An Introduction

You won’t believe me anyway so let’s just call it a lie from the start. A story from the bottom of these tankards.

The Heir
The Spare
The Soldier
The Scholar

That’s how the rhyme goes. And that is what we had. Until me.

I was born nine years after the others. There was talk behind hands and looks from corners of eyes, of course. But it was ignored. I was a surprise, but I was not unwelcomed.

Then I arrived, dark where the others were fair. Now the talk, and looks, had to be considered. My father never had reason to doubt my mother’s faithfulness. But enemies will have their fun. So the mage was sent for and there was hurried discussion.

And when I was presented to the people, I was as fair as my siblings standing nearby. They were told I was fragile and it was accepted. If I was shown only when the ceremony absolutely demanded it while the older children were seen more often, it was understood. And if they forgot about me between times, so much the better.

Not that I was so brushed aside by my family. That I wish made clear. I see the look in your eye, you think this the bigger lie in my lie. But it is true. I was loved no less. The older ones understood the need for the deception. They knew the care taken with me was my burden and not a boon. I was a full member of the family.

It need not be said that the glamour was the first spell I learned. Oh, we all do magic in one way or another, my family. Not spoken of much, of course. And I am the only one on my path.

No, I will not show my other face to you. You don’t believe me, remember.

But I will answer your question and say why I left them. No, you didn’t ask that, you didn’t have to. That look from before, remember? Here, let me pour you some more.

No, I left because even a frail, last-born can be considered a prize by some families. And I was nearing the age that the ‘chance meetings’ would begin.

So we made the announcement that I was leaving. Off in search of better health, to better serve the family line, as it were. Made a festival of it, everyone saw me off. Few expected the figure they saw to return. But they had the four they needed, so I was expendable and there was little real concern.

And now I make my way, far from my home.

I see the look that’s in your eye now. Another one, playing at a title to impress. To give a story instead of coin. Because, you say to yourself, why share such a dangerous tale, when there must be those who would pay for it? And you would be right.

Were you to live long enough to tell it.

Ah, the surprise. Yes, my companions are most noble and would never lower themselves to this. That is why they have me.

For things exactly like this.

Good-bye.

Fiction helping with Real Life

So I was having a stressed situation at work, over the course of a few days. Something that could have turned major and been not good.

I wasn’t thinking of the situation, not consciously at least, just going about my work when I heard a sentence in my head.

Fear is the mind-killer.

If you are a sci-fi reader, then you recognize that line. If not, an explanation.

Dune by Frank Herbert. Published in 1965 and one of the great novels of the genre.

Within the universe Herbert created, there is a religious sisterhood known as The Bene Gesserit. One of the things taught to the sisters is the Litany against Fear. Its purpose is to bring focus to the mind.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Now, you must understand. The last time I could’ve given any thought to the litany would have been last year when the Game of Thrones cast was on the Conan O’Brian show during San Diego Comicon. I heard of a video clip where Natalie Dormer mentioned she had a Dune tattoo. I most likely googled to see what it was, then forgot about it.

Til last week.

When I looked up the full litany and memorized it. When the stress was again a focus and I found myself reciting it like a mental mantra. And it did the trick. I calmed the fuck down and set about the task at hand.

The stress has lessened and may indeed have passed. I have made an adjustment to my procedure and it is working to my benefit.

Remember when I said I was thinking of what other tattoo to get, so I can get that period added to my previous one? I may very have found it, in that line.

I’m one of those people who will get too wound up about a situation and end up unable to pick a plan of action. To have something that can get me on track is rather nice.

I have sought inspiration in fiction before. But for it to come unbidden like that is something special. Makes me listen harder. Especially when it’s a piece that fits into a lot of personal puzzles.

Official Dune Site.