At this point, we were fully aware that Best was our least popular “hero,” and that making him the sole protagonist of this chapter wouldn’t even be the most controversial thing about it. To some degree, that was the thrill: I felt like if we could keep most of our readers with a Best adventure crossed with “everything you know is wrong” and seasoned with “all your favorites are dead,” it’d be proof we could do anything.

But just because we were ready to play on hard mode, that doesn’t mean we were going to do everything the hard way. Best’s internal monologue in this page and the last is meant to win you to his side. He’s half-plagued by vulnerable, relatable doubt and half-buoyed by sincere, reassuring optimism. The stable-boy who can’t believe his good fortune is still in him somewhere, and he comes out in quiet moments like this.

Also, the equal-opportunity post-orgy eye candy is nice too, if you like that sort of thing.