Direk, beautifully created by Didier Normand

Sometimes I marvel at how diabolical I can be. I mean, as I write the saga of Direk’s life, each time I finish a story and think ‘I can’t have done worse by my guy!’, well, next go ’round I somehow actually do do worse. And yet he gets up, comes on over to where I’m sitting with jaw on the floor, slams his tankard down and asks for a refill as he commences to tell me another bit of his puzzle.

It can be a crazy thing we writers do, when we try to both create connection with our readers and explore a character’s depths. Pursing both to extremes, though, sure puts that character through havoc. I’ve wondered a bit, about this particular character exploration path I’m traveling. This has caused some reflecting upon a few past characters’ tales I’ve not yet finished recording but appear to be headed to darker than or equally dark places as Direk’s. My Lord of Vengeance just happens to be further along his trail of travail than the others.

And yet as I consider his pain, I realize he’s right there beside me, pursing this path to its very ends along with me, no matter its bitterness or its sorrow. He’s not bitching at me to cut him some slack, whining about suffering too much, pleading with me to end his misery. Maybe it’s because as he suffers he is gaining some god-awful powers. Or maybe it’s because he has faith in me, his creator, if not saving him in the end, being there with him to the end.

Because sometimes that is all a hero needs: to know s/he is not alone at the last bell, has not suffered and lost so much for naught but his/herself. Heroes will continue to face whatever odds no matter the personal pain, the sacrifice, the uncertainty of victory or survival if they can believe someone (be it many or one) will survive or escape or carry on or actually even win due to their effort. Heroes don’t have to be there at the close to celebrate — they just have to believe someone will.

They’ll accept the champagne if they’re there for the toast, but they’d rather know you’ll be holding the glass to the sky in salute when they step into the gap. Heroes live without looking back because they want you to move forward.

The least I can do is grant Direk his wish. No matter how it kills me.