I'm using posts here to flesh out elements of my fictional world that won't gt a lot of attention in these manuscripts. A lot of the stories I'm writing tie together via the cataclysm that destroyed the old world and created this one, mostly through the common connection of the conspiracies behind that event.
The Solador books (currently) work around the idea in LeGuin's "Those Who Walk Away From Omelas", but what is forsaken is inverted: instead of a forgotten child left to suffer in darkness, the sacrifice is of a designated hero who is elevated to celebrity status (and dehumanized accordingly) and upon whom the community piles on their expectations at the prompting of the Solador leadership: The Exalted. This figure is meant to represent them to the Exalted, as go-between bridging the ordinary and the supernatural. Said leadership installs the hero, manipulates his rise and controls him with rewards given to such heroes in the mythology that these leaders deliberately copy. When the hero becomes too unstable to control, they orchestrate his fall and elevate his replacement to ensure that this control mechanism continues.
Of course, the protagonist is that hero. The deuteragonist is another pawn who figured it out and aims to put this scam to an end. The Antagonist is the leader of The Exalted: The Archmage. Other figures mentioned or featured include The Necromancer, the other Exalted (The Champion, The Devil, The Hierophant, and The Physician), and Master Bradley of The Hidden City. The hero's wife, children, and his dog Han are minor (but significant) players in this story.
The theme of the Big Idea (occulted schemes of control) continues in Solador's signature feature: "The Blessing of the Unconquered Sun". This is a full-body augmentation, centered around a gem implanted in the forehead. From this gem--the Soul Gem--comes a woad-like full-body tattoo made of gold and silver. The system exists to prevent one from being turned undead; the means is by incinerating the corpse as soon as life stops, in a manner that resembles a program's deresolution in the original Tron, leaving only ashes and dust behind. There is a secondary effect that the body's resilience is greatly improved, akin to wearing well-padded armor. Implications are addressed, and intended by the creator: The Archmage.
So: trauma-based mind control, active perception management, culture-level political manipulation, wars meant to be sustained to control internal population, occult powers used to set up and sustain a false religion, and what it takes to keep that going vs. how fragile it is if at all vulnerable. That's what's going on here, while writing about adventures involving undead hordes, fighting against terrible odds, treachery within, and the inevitable victory of Truth over Lies.