Thank You, Lord, for the beauty of Your creation in the midst of all our chaos.
As calming as this should be, I am not calm. After all kinds of discussion about immigration and security, I can’t help but think of the image of a three year old Syrian boy face down in the sand. He was one of the few out of the throng of people displaced by the crises in our world, one circumstance that caught our attention.
I can’t picture what his life was like.
But I can picture my youngest boy, now six, the way he lights up every room he’s in and every face he sees. I try to picture him lying face down on the beach, but I don’t want to see that.
So I try to picture someone explaining to me, in that circumstance, that “we’re worried about Trojan Horses and terrorist threats, that’s why we couldn’t help you.”
I try to imagine how absolutely hollow and self-serving those words would sound.
It’s hard. I don’t have answers or good policy suggestions. I just have these feelings on my mind that I need to get out.
Yeah, it’s a base appeal to emotion trying to stir up compassion. I always thought compassion was pretty exceptional. I always thought America was too.
I’ve introduced many of the features of the Bordermarches so far: magic, science, the Divine, and Gracemarks.
Now I’d like to present the opposition to the Divine.
Though I do enjoy good vs. good storylines, I also have a place in my heart for the “simple” clear-cut good vs. evil conflict.
Given my intent to take advantage of biblical themes and perspective, my evil is a lot like Tolkien. It doesn’t create anything new. It corrupts that which was originally made pure.
There are seven Daemons working against the purposes of the Divine in this fantasy setting.
In response to Light and Truth, there is Deceit.
To oppose Strength and Passion, there is Rage.
Nature and Growth are countered by Corruption.
Justice and Order are pitted against Chaos.
The rival of Knowledge and Creativity is Ignorance.
Love and Beauty struggle against Hatred.
The foe of Eternity and Life is Destruction.
My good buddies Merriam and Webster tell me that “Daemon” probably comes from a Greek root that means “to distribute.” The term implies oversight of a thing. These seven Daemons are no different, distributing a Curse similar to the Gracemarks of the Divine.
Serving darkness is not without benefits…
There are key differences. While a Gracemark is under the control of the bearer, the Curse, or Kem, can take control of its host. When this happens, the bearer is more like a husk or shell, a puppet on strings pulled by the influence of the Daemon. Once under the sway of the Curse, the bearer’s true form is revealed, that of a massive horned demon twice the size of the average man.
Gracemarks are given either as a divine favor or as a symbol of acceptance from a religious order, and they are not transferable. Curses, however, can be granted as a gift of power to a servant of evil, or they can be transferred to an individual who kills a Cursebearer. The person who slays a Kem’neth (or Cursebearer) is usually given the option soon afterwards to accept or reject the Curse. Some people are exempt from the offer: Devoted of the Light and Soulforged of Justice are two examples.
Gracemarks generally give two or four powers associated with their Aspect of the Divine. Cursebearers receive all seven powers, one related to each Daemon, although they each have one strongest power.
No one man should have all that power…
Deceit inspires followers to buy in to the Cursebearer’s lies. But more than that, Deceit allows the Cursebearer to appear to be in two places at once during combat, projecting false images into the minds of enemies.
Rage incites bloodlust and murderous intent in the hearts of others. It also grants the Cursebearer terrible strength.
Corruption warps the hearts of others to serve the Cursebearer’s purposes. It can also twist creation to serve the Cursebearer’s needs, turning Nature against the Cursebearer’s enemies.
Chaos allows the Cursebearer to release bolts of uncontrolled energy. In pseudo-science terms, the Cursebearer tweaks physics on a quantum scale.
Ignorance keeps minions in check and muddles the minds of enemies.
Hatred permits the Cursebearer to detect and track particular enemies over long distances.
Destruction allows the Cursebearer to draw on non-sentient life nearby in order to regain energy or empower magic.
There’s only one way to kill a Kem’neth…
The one other advantage of the Kem is a limited immortality. Having given themselves completely over to the service of the Daemons, the Cursebearers are only vulnerable in their hearts. Even if decapitated or torn in half, a Cursebearer will eventually regenerate; the heart must be destroyed in order to put the Cursebearer to death.
Kem’neth can come in both genders and all races, but humans are the predominant race.
That statement doesn’t mean much unless I introduce the various races in the Bordermarches, so I had better do that next.
The home of David M. Williamson, writer of fantasy, sci-fi, short stories, and cultural rants.