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August 18, 2013
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The Unholy Incarnation of Gluttony (Tony, for short) has been more or less benignly wandering the Network for nearly four hundred years, carefully controlled by its host and master, the kindly Eric Thedrial.

What IS Tony, exactly? Despite rumors and poetic phrasing, Tony is NOT a demonic entity representing a deadly sin, it is not actually even a separate being from Eric. Psychologically, Tony's what you get when you inhibit everything in the human mind save the powerful animal impulse to eat stuff. Religion/demons/sins really have nothing to do with Tony.

Tony is the result of a morality curse, meant to demonstrate to the once spoiled Lord Thedrial the essence of his greed by removing entirely his human willpower and control over base instincts (which he was so poorly exercising anyway) transforming him for periods into a destructive, self-destructive, mindless and mortifying mass of monster. And then returning him to human form to think about what he'd done.

Tony is largely a metaphorical shape representative of Eric's character, specifically in the willpower department. In the beginning, Lord Thedrial was self-centered, self-satisfied, over-indulgent, casually aware that his lavish lifestyle was supported by the very lives of many hundreds of poor labourers, but actually rather flattered by the idea. The morality curse turned him inside-out, giving him a cruel body to match his cruel mind, while imprisoning his humanity inside to watch helplessly as his body ran amok, directly taking the food, livestock, and even lives of others to satisfy its excessive munchies.

Original Tony was a large, dark, fleshy thing with an excess of limbs and heads. When it would first twist out of Erick's shape it would be the size of a horse, but the critical thing about Gluttony is that it grows larger as it consumes things. So not only is it never full, but it can eat increasingly more with every bite. Tony exists in that moment when you've had more than a big meal but just can't say no to your favorite dessert. But again, and again, and again, and again.

But back to the metaphor. As Erick learned various lessons and came to have an honest change of heart, his transformations into Tony became less horrible.

Originally, Tony sported one long-necked master head with many little necks protruding along its body, ending in eyeless jaws. Erick's lack of willpower translated into his initial inability to control his actions as Tony, his body happily running on impulse regardless of his mind. Already sufficiently scarred for life by the third week of attacking villages, being slayed, being reanimated, and repeating the procedure, Lord Thedrial found himself genuinely horrified of and repulsed by himself. And suddenly in control of the master head. Now able to begin the fight against himself. (Tony stopped being a maneater when Erick realized it's not okay to 'feed' off other people. The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one.)

But even years later his axillary maws would kind of do their own thing. These other heads had only nostrils (they ran entirely on blind impulse) and no tongues but could taste all the way up their throats (not satisfied with taste, the joy is in the swallowing). As time went on there were less and less heads. They started to take on Erick's personality, becoming quite friendly and silly, almost dog-like, sometimes to Erick's embarrassment, and were (usually) very much obedient to him, even acting as grasping limbs. They represented lack of self-control and became manageable as Erick better took charge of his life. They then came to represent fragmented pieces of his personality (variously repressed and rejected as one might imagine after an extremely ego-crushing ordeal) and only disappeared for good when Erick was able to love and respect himself, all of himself. That one took a while.  

For a long time Erick was unable to speak as Gluttony. This reversed as he learned to be a listener rather than demanding the center of attention.

Finally, the issue of the rampant consumption. Predictably, this may have been the most important and lasting change.

When Erick's curse made it impossible for him to live among other people, he was taken in by the great-great-granddaughters of the mage who cursed him (who then died the next week, leaving Erick and the sisters questing for the counter-curse for many decades). He was given a place to stay in a rickety old cabin hidden in the back of their thickly forested valley. And while the sisters, out of feelings of guilt, managed to feed his monstrous shapeshift for a while, they made it clear that the lord had to start pulling his own weight.

Erick was expected to help around their inn/ranch/witchcraft outpost. With varying degrees of misery he learned how to feed, muck, and generally manage the pigs, goats, and chickens, milk the cows, care for the horses (the one thing he was already good at), dig, seed, weed, water, harvest the vegetables, tend the herbs, cook, prepare goods, haul endless mounds of hay, sew, stitch, sand, clean the inn, clean the dishes, and so on. Not only did the pounds melt off him, but he found to his surprised he actually rather liked going to bed exhausted at nights, and the buzz of being helpful and useful was growing on him. And most of all, he was getting into this Making Stuff thing.

Soon Erick was pouring over the sisters' books and picking the minds of visitors for advice on carpentry and smithing. He did wonders for the old cabin, fixed all the floors and the roof, added a whole new front to it with a loft and a porch and a parlor and only totally demolished the thing by transforming inside it twice. He built a chicken coop and pens for animals of his own and eventually grew a sprawling garden to eclipse the inn's. He took advantage of Tony's size and power to haul heavy loads, push over trees, till fields, stand up walls, and dig a fantastic cellar to squirrel away perishables against his next 'snack attack'.

(Should be noted that the learning didn't go all one way. The nobleman taught the sisters a new language or two and some fancy penmanship, how to ballroom dance and curtsy properly, play some instruments, high etiquette for charming wealthy patrons, and how to put together a really smashing outfit.)  

