As I wrote in the notes to the act, chapter six is still not yet written really at all, and as such, I feel it would be imprudent to promise a date of the next act's release. I've found outlining it somewhat difficult, and I've also been extremely busy with school this year, as I'm now a first-year grad student with a much different workload. Even so, I want to keep writing this story. It's just going to take some time.
Anyway, commentary below.
This was a tough act to write; I struggled with a lot of the mechanics and aspects of it. I must've gone through the beginning sequence three or four times trying to figure out whether I wanted to go with Ranma's perspective (which I ended up doing) or start with Kohl's instead. After all, Kohl would be rightly enraged to hear that everything they've done so far is based on a lie. In the end, however, I knew I couldn't present both. Trying to would just end up a mess. I started with Ranma, and later on, I worked in some of Kohl's reaction.
Tilaka's role in this story really has become quite important. She--and I'll call her she, as she sees herself that way, just as Ranma sees himself a man--she's not a selfless person. Far from it, for what the Sieve does is seek out the emotions of others and try to take them for herself. But Tilaka doesn't mind or wouldn't mind going back to being Sieve again because she sees it as necessary or required. It's what she's done for a good chunk of her life. What she does want aside from that, however, is pretty simple: to find what sated her and feel that again. And I said before it's tough to give her a lot to do in that respect; she really just hangs around Kohl, but at the least she can stop Ranma. She can take the agony he's felt before and make it ten times worse. In that way, Tilaka's unique: she affects the minds of others, where Kohl and the Guard attack with elemental force.
It's probably apparent that the installment's a bit awkward. Kohl knows Ranma was lying to them, but he makes the decision to attack the Phoenix anyway. I tried to make clear how much he refused to consider having Tilaka reassert her duties as the Sieve, that that issue above all else has clouded his mind. He doesn't consider the consequences to his men. All this is really wearing on Kohl's mind, and it costs him. It will cost him. He's not perfect or implacable.
You might be wondering, after reading this installment, why Keema goes to visit Akane at all. I didn't want to get into too much detail there--it wouldn't have made sense to have Keema explain herself like that--but if you consider the differences between Keema and Akane, I think the idea becomes clear. Akane is almost like Keema's opposite. Keema is ruthless. She mind-controlled Shampoo to get the map to Jusenkyo. She captured all the Amazons and subjected them to more mind control. Akane, quite frankly, doesn't have it in her to do those things, but she does have the courage to admit it, and that impresses Keema, I think. Akane, in her own way, is a very genuine person, and when she makes the point to Keema that maybe Keema shouldn't trust the Amazons but neither should she trust the Sorcerers, Keema takes it to heart. It's logical. It's correct. But most importantly, it comes from Akane, who largely tells things how she sees them. Sometimes her view can be really distorted, especially when it comes to Ranma, but here, it's not, and I think Keema knows that. I think she knows well enough that there's no reason not to test the Sorcerers, and she has the right curse to do it.
Having Keema take Akane's form in the chain gang and find the truth from Kohl was always the end goal of this chapter, and I'm reasonably happy with that scene. There were some things I backed off of--I played around for a while with Keema making the argument that Saffron can't be Sieve because he died (and was reborn, but slight difference), which is certainly what Ranma thought, but to this point, no one else has thought of it or pointed it out. I thought that point would just needlessly complicate things when, in the long run, it may not matter at all. While this would've punctuated Kohl's confusion and despair, it just was too hard to do well. I've backed off that point before, and to bring it back here would've been very, very tough to pull off. It's just not necessary, either.
Anyway, I think that'll do for now. Like I said, I'm still writing this story; it's just going to take some time to get it done. I thank everyone for their patience and hope to see you soon.