Hello. This is ExtantLily, the author, and I’d like to thank you for reading this story. I can’t really put in words how much it means to me that you’ve stuck with me the whole way until this point. Thank you for all your support.
I think it’s prudent to start with the origins of this tale. I started working on this project exactly 1 year and 5 months ago. But in truth, it started many years before that, back in 2011. It started, interestingly enough, from Lily. Lily was a character for a forum-based RP I was participating in, a character who started as a Gardevoir. Yes. The Pokemon. That’s why she had red eyes and green hair. To be precise, in this RP, she was a Gardevoir who wanted to be a Gallade and who wanted to fight hand-to-hand in close quarters, yet was unable to because of the genetic sexism of her evolutionary line (For a bit of context if you’ve not played Pokemon somehow, Gardevoirs are “magic” users and Gallades are Fighting-types; both male and female Pokemon of her species can evolve into Gardevoirs, but only males can evolve into Gallades). When this RP fell through due to a lack of player participation, I took Lily the Gardevoir and shelved her, but never really forgot about her – after all, I loved the concept of a Psychic-type who used Psychic powers to augment her physical attacks, just because she preferred punching people to casting spells at them. This was how Lily began. (This is also the reason for her surname.)
I dusted her off and re-examined her during another RP, in 2015. This time round, the host wanted only human characters, but I was determined to make something of her – so I made her into a human. The whole unable-to-be-a-fighter-because-genetics gimmick didn’t work out once I turned her into a human, so I had to come up with another reason as to why she used magic to fistfight. I could have just written it off as preference, but I didn’t want to. I felt that the frustration of being born unable to follow her dream because of an evolutionary quirk was an integral part of her character, and I wanted to keep that frustration. As a result, I found inspiration in the character of Olivie from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid. Olivie was a girl who was born without arms, but fought in spite of it – she used magic to directly manipulate metal arms that she then used to fight. She became the basis of the new iteration of Lily. The Lily of that RP was born without arms, yet born with tremendous magic potential – and, admiring the warriors of the past, used her magic to compensate for her lack of arms. Unfortunately, this RP, too, fell through, and thus Lily was left to fester again. However, this time, she stayed on my mind – I’d created a character, and I was determined to see her used.
Fast forward several months to October 2015. I was incredibly bored one day, having just finished reading a number of webnovels, and decided to write a story – it was far from my first attempt at writing a story, but I figured it would be good to just give it a try, and see if I could finish it somehow. It didn’t take me long to settle on a story that focused on Lily, and thus began this long journey.
At first, my writing was heavily influenced by prevailing tropes of the webnovels I’d been reading: Tate no Yuusha, Arifureta and Danmachi. These influences can be clearly seen in the many tropes I ended up using: the dungeon city, the fact that I gave Hina a katana, the whole triggering-a-trap setup, as well as my pitiful attempt to set up Lily’s talent as something ordinarily overlooked. Oh, and the abundance of << >> everywhere.
Well, almost everything. A lot of the tropes and stylistic devices I ended up using clogged up my story. The katana, for instance, was entirely unnecessary. So was making her seem like a reject/failure. But some things that resulted from it ended up playing strongly into my worldbuilding: the dungeons as having unique traits, for one, is a decision I’m glad I made. The affinity system of magic is another. Unfortunately, I ended up not engaging with affinities as much as I could have; that’s mainly because the characters I ended up with all fall outside that system of classification.
But anyway, as I continued to write and discover my own voice, I began to recognise how silly many of the devices I used were, and quickly (abruptly?) dropped them from the story. Looking back, I can say with reasonable confidence that my writing has improved considerably since then – and that likely would not have happened if I had not kept up with this biweekly task of writing. Writing is something that gets better with practice, and this was a lot of practice. I kept it up, and here we are today.
I honestly am finding it hard to believe that I’ve actually managed to finish a story. This is the first time I’ve really seen a story to its conclusion, and the feeling it evokes in me is one of accomplishment – as well as of amazement. I’d started this story as a hobby and as a way to pass the time, but at some point or other it became the project my life centered around – I found myself constantly thinking about it and about the plot direction, I found myself formulating paragraphs in my head on the bus. Somehow, it became something that was arguably more important to me than anything else – or at least, something of equal importance to those things I hold to be most important. And I think that it’s because of you, readers. Whenever I posted a chapter and received a comment, I felt amazing. I felt appreciated. I felt like there was a reason to carry on with my work – and these feelings were what pushed me forward. So thank you, all of you. I couldn’t have done it without you. Really. Words cannot express my appreciation for your continued support, and I can only hope that I concluded the story in a way that was able to match up to your expectations.
I’ll definitely keep writing – Lily’s story may be over for now, but there’s so much of this world to explore, and I hope that all of you will continue to explore it with me.