The only thing she knows is true anymore is that the dragon needs to die.
In which the gang visits Dragon’s mentor and is given exposition and sandwiches. (Well, maybe not the sandwiches.)
Daily Wordcount: 1,889
Total Wordcount: 26,257 (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.
I’d Like to Phone a Friend
The next morning they gathered in the room right outside the scrying room, all of them reluctant to get near the pools again. At most the creature should only have noticed someone scrying it, not where or when they were. But there was a slim chance that their interference might have pushed it to track them down.
“If it knew where we were, it would have already come,” the dragon said, attempting to convince itself. “And it tried to attack us through the vision, which is impossible, so it can’t be very smart or it would have realized that we weren’t actually there.”
“It did make you burn your paw,” pointed out Jashn, “but you’re right, it would already be here if it was coming.” But he made no move to head into the rooms.
“Is there any way to learn more about this than asking the pools?” asked Khany. “Are there any other dragons nearby that we don’t know about?”
“We could always ask my mentor,” said the dragon after a moment. “He’s spend millennium wandering the world and there’s a good chance he’ll know more. Or at least he’ll be better at thinking up solutions. We have time to get there and back, if we hurry.”
Jashn was looking at him suspiciously. As far as he knew dragons only took on heirs when they were about to die and then the heir always replaced the dragon. There was no reason to train a heir if you didn’t need one.
Dragon caught his expression and sighed. “I don’t know what your dragon has taught you, but for now assume everything you know is true only in your city.”
Jashn muttered things under his breath, but shrugged.
“Then we fly.”
“Do you even have wings?” Jashn frowned at Dragon who was snuggled into his beanbag bed and not paying any attention to the story in progress.
To be fair, the dragon was still a little fuzzy around the edges, having never been described properly.
“Why would I need wings?” Came a grumble of leaves from the depth of the nest. “I’m magic.”
“He does have a point,” said the Writer. Who couldn’t remember if he had wings previously or not and was much too lazy to try and look it up. “So no wings for you! You’re earth-themed anyway, so it fits.”
“Am I really the only dragon with wings? Seriously?” Jashn looked offended.
“You are literally an imaginary creatures based off your own personalities. Calling any of you ‘dragons’ is probably overkill.” The Muse sniffed. “Now get back to work!”
The dragon lead them back out of the caves and paused to stretch like a cat. Then he knelt down and let Kahny and Jashn climb aboard. There was a spot slightly behind his shoulders where there was enough room to sit without interfering with his movement.
Khany was a little tense, having only ridden horses a small handful of times. She was much more used to riding or driving carts and there was no saddle to hold on to. But the dragon was not a horse and she was pretty sure she could count on him to catch them if they fell. Probably.
For a few heartbeats Jashn was terrified that they dragon would be able to sense the truth about him when they were this close, but the dragon said nothing and he relaxed.
Once they were settled, the dragon leapt into the sky. He had no wings, but a powerful breath of magic kept him aloft. He rose in the air until the trees were tiny toothpicks and then moved northward. On his back the riders were held safe with magic, protected from the wind and steadied against moment. It was a smooth almost dreamlike movement as the dragon undulated through the sky as if he was swimming.
Jashn had never flown like this before. His own dragon didn’t like to leave the caves and had let him learn flight by himself after she had taught him basic self levitation within the caves. His own dragon form was that of a feathered serpent, with great white wings that caught the air and sent him soaring with only a little help from the magic.
This felt less like flying and more like floating. There was very little sense of movement at all, save for the mild rocking movement, and he watched the landscape fly by at startling speeds.
But even the view couldn’t keep him from worrying about the much older dragon they were going to visit. They might need all the help they could get, but he had no idea if his glamour would hold up under the older dragon’s scrutiny.
And if they found out what he was… Jashn decided it didn’t matter. There was no way they’d refuse to help him now that they felt threatened themselves and he’d never heard about dragons actually fighting before. He squashed down his fear and stubbornly clung to the idea that in the face of the monster in the pools that any deception could be forgiven.
They arrived at the valley of the elder dragon at midday and as the dragon landed the dragon rose from the lake to meet them.
He was massive, easily twice the size of Khany’s dragon and he was a rich blue mottled with white spots along his underbelly. Much like Jashn’s dragon his coloring was slightly fluid and the scales seemed to ripple in the sunlight. He had no feathers or fur, only scales, although he had more spikes and fin-like webbing.
