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Fallen Hero fall from Grace

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Azaraiha, Jul 12, 2020.

  1. Azaraiha

    Azaraiha Dreamer

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    The story I'm working on is going to be split in two halves, or trilogies. I thought it would be cool that the antagonist in part 2 is the hero of part 1. Im stuck, however, with figuring out how the hero will fall into darkness and why.

    A little overview of the Fallen Hero:
    The character is a banished Elven warrior who becomes a trusted ally and friend to a human King. The king names him Lord Protector, charged with being the king's bodyguard and personal "sword". When the king's son, the crown prince, turns fifteen the elf is made Lord Protector of the prince. Shortly after the kingdom suffers from a coup, the royal family is killed except for the prince and now the elf has to help the prince gather allies and forge alliances inorder to take his throne.

    How do I corrupt the Elven hero and make his fall believable?
     
  2. Lynea

    Lynea Minstrel

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    Maybe the prince asks him to do something that he just can't do? Or something that changes the way he looks at the world?

    There are lots of ways to put conflict in front of your heroes, and sometimes that conflict pushes them over the edge.
     
  3. Azaraiha

    Azaraiha Dreamer

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    I was thinking about corruption his since of Honor. In my world elves come from a warrior society where the nation is placed above all else. Honor to clan and to family is important as long as the interests of the nation is advanced. Or maybe he has a warped since of justice? But I'm unsure how that would look being raised in such a society.
     
  4. S J Lee

    S J Lee Troubadour

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    He swears an oath but the oath had unintended consequences. EG, Feanor's sons oath to get the silmarils back from anyone who withholds them leads to elves slaughtering elves and Melkor laughing at them.

    How much of an a-hole do you want him to be?

    OR... he needs to reassess what he is doing....
    EG, the movie, Hero, where Jet Li comes to kill the first Emperor of all China. He wants revenge on a tyrant who has conquered all other lands. He tricks his way into the throne room. He has the emperor at his mercy, and they both know it. But he chooses not to kill him, and gives up his quest, even though the result will be his own death. The emperor reluctantly orders him killed, and Jet Li does not resist. Why?

    Because... the unification of China is a good thing...it is better off if it IS ruled by one man. Or so the hero decides. What is his own vengeance, his own life, compared to the forging of a great nation?

    Your hero could decide that the prince will become a vengeful tyrant, killing all enemies, and the race itself may die out in the end.

    Your hero could realise that he is going to end up as a dead end, like Sertorious in Spain. When Sulla crushed Marius' faction in ancient Rome and wiped out the senate as it had been, Sertorius held out for many years against Sulla's goons, like the young Pompey, winning many battles. BUT his dream of retaking Rome was a joke. He kept on fighting over smaller chunks of the map, and eventually one of his guards murdered him .. for a reward? Maybe the hero sees that it is pointless, and quits.

    Or maybe he simply gets scared and runs ... even brave men simply snap from stress sometimes.. eg DAS BOOT, where the veteran engineer suddenly snaps under just one more bombardment, and is mortified afterwards.....

    He could re-evaluate the validity of the first king's claim to the throne and find it wanting... or choose to do so...

    honour can be corrupted by technical wordings, or by the realisation of greater good....

    The Japanese had the satire on the samurai code of honour... four samurai are called to mobilise and fight... one is sick and stays home, his three neighbours sneer at him and go without him.. he recovers the next day, and, enraged, chases after the others. Arrives at camp and kills them all in duels. Then kills himself because he deprived his master of three samurai... thus depriving him of four! What would have happened if his master had intervened before the first duel and said "Screw your honour, it is only there to serve me and increase my chances of victory?"
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
  5. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

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    Small steps to corruption. Not sure how he got banished in the first place, but that may also hold a reason for the downfall. Though all it takes is doing little things that lead to the eventual big one. Of course it can come with an eventual conclusion that they've become the very thing they fought against. Or not, and just roll with it. But it can start with something as simple as turning a defensive thing into a small slaughter and then comes the justification. And it just goes from there.
     
    Vicki27 likes this.
  6. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Inkling

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    A lot of conflict can emerge from interpreting the letter of the law and the spirit of the law... and just because something is legal, doesn't make it right. Just because something is illegal, doesn't make it wrong. And to be banished for a technicality while acting in good faith, would probably leave a bitter taste in most people's mouths, elf or not.

