[YANS] (NaNoWriMo Day 29.a)

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

In which the general shape of the story is reviewed, the final battle is tweaked, and magic is worldbuilt just a little bit more.

Daily Wordcount: 2,171
Total Wordcount: 49,252 (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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Salvaging a Story

“Less than 5k left… if I had any story left to write I’d be good.” The Writer settled into the writing desk with a determined sigh. “I’m not sure I’ve got five thousand words of worldbuilding to go. Although the story is pretty broken.”

“So let’s start ripping the story apart instead and see if we can add anymore missing bits.” The Muse pulled out the editing chainsaw of doom and cranked it up with an evil grin.

Dragon decided it was time to move his beanbag next behind the couch where it was safe. In theory.

“So this is our story so far,” the Writer said as she laid out the basic plot point index cards. “A girl’s family is all killed in a flood. She goes to try and kill the dragon responsible for it. They find out that the town is in grave danger. A stranger shows up looking for help for another city, but they already know he is the key to saving their own town. They find out that there is a shadow dragon hiding in the magic back at the city. They go off to the town dragon’s mentor to find out how to defeat it. With a plan (of sorts) the got to the city and fight the shadow dragon. It flees back to the town using magitech made by the town dragon. The girl uses the same magitech to portal back as well. The girl fights the shadow monster and when she about to die the wild magic inside of her flares and she ends up becoming a dragon the hard way and killing the shadow monster. But she burns down the town in the process. The other two dragons get to the town too late to save it, so they start rebuilding it.”

“That… is a lot more story than I expected.” The Muse admitted. “So what are our main plot points that come out of nowhere that we could write a backstory for?”

“Well, the magitech for one.” The Writer frowned thoughtfully. “It was pretty much thrown in there as a plot device to get the fight back to the town and to split Khany up from the other dragons. It needs to have a purpose in the plot before then. But if we’re adding the extra POVs throughout the story there’s room to expand there.”

“Plus we need to explain why the cool magitech can’t just solve all their problems to start with,” pointed out Jashn. “Or just magic in general.”

“The whole concept of wild magic really isn’t explained well, plus it never does anything bad only good. But it’s talked about as this very dangerous thing.” pointed out Dragon. “So it needs to have some sort of downside. Plus the city dragon is very upset about someone with wild magic, so why didn’t she just try and kill Khany to start with? Why let her run around the city at all if she’s that dangerous?”

“Plus the paranoia of the city dragon also needs to be bumped up a little, so it makes more sense why she’s against us. And we need some reason why she suddenly joins our side of the fight,” said Khany.

“And this is why it helps not to be a panster,” said the Muse.

“So, backtrack, let’s get the individual personal plot worked out.” The Writer grabbed her character sheets.

“1. The shadow dragon wants to take over the pools in the city and drive away the city dragon.”

“2. The city dragon and Jashn want to save the city. Because of the lies of the shadow dragon they think they need to burn down the town to do this.” The Writer looked over at Jashn who shrugged, it would do for now.

“And 3. The town dragon and Khany want to save their town. Because of the visions, they think they need Jashn to do this.” Dragon made a noncommittal noise from behind the couch.

“But the visions of the town not burning are the visions where we don’t stop the shadow dragon, right?” Khany asked, confused. “If it’s my turning into the dragon that starts the fire…”

“There are a bunch of futures where the fire is started during the fight, but not all of them are from you turning into a dragon.” said the Writer. “Fire was the best way to kill the shadow dragon and Jashn is a fire breather so he could have started it. The town dragon also could have started it with magic or magitech.”

“Either way it’s a nice point out to the fact that the future is only so predictable. In fact, most of this story seems to show that the pools really aren’t that useful.” pointed out the Muse.

“We do need to up the mortal peril a bit too,” said Dragon. “I don’t think anyone was really in any danger until Khany’s scene. I know readers are going to want their happy ending, but it might be worth it to play things up to the point where they will expect her to die.”

“That could be interesting, it would tie in well with the theme of futures not being all that predictable.” The Writer noted.

“So how do we work in the magitech more?” The Muse had liberated some of the weapons from the Tony Stark plot bunny and was busy shooting tiny skeet targets that the couch was launching for her. “This stuff is fun!”

“We could just have it mentioned in the background, as worldbuilding bit. Then you could maybe have a scene from Dragon’s POV where he’s working in the lab?” Kahny suggested.

“Not a bad idea…” The Writer grabbed a pen and started to work.

~*~*~*~*~

The dragon paced back and forth in front of a long stone workbench covered in parts and prototypes. The pieces were made from a variety of things: stone, metal, leather, bones, wood– some already shaped and half-assembled, others just raw materials.

There was a small scrying pool in the corner that was bubbling happily to itself. The waters were rich with pyrite specks and it was playing with tessellation and fractals.