In the evenings and winters Erick would spend hours lost in whittling, playing with the forge, even painting when Jessabelle could barter for some pigments. People were truly delighted by the little things he would carve or craft, which Erick gave away freely to friends and visitors. Starved for social contact of all kinds, he was especially fond of kids and would always have something for them when their families came by the inn.

Musically talented from a young age, Erick could also reliably be located by ear during his idle hours at the inn's harpsichord or perched variously around the premises with a guitar, flute, pipes, or ditty. Music, however, is a self-indulgent pleasure for Eric, and while he'd always enjoyed the attention and praise his melodies garnered, it was and still remains something he does for himself.      

Some decades later he and Jessabelle moved just outside of town where she ran a general witchcraft store and Erick the toy shop next door. He made a world of carved animals with springs that moved, beautiful things of glass and wire, sewed bright-eyed dolls and soft cloth animals and lordly kites, crafted flutes, whistles, slingshots, sleds, and wooden swords and shields. By older guests he was commissioned for clocks with intricate cases and painted faces, wire-worked bangles and buckles, handsome knife sets, stringed instruments, and even portraits. (Erick's arts and crafts bug has been with him off and on for his very long life, down to Eric as we know him today, who currently makes his living doing all manner of commissioned artwork and design.)

It was only when Erick became a creator more than a consumer, only when he was bringing more into the world than he was taking out of it, was Tony's outrageous appetite sated. Or at least as much as it will ever be.

Present day Tony is much more person-shaped, intensely fluffy, and almost entirely Eric upstairs except for a brief and mostly-controlled werewolf-like burst of rampant hunger just after changing, and thereafter a persistent case of the nibblies.

You would seriously be hard-pressed to find a soul more empathetic, encouraging, comforting, generous, lively, and bright than Eric Thedrial. He is the absolute turn-around of his former self. He remains cursed not for any moral reason, but because the fairytale went wrong, because the counter-curse was lost with the death of the mage. His immortality (not an inability to be killed/age, but an inability to stay dead afterwards) was intended to force him to survive his own death a few times as a monster at the hands of angry mobs, but now keeps him knocking around indefinitely.

Immortality is a rare and energy-taxing quality to possess, Eric only gets away with it because everything his monster self eats is converted directly into magic and devoured by his hungry curse. Where transformations once occurred when he slipped his self-control, they now happen periodically just to replenish his magic stores, renewing his curse. It's a vicious cycle, but one Eric is so completely resigned to by now he's only mildly bothered by it, even forgets all about who and what he once was and still is caught up in the daily grind and joy that is on-going life.    

So while Tony has been tamed, it's worth noting something, something that Eric seriously avoids alluding to or discussing in any way. If something were to happen to him, if something were to happen to his mind, a concussion, possession, madness... the full force of the Unholy Incarnation of Gluttony is still very much inside him and Tony is only ever that far away. And here's a thought. It would never be allowed to happen, but just to get an idea of what Eric knows is coiled up dormant in his tummy: If Tony were allowed to eat ten times its weight each day (as it will) for twenty three days, it would be the size of the planet Earth. Eric does not know what the planet Earth is, but finds this a sickening thought. Tony... would find it delicious.  


-----


As an aside, in three hundred and eighty five years Eric has died fifteen times. (Eleven if you don't count the first year of his cursing.) He's pretty pro at it. Physically regenerating at twenty-eight, the age of his cursing, after a death, Eric really only gets about thirty years to a life because he hits his mid-sixties and gets so annoyed with whatever aches and disorders and illnesses he's acquired (and he's got crap eyes and is usually half blind by then) that he'll get his affairs in order, have someone take the dogs for a while, lock up the house, and poison the hell out of himself.

The only indication that Eric is not truly immortal, or immortal for actual ever, as it were, is that it used to take him not four hours to burst back into the living world and it now takes several months. People who study this kind of thing tell him during these longer absences his magical stores are dropping close to the point of no return, to the point of not being able to yo-yo his spirit back into his body, at which point he will have passed on just like anyone else.

He's got a good few rounds left in him yet, and while he's finally feeling the sort of oh-god-I'm-going-to-die-one-day chill most people get around forty or fifty, and while he loves being alive pretty fiercely, he'll be the first to say that four hundred years is a silly long time for a human to be. And that he doesn't remember half of it, and the half he does remember, the first half, he remembers with such clarity that he's felt like the world of the 1660s and all its dear places and faces he'd find just over his shoulder if he turned quickly enough. Eric is stretched between embracing today and being an artifact from another time. He can become quite homesick for the world as he knew it and the people whom it seems he saw only yesterday, his brothers, his parents, his lover.

Eric takes everything on the bright side when he can, and while these persistent memories can be sad they're also joyful. He isn't religious in the least, but likes to imagine an afterlife anyway, not because he fears a void or is greedy for more time, lord knows, but because he enjoys the thought that maybe all lives collect somewhere and he can finally introduce all the loose ends of his life to one another, blur the timeline and be with all his friends at once. I don't think he truly believes in this, but he truly believes that it makes him feel better for the time that he has left.                


