Many classic heroes end their journey with a victory balanced by a loss. Think of Frodo Baggins and Luke Skywalker who had to suffer damage that paralleled their nemesis: loss of a finger, loss of a hand.

I’m struggling with this.

While Frodo’s the ring bearer, I think Sam’s journey is more heroic in some ways, because he wasn’t “chosen” by the Ring, but had to chose the journey on his own. Sam only seems to lose his innocence. R2-D2 doesn’t seem to lose anything. (Maybe it’s the rocket flight mode that R2-D2 loses; it’s in Attack of the Clones, but not in A New Hope.)

The Red Knight is already damaged. And. The details don’t leak out until Book III. So, I think I can set the knight’s problems aside for now.

The Mage, however, is a struggle. The mage started with a few disabilities, most of which are more-or-less permanent. While there’s an apotheosis and an ultimate boon, these can’t come without a cost. During this rewrite, I’m starting to think the multiple heartbreaks aren't enough of a cost because holes in a heart left by dead friends aren't visible enough.

Heartbreak can be handled elegantly in a purely literary form. But I like to think comic book/TV/Movie, and a visual metaphor seems to be essential. The syncope is something which started as a random bit of inspiration; I need to raise it up as one price of the ultimate boon.

But the holes in the heart… I’m not sure what to do here. Missing limbs can work, of course.

On the other hand (heh!) Books II, III, and IV will have losses. While many of them are heartbreaks, it can help to have physical analogs. I’m not sure I want to utterly beat my characters into people who are no longer larger-than-life. How far down this road should I go?

Other things that are established parts of the character can be lost instead of limbs. Treasured relics of the Mage’s family might be appropriate things to lose.

I need to set aside a few days to write some essays (and chapter outlines) in reverse order. I’ll have to start writing with the Book IV concluding chapters and work backwards to book I to allocate the damage wisely. There’s a combination of fears, sorrows, angers, and disgusts which must become as much a part of the mage as the various powers and items found along the way.