This is part of my ongoing series where I’m documenting the development of my serial novel, Razor Mountain. Be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead! You can start from the beginning here.
I fleshed out the artifacts, and changed their nature a bit. I worked through the building of Razor Mountain from a natural cave into the hidden city that Christopher finds when he arrives there. I outlined God-Speaker’s emotional evolution, and some of the reasons why he becomes so bitter and indifferent to the people around him.
Along with fleshing out the long history of Razor Mountain, God-Speaker’s Act II chapters need to illuminate his own character. To do that, he needs supporting characters.
God-Speaker needs a friend to betray him, and a love interest who dies tragically. He needs at least one loyal member of his most recent inner council and one who betrays and murders him, setting the events of the story in motion.
God-Speaker’s friend betrays him while he’s still building up a kingdom and fending off outside attackers. He is starting to really understand that increasing his fame will bring new dangers and problems to him, and considering a change of course. His friend is one of his best warriors and strategists, who believes that they should keep expanding the kingdom. He sees this change of heart as weakness in God-Speaker, and believes he can do a better job ruling the kingdom.
The artifacts, and the ancient voices that speak from them, give God-speaker some intuition that his friend has the potential to betray him, but he doesn’t want to believe it. Still, when his friend makes his betrayal plain and tries to kill him, God-Speaker is prepared with a hidden weapon and successfully defends himself. He kills his friend, and he and the kingdom begin to turn inward.
His great love comes many years later. Razor Mountain is a self-sustaining city, and little more than a legend to the outside world, conducting careful and clandestine trade. While God-Speaker has had some partners, this love is different. He is completely enamored. The woman he loves is an astronomer, and he uses the knowledge given to him by the artifacts’ ancient voices to help her better understand the physics of the cosmos.
However, she is sick, and getting worse. He knows that she has a form of cancer that has spread throughout her body, but he lacks effective treatments. Desperate to save her, he tries to teach her to use the artifacts to be reborn into another person’s mind. The artifacts are not compatible with most human minds, however, and she is unable to do much more than faintly hear the voices. Every night, they practice together, to no avail. Then he brings her outside to look at the stars. She dies, staring up at the sky.
The final two chapters of the act will revolve around God-Speaker and two members of his inner council, only a few years before the story starts. I’d like to fake-out which of the two is actually going to betray him.
He talks with the first council-member, a gruff but effective administrator that he relies on to plan his new projects. He tells the man that he distrusts another council member, and asks him to surveil his fellow. Then he speaks to the distrusted council member, a bookish intellectual who has a plethora of ideas to improve Razor Mountain, and is convinced that he could do more for God-Speaker if he could know all of God-Speaker’s secrets. They argue over this.
In the following chapter, the intellectual reports on several projects which have been successful. They have another discussion where the man decides that he over-stepped his bounds and God-Speaker decides that perhaps he can be trusted with a few additional secrets. Then he meets with the administrator. He tells him that surveillance can be scaled back, and the man can get back to some of his projects, which have been slipping while he was distracted by this task.
To God-Speaker’s surprise, the administrator betrays him. God-Speaker didn’t think the man had enough of an ego to be a threat. Even worse, the man has been planning for some time. He has removed God-Speaker’s hidden weapons from their hiding places. There’s a nasty altercation.
God-Speaker flees to the artifacts’ chamber, and the man murders him there. As he lays dying, his consciousness is flung out into the world, and into baby Christopher, where it lies dormant.
All of that should fit into four God-Speaker chapters, and I’ve allocated five. I think I can use my first Act II chapter as a look at the early days of Razor Mountain. God-Speaker is introducing a new group of ice-age migrants to Razor Mountain. The first thing they do is eat a huge meal, to remind the newcomers how good life will be for them. Then he shows them the fields of grain, orchards and livestock that the food came from. He shows them a mine, a forge, and metal tools. He explains that this “great tribe” is superior to their small tribe. Finally, he tells them about himself, and how he listens to the gods of the mountain, who teach him all of these good things.
Today was a shorter session, so I worked through what I wanted in each of the Act II God-Speaker chapters, but I didn’t get into the detailed summaries. I’ll finish those off next time. Then I’ll probably get into Act III, where Christopher and God-Speaker’s stories finally converge!