I hate zombies.
I really, really do. There are so many tropes and themes that zombie stories include that creep me out (from the cannibalism to the fact that until recently the heroes were always white people bashing dark, poor people to the sheer appropriation of the idea) that I don’t read or write zombie stories.
Except for how I kind of did it in Tindiere.
Kind of. In a way.
You see, the Big Bad(s) of the story are mages who have the ability to take over people’s minds and bodies, turning them into puppets. This really isn’t a spoiler given that it’s on the first page of the novel and in the cover blurb, too.
Still, I didn’t want to have classic zombies. If you look back at the history of zombies they’re a concept that was taken from Haitian folklore. There’s a lot to learn at the link so do head over and read.
My personal issues with zombies had more to do with the cannibalism and raising the dead than it did with people being enslaved by magic. The whole idea of a mage being able to steal your soul, your ability to think and move freely, was one that I wanted to explore.
And it was one that worked very well with the conception of magic that I developed for Tindiere. You see, in Tindiere magic had different forms. Depending on the form of magic you possess, you’ll be better at some things and worse at others. So a War Mage will see all magic as a struggle that has to be won while a Peace Mage will do her best magic if they pray and meditate and calm their minds.
There are War and Peace mages who are effectively opposites. You’ll find Wind or Dance mages for whom movement is a necessary part of accessing their magic. Sex magic is a thing that absolutely exists. If a person has Sex magic then they’ll be able to work well with anyone else, interfacing with their magic to feed them power.
And then there’s Blood mages who are the heart of the Tindiere stories.
You see, Blood magic connects most strongly with the body. So a Blood Mage can heal people more easily. They’re able to sense when people are around them.
And, if the particular Blood mage is an unscrupulous person, they can hurt, kill, and enslave people with their powers.
Juraj, the hero of the story, is a Blood mage. His enemy, Elder Danek, is a Blood mage, too. I don’t want to give out too many spoilers in these posts but Juraj’s battle to free himself from Elder Danek is what drives everything forward.
Have a snippet of the story!
Juraj walked along the road with his teeth clenched shut against screams of pain. The rain dripped off of his hat, down his shoulders and onto the muddy ground below. It took serious effort to keep walking. He had to focus to lift his foot, push it forward and then set it down again, but despite the effort Juraj kept walking. There were blood slaves in the orchards around him. Distant expressions and slow, lethargic movements told Juraj that Danek wasn’t focused on them now. He had to keep moving, get somewhere away from people’s eyes. Every blood slave was another chance for Juraj to be caught.
It was hard. Elder Danek’s magic burned through his veins. He could almost hear Nadezda screaming in the back of his mind, as though she was being tortured in another room with the door shut. No one back home ever talked about it but people disappeared when Elder Danek got angry. Occasionally a limb would be found but that was very rare. The blood magic that Elder Danek used to rule his home town was officially illegal, but that didn’t make a bit of difference. No one from Court ever came to their little town and the Guard that did visit was all owned by Elder Danek.
“I wonder how long it’s been since Mother had an independent thought,” Juraj thought to himself an hour and a half later as he trudged into a tiny town that appeared to be nothing more than a caravaner’s inn, a smithy and three little stalls, one of which was selling ribbons, beads and gee-gaws to passing merchants. When he passed the smith, he could feel the blood slavery controlling the man. It stuck out in this little town. Everyone else that Juraj could feel was free. That gave him hope. Maybe if he went just a bit further he’d be properly free.
Pain flared through Juraj. No, obviously he needed so much more than simple distance to be free.
Poor Juraj. I put him through so much in the story! XD
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