A scene where two bitter enemies go head-to-head can bring a hair-raising adrenaline rush, no question. You've followed one or the other, or both, listened to their traded barbs, weighed their merits and likely chosen a side. Now it's time for each to dig his heels in and draw as you feel your pulse rise, hoping only one leaves blood on the ground.
But... what about bitter enemies who used to be dear friends? Friends whose days of glory together you happily watched unfold, thinking them inseparable? Now it's not so easy to root for any particular side, and the fight becomes exponentially more riveting. Two hateful rivals with no amicable history make the stakes quite simple, leaving you little reason to wonder what might be going through their heads. But two who only one book or movie before would've died to save one-another, now at each other's throats, have undoubtedly got you leaving one monster Venn diagram of a sweat mark in your seat.
Which of them strikes first? And is it a halfhearted strike, meant to show the other a flame of hope that their fractured bond might be renewed? Or do they hold nothing back, swinging hard for the fleshiest, veiniest areas, each blow casting every echo of laughter and loyalty further from memory?
If only one winner emerges here, it still may feel as though everyone lost. If neither wins, well either you've got yourself a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions or a stalemate from which both go their separate ways, building tension that could escalate to an even more climactic confrontation later on. But, if both could somehow win... that scenario seems rife with complex, sidewinding possibilities, serving up a potent, well-blended cocktail of unpredictable action and inner turmoil that I for one would like to taste.
My book's second half centers on the friendship of two characters: Morlen, my protagonist, and the eagle, Roftome, who is highly disdainful of all men after watching them venture into the mountains to seat themselves onto the backs of his kind. But, after Roftome is badly wounded in battle, his perspective changes when he finds himself hoisted from blood-stained snow on the shoulders of a man, Morlen, the first to treat any of his kind in such a way. From here their relationship grows, with trust and dedication uniting them through many adventures against an array of harsh challenges, and the strength they draw from one another enables them to face down overwhelming danger and certain doom.
Book Two, which I've been conceptualizing for years but only started writing, opens with these two companions in better form than ever, solidifying their joint reputation as a force to be reckoned with from land to land. But, there are others lurking in the shadows that harbor far more dire purposes for eagles than mere riding, and when Roftome is captured, Morlen embarks on a quest deep into their desolate, mountainous domain to get him back. In this corrosive atmosphere, teeming with ghoulish creatures that once called bright clouds their home, Morlen's only fuel is the hope of regaining the one taken from him, and his worst fear that when they finally meet again, neither will be able to recognize the friend that was lost.
I've always planned this as a series of four books, hinging upon these two characters' triumphs and conflicts. With the transformation of their bond, I mean to illustrate that, after one looks long enough, hard enough to recover a missing piece, nothing fits as it once did.
But, in time, even the most jagged fractures may one day become aligned.