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 made some changes to God-Speaker’s cabinet, and I was able to roughly outline the plot beats in the third act. I still need to figure out how Reed’s attack on Christopher plays out to be ready to work on the chapter summaries for Act III.
The secretaries are old. Reed and Cain are old. Even the undersecretaries are middle-aged to older. Nobody new has been added to the cabinet since God-Speaker died. This is not a dynamic and lively government. It is slow and set in its ways, largely content sit in a holding pattern and let Razor Mountain slide toward decay, waiting for God-Speaker’s return.
Christopher worries about the inevitable attack, but he is amazed by how well he can read people and make contingency plans when he has God-Speaker powers and access to the voices. But he also starts to understand how God-Speaker is always thinking about threats and reading people. God-Speaker is afraid of death all the time, partly because he has so many tools to fight against death.
Reed originally killed God-Speaker in anger, albeit a slow burn rather than a hot, immediate fury. After he succeeded, he had grand ideas of taking over Razor Mountain. However, he quickly discovered that he was still stuck in the quagmire of the government. He couldn’t very well stand against all of the other secretaries, and was stymied again and again as he tried to consolidate power. As the years began to wear on, he realized that he might not even enjoy absolute power under the mountain.
By the time Christopher returns, Reed would have been content to live out his few remaining years in his current position, without clawing for more power. But he knows that the return of God-Speaker will probably mean his death, and like God-Speaker, he fears death. So he makes some attempts to stop God-Speaker’s return, and when that fails, he feels that he can either admit what he did and accept judgement, or attempt to kill God-Speaker once and for all. He reluctantly chooses the latter.
Reed’s primary lackey is the Secretary of Justice, a slimy little man who just looks out for his own hide. Reed decides to blackmail him into attacking Christopher, knowing that he will either fail, or more likely try to give up Reed to protect himself. In any case, he will use the man as a distraction and then make an attempt on Christopher’s life.
So Reed does this. The Secretary of Justice goes to Christopher and tells him that Reed tried to get him to kill Christopher. Then Reed comes up behind him and literally tries to stab him in the back. Christopher sees what’s happening instantly, stops the old man, and drags him in front of the full cabinet. As he’s doing this, his memories of Reed killing him originally are trickling back, and he begins to feel a lot more like God-Speaker instead of Christopher.
Beating Reed like this feels easier than he expected, and that’s gratifying. But this is the exact point when he realizes that Reed wasn’t the real problem. The real problem is this: what is he going to do about Christopher and God-Speaker? Who does he want to be?
All the Act III chapters are from Christopher’s perspective, although God-Speaker’s memories and thoughts intrude for certain segments, so I won’t label the viewpoint character for these.
- Chapter 34 – Cain leads Christopher to the artifacts’ chamber. Christopher experiences a flood of emotions and memories. Once Cain is satisfied that God-Speaker has been awakened, he brings him to a meeting of the cabinet, where he introduces the new God-Speaker. Cain explains that he will schedule meetings between Christopher and all the individual secretaries. After the meeting, Cain tells Christopher that he is the ruler of Razor Mountain, once murdered, now back.
- Chapter 35 – A Q&A session with Cain. He explains how Christopher was found murdered, and the imprisonment of the previous Secretary of Justice for the crime. Cain believes there may be another involved, who will want to kill him again before his memories fully return. Christopher has flashes of memory coming back, all out of order. Cain shows him how to access electronic records and a library of paper records.
- Chapter 36 – A montage of Christopher meeting with secretaries. Some are eager to please. Some are suspicious and seem to be testing him. He talks with Cain and the imprisoned secretary of Justice. Others mostly glossed over. He continues to uncover memories.
- Chapter 37 – Christopher researches the history of Razor Mountain. He does more interviews. He tries to remember who killed him. He discusses the problem with Cain, who suggests that God-Speaker could always read people exceptionally well, and perhaps he should rely on that. Christopher counters that it apparently didn’t work the first time, but he decides to rely on his God-Speaker abilities.
- Chapter 38 – Christopher runs into the Acting Secretary of Justice in a hallway, where the man tells him that Reed is the murderer and has blackmailed him. Christopher’s intuition tells him that this is accurate, that the man is an unwitting distraction, and that Reed intends to use the opportunity to kill him. Sure enough, Reed comes from behind with a knife. Christopher overpowers him and takes the knife. He sends the Acting Secretary to get MPs. Then he convenes the cabinet, talking with the cuffed Reed while the others gather. Christopher explains what happened. Reed and the Acting Secretary are taken to holding cells by the MPs.
- Chapter 39 – Christopher stands on a private balcony as the sun sets, looking out over the beauty of the mountain valley. He remembers conversations with his beloved wife about selfishness, atonement, and the fear of death. He starts to think that the world is better off without God-Speaker and Razor Mountain. He watches the stars come out and thinks about her.
- Chapter 40 – Cain wakes in the middle of the night to find Christopher sitting in his room. Christopher asks him why he worked so hard to bring God-Speaker back. Cain explains that the secretaries know God-Speaker constructed this utopia and will be the best caretaker of it. Christopher asks if Cain would still believe in him if all of Razor Mountain was just to safeguard God-Speaker’s immortality. Cain says yes, because he refuses to believe that, and even if he did, he sees that many good things have come out of it. Christopher suggests that Cain might think differently if he had lived in the outside world. Christopher feels that God-Speaker is tired of this endless cycle, and what is left of Christopher is no longer afraid of death. Cain says that Christopher will feel better when he’s “back to himself again.”
- Chapter 41 – Christopher goes to the artifacts’ chamber and throws his mind back in time, in the same way he has trained “oracles” to send warning messages back to him when things go wrong. He seeks back thousands of years. We return to the scene where God-Speaker first entered the Razor Mountain caves. Christopher enters God-Speaker’s mind, a much stronger voice than the whisper of the artifacts. Where God-Speaker previously jumped across a crack, Christopher trips him up. He falls deep into the mountain, where his body is shattered. He’s surprised to feel no pain, only numbness. Death is peaceful for him. Maybe he glimpses something beyond.
I worked out details of Reed’s second attack on Christopher. Then I outlined all of the Act III chapters. I have a full outline of the book!
Next time, I’ll go through the outline and look at where I need to make adjustments and improvements.