Chapter 49:

Author's Afterwords (Vol. 2 Edition)

Red-Black Course

To everyone reading up to this chapter; hello and welcome to the end of volume 2! WALKER here, and I'm sure some of you might ask: why am I doing this author's notes-style chapter, after repeatedly saying that I didn't like to do that kind of thing? Well, I still don't like doing it, if I'm being honest, but I also think that with everything up until now, I have enough material as well as things to talk about to warrant this kind of chapter. Basically, this chapter would contain all of my thoughts on volume 2, my process of building it, and the direction future volumes will bring.

If you remember the first chapter of volume 2, Air Strike, I left a comment there saying that this one would be less dark and more "fun". In the end, I felt like I did deliver it as I said, but not in the way I expected. 

I've always had the intention to continue Red-Black Course (RBC) after the contest, but when I finished the first volume, I didn't really know what exactly I would go from there in terms of characters and development. Zain's development in volume 1 was pretty much complete, with the only thing left to explore back then being his relationship with Ryuuro, and that topic would be just too big and complex to bring up and wrap up in just the second volume. And so, I was stumped for a while until I came up with a "solution" of sorts.

From volume 1, I've made the cast small to mainly focus on personal dynamics, and it showed with the first volume revolving around Zain, Rex, and the two discovering themselves. And now, I tend to make every volume the same kind of thing: the cast will keep expanding, but each volume in itself will revolve around a relatively small cast, and Zain will be the focal point for the cast to revolve around and develop themselves. With that being said, after I've come to the decision, volume 2 was supposed to be revolving between Zain and Mike... until I actually came to write it. 

Let's talk about Leo.

Everything from the start of volume 2 to Zain's match against Mike was according to my plans. And at first, I planned for Leo to just be this throwaway henchman that ultimately doesn't add anything to the story. But then as I wrote the tournament and built up Bruce to be the mastermind behind everything, a thought suddenly came to me: "why don't I use Leo again? It saves me the work of creating more throwaway henchmen for Bruce, so it makes sense." And from then, the ideas kept on adding to themselves. 

"If Leo is supposed to be a recurring character, then what is his backstory? What motivates him? What makes him into the character that he is?" At that point, I've already realized that Leo had escaped from his previous mold of a throwaway villain, and turned into a completely different beast. And now, I need to build him up again.

Two things led to my decision on making him into his current version. First, my previous plans on RBC, and second... the 2022 World Cup.

If anyone remembered (and I did mention this before in the comment I made at the start of volume 2), RBC's "beta" version was that of a sports novel, taken inspiration mostly from Yu-Gi-Oh. Now that the contest period is over, I've once again shifted its direction into something like that, which led to the conceptualization of the current running element in volume 2 - Neural Link Sports, or NLS for short. And of course, for every sport, there needs to be winners and losers... and what's better to show that than the 2022 WC that had just happened?

And so came my final piece of inspiration, as well as the final piece of Leo's development. What would make a better "final boss" to a sports novel than the best player in the world, and who would make a better GOAT than a character taken inspiration from Messi? Thus formed Leonardo di Messeo, or Leo for short. From then, things just build upon themselves: for the best player in the world, he would need a suitable motivation to help the "villains", and a suitable reason for him to stand against the "hero". Then came his ties with the actual final boss, etc. In the end, what's left is the current volume 2: a mystery revolving around this mysterious contractor that's superior to even Zain in performance, and a puzzle for him and Mike to solve.

That's all of volume 2 for now. And as for volume 3, following the formula I've stated before, it will also bring a relatively small cast and focus on a main dynamic. Sorry Mike, but it's still not your turn (kind of). This time, your spotlight is gonna be taken by your childhood best friend, and for those who remembered, the original protagonist of RBC's beta version, Lewis. The setting this time will move from the dark and damp England to the bustling lights of Japan, and of course, the weird and wacky genius school, Aoba Academy (reading Stars of Aoba - my other work with the "same" setting - is not needed to enjoy the volume, but more context for the jokes are always welcomed).

But... volume 3's release is a long way away. As of this chapter, RBC will once again enter a hiatus phase, and this time it's gonna be a long one, at least until I'm fully done with Aoba's and Little Red Riding Witch's volume 1s, both of which are around 60-70% complete at the moment. Until then, have fun, check out my other works if you so desire, and the boys from the Course will see you again in the future.

WALKER, signing off :)

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