Wayward Son Wednesdays–Author’s Notes!

Not a post about my dissertation today, friends–that’ll come on Friday. Rather, it’s to correct a *little* bit of disappointment I had with the course of Wayward Son.

See, I’d intended to post several more entries about it before finishing it off–but as it happened, I managed to get it out super quickly, completing it in November when its schedule dictated it would be finished in January of next year! I’m not sure when I can post the other WS entries I had saved up, but for now, let me post all my author’s notes I created very quickly. This is a looong post, but I hope you’ll enjoy it!

CHAPTER BY CHAPTER NOTES:

Music for chapters 1-4:

OP: Zeta Gundam OP 2, Mizu no Hoshi Ai wo Komete (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpAJPGbk_Iw)

Renault’s Theme: “A Highland Song” from the THE MUSIC OF VOTOMS soundtrack: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYuzAndyexo

Lisse’s theme\Ruby Tortoise theme:”Lulusy Ramon” from the Mellowlink OST.

Braddock’s Theme: Endless Way, Mellowlink OST: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KThbXjLmuk4

ED: Casshern Sins, “Aoi Kage” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbzIjDyHQXs

Notes For These Chappies:

The most interesting thing about Wayward Son, in general, is that it was originally slated to be much, much darker. I initially conceived of Renault being a Bandit Lord rather than a Mercenary Lord, with all that entails. His relationship with his mother was supposed to be much, MUCH more strained—in fact, he was actually set to KILL her in the early draft notes of the fic! Renault was also plotted as committing rape later on in the story, as were some other characters, actually, which we’ll see later. I cut all that out because that would have made the story *too* dark. Braddock was also intended (though his name stayed the same) to be a much harsher character, a fellow bandit almost as bad as Renault, rather than the fundamentally decent, sweet, and endearingly goofy (but badass when necessary) bro we actually got. But yeah, in chapter 1 all that happens is that Renault hit his mom. Monica is indeed named after St. Augustine’s mother. This whole story had a much more “Confessions of St. Augustine” feel when it was initially plotted out in its present form, though I’ve backed away from that a bit.

For Chapter 2, the name “Henken” comes from Zeta Gundam—the AEUG officer, Henken Bekkener. 😀 It kind of indicates a pattern through this work, I guess—initially, I just took names from videogames and animes for fun and the characters had no resemblance to their namesakes, but eventually I took more and more characterization as well. Sometimes the anime characters worked so well in the story I had to. Still, though, there are a lot of legit OCs here, and some characters who are still different from their namesakes. I’ll tell ya which is which.

Serapino is 100% OC. 😀 Again, another funny thing—he ended up growing a lot more than I originally envisioned him doing. Cute lil’ character 😀 Initially writing this story, I wasn’t 100% sure if Serapino would show up again (or if even Henken would show up again) but as we’ve seen…XD

“Zodian’s Rest” is an original name, though I have liked variants of it (Zodia, Zodius, etc.) over the years. 😀

Chapter 3: Lisse is another 100% OC, and again, ended up being MUCH more important than I thought she would, along with Apolli, for reasons we’ll see later. Yulia is also an OC, and relatively true to how I envisioned her, albeit with a few differences in regards to her death, which I’ll get to later. Tassar is another 100% OC, and was intended to be similar to the Ogma archetype (scarred mercenary) with longer hair and a more sinister disposition. Braddock, of course, is another OC too—and though I wrote him to be likable, I never thought he’d be *as* likable as he turned out.

Chapter 4: Altor’s name and personality are both all mine. =D Same with Fontina and Kasha (neither of them are named after foods, it’s just a coincidence).

For the rest of the characters, though:

The unfortunate tax collector is named after Gundam 0079’s General Revil.

Valentius actually isn’t named after the Roman saint—I just made up a name I thought sounded cool but then found it was a historical guy.

Apolli and Roberto are named after the two Rick Dias pilots from Zeta Gundam. Aside from the friendship they share, both of them are very different from their anime counterparts.

Rosamia is also named after Rosamia Badam from Z Gundam. She also shares little with her anime version, who was a crazy Cyber Newtype.

Khyron is named after the character from Robotech, who himself is a name-changed version of Quamzin from Macross. He shares little with either character (they were aliens called Zentraedi in Robotech/Macross).

Exedol (originally named Magnus) Caerleon is directly named after the Zentraedi tactician from Macross.

Gerard might have been named after the admiral from starcraft: Brood War, but I don’t remember doing so consciously. Both are old, though.

Generally, for these early chapters, I took a LOT of inspiration from Thomas Hardy, particularly Jude the Obscure. I was in a big Jude the Obscure kick at the time (really loved that book when I was younger, I guess), and you can see elements of it in Renault’s job as a stoneworker (like Jude) and the writing style overall. Both the Augustinian and the Hardy-esque elements fade as the story goes on.

Finally, just as a note, the speaking styles of the characters are somewhat—but not entirely—inspired by R.A. Salvatore’s work. I learned how to write fighting scenes from him, pretty much, but in terms of dialogue, the “Northern/hayseed” accent Yulia, Roberto, Apolli, and later on Gafgarion speak with draws a little bit (though not entirely) from how Salvatore wrote Dwarven dialogue. The more formal speech of Khyron is *slightly* similar to Drizzt’s.

 

Music for Chapters 5-11:

 

OP: SPT Layzner, “Melos no You Ni (LONELY WAY):” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXMfnoJ750s

Battle theme: Ogre Battle, “Guerilla War:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl30nuhjFsQ

Mysterious Man’s theme: Chaconne in C Moll (Symphony of the Night): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BapQXrhSpQo

Yulia’s death, funeral, and aftermath: Fairies Awakening During Sleep (V Gundam soundtrack): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jng-lH4q2b8

Paptimus’ theme: Alvis’ Theme from FE4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vn2SNRkJVsE&feature=related

Noble’s themes: Pnossen Library—example from gameplay here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgxrXZzd-qE

ED: Layzner ED, “5 moments of Selfishness:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjHNP8hePWc

 

Notes for these Chappies:

It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Sometimes stories can take a life of their own, and that’s what starts to happen by chapter 7. The destruction of Scirocco ends up being *very* different from what I had originally outlined in my notes. First off:

This marks the divergence between how Apolli and Yulia’s characters were supposed to develop and how they actually did. Yulia, aside from being sweet and gentle, was also written as being relatively cowardly. At one point, Apolli was to get injured and begs for Yulia’s help, and she runs away rather than saving him. Khyron manages to heal him, but their relationship is ruined—Apolli actually struck Yulia, resulting in Roberto trying to kill him; the pressure of war and facing death crushing their relationship.

Then, Scirocco would be destroyed through fire rather than poison—Paptimus was to set fire to the Pegasus Knight’s stables, roasting their mounts and placing them at a distinct disadvantage, as well as setting fire to the rest of the village. Khyron led his men into the inferno foolishly, and there was supposed to be a very tense battle inside the burning Scirocco. Renault would have started a one-on-one duel with Fontina, who was a trained swordswoman capable of besting him even without her horse. He’d be pressed back and back until Roberto arrived—Fontina would manage to kill Roberto, but that would give Renault an opening to kill her. Yulia would get ambushed during the battle and die as well. It would all end with nearly all of Scirocco’s residents dead except 4 villagers and a Pegasus Knight Khyron managed to rescue/take hostage. By this point, Apolli was to have gone quite crazy and blamed the Pegasus Knights for ruining his relationship with his fiancée and his best friend along with their deaths, and out of a desire for revenge he would have tried to beat and rape the single remaining Ilian before Braddock managed to stop him. When the prisoners arrive at Aquleia to give their testimony (unbelieved by the nobles, of course), Apolli would have simply left with an angry look in his eyes.

So yeah, this story, even closer to its ‘modern’ form, was supposed to be even darker, and Roberto was supposed to die MUCH earlier, with Apolli largely taking over the role Roberto ended up playing. I suppose I just didn’t have it in me to be that cruel to Apolli…

I particularly like my treatment of Khyron in chapter 10. Though we’ll see more and more of this as the story goes on, here is the first indication that he’s a fundamentally decent man, though not a very sensitive one. He is, at least, acknowledging of the sacrifices those under him make, and doesn’t expect any more from them than he does from himself.

Also, Paptimus, ahh, Paptimus…his full name—Paptimus of Scirocco—is a direct reference to the antagonist of Zeta Gundam. He’s *sort* of similar personality-wise—both are smooth-talking manipulators who are good with the ladies (in fact, in early drafts Paptimus was intended to tempt Rosamia away from the good guys), but he’s much bigger and more intimidating than Gundam’s Pappy.

King Galahad is named after the figure in Arthurian literature—I thought it fit in well with FE6’s Mordred and Mildain, who are also from Arthurian song.

Chapter 11 marks a definite shift in the progress of Renault’s maturity, thanks to Tassar’s lesson. The story about Bern’s invasion of Sacae was intended to provide background to some parts of FE6—the Djute’s dominance and the “Law of Sacae,” specifically. Bern was originally intended to play a somewhat larger part, but I suppose that didn’t really work…

 

Music for chapters 12-18:

 

OP: Berserk, “Forces” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWfrDG0nmlk

Red Shoulder Theme: “Kokui no Tairetsu,” from the Lodoss TV OST: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0OTedBmD6E

Job Trunicht’s Theme: “Power-Hungry Fool,” FE9 OST: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiUC4aXtC3Y

Exedol’s death and the betrayal: FE4, end of despair: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj1J29RrYm4

First Battle of the Fortress of Spears: Total Annihilation: Attack!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_SvjZElgno

ED: Mellowlink ED, Vanity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qv2T88fFqI

For chapter 12: “Fechtbuch” is a real word—it’s German for “fight book,” and contains knowledge and illustrations to help swordsmen train. Fechtbuchs are some of the best primary sources that IRL historians use for figuring out how medieval knights and warriors actually fought. IRL, we know about the swordsman’s stances (“Roof,” etc.) mentioned in earlier chapters through these books of swordsmanship.

Etruscan is also a real language, that of the people who lived in Etruria IRL before the Romans.

The bit about Serapino’s dream comes from Catholic (at least) religious practice—dreams were often held to have a great deal of significance in the Middle Ages.

Gosterro is a reference to the evil Gosterro, an antagonist in the mecha show SPT Layzner.

Bishop Layzner is named after the protagonist’s mecha in, you guessed it, SPT Layzner. 😉 His diocese (and the countship) are named after the city of Padstow from the PS1 game Brigandine: Legend of Forsena. Fun fact: Caerleon was also a country in Brigandine, though it was also a place in Arthurian legend, where I assume the FE games took the name from. 😄

Children of Roland is what Lycians are called, and I assume the same goes for the other nationalities.

Gafgarion is named after the character from Final Fantasy Tactics. They share nearly nothing except for being old, though.

Here we see the first inklings of Rosamia’s big sister relationship with Apolli. :3 Also, this part was intended to flesh out Khyron’s personality further. He may be a jerk, but he takes self-improvement very seriously, which is a quality I admire. Rather than just passing off, dismissing, or ignoring his failure at Scirocco, he actively works to correct it, which is something I think is cool. He also gave Apolli and Gafgarion free jobs, so he’s also understanding enough to reward his men when he knows they’ve been treated unjustly. This illustrates a major theme I wanted to get across in Wayward Son: Personal growth. In Khyron’s case, we see inklings of his “decent streak,” as Gafgarion calls it, in his desire for improvement, and we’ll see him continue to grow as a fighter, a leader, and a man as the story goes on. For Renault—remember in Chapter 1 where he was such a weenie he wanted “mommy to make it better” after suffering just a bump on the head? Well, by Chapter 12 he can take a knife to the gut and still come out on top. He went from being a little weakling to a capable mercenary, and he’ll keep growing into quite the badass as the story goes on. 😀

The Black Knights are a class I’ve always wanted to see in FE—and I finally got my wish with the Dark Knights in FE13. 😄 However, the Red Shoulders are a very obvious shout out to the Red Shoulder Battalion of Armored Trooper VOTOMs. In my notes, they were originally called the “Order of Enlightenment.”

Apolli’s manner of speaking changes a bit in this chapter—he now stutters a lot. This reflects his mental stress over the loss of Yulia.

Harvery is named after another city in Brigandine. I didn’t really know where I was going with his character when I created him, but I ended up liking him anyways. 😀

Henken’s true identity is revealed! “Char, Red Comet of Cornwell” is a direct reference to Red Comet of Char from Gundam—though Henken’s appearance and personality are completely different than Char’s. His armor is a man-sized version of Char’s signature Zaku II mobile suit (mech).

“Bishop Volker” is original, but in my notes was originally named Lannart.

Job Trunicht is an explicit reference to the sleazy villain of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Though not quite the same, their personalities are similar in some respects, which I’ll describe later.

For Chapter 13, I forgot to mention this: Dougram and Yazan are both references. Yazan is named after (and looks like, and has a similar personality to) a villain from Zeta Gundam. His wyvern is named after the villain’s mobile suit, Hambrabi. Dougram is named after the titular mecha of the anime Fang of the Sun Dougram. His talk of justice is somewhat derived from the show’s tagline: “Not even justice, I want to get truth!”

The Shrike Team is a reference to the all-female team of Mobile Suit pilots from Victory Gundam. In V Gundam, nearly the entire Shrike Team ends up dying, and you can see the one in this fic shares the same fate. D: In initial drafts they were set up to be the Red Shoulder Brigade before the name passed on to Trunicht and Paptimus’ hard corps. The “Red Shoulders” (also called the Vampire Brigade) might have also been the name for the “Autonomous Company” later on—Renault would have gotten a very intimidating suit of black armor with a red shoulder pad. I didn’t go with this, though.

I just had to work a “know what I mean” joke in there with Count Bramsel. 😄 His name is derived from a boss in FE4, actually.

Braddock accidentally hitting on Renault’s mom is something I think a lot of guys have done at some point in their lives. 😄 😄

The incident with the cart was explicitly designed to once again showcase how much Renault had grown, how much self-control he’s gained, and how strong he is by this point.

Here Renault comes up with the sobriquet he’d use for over two hundred years: “Renault the Impervious.” They knew him under that name when Wallace was a child, judging by his supports.

“No matter how much you love someone, they can’t be the only thing you think about. Your entire world can’t revolve around them alone. That’s not love—that’s obsession.” This is one of my favorite quotes from WS, and a major theme which will continue to show up throughout the work.

One reviewer noted she wasn’t really expecting Braddock and Rosamia to hit it off, but I had been planning their relationship since chapter 4, where he helps her out with unpacking a bit.

I like Vyrleena’s name, though thinking about it, she’s somewhat similar to Rosamia in both personality and appearance—though she’s bustier. Her name is entirely original, though. Initial drafts of this story had a MUCH larger subplot with Bern, but I jettisoned it for being too unwieldy. Shades of it showed up in “The Last Red Shoulder” 😀

 

Ch. 14: The Ballacetine Inn is a reference to a location in Wanderers of Ys III.

Kasha and Yazan’s “friendship” was COMPLETELY unplanned. I knew I wanted her and Renault to meet again, but I didn’t figure she’d hit it off so well with Yazan. Given their personalities, though, it makes sense.

As you can sort of see, Glaesal was supposed to be a pretty tough non-magic user—a General, like a classic Fire Emblem boss. He was actually intended to fight against either Braddock or Jerid at the endgame, but I never really had time for that…

The worldbuilding with Meris’ name was actually a post-hoc fix-it for a continuity error on my part. When Glaesal heard that someone named “Meris” was at Scirocco, he should have been suspicious of Paptimus, but in chapter 12 he wasn’t. Fixing that would require a bit of a re-write, so I instead cast the name “Meris” as a very common one for redheaded girls, particularly in Lycia. Therefore, Glaesal would have no reason to assume that the Meris from Scirocco was Paptimus’ Meris as opposed to some other red-headed girl from Pherae, Cornwell, or another region of Elibe.

Paptimus sneezing is an anime cliché—in Japan, they think that when someone’s talking about you, you sneeze xD

In many ways, Wayward Son is a ‘darker’ take on classic FE tropes—the villain Tassar is an Ogma-esque character, for instance, and so on—and Braddock’s story mirrors that. Much like Hector, he’s a “well-known lout,” and much like Erik, the leader of Laus had a thing for redheads from Cornwell. But in this case, everything went much worse than it did in FE7. D:

‘take the speck out of your own eye’ is a reference to the Bible verse.

