[YANS] (NaNoWriMo Day 16)

The only thing she knows is true anymore is that the dragon needs to die.

In which there is a smidge more dragonic worldbuilding and the plot timeline takes a sudden left… and then gets better.

Daily Wordcount: 1,581
Total Wordcount: 20,614 (includes Title, Chapter Headers, etc.)

NOTE: This is a MuseFic in which the Writer, the Muse, and her fictives work to create the rough draft of a story (or just worldbuild). There will be spoilers for the story being drafted, which will most likely contain plot holes, retcons, and other inconsistencies.

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A Sudden Jump to the Right

“So, do the dragons actually have names?” The Muse looked over the notes as the Writer organized the writing desk in preparation for some word sprints. The story was building up quite a nice collection of doodles, mind maps, and other fancy stuff.

“I’m not sure.” The Writer admitted. “They had human names at one point, but that was a long time ago and I’d expect people would simply refer to them as ‘the dragon’ locally. Maybe they call them by the cities or regions they occupy?”

“So I’d be the Dragon of the City by the Sea?” asked Jashn, he’d wandered in from the story mists with the evil plot bunny hopping along at his heels. “That’s a mouthful. I mean it makes sense that we don’t keep out human names, we don’t want people figuring out the dragon are ‘just’ humans.”

“Why not? It’s not like a random human can just turn into a dragon on their own… can they?” The Muse asked.

There was a long pause.

The Muse and Writer exchanged concerned looks.

“No wait, I suppose they can.” The Writer said after a moment. “If all a dragon is is a human who has soaked in powerful magics for long enough… then yeah, anyone with the right magical ability could become a dragon.”

“Which makes an obvious origin story for the first dragon, but doesn’t that mean you could end up with all sorts of random monsters as well?” The Muse pointed out. “If the only reason these guys are dragons is because they are unintentional copying the person who trained them… an untrained person would become whatever their subconscious wanted.”

“We are shapeshifters after all,” Jashn agreed. “I’m only limited by the magic, not size or shape or anything logical.”

“I think we might need some actual constraints on that,” said the Writer who was suddenly picturing godzilla-sized dragons.

“But it’s magic,” Jashn said. “It’s the ultimate black box and lampshade all in one!”

“I’m trying to keep the magic realistic!” The Writer had many many notes on what counted as ‘realistic’. “It can’t be this all powerful thing, otherwise the world breaks in crazy ways. Magic is a incredibly warping thing to loose on societies. I need this kept under wraps and minimalized. Which having the dragons be secretive about is a good thing.”

“Anywho, wasn’t there a story we were working on?” The Muse watched the word sprint countdown clock pop-up in the corner. “Time flies when you’re worldbuilding, but words fly when you’re story’ing!”

“Not a verb,” said the Writer, but got down to work.

~*~*~*~*~

“Because I’ve spent enough time in the scrying pools to learn the rules,” said Jashn firmly. “We don’t keep them hidden away like you do here, anyone who wants to use them can.”

“And it never occurred to you that the pools might work differently in other towns?” The dragon was dismissively amused. “Do not think to tell me what I know or how my magic works. You may have dabbled in these waters, but you are only human.”

“If your pools work differently, then I’m sure they will have no problems giving me the answers I need.” Jashn squashed his anger, he needed the dragon’s cooperation in his plan, even if it wasn’t enthusiastic.

“At the very least it will be amusing to see you try.” The dragon turned and led them back down the tunnel to the pools.

~*~*~*~*~

The dragon stepped back and let Jashn work and Khany reluctantly followed his lead. She wasn’t sure what the dragon was up to, but she was also curious to see what sort of methods Jashn would use to seek out the answers he needed.

Instead of reaching for the obsidian to prick his finger, the traveler simply dipped his hand in the pool. The same golden dust that had danced about Khany’s fingers billowed up around Jashn’s. The dragon’s eyes narrowed, but he said nothing, half-hidden in the shadows but well within striking distance.

“Hello waters,” Jashn said and the pool rippled in response, the hazy sediment swirling around him in fractal patterns. “I have a question for you.”

