Bright Lights, Bug City – An interlude to explain why my main character is awesome (I’m a good writer!)

No one died.  Which is pretty remarkable.  The guy that Grace smashed into through the windshield would definitely have died if left there without treatment.  And the guy she kicked in the chest was in pretty bad shape too, but the third fellow would have staggered to another hospital, one that’s operational, and pulled through.  Most likely.  Barring the kind of thing that would get someone sued for malpractice.   

Before Grace healed the wounds of the zombies, Christie tried to do his part.  His spell to remove the insect spiritual pollution didn’t work on zombieness.  Any experienced practitioner would have known that it wouldn’t work, you can’t treat a disease with a medication designed for a different infection, after all.   He actually has to put his mouth on theirs to suck out the bad magic like reverse mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  It’s pretty gross.   

Grace didn’t say anything because she didn’t want to hurt his confidence even further (even though he’s a murderer and deserves to be treated shabbily) but internally she was amazed (and more than a little judgey) about how little Christie knows about his own magic.   

The funny thing is that she does the same thing herself, only in reverse.  Because of her lack of training, Grace doesn’t realize how amazing some of the things she manages are.  When Christie failed, Grace thought back to what Stella had told her about making zombies and then figured out how to unravel that curse from first principals right there on the spot.  In her head, she was cursing herself for not already knowing how to do it.  She thinks she’s the worst mage in the world.  Any experienced mage witnessing what she did would have had their jaw on the floor.  It’s the equivalent of someone performing an appendectomy on the fly after only having a class in basic first aid. 

Remember that kid in your class who was good at every sport?  They were the quarterback on the football team, hit homeruns like nothing, had a rocket for an arm, played point on the basketball team, ran a charity marathon without training (coming in first) and even did all that track shit no one cares about.  That kid is what they call a natural athlete.  Which isn’t to say they were better than everyone else in the world, as that person found out to their dismay later on, they weren’t the best, they just had a knack for sports.  If they tried, they had a good chance at doing well at any sport they turned their hand to. 

That’s what Grace is when it comes to magic.  Royale tried to tell her this when he was training her, but he died before he could make her believe it.  She just thinks he was being encouraging.  Grace feels like she struggles mightily with magic, she feels that she’s miles behind where she should be, worries that she’s a failure, but the truth is she’s accomplished more in a few years than most people would in several lifetimes.   

Think back to all the other magic people that Grace has met, excluding the assholes that were trying to (or did) gaslight her, what has been their universal reaction?  “How did you do that?!”  Grace assumes they’re shocked just because she’s doing magic out in the open, or that she does it a different way.  And there is some of that, but what’s going on is more akin to when people watch one of those little kid chess masters.  They can’t wrap their minds around it.  How DOES she do that?  Notice, whenever anyone teaches her a spell she picks it up, but whenever she tries to reciprocate and teach them something she knows, they don’t even try.  Why is that?  Because they know they won’t be able to do it.  It would take them weeks to learn that spell, if they could ever do it at all.   

A wise man once said that experience is the biggest roadblock to innovation and creativity.  It’s feels kinda patronizing to say that Grace succeeds in some things because she doesn’t know enough to know that she shouldn’t be able to do it, but there’s some truth to it.   Because the dirty little secret of magic is that it’s all made up.  The spells and the rituals and the chanting and the symbols – those are just ways to focus the mind, to turn your will into changing the world.  You don’t really need them.  It’s like the placebo effect, it works because you think it works.  Grace has an instinctual grasp of the way magic flows and how to make it work for her.  It’s a good thing she’s on our side because she could do some terrible things if she put her mind to it. 

Some people would say that Grace is very powerful.  That’s not accurate.  If you want to power stack rank the magic people in the world, she’s not an all-star.  What sets her apart is her ability to learn and figure things out on her own.  Any mage worth their salt could come up with a way to break a zombie curse, but it would take them months and a variety of focus materials to do it, not to mention trial and error.  They couldn’t do it in fifteen minutes in a dark parking lot by saying “I think it works like this” and then feeling their way through it.   

What Grace can do is like playing by ear, except without hearing the song she’s going to play.   

Published by sopantooth

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