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Ace of Hearts

Jan 10-Ace of Hearts-Red Angel ch 1 (4728 words, slight G)

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Additional content warning for fantasy derogatory racial terms and queerphobia
 
Hi everyone!
 
Red Angel is a epic/political fantasy novel that I've been sitting on and making minor tweaks to for a couple years now. Don't want to color your view too much more than that so that the text speaks for itself.
 
Note: I think I find prescriptive feedback/ideas brainstorming to be pretty helpful, so feel free to go in that direction even though that's generally not what we do here. 
 
Questions for after reading:
1. Points of interest/engagement? Positive qualities?
2. What's confusing here? I'm expecting there to be quite a bit since I tried to keep exposition at a minimum.
3. If you were in charge of rewriting this chapter, what would you do and why? (even answers like "idk what I would do since I'm not sure what this is going for" or "here's what I would do even though it's really different from what I think you want" are still helpful)
4. *Long question incoming* How do you feel about the setting? Right now I see it as "exactly far enough away from fantasy Islamic Arabia to attempt some sort of plausible deniability" and there are multiple details here that would be VERY out of place culturally in typical historical Islamic Arabia (such as normalization of alcohol, relative lack of gender segregation, ect; though of course there was variance over time). I'm not sure if this is doing the story any favors and I'm looking for advice about what to do with the culture (whether it should be closer to historical Arabia, further away, ect.). Also you can probably guess this from my name but I don't belong to the groups of people I'm talking about here, which I know contextualizes how I need to approach this. 
 
Thanks!
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Well, I'm definitely on board with this! I really liked the previous versions I read and this one is even better. You've got a great intro and I really like S.'s character.

How much of this is written? Because I'd like to read more.


Questions:
1. Great voice, good character hook to start, some intriguing questions. I would keep reading this.

2. I think it's actually made more confusing the few info dumps. Taking those out or making them smaller would remove those questions until you have time to answer them.

3. Nothing for now except a little more show and less tell. I want to read the next one!

4. I really like the setting, but as I have very little exposure with this culture, I can't say if it would be problematic to anyone in that culture. That said, there's nothing very controversial here except potentially for the intersex/crossdressing topic, which depends entirely on your audience. Tagging @kais for if you want to have more insight for the intersex part.


Notes while reading

pg 1: "The empathic fear that his psychic hand crystal was relaying to him slithered back a few centimeters. "
--The fear slithered back? Sort of confusing since you're also introducing a magical item.

pg 1: "How many people fit that description?” 
--so is this saying people would recognize him anyway because his condition is rare? Then why is he trying to disguise himself at all?
--Also, the infodump paragraph after this one could probably be cut. It's not really necessary here. You might leave in the the fact that he's intersex. Also, you can get great information on that front from Kais.

pg 2: "“I came out of the womb as a boy..."
--Also might look to intersex people for how this paragraph reads.

pg 3: "But why should the guard care even if he did feel like a girl?"
--Nice.

pg 3: "“If you can find a bunch of other boys like me..."
--this starts to get long-winded though.

pg 4: "and he… didn’t have a way of turning it off"
--again, could cut down on the explanation here and show it instead. I'm also not sure if this is soemthing rare, or if lots of people have it.

pg 4: "to throw his life away"
--Good hook. You've got my interest with a great character introduction, and I want to find out what he's doing.

pg 5: "had a guard walking a couple paces behind him."
--Hmmm...that would give away that he's a person of influence. I'm still not sure how effective this disguise is.

pg 5: "one in a hundred chance that he was an empath instead."
--So here I'm a little confused and I think the tell rather than show is making it more confusing. Maybe introduce another person who is a telepath and the crystal works as normal to show us the difference? Doens't have to be here. I'm fine knowing he's an empath for now. Bringing in telepaths confuses the issue.

pg 7: "It was a cover story his father had come up with"
--this is interesting. So he's supported and even encouraged in doing this.

pg 7: "they were psions by the crystal in each of their left hands,"
--they who? Does the guard have one too?

pg 7, end: Getting a little lost on what the objective is. He's talking to people to get information about...what? The original statement is "satisfaction with the regime." Is there anything more specific? WHY do they need information about the regime?

pg 8: "the possibility of his brother letting in more."
--Also confused here. It said before, his brother died. I guess this is a different brother? Is his father still alive? One or two sentences about his family could help.

pg 9: It sounds more like he's gathering information on the immigrants.

