Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

Categories Navigation Menu

Flashback: “Heart”

Flashback: “Heart”

I’ll tell you a secret.

Most of the students who get shuffled into the AP Seminar on Heart aren’t human. They’re not like . . . kids from Brentwood. They’re not even random alchemists and magicians.

They’re world-ending threats.

In the seminal book of Heart, the Kitab al-Ma-ti, Jabir Hayyan wrote: in the powers of the elements, of taming and erasure, of transformation and creation, we are as the monsters of the world. The difference resides in the heart.

A rival work, The Keys of the Five Circles, takes another tack:

With the power of Heart, a person may break enchantments, communicate telepathically with animals, and awaken the favorable outcomes that are sleeping in the world.

It is strange that the power that does one may do the other; that the same power that makes us people is the power that allows us to send forth golden rings from our mind to call small adorable animals to our rescue, chastise people whose eyes are full of hypnotist’s spirals, and sweep aside the scaffolding of tragedy to discover the true virtue of the world behind it—

But it is.

Now and then there will be a fresh-faced young human who joins Professor John Eure’s seminar on Heart. They’ll probably think that they get to rip out hearts or something, or maybe that it’s a soft class or something. The kind of hippie liberal silliness where you get heart stickers, rainbows, and love. A few of them discover the true power of Heart and stay.

The rest are Other.

Creatures like the nithrid, who shuffles in, uncertain and uncomfortable, and brews like a storm is brewing in the back row of the class. Creatures like the manticore, skulking, hungry, desirous more to slake its hunger than to get good grades. Even that weird little fifth-dimensional object. You know the one. You can’t get rid of it even though you ought to. Even though you want to. You so desperately want to. But it’s there.

It’s branching now. It spreads its spines. But before it hooks them in you it will finish out the academic year.

The gorgon leans forward, eyes hidden behind green goggles, wild hair spread drooling across the books. The ghost hovers uneasily behind the projector, thinking of vengeance and wringing her hands.

There’s a tendril of the demiurge. It’s not really a demiurge. It’s not the creator. But it’s a presence. It’s still there.

“Class,” says Professor John Eure, initiating the special Lethal Magnet School for Wayward Youth Seminar on Heart for another year:

“I’d like to tell you the secret of the world.”

If you ever meet a manticore, and instead of eating you, it rears up and the picture of a heart on its chest blasts out and redeems you or something; or if you’re ever at the bottom of the lowest pit of Hell and one of the demons covertly rescues you, smuggles you out, sends you to stay with the svarts; if you’re ever in one of those conversations with a guy who just plain won’t listen to anything you say because he’s already decided you’re not worthy and then they get blasted away from the conversation by a rainbow-colored bolt of love and justice—

That isn’t just random. That isn’t just the clock-gears spinning in the heartless mechanism of the world, resulting inexorably in a pre-planned pre-destined outcome. That isn’t just physics saying: at this time, at this moment, proceeding in a causal fashion from the actions that came before, a glorious burst of love and justice will flow along a mathematically pre-ordained trajectory and make a rectification to the world.

It isn’t soulless. It isn’t pointless.

It’s Heart.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *