Cirsova Conversations: War of the Ruby

Saturday , 22, April 2017 7 Comments

Brian K. Lowe

War of the Ruby, a story by Brian K. Lowe in Cirsova Vol. 5 about a warrior and his thief lover who carry around a demon-summoning jewel stolen from a dangerous cult, proves to be a decent enough introduction to the world of Eldritch Earth as conceived by fellow author (and social media friend) Misha Burnett. However, I will not merely give my opinion, but instead speak on the story’s main characteristic: rule-breaking. By necessity, there will be spoilers.

We live in a world bound by innumerable rules. Though we grumble about it at times, we accept it as the price of a civilized society where we do not have to put great effort into defending ourselves on a daily basis. Urban life in particular is the most rule-bound, a consequence of so many people having to live together without stepping on each other’s toes.

In Ruby, however, Lannic and Senela — a warrior and a thief respectively — violate the rules as a matter of course. Senela’s rule violations are easy to see, for she explains that she is a thief and an escaped slave, but Lannic’s are more subtle. Note that when the hooded man attacked him and Senela in the bedroom, Lannic did not ask who he is or what he was doing there as a more civilized man would’ve done; instead, he just kicked the intruder. Through this small action, Lannic showed that he was unafraid of any consequences for violence, since he could handle them with ease. A civilized man would fear being imprisoned and thus put into several more violent situations that he isn’t equipped to succeed in.

Even the ending, where the ruby summons demons, shows a form of rule-breaking as strange monsters come through the light created by the ruby — creatures that do not belong. This time, however, order is successfully enforced by a large wormlike creature native to the old city where the encounter took place, a creature that Lannic and Selena notice on occasion as they pass through. As if angry that the new creatures were intruding, the worm eats them. In doing this, however, the story shows one set of rules that cannot be disregarded: the laws of nature. This notion even gets the better of Lannic and Selena, who are expelled from the town for breaking the scepter that held the ruby.

This story underlines the basic appeal of heroic fantasy: a sense of freedom and openness tempered by respect for the just laws of nature as opposed to the arbitrary rules and manners of man. The main characters’ expulsion resulted not in despair, but a chance for renewal and reinvention in a world where the law had not yet swallowed up everything. Simple and straightforward, anyone could get it in minutes — no law degree required.

7 Comments
  • deuce says:

    Thanks for the review, Rawle! This sounds like a fun tale.

  • Scott says:

    My comments are starting to get repetitive but really have to read #5. Good review.

  • Brian Lowe says:

    Interesting analysis. I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms. I can’t disagree with your conclusions, but I think they would have more context if you were to consider “Shapes in the Fog,” the companion piece, wherein when the protagonist is coerced into operating in disregard of the rules, she responds by throwing out the rulebook entirely and re-writing it to suit herself.

  • keith says:

    “By Crom, though I’ve spent considerable time among you civilized peoples, your ways are still beyond my comprehension.

    Well, last night in a tavern, a captain in the king’s guard offered violence to the sweetheart of a young soldier, who naturally ran him through. But it seems there is some cursed law against killing guardsmen, and the boy and his girl fled away. It was bruited about that I was seen with them, and so today I was haled into court, and a judge asked me where the lad had gone. I replied that since he was a friend of mine, I could not betray him. Then the court waxed wroth, and the judge talked a great deal about my duty to the state, and society, and other things I did not understand, and bade me tell where my friend had flown. By this time I was becoming wrathful myself, for I had explained my position.

    But I choked my ire and held my peace, and the judge squalled that I had shown contempt for the court, and that I should be hurled into a dungeon to rot until I betrayed my friend. So then, seeing they were all mad, I drew my sword and cleft the judge’s skull; then I cut my way out of the court, and seeing the high constable’s stallion tied near by, I rode for the wharfs, where I thought to find a ship bound for foreign parts.”

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