A legend about small red things that live in boxes.
The top is red.
It is covered in the blood of the knight who’d had it last.
It is in a cave and there are great long-limbed trolls with their claws and their teeth hunched around it.
When the top slows down they spin it again.
The top is hungry. It isn’t an ordinary top. It’s a virtue-eating top. It’s a top that takes the virtue in its spinner and eats it.
That’s where evil people come from.
They spin too many tops.
But this top is hungry. The trolls have no virtue to eat—not much, at least. Scraps. Bloody little scraps of virtue.
It could starve to death here. That’s something it never imagined. It never dreamed that it would spend time in the world, spinning but unfed. It never imagined that there’d be people anywhere devoid of virtue.
Yet here it is.
The top wishes that it could flee. It wishes that they’d stop spinning it at least, break the addicition that it imposes on its owners and abandon it, so that it could wait in the darkness for a virtuous person.
But they do not.
They should be able to. The addiction should be weak. They don’t have enough virtue to feed it, so the pull of the top should be minuscule at best.
But they have pride.
They are grunting to themselves, as they spin the top, about how virtuous and noble they are.
They know what the top is doing to them.
They must know, it realizes.
And still they spin.
They are as hungry to have virtue to feed it as the top is hungry to eat.