Some of you guessed the general thrust of this story without remembering that we’d seen the people on the cover before, whereas others recognized them from that linked page immediately.

Killing off major characters for reals, no backsies, is a difficult decision in an ongoing series. I’ve admired it often enough to see the value in it… it gives your world a reality it might otherwise lack, and Guilded Age‘s premise meant we had to fight especially hard to give Arkerra reality.

If we wanted death to feel like a real presence in our tale, someone relatively major had to go before the climax. It couldn’t be one of the Five, though we deliberated, early on, about whether Bandit Keynes would turn out to be the fifth member of the Five after all, freeing Best up to truly die. There were questions about who had the most room to grow (cutting down E-Merl seems like cutting a coming-of-age story short, whereas Rachel was close to the best version of herself by the time we were introduced to her by name). There were questions about who had the most powerful emotional connections to the others (I had a death scene mapped out for Scipio, but his loss wouldn’t have hit anyone, not even Fr’Nj, as hard as Rachel’s hits Frigg and E-Merl).

But this makes it all sound more calculated than it was. Apart from Scipio, no Peacemaker was seriously considered for the chopping block for very long. We kinda knew it had to be Rachel… but we still felt a certain need to atone.

Continued tomorrow…