My supervisor gave to me... a day off on the week of Christmas. That was unexpected, but not unwelcome. So I used my time to finish up the fourth draft of Exile Chapter 27 and it can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.
Ok, this chapter had some really major changes made to it. First of all, and most notable, I removed the drinking contest and replaced it with a part of Mal asking if there is any way to be freed of the Dark God without dying or setting it loose. Now, as amusing as that drinking contest was to my insomniatic mind at four in the morning, it really doesn't fit into this story. It was silly stupid humor, and really had no place here. It really only served as a plot device to remove Aaron from the coming fight. I found another convieniant plot device for that, which is less stupid. I thought te drinking contest was a great idea when I first wrote it, and I was a little iffy on the third draft but decided to leave it in as it was the only place where you get to see first hand how dirty Silmera's sense of humor is and how little she cares about propriety. However, I decided this time around that the story itself is better served without it. Instead I lay the foundation, which was somewhat missing in previous drafts, for the major leap of faith that Mal makes in the end.
Other changes that I made include a lot more introversion from Mal as he tries to sort out his emotions, and decide what he really wants out of life from here on out. He's starting to realize now that seeking revenge will only turn him into a monster and might lead him down the same path that Marael took, but he still feels the desire for vengeance. On top of that he's marrying a girl he doesn't love soon while the girl he's beginning to realize that he DOES love is soon to walk out of his life forever and there's nothing that he can do about it. I'm trying really hard to focus on his emotions in this draft and his inner struggle, because without either he's a very flat and boring character and his sacrifice at the end is completely meaningless. If you don't care about him, and sympathize with him, what's the point?
This chapter is really long, and there is not a whole lot of dialog in it, which can sometimes make it hard to get through, but I think that with all of the high emotion running through Mal at this time, it wont be too bad for someone to read through. Most of this chapter is about Mal trying to sort out his feelings, who he loves and why, and what path he should follow from here on. He's basically taking his first steps into being a man instead of a boy.