“since you may be side-by-side with your rival against your friend someday.” Foreshadowing! 😄 😄 😄

Austros is not a reference to anything.

Chapter 15: We can see Renault still likes animals from his reverie in the Lurkmire.

I always wanted Black Knight to be an actual class rather than a special one in FE9/10, and I always wanted mounted dark magic users, so this fic gave me a chance for both 😀 Looks like FE13 scooped me, though…xD

Count Bramsel’s first name, Visclad, is original, though.

Galahad owed Exedol favors—again, foreshadowing 😉

I really like this fight scene, and it also illustrates another thing I wanted to do with Wayward Son—explain various FE elements, like the weapons triangle. Here, for instance, Dark beats Anima because Dark magic users can shield themselves with shadow, giving them an advantage.

The respectable comportment of the Mage Corps, even in the face of a superior opponent and complete surprise, was intended to show how they really did deserve their reputation, though we saw hints of this with Khyron’s skill at the first battle of the old Nerinheit castle.

–First drafts of this battle originally looked MUCH different. I knew Paptimus was gonna betray Exedol, and I also knew I wanted him to be an armored magic user, because I loved those kinds of guys. However, Exedol’s death played out differently. I originally envisioned him and Paptimus dueling—and Paptimus’ fighting style would be comepletely different. He would hover in the air surrounded by a vortex of black shadow, and he’d summon a little golden helper to turn into blades, chainsaws, and other things, just like Zato-1 from Guilty Gear. So he’d kinda be like Tekkaman Zato-1 😄 However, I discarded that, as you can see. There were originally supposed to be more Guilty Gear refs too—the showdowns with Paptimus were originally supposed to use Milia x Zato’s theme, and Khyron was supposed to have an attack like Ky Kiske’s “Ride the Lightning.” But I guess I’m not into GG so much anymore. xD The wind, though. I do like the wind 😀

Chapter 16: ‘Rickard’ and ‘Johan’ are original. Not important, though 😄

Glaesal’s lines about the coma are a reference to Canas’ conversations with Pent, where he mentions his brothers.

When Paptimus said “I always will be” (the man who never hurt Meris), I intended it to be a bitter sort of foreshadowing—you can see how hard it was for her to betray him at the end of Book I. ;_;

Chapter 17: Dina and Albelo are original. The Ox and Fool stances are actual positions from medieval swordsmanship. Renault is a better teacher than I thought he’d be…though it figures Braddock would be a good one 😄

I removed the ‘Revolutionary Vanguard” bit in the first draft and replaced their role with the Red Shoulders on the advice of a reviewer, and I think it worked well.

The priest Gresco is named after Gresco from SPT Layzner, who is also a villain.

Paptimus is 39 years old as of chapter 17, so he’d be around 40 by his death—his exact birthdate will forever be a mystery.

Most of the names in this chapter don’t mean anything/aren’t references.

The freaky brainwashed kids take some inspiration from historical “re-education camps.”

Chapter 18: Like many things in Wayward Son, the story behind Tassar, Elicia, and Barim Reglay was a “darker” take on the original FE7 tale. In FE7, Louise won Pent Reglay over with something much like the way Elicia won over Barim. However, in FE7, she (to our knowledge, at least) wasn’t as much of a gold-digger as Elicia was. D:

I imagine Renault and Braddock’s disappointment with him is mirrored by many of my readers 😄 Still, he’s the man Renault references in his conversation with Bartre, the guy who wanted power “to control someone.” He’s also a commentary on the futility and ultimate childishness of holding grudges over stuff like that—as cool as he appeared early on in the fic, as we see he rapidly unravels.

Lushiris is a reference to the goddess from the Langrisser series. 😀

Bishop Le-Cain is a reference—in both name and appearance—to Le-Cain from Layzner, who is the primary antagonist of that series. 😮

Vyrleena’s name is original.

Music for Chapters 19- 30

OP: “Tetsu no Lullaby,” VOTOMs Pailsen Files OP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dtgvfL_DFU

Versus Barbarossa: “A Despair-Filled Farewell” from the Shadow of the Colossus OST: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O177fuJVSFo

Escape from the Reaper’s Labyrinth (battle with the ghost army): Brandish Dark Revenant: Headless Theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQO02Fl9X4c

Defense of Aquleia and battle with Vyrleena: Fire Emblem SSB: Rise to the Challenge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36upu7OFNX0

Duel with Tassar: Powerglove remix of Storm Eagle’s stage from Mega Man X, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYvrh-oTR8s. Chameleos theme from Monster Hunter also works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQz0dL3lHes

Kasha and Yazan’s Aerial Battle: Battle theme from Zeta Gundam: Away to the Newtype

ED: Tekkaman Blade ED2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfBqhiCfP3M&feature=related

Chapter 19: Damn, crazy chapter, eh? Quick notes: Flux is a medieval term for dysentery, which is a disease in which you essentially diarrhea yourself to death, and it’s VERY contagious, which is why Braddock was worried. Maybe the name for it came from the spell Flux in the FE world, which is yucky 😄

The note about violence against the higher clergy: Foreshadowing about what happens to Monica ;_;

In early drafts of the story, Paptimus was supposed to *really* have raped Pamela before killing her, blaming it on his love of red-heads and “inability to control himself.” However, I removed that for being too excessive. IMO rape almost never adds anything to a story and brings waaaay too much baggage to be worth it.

Tassar asking Renault to choose him over Braddock is more foreshadowing. 😀

On that note, I really wanted to get across Renault’s pure, unwavering loyalty to Braddock in this chapter, and I hope I succeeded. It’s a major theme in this fic, after all. “I don’t care about causes, I don’t care about loyalties…all I care about is you!” That’s Renault in a nutshell 😄

Raion is original.

Like much of this story, Braddock’s background is a “darker” version of Hector’s, as in the fighting pits, not fitting in and stuff.

Originally, Volker’s long hair was supposed to have been a plot point. Braddock kept his hair long because he actually liked it short, and kept it short in Ostia. However, since everyone recognized that ‘do, he stopped cutting it so people would be less likely to recognize him.

Putting in Yurt, the Silent Chief, from Demon’s Souls was TOTALLY spur of the moment when I was writing this. I guess it also marks a change in a minor element of Wayward Son—where previously, the names and stuff were just cameos and references, I guess from this point on I started taking characters and concepts wholesale from other media. It’s not the most original, sure, but they just worked so well! And since this is fanfiction, I guess it’s not plagiarism either, right? We have crossover fics all the time, and I add my own spin to the Demon’s Souls/Gundam/Berserk characters (Yurt being infected by the Armor of the Berserk, Vinland using the Basilikos, and so on) so its cool 😀

“Tiberon River” is a reference to the IRL Tiber river.

Okay, between chapters 19 and 20 there was supposed to be a scene where Harvery recruits Henken. However, I couldn’t really figure out exactly where to put it, so I took it out. For your viewing pleasure, here it is:

“Ch—I mean, Henken! Hey, Henken! Open up!”

It wasn’t at all a cold day outside, but Harvery still felt a distinct chill run down his spine as he knocked on the master stoneworker’s door. He hadn’t been here in months, not after his last unpleasant meeting with his old friend. Well, he hoped the man was still his friend—the way they’d parted, he didn’t know.

Not that it mattered. Harvery had a job to do—his homeland demanded it.

Still, he couldn’t help feeling afraid as he prepared to meet the stoneworker—whom he hoped would answer the door, or otherwise the two Sages flanking Harvery would burn it down. When the King himself wanted someone to come—actually, given that Galahad had shut himself up in his room the moment he’d heard of Khyron’s defeat, it was that Bramsel, Galahad’s best friend (who was still living, at least) who’d given the order—you had to come, whether you liked it or not.

Harvery really, really hoped Henken would come peacefully, though. If he didn’t, things might likely get very ugly very fast.

They were already looking pretty bad. People were starting to stare at the two Sages, whose showy uniforms betrayed them as members of the Mage Corps, the Holy Royal Palace’s guards specifically. Those two men were beginning to look impatient, and Harvery feared they’d blow a hole through Henken’s door in a few minutes.

The fearful spy silently thanked Lady Luck as the slat near the top of the door opened, revealing Henken’s cold, emotionless grey eyes staring down at him and his companions impassively.

“H-Henken, uh…it’s me, Harvery. Y-your friend, remember?” Harvery shot him a nervous but genuine smile, and his fears were not alleviated when the man’s eyes didn’t reveal a glimmer of warmth or even recognition. Gulping, he continued. “I…uh, look, Henken, we need you. My friends and I…can you come with us?”

Henken’s eyes turned from Harvery to the two Sages behind him. Then, without a word, he shut the slat.

This didn’t please the palace guards, so Harvery desperately tried again. “Henken, please, listen to me! Can you at least hear us out? Please! Th-The Palace Guards ordered me to! PLEASE! I’M BEGGIN’ YOU—“

Whether it was out of sympathy or mere annoyance, Harvery didn’t know. All he cared about was how the door swung wide open. Henken stood before him, glaring at him with those grey eyes which were no longer completely emotionless—those eyes in which burned a small but growing flame of anger.

Once again, Harvery was terrified. He would have been all too happy to just run away then and there, but duty to his country kept him in place—that, and the fact the palace guards would have fried him if it looked like he was fleeing.

“I’ll give you five minutes.” Those were the only words Henken said as he turned and returned to the depths of his home, leaving the door open behind him as an indication for Harvery and the guards to follow.

They promptly did so (with Harvery carefully closing the door behind him) and followed their host to his parlor. He was waiting for them, glaring at them from his seat, and said nothing as they entered the room. He obviously wasn’t going to extend them any hospitality, so they didn’t bother to ask, or even bother to sit down. Harvery just got straight to business.

“Henken, Khyron’s assault on Nerinheit Castle failed hard. He was surprised, his forces almost annihilated…least that’s what my colleagues tell me. Galahad…when Galahad heard this, he…well, it doesn’t matter what he did. The point is, we need leadership. Desperately. Khyron…The Mage General…I hate to say it, but he’s proven himself to be totally incompetent. He’s heading back to Aquleia right now, and if he takes command of that city’s defenses, we might as well just hand it over to the Revolution.

“I’ll be blunt. We need you, Hen—“ he cast a suspicious glance at the guards, “Henken. We need your leadership.”

This elicited a contemptuous chuckle from one of the men—the absolute last thing in the world Harvery wanted. “A stoneworker,” the magic-user sneered, “how could he do anything Lord Khyron can’t? I—“

“Shut up, you idiot,” cried Harvery desperately, “SHUT UP! You don’t know—“

It was too late. Almost faster than he could see, Henken jumped from his seat. Harvery quailed and shut his eyes in horror, not wanting to see what would happen next…and was surprised when he heard nothing but the rush of air. He opened his eyes, and found the guards were doing the same. They were looking curiously at the parlor’s entrance and the hallway behind it. Henken had apparently rushed out of his room and into one of the storerooms adjacent to the hallway.

“What in the world is he doing?” chuckled the Sage. “Look, taxman, I’m sure everyone seems intimidating to you, but we have better things to do than—“

“BE QUIET!” yelled Harvery, startling the sneering guards into silence. “Just listen!”

The trio did so, edging closer to the doorway of the storeroom Henken seemed to have entered. They didn’t dare peek—even the Sages had to admit Harvery’s fear of the stoneworker went beyond a mere taxpayer’s fear of everybody. However, they did pay a great deal of attention to the strange sounds emanating from the room. For all the world, it seemed as if someone was putting a suit of armor on in there.

This state of affairs went on for several minutes. Just as the guards were beginning to get impatient and head in there to see what the stonemason was doing, all the clanking and creaking suddenly stopped. The trio held their breaths as silence seemed to reign across the entire house.

And then jumped straight back when the silence was broken by a single footstep.

It wasn’t an ordinary footstep. It was loud and heavy, echoing far into the empty hall, and seemed to have a metallic quality, almost as if it was the sound of an armored boot stamping onto the floor. And it was accompanied by the distinct clanking and shuffling of plate mail.

Harvery more than knew what this meant, and he stumbled back, trembling. The two Sages also stepped back, though they were more uncertain than afraid. After several more of those heavy, somehow dreadful footsteps, something finally stepped out into the dim light of Henken’s hallway.

And the Palace guards finally realized why Harvery had been so very afraid.

It was a General who stood before them—and so massive was his armor it was hard to believe the thin, wiry man who had stepped into the storeroom could be occupying it. The thick suit of full plate armor covered every single inch of his body, and every last inch of it was a dark blood-red. From the top of his heavy greaves protruded a pair of thick chains—or maybe they were wires—which terminated into his thigh-pieces, or cuisses. Above his crimson fauld was another pair of wires which led into the large, conspicuous chunk of plate which protected his back. He had no shield, but his right pauldron was a very large, thick, rectangular piece of metal which was long enough to cover his entire arm and the top of his shoulder but shaped well enough as to not impede his movement in any way. It could serve as a shield quite easily, and his left pauldron could serve as a weapon—although it was conventionally shaped, it also had a trio of small spikes jutting out of it, not unlike the sort of thing one could find on a Hero’s armor. Of course, it didn’t compare to the General’s actual weapon—held in his right hand was a decent-sized axe, large enough to be threatening but smaller than a greataxe or halberd. The haft was purple, and from its midpoint extended another black wire which entered into its very top, but the blade itself was yellow—and the air around it shimmered slightly, as if being distorted by great heat.

As outlandish as all this may have been, however, it paled in comparison to the man’s helmet. It was as red as the rest of his armor, roughly spherical with a prominent red crest jutting out from its top, and covered his entire head, allowing absolutely nothing of his face to be seen. A strange thing—the helmet had yet another pair of thick wires or cables wrapping around it, attached to what seemed to be a mouthpiece of sorts, but above that was an eyeslit it should have been possible to see the wearer’s eyes and upper face peeking out from. But there was nothing—only pitch-black darkness, broken only by the malignant glow of a shining red orb which shifted back and forth from within its depths—a single cyclopean eye.

That baleful orb panned left, right, before finally centering and stopping on the terrified trio standing before it. It seemed to glow brighter in recognition, and from behind that strange helmet echoed a voice—distorted by both the metal in front of it and the enchantment placed on the armor it came from, but a familiar voice nonetheless, a voice which would have seemed utterly emotionless were it not for that slightest of tremors which Harvery knew betrayed absolute rage.

“Take me to Aquleia,” it said.

Nobody moved. The hapless palace guards couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

“Take me to Aquleia,” the Red Comet repeated in a tone that brooked no dissent whatsoever. “Take me there. Now.”

“D-do it,” cried Harvery, “DO IT!”

The Sages wasted no more time—now they fully understood why they had been brought here. One of them brandished a Warp staff, and the crimson-clad General disappeared in a flash of bright white light.

“You’re the one who knows that man,” said the magic-user, turning to Harvery, “so you ought to be the one to deal with him! You’re going back to Aquleia too!”

Harvery didn’t even have time to protest before yet another flash of light sent him following the Red Comet…and into a very uncertain future.

Renault’s theme: VOTOMs, The Road: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sy_e1O4P2w

Chapter 20:

Again, Yurt’s appearance here—a first for this story—is pretty much the same as his Demon’s Souls incarnation. I tried to get his speech patterns down too, like how he talks about souls all the time and stuff.

I liked the “no point mourning a broken blade” thing—tried to make something a bit more medieval-y than the whole ‘spilt milk’ thing 😄

In this chapter I also wanted to set up Renault and Tassar’s big rivalry, to set the stage for the eventual showdown 😀

Paptimus does make a veiled reference to abortion in his discussion with Meris. This may be my own “headcanon,” but I always got the impression that Dark magic users would be skilled in practices such as that, since they are by necessity set apart from the Church of Elimine and thus unbeholden to its injunctions against things like abortion.

Forel isn’t a reference to anything.

I liked Dougram’s thoughts about crazy Elimineans vs. dumb ones 😄

The Bernese refer to the country as their “Fatherland”…guess I was going for a bit of German (and you know those Germans are an evil empire XD) thing with them, but nowadays I see Bern as more Spanish-inspired. Definitely just me, though…I’ll prolly change that, since German/Swedish culture works well for them.

