The only thing she knows is true anymore is that the dragon needs to die.
In which magic gets some explanation and the dragon from the City By the City does some waiting.
Daily Wordcount: 1,595
Total Wordcount: 35,457 (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.
How Magic Do
“Not that yesterday wasn’t a valiant effort, but since you’ve written yourself into a dead end, I’m assuming it’s time to go back to training?” The Muse handed the Writer her notes as she stumbled back into the faux-living room, yawning and trailing story mists.
“Eh, I guess. I still haven’t thought of anything that will burn down the town and we really need to get that lined up before I go forward.” The Writer sat down at the desk with a sigh and flipped back through the story to get to the training.
“Oh that’s right, we were in the lecture about how magic works.” She frowned down at the paper. “Guess I’d better start making that up then…”
“Magic is in everything, living or not,” said the elder dragon. “It gathers in the pools, fed by a thousand tiny streams. Magic calls to magic, but not in the energetic way it does here. This is heavy concentrations on magic, which mean it acts differently.”
“It’s possible to do magics when away from the pools, but it takes time and patience. When I traveled I pulled it from the rocks and trees as we passed.” He looked out and over the valley, then back down with a sigh. “Never enough to harm, there’s danger is removing all the magic from an area. It leaves… a gap, of sorts. That’s how you get dark magic, when it pools and rots in those holes you leave behind. Then you need a quick burst of fire to clean it out again and a careful refeeding of magic.”
“So where does wild magic come from then?” Khany asked.
“It just is and it can be very dangerous, so it’s best if the magic is cleaned up or locked away.” The elder dragon looked over with disapproval at the younger dragon, who looked away guiltily.
“So I need you to ask, without trying to order it around.” The elder dragon instructed. “Like you would something much larger and much older than yourself. But don’t speak, it doesn’t need that. As you saw with Jashn.”
Khany frowned and turned back to the water. She cupped her hands above the waters again and looked into the swirling magic. There were tiny sparks dancing here like the pyrite of home, but these looked like fireflies not sediment. She thought about the river and fields of home and how they had rituals that asked for the elemental blessings, even if they asked the dragon for good fortune. She huffed out a steadying breath, closed her eyes, and asked.
And the magic answered.
At the first touched of the magic she yelped, jumped back, and ended up tripping over the rocks and landing on her butt facing an alarmed pool. The waters were dancing back and forth in rough waves as if they were trying to see over the edges of the rock to make sure she was okay.
“See,” said the elder dragon, amused again. “It’s not as hard as you think.”
Trying to regain what little was left of her dignity, Khany got up, brushed herself off, and got back to practicing.
“Well, you won’t win any awards, but it should be enough to help,” Jashn admitted when Khany had finished her impromptu lessons. “Just don’t try to grab too much, fish aren’t the only thing that can dissolve if they handle too much magic.”
The two dragons looked down at him, but said nothing.
Khany eyed the pool, slightly alarmed, the thought hadn’t really occurred to her.
Sensing her worry, the younger dragon sighed. “It would take years of working with magic at that level to cause you harm. He has a point that trying to handle too much magic at once might hurt you, but you shouldn’t need to do that. Your job is just as a backup to work on channeling magic if this turns into a fight.”
“I don’t see how it won’t,” said Khany. “It’s not like we can walk in and ask the shadow monster nicely if we can try and kill it. Is there a reason we can’t just chase it away instead?”
“It would come back at some point,” the younger dragon said. “It’s most likely immortal, or very close to it, and there are only so many pools in the world to feed from.”
“And if we lose, it will just feed on this pool until it’s empty and then move on?” Khany’s tone of voice indicated that she wasn’t sure that was a horrible outcome.
“Yes, but an empty pool means no magic for the dragon to work with and no scrying. The city will fall apart without the dragon there to protect it properly. That’s the problem with building things around a central key,” said the elder dragon. “Better to set it up so it can continue on it’s own.”
The younger dragon didn’t bother arguing, they’d had this conversation many times over the centuries. His own town would survive him, he’d built it carefully, it just wouldn’t survive as well.
“This is… such a mess.” The Muse pointed out as the Writer attempted to find more gaps in the story that needed filling. “You’re just writing random things at this point and we still have almost a week worth of writing that needs to get done.”
“So we subplot,” said the Writer, elbow deep in the pile of story. “Quick, where do we have room for something that can go wrong?”
“Well, we have the trip from the town to the mountains and then from the mountains to the city,” said Jashn. “But we’re flying, so there isn’t much that can actually cause us problems there. Once we land at the city it’s pretty much straight into the fight, but I can’t see an easy way to sidetrack us there.”
“There’s not much we can do in the town before we leave either,” said Dragon. “As it stands there’s probably a lot of useless scrying that can come out in the next draft.”
“There has to be something,” the Writer glared down at her writing.
“Write some more backstory then?” Khany offered, unable to think of anything else. “Talk about life while I’m in the town, or about Jashn learning how to dragon, or on what’s going on with the City by the Sea dragon.”
“Or, you know, take a moment and name the dragons,” pointed out Dragon. “It’s incredibly awkward to call us ‘younger’ and ‘elder’ and other generics.”
“That’s second draft work,” the Writer said. “I need story, not tweaks. But checking in on the City by the Sea dragon sounds good, let’s do that.”
So they did.
She wasn’t sure whose idea it was for Jashn to go to the town to get help from the dragon there, but as soon as he had left the visions started getting worse.
If she asked for a future, she’d get things that seemed almost right, but not quite, and the more she asked the less the pools repeated themselves. She tried all the ways she could think of to try and refine her questions to get visions she could use– but it was no use. Whatever was wrong with the magic seemed to be spreading.
So she depending on her Children to help her keep the peace. They were adept at smaller magics that seemed less tainted. She made decisions as best she could, but she could feel the city starting to unravel around her. She needed to be able to see the future to keep them safe, so she spent more and more time at the pools, asking questions.
She could tell when her Children stop trusting her. The had never talked back to her before, but now every thing she asked them was a debate and it rankled. But they were out there listening to the true heartbeat of the city and she trusted them. Almost.
The pools showed her the future that wasn’t possible, but it showed her truths as well. All of the things that came up in the visions were chaotic and random, but they were still futures. So she asked her questions from a hundred different directions and from that chaos she could see the rough shape of things.
Sometimes she got the details wrong, but she was sure she could still see the future… blurry and unfocused, but still true.
But as the days passed, and the weeks, and then the months, she could feel them lose faith.
If Jashn didn’t get back soon and with an answer, there might not be a city left for him to save.
“Well that makes more sense for why she was spending so much time at the pools and a little bit of sense when it comes to why the guard wasn’t happy working with the Dragon’s Children, but it needs more,” said Jashn.
“The layering will make a lot of sense in the next draft,” promised the Writer. “
“This is going to need some serious formatting and spell check before you can post it,” the Muse looked over the chaos of the word sprints. “Why does it seem like every time we make good progress we end up losing half the writing time the following day to editing?”
“Because I can write fast or I can write coherently… I can’t really do both.” The Writer gathered up all her new words into an untidy pile and dumped them on the writing desk. “And on that note, see you tomorrow!”