This is probably the longest chapter in the book to date. At 4k words it’s over double what I normally aim for with a serialised chapter. I pondered splitting it into a two-parter but decided that the intensity of it being in a single piece made more sense.
Four chapters ago we saw the end of Fenris, and now here we have Pienya meeting her end. While I think Fenris’ demise was probably signposted somewhat, I imagine Pienya’s coming as more of a surprise and shock.
Of course, she occupies a different position in the story. Fenris was a highly sympathetic character who powered much of the story. Pienya is an antagonist who has done some pretty bad things.
In fact, Pienya’s role in much of the story has been to be the Active Bad Guy. Due to Kraisa being little more than a rumour for most of the book, I required a more present character to occupy the ‘villain’ role. I’ve tried to never portray Pienya as a basic Bad Guy, but that’s the archetypal role she was fulfilling. She was the one pursuing them through the valley to Bruckin. As long as Kraisa remained in the shadows, Pienya was the visible aspect of the valley’s corruption.
The problem for Pienya is that with Kraisa having come out of hiding and now operating openly, there’s less need for Pienya. This is the case both in terms of the story and structurally in terms of the book. As such, this Arc 6 finale is doing a bit of house-clearing, to put it rather callously, making way for the Arc 7 finale.
This chapter had to fit in some background world building to pull together some more of the pieces in time for Arc 7, as well as give Pienya some kind of heroic final redemption. I’d always aimed to portray her as someone who thought she was the her of her story, and who was motivated by what she thought were good intentions. This chapter is her moment to prove that, by finally making a decision of her own. I hope that on a re-read, her character will track through and make sense in that regard.
We also get a return to the machine rooms here, for the first time since Tarn escaped. This time round we get a stronger sense of how they geographically are connected to Treydolain.
Anyway, that was the end of arc 6. It’s been a bruising chapter to write and probably to read. There’s now only one arc left, which is likely to be slightly shorter than usual. Home straight now, after 2+ years of writing The Mechanical Crown. It’s been quite the journey!