To catch up or review this read for readers and writers, click here.
Chris meets Allara in an enormous room behind the waterfall. There, she and Quinnon try to rekindle the guardsman’s instincts his body possessed before he crossed the worlds. He does far better than first feared, even beating Allara, but he’s no match for Quinnon. Letting his body’s instincts fight and releasing his impulse to think is far trickier than it sounds. After the sword lesson, Allara has much, much more planned to train him to greet the world as the Gifted. When Allara finds out that Mactalde has a man out to kill him in Chicago, she says that he must stay alive. To be the Gifted, he must live in both worlds.
Reader Comments: I love how perceptive Chris is. Despite Allara’s attempts to conceal her inner torments, Chris is observant enough to realize that her anger and coldness are merely masks for her inner terror. I also love that, at the end of this chapter, she gives the barest beginnings of respect to him. For the first time, she calls him Master Redston.
Writer Comments: There is a concept in fiction called a Mary Sue. The Mary Sue is a character, usually the hero, who is exceptional at everything. He excels at all tasks the first time. Nothing can stop him. No one can beat him. His flaws aren’t really flaws, assuming he has any at all. This character may be wish fulfillment, but he’s also boring to read. Chris Redston is not a Mary Sue. Instead of instantly excelling at swordplay, he struggles. Oh, sure, he has notable skill, but Weiland gives him a reason for it. He can let his warriors instincts take over, but it is difficult. Further, whenever he slips into them, he almost immediately slips back out. This leaves doubt in the reader’s mind. Will he get this in time to save his life and the worlds? Further, Chris has few answers to the catastrophic problems facing them. There is, in fact, a real possibility of disaster.
Chris wakes in Chicago and goes to visit Harrison Garnett, who managed to survive getting shot, in ICU. As Allara has no answer and the Garowai isn’t giving precise advice, he figures the previous Gifted is his best chance at sorting out the mess he created. However, going out means the man Mactalde hired to kill him might have a good chance of succeeding. Cautiously, Chris goes to the hospital and sneaks past a man near Harrison’s room who also works for Mactalde. Harrison is none too pleased to see him and provides little information: Mactalde managed to find a way to speak to himself in his dreams, which allowed his self in our world to know about Lael and the dream world. By bringing Mactalde across, Chris set the worlds on a course to an apocalypse. And lastly, Harrison never intended to bring Mactalde across. He only told him he would and figured, once Mactalde was dead in the dream world, he couldn’t make Harrison bring him anywhere.
Reader Comments: Harrison is a piece of work. I feel bad for Allara that she had to put up with him at all. I’m relieved he hadn’t actually intended to bring Mactalde across, but at the same time, saying he would, then intending to back out only solidifies his traitorous character.
Writer Comments: Objection can become symbolic in fiction. In this chapter, during the argument/discussion between Harrison and Chris, they also fight over the remote that summons the nurse. The remote and the nurse call button represent power in the scene. When the call button is on, Harrison has the power. When it’s off, even when a nurse is in the room, Chris exerts power.
In the previous chapter, Weiland did this somewhat through the sword fight between Allara and Chris. Allara first gives a blade to Chris, symbolically granting him some measure of power, but since she granted it, she does not fully yield to him true authority. Only after Chris declares that he will take responsibility for his mistakes and righting the worlds does he begin to really win with her, culminating in his disarming her, thus fully declaring his authority and that hers will submit to him. Allara does not officially yield. She isn’t ready for that, but she does grant Chris something precious instead: a small measure of respect.
Orias, Pitch, and Raz follow Mactalde and his men back to Koraud. Orias has little idea what he’s doing, but perhaps he might kill Mactalde and set his betrayal right. Only, that would make his efforts to save the Cherazii useless. The Koraudians capture him and take him to Mactalde, who mocks him with a toast and praise. There, Orias realizes his true reason for stalking the resurrected man: to ensure that the bargain he made with Rotoss for the lives of all Cherazii will be kept. Mactalde agrees to uphold Rotoss and his bargain on one condition: Orias must remain with Mactalde and fight at his side. Despite Pitch and Raz’s protests, Orias agrees. After all, no matter how he is damned for it, he must save his people.
Reader Comments: I enjoy reading Orias because he’s fascinating and complex. I do hope, though, that he does something heroic and redemptive before the end of the story. However, I suppose Weiland might also make him a tragic thread instead.
Further, I particularly loved Pitch whispering to Orias in this chapter, “I forgive you.” It gives me license as a reader to forgive him too, even if I want him to redeem himself at once.
Writer Comments: Often, an author finds it useful to speak through minor characters to secondary and main characters. This same technique can also be used to give messages, overt and subtle, to readers. Especially since readers are not experts in her world, Weiland uses Pitch and Raz like mouthpieces of Orias’s beaten conscience and for we readers to better grasp the enormously foolish decisions Orias makes. She gives Pitch and Raz humor and personality, which keeps them from feeling merely like mouthpieces, yet they fulfill the function nonetheless. Mouthpieces can be useful, but handle them with care. They must be as developed as any other character and serve more functions than simply acting as the author’s voice. In fact, they should start as characters in their own right. Only after can they be conveniently used to pass on information.