the silver ones, and before that get firewood and boil the porridge.
However, nothing can keep History quiet, and the stories of it crowd along Time like red and yellow leaves on a cold autumn wind. If it is not History how Ergo found his way to another world and what happened because of that, then I am no scholar who will write down for you some passages about how Ergo's bumbling quest for wealth got him and his friends mixed up with the Queen's enchanted return to us from a long bygone Age. So Yap might in time tell us some more dubious tales of Ergo's youth, but first I will make sure you have read this authentic one about the years of his prime, as he called them, but actually he was getting on a bit by then.
And if you are asking which scholar I am, I will tell you that you never heard of me, but I studied under a student of Thawn Even and even in these days that is still a sort of connection with those epic events of a past so full of enchantment that it is the chief wonder of all that anybody came through it in their right mind, that is, if anybody did.
There are some ordinary doors, built by carpenters, that once in a blue moon open on some other world; and folk say there can be some shifts of the wind that blow somebody straight into Elsewhere like a dead leaf out of a courtyard; and I once walked between two trees and turned around, seeing where they had been only an old iron gate in a ruined wall, and it was closed. I never found out the meaning of that.
So you should not disbelieve it when I tell you that Ergo Harper came to the world we are calling Blacksands by stepping too far into the huge fireplace in Kaillean's hall who was a king somewhere in the West but which kingdom I cannot discover. Ergo just meant to arrange a few small logs on the fire there, but instead found himself standing next to an enormous cactus in a vast desert of black sand-dunes. The dunes were very steep and between them ran valleys of greyish rocky ground where the clumps of cactus trees grew, and beside one of these stood Ergo in his evening robe and no hat, swearing at the landscape and turning round and round as he looked for the fireplace of Kaillean's hall, but that was not there any more.
The sky was deep purple and the two suns in it were not hot. Well, Ergo swore all the more when he realized from the cold dusty wind that whined along that valley how there were three deaths here which he could die all at once, of cold and thirst and starvation, with apparently no way to avoid any one of those let alone all of them.
"By the wild spirits and by their fat-bottomed husbands," Ergo cursed, "I do not deserve to be involved in such an event as this! What am I supposed to do now, eh? Eh?"
In his hand was a small log of firewood and on the firewood crawled one wood-louse. That was all Ergo could see that a man might eat, except for some flowers high up in the spiky cactus trees.
"By the spirits of the spirits and by any spirits they swear by," cursed Ergo, "This is no comfortable situation and I do not appreciate being in it with no cloak, and my harp left behind in that kin's hall and all! What in the world am I to do now, whatever world this might be anyhow? Eh?"
Then somebody spoke behind him! And he jumped up with surprise and swung around, and saw one of the servants from the king's hall.
"Will you come back now, Ergo? The king wants his song soon and meat is on the board." She was saying to him.
Ergo shook his head and looked around. "Well if this is your king's fireplace," he said to the girl, "I certainly do want to come back out of it now, and I will do that straight away if only you can show me how."
It turned out that you just had to walk backwards three steps, and there they were in the great hall again with food and wine on the tables a man holding out Ergo's harp to him and saying: "Ergo, will you sing now, since the king is waiting for it and he has been hitting me because you weren't here, if you can understand that at all so as to save me any more pain just now?"
"Aye." Growled Ergo, and took his harp from the man. "Aye. And then you might tell me where I have just now come from and what that has to do with putting a log on the fire, by the Three Good Kings and a curse of my own, will you do that?"
After the song, when the King had given Ergo a silver goblet with gemstones on it for singing so well and about such a fine king, and when the king and his chief wife had gone to bed, then another servant(who was called Sneigriif or usually Sneg) told Ergo about the fireplace and its peculiar way of showing people that Blacksands Land with its two small suns and all.
"There's not only two suns," said Sneg, "But also a whole crowd of moons, more than four and that's all I can count, however the moons are certainly many in that country, but if there are any stars then I never saw a single one of them since when there were no clouds there was a dust-storm."
"Sneg, you are just increasing my annoyance," Ergo grumbled, "For nobody wants to go to a land with even four moons let alone more than you can count and the invisible stars. But I do want to know the story of this fireplace here with its weird habit, and why Kaillean King is allowing such a public nuisance to continue!"
"Well you see the king was going to have some masons come here and close that opening for ever, but there was a man who stole treasure from this hall, and he had broken in by coming down the chimney but when he tried to get out again, then he got into Blacksands Land instead where we found his footprints. And only three brave men would follow him, for fear of never returning, so that the king's treasure and this thief too, they are both somewhere in that country and the king wants his treasure back, with the thief's neck and all. But those are both lost in that unknown realm, look you!"
"Good, good, I get the idea." Ergo interrupted that excited Sneg. "But it is no better than a big hole in the ground that children and the like are going to fall into, and that is why I call it a public nuisance. So I am concerned, as perhaps even you might understand."
continued in next posting.