pg 9: "the vendor suspected him of being a boy"
--interesting. But this is pretty rare, right? Would only intersex people be male with his coloring?

pg 10: Alright, we now find out about the Red Angel. That seems like the real reason he's out talking to people. Maybe a statement near the front about how it's a long shot, but he hopes he hears something?

pg 11: "challenge J for rulership at the last second and earn a spear through his eye for the troubles."
--Ahh. So his brother didn't die from the angel but from his other brother.

pg 12: "who could read minds"
--unnecessary with "telepath."

pg 14: "a Holy Ruler’s brother wasn’t allowed to father sons that might rise up to challenge for the throne."
--so the marriages are purely political, then?

pg 14: “Ah, yes. There was something I wished to tell you."
--that's a little...anticlimactic for what's got to be an unprecedented loss of artifacts and money!

pg 14: “So unfortunately, we may not be able to initiate as many telepaths in the upcoming years."
--this seems very blase for what happened.

pg 15: "deactivating the protective psychic aura around him"
--I thought he couldn't control it?

pg 16: "the First Citizen"
--who is this again?

pg 16: "what he saw from the Red Angel,"
--I thought he didn't see it? OR did he see it with his brother?

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I live! I swear! I've got this noted and will try to get to it this weekend. I've been meaning to get back on the forum anyway and an intersex character sounds like a good place to start.

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Questions:

1.      I really like the concept for the psychic/empathy magic, and the world setup is really interesting, and my world-building brain is already running off on tangent thoughts about how race and gender presenting themselves this way would impact the world development and culture. Definitely interested in seeing where things are going.

2.      There are a couple of spots that came off as a little info dumpy, where there was a lot to absorb at once (mentioned below).  Other than that, I think telling us he’s looking for the RA when he is out in the market near the start of that scene will make it feel a little more directional. As it is, he’s mentioned going out to get information, but without knowing what that is, his walking around feels a little meandering.

3.      I think the biggest thought I had in this regard was the possibility of making it into two chapters. One related to gathering information, one with the meeting with his brother.

4.      Long answer incoming. Because you’ve stumbled into the path of one of my soapboxes. Apologies in advance for the rambling. I’ve actually been meaning to put my thoughts on fantasy-religion-building together for an essay or blog post or something for a while and haven’t gotten around to it, so they're still all a little jumbled, and this walks right into the middle of it.

Anyway.

Ultimately, I like the setting and worldbuilding a lot, but would be careful about what parallels you’re drawing to *Islamic* Arabia vs. a desert culture like we’d see in Arabia whether or not Islam was involved.  Especially with the characters and themes we’ll probably be dealing with.

Sticking closer to the former, you’ll probably find yourself running into a lot of pitfalls regarding how you’re presenting the religion and its interaction with the culture. If you don’t have a good handle on the theology of Islam or other monotheistic religions, I’d tread lightly in how you’re representing one in a story that will push back against anyone holding those beliefs.

There’s certainly a place to challenge said beliefs, and I think having an intersex protagonist is a good way to do that in the way I think you might be trying to. However, I think an intersex protagonist in a setting where there’s a pretty strictly two-gendered culture achieves the same goal without needing to do too much in-depth theological study to make sure you’re not running the risk of misrepresenting a set of religious beliefs [I have a comment about page 2 related to this]. You just want to make sure that the practice of the in-world religion would imply the gender norms/views you’re setting up.

 Representing real-world religions in fantasy settings can be really tricky because it’s hard to make it clear what aspects are being presented as comparable and what aspects are presented as part of the fantasy world.  Describing “Islamic Arabia with normalization of alcohol and a lack of gender segregation” very quickly ceases to be Islamic Arabia. Which is probably a safer bet anyway unless you’re really familiar with Islam or have someone who knows their theology who you can bounce ideas off of (if it was Protestantism/Catholicism, I’d volunteer. I’ve done enough study to poke a stick at tricky spots there. But I don’t know enough about Islam or Islamic cultures to be helpful as any sort of sensitivity reader or research source on that front).  I’d probably recommend taking a few clear steps further away from historical Arabia on the religion front to avoid some of those pitfalls.

 

Pg 1:

The first sentence is really long, and could probably be made stronger.  Having the first look at the character and the book be him stumbling is probably not ideal.  Also, I’m not sure how to pronounce S’s name, which throws me off a bit. I think it’s partly some weird instinct to go with “Sammy” which doesn’t seem to fit the setting.

