And then faeriemaiden asked about my recent-ish Thieves' Honor plotbunny that bit me in the bathroom, as they are so oddly fond of doing. (Maybe plotbunnies nest under bathroom sinks. That might explain it.)
You have to understand a couple things about this before I start rambling. First, it's all backstory, but it explains a tremendous amount about the real plot of the novel and about Cydan's character and motivation for the things he does (which, again, don't excuse him by any means). Second, it filled in a huge gap in what I already knew. My subconscious had come up with a lot of things before this, but none of it really connected.
This is basically what I had before: Cydan, for some reason, wants to kill Trin. He's been looking for him for years, apparently, and he didn't know immediately who Trin was when Daemin brought the boy into Lystin's ring, but somehow or other he discovers things about Trin's past and family that even Trin probably doesn't know. Why does Cydan want the boy dead? Family connections, probably--Trin is related to the Brownlows (that's the original name from Oliver Twist--I still don't have a substitute). I didn't know. It would mean that Cydan hated the Brownlows, then, but why? Well, Mr. Brownlow (Trin's grandfather, I think) has worked hard to "fix" the problem of thieves, and his drive to do this stems from some other personal history...but what was it, and was Cydan involved? I also had some idea that at the very end, when Lystin's already dead and there are police around the ring's headquarters, Cydan would drag Trin off to some other building in a different part of the Thieves' District to kill him there. Daemin had to know what building and where, and even more specifically what room in that building, because it was somehow meaningful--but again, I didn't know why; it was just random stuff my subconscious was throwing at me. He also had to know exactly when--I discovered in UTT that suicides are very common on the anniversary of some traumatic event, so why not make this, essentially, a murder-suicide on an anniversary, except without the suicide part? Daemin, then, discovers very shortly before it happens that Cydan is going to kill Trin on this specific date; he then has to get away from the police and run through the Underworld to this particular building, where he manages to intercept Cydan and Trin before they reach this room. He manages to get Trin away and lure Cydan down into the Underworld, where they fight and Cydan ends up dead (and though it's not important to this particular plotbunny, I would again emphasize that Daemin fully expected to die in this fight, and it was due to something very near a fluke that he didn't).
That's pretty much what I had on Cydan and my climax for quite some time. Some of this, of course, probably came from the odd little thing (which I never entirely understood) with Oliver, Monk, Fagin, and the Brownlows in Oliver Twist, but I didn't want to copy that exactly, and I knew it wasn't the same.
So: that one day in the bathroom, the phrase "St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre" popped into my head for no reason at all. I discovered later (much later--I actually asked Clare about it in D.C., when she mentioned it in the course of a conversation) that it is indeed a real historical event that has really nothing to do with my brainstorm. I also can't use that name, of course, but I do think I want to have a "St. so-and-so's Day Massacre" for the name of it. However, this is all pretty much irrelevant.
This is what came to me with that phrase: massacre. Purging of an entire ring--Cydan's ring. Cydan one of the only survivors. Mr. Brownlow instigated the purge--problems between rings, his pregnant wife tried to leave, she was killed--he went to the police, and this was his revenge. Cydan still wants revenge--he's killing off everyone involved in this, on the anniversary of it, back in his ring's old abandoned headquarters, in the room where he watched it happen. It all fits. It was beautiful.
It all required some niggling, of course--all this backstory includes a lot of complicated connections between a whole lot of my characters, and it's funny how many of these characters (at least three or four, I think) had some kind of major scandal involved with their births. Still, I think this is what I'm working with at the moment: Cydan grew up as a thief in some other ring in Thassen, and the purging of that ring--in which he was the sole survivor--took place when he was about ten years old (at least I think so--I worked out all the math with various people's ages and now I've forgotten how it all worked, but I think this should put him in his forties or late thirties and Mr. Brownlow in his fifties or sixties by the main plot of the novel). But why did the Massacre take place?
Well, for that we have to look to Mr. Brownlow again. He comes from old money, but when he was relatively young and stupid, he rebelled, ran away, and joined a ring of thieves. At some point, he fell in love with a (rare at that point, and almost nonexistent by Daemin's time, largely because of the Massacre) female thief from another ring. They married (also very rare--it's more common for a male thief to buy a hetter, and less complicated for all involved) and she moved in to his ring without actually leaving her own, I think. Because of his connection with her and the time they spent together before and after the ceremony, he was very familiar with her ring as well, and knew all the secret escape routes (because they all have those--the police do try purges occasionally).
