Character: Jannick Gain

Another example character concept by Kristy Eagar, this time using the mimessarch race.

Jannick Gain

I remember a time when I was human. When I ran the boardwalks of Brindle Beach with the other children.

I think I had black hair.

I must have had a family, because I remember the house in the village. The fishing-boat rocking in the waves beside the jetty outside our door. The warm blankets of my bed. The smell of rising bread. The taste of boiled whitefish soup.

There was a girl. A sister, perhaps. Someone who used to race beside me along the packed sand at the water’s edge. Laughing. Always together, laughing.

Whomever she was, she’s nearly gone, like all the others. Another empty shape left in the fragments of my mind. Outlines without forms or faces. The fading sound of our laughter is an echo, devoid of substance or identity.

I remember the old burnt-out church just north of the village, along the waterfront, just up the cliffs from where the white stone first rises up out of the salt-marsh. We found broken statues in the courtyard behind the ruin, grotesque stone pieces buried under years of weeds. I remember the carven face my toes uncovered in the dust. The bulging eyes. The gaping shark-toothed maw. I remember running. Running over sand-covered boards that creaked under my weight. The rotten boards of a covered well, giving way beneath my feet, tumbling me downward. The sick feeling of the world dropping out from under me.

Someone screamed when I fell. Was it my sister?

I don’t remember hitting the water. But when I woke, I lay in the black murk at the bottom of the well. And yet, I hadn’t drowned. My eyes hurt in their sockets, swollen, aching in what little light reached me from above. The scales were already forming in patches over my ribs. Sharp barbs protruded from my itching spine, ran along the sides of my arms and legs, over the bare skin of my scalp. The barbs lifted to my touch as I explored them, slicing my probing fingertips.

I was screaming, then. But water filled my lungs, and it was cold and sweet and terrible. I climbed out of the black well, and ran from that ruined churchyard. I ran home.

But there was no one left.

Only their footprints, all leading downward. Towards the sea.

Already I’d forgotten them, the people I must have known. Their names and faces had all bled out of my mind down in that well. Their details seeped away, all but the edges of the holes they left behind.

I found words of power, shimmering in those holes. Words, written in the spaces of the lost – seething inside the outlines where their memories should be. I’m still afraid to speak those words.

A man from the next village found me there, crouching in the shadows. He told me they’d dredged for me. They’d sent someone on a rope down the well, but they hadn’t found me in the stifling sludge beneath the water of that dark hole. He reached for me.

But when I stepped into the light, the words stopped coming from his mouth. He made a choking noise.

He called me the drowned boy. He said I’d come back from the dead, a demon.

I hadn’t drowned. I hadn’t. But I must have been at the bottom of the well for too long, simmering in murk.

It changed me.

Men came from the next village to hunt me, but we discovered together that I’m no easy prey. Their throats taught me the new sharpness of my teeth. Their flesh taught me the new stretching wideness of my lips and jaw and throat. Their blood taught me the new hungers of my belly.

More men came, with spears. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t…

I spoke the words left written in the lost. We screamed together with those words, the men and I. No other from that village dared to hunt me again.

I keep well-cloaked now. In the shadows.

I fear the sea. It’s too sweet on my tongue. Too rich in my nostrils. I try to keep from the water, but I can’t bear to be long separated from it. From the whispered invitation the waves make against my skin. The promise of the salt inside my lungs.

I wasn’t always as I am. Someone will know how to fix this. Someone will know how to change me back.

I’ve only to hunt them out.