“freak out” does not seem to fit a setting with wandering merchants and veils for sand protection. 

This being the first look at the world, the “when he addressed them as humans” isn’t entirely clear.  I assume it means that the guards tend to be dehumanized by the people they protect, and aren’t sure how to respond when people break that pattern. But when everything is fair game this early in a fantasy, I wasn’t sure if it might mean that the guard (and most guards) are some sort of non-human species.

The inheritance traits section is a lot to absorb up front.  We’re getting introductory information about two different races while also learning that royalty has certain markings while also learning about an unusual setup of the inheritance of physical traits. These are all interesting details, but I think they need to be spaced out a little more to sink in. If we get information about what the average Sh- person looks like and what the average Xa- person looks like and have time to process that, adding in the details of how they mix is going to be much easier to work into the framework.

Pg 2:

I like the descriptions of the empathetic connections. I remember finding that really fascinating when you submitted something related to this world before.

Would like a clarification of who D is here, though. Obviously S is in disguise, and the way she addresses him and the “confidence of a monarch” suggests that she’s also a royal in disguise, but the “usual” servants’ garb makes it unclear.  Her nickname runs into the same issue S’s does, in that it separates me from the setting a bit.

I’m sure I will have comments on the world’s theology as it gets fleshed out.  I apologize in advance :) 

In the meantime (with the caveat that none of the following is meant to be argumentative or dismissive. I don’t think it should come across that way, but text tone is always hard…), I did want to point out a small concern with the “If the creator made us…” line.  It’s hard for me to not see it as a throw away one-liner trying to call out inconsistencies with Abrahamic religions. Which makes me wonder how close a parallel the religion is supposed to be to Islam.  If it’s supposed to be a strict parallel (I’d recommend not going this route), you’re going to run into far bigger issues related to how the religion is expressed in the culture.  And if it’s not a strict parallel, I’m not sure what the takeaway should be.

I don’t know as much about Islam as I do about Protestantism/Catholicism, and I’ve seen similar arguments in that realm, but they never quite hold water for what Christianity actually says. I see the point that’s trying to be made, and the argument has weight behind it if presented properly, but the wording here is setting up a straw man argument of a different theological point altogether (one that isn’t really relevant) that interferes with it being a credible point about creators making mistakes. It comes close to where the real complication/supposed inconsistency lies, but ignores a pretty big detail of Christian theology to make its statement.  It doesn’t entirely misrepresent Christian theology (maybe…I’d have to think about that), but it definitely oversimplifies it and misses where the real “gotcha!” point would be.  And if this is supposed to be a fantasy setting that doesn’t align with a real-world religion anyway, I’m not sure what it’s trying to do. 

If you’re planning to go in-depth in developing the world’s religion, and D will be giving a thorough explanation of both that religion’s theology and this potential conflict with it, that’s one thing, but if it’s meant to be a one-line comment on a real-world religion, you might be getting yourself in trouble here, because it’s cherry-picking aspects of a religion without acknowledging that no single component of a religion exists in a vacuum.

TLDR: The line feels a little too on the nose, and it makes me antsy when Christianity (or other things, but it’s the one I know things about) is misrepresented or simplified beyond recognition to prove a point. Especially when I agree that there’s a point there to be made and it’s not being shown in the best light.  

Ultimately, I’d probably recommend leaning a little away from the direct Abrahamic religion parallels unless you’re able to make it clear what is comparable and what is different and how the setup of your world affects and is affected by that.

Pg 3:

“trying to get rid of me.” *snort*  Though I am also sympathetic with her inability to find reliable sources. Hate when that happens.

“catch you later” there are a number of things like this, where the dialogue feels far more modern and casual than the setting implies.

Pg 4:

Ah. She is a servant. Oops. I’d probably try to make her seem a little more deferential to S, even if they’re friends. That doesn’t have to mean groveling at his feet or being overawed, but a note of some of the more automatic behaviors that she’s likely to have developed while working around royalty.

Do we know who J- is yet?  Ah. Next line.

“Maybe he should go easier on them.” I like that he realizes that he’s put Y- in a difficult position, but am a little disappointed that he would do so intentionally. The reasons following are alright, but still feel a little off if he seems to take servants/guards more seriously than his peers would.  A personal guard might help. Someone whose primary job is to keep S safe, and therefore has a clearer line of authority.  Especially if these trips are something S does regularly. If he worries about the guards getting in trouble for it, it seems like something he might have tried to find a solution to.

