Monday, March 26, 2018

[TRUTH SERUM] The Final Lesson


Approximately one year, four months, and two weeks to the day, I finished a little novel that I started during my first National Novel Writing Month called "The Final Lesson." I already had the plans to publish it as a standalone despite mixed statements on people wanting me to make it two separate books due to its length or let it run its course and be as big as the world itself could shape it as.

In the end, it merged as one, and since I'm on a backlog between my Final Fantasy XV complete review (which will be released after I purchase the rather unexpected Royal Edition DLC and judge it all then) as well as working through a nice number of secret projects... I decided to tell the story of the longest novel I've crafted to date.

I always love my truth serums. Maybe you'll like this one too.

The very first confirmed design of main character Leilana Erovina, originally named Leila. She was created to be a Final Fantasy OC, daughter to Zack Fair. Whom, I adore, as many know.


The year was 2016, and it was early October, just weeks away from the legendary crunch month for everyone looking to create their own new project, or continue current ones. 50,000 words in a month, always a challenge for me, but some do double that in that slot of time. But it was going to be my first, and I was more than happy to participate and see what the buzz was about.

I already had some ideas in mind, but they clicked into place one night while working my shift at Wal-Mart (I guess it was sheer luck, because I tend to become so stressed when I'm at this place that I lose most of my ideas). I could write a story about a young witch that's on a pilgrimage. Bit by bit, the story lined up my fantasy. A prince and his servant. Friendships growing. War. Wonder. Mystic. Wisdom. Chaos, cataclysm. All things that I loved in my favorite escape.

Current Leilana, aged 14, a far cry from the cute child above.


My biggest inspiration for this story came from not only my love of video games, fantasy, and all things magical, but a very distinctive aspect of my early childhood. 

When I was about six years old, I had a massive phase where every time that I went to my local video store with my mom, who knew the owner pretty well, I wanted to pick up the Studio Ghibli movie "Kiki's Delivery Service." 

At the time, I didn't know anything about anime spare watching Pokemon and Digimon extensively. But "Kiki's Delivery Service" was different--Kiki was an early inspiration for me due to her positive nature and willingness to change. What set her apart from the Pokemon trainers and the Digidestined... all of her skills came from a lineage, and she was born to become a powerful witch.

I wanted to be a witch too, more than anything.

I thought of flying through the night sky on a broomstick when I turned thirteen, and getting to explore other cities and become a better person by meeting new people. Part of that got to come true, at least. I never got the dream of becoming a witch... but I did get to meet new people and grow from it. And if I couldn't ride on a broomstick to other places, why not have someone else do it in my place?

That led to the birth of Leilana Erovina, a young girl blessed with magic from an heirloom of her late brother, a gift from her fallen clan: a grimoire called the Lasette. She is given the opportunity to become a Warlord, a powerful mage that can become a quintessential guardian within the realm of Adrylis. Her thirst for knowledge was her driving force for her character's development, as she is always willing to learn more about new places, new people, and to see what lies ahead of her. That is only amplified when she meets the Prince of a recently-fallen kingdom, Remiel Vesarus, and his servant/guardian/best friend, Solus Brenner. 

Kiki and Leilana couldn't be more different in personality. But I hope that Leilana one day holds as much inspiration for someone as Kiki did for me. Thank you, Hayao Miyazaki, for giving her to me.


Brothers in arms, Solus Brenner (left)
and Remiel Vesarus (right). 
Leilana and Solus, the
only confirmed couple in the
story, known as "Soleil."
One thing that sets "The Final Lesson" apart from other stories I've written is the creation of my first true relationship formed over time. An intentional romance that still buds like a rose and allows the petals to wilt and fall as the story progresses. 

Before Leilana and Solus's romantic relationship truly blossomed in my mind, and still stands as my favorite that I've written, I avoided romance in my fantasies like the plague. I was very skilled at writing other developments in friendships, crushes, and even brotherhoods. But this was my first true pairing that I wrote and established from the very beginning and came to adore the more that they interacted. They deserved a chance.

Still, much like my other works, they aren't the only relationship to blossom. Solus and Remiel had a close friendship from the beginning of the story, acting as best friends, brothers, and also have an odd closeness as Servant and Lord due to Remiel's royal lineage. Their friendship has a lot of testaments that grow throughout the story, willing to test them in leaps and bounds due to leaving home and being away from watchful eyes. There's also the friendship between Sien Kaiser and Leilana, the first female bond that either of them shared, and one that develops by mere chance in Sien's tavern. More complexingly, there's also a bond between Leilana and a former classmate, Amiria Farone, and their friendship with Lancett Lune.

Building characters has always been my passion. And I'm hoping that they continue to blossom in the wildflower garden that is "The Final Lesson."


Last year, I wrote a novella prequel to "The Final Lesson." It wasn't well-received in terms of reviews due to its poor pacing (Which, I admit, was really rushed), but it did manage to snag second place in the Virtual Fantasy Con awards for best fantasy novella. I plan to rewrite that novella from scratch. 

And this time, it'll shed some light on another character that didn't have much time to shine before his already written demise, Ennis Erovina, the older brother of Leilana Erovina and prominent Warlord. He deserves more of a story.


The next thing on my list? Finishing more projects. Trying not to destroy myself in the process. Hopefully finishing my second NaNoWriMo project! And then... I relax in my chair and sip some tea like the writer that I am!