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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Great Moments in Fantasy - Anaster's Grief

So, I hate to do this, but there are so many good moments in Memories of Ice.  I had to choose two great moments which I will post separately.  Both involve the character Itkovian, the Shield Anvil to the God Fener.

The first, I call Anaster's Grief.  In my previous post on Memories of Ice, you probably noted my reverence for the character Itkovian.  I won't go into it in depth here, and the moment below explains what he is, and what he does pretty adequately.  What you may not know is that Anaster is what they call, a "Child of the Dead Seed" his mother, (one of the first witches of the Pannion Seer) is a fanatic, who slept with a dying soldier on the battlefield.  The Pannion Seer preaches, of course, that the Dead Seed is holy, and that children born of such a union are his personal shock troops. Anaster was the first Child of the Dead Seed, and is its leader. He's a young man with empty eyes.


Anaster by Luktarig at Devaint Art
Itkovian studied the young man, and saw what he had not expected to see.  'First Child,' he said.  'There is despair within you.  I will take it from you, sir, and with it your burdens.'

Anaster jolted as if he had been physically struck.  He drew his knees up, climbed onto the seat of the throne, face twitching.  A hand closed on the strange obsidian dagger in his belt, then fliched away as if the stone was hot.

His mother screamed, clawed up her son's outstretched arm.  Snarling, he pulled himself free.  She sank down ot he floor, curled up.

'I am not your father,' Itkovian continued, 'but I shall be as him.  Unleash your flood, First CHild.'

The young man stared, lips peeling back to bare his teeth. 'Who -- what are you?' he hissed.

The captain stepped forward. 'We forgive your ignorance, sir,' she said. 'He is the Shield Anvil.  Fener knows grief, so much grief that it is beyond his capacity to withstand it.  And so he chooses a human heart. Armoured. A mortal soul, toa ssume the sorrow of the world.  The Shield Anvil.

'These days and nights have witnessed vast sorrow, profound shame -- all of which, we see now, is writ as plain knowledge in your eyes.  You cannot deceive yourself, sir, can you?'

'You never could,' Itkovian said. 'Give me your despair, First Child.  I am ready to receive it.'

Anaster's wail rang through the main hall.  He clambered still further up the throne's high back, arms wrapping around himself.

All eyes held on him.

No one moved.

Chest heaving, the First Child stared at Itkovian.  Then he shook his head. 'No,' he whsipered, 'you shall not have my -- my despair.'

The captain hissed. 'This is a gift! First Child--'
Itkovian seemed to sag.  Sword-pont wavering, lowering.  The recruit moved close to support the Shield Anvil.
'You cannot have it!  You cannot have it!'
The captain's eyes were wide as she turned to Itkovian.  'Sir, I am unable to countenance this--'

The Shield Anvil shook his head, slowly straightened once more. 'No, I understand. The First Child - within him there is naught but despair.  Without it...'

He is as nothing.


It's easy to feel pity for Anaster here, despite the atrocities he and his 'family' have committed.  The slaughter of innocents, the mass cannibalizations of entire subjugated cities.  He was raised by an insane woman, worshipping an insane religion, being cynically controlled by the Crippled God.  A God who wants everyone to feel the pain his own crippling caused him.  His entire birth was an abdomination, and yet--somehow he is an innocent.  And the Shield Anvil can see it, deep within his soulless body.  Well played Erikson.