Hallard is also original.

Really like how this chapter—the end of the first half of the first book—ties in with the very first chapter so long ago, with Renault in the prison. 😀

Chapter 21: Overall, this is sort of a turning point in the fic—whether it’s where it starts getting REALLY good or “jumps the shark” is up to the reader, I suppose 😄 After this chapter, the references to anime and manga become more overt and the battle scenes become MUCH more hardcore, ranging from showdowns with the Armor of the Berserk to Shadow of the Colossus-style battles. To an extent, it’s legitimate to wonder whether I was making Renault (and his friend) out to be too ‘powerful’ or something, since the sort of crazy battles you see far exceed anything portrayed in an FE game, but in the final analysis I think it works. Supports imply that there are a lot of amazing creatures to be found all across Elibe, like the stone giant Kelles mentioned in Karel’s support, so I don’t think it’s far-fetched for Renault to have encountered a few such things in his 200+ year life, especially if he became known as “Renault the Impervious” and knocked out Bartre with a single punch. 😄

“Though I don’t care a whit how or where you meet your ends”

Hehe, I enjoy this aspect of the story—at this point, Khyron genuinely hates Renault and Braddock, but over the course of the fic he eventually grows to like them every bit as much, though he’s still tsundere about it, lol. This is a theme I wanted to get across as the tale went on—how a connection between the members of the Autonomous Company was forged, stronger than steel, through the incredible hardships they faced together. This is one reason for these crazy, hardcore battles, BTW—I needed such over-the-top battles against such overwhelming odds to convey why this mismatched, rag-tag band, literally thrown together, would end up becoming so close to each other. And, of course, why Braddock and Renault, who stood by each other through all of it, became brothers…not only in name, but blood as well.

This is also another bit of personal love-love for me as well, though—probably due to watching so much VOTOMs, I have a thing for rag-tag bands of misfits thrown together by utterly unsympathetic superiors against the craziest sorts of odds, but managing to come out on top nonetheless. Indeed, the whole “close-knit band of soldiers betrayed by their superior officers” is a major plot point in VOTOMs—Chirico gets screwed by his superior officer, Yoran Pailsen, in The Last Red Shoulder, Roots of Ambition, and the Pailsen Files, and in Armor Hunter Mellowlink the titular protagonist is betrayed and left for dead by his commanding officers as part of a conspiracy. We’ll see this a lot more in my own Last Red Shoulder 😉

Anstraz is an original name.

“I don’t need forgiveness! I don’t need repentance! All I need is revenge!”

–Another VOTOMs-esque line, and one that sets the tone for the rest of this half of the fic. However, later on, we’ll see Renault realizing why both forgiveness and repentance is necessary…

As I mentioned before, Char and the “Red Comet” are both explicit references to Gundam.

I liked the interaction between Jerid and the nameless guard. I try to give even nameless, bit characters a *little* bit of personality.

Ethlea is also original.

Keith, Kasha, and Kelitha are all original names, but the naming convention comes from Fire Emblem. In FE7 at least, there was some “cute” alliteration in the Pegasus Knight trio, where all their names started with F. I wanted to do something a bit ‘darker’ with that, so I made the trio’s names start with K…and you know what the three Ks mean to Americans D: A bit nasty, but such is life in 8th century Elibe.

Vayin (and Hiyu and Imelle) are also original.

Arbain, however, is the name of a general from Bahamut Lagoon.

“Hell’s Wall” is a reference to Front Mission.

Quick note—Yurt and Harvery were supposed to have fought later on. In some drafts of the story, as we’ll see, Harvery started out as a Thief but would later be promoted to Assassin rather than beginning as one. He would have had a duel with Yurt where he’d show off his Assassin’s speed and skills—they’d run up the walls of a castle, slicing at each other with dagger and shotel faster than the eye could see, before leaping onto a lake and continuing their battle on its surface, running on the water like ninjas. I actually wrote out the scene for Harvery’s promotion but never included it anywhere—it includes a reference to the “sign on the dotted line” bit in the Fell Contract description in FE7. Here it is:

““S-so, uh, what did you wanna talk about, Henken?”

Harvery stood in front of the Great General, who was, as usual, sitting behind his table in his personal room.

As usual, he got to the point quickly. “I want you to sign this,” said Henken, reaching not to his desk but into his robes. From their depths he produced a small, strange-looking black scroll, furled up by an odd red string. Hesitantly, Harvery reached out and took it, and he almost dropped it when he noticed how strange it felt—he had no idea what the hell it was, but it sure wasn’t parchment.

“Read it.”

Obediently, Harvery undid the string—which, once again, felt bizarre, almost slimy. His suspicions were confirmed when it dissolved the moment it fell to the floor, and as he unfurled the scroll, he audibly gasped.

The ink on the black scroll was blood-red, and though Harvery didn’t recognize a single one of the weird, sinister characters painted on to it, he somehow understood their meaning. His mouth went dry, his face stark-white, as the meaning of this obscene, diabolic contract impressed itself into his mind in letters that had not been forgotten but intentionally buried. And it all terminated in a single dotted line at the very bottom of the loathsome document.

“Sign it,” repeated Henken, holding out a sharp quill to Harvery.

“H-Henken,” he whimpered, “I can’t! This is too much! Way, WAY too much! P-Please—“

He didn’t know what he was more afraid of—the Fell Contract, or the anger burning in Henken’s eyes. “You need this power, Harvery. I know you don’t want to die. But you will if you don’t sign this. And your mission will fail. Then, the country you asked me to sacrifice so much for will be destroyed by the Revolutionaries. This country you told me absolutely needed to use me. To use me. I won’t allow that to happen.”

Harvery was almost sobbing now. “B-but…Hen…Char! Char! We’ve known each other for years! Please—“

“Sign it.”

Harvery gave Henken his most piteous look, but nothing registered in the man’s eyes. As usual. And he realized he had no choice.

With a deep breath, a great sniff, and a pained grimace on his face, Harvery took the proffered quill…

And winced when he jabbed it into the back of the hand holding the scroll.

“Please, please, no,” he muttered to himself, but to no avail. Almost as if they had a mind of their own, his left hand set the contract down on the table, and with a few swift movements, his right flashed the bloody quill over the dotted line, leaving his name behind it.

For a moment, all was quiet.

And then, everything changed.

Harvery yelped and jumped back when the Fell Contract started vibrating. As he watched it in horror and Henken watched impassively, it floated into the air, stopping when it was about level with Harvery’s head. Then, it began to throb. Growing larger and smaller, almost as if in time with Harvery’s terrified heartbeats, it suddenly grew blacker. The already dark Contract turned a shade closer to a pitch-black shadow or a moonless night…and then it rolled up into itself.

“N-No!” Harvery stumbled back, but it was too late. The Fell Contract levitating in the air had turned itself into a small sphere of pure darkness, not entirely unlike that of a Flux spell. And faster than even he could ever hope to dodge, that sphere of darkness launched itself at Harvery and embedded itself straight into his chest.

He keeled over and screamed—not in pain, for it wasn’t exactly pain he felt—but something different. He felt…violated, almost. As if something foreign, something very, very malignant, was eating its way into his body, inserting itself into every single piece of him, becoming one with him…

And in a moment, it was all gone. Everything. He opened his eyes wide in shock as he found himself kneeling on the floor of Henken’s room. He felt…strong. Much stronger. Faster. More skilled. He felt as if he could take on the entire world with one hand tied behind his back.

But he also felt something else. And he knew it would stay with him until the rest of his life.

“Get up,” said Henken. “You’re no longer a mere thief. Do your work, assassin.”

Harvery couldn’t find any words to respond to the man who had once been a trusted, respected friend. He simply looked at the Great General for a few moments—responding to his cold gaze with one that was as hurt, betrayed, and sorrowful as he could muster.

But of course, Henken did not respond.

And thus, Harvery turned and left his former friend behind him. Ahead of him, he could see only his mission.”

 

Chapter 22:

I had a lot of fun writing this chapter—though maybe not as much as I did with 24. 😄 But seriously, it was so satisfying for me, one of the “major points” of Wayward Son I wanted to get to, at least.

Much like last chapter, the initial suspicion of Renault and the Ilians towards each other contrasts with how close they become later on.

There’s a lot of humor in this chapter, ranging from Renault’s quips to Braddock’s fear of flying—another thing I try to tie into battle scenes 😄

‘Barbarossa’ could be a reference to a lot of things—the German Emperor, the WWII campaign named after him, and so on—but I chose it because it sounded sufficiently intimidating. 😀

The Argos Mountains aren’t a reference to anything.

There are a few things ‘setting a backstory’ for FE6 here, like the mention of how close the two countries’ military relationship was.

Worked in the Assassin’s skill in the prose here as well 😀

I tried to refer to Barbarossa—and Wyverns in general—with male or female pronouns rather than ‘it,’ to give them more personality 😀

The battle with Barbarossa as a whole was very obviously inspired (though not taken from :D) the fight with Colossus 5, Avion, from Shadow of the Colossus, right down to the recommended music. 😄

Chapter 23: Not much to say here, aside from how I liked the battle again 😀 A couple small notes—Kasha’s line about ghosts is a reference to Ghostbusters, obviously 😄 However, her talk about ‘tingles’ is *somewhat* dirtier than might be expected at first glance—I used the term after reading about what various male-authored logs call “vagina tingles,” which they take to refer to female arousal. I certainly wouldn’t know about that kind of stuff, haha, but it was sufficiently skeezy to make it a good fit for a character like Kasha. 😄

Chapter 24: I had sooooooooooooo much fun writing this chapter. I bet some of my reviewers thought it may have been out of place, but still…it was such a blast. Totally worth it 😄 Few notes:

 

Aura Battler Dunbine, Panzer World Escaflowne, and Record of the Lodoss War are all anime, and the last one is very famous. 😀

Our first promotion in this chapter! A lot of fics try to deal with the promotion mechanic in a way that makes sense, and this chapter represents my first attempt at doing so. The “disappearing into a bolt of lightning” thing and coming back bigger and stronger is my interpretation.

Like I said in the Author’s Notes, I also gave a shout-out to some of my fanfiction buddies. Ironically enough, this also set the stage for some MAJOR character building later, as here we get the first implications that Khyron’s brother never actually wanted to be the Mage General.

All the language here, like “Shin Erdenkaiser” and stuff, is a combo of German and Japanese…like a lot of animes 😄

Ranze is a reference to no one.

Eesh, though it shows up in this chapter I sort of forget about Renault’s Runesword later on…gotta fix that ;_;

The Knight Puppets and their rollerdashing are an obvious reference to Armored Trooper VOTOMs. 😀

Here we see Renault’s relationship with Keith and Kelitha growing as he saves the former’s life. ^^

The big crystal core teleporting everyone to Aquleia is a dues ex machina, I guess, but I couldn’t figure out another way 😄

Chapter 25: “Carlson” is original.

The description of Great General Char is essentially the exact same as his Zaku II’s appearance in Mobile Suit Gundam, right down to the weapon, which was called a Heat Hawk in the original anime. 😄 😄 😄

I like Jerid’s quick tactical thinking in this chapter. Foreshadowing—perceptive readers can see he’s Great General material. J

Renault continues to improve. ^^

Fun note: The anonymous soldier protecting the King and Malonda was originally supposed to have a MUCH larger role. He would have ended up joining the Autonomous Company (I initially wrote him into joining Hell’s Wall, but decided against it), and prove himself to be an incredible warrior, eventually being promoted into a Knight Master. A recurring joke, however, would be that his teammates wouldn’t know his name until the last chapter of the story, where he’d just say he was “Snake. Trail Snake” and then ride off into the sunset to become a historian. His history books would have been an ‘intermission’ chapter describing what happened to all the characters. Trail Snake, obviously, is one of my main men 😀 Still, this was a plot point I jettisoned as well. 😄 😄 😄

I also like the bits of humor in this chapter, which were really fun to write—Khyron getting hit with a pillow, and Kasha and Yazan’s banter. 😄 😄

Vyrleena “shifting her body to the side” is a reference to how Wyvern Lords dodge things in the game itself. Also, her Rex Hasta marks the first evidence of my treatment of FE7’s S-Rank weapons. They’re really powerful, though not as strong as the Legendary weapons, so I gave them the attribute of wind to indicate that—you’ll see this with Basilikos and the Regal Blade too. But I’m sure perceptive readers will note that the weapons weren’t quite as strong in FE7 as they are in this fic…what’s up with that? You’ll see 😉

Chapter 26:

Ok, so first off, the “Crimson Lightning” joke needs a little explanation. In Mobile Suit Gundam, there’s another ace pilot named Johnny Ridden who rides a red mech, but he calls himself the Crimson Lightning. However, everyone confuses him for Char the Red Comet, who also rides a red mech. So calling Char the “Crimson Lightning” is a riff on that. 😄 😄 😄

Braddock remembered the names of those Ilian girls. He’s so nice like that ;;_;;

Here’s a bit of irony. There’s something called the ”Bechdel Test,” which states that a piece of fiction, TV show, etc. should have 1) At least two female characters, who 2) talk to each other, about 3) something other than a man. Well, this fic technically passes, with Rosamia talking to Keith and Kelitha about her magic in the pool. It’s not something I set out to do intentionally, but it was interesting IMO.

I also like this little pool scene, generally. We get a bit more of Harvery’s mousy, paranoid personality, along with Renault and Braddock interacting with Khyron. 😄 I also made it a point to note that nobody was ‘tiltillated’ by the naked Kasha paying them a visit. At this point, all the guys have seen too much of Kasha to get hard at the sight of her—she’s just too scary. 😄

Renault and Braddock’s dialogue with each other, in particular, was very fun to write in this chapter. I think I got a pretty realistic portrayal of how bros act with each other 😀

Im also glad I got to work Pure Water in somehow. 😄

Here, we also see Rosamia’s softer side, both in her interactions with Keith and Kelitha, and her visit with her parents. Though we saw a bit of that with Apolli, after all…XD

Speaking of, Efera and Valnion are original names.

Gosterro mocking his lower clergy’s “parochial concern”…he’s such a dick 😄

I made up the stuff about the Wyvern’s Heart.

Paptimus Scirocco…yep, that’s the Gundam villain, the antagonist of Zeta Gundam. 😄

At this revelation, we also see Meris’ first significant doubts about helping Paptimus. 😮

Also, I like how Khyron insisted that all the members of the team (I added in Hiyu, Vayin, and Imelle too) get credit for the translation. It’s proof that he does care about everybody, as much as he tries to hide it. 😄

“can’t expect any more from a woman”—Khyron has always had a low opinion of women, as you could tell earlier by his treatment of Rosamia, and much like Tassar, something in his past made him that way—in this case, Malonda’s scandal with Exedol…

Henken’s talk about counterattacks is an oblique reference to Char’s Counterattack. 😄

Aite, this is important. In initial drafts, the “good guys”—i.e Renault’s close-knit band of comrades—was originally supposed to be called the “Mirage Corps;” a reference to the elite mech pilots of Mamoru Nagano’s Five Star Stories. I didn’t go with this and ended up with just Autonomous Company, but I kept the distinctive emblem—the red symbol described in this fic. Too bad I didn’t do more with it, though…XD

I think I already described my thoughts about Renault and Braddock’s promotions in the Linear Notes. 😀

Chapter 27: I enjoyed writing Braddock standing up for the Ilians in this chapter. He’s such a bro, isn’t he? It also brings home the fact that he’s really Renault’s better half—this will be reinforced later on, but he’s very much one of the few things (and by the end of the first Book, the only thing) keeping Renault from going evil.

As I prolly mention elsewhere, Keith is supposed to remind us very much of the “Est” archetype (young Pegasus Knight comes late and starts out poor, but has AMAZING growth).

“Drawn and quartered” refers to a horrific form of medieval execution where the condemned was cut into 4 pieces (quartered).

Apolli and Lisse hit it off this chapter. Another surprise for me—I wasn’t initially expecting them to end up together, but I wanted both of em to have a happy ending after everything they’d been through. ;_; 😄

And as you can tell by his treatment of Lisse, Renault is indeed quite a dick. 😄

‘Montero’ is an original name.

