And getting pretty far actually before I remember that there are, in fact, characters with magic in the main story who are in cahoots with this villainess. . .
errr. . . .um. . .
Well, they are, like the story, outside the place she rules with an iron hand. Perhaps they are trying to win forgiveness, or a favor.
At least when I remembered that a character whose singing was so important in the backstory must sing, I just had to lard in some songs for her to sing.