“Why did you do that?” Sydney asked, staring into the fire she’d made, aware that Modis was just pretending to sleep again.
He didn’t turn around. “You shouldn’t hurt people.”
“I have to hurt people. It’s just the way the world works, kid.” She crossed her arms, her long, leather gloves keeping her from the friction of it–her scars were always sensitive in the cold.
“That’s not true.”
Syd sighed. “It is.”
Modis sat up, turning around in the same motion. “You just keep–”
“What? I just keep what? Saying it? Yeah, because it’s true.” She was on her feet now, pacing. “You just keep telling yourself that everything’s nice–that everyone will be nice and everything’ll work out if you just… let it. But you don’t know that.”
“Yes, I do! People are nice to you if you’re nice to them!”
“You’re ten, Modis! You are ten years old! And that is insane!” She turned around, hands on her hips, looking out into the dark woods surrounding them. “Look at where we are! In the middle of nowhere! And why? Because there are people out there who want to hurt you. Because they think you want to hurt them. And why? Because you’re powerful enough to? Most of them don’t even know that–not really. They didn’t see you do anything… and even the people who did…” She shook her head. “Will any of them stop and think about it? Will any of them ask what they’re afraid of?”
“Yeah,” Modis chimed.
And Sydney spun around. “No! No, they won’t!”
“That’s right. I did. I did because I hate everyone. Because everyone sucks. Everyone wants what they can’t have. And they take it. By force. They’re violent. People are violent, Modis. And they’re liars. And bastards. And–”
Modis cried out, shifting away from the campfire, a pillar of white flame burning the grass that was near it.
She shut her eyes. Breathed. Felt the fire, quickly finding the heart of it with her Talent. She cut it, releasing a shell of it that rolled up into the night before she pulled it apart in a multi-tailed flare.
What was left was their campfire. Small, golden.
Sydney found her breath. “People… are violent, Modis. We all have it in us. We’re all terrible. Trust me, when I say it. They’ll hurt us if we don’t hurt them first.”
“Sydney… That’s just… It’s not true.”
“You are the most… violent… terrifying person I’ve ever seen.”
Sydney raised an eyebrow. “… Thanks?”
Modis shook his head, swallowed. “What I mean is… You… throw fire around everywhere. You… control it.”
Sydney breathed out, squeezing her scarred forearms with gloved hands.
“You… are it. But, when it came time to hurt me… to save the whole world… you couldn’t. You can say that’s because you hate everything as much as you want. But… that’s not it. I know it isn’t.”
Sydney turned away. “How? Because you know I’m a good person? Is that it?”
“Yeah,” Modis whispered.
“Well,” and she turned away, “sorry to tell you, kid… but I’m worse than you’ll ever know.”
For this year, I’ll be working on The Hand and the Tempest, Option 2 from yesterday’s post. I’m certain in part because writing the test scenes, mentioned yesterday, went as so:
- I wrote a quick bit of Option 1… and then immediately became annoyed that I had to make up a ballroom in the city of Errsai–instead of knowing one by name and location. I also got tripped up when I realized that Errsaian culture wouldn’t have a typical medieval caste system of lords and ladies.
- I then wrote the above excerpt in a natural rush that took maybe… 5 minutes? 10? I’m not actually sure, but it came out so easily and naturally that I just said…
- Fuck Option 3,
- Fuck Option 1,
- I’m writing The Hand and the Tempest.
Now, this winds up being interesting for me because this is a story… that I’ve been toting around with me since high school. So, for almost decades, I’ve had Modis in mind. Sure, I thought up “Shadows of the Black Sun” around the same time, but that was just a title that I turned into Memory: Shadow of the Lord Sun, a completely new novel, years and years later. Modis though… I have drawings of him. I talked to high school friends about him. He’s changed (and his original companion, a knight named Exidian, turned into the far more interesting Sydney Rose Tempest), and the plot is new, but the heart of the story is still the same. A lifetime later, Modis’ theme is still “Gau’s Theme.” Modis is still pushed into an adventure because of a prophecy he doesn’t understand. He’ll still change the world. And the theme for all of this is still “Time’s Scar.”
I guess what I’m saying here is, after a rough start, it’s nice to feel confident and excited about what I’m writing this month. Finally.