It took me a little while to come up with a good design for an Eliminean cathedral, and I’m proud of what I came up with. I wanted something that was distinctly recognizable as a cathedral, but didn’t simply replicate Christian designs. Thus, I couldn’t have it in the shape of a cross, since the cross is meaningless in Eliminism. However, one of the images I hold prominent in Eliminism is the circle of the sun setting behind a tree (you’ll see why in later chapters). Thus, I came up with the sanctuary behind the altar, and the rest of it came through after that, like the Bishop’s tower being a replica of Elimine’s tower. 😀

“You rebel scum!” Star Wars, of course 😄 😄

Tassar has some good dialogue here too.

As I mention in the Linear Notes, this chapter also encapsulated a lot of FE game elements—the very high mdef of Bishops, the usefulness of Pure Water, and of course, critical hits when you don’t want them. 😄

I had plotted out Tassar killing Monica (thus deepening his rivalry with Renault) for a looooong time, and this scene really came together very well, in my view. One example in this fic where my early conception for it made its way in perfectly. 😀

I wanted to portray the power gained by promotion in Renault and Braddock’s first fight scene with their new stuff together. ^^

Henken barely batted an eye at Monica’s death…truly ruthless 😄

The stuff about the catacombs is also purely original.

The next chapter is more illustrative of this, but Tassar and Renault’s showdown—the two of them fighting their way up the cathedral of Renault’s mother as it burns below them—is almost EXACTLY how I wanted to portray it initially, which a few differences I’ll get to. Renault trolling Tassar by warning Reglay away is also another thing I wanted to include originally and did. 😀

Chapter 28:

“Renault used that to lift the man into the air, raising his arms and twisting his body to send the Druid flying off the weapons he’d been impaled on and straight behind him.”

This was inspired by one of Cervantes’ throws from the Soul Calibur games.

Overall, this chapter ended up even CRAAAAAY-Z er than I initially thought it would. 😄 😄 I wanted it to be Renault vs. Tassar, but I didn’t think it would be Braddock vs. Yurt and Khyron vs. Demon’s Souls at the same time too. 😄 😄 😄

“FOR RENAULT’S MO—uh, shit, I mean, LADY MONICA!”

Braddock may be a badass soldier, but I love how awkward he can be. 😄

Yurt’s ‘soul’ talk is loyal to how it was in Demon’s Souls.

Henken grabbing the ballista bolt with his bare hands was something I wanted to portray as well, and it was real FUCK YEAH moment for me. A lot of scenes in WS, such as this one, or Henken’s eventual death at Paptimus’ hands, may be sort of over the top, but I wanted to capture the ACTION of series like Berserk and Hokuto no Ken. Since the bad guys have powers of their own, I think it keeps things grounded rather than getting *too* over the top. 😀

I also like the use of magic to make a little ice bridge. The ‘practical’ uses of magic are a theme I tried to get across in WS as well J

The Fool’s Idol is a boss in Demon’s Souls, and can only be beaten if you kill the cultist reviving it all the time. Its appearance and attacks are somewhat different, though (in the original it launched Soul Rays and made clones of itself rather than Lightning or Aura spells). I added it in spur-of-the-moment as well 😀 Trunicht’s mention of “spare life force” indicates he knows how to use quintessence, and in early drafts he was actually working for Nergal before I removed that plot point. The language in Old Draconic is entirely original rather than Japanese and German 😄

Also, I love Harvery’s justification for stealing Hallard’s stuff 😄

The “recruitment” of Roberto was supposed to mirror a classic FE recruitment scene 😀

Re-reading it, Apolli’s convo with Roberto strikes me as very similar to Braddock’s with Char’s…maybe too similar, but on the other hand, one could also say the relationship between the two men is strengthened by the similarity of their experiences.

The duel between Renault and Tassar went pretty much the way I originally envisioned it, right down to Renault sneakily getting the upper hand with the “ALWAYS CARRY A SPARE!” line. However, there was supposed to be a part where Tassar had Renault on the run. He would walk near a thin wood wall, hear breathing he thought was Renault’s, and jam his sword through it—and when it came out bloody, he’d thought he got Renault. He’d be disappointed when he realized Renault put a corpse there as a decoy and chased after him. I couldn’t fit that in, unfortunately…overall, though, the duel owes a LOT to R.A. Salvatore—Renault’s X guard is similar to one of Drizzt’s moves, and generally the showdown/rivalry is redolent of some of Entreri and Drizzt’s fight scenes. The face to face thing is definitely from anime duels 😄 Attacking an opponent’s legs beneath a shield was a common medieval tactic, from what ARMA told me.

“Doren” is an original filler name.

Yazan is a sneaky bastard, with his hidden dagger and all. Wanted to emphasize that about his personality. I also like how he talks to Hambrabi 😄

Kasha’s little trick with the blood meant she’s sneaky too 😀 But of course, no match for Yazan and Hambrabi’s teamwork. “Kasha was our friend, and we don’t eat friends.” Love that line. And “Arthas” is a reference to the character from Warcraft. 😄

Lumine is a random name. So is Aris. However, Pegasi being sensitive to magic is a theme in FE, if I recall correctly. Also, here Yurt implies being Ilian—I had a bit of a backstory for him, one which revolved around him being sacrificed by Ilian druids as a child but managing to escape and using dark powers to gain revenge before becoming an assassin. Maybe I should have put it in there somewhere, but the fic was getting long as it was…

29:

Monica’s funeral went *sorta* like I wanted. Intially, I saw her death being the ‘death knell’ for the rebel cause, galvanizing the Royalists into religiously-inspired fanaticism, with the Church going all-out against the rebels, earning masses of new conscripts, some even from places like Bern, for the King’s army. They would march off to battle with religious fervor, all of them carrying long torches that made it seem as if thousands of dancing fireflies in the night were heading inexorably towards Rebel strongholds. I didn’t go with that, but did keep the torch imagery in her funeral.

The sigil of Eliminism was actually inspired by…Buddhism, more than anything else, and as you can see it sort of influenced cathedral architecture, but you’ll see why in future chapters. 😉

“He took pride in the fact he didn’t remember that either.” This and statements like it represent my attempts to keep Wayward Son loyal to canon. In his supports with Isadora, Renault says that he “knew nothing of prayers or forgiveness, only how to bash another man’s skull.” This wouldn’t have made sense for a son of a bishop…unless he made a concerted effort to forget all that stuff about religion. Thinking about it, I may have gone a bit overboard with the parallels to St. Augustine in the first/early chapters, but oh well…I managed to make it work. If I had to write it differently, though, I prolly would have done something different.

Haha, I love Braddock’s ‘prettyboy’ joke 😄

“Be serious, man! How could he have survived a fall like that?”

FORESHADOWING! 😄

Renault’s conversation with Kelitha in this chapter highlights one of his few good points. As amoral as he can be, and as wrathful and boorish as he often is, he is very loyal, to ANYONE he considers a friend. To Braddock, first, but then to Keith and Kelitha. 😀 And “what would Braddock do” is the first question Renault always asks himself…which is why he’s so lost when Braddock dies. ;_;

Byelsert and Carlsbrant are not references, though of course the Festival of the Ice Dragon is mentioned in Florina’s supports.

I like the portrayal of Ilian religion 😀 Took me a little bit to come up with it.

Barim’s relationship with Exedol, IMO, is a testament to how far I’ve come both as a writer and a man. A few years ago, I was sort of homophobic—not genuinely or virulently so, but enough that writing a realistic gay relationship would’ve seemed crazy to me. Now, though, I actually wrote a sympathetic gay character, and am thinking of doing a longer piece about him. How far we have come…

Garl Vinland is the same guy from Demon’s Souls. xD Same armor, but his weapon is different (though similar—the Basilikos is comparable in size and power to the big hammer he had)

The Scarlet Wolves are original, and the Shield of Durbans is the name I gave to the strait separating the Western Isles from the mainland. ^^

Chapter 30:

I wanted to write Trunicht cozying up to Gosterro for a long time. It sets up the betrayal of the rebels he commits near the end of the story, cementing one aspect of his personality I wanted to get across: His utter lack of scruples and principles. Just like Job Trunicht from LoGH, he’s a cynical, cowardly opportunist who doesn’t care about anything besides his own personal comfort.

The Armor of the Berserk is an obvious reference to the manga Berserk, and operates similarly, though not exactly the same.

Solgrenne is named after a capital city in the manga Red Eyes. Orba and the Bingham Bridge are not references to anything, but I’ve always wanted to write a battle revolving around a bridge called “Bingham” for literally years, since high school, and I got my chance 😀

The Basilikos seems much stronger than it was in FE7, but there’s a reason for that, as you’ll see 😉

Pellinore is another character from Arthurian mythology. Albrecht is the name of the prince from Diablo 2. The book Kelitha and Renault are reading is the exact same one he and Braddock read together in chapter 11.

Keaira, as I said, is named after one of my reviewers. I miss her ;_;

I really like Renault’s convo with Kelitha here, where he learns a valuable lesson—one he’ll keep with him for the rest of his days.

Hehe, Apolli’s pretty sweet to notice how underfed Lisse is, right? Wanted to portray that element of his personality as well…he’s a really decent, caring guy.

Landez is original.

Once again, I tried to capture the spirit of promotions with Rosamia, Kelitha, and Roberto 😀

Music for chapters 31-38:

OP: Tekkaman Blade, “Reason:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CHoD9TtS3g

Autonomous Company’s Theme (Khyron’s Theme): Main Theme from Char’s Counterattack (especially after 1:14): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLlJD7EAsYg Also, Big Fire’s theme works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSRuR6BgRnE

Against Vyrleena and Tassar in the Armor of the Berserk: Berserk, SIGN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV26zIE0130

Defense of Caerleon: Big Battle: Zeta Gundam OST, AEUG (after 3:15: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJNMfDi2gho&feature=related) or “Heated Escape:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xUcaO9ePx8&feature=relmfu

Relaxation: Canzonetta from THE MUSIC OF VOTOMS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp5YrpCrYRM

Romance: Space Cobra, Saxophone Orchestra: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOpjK57iSkw

Kelitha and Henken’s Deaths (ED of chapter 36): Z Gundam Special: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNYPryOqyGo

Keith’s last duel with Yazan: Zeta Gundam: Riders in the Skies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3yY8EncET0

Aftermath of Keith’s Death: “Awakening Souls,” V Gundam OST: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6D1SuUMvDI

Chapter 31: I liked Serapino’s little poetry thing. It took me some time to come up with, but I thought it was funny 😀 I added his affection for poetry to give him a little more complexity—he may seem dumb, but not in writing. That’s how a lot of people feel, I imagine…awkward IRL, but smart and capable online, or at least in other venues where writing is paramount. 😄

I looked up a bunch of bridges for research in this chapter—the Bingham isn’t based on any in particular, but Renault’s comments about bridges having better architecture was based on some id seen.

The fights with Vinland were a LITTLE different from how I originally envisioned them. I wanted them to fight in a swamp, like the original boss battle from Demon’s Souls was, but figured that was a little TOO excessive. 😄

Chapter 32: I recognized there was an indiscrepancy in the names, so I changed Keith’s Pegasus’ name to Marius in ch. 28. I think I named him after my buddy Marius. 😄

The “weapons being caught in the branches” refers to what Sain mentions in FE7’s prologue, the explanation for woods being so defensible.

This chapter was intended to deepen Renault and Keith’s connection, especially with the hair-stroking thing…;-; I also love Renault’s line, “They don’t pay me enough for this” 😄

Also, we see a bit of how Khyron has grown. First, he’s learned enough self-control to lecture Braddock about it, and secondly, we see he really does care a little bit about his men, even if he’s tsundere about it—“MY worthless freebooters!” 😄 Initially, Braddock was supposed to run off and rescue Renault, but it wouldn’t have made sense…only Khyron can use a staff.

Rosamia and Kelitha talking—another passing of the Bechdel test 😄

“No matter how small y’r dreams are, they always get broken anyways.” Apolli ;_;

Chapter 33: Minerva refers to both the mythological figure and the character from FE1/3/11/12.

The Armor of the Berserk is, of course, from Berserk. 😄 I put my own spin on it, though. The Armor of the Berserk fits itself to match its wearer’s personality—in the manga, it takes the shape of a Hellhound for Guts. Thus, I thought it made sense for it to be a Wyvern for Vyrleena, along with the flying that implies. 😄

Side note: In this chapter, originally, this fic was supposed to have a LOT of references to Hokuto no Ken. In Braddock and Renault’s little stargazing scene, they were originally supposed to see the Big Dipper, with Braddock noting that the “Star of Death” was supposed to show up to people who were about to die in Lycian tradition. I ditched that, however, and went with the totally original constellation of “Roland’s Shield.” The shooting star bit, however, is faithful to HnK and anime in general.

I very much enjoyed Braddock’s growth in this chapter, and how he lets go of his hatred for religion. Indeed, this conversation lays the groundwork for Renault’s eventual conversion much later on.

“I’m glad, in the end. Glad for everything that happened/ And most of all, glad I met you.”

–love this line. I also love the Berserk staff joke 😄

“Elram’s Citadel” and the Citadel of Despair are original.

Fuu…they get a Silver Card here, but I never made much use of it. Initially I thought Renault was gonna get his hands on a Gold Card and run into Anna, but I never wrote that scene out.

Trunicht is soooo evil. I wrote this scene largely so Renault’s hatred of the man would deepen.

Chapter 34:

Garl Vinland’s description comes from the picture of him in the Demon’s Souls artbook. Watch this video for a good idea of what Vinland sounds like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9wJVpldUPU

As you can tell, his wife is named after Astraea from DS. 😄 But man, hearing his life story makes you feel bad for him, doesn’t it? ;_; He also references Raven’s support when he mentions lacking the strength to forgive.

“God will see…if nothing else…my love for Astraea. That is the only thing I hold onto…perhaps the only thing I ever did. And perhaps, as I wander forever in the land of the cursed, it will be the single tiny star to light the darkness all around me. I can ask for nothing more.”

Love this line. Also, thinking about it, Garl strikes me as similar to Orson in that he’s a childless man who loses it after the death of his wife and betrays his former allies.

“We have ways of making you talk!”

–Indiana Jones ref. And I love how Braddock notes that Khyron just isn’t that kind of guy. The growing relationship between the formerly assholish noble and his troops is, as I’ve mentioned before, one thing I like. 😀

Vyrleena’s acceptance of what the Armor of the Berserk tells her (in the manga, it wants to destroy everything) is pretty depressing ;_;

Renault gives the same advice to Keith that Tassar gave him. 😄

Again, really like how Khyron takes responsibility for his actions here…I can see why he’s a favorite character of some people. 😀

If I ever write a little side-story involving Khyron’s post-Civil War adventures, I’ll make a note about how he now feels guilty about his racism towards Astraea.

Hehe, Harvery has a classic assassination scene here…but it doesn’t work. The Dark Silver Armor in Demon’s Souls gives you a LOT of magic defense, but in Wayward Son it protects against criticals too. 😮

Again, Garl’s death quote is directly from Demon’s Souls.

Chapter 35:

The distrust of the people in the early parts of chapter reinforces the Autonomous Company’s isolation and thus their connection to and reliance on each other.

Paptimus’ discussion of how magical talent is inherited is my extrapolation of FE7’s inheritance implications, with Hugh and Canas. I guess it didn’t work quite the same way with Nino, though…

The massive inflation in Rebel territories is inspired by what happened to the South in the American civil war.

In early conceptions of this chapter, Trunicht was supposed to be having sex with a brainwashed girl from Solgrenne, but I figured that was overboard, so I “toned it down” to him and Yazan just stealing from the city’s coffers. I think it works well enough 😀

“Steal is such a harsh word, Brother Dougram. I liberated it!”

–Love that line 😄

The debate between Trunicht and Dougram in general is inspired by a lot of arguments I’ve seen from Dawkins and the ‘New Atheists’ in general.

The “Serapino, you’re not helping!” and “Think fast!” parts were bits I wanted to include for a looong time 😄

Braddock and Keith’s convo is so cute 😄

The “Master Artificer” in Thagaste is named Goddard, after the blacksmith in Berserk.