The waters stilled and slowly cleared until the water was as clear as glass and they could see every detail of the bottom.

“Can you hear the City by the Sea?” He asked it and the waters responded with a very faint picture of his town. “You can feel the sickness there?”

The pools pulsed a deep red, tinting the hazy image with blood.

Jashn winced. “I know, I’m trying to fix it.” He paused for a moment. “Can you see a future where the magic is clear again?”

The pool went hazy again for a moment and then showed a picture of the pools from the City by the Sea with two dragons curled around them. Neither one was the blue-green dragon that had raised him.

Jashn froze. This was not a future he had seen in his planning. The pools should have shown him the image of himself and his city’s dragon… instead he saw the milky white scales of his own dragonic form against the deep red scales of a stranger.

“Well that’s good, right?” Khany looked down at the future. “I didn’t know your city had two dragons.”

“We don’t,” said Jashn, trying to cover his shock. “I’m not sure who these are, neither one is our dragon.” He wasn’t sure if he’d covered the lie completely, but the girl didn’t seem to notice.

The dragon shifted slightly, eyeing the pool, but not commenting.

Jashn took a steadying breath and tried to get back on track.

“In the futures where the magic is clear, does any harm come to the dragon here?” This was a series of carefully worded questions that should lull the dragon into thinking he wasn’t a threat… but that was also based on futures that he wasn’t seeing.

The pool rippled and then darkened, churning mists that almost showed visions, but not quite. Which meant it was impossible to tell because the probabilities were all too low. Which wasn’t what it had done back in the City by the Sea when he was practicing. There the answer had been a firm negative.

Jashn was beginning to think their plan wasn’t going to work even if he could get the dragon to let him try.

“In the futures where his pool is clear, does our town still burn?” Khany asked over his shoulder.

The pool pulsed and then showed alternating visions of a town in flames and a town unharmed. They were all slightly different, but all variations on just the two themes.

“Well that wasn’t helpful, that’s what it was giving us before.” Khany frowned. “What was it that you thought it could tell you about purifying or healing your pools? Was there a method you were planning on trying?”

“Wait, wait, we’re missing something,” she said, interrupting Jashn as he was about to ask another question. “How far in the future is this? What is the most likely future in which the pools are clear and our town doesn’t burn?”

The pools swirled and didn’t clear.

“They aren’t very good with the concept of time in terms of things as short as human lives,” Jashn said. “You have to give it a reference.” He paused. “Is the future in which the pools are clear before or after the next eclipse of the smallest moon?”

The pools pulsed and showed a series of eclipses, each one covering a dozen years.

There was a very long pause.

“So… I mean, I’m not the best astronomer, but isn’t that like a hundred years from now?” Khany stared down at the pools in confusion. “Those things happen what, once every twelve years, give or take, I mean there are some years when we get two, but those are rarer than a friendly goose.”

“More than a hundred,” Jashn said faintly. This wasn’t the future he had seen at all. Something had drastically changed and he wasn’t sure what.

~*~*~*~*~

“…I think you just massively derailed the plot,” said Dragon. He’d woken up from his nap just as they’d learned how far in the future the solution was. “You might need to retcon that.”

“I’m not sure,” the Writer frowned down at the scene. “It wasn’t what I meant to do, but sometimes the things I do by accident turn out to be on purpose.”

“…What?”

“I make connections in my subconscious without realising it, so sometimes everything turns out to fit together once I have it all out on paper. Not sure this is one of those times.” She doodled out a quick timeline. “All of these people are immortal, or becoming so, so it’s not like the timeline really means anything.”

“Yes it does,” the Muse objected. “You put a time limit on it when Jashn started talking about things going wrong in terms of years and not decades. Whatever this is it’s getting work quickly, they can’t wait a hundred years to fix it.”

“No, but it could take a hundred years to finish fixing,” Khany pointed out. “We didn’t ask for a future where the magic was at a safe level or one where his dragon was healthy again… we asked for one where the magic was clear.”

“I love having rules lawyers as fictives!” The Writer grinned and got back to work.

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