A common trope in fantasy is magical artefacts of unknown, limitless power. Their main power, however, is being plot devices. At the end of the day, the ring to rule them all in Lords of Rings is just a magical gold ring that the heroes have got to destroy. Of course, the in-story lore is much deeper than that, but Lords of Rings at its core is a simple story: get the ring to Mt. Doom before the villains steal it. Everything else around this central directive is world building and it is the characters that hook you in with their plot arcs and the adventure they take. The ring itself, though, is simple in construction, but effective application within the narrative allowed the development of Frodo, Sam and Gollum most notably into memorable characters.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has the Infinity stones whose lore makes me smile and wince simultaneously. They are described as ‘singularities’ which if you ask any physicist, means they don’t know what it actually is, it’s a placeholder until the answer can be found. The Infinity Stones serve overriding one purpose – don’t let the villain (Thanos, Rowan, Loki or whoever) get hold of them lest they commit evil shenanigans. I’m aware Doctor Strange used its Infinity Stone differently, but Avenger: Infinity War will ensure the trope will return to form.
But enough about Marvel, my point is that plot devices can be simple, but I much prefer more intriguing, more intelligent ones such as the Ring of Power. In Harry Potter, the Horcruxes are used well because of the lore behind them and the revelation near the end of the Deathly Hallows about the ‘accidental’ Horcrux. (I won’t spoil it even if everyone knows by this point).
In my project, the Successor of Ramiel, my plot important artefacts are the Watcher Blades. Introduced in the very first paragraph of Chapter 1, these swords are central to the story. If this is the first piece of content you’ve read of mine, then the Watcher Blades are swords that command the elements, have runes etched on their surface and are wielded by significant Angels in the storyline. There’s Zera (the main protagonist) with Ramiel (the lightning Watcher Blade), Seraph (the deuteragonist) with Arakiel (the earth Watcher Blade) and Valafar (the main antagonist) with Shamsiel (the hellfire Watcher Blade). With this blog post, I wanted to explain how these blades came to be and why I gave them their characteristics.
The concept of giving inorganic objects sentience is widely used in science fiction and fantasy. After all, what is a robot? The Watcher Blades might not talk, but they communicate with their blader via their own means. I did this because I wanted these swords to have a personality of their own, independent yet in line with their blader. I found that is added depth to the scenes and the main characters themselves. When you have two bladers together, you effectively have four characters in a scene, which adds complexity. They were supporting the main characters and help flesh out their interactions. The challenge was to make sure they were not intrusive and the scenes still flowed organically. Whether I have achieved this is down to the reader.
Ramiel and Arakiel communicate via their resonance and influence their respective bladers. They don’t emote like humans, or in my story, Angels. I didn’t want them to dominate scenes. The scenes should focus on the characters, not the blades. They should aid the development of the main cast,
These swords possess mystical powers beyond naturally occurring phenomena. In order to maintain tension, there needs to be a competitive balance, so of course, the villain needs one as well. Valafar needs to be on the same level as Zera and Seraph on the power scale. For these three characters, their character arcs are directed by their destiny as Watcher Bladers.
At the end of the day, this is an introduction to the conceptualisation of the Watcher Blades. What I’ve documented in this blog is how I’ve interpreted the role of plot devices and how I’ve tried to create the Watcher Blades to enhance the plot rather than them just being a plot device. There is no right answer of how one can sow in plot important devices into a narrative. At the end, the critique of the readers will determine whether your implementation of your ideas was executed well or not.
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