Renault and Kelitha describe Bramimond’s lack of identity from FE7 very well, IMO. And I also wanted to draw that little scene of him picking her up on his shoulders for a while too :3

I also like Renault’s speech on fate. 😄

Another thing I like is Apolli’s growth and his ability to find the best in his situation, as he explains to Lisse.

“The bit about “a man of Roland’s caliber” is my explanation of why Lycia didn’t have a king until Roy saved the world in FE6.

I think the inspiration for Harvery’s playing of the reed pipe comes from Final Fantasy Tactics.

The Tarantella is a real Italian dance, and where the word “tarantula” comes from.

Braddock’s “Blue Comet” moniker is a reference to Layzner. He’s also such a sweetie with Rosamia 😄

Rosamia’s talk with Braddock gets across, I hope, a point I really wanted to make with this fic: How war makes people tired, above all. Tired of death, tired of battle, tired of everything. At this point, all Rosamia wants is a nice rest…;_;

“No matter how cold the winter, spring comes ever after” is a Crimean saying from Fire Emblem 9.

“Breetai” is a reference to Robotech, and giving one’s chosen duelist a “favor” of something was an actual medieval custom.

Notice how Renault and Braddock were both pretty blasé over Exedol’s revealed homosexuality? I tried to make it fit the setting. First off, homosexual relationships were actually pretty common in medieval Europe, at least in Italy—“technically” condemned, but nobody really paid attention to the prohibitions, and for many young men relationships with older men were accepted as a normal part of growing up. Secondly, Eliminism has no Leviticus and in my envisioning of it no direct condemnations of any sort of homosexual behavior, so that’s another reason nobody (not just the unbelievers in the Company) cares that much either.

This is the ‘turning point’ chapter where the ties between the Autonomous Company are truly solidified. Now Khyron makes no bones about his respect and affection for his men, and they truly have accepted him as their leader, as Braddock’s “we’re your freebooters” line attests 😄

This bucolic scene was hard for me to write, because I know how it all ends up so terribly ;_; It was so happy. That painting Landez is doing will show up later. And Keith’s lines are a direct reference to Wallace’s, two hundred years later…

Chapter 36: The 500k gold bit is a number I made up.

Renault is so tsundere with Kelitha. 😄 …;_;

I wasn’t initially expecting Jerid and Ethlea to be friends (and then lovers), as his ending implied. Another example of how stories have a life of their own 😄

Such a nice flashback scene with Char, Braddock, and Harvery ;_;

I wrote the fight scene with the pirates largely because I wanted the team to fight Berserkers, which hadn’t shown up in this fic. They were originally supposed to fight several more as the story went on, but the first half ended before I could write it.

Haha, love Braddock’s joke at the pirate captain’s expense. Varg isn’t really a reference, though IIRC there are giant wolves called Wargs or Vargs.

I was NOT expecting Henken to die like he did. Originally, it was just him and Paptimus fighting one-on-one in his room, and he’d die when Paptimus threw him out the window, but I decided that an “honorable” duel didn’t make sense for someone like Paptimus, so I had him take a page from Khyron’s book and warp Henken to an area where other Rebels could help. As a result, the battle scene with Yurt, Yazan, the Assassins, everything ended up being CRAAAAAY-ZEEEE. Also, originally Kelitha wasn’t supposed to have died in this chapter…however, I noticed how long the fic was getting and I cut a LOT of stuff out/merged some stuff. I’ll tell you more about it later 😀

Paptimus’ “Shadow-Arm” was something cool I wanted to include in the fic.

Trunicht’s critical was inspired by Druid critical in the GBA games.

Chapter 37: Like I said, I cut out a LOT of stuff. This half was supposed to be like 45 chapters (not even mentioning the Western Isles arc, which I’ll talk more about later). Keith wasn’t originally supposed to die right after Kelitha, or in the same chapter as Tassar and Yazan—there was supposed to be one battle at the plains where she acquitted herself very well, a fight with Tassar, and then she’d meet her end dueling Yazan over the lurkmire. Still, Yazan’s death scene and Keith’s subsequent, horrifying death are themselves pretty much exactly as I envisioned originally.

Again, like Khyron here, with his insistence that Kelitha’s sacrifice be honored 😀

Now you can see where the Great, Knight, and Mage Generals come from. I wanted this bit of history to explain the organization in FE6. 😀 We also see the origins of Cornwall and Caerleon’s friendship in FE7. We also see more of Khyron’s growth in how he actually refuses to take on the position of Mage General—he now realizes his weaknesses…and his strengths.

Jerid’s speech is partially inspired by General Revil’s “Zeon is exhausted!” speech from Gundam.

Really sad ‘brotherly’ moments with Keith in this chapter ;_;

I also really like Apolli’s speech to Lisse. And Braddock’s romance with Rosamia.

The fight at the Fortress of Spears was satisfying, but also VERY unexpected. Was NOT expecting Dougram to lead a mutiny—originally, Khyron came up with a wacky plan that involved fooling the defenders with a night attack from one direction while keeping the army going in the other. This worked, though 😀

Renault and Tassar’s hatred for each other is modeled on Guts’ hatred of Griffith from Berserk.

While Vyrleena’s Berserk transformation was sort of original, Tassar’s is based directly on Guts’. However, the way his body transforms to chase is original.

Yazan’s last words to Keith were also pretty much exactly what I wanted him to say in early conceptions of this chapter. The “Aw, hell” Braddock lets out is also JUST as I had first envisioned this scene. And I know Renault swore a lot, but in this instance I thought it was necessary.

Chapter 38:

Opening Dialogue: “Masquerade,” Tekkaman Blade: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNbRx1DrsPM

Part 1: Castlevania SOTN: Dance of Illusions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMqxveujf0I

Part 2: “To Make the End of Battle” from Ys I and II collection: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5yCftqnQrE

Part 3: “Eternal Loneliness,” Tekkaman Blade: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKmceKAyuA0

ED: “Dry your Tears,” Hokuto no Ken ED: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mR20QRYknk

Meris’ little shadow spies were intended to be cute 😄

I always planned on Meris betraying Paptimus in the end. However, Glaesal’s death was originally a little different. He was supposed to have become more fanatical and reliant on Paptimus, culminating in a last stand at Nerinheit where he finally realizes Paptimus betrayed him. Paptimus would then Berserk him, and he’d fight Jerid in a one on one General vs. General showdown. In this battle, Renault would also kill Dina by slamming her head into a wall repeatedly. All that was taken out, tho…

In early drafts, Paptimus was also supposed to have had a more pronounced fetish for redheads.

Trunicht’s convo with Gosterro is amusing, though I originally wanted to include a more overt reference to LoGH but couldn’t figure out how to work it in ;_; Also, Grigorius is not a reference.

Lordsport is mostly original—maybe very slightly inspired by some of Lovecraft’s sea towns, like Innsmouth.

Hehe, like how Khyron finally accepts Jerid as an equal here 😀

Roberto…ah. Roberto. I guess I was a little lazy with him…like I said, I never expected him to live. Here he finally gets a wee bit of character development before he dies, spurred by his sympathy for Renault, who was affected by Keith’s death the same way he was affected by Yulia’s.

I love the final battle with Paptimus, but it turned out a LOT differently than expected. First, they might have originally fought in Ilia, in the snow, or by ambushing a carriage Paptimus took by land. The island graveyard was TOTALLY spur of the moment. Secondly, Paptimus’ fighting style was also spur of the moment—as I mentioned before, he was originally supposed to be sort of a Tekkaman Zato-1 guy, but here he’s more like Dracula, with the teleportation and stuff. Originally, when Braddock struck the killing blow, he was supposed to have a “second form” where he would turn himself into a dark magic avatar before being consumed and falling into a coma, like Canas’ brothers. I also toyed with having Braddock and Paptimus kill each other, but I decided not to because I needed Renault isolated from the rest of his team to fall in with Nergal. Also, I specifically wanted to give this fic a ‘happy ending’ for at least the longest individual plotline, so readers who didn’t want to get too heavy in tragedy could have a place they could stop at happily. Also, I just couldn’t have Braddock die just yet…;_;

Finally, I had initially planned on Paptimus either escaping to the Western Isles or even just Braddock and Renault taking up mercenary work there, where Braddock would die at the “battle of Mt. Ebrakham.” That would have taken 20 chapters, so yeah…XD I jettisoned all the plot ideas I had for that. I did include all this in Last Red Shoulder, though 😀

The “bloodsuckers” and “vampires” are a reference to the Red Shoulder battalion of VOTOMs, where they were known by some of those names.

I just like the name “Carlos.” 😄

Chapter 39: The Victorious Heroes: Ending theme to A Link to the Past, ZREO Orchestrated: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8NkM3zH6UQ

Credits: Return to Slumber, Demon’s Souls: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqhqbsdpAXo&feature=related

Also, HnK2 ED, “love song” works:

Originally, this chapter was to take the form of an epistolary, or a series of letters between Canas and Pent a year after FE7. Canas would write to pent about a history book the Sage had lent him concerning the First Etrurian Civil War, and Pent would respond by telling him what happened to all the characters after the war (I meant to have a “Trail Snake” character who would have gone on to write the book itself and become a famous warrior and historian XD). When Canas hears the name “Renault,” that interests him, and he would ask Pent more about the mercenary, which would lead into Book II…

Again, love Khyron’s memorial.

The “eyes burn like coals” line is an FE7 ref. Also, the “my war’s not over!” is a pretty common sentiment in hardcore war animes like VOTOMs 😄 The scene with Meris also illustrates how Braddock is Renault’s only moral grounding at this point…

I initially envisioned a scene inspired by Valkyrie Profile, where Renault would receive a present from the King, and then smash it and call Galahad a “gutless coward.” Didn’t utilize it, though.

I wanted to write that final convo between Dougram and Serapino for a loooong time. The “Dragons must never return to Elibe” bit is something I think St. Elimine is supposed to have said, and it’s a large reason why Dougram hates the church, since it’s implied he’s part dragon 😀 “I don’t believe in your God, Serapino. But I believe in you.” One of my FAVORITE lines ❤ ❤ ❤

‘Solomon’ is a Gundam 0083 reference.

I love Khyron’s goodbye to Apolli, especially the line about his cooking. 😄

Harvery becoming a “fireman” is a reference to Volke from FE9/10.

Frampt is a reference to Kingseeker Frampt from Dark Souls.

Bishop Le-Cain, in terms of looks, is taken RIGHT from Le-Cain of Layzner 😄

Braddock’s last scene with Rosamia is very touching, but I also wanted to use it to demonstrate how his love for Renault is even deeper than his romantic love for Rosamia.

Trunicht, not Yurt, was supposed to wear the Armor of the Berserk.

There was supposed to be a scene inspired by one in Valkyrie Profile, where the character Arngrim receives a small statue as a reward from the king and breaks it. In Wayward Son, After defeating the rebellion, Renault was meant go up to the king for a reward like Arngrim did, the king calls him a barbarian commoner under his breath, so Renault calls the king a gutless coward and smashes the little statuette the king gave him with the hilt of his sword, infuriating Khyron and embarrassing Braddock. I didn’t add it in, though.

Chapter 40, End of Book 1:

(No OP)

The Battle: Again, SIGN from Berserk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV26zIE0130

Mourning: M.D. Geist II ED, “The End of Desire:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYP-nrqyztk

The Alfen river is original. Taliver Mountains are from FE7, obviously. “River Hartmar” is also original, but makes sense in the context of Elibe IMO.

Grimley is not a ref.

“Par Massion” is original, though inspired by the monastery of San Messina.

Polfrey, Valdine, Nessarion, Cythea…all original.

Trunicht is such a perv 😄

Laughing Lancer is original, though inspired somewhat by the Prancing Pony from LotR.

I needed Yurt to kill Braddock ;_;

 

Chapter 41, Beginning of Book 2:

OP: M.D. Geist II OP: The Moon is Crying: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsF_6QfN3I0

Music in the mountain complex: Chaconne C Moll, again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BapQXrhSpQo

ED: “Rain” from Cowboy Bebop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9_p-nhZXLg

Not much to say about this chapter, though IMO it does set the stage for Renault and Nergal’s “friendship” well enough.

Chapter 42:

Music is the same as last chapter, mainly Chaconne C Moll.

I literally came up with Nergal’s excuse behind the death of Dougram’s mother JUST as I was writing this chapter. The evil man is, of course, lying through his teeth, as we will see.

Chapter 43:

Same music—Chaconne C Moll all the way, with MD Geist and Cowboy Bebop for the OPs. However, the main theme from “The Thing” composed by Ennio Morricone also works well, particularly for the assassination of the noble.

Couple notes: The thing about the difficulty of creating morphs was something I came up with myself, mainly to fill a couple plot holes. As I mentioned in ch. 41, Nergal had already created morphs of rats, so I needed a reason he required Renault as an “experiment” to “complete his morph,” as the battle convo with Renault went. Thus, I added in how making morphs with language and autonomy (though of course, not necessarily free will) was more of a challenge.

Chapter 44:

I added in a little bit about Nils and Ninian, along with their mother (the villain Nergal’s lover), Aenir that I think worked well. I had wanted to do more with them, but I suppose it didn’t go through.

Chapter 45:

Duel with Dougram: Either “Theme of False King” from Demon’s Souls (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSY-c1hhtBM) or Cold Steel Coffin from NieR (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMf-kDeAYCY ) work. Also, Artorias’ theme from the Dark Souls DLC works too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGaVOsDo-e8

Both themes were sort of tragic and melancholy, which I felt fit in perfectly with the, well, tragic nature of the fight with Dougram. Aside from that, I had planned Dougram’s death for quite some time, so there’s not much to say about that.

Chapter 46: Easily the most horrific part of the story—I thought a song from Berserk was fitting since it was so grim. As I said in the notes in the actual fic, even I had a hard time writing this x_x

Chapter 47: I had a lot of fun writing the sneaking scene with Renault, infiltrating the Bishop’s tower—I think the bit with the traps is one of the better setpieces of my story. Aside from that, the present authors notes explain all I wanted 🙂 The bit about the ‘Tales of the Grotesque’ is my attempt at worldbuilding, with a bit on the popular culture of the pre-Scouring world.

Chapter 48: An important chapter. Though Nergal is a villain, his criticism of Renault’s foolhardiness and blindness, and how he exploited it without actually telling a lie, is a precursor to how Bramimond tells him of his foolishness and actually gets him to change his ways. Originally, his mocking of Renault was even harsher—here’s a line I didn’t use:

“–You’re a tool, Renault. Tricked by my lies about Dougram’s mother, manipulated by a vision of your worthless friend…you were used because you’re so easy to use.”

I couldn’t work that in for one reason or another.

Chapter 49: This was just a fun chapter all around. As dark as it is, I loved writing the bit about the stupid cultists arguing about whether their “virgin sacrifice” actually was a virgin. 😄 I also liked writing about the Deathrose lady, who’s a reference to Castlevania’s Alura Unes, and the bit with the Phoenix was just something super cute, with the Cheep Cheep bit!

Chapter 50: Daphira is a reference to Bahamut Lagoon. Originally, Renault was supposed to meet a scary old lady fortune teller at some point—either before Braddock’s death or after—warning him about the wrong path he was on, but I never worked that in.

Chapter 51: My author’s notes on this chapter already cover most of what I would say, save that I was satisfied by making reference to Renault’s nickname in FE7.

Chapter 52: I’ve already written about this chapter and how much fun I had writing it before. 😄

Chapter 53: Renault giving Wallace his meals (which he didn’t need) were my way of explaining how Wallace could go from scrawny (as he described himself) to HUEG. And once again, Prudence’s dialogue was great fun.

Chapter 54: Even though she was a bit character, Althenia’s fate made me sad ;_; The duel between Renault and “Dark Braddock” was also satisfying to write.

Chapter 55: Not much to say here that wasn’t mentioned in the notes, though I do like the way I tied things back to the Bluemoon Tower 😀

Chapter 56: The last time Prudence showed up, but once again I loved her dialogue. I had planned an epilogue bit for each of the characters, like I did for chapter 39, where Prudence was revealed to have eventually married Edmun and given birth to Alan (from Fire Emblem 6)’s mother, but I discarded that. It’s still my headcanon though 8)

Chapter 57: An intense fight, but I really enjoyed writing it, for reasons I’ve mentioned previously.