-----


A note on names--

Erick is sixteenth-century Eric. Eric is twenty-first century Erick. It's just a way to specify which of the two time periods we're talking about. Not sure when he changed it, probably the eighties. The eighteen eighties, because we have to be specific. Erick's given name was Friderick but it was only ever his in-trouble name. Stripping away excess nonsense from his name might be yet another moderation metaphor but you didn't hear it from me.

Gluttony is Eric under the influence of his curse, just Eric with a compulsive eating habit and a body to suit.

Tony is Eric's charming nickname for himself in this state. When I use it with the pronoun 'it' I mean the mindless zombie monster, with 'he' I mean Eric is in control. Fluffers is just a new nickname for the nicer-looking modern-day Tony. Fluffbutt is also in common parlance. Tuffers or Fony is what Eric calls himself on really bad curse cycles which last long enough for him to gain some serious size and start to look more like the original Tony. This is a quadrupedal, long-necked, sable version of Fluffers, and when it's REALLY bad he made have another pair of legs.  

When in doubt, we just call him Eric. (:    


                 
      
Ramblin', ramblin'!

Notes-to-self I was told I should share. :) Explains the mechanations of Eric's morality curse and other things.

Pretty pictures related to this post over here.
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:icondaphianna:
Daphianna Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I love the depth of your characters so much. I was looking at pictures of Tony/Eric and wondering about his backstory, and here it is! 8D Makes me a very happy camper, indeed.
I don't normally read entire literature pages on DA because eventually the writing style bores me and I just kind of skim over the entire thing, but your writing style is very smooth and interesting; a perfect mix of formal and informal. Well done! :clap: I hope to read a lot more from you!
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2013
Such a kind comment! Thank you very much, that's quite encouraging! :)
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:iconterraclaws:
TerraClaws Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013
Please forgive me if there is an obvious answer to this question, but I'm rather interested in reading this comic/book/whathaveyou. Where can I find such a thing? :)
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013
Oh, not an obvious answer at all! I get asked a lot. Which is kind of embarrassing because the answers is: this is it. dA is my only web presence and most everything I've drawn or written down about my stories is here in my gallery. Sorry about that, and thank you for your interest! Maybe one day I won't be so darned lazy and start a book already or something. (: 
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:iconterraclaws:
TerraClaws Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2013
That would be fantastic. From what I can see you've got the right idea, please write a comic or book :)
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:iconphageous:
Phageous Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It takes him a few months to come back now? Whooaaaa I did not know this. That must be pretty disorienting to come back from the dead and have to figure out what day it is and what's been going on and get your life back together and everything.

Thanks for sharing this! I really like the complexities of Eric, both in his personality and in his curse mechanics.
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2013
Oh. Yeah. I may not have mentioned that before. Kiiiinda important! XD

Recently-reanimated Eric is a thing of pity and patheticness and I don't really like imagining it. He always thinks he's back in the 17th century at first, has to stumble hopelessly around his house trying to make sense of anything while crazy memories ebb back from an impossible amount of years, pulling him helplessly farther and father away from 'home' as he realizes how distant and absolutely removed he is from it. He's super weak and shaky and clumsy and very apologetic for not knowing his best friends' names or quite who they are for a while. Or who he is or what he does anymore, for that matter. It all comes back to him within a couple days, but it takes a couple weeks to shake off his archaic mannerisms and speech patterns, and a few months to fully thaw out inside and detach from the people and places of his 'normal lifespan', which he has such strong memories of. He's a little quieter than usual any year after a death. But then he gets all aired out and back on his feet and back to his bouncy self!

Oh. And it's quite possible Fluffers takes a while to come around as well. His first transformation after a death is always a doozy. So Tony is not entirely a thing of the past.       

(Aw, thanks, you!)
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:iconmoonlight-goose:
moonlight-goose Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2014  Hobbyist
Has Eric ever just shutdown after "waking up" from his death? Thinking your in the 17th century and then looking up to see a glowing computer screen with an ipod next to it would certainly scare the hell out of me!
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:iconaltalamatox:
Altalamatox Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014
Eric: Like waking up on an alien spaceship. I find it's best just not to touch anything. If I've been really nice, I've left myself post-its around the house explaining what light switches do, how to work the taps, which things to wear, why to not try to make sense of anything on my desk just yet, who the people on the walls are, and don't you even think about getting into a car, Mister Thedrial, you don't know a clutch from a cassette player. CD player. iPod port. Good lord. That's as far as we've come now, right? We don't have brain implants that just blast music into our auditory cortexes yet? Even though some science magazine I had promised we would by now. God, I love those magazines. 
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:iconmoonlight-goose:
moonlight-goose Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014  Hobbyist
Oh, how pathetic Giggle ! I can only imagine Eric playing with a light switch while the post-it next the instructional post-it says "Stop that...hey now, time to stop...MOVE ON TO SOMETHING ELSE!"
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