The wording in the sentence before the section break is a little confusing, but I really like the hook into the next section.

Pg 5:

I know there’s a bit of a trope of people giving away disguises by using titles, but if S is really concerned about being caught and he does this regularly, I’d expect him to be more careful of which guard he’s bringing.

Pg 6:

Runaway sister seems to come out of the blue. Might help to have him reference that he’s going to see her before now to give their wandering a little more focus.

Pg 7:

“gave them an excuse to wear full veils…” “Them” being the guard and S (I didn’t think the guard had a crystal thing)? S and his father on other trips?

The last paragraph on this page mentions Ki- invaders, Sha-, Xa- empire in addition to giving more information about Hu, and making passing reference to the HR, who we don’t know much about yet.  That’s a lot to follow in one paragraph (a situation that I am fully sympathetic to, having run into it…oh, once or twice [once or twice today, that is…] in my chapters)

Pg 8:

I like the detail of him paying more attention to their emotions than to their words.

“rattlesnakes” – vipers? Tarantulas? Some similar unwelcome creature? I think rattlesnakes are mostly a North American thing. Depending on what you’re trying to do with cultural associations.

Pg 10:

I think some of this conversation would stick better if we knew what S is expecting the angel to signify.  I feel like angels don’t have clear enough tropes attached to them for me to know if this is supposed to be a terrifying thing or an exciting thing, and S’s reactions aren’t giving me any clues.  This also seems like something that would be worth bringing in above. That this is what he’s intentionally searching for. So that the wandering feels more direct and intentional, even if it’s a little meandering because he’s looking for specific information.

Pg 11:

The explanation here feels a little info dumpy. I’d try to figure out what we need here and now, and what can be filled in later when we have a better sense of the framework of things.

Pg 14:

I almost think this should be two chapters. One with him sneaking out and getting back, ending with him being “caught” by his brother, then the rest of this conversation.

The destruction of the crystal collection comes out of the blue, and while it seems like it should be a big deal, I don’t know enough about it significance for it to hit very hard.

I don’t really know anything about Z at this point, so S connecting the dots and accusing her here is less engaging than if I’d had reason to sort of connect the dots along with him. I think if there was more given about her being tied to revolutionaries (or something similar) and seems to be on the HR’s bad side, that would be helpful.

Pg 16:

Do we know anything about the FC?  My Islam-parallel paranoia is filling him in as a great prophet of some sort, but I don’t know what that means in this world (and ties things close enough to a real-world religion to put me on-edge to expect pitfalls) We get some information here, but he is mentioned a few times through the chapter without  any explanation.

Does J not know where Z is? If she’s within the city, doesn’t he have the ability to track her down?

The questions here at the end would be more engaging if I’d had a better sense of the significance of them, but I think there was a little too much going on to process why S would be asking those specific questions.

Closing line could use a little more detail. Though I think part of that comes from the above point of not having a good sense of the significance of the questions. Because of that, I’m not having a lot of luck guessing what he’s feeling here, or what expression he would be trying to hide.

 

Overall:

Despite my cautiousness about the way the religion is presented (which, really, probably doesn’t bother 95% of people. So there’s that), I really like the worldbuilding and setting, and am excited to learn more about them.

I mentioned a couple of things I think could be shifted around a bit to come across more clearly, but the ideas themselves make me want to read on to figure out where the story is going from here.

Full apologies for the rabbit trails. Depending on what your goals are on that front, you’re welcome to either ignore them or send a message to pick my brain on it further.

 

Thanks for submitting! I enjoyed reading :) 

 

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On 1/13/2022 at 0:21 PM, C_Vallion said:

Ultimately, I like the setting and worldbuilding a lot, but would be careful about what parallels you’re drawing to *Islamic* Arabia vs. a desert culture like we’d see in Arabia whether or not Islam was involved.  Especially with the characters and themes we’ll probably be dealing with.

Sticking closer to the former, you’ll probably find yourself running into a lot of pitfalls regarding how you’re presenting the religion and its interaction with the culture. If you don’t have a good handle on the theology of Islam or other monotheistic religions, I’d tread lightly in how you’re representing one in a story that will push back against anyone holding those beliefs.

There’s certainly a place to challenge said beliefs, and I think having an intersex protagonist is a good way to do that in the way I think you might be trying to. However, I think an intersex protagonist in a setting where there’s a pretty strictly two-gendered culture achieves the same goal without needing to do too much in-depth theological study to make sure you’re not running the risk of misrepresenting a set of religious beliefs [I have a comment about page 2 related to this]. You just want to make sure that the practice of the in-world religion would imply the gender norms/views you’re setting up.

