Going From Nemesis to Ally

Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender

It’s fairly common in long series for some villains to turn into heroes.  At least if you have multiple villains in a tiered system.  Most times this happens when the big baddie rewards loyalty with betrayal or does something that crosses a line.  There’s this jolt of realization for the other villain that they’re on the wrong side.  Well, not always a jolt, but they might disappear for a while go soul-searching after nearly being killed by the person they thought was an ally.

This is what happened with Trinity, but there was always a sense that she was straddling the fence.  It’s revealed in Allure of the Gypsies that her people see her as a hero and they hint about her suffering.  Over the course of the series, you get to see more of this and it places Trinity in the position of a pseudo-villain. She is a bad guy who hurts others and follows an evil master, but her motivation is to protect her people.  Imagine if the series was told from her perspective.  You would get a more heroic vibe from Trinity earlier on and maybe even side with her against Nyx at times.  Readers would wonder why the champions never look into the chaos elves and recognize that they’re as much victims of the Baron as everyone else.  More so since he’s been twisting and torturing them for hundreds of years.  Thankfully, we have Path of the Traitors to get the chaos elf perspective on things.

One would think having Trinity and the champions go from hated enemies to trusted allies would be the toughest part.  Long ago, I feared it would be stretched.  That was before Trinity began showing a more sensitive side.  At some point in the series, she becomes fairly confused about her feelings towards Nyx.  It began as a playful challenge and then blossomed into full hate, but they ended up gaining respect for each other.  Neither could tell what was going on and they found that their fights could be easily disrupted.  It was almost like they were looking for an excuse to stop battling and part ways.  Mostly, this was by me to help draw out their rivalry and make it a grey area.  I didn’t know what Trinity’s fate would be until I started writing The Mercenary Prince.  Keep in mind that this was a late addition to the series and done because Delvin didn’t get much of the spotlight.  Imagine my surprise when it pushed Trinity into the spot I think she was always meant to be.

There’s still some tension, but I unintentionally did the right thing by making Trinity a tortured character.  Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.  She repeatedly showed signs of having a good heart and directed this at her enemies at times.  These moments of her giving into her kind nature helped lay the groundwork for Path of the Traitors where she needs to help those she’s tried to kill.  Not to mention that the champions now have to trust her and her companions.  It’s more Trinity than her friends though because she’s expected to be the one in charge.  Regardless of her past actions, it is fairly easy to put some faith in her because she is a leader and used to working with true villains.  That and she’s a channeler like Nyx.

Speaking of Nyx again, I did like how she’s the one that opened her heart to Trinity before most of the others.  Sari did it first only because she wasn’t a champion at the time and didn’t know what was going on.  Nyx and Trinity are the most powerful channelers in Windemere, which means they’re the keys to their people’s resurrection.  This creates a bond between them, which is another reason they seemed to hesitate in using their full strength until their final battle.  A facet of this part is that it means Trinity has two cultures and people depending on her for survival.  It makes her an expert in a way and that draws Nyx into being a friend and ally.  One could even say a sister, which makes sense considering Nyx gives nearly everyone a sibling name.  I’m actually happy with how their relationship has evolved since it was the big one.

Another big step in the transition from enemy to ally is that somebody has to give the villain a chance at redemption.  For Trinity, this came from Timoran Wrath in Tribe of the Snow Tiger.  This is the opening that she needed to change her life and make a decision that she always dreamed of making.  Much like her channeler bond with Nyx, this has actually created a connection to Timoran.  His actions made her and the other chaos elves feel like there’s a chance that they will be accepted by the rest of Windemere if the Baron is defeated.  It’s a big incentive for them to join the good guys and those are what you need to help a character switch sides.

Can you think of any villains that eventually sided with the heroes?  What was it about the switch that made it work for you?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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7 Responses to Going From Nemesis to Ally

  1. L. Marie says:

    I’m glad you showed Zuko. His story is my favorite enemy to ally transition. Xena’s transition also is good.

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  2. Great post, with room for a lot of reflection. So much of hero or villain is perspective. Trinity is a great example. Comics seem to have a few of these, but I can’t think of many outside that world. Then you have Anakin Skywalker who made the opposite journey.

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    • The thing with comics is that they keep going back band forth. Magneto and Venom have gone good at times. Not as many go the Anakin route. Colossus of the Xmen did for a bit actually. It’s definitely a useful transition for ensemble stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was very struck when Chris Claremont, in the pages of X-men, had Magneto change after realizing he was about to kill a child (Kitty Pryde, who was then 13 or 14). When later writers changed Magneto back, that was a big disappointment to me.

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