356 times I have written the words The Seven. Guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when in February I finally understood them.
If you draw a line, you can start in 2002 with the Dungeons and Dragons games I ran with Bekah, Siren, Lean, and Red. Take that line and continue through 2010, when I wrote Eastgate, and bring it to an end when I finished Legends of Eastgate in 2020. Seven family lines. Seven ancient families that serve the people of the Mountain, and before that, the Tundra. Seven names: Redfist, Fendis, Beastscowl, Stonefist, Flurryfist, Black Hand, and Steeltooth.
They are legendary families who have been noble for over 2,000 years on the continent of Perilisc alone, not to mention the tens of thousands of years on the Tundra of Cesper.
Each has a history. Each has a sacred weapon or item that has been handed down from generation to generation. Each teach the names of the ones who came before them to their children. Those children memorize the names of their forebears who came before and learn all the legends of these great men and women. Each can trace their name back to a great deed in their progenitor’s past. Family is the utmost importance. Who was your father? Your father’s father? Who will be your son? And who will you marry and teach of your line? Lines and lineage. My work on the Mountain, and everywhere else in my world, is all tied up in those who came before you in your family.
Ancestor worship is common in some Asian cultures. Well, it is in my work as well. If you can’t find the answer to an issue that comes up on the Mountain, you go to those who came before you. You take your pride from there. Your inspiration. Your solace.
Since February I have been seeing this pattern in all my work. From The Madness Wars to Liefdom. It can be found in The Manhunters when you look at Tate and his obsession with his mother and her life. You can find it in Rextur when you see him deal with the siblings he never got to know. The fantasy he has of a dinner, just a dinner, with all his brothers and sisters, where he sits with William at the head and he watches them all laugh. And he watches them all happy.
But he can never have that. It was denied him by, you guessed it, his father. His father was corrupted by, you guessed it, his progenitor.
Because whether we want to admit it or not, blood matters. It matters to our history and the people we are trained to be, but also in instinct and our beliefs. We can see a thread of ourselves in those who came before us and answer questions we never knew we had by looking at the nature that was handed down to us.
I am not, and have never been, Char. Wrath and Ball wanted to train me to be like them so badly, but they failed. Neither of these lines had the courage to stand up and protect my cousins and little sisters against Grasp.
We are either products of our blood or we grow to defy them. If our families do not bring us honor and we have to turn away from them, then we find ourselves fighting our nature forever. We find ourselves thinking about what not to do that reminds us of our family’s actions. We plot out a life in defiance of our line.
Either way, certain things are born into us.
I wanted a wolf as a pet. Well, that is so dangerous that we set that aside pretty fast, but you can buy half wolves from breeders. Wolf blood mixed with malamute forms a creature that can almost live with humans. The thing told to us though, was that we had to get that animal as soon as we could. Buy it when it is no older than four weeks, and train all its instincts out of it. Because if you don’t, that animal is a monster, no matter the love you give it.
Rising above your blood is possible, and many I know have done it. But to fight that kind of fight you have to stare at what you hate. You have to study how your blood lives and you have to vie against the urge to fall in line.
Let’s not even mention the medical history. Grandpa on Rose’s side had an early heart attack. 48. Massive coronary that dropped him for a while. When he came back to work a few months later, he instantly had a second one. Gotta watch for that. Depression on Rose’s side. Bad back. High demanding libido.
But no early male pattern baldness. No brunette hair. No bad eye sight. No bipolar. No one in that family has the sort of high response to exercise. No one in that family could take a stand when children were being hurt, walk away from everything they knew, and into the world without their family, for the right thing.
My Grandma’s siblings on my mother’s side are some of the most talented people you will ever hear about. Johnny and his cogs and springs will teach you that. Wade and his ability to organize the unions of the coal mines in West Virginia. Ray and his music. Trace it back to the Canny family and you will find geniuses, minds that cannot be rivaled with skills that cannot be answered for.
The Seven talk about honor and discipline. The Seven talk about battle and what it is to fight whether the war can be won or not. The Seven teach of their ancestors.
So where do I go for the ability to stand up to everything I have been taught? Where do I go for the things that cannot be answered? There is talent in Char’s family, but no geniuses. There is no power there to stand up to wrong.
Where do I go to explain within me the kinds of things I did not grow up around and I was never instructed to do?
I look for a warrior. I look for a progenitor who speaks to my beliefs. One who could pass on a kind of strength that does not need to be taught.
I had a conversation with my wife in February. A talk that sent me looking for my progenitor.
Where is my Steeltooth? My Redfist? My Flurryfist? Where can it all come from?
Because I can’t be answered for when looking at those who have come before me.
Let’s put a pin in that. This entire book is about this. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.