Last week I whined about the juice bar in our gym on base selling what I presumed were pizzas at lunch time during my workout.
I’m all for unhealthy food choices as an exercise motivator. We used to celebrate Push For Your Pie Fridays at work, where we’d have a goal of total push-ups performed by the office team, with a pie to share at the end of the day as a reward. (I may re institute this plan in my next job.)
I’m the Spin Instructor who confessed I was only turning the pedals so I could justify a Caramel Macchiato later.
But at the 45:00 point in an hour on the elliptical, the aroma of fresh toasted panini is over the line of what is reasonable!
The political side of me says this is smart and this is capitalism. They have a perfect crowd of hungry customers.
But my rage will not forgive this affront.
It’s the Anti-Thin, the Abomination of Dietary Desolation. It is a wrong thing, a trap for the unwary. And there is nothing but despair within.
This is why I can’t come in here with money.
I want to burn that place to the ground.
I guess I’ll go eat my stinking can of tuna with some steamed green beans instead. And it will taste like ash, as my heart seethes with hatred.
They should know better than to mess with people on a diet.
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 It corrupts that which was originally made pure.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.