 Representing real-world religions in fantasy settings can be really tricky because it’s hard to make it clear what aspects are being presented as comparable and what aspects are presented as part of the fantasy world.  Describing “Islamic Arabia with normalization of alcohol and a lack of gender segregation” very quickly ceases to be Islamic Arabia. Which is probably a safer bet anyway unless you’re really familiar with Islam or have someone who knows their theology who you can bounce ideas off of (if it was Protestantism/Catholicism, I’d volunteer. I’ve done enough study to poke a stick at tricky spots there. But I don’t know enough about Islam or Islamic cultures to be helpful as any sort of sensitivity reader or research source on that front).  I’d probably recommend taking a few clear steps further away from historical Arabia on the religion front to avoid some of those pitfalls.

Glad to hear this because this is actually exactly what I want. The issue I'm running into is that a lot of what's normal in the setting that's associated with Islam (veils, polygyny, ect.) didn't originate with Islam in Arabia, and make a lot of sense for a culture set in a desert. I do think there are probably a few too many details in there that I based off Islam though and I can try to trim those back. 

The main thing I'm wondering is if having this culture be monotheistic at all is the right choice. My rationale for that is otherwise the world ends up with a sort of "each race is so different from the others and has their own god" which was the original historical setup of the world and is kinda a tired trope in fantasy. Hmm... I'll be sure to do more thinking on this front. Even if I do keep it monotheistic the whole setup of the religion may be too close to Islam, too. With FC being a great prophet figure like you inferred. 

I'm wondering if calling out "angels" is hurting this as well since as I understand it they're mostly associated with abrahamic religions. I wonder if there's a better way to frame "divine messenger" in a way that still gives the same weight. 

On 1/13/2022 at 0:21 PM, C_Vallion said:

If you’re planning to go in-depth in developing the world’s religion, and D will be giving a thorough explanation of both that religion’s theology and this potential conflict with it, that’s one thing, but if it’s meant to be a one-line comment on a real-world religion, you might be getting yourself in trouble here, because it’s cherry-picking aspects of a religion without acknowledging that no single component of a religion exists in a vacuum.

 

Kind of, but iirc it's mostly religion from a historical lens rather than a theological one. So yeah maybe it makes sense to shift further away. I think my issue is that I'm so used to the framework of abrahamic religions that it's hard not to default to (my incomplete idea of) that. I'd be happy to hear any more comments as we go along! :)

On 1/13/2022 at 0:21 PM, C_Vallion said:

“rattlesnakes” – vipers? Tarantulas? Some similar unwelcome creature? I think rattlesnakes are mostly a North American thing. Depending on what you’re trying to do with cultural associations.

Oh really! Yep I looked it up and you're right there. I think vipers might be what he's looking for. 

On 1/13/2022 at 0:21 PM, C_Vallion said:

I think some of this conversation would stick better if we knew what S is expecting the angel to signify.  I feel like angels don’t have clear enough tropes attached to them for me to know if this is supposed to be a terrifying thing or an exciting thing, and S’s reactions aren’t giving me any clues.  This also seems like something that would be worth bringing in above. That this is what he’s intentionally searching for. So that the wandering feels more direct and intentional, even if it’s a little meandering because he’s looking for specific information.

 

This comment highlights that I maybe need more meat here because the truth is that currently S has no idea what it signifies. He (kinda) has opinions about what the angel represents in the abstract but doesn't know what to make of one appearing right in front of him now. But it makes sense for this to be where the story develops, not the stuff at the end that there's no context for.  

On 1/13/2022 at 0:21 PM, C_Vallion said:

The destruction of the crystal collection comes out of the blue, and while it seems like it should be a big deal, I don’t know enough about it significance for it to hit very hard.

I don’t really know anything about Z at this point, so S connecting the dots and accusing her here is less engaging than if I’d had reason to sort of connect the dots along with him. I think if there was more given about her being tied to revolutionaries (or something similar) and seems to be on the HR’s bad side, that would be helpful.

Hmm I can definitely see why this is coming across this way and I do kind of agree about the multiple chapters thing. Z is the other PoV character so just seeing her first probably helps tbh. I'll think this over. I think this ties in well to what you were saying about needing more from the angel since I'd need a new thread to end this on anyways. 

