Hello again, and welcome to The Plotstains Perspective. There's a great deal of interesting things I'd like to say, so I’ll cut the introduction short. If you haven’t read the latest chapter of Shadows Rise, please take the time to follow this link before you read any further.
What an interesting chapter we had this time. We got to look at Lena a little closer, and learned a few new things from her. Most notably, Blackbird explains her magical abilities.
First, I want to extend a warm thanks to all the people who have been reading Shadows Rise this month! We all have a little more time on our hands, for better or worse; I know I do. As a result we’ve seen a growing readership, most notably on Royal Road, where April has (as of April 17th) already eclipsed all other months this year. It makes me happy to know that people are taking comfort reading our story and we hope that we can continue to entertain during these tough times and through the bright future ahead of us.
As you may have noticed, magic does exist in Valcrest, although, it doesn’t seem the focus like many fantasy stories, and as a result, we leave it mostly unexplained in Shadows Rise. As far as I’m concerned, this isn’t much of an issue as the story isn’t about the magic. The magic is merely supplemental to the story; some characters have it and some don’t, but for those interested, here’s the quick and dirty crash course on magic in Valcrest.
Enlightenment is a magical property bestowed upon certain people in Valcrest. As any good metaphor for coming of age, it develops at 12-years-old (earlier for some and others, later) and is called, “awakening”. No known person has more than one enlightened ability. In Kyle, for example, we see that he only has an affinity for pyromancy. We won’t ever see him bending water. This is impossible.
The reason that people don’t talk so much about enlightenment is because of how normal it is. Kids one day have special abilities that they didn’t before and maybe they’ll discover a use for them. Maybe they’ll be destructive. Either way, they learn how to live with it. It's a regular facet of life. Like driving to the store. We don't think about driving to the store and the same goes for enlightened folk in Valcrest. With that said, religious elements exist in enlightenment, also. Essentially, people believe that the gods slept with some humans and endowed them with magical abilities. There’s more to the story, but for the time being, you’ll either have to wait or go support us on Patreon where I’ve written the Valcrest myth of creation.
Is this a shameless plug? Sort of. Rest assured, however, that if patience is your strongest virtue, you will eventually be able to read this myth for free. Not for a long time, still, but good things do come to those who wait. Supporting us is a great way to help us dedicate extra time to producing stuff like Shadows Rise, and even this issue of The Plotstains Perspective. All it takes is one dollar and you gain access to all our early content.
“Enough shilling!” He said aloud, “Onto the rest of my perspective.”
This whole rambling of Enlightenment is a means for me to contextualize what we’ve learned in this chapter. Lena’s enlightenment is dangerous, it seems, to herself and to others in the Wolf Camp. This is so much an issue that everyone in her immediate family and outside from the White Shadows express concern for her. Will this come into play later? What danger can she pose to people in the camp and can she gain control of it? I hope she can, because, like I’ve said before, the Wolves hold a special place in my heart and I’d hate to see them suffer from within their own camp. Gabrielle and her Hunters are coming for them, we know that, but could Lena’s enlightenment make things worse?
Speaking of other people in the camp, let’s take a moment to talk about my new favourite character: Wayne Matthison. What a character!
I don’t fully think you can appreciate this guy as much as I can, but I have some personal connections with this character which makes him an entertaining read. I can’t say much more, as I’d love to avoid spoiling even the smallest details for you, but please be sure that eventually, if you pay close attention, you’ll see what I’m saying. However, there's still lots to love about this character.
I love reading crotchety old men in books. In spite of their brazen approach to life, they tend to bring some needed drama and wit to a scene. Not only are they great for drama, but they tend to bring the best (or worst) out in any character. Wayne proves this point marvelously as he deconstructs Lena in front of a crowd while urging Dani to fight his student. As much a matter of pride for him as an opportunity to drive a wedge between Lena and the rest of the camp. I must say, I excitedly added dialogue to this character much to the dismay of Blackbird. She kept me from the brink, containing my impulses and prevented you all from my unwanted additions.
His part was my favourite in this chapter and I can’t wait to see the result of the fight. Win or lose, I think Wayne's reaction will satisfy.
And onto some of the technical details, let’s talk editing. What a wild ride that was for this chapter.
Blackbird, at times, loves to keep me on edge. We share a folder in Google Docs, and I can watch the progress of each chapter live. This time around, due in part to real world stresses, the beginning stages of writing this chapter saw delays. Nearly a week I counted, looking at a blank document sitting in our folder, patiently waiting to be written, a chapter. As the document waited, so did I, and with each passing day, my anxiety grew deeper. I wouldn’t tell Blackbird (although she knows now) how stressed I was knowing that our deadline was creeping ever closer. Sometimes you can’t write, and I understand that, but being the responsible editor, keeping to our deadlines is my prerogative; I couldn’t help the nagging in the back of my head telling me that this chapter wouldn’t publish on time.
In the end, it did publish on time, but boy was it a struggle. Blackbird pulled two all-nighters and drank artery-clogging volumes of Coca Cola. All the while, I was editing the things previously typed, making my suggestions and hoping she’d have enough time to get through them. The final hours of our deadline date drew near, but we managed to publish on time. The stress was something that I haven’t quite felt while editing any previous chapter. In a sense, it was exhilarating. If you've ever been in a school play, you might understand. That moment right before you enter where you can feel the residual heat from the lights illuminating the stage mere feet from where you stand. Editing under pressure feels something like that: Not a sensation I want in my life all the time, but not entirely unwelcome, either.
Currently, the same thing is happening for our latest chapter. As I type this out on April 20th, a blank document lies waiting to have the chapter written. This is concerning because I know that Blackbird struggles at writing fight scenes and therefore, I’ll have more work to do, as well. If we don’t get started soon, we’ll have the same problem as last time. Let’s hope we don’t, but if we do, you’ll be sure to hear about it in my next issue.