I've always said that Sand and Bone was inspired by Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven. I love samurai dramas for many reasons, one of them is you don't always know who is going to survive the piece. At the same time, there are very few “cheap” deaths. For a warrior, the noble sacrifice is one of the best ways to die.
A Warrior's Fate
In many times, warriors have a tragic fate. Living in the desert is hard and violent. Most of them end up dead protecting their clan. The important part is that they know it when they become a warrior, though not always consciously. Instead, they are given a choice to be a warrior or an “ordinary” member of the clan.
“My mother told me about the warriors that night. About how Desòchu will never grow old in the valley.” A tear ran down her cheek. “Never have children. He will die out there”—she pointed to the desert—“far from home.”
Rutejìmo toed the ground. He knew she didn't need him to speak, but remaining silent was uncomfortable.
“I cried when she told me that. I wanted to deny it. But, as the years passed, I saw it was true. Every time he went without the others, you could see it in his eyes. He may not come back. If he ever had to choose between himself and the rest of the clan, he would die with pride. It was terrifying that he could do it. One day… one day, I asked him how he could keep running. You know what he did?” She looked up and gave him a sad smile. “He smiled.”
I haven't really figured out if the spirits know the future. They don't tap some teenager and say “I'm going to need a warrior in twenty years, you're it.”
I do have prescience in my world. Sinmak from Flight of the Scions has that ability as does another character in that book, but it isn't the Hollywood style of seeing the future. Instead, it is a measure of probabilities and an intuitive understanding of what is going to happen.
At the moment, I'm leaning that warriors are made from a combination of many factors: their personalities, their potential energy, the possible future for the clan, and the situation when they manifest powers.
Likewise, why most warriors are fated to die comes from another variety of sources, some of them based on sociology as well as psychology. Warriors have powers beyond almost everyone else. They use them, and keep using them, until they get into situations where magic isn't enough. Likewise, the “noble death” of warriors is ingrained into the culture. They expected to die and those who don't are considered less than human. This is one reason why Somiryòki spent most of his twilight years sitting in front of a fire. He was the shame of the clan despite the injuries that prevented him from running. It also hints about how much Tejíko loves him for not ignoring his presence.
The Noble Death
I wanted a proper death scene for this chapter, one where the characters got to talk to each other and show their emotions before one passed away. This is one of the proudest moments in the book for me, not for the scene, but because Chimípu got the noble death that I wrote about in chapter one.
Sand and Bone 29: Shimusogo Chimípu
Rutejìmo woke up to the results of a massacar but there was no more enemies left alive. Somehow he had slept through the death and destruction. Despite his safety though, there was one death he couldn't sleep through.
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