As I was outlining the final battle, I realized there was a problem. The Baron was going to have an army of monsters at one point, which seemed rather ridiculous in a way. It meant the champions could have simply been overrun and that’s the game. There’s only so much 6 heroes can do if faced by a former god, demons, undead, and other monsters. It’s around this time that a supporting character’s voice popped into my head with an interesting phrase:
“Just because the champions are destined to fight the Baron, it doesn’t mean they have to fight alone.”
I realize that I had all of the non-champions sidelined and acting as either spectators or people caught in the crossfire. This included characters like Fizzle, Trinity, Kira, and all of the leaders who could march armies into the area. Why would these characters stay out of the fray? Because destiny didn’t pick them? Well, I’d already established that free will is a factor and most prophecies are vague to allow for this. Not to mention, they’d see the opposing army and attack to help the champions focus on the Baron. Some of the supporting characters have even been hinting that they want a shot at the big guy because of what his agents put them through. So, I had to factor in more people than I originally planned because that voice was right. There was absolutely no reason for the champions to fight alone.
Another aspect of the champion powers came from here too, which is a sudden revelation in the book. A simple explanation is that they take strength from those around them. Not surprising since they are supposed to function as leaders as well. People do tend to fight harder when they’re protecting someone or something, which is another source of this twist that they stumble onto. This helps to explain so much of the previous books too because the champions have been creating friendships and relationships. It even goes back to Kevin Masterson talking to Luke Callindor about regrets in Beginning of a Hero. He mentions that a true warrior holds things to his heart like they are his spirit and it can be more than one. So, this idea of the supporting cast leaping into the fray alongside the champions was probably in me from the beginning.
This didn’t mean it was easy either because I had to include them without taking too much attention away from the main heroes. I didn’t like the idea of having the supporting characters attack the Baron as one then be decimated like you see in other stories. Their focus was that army, which was turning out to be even bigger because now they had a more interesting adversary. The trick I used was giving an occasional scene to the supporting characters once the battle began. As you saw their side of the battle, the Baron and champions would be noticed in the background or come crashing through. Go back to the big fight and you start seeing the supporting characters getting involved when you see an opening. There’s a scene where a badly injured champion is found by 3 old friends and helped to find the strength to continue. Another has one who gets into too much trouble and needs to be rescued. So, you can see that there is good and bad here.
I didn’t include all of the supporting cast though. A few didn’t make any sense or would bring other problems with them. Not to mention there was all the killing in Ritual of the Lost Lamb. Still, I found enough to keep things busy and exciting. Once you throw characters like this into the mix, you open the doors for heroes and villains to do certain actions. The Baron could take a hostage or the champions could use the special ability of a friend to gain an advantage. Either way, it really opened the door for more fun.
Last minute thought: Adding these friends and supportive army sets up for a resistance if the Baron wins too. Instead of having 6 chosen heroes stand against him, he has others who would otherwise be his enslaved citizens. It makes his job much harder since an army has risen up from the beginning. That’s just asking for splinter cells of rebels in his new kingdom.