Thanks for your thoughts! :)

On 1/12/2022 at 10:43 AM, Mandamon said:

I thought he couldn't control it?

This is one of the things I was wondering if it would be unclear. The crystal provides a protective aura that nullifies all psychic powers, but if it's physically covered then the aura disappeared and psychic powers such as telepathy can work on the person.

On 1/12/2022 at 10:43 AM, Mandamon said:

interesting. But this is pretty rare, right? Would only intersex people be male with his coloring?

Intersex and trans, yeah. Specifically, the characters don't know this (S doesn't and some of the scholar types know a little bit), but to have the coloring someone has to have 2 or more X chromosomes. 

On 1/12/2022 at 10:43 AM, Mandamon said:

--So here I'm a little confused and I think the tell rather than show is making it more confusing. Maybe introduce another person who is a telepath and the crystal works as normal to show us the difference? Doens't have to be here. I'm fine knowing he's an empath for now. Bringing in telepaths confuses the issue.

This is a good idea. There's a telepath in the next chapter (I might bump the talk with J back so can't count on that) so that can carry through. I think the main point the story wanted to convey here was that S being an empath is rare rather than the standard (as one might assume if that's the first one they're shown), but I think I can convey that without mentioning telepaths.

On 1/12/2022 at 10:43 AM, Mandamon said:

2. I think it's actually made more confusing the few info dumps. Taking those out or making them smaller would remove those questions until you have time to answer them.

Good to hear! I'll do another pass on them. 

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone! :) 

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26 minutes ago, Ace of Hearts said:

The main thing I'm wondering is if having this culture be monotheistic at all is the right choice. My rationale for that is otherwise the world ends up with a sort of "each race is so different from the others and has their own god" which was the original historical setup of the world and is kinda a tired trope in fantasy. Hmm... I'll be sure to do more thinking on this front. Even if I do keep it monotheistic the whole setup of the religion may be too close to Islam, too. With FC being a great prophet figure like you inferred. 

I will say that avoiding a monotheistic setup is probably the easiest single thing that would pull it away from seeming like Islam.  

I think there are other ways to have a polytheistic setup without it seeming like the different races have their own gods.  Lois McMaster Bujold's World of Five Gods books is probably the best example I can think of. Where there are four gods everyone in the surrounding area agrees on, and a fifth that some view as a god and some view as a demon depending on culture.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_the_Five_Gods  

I also just generally really enjoyed those books for having non-standard fantasy protagonists. Curse of Chalion's Caz being a guy in his mid-thirties who ends up as a tutor, and Ista  from Paladin of Souls is an older widow who is tired of being treated as such, and in an attempt to get away, sets out on a supposed "pilgrimage" (because it's the most socially acceptable excuse she can find to get away from the boredom). 

But anyway.

Having any sort of multiple-god setup separates it from Islam, but you don't need a full pantheon.  And having a priest or saint or prophet that some cultures sort of deify for some heroic feat in the past but other cultures don't consider a deity might be a good way to make some small variations that don't feel like the usual "this group worships this deity. This group worships this deity" setup. 

1 hour ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I'm wondering if calling out "angels" is hurting this as well since as I understand it they're mostly associated with abrahamic religions. I wonder if there's a better way to frame "divine messenger" in a way that still gives the same weight. 

This is also a good thing to consider.  I figure the term angel has you fighting the Christmas-angel image or the more varied and terrifying Biblical descriptions for various angel-subtypes.
Maybe some sort of magical creature that acts as a divine messenger? Whether that's an existing animal that people consider sacred or something made up entirely. 

1 hour ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I think my issue is that I'm so used to the framework of abrahamic religions that it's hard not to default to (my incomplete idea of) that. I'd be happy to hear any more comments as we go along! :)

This definitely makes a lot of sense. Though even within abrahamic religions, the frameworks vary quite a bit. 

You can be sure you'll get more comments as we go along :P 

1 hour ago, Ace of Hearts said:

This comment highlights that I maybe need more meat here because the truth is that currently S has no idea what it signifies. He (kinda) has opinions about what the angel represents in the abstract but doesn't know what to make of one appearing right in front of him now. But it makes sense for this to be where the story develops, not the stuff at the end that there's no context for.  

Gotcha. Yeah, I think that's fine as long as we are aware of what he does and doesn't understand. I think getting a sense of "I know it's important because my brother thought it was important enough to die for" and that that's driving his search for information would be a fix for what I thought was missing. 

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