He waited until they had landed to walk over, smoothly and quietly as if his massive bulk was just an illusion.
“I have seen you in the lake,” he said in greeting to his apprentice as the dragon shook out the kinks once his riders had dismounted. His voice was the sound of snow hitting stone.
“The whole lake is a scrying pool?” Khany asked incredulously.
The elder dragon laughed and it echoed from the mountains. “You are young to the world and there are many things that will amaze you yet. But no.” He lowered his head to touched noses with the dragon. “You have grown little one.”
“And you have not,” said Khany’s dragon with amusement. “If you have seen us coming, have you seen why we’ve come?”
“Ah no, that I saw long before you took to the skies,” he said sadly. “That darkness has festered for many years, but there a rules and I am bound by them.”
“What rules?” asked Jashn, upset that the dragon had seen the danger and done nothing.
“Long ago, before the laws were laid down in the hearthstone, there were terrible wars between dragons. Some of us crave power, possessions, and there is nothing so destructive as we are. We almost tore the world in two… So now each dragon is its own dominion and we cannot cross borders without permission,” said the elder dragon without rancor. “We can only answer requests for help, we cannot force help upon each other. I asked, many years ago when the darkness first touched her and was rebuffed.”
“You do have a reputation,” said the younger dragon with a sigh. “Why not ask me to help her? Or at least warn me what was coming?”
“And what would you have done? She wouldn’t have listened to you anymore that she would me, although for different reasons. And without her permission we can do nothing to help.” The dragon turned to look at Jashn. “But we do not need her permission now.”
“Why not?” Khany asked.
“Because he has asked for help,” the elder dragon said, nodding at Jashn.
“But it’s not his dominion,” she objected. “He just lives there, he works for the dragon he’s not in charge.”
“Not his dominion alone,” the dragon agreed. “But he has a say in things, and that is enough.”
Jashn was terrified at having been discovered so easily, but the elder dragon didn’t seem to feel it necessary to tell the others what really was going on and he tried to squash his fear before it ruined the glamour.
“Then if it’s up to me, I’m asking for help.” He said after he got his voice under control. “What do we need to do.”
“Magic is like water,” the elder dragon said. “It moves from state to state in a constant cycle. It is lakes and clouds and rain and always the same and never the same. He touched a claw to the ground and a pool of magic sprang up, crystal clear and almost glowing in the sunlight. “You ‘purify’ dark magic with fire, but you aren’t burning the magic, you’re burning the impurities.” He waved across the pond and it evaporated into a quickly dissipating mist.
“So we need to… remove the magic from the creature and leave the creature behind?” Asked Jashn, confused. “Or are we burning away the creature and leaving the magic? Either way, how are we supposed to do that?”
“As it is now, it won’t burn, it’s too dispersed. I’m sure you have learned how to pull magic from the pools,” the elder dragon said and not asked. “Similarly, you must pull magic from the creature in order to weaken it. But it will be holding on just as strongly as you are pulling. This will not be an easy fight.”
“But we have to do something with the magic,” The younger dragon said. “We can’t just hold onto it. What can we do that would possibly use up enough to hurt that thing?”
“We can’t just move it into storage,” Jashn agreed. “That thing would just pull it back out again. Even the war magics don’t really burn up that much power with their explosions. The only way I know would be to use it to move earth around, or try and redirect the river. It would have to be something basic if we’re in the middle of a fight.”
“Wait, why do you keep saying ‘you’?” Khany interrupted, looking at the elder dragon. “Aren’t you coming with us?”
“Why would I?” It asked, amused.
“Well, if nothing else, this thing is a danger to you too.” She said.
“I don’t see how,” the elder dragon said. “It’s too far away to make it here any time soon and I can always leave. I don’t tie myself to useless monuments.” It gave Jashn a look.
“We can do it without him,” said the younger dragon, who had already assumed his mentor was going to stay out of the fight. The elder dragon had always been more about retreat and avoidance even in his younger days. “Or we should be able to… how good are you at channeling magic?”
“I might not be as old as you are, but I can hold my own.”
“How is he supposed to do that without giving away the fact that he’s a dragon?” The Writer asked in annoyance.
“I’m sure he’ll think of something,” said Dragon who very obviously thought he wouldn’t.
Jashn glowered, Khany sighed, and the Muse helped her Writer pack up for the night… for lo it was midnight and she was Throwing In The Towel.