The biggest influence behind Quest of the Broken-Hearted was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. I liked the idea of an adventure taking place in a castle full of monsters that the hero is either trying to clear out or escape from. Kira Grasdon having a whip-like weapon pushed this a bit too. Still, that doesn’t mean the creation of this story was easy or stable. It actually wasn’t until 3 years ago that I locked everything in to what you’re going to see. Prior to that, it went through a long line of transformations with emotionally Kira and Lacarsis the only constant. So, how did this grow?
Originally, the story was a one-shot that was named after the City of Evil. It was a vast structure with only a handful of vicious beasts that were chasing Kira around while she searched for the core. I hadn’t decided Luke’s fate yet, so she wasn’t as bad as she would become. I figured I could change it to suit what ending I picked for the main series, so I focused more on the adventure. This kept falling flat though because I couldn’t really rationalize Kira going in there. I put it on the back-burner and figured I’d revamp once I locked in Luke’s ending.
Quest of the Broken-Hearted 1
This idea is where the title came from and not much changed beyond Kira’s reason for going into Lacarsis. She wanted to die this time, but that brought up the question of why would she fight. I came up with the idea that the main bad guy would be a demon that is posing as Luke Callindor. This meant she wanted to die and uncover the truth, which made even less sense. The only thing to come out of this disastrous version is the idea of a demonic ruler, which stayed through the rest of the incarnations.
I forgot what the main title was, but I suddenly got the idea to give Kira a trilogy. She also firmly believed Luke was dead here. I wanted to show her fall from grace instead of having it happen between books. So, her first adventure saw her being a vigilante in Gaia. This was a secret identity due to being a noble and not wanting to cause any problems with her business. She ended up uncovering a plot to destroy the Grand Counselor’s of Gaia, which was being done by a Masked group of nobles. She would win, but at the cost of exposing herself and putting her business at risk.
The second book had her working with a young elf named Rayne who she adopted in the first book. Learning of an item that could revive the dead without fail, Kira sets off with a few friends to find it. The quest would end in failure and she would return to find that she no longer has her fortune or company. Even worse, she is struck by a vision of Rayne being with a revived Luke, which drives her insane. The two fight and the mansion catches fire while Rayne runs away and Kira is nearly killed. That might be where this idea really went wrong because I made her go full insanity.
The finale was Lacarsis again with Kira wanting to die. This time, she would enter the City of Evil without there being a call for adventurers and learn that the ruler runs a tournament for those who intrude. She would be pitted against his monsters and treated much like a gladiator, which began to mimic her old lifestyle. Kira was still angry and hurting, but every victory pushed her higher up the social hierarchy of Lacarsis. This lead to an interesting conflict where she is among monsters, but is more accepted than in human society because she’s entertaining. Since I never wrote this version, I can’t say how it would end in terms of her mentality.
Quest of The Broken-Hearted Now
I eventually realized a trilogy was too much and I simply didn’t want to fully retire Kira Grasdon. Once I accepted that things have to end, I went back to the roots of the original idea. The third book was kept with its tournament, I retained the demonic ruler, and made it that Kira had been ostracized for her belief that Luke is alive. She developed that apathy toward living, which I’ll admit is an emotional state that I was in when I did the outlining. When Legends of Windemere in the final stages and the ending for Luke Callindor chosen, I found it easier to gauge her mentality. There’s a fragility to her this time, but a steel core. It’s almost like the new Kira Grasdon can have her outer shell shattered while her heart manages to continue beating.
I played this up a little more like a game too in that she gets trophies from those she kills and gets a friend to turn them into gear. These kinds of decisions also helped me develop something I’d never done. Lacarsis itself was gaining a personality and culture instead of simply being a setting. Kira and the City of Evil were growing with each other, which made for some interesting decisions. Even when I got to the actual writing, there were plenty of surprises for me. I never gave the monster champions much in the way of development, but many of them were determined to be more than beasts. This organic growth is what told me I was on the right path too. It’s not a large cast like War of Nytefall, but it makes up for that with personality.
So, that’s the overview of where this story came from. Much like Kira, this one kept catching me by surprise and evolving in leaps and bounds. It’s kind of nice to get it out into the world instead of letting it marinate for eternity.