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This chapter marks the end of Arc 5 of the book. It’s a big one, operating on a scale unlike anything we’ve really seen in the story so far. An entire floating city, tilted on an angle, falling through clouds towards the ground? Go on then.

There’s a couple of developments here I want to cover, in how this chapter differs from the first draft I wrote a decade-or-so back. Critically, this chapter used to be the one in which Fenris Silt died. Much of the plot specifics around this part of the story used to be very, very different. Here’s what used to happen:

After events in Bruckin (which themselves were entirely different), Pienya Martoc tracked Fenris & co all the way across the mountains, though she didn’t make it up to Aviar itself. When the city collapsed after Kirya’s mind-controlled assassination of Aera, they all evacuated just in time – only to be engaged in battle with Pienya, who was waiting for them back on the ground. Fenris fought her while the others got to safety (Kirya and Tarn both being out of action), and he was killed in the battle. Tranton forced Pienya to withdraw. And that was the end of Fenris (or Feng, as he was known back then).

Numerous changes occurred while plotting out the second, Wattpad draft, not least that Pienya no longer followed them to Aviar, negating the possibility of a showdown. I still for the longest time intended to kill off Fenris at this juncture, keeping to the essential beat of the first draft, but it was going to be in the process of saving everyone else, or enabling the Aviar evacuation. I figured his story was largely at an end, now that they’d reached Aviar and discovered that Aera existed.

That was supposed to happen in this chapter, but about a month ago I decided to change things up again. This was partly because I couldn’t quite fabricate a satisfying way for Fenris to sacrifice himself in order to save everyone else – he simply wasn’t in a position, story-wise, to be able to have that much of an impact on the Aviar evacuation. I decided not to kill off the character, realising that there was a lot more potential still for him in Arc 6.

I still wanted him to have an impact on the Arc 5 finale, but the solution didn’t present itself until I had actually started to write it. That was when I realised that I could still have a sacrifice of sorts, AND have Fenris save the population of the city, but without it being a generic ‘sacrificing his life’ kind of play. Instead, he helps Tarn to let Aera take control, thus slowing the city’s destruction and therefore saving the population. It’s a decision that he knows means losing Tarn, and Fenris weighs up the needs of the many over the needs of the boy he’s been helping for months. He knows it’s the only way, but it breaks Fenris’ heart as he does it.

It was one of those moments that made complete sense and resolved a lot of narrative beats but in a character-focused way. Rather than trying to force characters into unnatural positions for plot purposes, instead they were influencing the plot specifics. We get the emotional heft of a Fenris sacrifice but in a very different way.

Dramatically, this sets up a lot of exciting potential for Arc 6, as we close in on the ending of the entire book.


Mike Miller · November 11, 2018 at 11:07 am

Ah… Probably part of why I spent most of this chapter convinced Fenris was about to die…

Interesting… He could become mentor to a God…

    Simon Jones · November 11, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    Yes, I suspect remnants of that original plot line remain in ghost form, which may in fact have contributed (in a positive way) to building suspense, albeit in a red herring kind of way.

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