Read it here: https://www.wattpad.com/648721651-the-mechanical-crown-the-fall
Sometimes a chapter expands unexpectedly, this one being a case in point. The original plan was for Tranton to reach the spire and meet with Fenris fairly quickly, thus bringing the arc to a close. Instead, it ended up as a two-parter with this one focusing on Tranton’s journey through the city.
One of the notes I received on the very first draft of this story, a decade ago, was that it didn’t spend enough time in Aviar before moving on. That was something I wanted to correct this time round, and showing the city falling apart was a big part of that. Rushing through to the Arc 5 finale would have meant skipping over the impact of events on the ordinary people who live in the city.
Thus we end up seeing what’s happening on the streets, with a particular focus in on the father and son anecdote. I thought switching it to a father instead of the usual “screaming mother with child” trope would help, but honestly it still comes across as a somewhat cliched scene (as I was called out on by a reader on Wattpad).
Where it hopefully picks up and becomes worthy is in Tranton’s reaction to what happens here: the chapter is about his response to being thrust into heroic situations. He’s spent most of the book trying to avoid being The Hero, and repeatedly failing miserably to extract himself from the Main Narrative. Tranton would quite happily not be in The Mechanical Crown, but the universe has other ideas for him.
My initial plan in this chapter was for the father to die in the building collapse, with the intent being to show the seriousness of what was going down in the city – this being a tiny example of how bad the situation is. That then morphed into the child rescuing (potentially) his own father, which does a few things:
1. It makes the point that at this level of Aviar society, close to the spire, there are numerous skilled people. In the case of this family, the father has no source affinity whatsoever, but he gets to live in the comfy part of town thanks to his son’s abilities. Aviar society is complex and concerning and contradictory in all sorts of ways.
2. It lays the foundation for some of what’s to come, alongside the scenes in the training hall. The population of Aviar is unlike anything the valley has seen before.
3. It gives Tranton an experience of hope, a concept he doesn’t generally subscribe to. He’s a cynic and maintains a deliberate detachment from what’s going on around him: that the boy doesn’t give up and, in fact, achieves the seemingly impossible, is an event that Tranton can’t ignore.
So, next chapter is The Big One. More on that shortly.