Sunday, April 24, 2011

Identity 7.4 - "Patchwork Stitched from the Threads of Fate"

Act four on FFN.

In other news, I've finished chapter four of "Before and After," which is what I've been working on since concluding book one of Identity. I expect that to be out sometime early next week.

Anyhow, commentary below.

This installment (and the next two) are a little shorter, but with that comes a better focus. We don't really get started until we're focused on Sindoor. I thought it best to remind, since I've not mentioned it in a while, about the last battle of the war twenty years prior, how Bailu decimated the lower village and everything in it. It's really that event that's formed Sindoor's mentality, a thought process to use magic when needed, as a defining part of their culture, but Sindoor still has vast misgivings about its use in the long-term. It's why she doesn't, at least before now, use it very much herself. You might note that the only times we see her using magic are when she shows Ranma the battle, when she talks to Kohl on Jusendou, but as we gather from Kohl's implication last act, he's never seen her use it first-hand. It surprises him that she would start.

But here, this is why I backed down on Sindoor using her overt powers, to have it be as much of a surprise (well, maybe) to the readers as it is to the rebels who try to kill her. It was my hope to set this up as a turning point, not only in the chapter but for Sindoor personally. As much as she wants to refrain from using magic, using overt power herself, she's given no choice, neither by these assassins nor by the Amazons. And though she was reluctant, she brings her full force.

We switch to Kohl, where his death brings back a faint, distant memory. In retrospect, I think this is something I'd like to delve into more in the future--Kohl's childhood. I could only touch it rather cursorily here, but what we do see is that Kohl's ideals have been instilled in from from a very early age. It's really defining for him. "Do your duty." "Protect the people." It's what Kohl's chosen for himself, and maybe for once, he strayed, he deviated. He did something for himself, for Tilaka, and that's caused him some major grief, but as we see here, it's also saved his life. This scene was the reason I set up Kohl's confrontation with Tilaka in act one. Tilaka's been practicing, and at last, it pays off. Whatever Kohl's doubts have been about the path he's walked, he also should realize--he does realize--that a friend is a powerful thing. For people who are so stubbornly independent, who think their magic can do anything and they need not rely much on others, a bond between two people changes the outlook.

I know there's been some speculation or theorizing as to just who Sindoor is, and in context of the two scenes above, maybe that's something one can figure out, or maybe it's not. I will say, however, that her identity is fixed, and I'm not going to just come out of nowhere and say she was this instead of that. She's not a stranger who just came in and took the Sorcerer throne. She belongs there.

We get to Xiu and Akane, and something I definitely wanted to keep up was the apparent hostility between them. Xiu is not someone you get along with. He's just...well, not nice. And maybe that's a bad thing to have in a character, someone who seems to have no dimension, no redeeming qualities. Does Xiu get to that level? Maybe not. But I admit, I didn't write him to be sympathized with. Even as an ally, he's supposed to be someone to dislike, for it hints at the betrayal he would commit later.

Again, I go back to my old outlines, and I see just how long I've been thinking about doing this. Ranma is stabbed (and I'm pretty sure, by Xiu) since my chapters five through seven outline from last summer. That in itself rather surprises me, because I didn't think I'd had the idea for what that will lead to for so long, but there you are. You surprise yourself. But one reason I went through with it is that it absolutely makes sense. The rebels don't want a Sieve. That doesn't mean rescuing Ranma. You can see that in the rope-maker's dialogue in act one; it's not even on her mind until Akane suggests it, until Akane basically forces her to, lest she reveal to Akane that she was really planning on killing him. And it's not like she can kill Akane there, in her shop, without someone noticing. So really what we have is that the rebels went along with saving Ranma not because they wanted to but to keep from blowing their cover. And for them, it doesn't turn out well. Xiu gets caught. They have to stab Ranma, and they don't get Sindoor dead.

But here we are. Ranma's on the floor, bleeding out, and so far, he's yet to wake up. I did think it a little...contrived, perhaps, that Ranma still won't awaken even as he's being saved, and as we'll see, he'll stay asleep for some moments, but I'm a big fan of mind trips (perhaps too big a fan), and having Ranma's mind locked in that prison is a big opportunity, in my opinion, to explore the pathology of his thoughts. It's something I'll do in the next act, anyway.

I think that'll do for this week. See y'all Friday.

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