    Disillusionment can have powerful consequences for a character's arc, especialy if they are principled and honorable. You could argue that there is a kind of self-corruption that leads to moral/ intellectual ambiguity... and on a long enough scale of time of choices, consequences and introspection, eventually anything can become justifiable...

    You can only ever make decisions and act on them in the moment you need to act, with the information and resources you have, to make the decision. You will be judged for your choices and actions, and people usually won't bother to ask what you thought your options were to choose from in that moment.

    Corruption isn't always a wanton and willful descent into darker ambitions and evil thinking... it's often gradual. In the series "Ozarks", the character Wendy made a good point: (to paraphrase) 'Adam and Eve never wanted that damn apple. They never chose to bring sin upon themselves from pride and defiance or curiousity; they chose it because they were desperate. They were lost and walled-in that overgrown garden- all turned around and saw no way out- and they were f$%king starving...and that apple was the first thing they saw to eat, so they took it.'

    If your elf character makes an egregious mistake, follows through with, or acts on, bad information, etc. this could lead to his banishment. You could also draft a version where he is not a casualty of circumstances beyond his knowing or control, and truly does something willfully of his own volition that justifies his banishment. He could do this as an act of self-sacrifice, or for very personal reasons. Maybe when the due process of law failed a personal situation, he took vengeance anyway.

    The more overlapping and rippling reasons for a character to do questionable things, imho, the better. Building subtle but systematic conditions, an environment both internal (mental and emotional) and external (physical reality and cultural) for a character to be pushed to the breaking point, to be influenced, or have their perspectives distorted or disillusioned... is potent and powerful.

    If you need a specific example.... let's say this warrior was a bodyguard to a heir-prince This prince was bad news, and did terrible things. Let's say this prince was something like a Jack-the-Ripper, who was torturing and murdering people, and forcing your elf character to be an unwilling accessory to his crimes. Nothing was going to be done to stop him, because he was the prince.

    Maybe it was an open secret... everybody knew, everybody suspected, but he's the heir... nothing could be done. Your character decides to do something about it. The prince winds up dead because your character 'failed' at his duty. Is it the end of the world? No... there is another heir-prince who isn't a total psychopath. But, your character has to accept the consequences for his 'failure' to protect the prince. Maybe he killed the prince himself, and blamed a ficticious non-existent assassin. Perhaps the queen mother said to your character, "that boy ain't right in the head. Bump him off so my other son can rule instead. You'll be doing me and the whole kingdom a huge favor." Maybe he is truly ok with himself for the decision he made, and banishment is not such a bad option when he wanted out of royal guard duty and to put some distance between himself and royal skeletons in the closet anyway...
     
    Vicki27 likes this.
  7. There's a few ways to look at it. The main thing to keep in mind is that everyone is the hero in their own story. So the character needs to believe he is doing the right thing, even if the reader doesn't agree.

    As Orc KnightOrc Knight said, it's small steps to corruption. Most people don't wake up one day as a cold blooded tyrant. But perhaps they will kill a spy, or torture someone to get the information they need to save a loved one or fight down a rebellion with just a bit more force then needed to make sure they don't do so a second time. You push the boundary one step further each time.

    The second thing to consider is that it's best framed as a dilemma. The character gets a choice at the end, where he can chose to be a good person or he can continue on the path towards evil. It's a choice and the hero picks the wrong one (for believable reasons). What does your hero want most? Maybe the only way to get that is to "turn to the dark side". For instance, he is a banished elf. Maybe more than anything he wants to be accepted back into elven society. What if the only way to do that is to turn his back on his human allies? Maybe the elves want to invade the human kingdom and your hero realises that if he gets rid of the prince and puts himself in place as ruler then maybe he will be accepted back by the elves. Or maybe the prince is a weakling and unfit to rule (just because you're bourn a prince doesn't mean you are a good ruler after all). and the hero realises that keeping the prince in power will make matters worse. So instead he gets rid of the prince and instead rules himself.
     
