It’s been a long time since I got to make a truly suspenseful cliffhanger. I hope it’s not a terrible two weeks for those who have to wait. Though, now that I think about it, it’s also finals in some parts so the focus may be elsewhere anyway. I digress.
There were small dips in mood, like in Raikou’s ‘problem-introductory’ fragment, or Lobo’s entry, but they remained lingering issues that just stuck into your side like a small thorn bush. As much as I insist on keeping the Slice of Life feel and mood intact, there is a minor balance that must be maintained. It is met with this small arc, since not all problems can be so easily avoided. To get to the juicer Slice of Life possibilities, sometimes you need to go through the darker parts of town.
So, this fragment serves to twist your mood alongside its star, Achilles. It’s meant to prep and brace you for what’s to come by slowly eliminating the hopes that this could end in a positive light. That the dark path at night can be avoided. In this case, it can’t.
Obviously, that made this fragment a great bed for a well-known concept: The five stages of Grief. In such a short time span, you watch Achilles go through all of it while the clock ticks down. A prideful, mighty hero has to face the consequence of his past action, but must do so in a situation where he’s still a fish out of water: The homelife. The life he doubted he could ever have, but Chiron insisted he could.
After laying down the peeks before this fragment, you catch glimpses of Achilles trying and working out of his element. It all comes full circle, where he’s grown to acknowledge that he has to be more than just who he was before. His final trial is now presented before him, where he’s weighed everything, but still shoots for the impossible as only a defiant ancient hero could.
But his enemy is no longer just a faceless warrior. It’s someone he fought before, called beautiful, and essentially spat on her grave. Following her, he’s glimpsed the first signs of a person who is also quickly following her own curiosities. He sees another servant, another otherwise calm and driven individual, who wishes to stay, but had the bad luck of the draw due to his actions. Most importantly, this is someone he’s decided to face, even if he was resolved never to do so again.
You can see it as his final test on whether or not he really will make a great parental figure. But what is a father supposed to be to their family if not a hero? So that driving point helped fuel Achilles through the stages of grief to his final, grim answer at the cliffhanger. Before, he would do it for himself, and sometimes for someone he truly cared for. For this, he decided with only a shred of himself as consideration, if only because of what he means to many now.
I find myself content with most fragments, but I feel like this one is one of my better entries. In my opinion, at least. I’m looking forward to writing the next fragment, which I hope will end up just as profoundly resonant. By the end of this important arc, who knows. Maybe some of you will come to hold it as your favorite to date. It’s already among my favorites to write.
Teaser: Pride. It can make many push themselves into actions many would question. Yet what would they know? Some things just couldn’t slide. Some acts just couldn’t be forgiven, for there was no greater crime than to crush the hard-earned pursuit of a lifetime after conquering a mountain of trials. So let the ignorant call her petty, but the mighty queen refused to tolerate such a stain on her prestige. Her pride would never allow it. (If this teaser wasn’t obvious enough, then I’ll spell it out too: Brace for one of the darkest entries in Fragments’ history.)