Friday, April 15, 2011

Identity 7.3 - "Collisions"

The latest installment on FFN.

As usual, commentary below.

I don't quite know when I had the idea for the opening scene. It appears in the storyboard I wrote after the end of chapter six, which would make it rather recent. I think I realized that, while I wanted Ranma to go through a process of breaking, I wasn't real sure how to do it until only in the last couple months. In a sense, then, this act and chapter have seen a lot of change from what I thought they would be. I've written before on how I didn't really plan for Ranma being at Jusenkyo during chapter three or for him to be around Mount Phoenix for chapter six, but I made both of those changes. And here, because I never seriously considered having Ranma succumb to the Sorcerers' breaking, I didn't really plan it out much at all. When it came time to plot out and write this chapter, I realized I had some work to do.

What Ranma fears ought to be pretty clear at this point. It's not that he's afraid to love or be involved with someone. Rather, he resists the idea that his feelings, that his heart, can be influenced or manipulated. It gives the other person power over him. It means that he's not entirely in control of himself. And as logical as it would be to ignore the Sorcerers' methods, to dismiss the illusion as merely that, I have to think it'd be a lot harder to do in practice when everything looks, feels, and smells real.

This is one moment we get to see part of Ranma's view on Akane, or at least what he might like her to be--a little coy, but also very genuine, someone who won't punish him for what he desires. The glimpse of that is short, however, and we quickly get moving to what the Sorcerers want him to see--her death, over and over. I slowly extended the scene from just the bedroom part to the beach and convenience store parts in order to better hit home that this torment and was much bigger and more extensive than even Ranma could've thought.

And, of course, the ring on a chain (as opposed to on his finger) is a reference to The Bitter End.

After that, we get to the Amazons, and naturally what I want to speak about most is Cologne's observation that this village isn't a great, if rural and rustic, society. It's little more than subsistence farming and crafting. It's not the great nation that she knows, that she remembers invading. These Sorcerers are indeed much, much weaker than anything she remembers, and you might wonder, well, why is that? Did the war with the Amazons so devastate them? Bailu's brother, Yi, and Cologne's granddaughter, Ceruse, had disappeared, after all. Bailu himself left a pretty unsightly scar on the lower village. Would that be enough? Or perhaps is there some other calamity that we've yet to hear about? How did Sindoor come to power, anyway?

Now, at this point, I must confess I had some major rewriting to do. At first, when Cologne uses the vision dust to see the tower (remember, Kohl had to reveal that to Ranma in chapter two), I had Sindoor sense her from her meditations, and in her first overt show of real power, Sindoor reached out with her mind and clawed out the cliff to attack Cologne. It was powerful. It was fun, but it also contributed a major sense of...dilution. It just didn't have the effect I wanted when I wanted it. It took a lot out of what was to come later, which I hoped to still keep a surprise. Perhaps you already know or suspect, at this point, what Sindoor's true nature is and what powers she might wield, but for the other readers, I felt compelled to revise it. Instead of Cologne reaching out, the Sorcerers as a whole sense the outsider presence. Instead of Sindoor harassing and attacking Cologne's party from a great distance as they try to flee the village, the Guard is capable of doing that themselves, and Kohl needn't contend with a mysterious outside force he knows nothing about--rather, he sets his sights fully on the army that must, in his estimation, be outside.

Of course, I'm skipping ahead a tad. There's a good scene here with Xiu, Wuya, and Akane, and hopefully, upon completing the end of the act, you get an idea of why Xiu would team with the rebels. His rivalry with Wuya (admittedly, somewhat undeveloped) is almost obsessive. And if he's supposed to be on Akane's side, he seems to go far and away above trying to maintain his cover as he zaps her silly. Xiu does as Xiu does, and one'd best watch him carefully during the next act. You might even figure out the twist before I get to it, but if not, it'll be there, in black and white.

Perhaps folks will be surprised that Akane brought herself to murder Wuya here when she hesitated back in chapter five to kill a Phoenix tribesman who knew what she and Cologne had done. Is this growth for Akane? Is it merely different circumstances, contrasting a largely "innocent" victim before to someone who's simply the enemy now? Maybe it's a little of both.

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