    Vicki27 likes this.
  8. Za'dok Khoal

    Za'dok Khoal Dreamer

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    Ok, I like the dynamics here. You've given yourself a lot to work with, depending on your style of narrative. Is it going to be more war and action based? or is it going to have some political intrigue and show the spiraled web of power politics? That just sounds fun because you have the relation ships to play on, between the elf and the king, the kings court and perhaps elven envoys who see this banished warrior now in a seat of respect in the kingdoms court. The coup, who is trying to take the throne? and why?
    Anyways, back to the question at hand, the elf who is the hero in the first book becomes the antagonist or a villian-esque character in the second book, that could be fun too. maybe while rallying forces to the princes side, the banished elf starts to see the selfishness of the prince and the kind of ruler he would be. seeing the usurpers, as no better or worse, he comes across people of the elven kingdom, maybe they give ideas, start to weed ideas, maybe the elf was banished because "he" had a claim to the elven throne, and was a risk, now seeing an opportunity to claim allies, and make a move, he acts, and not in a way the short sighted prince would have imagined. From here, you have the elf taking on the old kingdom, the usurpers and anyone who would want him dead from the elven realm. this makes him desperate and he continually goes to further measures to insure victory. (compromising his own desperate beliefs). or maybe he is doing the right thing( in his own right) war is never a good thing, he doesn't relatively have to be the "Bad Guy" to be the antagonist, he simply takes on another cause, (comes into his own). The prince's further fall from grace wakes him, he starts to see life in a different way, even his trusted lord protector turned on him, (which could have been avoided if he had been a better person and showed it.) and he starts to take a step in the correct direction, (even as his father would have wanted him to).
    you could look at it like you are playing chess against yourself, which side is actually the good side? The elves, the rightful king, the usurpers? its all about perspective.
     
  9. Nirak

    Nirak Minstrel

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    One other thing to think about is that he could be more of antagonist than a villain. As in, he could still be the same person, but his goals conflict with whoever your hero is in book 2. Something like where there's a lawman on the trail of your hero, when the lawman is doing their job and is still good, but trying to carry out their duty. The lawman is still good, but the hero conflicts with him/her. Perhaps the prince your exiled elf is sworn to protect is murdered - he swears vengeance on the perpetrator. Oh no! Your hero is framed (or in the wrong place at the wrong time) and seems to be guilty. Your elf turns their focus to hunting down the hero. Whether they continue this hunt to the point of actually becoming evil, or ends up seeing the truth and changing sides is all up to you (or other options, like Javert in Les Miserables).

    Or how about "Captain America: Civil War" - Tony Stark becomes the antagonist to Cap, but Tony's still a good guy. So you can have conflict in your story, and your character from book 1 can provide it, but they don't HAVE to be evil. Just some thoughts!
     
    Vicki27 likes this.
  10. Azaraiha

    Azaraiha Dreamer

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    I appreciate all the responses I have gotten on this thread. Thank you for the advice.

    More on the Elf:
    Azaraiha was the heir to the Empire of Dol' Gathaea, an elven nation that is both feared and respected for it's militaristic culture and society. In Dol' Gathaea, the heir to the throne is not necessarily the first born of the ruler The heir is selected by the ruler and his most capable generals based a) blood relation to the Emperor, only his children are considered, b) the candidate's martial prowess. Martial skill is constantly tested throughout life, they must have strength and skill with various weapons. Yet they are not chosen on brute strength alone or their skill with a sword, the must prove they can lead a successful campaign, the higher the perceived odds, the better. C) the candidate has their honor examined: in Dol' Gathaea honor is closely related to furthering the interests of self, family and State above all else.

    Following a campaign in which Azaraiha conquered a rival nation previous Emperors were embarrassingly defeated by, he was named heir. However, his younger sibling stained his family's honor when he killed a highly respected and beloved elder in a fit of rage. In order to save the honor of not only his sibling, the honor of his father, the Emperor, Azaraiha allowed himself to be banished in his siblings stead.
     
    Za'dok Khoal likes this.
  11. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

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    Oh, so Azaraiha is basically kind of Worf.
     
  12. Azaraiha

    Azaraiha Dreamer

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    I was thinking more along the lines of mixing Bushido and Viking warrior culture.
     
  13. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

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    Ah. All the bits about honor, preserving it, holding it to it's high standard beside the martial and military arts and lot's of other honor I was just reminded of the Klingons. I'm more liable to latch on to fictional societies then old real world ones.
     
  14. Za'dok Khoal

    Za'dok Khoal Dreamer

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    Honestly I had to look up Worf. lol
     
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