Then she got pregnant. Blame it on hormones if you will, but she decided that a ring of thieves just wasn't the best place to raise a kid. She couldn't think of another way to get out, so she bolted (at several months along, I guess) without telling Mr. Brownlow where she was going. Bad, bad move. Both rings realized she was gone and assumed--maybe correctly--that she was going to the police for protection (which she'd need) and might well tell on them, and several thieves from her ring caught her just outside the Thieves' District, at which point there occurred a scene of R-rated violence that ended with her dead and the baby ripped from her womb. Somehow or other the baby (a girl) was found before it died and brought up in a very poor section of Thassen that was still outside the Thieves' District (I think); Mr. Brownlow later found his daughter when she was a teenager, and what happened after that resulted in Trin and his half-sister (Rose, which is also a Dickens name) having different fathers and not growing up in Thassen, and Trin coming from an orphanage, and all that fun stuff, and it's also exceedingly complicated. It's also--again--mostly irrelevant to the Massacre.
Back to Mr. Brownlow. He discovers what the thieves from his now-deceased wife's ring have done with her, and he's furious. He can't go to the council about it, because under the code, what they did was perfectly legal--a bit over-the-top, perhaps (I should probably say that there'd been a purging scare recently, which made these thieves somewhat more violent than they might otherwise have been), but well within the boundaries of the code. Instead, he takes a couple days to think about it, sets up a good alibi for himself, and bolts to the police without anyone knowing. There, he gives the police all the secret information they'll need--the times when everyone is most likely to be asleep, the passwords, the locations of their perimeter patrols, all the secret escapes and hideouts--to destroy his wife's ring.
Which they do. The police come in, kill everyone, and burn much of the building. Mr. Brownlow's had his revenge, but he's sick to death of the whole thief thing; his cooperation with the police and his family connections get him away from prison, and he manages to convince his family that he's over this, enough for them to put him back into the will. Shortly thereafter, he inherits a good bundle of money, and sets to work trying to eradicate Thassen's thief problem and trying to see if his child is still alive.
You saw this coming, I'm sure: the ring to which Mr. Brownlow's wife belonged--the ring that killed her--was the ring that raised 10-year-old Cydan. Now, I'm not absolutely sure how he survived, but he managed to get himself trapped in a room near the top and center of the building that was full of security-cam displays. He couldn't leave the room or he'd be killed, so he was essentially forced to watch and listen to the only family he'd ever really known get slaughtered by the police. Traumatized, much? He only gets out when the police set the building on fire and leave--he manages to trigger an emergency system that puts the fire out, too late to really save anything, but the structure is still there, anyway. It's never used again--thieves do tend to be superstitious, but anyway, who'd want to use a building the police have already mapped out?
Cydan vows revenge and immediately joins another ring--Lystin's, this time. He's a thief for a while, but he's always moving towards becoming a professional assassin, and when he does, he's quite good at it--brutal, but he's pretty much guaranteed to get the job done cleanly. But he has his own vendetta, of course. Every year on the anniversary of the Massacre, he takes his own victims, and he brings them all the way back to that room where he hid in his ring's burned-out headquarters to kill them. Who are they? Anyone who was involved in the Massacre, of course. I imagine he gets all the police officers who where there, and anyone who ordered or authorized the strike, and maybe their family members--but he's also digging into records in various places, trying to find out who brought it about in the first place. It takes him several years, but he does find out that it was Mr. Brownlow, after which that particular man--and his entire family--becomes his prime target. (It just occurred to me that Cydan might have been the reason Mr. Brownlow came into his inheritance when he did. I suppose it's possible.) In this case, he wants to kill off the whole family first, to cause the man as much pain as he can, but it's also for a practical reason--because of all this, Mr. Brownlow has invested in a very good security system, and he's rarely without bodyguards.
That's the connection, then. Neither Trin, nor Mr. Brownlow, nor Cydan know at first that Trin is directly related to Mr. Brownlow, but they all--Daemin included--begin to find out at around the same time. I think Cydan's had some idea before this that Mr. Brownlow's child survived and produced more than one offspring, so he's been looking for the youngest kid to kill him off first. Daemin's known for a while, too, that Cydan has a particular vendetta against somebody, for reasons he doesn't quite know, and Cydan's shown him the room in the old ring's building; the Massacre itself is also very familiar to all thieves in Thassen by Daemin's time. As things start to fall into place, then, it becomes a sort of race against time, especially since Daemin doesn't figure it all out until the anniversary of the Massacre, and he realizes that everything's coming to a head and Trin's going to die if he doesn't act.
The saddest thing is, that's only part of the backstory this novel contains. How I'm going to work this all into the body of the plot--in a way that makes sense and doesn't bore people to death--I have no idea. (I have thought that I might flesh out Cydan's backstory for a prequel, but that would be...depressing, since the ending is what it is. Plus I just don't know if I could possibly like him enough, as a protag. Even as a boy I don't think he was exactly likable.)
Of course, this doesn't answer everything. I still don't know exactly how Daemin and Cydan go about discovering all this, and I definitely don't know why Cydan hates Daemin so much--there has to be a connection of some sort there, too, and I think I've worn out the family connection bit too much to use it again.