Neptune and the Four Seasons Bardo

By Dennis Jarvis CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Well, the book is almost done. It’s nearing the end. The body count is high. There was a scene with monsters made of quicksilver, and then ignited mercury vapor and lightning and flayed people hanging from the ceiling of a decrepit Roman bath.

But while that’s all very interesting, I’m thinking about villains.

I’ve never liked simple villains. Being evil for evil’s sake just doesn’t do much for me. And especially in this book, I had a deep and abiding desire to make villains that aren’t always villains. Friends who turn. People who go mad. Deals done wrong. Because while harm is a choice, circumstance is a great catalyst. No one starts out doing bad things. It happens, and usually it happens because they think they’re in the right.

A good villain is the hero of their own story, or something like that. Not my quote. Apparently Tom Hiddleston? Yes. I’ll go with that.

If you’re being picky, there are at least four villains in this book. They love and hate each other. Some are reformed villains. Others swing the other way, starting off seemingly innocent and just.

But that’s the thing about godlings. They live as long as they can stand (which is a better descriptor than saying they live forever). They have a long time to think about things. To rationalize. To warp.

And the love stories. There are two. And none of them end really happily, but one at least doesn’t end the worst way. And sometimes I think that love produces the worst villains.

Anyway. Next week we’re off for a week of beach vacationing, and since for the first time in years I seem to be able to use a regular keyboard without excruciating pain, I may just finish this. There is a kind of poetic justice in being by the ocean and finishing Joss’s story.

LaRoche puts it better than I do. From his diary entries, which Joss uncovers:

I am being torn apart by this. The matter that makes me a godling is rending apart beneath my flesh. I spend all day trying desperately to hold everything together. I am holding myself together and holding them together. Sraosha is not dead. If he were dead, I would be free of this pain at least in part. But it as if I have a wound now inflamed with hatred and ire and a need for revenge.

And Verta.

Heavens, Joss, I have been such a blind, selfish creature. I have loved her more than anything on the earth. And while I learned every inch of her over the years, I also learned to permeate every crack. We have played games with each others hearts so long I can’t remember when the last time I looked at her and did not want to make love to her and kill her at the same time. I have kept parts of her locked within myself, and I have made it almost impossible for her to go.

I cannot love as I have loved,
And yet I know not why;
It is the one great woe of life
To feel all feeling die.
— Philip James Bailey

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