I know that technically, we’re into October now and no longer in my birth month, but I was horribly sidetracked for much of the last month, so here we are. By the way, October is going to be Unexpected Terror month here on the Descendants Blog with my traditional letter to Hollywood as well as a list of the most scarring children’s cartoons and the an article on How to be Scary Without Being Gross. I figure it’ll be an interesting set of thought experiments, especially coming from someone who hates to be scared by stuff.
But anyway, on with this week’s installment and the second half of the Top 10 list.
Number 5 – Ru and Raiteria Talk (The Path of Destruction)
It’s the quiet moments that I think really define a story whether it’s action, love or comedy. It’s in the quiet moments where you get a chance to get to know the characters when they’re not involved in a fight or a bit. I might do an article on these later, but for now, we’ll stick to one of my very favorite ones out of the stories I’ve written.
If you haven’t ready the scene, the evil wizard Ru is giving himself a bit of a nostalgia fit working on the magical, extra-dimensional dwelling the characters share and he is then joined by the character Raiteria, the mother of the kidnapped child the party are trying to save. As they talk, Ru reveals that he appreciates more than just the martial aspects of halfling culture and alludes to having once had a family.
The reason I like this is because it puts together the most diametrically opposed characters in the story (the callus, arrogant Ru who cares nothing for other people for the most part, and the caring, friendly mother from a society devoted to the community) and shows them opening up and finding common ground. It’s also one of the few times we see a real break in Ru’s facade when we learn there are more people than just Gloryfall that he left behind when he was bound by the link.
Like all of the good quiet moments, this is a scene where we strip away the magic and fantasy trappings to some extent and just see these people as human.
Number 4 – Gable’s Escape (Imago)
One of the things I always caution newer writers from doing is trying to do things just to make themselves seem clever. This might seem a contradiction in terms when it comes to Guile Heroes, who are, by definition clever. The distinction one has to make is in making sure it’s the character being clever and not the writer.
Case in point, the character-defining moment for Adrian Gable of Imago. After being caught out in his scheme, he’s tossed in a ship that’s purposefully been refitted to negate his machine empathy with the promise to launch him into the void.
Now the thing is, the solution to this (the fire suppression system running ship-wide and being given priority by the computer) is completely fair play: a fire in space is a death sentence as a fire can not only damage highly sensitive equipment, but it wastes precious oxygen. Much like fire on ancient maritime ships, putting out a fire is more important than literally anything else going on at the time.
Here, it’s that fact that gives Gable an opening to use his powers. And that’s why I like this scene: He can’t just superpower his way out of this, or break something to make things happen, instead he has to think his way through the situation in order to figure out how to apply his powers to the problem.
Also, the fact that even after escaping all this, he still insists on going after his ship says a lot about this guy.
I have to note too that writing the docking sequence in zero gravity was a lot of fun and I really want to do more low-gravity shenanigans in the future.
Number 3 – Trace vs the Minotaur (Ridsekes)
Another story I haven’t touched in a while, mostly because I had to wait to figure out how the Rune Breaker series would do before writing what is essentially a prequel. Interestingly, there is a LOT more of this written, but like a dumbass, I rewrote it in First Person before realizing that’s not the writing style for me. If people want I can start fixing and posting this story.
Anyway, this, again, is a character-defining moment in the story, where we get to see what kind of ‘power’ it is that loremen wield—at least on the mundane level. He talks down a minotaur who wants to mug him purely by dint of his knowledge of minotaur culture and kindness.
It shows exactly what kind of guy Trace is that he could have done some pretty awful things to that minotaur with his abilities, but instead helped him. It also shows that even a place I handily describe as a complete hole like Brisean, the criminals aren’t bad because they’re born evil or ‘thugs’ or whatever, but because they’ve been dealt a bad hand at life. When given a chance, they… well you’ll just have to see because that minotaur does have a character arc in the story.
Number 2 – The Death of Bashurra (The Path of Destruction)
Yeah, the last two are Rune Breaker. Maybe I should have done an all-Rune Breaker list, but here we are and you can’t really blame me: Irune Breaker has been almost as big a part of my life as The Descendants over the last four years.
The battle with Bashurra the Crevasse is the climax of Rune Breaker Book III and the second best action scene I feel I’ve ever written. It just has so much in it: Rai sniping him with a bullet that explodes into acidic foam, Ru conjuring a titan made of ice to fight him directly, the unforgettable hwatchas, which are not only real, historical weapons, but exhibit a lot of what makes Ere what it is.
It’s a very long fight, and in the spirit of Jackie Chan’s advice on fight scenes, has its own story arc, from the personal encounter between Ru and Bashurra to Solgrum’s Army’s attack, ending in Pele’s rescue of Percival. It’s the kind of big, epic fantasy scene I always wanted to write ever since I first saw the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers.
I could have also included the sacking of Nhan Raduul in the same breath, but that scene is broken up into several distinct character segments while the Bashurra fight is more akin to a single momement, so there we got.
Number 1 – The End of Immurai the Masked (Evil Unto Evil)
Yeah, spoilers, but the book’s been out for almost two ears.
I knew how Immurai was going to die by the time I was writing Lighter Days, Darker Nights. The rules for it were simple: he had to die by a combination of actions from Pele and Ru and in such a way as to ensure he could never return. Killing him by fire comes from the original game where Immurai eventually met his way rather less grandly—by Pele’s player convincing the wizards he was manipulating to turn on him and them tagging him with five fireballs at once.
I wanted book!Immurai to go out with a little but much jazz than that, so I came up with the idea of Ru using a super-fireball with Pele holding Immurai in place.
Reaching this end saw me revising pretty much all of Immurai’s end game, even switching his intended target from Ru to Pele, all to bring him to a place where Pele would be close enough to grab him in a room where he couldn’t just teleport away.
Having all this cool, nasty savvy dissolve into terrified mewling as the fire came down on him came as I was writing the scene, spawned by my previous love of the Teen Titans and their villain Slade, who had a huge effect on how I originally characterized Immurai. Slade never, EVER lost his cool, even when dumped into a freaking active volcano.
Immurai, for all the inspiration, isn’t Slade. He’s a poseur at his heart, a creation of his dark god who aspires to replace the being that created him. He ultimately thinks he’s smarter and cooler than he is and when the end comes, he can’t manage to die with dignity.
And that’s my top non-Descendants moment thus far.
I’m sure you guys have others and I’m very interested to hear about them! The last two years I’ve done this, I got great feedback and it helped me decide what kind of stories to pursue based on the stuff you guys liked, so let me know this time too.
By the time you read this, the Street Team should have their copies of two new Descendants books: Descendants #7: Return of the Interfacers, and Liedecker Institute #1: Meet the Class. Tentative release date: Friday, October 8.
Also, if you’ll look to your left, you notice that I have a jaunty link to My Patreon Page. For a donation of $2/month, you can get each chapter of the main series a week early as well as help finance some much-needed improvements on the site, and frankly to my computer. My current one is six years old and not getting much young.
Anyway, tune in next week for Ten Movies and Shows For Scarring You Inner Child.