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The road to Mir is paved with roads to Hell. Even in Year 482 (Manderian Calendar), before relations with the three-fold city reached their lowest ebb, the roads were already unsafe. This is not to say that merchants did not brave the muddy, uneven pathways north; they did. Consequently, some of them never returned to Manderia.

If you had been headed that way during the long, wet winter of 482, it is just possible that you may have passed by two figures, standing by the side of the road, or perhaps walking bent-over against the wind. The taller of the two- a fine, strapping lad with a touch of farmer in him- would be walking in front, or else standing with his thumb outstretched. A shock of white hair would cling to his shoulders, damp and unwashed. His eyes, a faded blue, would meet yours as you passed. And if you happened to look past this curious boy, you might notice another, smaller figure standing nearby.

Saros Rimilia did not have the broad shoulders or the ropy, homespun muscles of his brother. He was lean- almost cadaverous- and bony. His face was angular, all sharp points and skin. His yellow eyes blazed out from beneath his lank black hair. He spoke little, sometimes not at all.

None of this bothered Andrew. He had an immense respect for his brother, though he would be hard-pressed to explain exactly why. The boy had saved Andrew’s life in Manderia, but was that all? Instead of digging deeper, he would turn his mind to the road, laying aside his cares for another time.

The brothers Rimilia had an exceptionally difficult journey. The winter of Year 482 was a wet, cold, and generally miserable testament to the sadism of Northern Leran weather. It was the sort of winter the elderly dread, for it often proves fatal. Andrew and Saros, blissfully ignorant of the northern climates, were forced to take shelter in abandoned barns, behind windfalls, and in what few ditches the northern road possessed. Once, while they were huddled in a fire-gutted house, they came upon a friendly, domesticated dog. Andrew roasted it.

When the snows came, and they could not go further, Andrew led them to a farmhouse near the road. Silently, he opened the door for Saros; then stood by himself upon the stoop, shivering and thinking about nothing in particular.

There was a short, high-pitched wail. Then nothing.

They spent the night in the farmhouse, and when the snow let up the next day, set off with full stomachs and packs full of plundered food. Their progress further north was slow: Monotonous weeks spent trudging through snow that reached waist-deep in some places. Day after day of cold gray skies and chill winds that cut through their clothes, no matter how many layers they wore. Their time-sense disappeared. They continued north.

So it was that in the very heart of winter, half-frozen and dying of malnutrition, Saros and Andrew Rimilia came before the black gates of Mir, and found that they were finally home.

"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.

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The following comments are for "Northbound: Saros- Part III"
by Beckett Grey

looking good
The story of Saros and Andrew is coming along quite well. Can't wait to read more.

( Posted by: Drastine [Member] On: February 4, 2002 )

Ouch...said the dog?
Good story Beckett. I read parts 2 and 3 tonight. I think it's going along nicely. I would caution you in having your main characters in an ongoing saga kill a dog. We're busy trying to find love for them and then they kill a dog. Not that they can't, being hungry and all, it's just might have made them feel bad about it or something. Never the less, it's coming along great and I'll look for the next installment.

( Posted by: Jeff [Member] On: February 7, 2002 )

re: Ouch! dog

I find it interesting that you feel bad for the dog, but the poor (woman?) in the farmhouse- the one Saros killed- doesn't get any of your attention. Anyway, Andrew might not feel great about killing a dog, but Saros, as you may note, feels nothing. Hey, I never said he was a hero.

( Posted by: Beckett Grey [Member] On: February 7, 2002 )

When the dog cries
no no no, I don't really feel bad for any of them. I have to explain this to my mother all the time, but as writer, I understand the simple fact...there is no dog. No dog's were actually hurt in the writing of this story. Yet, many people, like my mother, never get that. When they read, they are involved in the character and have feelings about them based on their actions (as they should and as you would want).

I was just saying that, myself, as a reader/writer, was trying to have some love/sympathy/feelings for this main character and the dog thing hit me as an "ouch". Like listening to a wonderful piano recital and hearing that one bad note "clink". Again, just my opinion.

I also have had a problem with peoples perception that killing a dog is more offensive than killing a person, yet I understand that perception is reality. Nor do I think that a character can't kill a dog and still be loved. Hell, I think your character could have eaten the guys penis he cut off, if he were starving and might die otherwise. I just contend that he should feel a little bad about it. It doesn't have to be a strong feeling, but I think it should be there. A character that is a young innocent girl might cry for hours and wait until she is near death to eat the meat, whereas a character more like Conan the Barbarian, might only pause slightly, reflecting, then diving in. Either way, they have their own way of dealing with a perceived taboo and then reluctantly push forward for the greater good (survival).

My God, have I explained this to death or what? Anyway, I will continue to read, because as I said, it's a good story. Thanks,

( Posted by: Jeff [Member] On: February 7, 2002 )

re: Dog
Fair enough. I think the roasting of the dog added an appropriate bit of off-tone. The story needs it. I DO want to make the point that Andrew is not, as it happens, a very nice guy, and Saros is an emotionless monster.

Saros is a sort of experimental character, despite being the easiest and most pervasive for me to write. Can a hero be through-and-through a heartless killer who would carve through a truckload of babies to get where he wants to go, yet stil be liked by the reader? A novella, to which this story is a sort of introduction, called Assassins deals directly with this.


( Posted by: Beckett Grey [Member] On: February 7, 2002 )

Dogs are good
I see what you are saying and I think you know your own character better than I do. Your description of a killer reminded me of Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal Lecter was quite a killer, cold blooded at best, yet through his love for Clarice, I think we slowly found some sympathy for him and ultimately even some love (albeit mixed with disgust for his actions) I certainly wouldn't tell you not to have a ruthless killer as a main character, where would we be without them. Just that having some thread of humanity in them, I think is what ties us to them and allows us to see past the unspeakable acts they may perpetrate. Don't get me wrong though, I'd kill a dog in a second if I thought it fit the story (on paper of course). I would also have the character do it without remorse, if I wanted the reader to hate the character. My whole comment just grew out of the fact that I had already began developing sympathy and feelings for the older boy and that just made it hard...that's all.

( Posted by: Jeff [Member] On: February 7, 2002 )

re: Again, the dog
I agree with you that Andrew should have been a little sorry to kill it. I'm sure, had we actually been there instead of flipping through the snapshot as part of a long trek northward, we would've seen Andrew pet and console the poor beast before he slit it's throat. But alas...

( Posted by: Beckett Grey [Member] On: February 8, 2002 )

It's about the dog
First off I am just loving the Saros series I can't wait until they are all posted. I do however have something to add about the whole dog thing I think that both Saros and Andrew have the mentality of survival of the fitest and such so I believe neither of them would feel bad about killing the dog. Now Beckett these are your characters so it up to you whether they even care about the dog's death. Me I personally like both characters, even if they kill dogs without remorse.(Note:Just because I like the characters doesn't mean that I want to met them in a dark alley).

( Posted by: Drastine [Member] On: February 8, 2002 )

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