Chapter 58: The darkest chapter, aside from what I mentioned in the Linear Notes it was also tough for me to write, since I liked Lucian.

Chapter 59: Finally, a bit of light! I’ve written about this previously quite a bit.

Chapter 60: Varek is one of my favorite characters. I wanted to portray him as similar to Braddock, similar enough that Renault would have affection for him (since at that point his personality was so centered around Braddock nobody else would have been able to get through), but also different in terms of personality, aside from age. He’s a bit pricklier than Braddock was, not as easy to get along with, and his anger is cold rather than hot, but he shares the Ostian’s good humor and genuine compassion. I think I did well with him.

Chapter 61: The description of Varek’s illness was inspired by the times I’ve gotten sick myself, and how my parents took care of me. ;-;

Chapter 62: There are some cut pieces of dialogue in this chapter. Here are some other ways Renault and Varek’s conversation could have went:

Varek shrugged. “I’m not preachin’. I’m just telling you the truth. You asked where those quotes came from, I answered.”

“Well, you…you manipulated our conversation so I’d bring them up! Damn sly aren’t you?”

“I think you’re givin’ me too much credit. I’m not the wisest man in Elibe, I’ve barely known you for more than a week, and I had no idea of what your story was or what you’d say. The Journey just happens to be the book I know best, and a book that’s been around for so long is bound to have a lot of sayings in it that’re important to a lot of people—whether they believe in it or not. If I really wanted to convert you, you’d think I would’ve started quoting it at you earlier. But I told you twice you wouldn’t care for the source of those quotes. I only let it slip ‘cause you looked so desperate. If that was wrong of me, I apologize. Don’t pay me any more heed, then.”

Another paragraph that got cut:

Varek took the high compliment with no mean amount of grace. He nodded, smiled, and said, “Neither did I, until fairly late in my life. I can’t take much credit for these ideas; like I said, most of ‘em came from a different monk. But if they could help you understand why we believe as we do, I’m just glad I haven’t wasted my life doin’ all this readin’!”

“And it’s men like your father—men like Braddock—that make me think it’s not only possible that God exists, but that he really does exist. If your best friend showed you kindness, even once, I’d say that’s proof that hope exists. And if you’ve managed to hear his voice again and follow the path he wanted, I’d say that’s proof just enough hope exists to make this world worth redeeming. And if it’s worth redeeming, there might be a Redeemer out there, eh?”

“Maybe,” said Renault, and for the first time in many, many years, there was something other than contempt as he referred to the God of Elimine. “But maybe not.”

“That’s certainly true. But the path of Elimine is still the path I’ve chosen to follow.”

“Doesn’t that make you a hypocrite? If you’re not absolutely certain God exists, or that Elimine got Him right, how can you devote your entire life to the Church, to the extent of actually becoming a hermit?”

“That’s another fair question, Renault. But I c’n accept you having doubts while still believin’ in both God and what Elimine preached.”

“How’s that possible?”

“Well, there’s two reasons. The first has to do with God. T’ put it as clear and honestly as I can, Renault, I believe I’ve felt God’s presence. I think He speaks to me in my dreams, and told me a lot of things, from what my purpose in life was to even meeting you. I feel him when I pray, and I feel his love for me when I follow His commandments. As far as I’m concerned, His existence, His love, and His salvation are as tangible to me as your best friend and his feelings were to you.”

“Hmph.” Renault was growing somewhat suspicious. “That’s easy for you to say. But there’s no way I could possibly verify that.”

That was about where I left off.

Chapter 63: The linear notes already say most of what I wanted to mention.

Chapter 64: Elimine’s Journey is the longest chapter ever in Wayward Son—I hope it was an engaging one. There was a LOT of thought that went into the construction of this fictional religion, which would be too extensive for a post like this. I’ll get into that later.

Chapter 65: Bramimond was originally supposed to mention Eliwood, Hector, and Lyn in passing, as a premonition of the future, but I didn’t include that in the final draft. I’ve also mentioned my concerns about having the search for Juge be a plot arc before.

Chapter 66: Notes say everything I wanted to here. These are long, historically involved chapters, and again a longer standalone entry would be more appropriate for Wayward Son and religion.

Chapter 67: The same notes for the previous chapter apply to this one too.

Chapter 68: I’m reasonably proud of this chapter, and how Renault finally atoned for his crimes against Par Massino.

Chapter 69: This chapter worked out pretty much as I had initially envisioned it, which is pretty impressive IMO.

Chapter 70: There was a little bit about Renault making fun of the Sacaeans for being “primitive” and being summarily chastised by Varek that I removed. I had also initially planned for Uhai to show up again in later chapters, but that fell through and I didn’t include it.

Chapters 71 and 72: These were supposed to be a single chapter, but I missed the deadline because I got sick and broke it up into two. I feel very bad about this, but what’s done is done, as I mentioned in the linear notes. All in all, however, I think I managed to carry on reasonably successfully.

Chapter 73: This is another chapter that worked out wonderfully, I had wanted the scene of Renault watching the painting of his friends for so long and I think I portrayed it fantastically well. Everything else fell into place as the first outline predicted too.

Chapter 74: I had always envisioned Varek dying like this, though the specific location of his death did vary—one draft had him passing away in Sacae. He and Renault were also supposed to visit the Western Isles at one point, but I cut that chapter out because the story was getting so very long as it was. My main concern here was getting everything done in time—in the fic’s time, I mean—to match up with the dates of Juge’s death given in FE7.

Chapter 75: This chapter ended up RADICALLY different from its initial conceptions. Renault was supposed to meet Uhai again, as it happened, and talk with Teodor—both Uhai and Teodor were bosses in FE7. It was a cool idea, but again, at this point I wanted to bring Wayward Son to a close sooner rather or later, so I opted for a more direct approach which led to a much shorter chapter. I had planned for Renault to meet the Deathrose again, though, so I’m glad to have worked that in.

Chapter 76: Now this chapter went well—I had always envisioned Renault getting in his battle conversation with Nergal even though it was impractical in game, and as I said, it worked well 😀 I should note, though, that the bit with Kishuna was originally slated to be its own chapter entirely.

Chapter 77: This single chapter was originally slated to be several—one for each character, which would have made it three or four chapters long! Indeed, by the middle of last year I had an outline for Wayward Son which was 90 chapters long—much longer than the 80 or 81 chapters I was originally shooting for, and considerably longer than the 83 chapters it ended up being. Renault was originally slated to go to Lycia very soon after his fight with Nergal, or even meet with Nino and Jaffar just before the fight, giving the letter to them rather than their grandchildren, but I thought it was more poignant to introduce little Ray and Lugh. Early drafts also featured Renault meeting Canas and his wife, Carla, and son, Hugh. He would attempting to save Canas from the snowstorm that killed him but failed, and ended up giving Canas and Carla last rites. I opted instead to go with the more sedate coffeeshop theme. Isadora was also supposed to have been happily married to Harken, but this time, for once, I decided a bit of extra tragedy would be better. I had also thought of having Renault guiding some cast-away Morphs to a monastery (perhaps even tying the story in with A Puppet’s History), and Renault spending some time among the “Serapinian” order, named after a friend of his, but I dismissed those plot threads as well.

Chapter 78: Lucius, however, did get his own chapter, which ended up more or less as I had originally envisioned.

Chapter 79: A very short chapter that could have been incorporated into either the previous (indeed, the bit with Lucius was the second half of what was intended to be an amalgamated chapter 78) or the next one. I organized this one the way I did due to deadlines ;_; Original drafts had Renault being assigned as an observer to King Zephiel by a Synod of the Supreme Church, which he attended after seeing a vision of a red star in Bern. He was even supposed to meet a canny female Archbishop who described some politicking going on to him, but I eventually cast away that plot thread.

Chapter 80: Originally, the outbreak of the plague was supposed to have happened in Lycia, it would have been where and how Varek met his end in early drafts, and there would have been a conspiracy about it. I jettisoned all that for other things, but I’m glad I kept the idea around, because IMO it worked *fantastically* as a set up for these chapters.

Final Three Chapters: These three chapters underwent some very significant revisions. I had TONs of different plans for them. In early drafts, Renault taught Zephiel to play chess, and had some debates on the value of humanity while playing, which I eventually cut because I didn’t know enough about chess. In another draft, Renault fled to Sacae rather than to Lycia, hoping to throw the Wyvern Riders off his tail, and died there. In another, Renault fought his last battle inside the fortress itself, but I moved it to the ceiling of the place because I wanted Renault to see the sky before he died. I generally paid a *lot* of attention to the script of FE6 to figure out exactly how Guinevere escaped to Lycia. I initially had Guinevere stealing the Fire Emblem, giving a fake copy to Renault, who allowed himself to be captured and executed, making sure Miledy believed he was the one who stole it (rather than Guinevere, allowing her to get away to Lycia). In another draft, Renault fell afoul of Zephiel (who spoke to his own mother about humanity’s worthless, a scene I discarded, though I did keep in some scenes of Renault talking to Zephiel’s mom). Renault would then be exiled to a prison in the castle run by the second boss of FE6, Rude, into which Guinevere and Ellen would later be imprisoned, and where he would help Ellen escape. Here’s a snippet of what I wrote before I discarded it:

“Your name was Rude, eh? You certainly live up to it…”

Another vicious kick.

“Hit me as you like….it matters not. Ellen is long gone, and your hopes with her. She will flee to the Lycian Alliance, tell them of Guinevere’s location, and help save Elibe…”

So yeah, that was a little different than how Renault actually died in the fic. And with that…Phew! Those are some long notes for the actual fic itself, but that’s all of them. Now, let me show you some rough drafts of completely different fics: What Wayward Son COULD have been! 😀

DISCARDED OUTLINES:
These will really interest you! Here are visions of what Wayward Son might have been…

Outline 1:

Idea: Renault is a young man with little talent for magic in a village dedicated to magic use. His parents reviled him before they died, and his older sister, whom he lives with, is similarly cruel to him. She is the most respected sage in the village, in which everyone else spurns Renault as well. His only friend is a runty boy similarly unsuited for magic use named Braddock. Braddock has a small crush on Renault’s sister, but a bigger one on Renault himself. He and Braddock are lowly manual laborers. One day, after being made fun of by his sister, he murders her, with Braddock watching. Knowing they will be hunted down, Renault and his friend flee to Bern, where they become mercenaries after proving their skill in combat with wyvern riders. They become great mercenaries; however, when Braddock dies in battle, Renault feels a great rage overcome him, and goes berserk, slaughtering almost an entire army. He hears a voice laughing inside his head—perhaps it is the demon Demetrius (a character that showed up in very early drafts of the plot) “bonding” with his soul? Anyways, after his friend died, in despair, he wanders into the mighty, forbidding mountains of Bern…

Another idea: Renault lives with his loving mother, a devout Eliminean. He is a lowly manual laborer in Etruria, the land of magic. He is very strong and trains to be a blacksmith/architect/something unrespectable. He’s familiar with the olive fields of Etruria. Tarvek is his ruddy-faced, fatherly, good-natured trainer? He is also a very angry, frustrated, and unforgiving young man, however, and he bears a lot of resentment against his mother, who wants him to learn the ways of magic so he can advance in Etruria’s society—this frustrates him to no end, because he has no talent for it. One day, he meets the man who will become his brother—an aimless drifter named Braddock. Renault becomes fast friends with the man, who is staying at the local inn doing odd jobs for the proprietor in return for a roof over his head. Despite his calm and serene exterior, Braddock can sometimes burst into black, terrible rage, in contrast to Renault’s constant simmering anger. When he gets angry at his mother, he’s very unforgiving and hurts her badly, during one argument about Elimineasm and his lack of faith thereof, she throws a dish at him after he insults St. Elimine (he’s very, VERY cynical), which results in him almost beating his mother before stopping himself and wandering town at night. When he comes back, his mother has made him a delicious meal to make up for him, which he angrily knocks to the ground, and storms off to bed. His poor mother desperately tries to gain his forgiveness, but he curls up angrily, turning away from her. She leaves him to go cry, her little “padrito” (Old Etrurian pet name for a son) having rejected her, and he begins to cry as well. Eventually, he kills her in a fit of rage, and flees the village, having committed matricide. He finds Braddock, having also run away after setting fire to the inn he wasy staying at in a fit of rage. They decide to become mercenaries together. Constant theme: good memories hurt as bad as bad ones, in many ways.

Renault is not inhuman—important point! He has a conscience and feels very guilty over killing his mother (keeping a small doll she made him as a child, before throwing it away in an attempt to alleviate his guilt. Maybe he tries to get Braddock to help him look for it before the latter gets angry again?). The mercenary life is also very unfulfilling for him—another major point is how miserable he is fighting rather than living with his mother. Braddock, the man who can’t stay anywhere because he always makes a mistake, tells him that the battlefield is their purgatory. Anyways, Renault always reminisces about the nice life he had with his mother, and also of the nice village girls who used to smile at him back at his hometown. In these drafts, I had Renault commit crimes like rape after being tired, afraid after months of war, and has not seen a woman in a long time. Much like the soldiers of the Wehrmacht/civil war/other wars, which I read about in history books–it’s a common theme that war crimes become more common as soldiers become more tired and demoralized. Still, once again, I thought rape was too dark a subject matter to be included so heavily in Wayward Son.

Here’s another outline written shortly before I did the first chapter:

The story begins with Renault sitting disconsolately in a dungeon cell, as the sardonic gaoler quips, “You know, you’d really think the son of our town’s bishopess would be a little more level-headed.” It turns out that Renault has a terrible temper, and in this latest incident he got into a fight with a man for scaring his little sister. Eventually, his mother manages to bail him out, and we learn more about how Renault has an anger problem, is very bitter and cynical over the death of his father from tuberculosis, and doesn’t get along well with his mother. He does have a conscience, though, and he does love her, so after they’ve both stopped being angry over this, she ~*messagingus*~ him and he makes it up to the little girl and his brother by giving her a painstakingly crafted doll his mother made for her. Next chapter: We meet his blacksmith trainer, he gets angrier at his mother. Third chapter: Kills his mother, runs away. Fourth chapter: Gets wind of an insurrection (perhaps involving Bern’s dragon knights and dark magic) and joins up, as an auxiliary to a mainly magic-using army. They get their asses kicked by fighters and horsemen, and possibly dragon riders, bringing home the importance of non-magic users in an army. We meet Apolli and other buddies, most notably his “brother” Braddock, who all die later on (although it will be a while before Braddock dies), leading Renault to a small village on the Bern-Etrurian border, pillaging it in revenge.

Another brief outline:

1: Renault, in his early days as a mercenary, meets a man, a great warrior, a great knight who believes his prowess in battle comes from his faith in Elimine, which Renault derides. Eventually, this knight meets his end in battle, and begs Renault to give him his last rites, which Renault refuses to do, leaving the job to his ‘brother.’

Much, much darker than Renault was originally, as you can tell! Here’s another much more extensive chapter by chapter outline that I discarded:

Outline 2:
Chapter 1: The Urchin: Renault, feared warlord of a terrible group of mountain bandits, attacks a small village in Etruria. Although his raiders overwhelm the small town’s defenses easily, Renault encounters a street child with oddly sharp fighting skills. Renault knocks the kid out and takes him to the bandit hideout in the mountains. Braddock, the child, is an orphan who learned to fight when his parents sold him to the fighting pit for money. Renault offers the kid a chance to join the bandits and learn to fight even better. Braddock happily accepts after being shown the riches—and most importantly, food—Renault’s cronies have accrued from the town.

Afterwards, Renault stops his attempts at meditation under a tree in Valor. He muses on why, exactly, he spared Braddock’s life. Ostensibly it was because of the boy’s unusual combat skill, but perhaps it was because he saw something similar to himself in that young man’s eyes. The utter lack of fear, the determination, the unshakable will to live—something about that struck Renault.

Chapter 2: Training:

Renault spars with his new protegee. After just a week of training, Braddock can hold his own for an entire hour against Renault, the veteran swordsman. And after beating him, Renault realizes something—the kid looks up to him. Braddock, in his own inimitable way, admires Renault. And the hardened warlord realizes this is something nobody’s done before.

