Monday, June 4, 2012

Origin of Malachi in THE DEMON OF SYNAR

Most demons have their origins in complete evil and some kind of eternal Earthly damnation/hell. Those kind of demons--tortured human or angelic souls--can certainly be interesting. But I learned in research that "demon" is just a newer form of the word "daemon". The definition of "daemon" is "an inner or attendant spirit or inspiring force". To me that definition doesn't necessarily imply evil, but rather just something supernatural. Evil is a value judgement about the possessed entity's use of the "attendant spirit or inspiring force". Right?

So is Malachi an evil demon or a inspiring daemon? Good question, but I don't know.

In the FORCED TO SERVE series, the back story of the character of Malachi is that he wasn't always a demon. Once upon a time he had a corporeal body. He was an accomplished, albeit wicked by Earth standards, ruling leader among his people, not to mention a very aggressive one. It was easy for me to envision him as being a Genghis Khan type of conqueror.

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Like your typical power mad leader, Malachi fully enjoyed using everyone he came into contact with for his own self-serving purposes. And he did so with no remorse. Knowing Malachi's full history because his family has controlled him for centuries, Captain Liam Synar, Malachi's current, and very reluctant master in Book 1, isn't buying the possibility that the demon can ever be anything but pure evil. He fears him and fears linking himself to that kind of power. That contemplative gaze on the cover of Book 1 is pretty accurate for the amount of soul-searching the good captain does about it.

But back to Malachi, everyone knows that when any one being gains too much control, it tends to put everything around that being out of balance. This is not a rule I made up for the FORCED TO SERVE stories. It's more like a universal truth that is often philosophically discussed in science fiction. Chaos and rebellion naturally ensue against those beings seeking ultimate control until something happens to create a balance again. Earth human history is full of real-life examples. Comics and fiction are full of stories about those who seek to restore the balance again.

Don't all quests for power ultimately hit a wall at the point of time where there are simply no more people to conquer or control? Otherwise why would space travel even exist? (Just kidding. Hard core science fiction readers: please do not set your weapons higher than stun when commenting. Thank you.)

Okay--back to Malachi's story. This is the good part. It's where he ran into trouble. . .

The Creators of All, a set of deities who crave balance, gave Malachi and his people an ultimatum. They could either suffer complete annihilation as a people or each major offender could enter into a sacred contract which would grant them all the power they could ever want. While on the surface, the offer seemed like a no-brainer compared to the one about annihilation, but it came with a very high price. Malachi lost his corporeality and had to watch the empty shell of his physical body die and turn to dust without his spirit within it. Afterwards existing only in "demon mist" form, Malachi quickly learned that he could not experience much enjoyment of anything. Instead, he became dependent upon any person willing to "host" him and let him share their life, even if it was just in a second-hand manner.

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Used to controlling others, rather than being controlled, even in his spiritual punishment Malachi quickly learned to become a skilled manipulator of the situation and his hosts. When the Creators figured out Malachi was still wrecking havoc in their universe, they amended the sacred contract, doubling the penalty for the worst of the demons by linking their fate to a "master". This essentially was a person whose family the demon would forever have a sacred obligation to serve. Liam is just the latest Synar in a long line to be serving as Malachi's master.

In the FORCED TO SERVE series, one of the big questions is whether or not Malachi can be redeemed. His current master certainly doesn't think so because it's no secret in the Synar family that Malachi has spent at least a 1000 years of his existence not caring about anyone but himself. In fact, the first tiny bit of growth Malachi has is in the book is when he finds himself having even mild concerns for Ania. He admits to us all, as well as her, that even though he tried to always be "good" to his hosts, he simply does not remember having such feelings for anyone else before her.

Also, you don't get very far into the books before you find out that Malachi has done some extremely evil things during the course of his existence. But as a college English instructor pointed out to me many years ago, even the worst of bad guys are usually good to their mothers, a thought which pops into my head every time Malachi does something nice for someone else in the story. When he does something funny and makes Ania laugh, I don't know what to think of him. I mean, how completely bad can a demon be that makes his host laugh? I'm not really sure.

The Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu said "He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still."  

It is my hope Malachi reads some Lao Tzu one day because I have put him on the journey of mastering himself in this series. However, even an author gets surprised sometimes. If Malachi can be redeemed, the question probably is "What will it take?" I have not found the answer in three books. Maybe that's a big part of why I'm still writing.
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