Warlord Aerol is going to march to the mega-fortress and end the cycle of barbarism. His dominion has never been in a better shape and his soldiers are ready. None have ever entered the mega-fortress before, but Aerol is confident it will be achieved. The road is clear, it’s the next step, and it’s the only way to free the Tekromun in his dominion, soldiers and civilians alike.
Aerol ignores any sign that things could go wrong. True, his mentor Galouch has been acting strange, after visiting the local sorcerer that has all the soldiers spooked, but no distractions or irrational fear can be permitted on this day. What Aerol doesn’t realise is that by marching to the mega-fortress, far from stepping into a future of prosperity, he’s actually going to come face to face with the past.
The past catches up with Aerol. Sorcerer Arch Banuk is much more powerful than a sorcerer should be, and Aerol doesn’t know why. Memorised conversations Aerol’s father told him become increasingly relevant on his way to the mega-fortress; conversations he had assumed were myth or speculation. Aerol learns his preternatural abilities may be because he is a rare form of sub-monster, which explains much, except why.
I chose to prioritise writing and developing Aerol: Mega-Fortress above editing past published novels, writing sequels, and even other new works that I shared 2 years ago. There are a few main reasons. In a sense, it’s the story I’ve been working towards writing from 2012. It can trace its lineage from Marcellus stories written in 2012, 2013, and 2016, including the published novel Marcellus: The Mantle. I think the reason behind this is that writing about a real believable hero has not been an easy feat. Though I’ve a great passion for the fantastical, a hero’s roots should be genuine and solid, rather than lost and desperate, even if we’re discussing an anti-hero.
Aerol: Mega-Fortress represents main character anti-hero Warlord Aerol’s early success adapting his skills for survival on a surface where the peril of soldiers, warlords, and rogues are ever-present. Unlike my earlier models of heroes, he’s not setting himself against the world, galaxy, society, or organisation in an attempt to retain his independence and his values. Warlord Aerol knows that working within the system or changing it is his best chance of survival and success.
The story represents my cynicism with fitting in, and that’s why the sorcerer Arch Banuk exists and he’s difficult to fathom for Aerol, and impossible to reach and understand as an equal. Arch Banuk’s roots also go deep, historically, and the consequences of his outlook are evident in his superior manner.
I often feel trapped, and so does Aerol. This feeling manifests itself in frustration and aggression with his soldiers, everybody else who gets in the way, and those who he cannot understand or empathise with. Aerol’s fortress is really a last stand against a world that has betrayed his trust and is more group-centric – though he sees himself as an individual. His ‘warlordship’ is an example of a system he had created to respond to group warfare and because it was a novelty when he founded it, it gave him early victories against rivals. However, it presents its own leadership challenges and he is burdened by rules and routines.
Ultimately, I wanted to write about a character that had strengths: to know what they were and why. It wasn’t enough for me to say he was a ‘fantastic hero just because!’