Afterwards, Renault is woken up from this dream by the chill wind of Valor picking up around him. The wind is Renault’s constant companion on his pilgrimage. This time, Renault muses more on what he saw in Braddock. His men adored him—but only when he shared the fruits of his conquest with them. Other than that, they simply fear him. If he ever had a family, he forgot about them centuries ago. And, of course, Renault had no shortage of female companions—but then again, even a reprobate like him didn’t consider rape and murder to be a suitable substitute for genuine companionship But Braddock views Renault differently—almost as a big brother rather than a domineering overlord. And this assuages the terrible loneliness that grieves the bandit lord’s heart. Perhaps this is why, after so many years, Renault still remembers that young man.

Chapter 3: One of life’s little lessons:

Renault takes Braddock on his first battle with the Crimson Vipers—his band of bandits. In ransacking the city, Renault happens upon an Eliminean church. The priest there knows he’s about to die, but makes no effort to escape his fate. He tells Renault, “You may kill me, but in the end, it is you I truly pity. Your path of hatred and violence will only curse you in the end. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword. Remember that, son.” Renault then kills the priest and steals some of the golden communion cups and candles. Braddock is shocked, but Renault tells him that this is the way of life—the weak perish, the strong prosper.

Afterwards, Renault bolts awake. The guilt he has carried in his heart for years flares up and scorches the depths of his very soul, provoked by this dream. Renault muses on what, exactly, has brought him to this pilgrimage. He supposes it is to escape memories like this one, to flee from the sordid past that so torments his conscience. But even without the the clash of steel and the screams of dying men all around him, even when he’s alone, surrounded by nothing but fog and the howling wind, the infernal pandemonium of warfare will never be erased from his memories, and he will always carry the burden of his sins—most notably what he did to Braddock—in his weary heart.

Chapter 4: Shattered:

A couple of years later, Braddock has grown into a strong, slim, dangerous, and merciless swordsman. He and Renault have become as close as brothers, and Braddock has lived by the philosophy Renault taught him so long ago. But it all comes to an end today. Renault and his company of bandits assault a small village in Etruria, just as usual. Just as the battle is won, a shard of ice flies out of nowhere and skewers Braddock through the chest. Renault, enraged, sees the young apprentice mage, defending his village, who was responsible for killing Braddock. The grief-stricken and anger-crazed bandit lord tosses aside his weapons and kills the unfortunate youth spectacularly with his bare hands. After the battle is finally over, the grief-stricken Renault abandons his men and takes Braddock’s cold body into his arms. He silently buries his friend at the top of a small hill near the destroyed town and wanders out east…towards Bern…

Afterwards, Renault is awoken by the sounds of battle, not inside his head but around the ruins he’s camping out in. A young girl of Sacae is warily exploring these desiccated ruins. She spies Renault, and begins their conversation. Renault hands her a goddess stone, then pauses to ask her a couple of questions.

“Wait a moment. I would like to know how old you are.”

“I’m 19, your excellency. May I ask why?”

“I…see. No reason, child…I’m sorry to waste your time. May the gods’ blessings be upon you.”

Renault watches her stride off to battle, and reflects upon how young Braddock was when he died. Yet there was still that spark of idealism, that innocent devotion to the cause of “justice,” that shined in that young girl’s eyes. By the time Braddock died, Renault had already quashed that spark.

Renault gazed toward the skies above. The benign, fluffy clouds dotting a serene ocean of blue presented a bitter contrast to the chaos and misery on the ground below. “Heed my prayer,” he entreats the heavens. “There is still hope for that girl. Please…do not take it away.”

Chapter 5: Damnation:

The ex-bandit lord Renault hikes up through the mountains, freezing, weary, and despairing. He finally collapses, knowing he will die. However, he soon wakes up in an unfamiliar complex within the mountainside. A cup of water is brought to his lips, and as his bleary eyes come into focus, he realizes he’s in some sort of bizarre subterranean laboratory. His gaze turns to his unknown benefactor—a tall man in dark, flowing robes, wearing a turban that just happens to cover one eye. The weathered bandit lord, not appreciating being caught unawares, immediately jumps to his feet.

“Where the hell am I? Who are you?” he demands.

“Peace, friend.” The man responds with a warm laugh and a reassuring smile. “My name is Nergal, and I mean you no harm.”

Renault spies his weapons lying on a table nearby and makes a grab for them. He is suddenly stopped by an unknown, irresistible force.

“I told you I didn’t want to harm you,” the man says, his voice suddenly cold. “Don’t make me change my mind.”

Renault relaxes, and the unseen force binding his entire body disappears. He falls unceremoniously to the floor.

“I’m sorry if I scared you, my friend.” The man says, cheerful again. “I just saw you half-frozen up on the mountain, and so I brought you here. My name’s Nergal, and this is my home. It’s not much, but I’d say it’s better than sleeping out on the icy rocks.”

“My name’s Renault. I…thank you for your hospitality.”

“It’s no problem at all, Renault.. So…what brought you all the way out to the mountains of Bern?”

Renault says nothing.

“It’s to bring back a friend, isn’t it?”

He looks up, shocked.

“You lost someone important to you in battle, did you not? And you want to bring this person back to you?”

“How do you—“

“I know many things. And I also know of a way to revive your dead friend. Come with me, Renault.”

A wiser man would have paused to think before accepting this stranger’s offer. But Renault was so desperate that he unquestioningly accepted the honeyed words of this strange man.

“Wait,” Nergal says. “Before we go on, I must know…what are you willing to sacrifice, Renault? What would you be willing to give to see your friend again?”

“Anything” he responds.

“Even your very soul?”

“yes”

“Excellent.” The man smiles, and leads Renault to a small, dark room marked only by a set of candles surrounding a perfect six-pointed star on the floor. Nergal commands Renault to stand in the center of the magic rune, and begins to chant a bizarre incantation. Renault questions what Nergal is doing, but then a terrible surge of energy courses through his body, and he falls to the floor, screaming in pain. It builds and builds until Renault thinks he’s about to die, and suddenly, with a flash of light, it disappears. In its place, Renault is left with an unfathomable strength he has never felt before. Nergal tells him this is one of his most powerful shadow spells. The forces of darkness have imbued the former bandit lord with superhuman strength, skill, and speed, as well as unnatural longevity—Renault will never age. Nergal tells him that he will be part of an experiment. Renault is to head off to the towns and villages of Bern and kill the strongest fighters and magic users he can find. He will bring their harvested quintessence back to Nergal, and the dark druid will use their life force to bring Braddock back to life. Renault agrees, and Nergal gives him a special dagger—the powerful Trafalgar. He then tells his Angel of Death to go forth.

Memories are a strange thing, Renault muses. You don’t always have to look within yourself to find them—sometimes they just get dragged out when you don’t want them to. He’s standing in Theoden’s study, a few hours after Eliwood’s army has destroyed its owner. The stench of dark magic within these ruins is palpable, and Renault believes it is this lingering presence that triggered his recollections of the dark mage who led him to sell his soul for immortality and the vain hope of seeing Braddock again. He would rather keep that black moment locked away forever within the recesses of his mind, but this study so reminded him of Nergal that his memories spilled forth on their own. He sighs, hoping he will someday find some way to undo this black curse, and heads forward in his search for salvation.

Chapter 6: Betrayal:

Renault is battling with all his strength against a skilled swordsman in the alleys of a big city in Bern. His bandit cronies lie dead about him, and only he is left. After a tough fight, Renault prevails, and the soulstone he wears about his chest glows brightly with the quintessence of his fallen foe. Renault then rushes up into the mountains, his body stained bright red with blood. Memories of the past few centuries coursed through his head. How long had it been? A hundred, two hundred years? And he had spent all that time killing. Day in, day out, he had spent an unfathomable amount of time mindlessly slaughtering anyone who came across his path. His skills had reached inhuman levels. Great mercenaries, potent magi, feared assassins…all had fallen before his blades. And what blades they were! His Killing Edge could cut down even the most powerful opponent with but a single strike. But even that couldn’t compare with the Shadow Edge–Trafalgar. The bizarre-looking dagger carried with it a host of magical abilities that proved invaluble in a fight. It could pierce through any sort of magic, such as enchanted barriers, and also negate the effects of even the most powerful spells—many times Renault’s life had been saved by cutting straight through a Flux or Elfire spell with Trafalgar. But even that paled compared to the technique which gave Trafalgar its name. The blade’s most terrifying ability was its Shadow Cutter. Imbued with the powers of darkness, the blade could call upon powerful, eldritch magic to do its bidding. The dagger struck with both the deadly potency of its enchanted steel and a magical force equal to a high-level Dark spell. Thus, Trafalgar deals double damage—physical and magical. But it was all irrelevant now. Renault’s struggle was about to end. After so many years, he had finally collected enough quintessence to appease his master. Renault rushes up the steep mountain steppes and reaches the secret mountain hideout, where Nergal awaits. The hardened killer presents the soulstone to his master, quivering in anticipation. Nergal smiles, and leads him to the same room where he infused Renault with his power. The warlock takes the soulstone, brimming with energy, and begins a strange ritual. After it’s over, a gold-eyed, black-haired version of Braddock stands before Renault. Renault says Braddock’s name, but the morph simply stands there, doing nothing. After trying to eke out a response from the morph, Renault asks Nergal, “What trickery is this?” Renault responds by saying he gave Renault exactly what he wanted—Braddock was standing before him, was he not? Renault says that this is nothing more than a puppet, an empty, soulless vessel! Nergal laughs, and says Renault didn’t ask for a soul—only the return of his dead friend. Renault, now blindly with rage, rushes at Nergal and tries to cut him down with Trafalgar. Even the potent Shadow Edge, however, can’t make a dent in Nergal’s magical defenses, and Nergal utterly wrecks his former Angel of death with a mere sweep of his hand. “I banish you, Renault!” Nergal shouts. “Wander the face of Elibe in misery and shame, and never show yourself before me again!” Renault, screaming and half-mad with pain, flees the mountain fortess into the icy night…

Renault sighs, his attempts at meditation, this time near a river, broken again by these damnable memories. Renault supposes that in the end, it was his foolishness which brought him such misery—he should have known Nergal was tricking him from the beginning. Still, it is from memories like these Renault is so desperately trying to flee, yet no matter how much he meditates, no matter where his pilgrimage takes him, he cannot escape this stain on his soul. He looks at his hands, the callused, centuries-old flesh as taut and tough as that of a young, vibrant swordsman. He sighs again, his agelessness a blatant reminder of the soul he gave up to Nergal. He realizes that after all this time, he still hates Nergal. It goes against the tenets of his faith—“love thy enemy,” St. Elimine once said. He wonders if he will ever be able to overcome this hatred, this shadow upon his soul…

Chapter 7: A Sliver of Hope:

Renault is sitting at the edge of an army camp in Caelin. For a full two hundred years, he has been wandering all across Elibe as a mercenary. He still hates Nergal, after all this time, but he does not seek revenge against the dark warlock. Instead, he travels across the land in search of some way to bring back his dead friend. And indeed, after hundreds of years, hundreds of campaigns, here in Caelin, he believes he might have found his ticket. Someone has been robbing graves in Caelin, and not coincidentally, there have been bizarre reports of the walking dead throughout the land. Ostian spies have done their ally a favor of tracking down this supernatural activity to cabal of necromancers led by a dark druid named Esteban. Renault has offered his services as a mercenary to the Caelin army in hopes that tracking this necromancer down will give him some aid. He notices a commotion near the tents. A couple of soldiers are bullying around a small, slight young boy. Renault watches and they push him to the ground, kick him in the ribs, laugh, and call him a “little girl.” The boy picks himself up and dusts himself off after they leave, his lips trembling in the precursor of a sob. Renault comes in and asks what a small child like him is doing in a battlezone like this. The boy identifies himself as Wallace, and says he’s here as a squire to an older knight. Renault chuckles, and says those men weren’t entirely off the mark in saying he’s a little girl. A scrawny kid like him would only get in the way. Wallace bites his lip and almost begins to cry again, but Renault looks down upon him, and can’t help but be reminded of Braddock by the youth. Renault offers to give the boy a few pointers in the art of fighting, and asks him what his favored weapon is. Wallace says it’s the spear. Renault hands the kid a small training javelin, and spars with the youth.

Renault spars with Wallace for a few hours, but all of a sudden, a huge commotion rises from the tents. In broad daylight, a terrible demon as set upon the camp! Renault and Wallace rush forward to see a bizarre, yet terrifying sight. A small young boy is laying waste to the army—a bald, naked young boy with dragonfly wings. His nails are abnormally long and sharp, and his tongue is several feet long and covered in tiny quills. Where his genitalia should be, a bizarre sort of stinger rises from his groin. Dead and dying men litter the ground all around him, and the thing scores another kill by impaling the neck of an older knight upon his stinger. Wallace shouts out, “MASTER!” in despair, and the Caelin troops are utterly demoralized, routed by the appearance of a single demon. The only one facing it is a lone swordsman with long blonde hair. He fights magnificently, and against any other foe he would have won easily, but his non-magical weapons are useless against this hellspawned beast. No problem, though—Renault takes Trafalgar and stabs it deep into the creature’s back while it’s distracted by the swordsman. The dark magic of the dagger does its work, and the creature flies off towards a dusty, deserted castle in the distance, screaming in pain. The swordsman thanks Renault for saving his life, and introduces himself as Rivel. He then gestures towards young Wallace, cradling the lifeless body of his knight. Uncharacteristically (perhaps because of the boy’s odd resemblance to Braddock)Renault comforts him, and takes him under his wing for the duration of the campaign. Rivel gazes towards the castle—rumored to be haunted by the locals. The reason being that its gates only open at night.

Several hours later, at nightfall, the gates of the castle slowly creak open, and the Caelin army stands before it. Wallace is frightened, but Renault tells him to remember what he taught. Gutteral grunts and odd, chattery laughter emanate from within the dessicated keep, and all of a sudden, horrid ghouls and skeletons burst forth! The men are initially terrified, but Renault and Rivel lead the way, cutting a swath straight through the undead. The Caelin troops are encouraged by the valor of these two mercenaries and begin fighting against the ghouls. The undead are weaker than they look, and the skirmish is soon won. However, as Renault says, “Keep your guard up, Wallace! The battle is not won yet.” The ancient castle beckons, and Renault and Rivel figure that greater threats await them inside. They motion for the army to wait for them outside—they believe a small group would be better suited for inflitrating the castle. They’re right—inside, they evade trap after deadly trap that would have slaughtered most of the hapless Caelin knights. Finally, they reach the throne room and the dark druid Esteban. They battle, and Renault and Rivel are soon victorious. Esteban pleads for his life, and Rivel is about to kill him, but Renault marches forward and seizes the fallen warlock by the hair. Placing Trafalgar at his neck, he orders the dark mage to tell him where he learned these spells. Esteban hands him the Necronomicon from the folds of his robe, and Renault proceeds to kill him. Rivel asks why he wants the book, and Renault lies and says “Just a souvenir.” Rivel shrugs, spies an odd-shaped glowing stone on the floor (fallen out from the slain necromancer’s robes) and takes it as a souvenir. Renault and Rivel leave the castle, to a cheering Caelin army and cries of “All hail Renault the Impervious and Rivel the Invincible!”

Later, Renault is packing his things and preparing to take his leave of Caelin. He has read the Necronomicon, and is quite disappointed—it can only give him ghouls and skeletons, not his Braddock back. He prepares to resume his quest, however, Wallace has hunted him down. Renault asks the kid what he wants, and Wallace gives him the promise he mentioned in the FE7 support. Renault can do nothing other than nod his head—he is reminded of how similarly idealistic Braddock once was. He leaves Wallace behind.

Afterwards, Renault again awakes from a dream-memory, opening his eyes and getting a clear view of a starry night sky—a rarity in the mists of Valor. His thoughts turn to that young man named Wallace. The idealistic youth gave Renault a promise of goodness—and Renault bitterly reflects on how unworthy he was of such admiration. Still, he is thankful that he led his student onto the right path, despite his evil intentions—Wallace was more fortunate than Braddock in that respect.

