When I first decided to do the project, I had resolved to include an Ilian tale. I don't know, there's just something about that country that I like. Of all Elibe's countries, it certainly has the most character. A nation of poor, starving people shaped by harsh climates and even harsher circumstance... Ripe for a good tale, no?
The question became: "what form will this tale take?" And indeed, the Ilian tale went through several radically different incarnations. The most challenging part was figuring out what sort of interesting stuff can happen in Ilia? It was certainly a long road, going from a typical "bandits are attacking" chapter to a tale following the rise of Zealot. This will be a three-part article series, going through every step of that long road that lead to the product you're playing now.
Draft 1: The typical "bandits have attacked" story. Fiora was the main character and the tale followed her recent promotion, making her the leader of Ilia's homeland defense force and followed her accepting this new responsibility to defend Ilia's citizens. Wallace was a member of the militia, and Farina was her second-in-command. Florina was also present as a member of the party.
This, however, was a rather dull route to take. Just another standard, unoriginal bandit chapter. An interesting note is the party, I actually had difficulty coming up with a playable party. The idea to use Zealot hadn't dawned on me yet, and Ilians were certainly a rarity outside of the pegasus trio. As for the chapter idea, quickly after conception it was discarded, and I decided I'd draft another proposal. What fascinated me about Ilia was the people, their lives and their suffering. The second draft was designed to focus more toward that.
Draft 2: The pegasus trio is caught in the midst of an uprising. Ilians are dying of famine, there is no food and the government is not providing any relief. Desperate, they have risen up to fight their government. Sir Wallace of Caelin, now an Ilian farmer, has turned into the populist leader of the rebel movement. The pegasus sisters are initially dispatched with a batallion of NPCs to quell the rebellion, but after speaking with Sir Wallace, they fight against the corrupt Ilian government, headed by Sir Ayron (leader of the Knight's Guild).
This draft was substantially more acceptable. But I felt it still lacked. The cast, particularly, was quite lackluster, but there wasn't much to be done except add new characters, which at the time I lacked the graphical resources to do. This draft was essentially the Ilian Tale for quite a while, but as development continued I began to doubt it. As I completed Tale 5, the Ilian Tale was bumped up to Tale 7 with the addition of Karel's tale, giving me much more time to figure things out. I considered a variety of options. I would try one more draft, and if that didn't work I was seriously going to have to seek some outside help. I pondered perhaps opening up for plot synopsis submissions from fans, or maybe getting another individual to take over the writing for the tale. Either way I was stuck, but I'd give it one more shot.