This is the second in the series of stories dealing with Nooj in his youth
- Obviously Nooj has always been one to follow his own self-made precepts. His concern about being forced to conform to the ideals of others in order to succeed makes good sense.
I like the way you fit Nooj's small assignment in with an actual ares from the game. But Nooj is a frightening person in his enjoyment of watching others die at his hands. He is always a man so full of contradictions, but I think that real people are like that.
Second section, paragraph four: "What the instructors did not know about their star pupil was that he had been strongly affected by an event which had occurred just weeks before the his arrival at the training camp." Just a small typo: "the" should be omitted.
I'm glad you addressed the reasons for Nooj's lack of fear in the face of death, his or someone else's. I am not sure I find it completely adequate as a reason for his desire for his own death, but there are other reasons for that which come along later. At any rate the explanation helps the reader to have a fuller understanding of this complex character.
Nooj's battle with the Couerls is wonderfully suitable to his role as an exceptionally heroic young man. I recall similar stories for various Biblical and mythical heroes who kill lions when they are very young with their bare hands.
Even though Nooj's actions did indirectly result in the death of one of his fellow trainees, the reader has to feel sympathy for his plight and his bravery in challenging and then accepting his punishment. What an inhumane punishment it is too. I can't help cringing, reading that part of the story.
The last thoughts of the Head Trainer, about the usefulness of this "tool" only make the reader feel more for Nooj. Again, you are excellent at portrying the outrages of organizations which reduce their individual members to objects and value them for their usefulness.
Author\'s Response: As you have noted, I am attempting to supply answers gradually as his character is revealed in his formative experiences. I liked the idea of him strangling the coeurl with its own tongue and his identification with the kit. About the punishment, remember this is a camp for training those who will try to conquer Sin, or at least hold him off until a Summoner can succeed in destroying him. They must be harsh in order to produce strong leaders. Nooj survives the flogging and will survive other punishments. He is known as Die Hard in the Crusaders. (I like the irony of a Deathseeker finding death hard to come by.)In 'Lab Rat' there is a more detailed reason for his nihilism given. And I am so grateful for a reader who understands that people in reality are a mass of contradictions. It is that in Nooj which continues to impell me to write him.