Before we begin, I'd like to address anyone who was looking for a physical copy of Wintersteel. The paperback is finally available to order, and if you order it today, it should arrive in most places on Tuesday.
We can't arrange paperback pre-orders or set it up so that we can guarantee delivery on Day 1, but we got Amazon's advice on the best way to get the books to people on October 6th.
They recommended putting it up three days in advance, and that's today!
Additionally, I'd like to invite you all to join me on my Twitch channel (twitch.tv/willwight) this Monday, October 5th, from 9 PM - 12 AM Eastern for my Wintersteel release...celebration? Event?
Anyway, I'm going to be streaming from nine until Wintersteel goes live.
Unlike previous releases, I won't be reading a scene this time. I couldn't do these early scenes justice. Maybe next time.
Instead, I'll be playing random games (most likely Subnautica, but maybe I'll mix it up with some Subnautica) while answering book questions and wearing a hat!
The hat was Twitter's fault.
Now that the housekeeping is out of the way, proceed for the behind-the-scenes content for Underlord!
As a reminder, I won't be covering Uncrowned behind-the-scenes stuff. At least not right now.
I'm not sure how much I can say without spoiling Wintersteel.
(If you don't see the rest of the post, click Read More!)
In my initial plans for Underlord, I had a new character as a villain: Akura Vanity.
She was a member of Charity's branch of the family, and she's the one who pushed for Harmony to go to Ghostwater in the first place.
More importantly, she was the character who had it out personally for Lindon. And Mercy. She would eventually start to think that Lindon's actions--which resulted in Harmony's death--were all part of Mercy's plan to remove a rival for the position of Malice's heir.
Of course, Harmony was never actually in contention for that position, which Mercy and the reader would know. And would become clear at the end, when Malice personally intervenes to save Mercy.
Vanity herself is an Overlord, and the idea would be that she's the one who's pushing the Seishen Underlords to go after Lindon specifically while Charity is the evenhanded judge. At the end, once Lindon beats Kiro and advances, Vanity would personally attack him with the intention of wiping him out, and would be unable to kill him before Charity stops him.
Anyway, that was my intention! I've got a quick scene with Vanity, and then I'll tell you where she went.
This scene is even less refined than the previous behind-the-scenes moments I've shared before. This is more like an off-the-top-of-my-head rough sketch of a scene, like I sometimes write into outlines.
It's partially in present tense and partially in past, because that's how I usually write notes, so don't let that make you.........
See you afterwards!
In the middle of the night, just outside the walls of Blackflame City, Charity and Vanity walk around driving huge pillars into the ground. They are veiled by a technique of Charity’s, so they’re invisible walking around regular people.
The pillars were made by Malice herself, and contain high principles that Charity can only slightly comprehend. She had spent some time examining these pillars, and they had given her great insight.
Vanity is asking questions about the Blackflame Empire (and Mercy’s presence here), and Charity is answering her, but Vanity’s heart clearly isn’t in it. She’s unraveling.
Once the final pillar is placed, Charity says, “Vanity,” and the woman flinches at her own name. “I know how difficult this is to hear now, but Harmony made his own decisions. He was prepared for the risks.”
Vanity’s face distorted. “What do you know about it?” she hissed. “You don’t know anything. You’ve never—”
She choked off her own words, covering her face with her hands, heaving dry sobs.
Charity looked at her.
Honestly, the words pricked her. But she was more than four times Vanity’s age, and the Path of the Silver Heart emphasized mental discipline even more than combat. Nothing Vanity could say would get a rise out of Charity.
It did hurt briefly, though. She was still human.
Vanity was forty years old, and would age very little for the next century, and Charity looked nineteen. But Vanity wiped her tears away and dipped her head to the Sage.
“I’m sorry, Aunt Charity. I spoke out of pain.”
Charity softened, walking up to her great grand-niece and gathering her in her arms. Vanity was taller, but she crumpled and pressed her face into Charity’s shoulder, weeping into the fabric.
The Sage waited, patting the younger woman’s back.
After a while, Vanity took a deep breath and straightened herself. “I’ve found the young Blackflame. He’ll be here when the portal opens.”
Her voice was quiet, but Charity knew the raw pain that ran beneath it.
“Don’t go too far,” Charity advised. “If you affect the tournament, I won’t be able to help you.”
Vanity forced a laugh. “Don’t worry, Aunt Charity. I know how to hold back.”
Akura Vanity did not know how to hold back.
I liked Vanity as someone for Charity to play off of, and you could see Charity as more human as she interacts with someone she's practically raised. And at the same time, Charity would look fairer and wiser by contrast, as she gets to take the role of a distant arbiter.
But all those scenes would take time. And there are already three Underlord villains in this book as it is, so how many antagonists does one story need?
When I realized Charity alone could perform the same role as both characters, I cut Vanity.
Broadly speaking, if you find that you have a group of characters performing the role of one, that probably means they should be one.
Perform the fusion dance ASAP.
Aaaaaand that's the end of my behind-the-scenes series for Cradle. For now, anyway. There are a lot of other things I could have shared in these posts, so let me know what you thought about them!
Do you want to hear more about my thoughts on the writing process? See more of my rough notes? More deleted scenes? Hear more about what could have been?
Which of those parts did you enjoy the most? What do you want to see more of!
Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy Wintersteel on Tuesday, October 6th!
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