Chapter 8: Epiphany:

13 years have passed since Renault’s fruitless campaign in Caelin. Still, he searches for some way to be reunited with his dead friend. His ceaseless travels have taken him back to Etruria, where his quest first started. And now, it seems he’s found a new lead. Wandering through the twisting alleys of an Etrurian city, he comes across a strange young man who seems to have mysterious powers. This young man claims to have the ability to reunite Renault with the dead, in return for one thing: An Etrurian mercenary named Rivel has stolen a stone that was very precious to him. If Renault can retrieve this stone, the young man will bring him to Braddock. Renault agrees, and later that night, he finds out where Rivel lives and breaks in. He finds the odd glowing stone Rivel took as a souvenir from Esteban’s castle 13 years ago, and prepares to leave when Rivel accosts him. He overpowers Rivel and leaves Trafalgar protruding from the unfortunate swordsman’s chest. Witnessing all this is Lucius, the mercenary’s son. Renault takes the stone, finds the strange young boy, and gives it to him. The child takes off his robes, and Renault gasps—it’s Esteban’s demon! The thing identifies itself as Demetrius, and thanks Renault for bringing him back his phylactery. Esteban imprisoned his essence in this stone and forced him into submission, since demons are bound by ancient magic to obey the holder of their phylacteries. When the swordsman picked it up, he had no idea of the power he gained. And since demons cannot attack personally the holder of their phylacteries, Demetrius had Renault kill Rivel for him. Demetrius takes the phylactery and crushes it in his hands, his essence spilling forth and returning to him. He changes from a young boy into a huge archdemon. The abomination laughs sardonically, sayign he’s not forgotten his promise to bring Renault to Braddock. He opens a portal to the Netherworld, and Renault can see Braddock within its depths! Chained to a huge rock rising from a river of lava, the tortured Braddock sees his “big brother” for the first time in centuries. “RENAULT!” he cries. “Help me, please! Please! Help me!” Gigantic metal chains fly out from Demetrius’ fingers and ensnare Renault, and the demon begins dragging the mercenary into the gates of Hell. I told you I’d reunite you with your friend, Demetrius cackles, and Braddock screams desperately, insanely, for Renault to get him out of here. All seems lost when Renault remembers the Silver Sword he stole from Rivel’s house. Demons and other supernatural creatures cannot abide silver, so Renault takes his sword and hacks Demetrius’ arm off. The demon curses, and retreats backs to the abyss from which he came. However, as the hellgate closes, Demetrius tells Renault he’ll see him eventually! Renault sent Braddock down here, and when you die, whether in a 10, a hundred, or a thousand years, you’ll still have to pay for your sins! And when that day comes, I’ll be waiting! Me and Braddock both!!!

The demon disappears into the hellgate, which blips out of existence. His cackling voice vanishes along with Braddock’s tormented pleas for help. Renault rushes out of the alley as fast as he possibly can. He continues running, and running, and running, far beyond the city limits. He’s in a daze, with no idea of where he’s going, until he reaches the hill where he buried Braddock, so many years ago. He stands numbly over his friend’s grave.

“Why…why won’t you return to me? I’ve won every battle I’ve fought! I’ve defeated every opponent I’ve faced! Why isn’t it enough? WHY CAN’T I HAVE YOU BACK?”

Mired in my haze of anger, frustration, and confusion, a memory pierced my consciousness like an arrow. Standing over my friend’s grave, I remembered the words an old priest spoke to me centuries ago.

“Your path of hatred and violence will only curse you in the end. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.”

I fell to my knees. Now it was the words of Demetrius that rang in my mind. “Braddock’s waiting for you, Renault! You sent him down here!”

I had been running for over 400 years. I may have been the greatest fighter on the face of Elibe, but at heart, I was still a coward. I finally had to face the reality I had been fleeing from for centuries. I was responsible for Braddock’s death. He admired me—idolized me—and it was I who led him to the vicious life of a murderous outlaw. And no matter how skilled I was, how many enemies I defeated, the blood I spilled over the years never brought me an inch closer to expiating my sins. I felt my entire world shatter around me. In a single moment, I came to realize the folly of my existence, the self-destructive futility of my centuries-long quest.

For all these years, I had been driven by blind passion. My single-minded desire to bring Braddock back to me edged out logic, reason, and even basic morality. If I had only stopped to think about what I was doing, I would have been able to see my mistakes, see the foolhardiness of trusting Nergal and Demetrius, perceive the wastefulness of the murderous life I led. And in my blindness, I never once thought of the friend who should have been foremost in my mind—Braddock. All this time, I thought solely of myself. My quest was driven by selfishness and greed—I sought only to assuage my own lonliness, not to undo the wrongs I had done to the man who looked upon me as a brother. And I realized that in 400 years, I had not spoken a single word of grief for the younger brother I led into the fires of hell.

I was an emotional man in those days. Yet now I felt a deluge of emotions I had never once experienced. Anger and hatred, my constant companions, were washed away by a tidal wave of grief, regret, and—most of all—guilt. I fell to my knees before the grave of my best friend, and for the first time in my life, tears began to stream down my face. “I’m sorry, Braddock,” I sobbed. “Please…please…forgive me. I beg of you, forgive me.” I looked towards the heavens, as I would many times since then, seeking some answer, some solace for the guilt and grief that ravaged my soul. The only response from the torrid skies was a deafening roar and a streak of lightning across through the clouds. I threw my sword aside and bent my head, my salty tears mixing with the rain. I had been trying to bring him back for hundreds of years, but for the first time, I knelt before his grave, and wept. For the first time, I cast down my weapons to mourn for my fallen friend.

Renault bolts awake, clutching his chest. This memory haunts him more than any other. Renault sighs, the pain refusing to fade from his heart. He has been following the path of the cloth for a decade, and yet these memories still haunt him. Renault wonders how many years it will be before he’ll finally be worthy of forgiveness. The weary bishop stands up and looks to the clear skies above him. “I’m sorry, Braddock.” He whispers. “Please…forgive me.” The empty howl of the wind is the only response renault receives, just like the first time he begged for salvation. The priest sighs again, watching the ebb and flow of the grass beneath his feet, the tiny green shoots forming eddies, streams, and miniature tides that disappear as soon as the wind wills them to. Renault picks up his staff and resumes his journey, searching not for the return of a friend, but for redemption.

Chapter 9: A New Beginning:

Renault wanders through Etruria, utterly miserable and alone. His quest for Braddock’s return was all that sustained him throughout the centuries, and now that he has recognized its folly, there seems to be no more point to his existence. He merely wanders, lost and confused, yet lacking the willpower to even end his own life. As a miserable, downtrodden hobo (essentially) he lies out on the streets of a crowded, filthy metropolis in Etruria. As the rain begins to fall, he darts into a small, inauspicious building at the other end of the street. When he gets inside, he sees that it is a church. He looks at the stained glass windows. He sees the image of a beautiful woman sitting in quiet contemplation under a great tree. As he gazes at this picture, tears come unbidden to his eyes. This is easily the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, but not for any physical characteristic. It is the peace she is in, the serenity she almost palpably exudes. How desperately he wishes he could know such peace! How much he wishes the he could wash the blood off his hands! How he wishes he could somehow redeem himself, and give peace to both his and Braddock’s tortured souls! He sits disconsolately at the humble wooden pews, weeping quietly. He has lost track of time, and barely notices someone sit down next to him on the hard wood, draping a comforting arm over his shoulder. Without thinking, he leans next to her, crying uncontrollably. 400 years worth of pain have come back to him with a vengeance. He turns his bleary eyes to his right, seeing a thin, elderly woman with clear blue eyes smiling at him gently. She tenderly strokes his back, whispering in his ear, “Shhh…shh…it will be alright…it will be alright…” Collapsing into sobs, he buries his head into her lap, crying out the years of pain he has borne for so long. She does not reject him, she does not turn him aside. She runs her hands through his hair, and softly, reassuringly, sings him an ancient lullaby, an old hymn of the Eliminean church…

The day has been long
But the night will be warm
Let the breeze ease your pain

He lies there for hours, his sobs slowly subsiding. All of his instincts as a fighter, all of his experiences with Nergal and the demons, tell him this is a trap, that the old lady is merely luring him into a sense of security. But for some reason, he can’t bring himself to believe that this is some sort of trap. He looks up at her with his blurry eyes, and asks her why she’s doing this.

She simply smiles. “It is my duty.”

She says nothing more, and Renault can offer no more resistance. 400 years of pain and toil catch up to him, and he falls asleep in the nun’s arms—a sleep that is unmarred by nightmares for the first, but not last, time in his life.

Quite a lot there, eh? As you can tell, some of it was originally meant to be written in the first person, though the character of the nun at the end sort of showed up in Abbess Meris in the actual fic.

DISCARDED PLOT/CHARACTERIZATION FOR THE ACTUAL FIC:

Paptimus’ revolutionaries were originally to be called “The Order of Enlightenment.” Khyron was originally Exedol’s apprentice, and not his brother.

Kelitha, Renault’s love interest, was originally set to have a much rockier relationship with him. She was originally described as voluptuous, and there was a scene where:

She would have been propositioned for sex by an employer, which results in him throwing the bag of gold at her and almost getting into a fight with Renault, his “brother,” Braddock and her 2 sisters. Afterwards, however, Renault tells her that she should have accepted. When she says she is not a common prostitute, but the pride of Ilia, Renault just tells her that a prostitute in Etruria has it a lot better than the greatest Pegasus knight of Ilia. He is very dismissive of Ilia, saying Barrigan was “stupid” to settle there. He has an equally low opinion of Etruria, saying it’s a stupid nation chained down by the idiot teachings of the “stupid Elimine.” Obviously, this would have been much too harsh even for Wayward Son, so I deleted it and changed the character to how you see her in the actual story. Kelitha was also originally supposed to be an Eliminean, but she turned into more of an agnostic to get along with Renault better in the final drafts.

Apolli and Roberto were *drastically* changed from initial drafts. Roberto was supposed to die early on and Apolli was supposed to violently reject Yulia after she broke down under pressure in a battle; he would then become a cynical, hardened mercenary. One scene was inspired by “Full Metal Jacket” where he slept with a Sacaean prostitute while Braddock and Renault advised him against it. That would have been too dark for me, so I jettisoned that plot arc. I like how things really turned out much better 😀

I also wanted to include a scene where Braddock killed a hundred enemy soldiers and at the end of a long battle, flashed the thumbs up sign to Renault, heavily inspired by Berserk. But I never found a good place for that. In fact, there was supposed to be a bit of worldbuilding where Apolli explained the thumbs-up/middle fingers sign as bits of archer’s cant (supposedly, they had their origins in positive or negative signals archers sent to show their hands were still intact) but that never made it in either.

Paptimus was supposed to fight like Zato-1 from Guilty Gear, and his battle theme vs. Braddock was supposed to be a GG song. All GG influences have since disappeared…

HUGE DIFFERENCES THAT WERE EVENTUALLY INCORPORATED INTO “THE LAST RED SHOULDER:”

Here are some scenes and plot lines that eventually entered into the sidestory or were cut entirely. There was a HUGE reference to Berserk I eventually cut out later:

Vyrleena talks to Zedal Gustav, her second in command, a man of unlimited ambition, about why he chose to follow her rather than become the next Wyvern General. He tells her because he’s loyal to her, but secretly, he merely wants to fulfill his ambitions…as a Wyvern General, he’s bound by oaths of loyalty to the king, and cannot take over Bern, because the other two Generals would oppose him. But he still wants a kingdom of his own…he wanted to make one out of the ashes of Etruria, but when that failed, he fled to the Western Isles, to begin his machinations there…

 

Zedal has been keeping in touch with Trunicht and Paptimus, and he attempts to goad Bern and Etruria into full-scale war over the Western Isles. Trunicht, however, double-crosses him and uses Renault and Braddock to expose his schemes. He flees to Nabata, is killed by Renault but kills Braddock in the process. Renault blacks out while mourning, is taken to Arcadia, learns about Nergal,

 

–Bern is sending hundreds—but not thousands—of emigrants to the Western Isles. It takes weeks for Etrurian emigrants to reach the Western Isles, but half a year for Bernese migrants to do the same. However, Bern desperately wants a cut of the resources of the islands themselves to avoid Etruria getting too powerful, which is one reason why relations between the two countries are so unfriendly. However, some realize that after Bern’s failed attempt to oust the Etrurian government, a rapprochement with Etruria’s monarchy and nobility is the only way to achieve lasting prosperity for both countries. Gustav and Gosterro (and maybe another Etrurian noble, like Bramsel?) connive to provide Bern and Etruria a common enemy. One of their agents, posing as an idealistic Etrurian knight, convinces Renault and Braddock to first hunt down Red Shoulder remnants, then to get involved in the Western Isles resistance…and tricks them into committing atrocities against both Bernese and Etrurian citizens, giving both countries cause to invade. The Eliminean church ends up mediating, which results in Bern being given complete favored trade status, while the Church gains control of all mining operations, with Trunicht becoming Archbishop of the region.

 

OR: Mysterious knight was working with Zedal Gustav, new Wyvern General of Bern, to provoke Bern and Etruria into full-scale war. Trunicht and Gosterro foil the scheme somehow, which means the Church becomes the dominant power on the Western Isles rather than Bern. The mysterious knight escapes justice, however, and flees to Bern for the protection of Zedal. Braddock and Renault pursue for revenge. There, Braddock is killed.

 

 

 

Background: Etruria and Bern aren’t the only people fighting over the Western Isles. They both have to deal with the natives—the various warrior clans Durbans united. At the moment, different warrior clans support different sides—some against Bern, some against Etruria, most against everybody else. If they could all be united against one side or the other, that would tip the balance…

 

Plot: After the uprising in Thagaste, Zedal, under Trunicht’s recommendation—for the two were in contact for a very long time, indeed, Trunicht convinced Zedal to have Vyrleena meet up with Paptimus—sends one of his men to serve the Etrurian army. With the Church officially condemning the rebellion, many pious Bernites actually cross the border to fight for the Etrurians, who as much as they’d like to really can’t afford to refuse the help. Zedal’s agent, Griffith, is one of those men. He acquits himself very well in the Etrurian struggle, becoming a knight commander and Knight General Gafgarion’s right-hand man. Little does the stalwart Gafgarion know Griffith is merely using him to insinuate himself deeper in the Etrurian military!

 

When the Civil War ends, Griffith is assigned to the head of an ‘eliminator’ unit, called the Fang of the Sun. Many rebels and even former Red Shoulders escaped to the Western Isles before the end of the war, and have been causing trouble for the Etrurians ever since. With Renault and Braddock—two of the strongest warriors who survived the Revolution—on his team, and with Trunicht feeding them all information about his former Red Shoulder comrades, Griffith quickly establishes himself as the best Eliminator on the Western Isles. They are constantly bedeviled by a mysterious enemy, a woman very skillfully wielding a spear in black armor who covers her face. “Griffith is your true enemy, not me!” she tells them.

 

However, they soon run into a terrifying enemy—the “Band of the Hawk.” These seem to be, at first glance, former Red Shoulders and revolutionaries, particularly mercenaries, who are dead set on creating their own kingdom—at the expense of Fibernia’s native population. They slaughter entire villages of Etrurian-affiliated clans indiscriminately, and seem to have something specific against Griffith—at the scene of every one of their atrocities, they leave the message “For Griffith” scrawled in blood. The Fang of the Sun tries their best, but no matter what they do, they always come just a moment too late, just as the Band of the Hawk was escaping the scenes of their nefarious crime…

As you can see, I wanted to included references to a Fang of the Sun (from the mecha anime Dougram) to the Band of the Hawk, from Berserk. That didn’t work out, though.

Anyways, that ought to do it for author’s notes for Wayward Son. The day after tomorrow, expect a post on my dissertation progress, as promised! 😀

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2 comments

  1. cormagravenstaff · · Reply

    That was a joy to read. I had a blast with all your refrence talk! If I may be blunt, you put a shit ton of effort into that alone!

    It was rather intriguing to see what Wayward Son could have been. I’m glad you went with this version, as opposed to others. I have no problem with dark stuff, but I agree rape doesn’t add much or anything

    1. Thanks for the support, as always, brother 😀

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