In the second half of the twelfth chapter of The Book of Night With Moon, Arhu and Rhiow have important epiphanies. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Feline Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For death of animals
I can’t. I HURT.
Duane makes it clear why Ith believes as he does, why he is so cynical, and why he believes it pointless to fight against the Lone One. Ith had been indoctrinated to believe that the destruction of all worlds was imminent and that all saurians would be ”Its instruments” in that process. But more than anything else, Ith believes that at the end of it all is the “Laughing.” In one of the most disturbing scenes in the entirety of this universe, Ith pushes Arhu to remember when he experienced the Lone One’s Laughing. It’s… a lot. As I said on video, I didn’t have a need to know Arhu’s life before he ended up on those train tracks beneath Grand Central. Its appearance here, though, is meant to sow doubt. Right as Arhu tries to convince Ith to fight alongside them all, Ith reminds Arhu of his lowest point.
I don’t feel the need to recount every detail here because this kind of stuff both saddens me and infuriates me. I’ve had pets most of my life, and I can’t fathom people who do shit like this when there are so many other options available. But it’s so real, y’all! I have a friend who works in rescue with dogs, and the stories he’s told me are just as horrifying as Arhu’s, and he has like… five new ones per week. So this kind of monstrosity is a lot more common than you might think. Duane’s point here, though, is that at the bottom of everyone’s heart is this darkness. It is a conscious choice to to be nice and kind and helpful, and wizardry is about making that choice every day. To me, then, Ith is trying to say that there is no choice, that everything eventually ends with the One’s Laughter. Why try at all? He brings up this brutal part of Arhu’s life to prove that it’s always there, but Ith misses an important point: There was always more to Arhu’s life after that. Look what followed such a low, low moment!
But I also get why Arhu doesn’t get to that realization immediately. He mostly forget this trauma, and now, he needs to sit with it. And while he does, Rhiow takes her turn, and it’s such a great passage! It works as a summary of how Duane has folded evil into the world of the wizards:
“Evil isn’t something the One made, Arhu. It’s a broke image—a perversion of the way things should work, purposely skewed toward pain and failure.”
Thus, Rhiow tries her best to point out that as confusing and scary and inconceivable as this all might be, she believes that evil can be “weaned off,” that over time, you can chip away at all of this. And we’ve seen some of this before, particularly the fact that the Lone Power is not all evil either! It’s obviously hard to wrap one’s mind around something that could take hundreds upon thousands of years to actually enact, but that is why she doesn’t give up and why the others shouldn’t either. AND I LOVE WHERE ARHU TAKES THIS:
“Why should we change the myths for ones that work better? What kind of gods would make you keep making the same mistakes that They made, just because They did it that way once? They’d be crazy! Or cruel! If things have changed, and new problems need new solutions, why shouldn’t we enact them? If They’re good gods, wouldn’t They?”
Urruah, and Saash, well awake now, both stared.
“I mean, if They’re any good as gods,” Arhu said, with the old street-kitten scorn. “If They aren’t, They should be Fired.”
I just!!!! LOVE ALL OF THIS!!!! Because look, there’s been this recurring bit throughout this book of Arhu struggling to deal with the notion of the Powers and feeling like they’re unfair. Indeed, asking wizards to give up years of their life to fight the Lone Power, being unable to fold time over their deaths, imposing rules that do not benefit them but benefit others… all of them have justifications that are understandable. But fair? I get why Arhu interprets things this way, and hell, I think Rhiow was in the right place emotionally to hear this. The spell—the one hinted at multiple times throughout this book, the one that’s in “a hundred pieces,” the one Rhiow was just ”aware” of one day—is the one that Arhu suggests to make themselves gods. WHICH… I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS??? Well, more that I don’t know what it entails. But it’s bold. Exciting. And it fits! The Downside already makes their bodies into ideas of the past, manifestations of their true selves. Why couldn’t these wizards become the beings for their myths and fight as gods?
If the rules don’t work, change the rules. It’s such an obvious conclusion in hindsight, but HOLY SHIT. Holy shit, GODS??? The Powers? IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? Oh my god, this battle is gonna be ridiculous LET’S GO, I’M READY.
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