I recently read (and reviewed) Laini Taylor’s urban fantasy, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which inspired this image. While I loved the book’s heroine, Karou, the character that really fascinated me was Izîl, the doomed man from Marrakesh. Taylor creates a terrific mythos in the book about wishes and magic, and Izîl makes a tragic decision to tap into the most powerful magic-wish there is: a bruxis, which he can only obtain by extracting all of his teeth. Unfortunately, like Faust, Izîl wishes for knowledge, and his wish is granted in the form of Razgut, a fallen angel who rides the man like a mule until his death. Being an astral creature, Razgut has cosmic secrets that he continually whispers into Izîl’s ear—fulfilling the man’s desire for knowledge but also, in the process, driving him mad. Naturally, no one but Izîl can see Razgut, so he also loses his family and livelihood as mind and body are all destroyed by a wish that ultimately proves a terrible curse.
For the illustration, I was mostly interested in Razgut, who’s described as a kind of parasite, “a bloated torso with reedy arms wrapped tight around the human’s neck”. I imagined him like a giant tic, draining Izîl’s vitality so the man grows ever frailer as Razgut engorges himself. I figured he’d be tricky to draw as his face should have some remnants of seraphic beauty, but he’s mostly a vile creature, an imp-angel with little to suggest his previous life but a pair of wing stubs.
At any rate, these characters got me to thinking about wishes that are best off not coming true. I wondered*: had Izîl known the exact form of his wish fulfillment, would he have simply have been more specific? Or would he save his teeth and never wish at all?
Myself? I’d save my teeth.
* Yes, I know fictional characters are not real people. I just like to pretend they are.