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Throughout the book we’ve had these tiny glimpses of Tranton’s past, without ever fully indulging in a flashback, or a focused thought, or a spoken explanation. He’s a private man, even to himself, and there are aspects to his past which he is very determined to keep in the past. Even when he’s the chapter point of view, we’re still not allowed inside.

Here we get what I think is the most overt clue, as well as an indication of exactly WHY Tranton keeps hanging around, even when he spends every waking moment protesting at his involvement. Tarn and Kirya have awoken a sense of responsibility within him; he doesn’t quite know what that means, but he’s following it through to see where it leads.

This is a logistical chapter of sorts, shunting characters around to the correct locations. As such it was important to keep it alive and steer clear of exposition, or overt chess board antics. As such there’s a fair bit of stage direction, with Tranton moving from one place to another, Holst arriving, then Kirya, diversions up to the sky to witness the aerial battle, then the introduction of a new minor guest role with Ola, and the big jump and ascent at the end. In other words, there’s a decent amount of action to hide the shuffling that’s going on. By the end of the chapter we have a new status quo: Kirya and Tranton have caught up with Tarn on the roof of the palace, Holst is helping and overseeing the evacuation, Michels and Stryke are down below.

While I’ve been writing arc 7 I’ve been continually massaging the final chapters, sometimes adding, sometimes removing, trying to find the perfect pacing. This constant whittling and building finally settled around the time of ‘Climbing the steps’. By the time I finished this chapter I was pretty confident that there were only five more chapters still to come.

Having that definite end point was a peculiar and not entirely pleasant sensation. Excitement that the conclusion was near, and that I’d actually MADE IT TO THE END (well, nearly), but also that inevitable sadness that it would all be over soon.

As I write these notes, I’ve already finished writing the next chapter. That means I’ve got 4 chapters left to write. I know what happens in each of them, and I know whose POV they are each told from. With each chapter, I know it is the last time I’ll get a POV chapter from them. The last time I’ll ever write in that character’s voice.

I’ve been writing TMC for nearly 3 years. It very much feels like I’ve been hanging out with these characters for that time, like friends or close colleagues. Somewhat like a company of actors that you work with for an entire run of a show or TV series, who you see every day, and then, suddenly, you don’t.

On the other hand, there’s always the 3rd draft.

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