The dragon had shrunken down to human form since it was easier to manipulate the magitech and he was fiddling absently with a screwdriver as he was thinking.

“There has to be a reason why that stranger is important,” he wasn’t asking the pool directly, but it rippled in response without showing any visions. “He’s from the city, that much is obvious, even if he’s dressed in civilian clothes. He carried himself like a warrior, not a tinker. I can’t decide if he’s the one that starts the fire the one that helps us prevent it.”

Frustrated he paused by the pool and tapped the edge of it with the screwdriver. “Show me the futures where we tell the traveler to leave where the city still burns.” There was a ruffle in the pool waters and after a moment the pool showed the town in flames, but it was a longer than normal pause and that meant it had to search to find the futures.

~*~*~*~*~

“Wait, wait– we need to go back and rewrite all of the future visions,” Jashn said, interrupting the flashback. “We didn’t know what was going on before, so the visions don’t really match up with what turned out to be true.”

“Eh, you’re right.” The Writer sighed and made some more notes in the margins. “But we knew that then too. The one thing I can claim is that Khany’s wild magic makes it hard to get a read on how the futures will come out.”

“Except that’s not true. The wild magic only spikes now and then and it results in futures that are incredibly improbable.” Dragon pointed out. “So it was the least likely thing that the wild magic cause the town to burn. So all of the other futures where it burns it’s because of something I set off or Jashn set off. Or maybe a misfire of the protective spells around the caves.”

“Speaking of which… we never really covered that, so quick break.” The Writer dove back into the story.

~*~*~*~*~

The dragon had spent decades building up the protections around his caves and the surrounding countryside. But they would need more than his normal magics to keep out the shadow dragon. He worked on those while Kahny went into town to warn them to evacuate. At the moment there was no solid plan to save the town, so they had to assume it was going to burn.

They idea that something he had worked so hard to build might be outside his control to save was infuriating, but he was still out of ideas.

He added more layers of protection from stone manipulation starting from the furthest caves with his lab and moving towards the front. He collapsed and closed off the rooms as he moved forward. The other creature would most likely move open them back up again instead of digging new tunnels and this would slow it down if nothing else.

He laid traps as he worked, flashbangs, projectiles, cave-ins, electric, fire, ice, everything he could think of that might have a chance of slowing it down. Which was the problem, they had no idea what would work against this thing. He’d never fought anything made of magic before, nor heard of such a thing. It might be that the creature could flow through solid objects like magic could and all of this would be pointless.

But he was still going to try.

He finished at the mouth of the cave as Khany returned and she watched the front walls collapse without comment, just a sad look.

~*~*~*~*~

“See, now that makes no sense on how they were doing the fight.” Jashn objected. “If they had all of that in place to slow it down, they needed Khany to be waiting at the end of all those traps, not at the beginning.”

There was a pause.

“Darnit.” said the Writer when she couldn’t think up a good answer. “So, okay, how about they hack the letter mailer so it mails her into the workshop and then she can fight it from there? It’s behind the pools though… but if there is a small pool there maybe she can use that to talk to the rest of it and move it to her location.”

“That would let her live a little longer and do some epic Home Alone work as well,” pointed out the Muse.

“Canon accepted,” the Writer made some notes in the margins. “Now let’s work out this whole humans-using-magic issue.”

~*~*~*~*~

The ability to work magic, or even sense it, is very low in most humans. The number of people who can become dragons is even lower because they have to be able to deal with soaking in a lot of magic for an extended period of time without fading away. Most people would either leave the area because they were starting to feel sick or they would collapse and fade away after a magical overload.

The magitech devices that the town dragon has created and handed out to the villages use and incredibly small amount of magic. So being around them is no more dangerous for the humans than just being outside.

So the dragons who train up other dragons will only expose the person to a little bit of magic over a long period of time to help build up their tolerance. Most of the magic the humans deal with would be dispensed by the dragon instead of drawn from the pools directly. There’s a chance with drawing from the pools that they would pull too much at once and die.

So what Khany did should have killed her. She was trying to hold onto a large amount of magic all at once and then she was channeling the magic heavily to fuel the fire. It should have overwhelmed her and killed her, or at least made her pass out and let go of the stream. The only reason she survived was the kick of the wild magic that let her buffer the magic and use it to transform into the dragon, which burned through a lot of the excess.

In theory, the humans could safely learn how to use the ambient magic around them. It would be at low concentrations and they wouldn’t be able to gather enough all at once to be dangerous. They could, however, drain the magic out of an area which could cause the dark magic to take hold. That would create a societal backlash against magic use as well, since normal folks wouldn’t be able to tell that it was overuse that caused the issue.

~*~*~*~*~

“I hate it when a plan comes together,” complained the Muse. “It only encourages her pantsing the next time NaNo rolls around.

The Writer ignored her and kept worldbuilding…

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