In the original chapter outline for Arc 6, there were two additional chapters before we got to this point:
- A big, Gandalf-arriving-at-Helms-Deep moment of Lief showing up with the T&T fleet and ending the battle. I scrapped this because a) the battle was already over, really, with Guijus’ actions, b) we don’t care enough about Lief compared to the other characters and c) it wouldn’t have really added anything character or theme specific.
- A chapter showing the Bruckin Elite Squad – Galisai, Hatch and Stefan – kicking arse and saving their city, and thus becoming full-on heroes to their people, having also just returned from their travels with a massive super-powered army in tow. I scrapped this because a) yet more fighting, b) much as I love the Bruckin squad, they’re not our main crew and c) it just dragged out the battle.
Instead, we go to Tranton and Roldan attempting to have a quiet drink in a pub. I imagine this comees as a pretty major tonal shift after 9 chapters of all-out conflict. I wanted it to capture that odd feeling after the conclusion of a major project, where everything feels deflated and anti-climactic. After the Big Battle, what do you do? Well, one option is to go down the pub, and that seemed like a likely course of action for these two.
Writing this chapter was a lot of fun, especially after the grimness of the last few. For the first time in what seems like a long time we get to enjoy a couple of the characters just shooting the breeze with each other, ruminating on the state of the world and their part in it. Having the two most reluctant heroes chatting post-battle has a certain satisfaction to it, also – Tranton never wanted to get involved in anything, and yet, while Roldan took a very long time to realise that he needed to be giving orders, rather than taking them.
I also went with these guys because it make the first post-battle chapter about two (relatively) ordinary people. We don’t cut straight to Barons, Princesses and Kings, or to Magic Tarn, or Kraisa or Pienya, or any of those heightened characters. Tranton and Roldan are relatively down-to-earth, grounded characters and it felt important to get their perspective first.
There are all sorts of insights into Tranton and Roldan’s personalities here, and some glimpses into Tranton’s past, which is something we’ve simply not had time for in a while.
Of course, we also get to find out about Lief’s grand arrival, AND the Bruckin crew invade and disrupt the chapter right at the end, so I somehow manage to have my cake and eat it. But focusing it all around Tranton’s perspective is, I think, a more interesting and satisfying way to tell those snippets of story than seeing it all directly.
Oh, and then there’s Galisai and Tranton. Everyone’s been so busy shipping Tarn and Kirya that I don’t think anyone saw that coming.