The only thing she knows is true anymore is that the dragon needs to die.
Much scrying. Very pools.
Daily Wordcount: 1738
Total Wordcount: 11,379 (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.
Redux – Magical Rules and Regulations
“Alright, so we’re going to split this up.” The Writer chopped off the first two thousand words into it’s own post. “I love the fact that we’re catching up again (even if it was without me), but there is no way I’m fitting this many words into one post.”
“As glad as I am that you’re back… we were doing okay without you.” The Muse grumbled as she gave up her seat at the writing desk. “We could have gotten another thousand words of backstory done. Maybe.”
“Yeah, but this is all side story, back story, DVD extras that won’t make it into the book.” The Writer scanned through the notes. “Or maybe I need to have two POV characters? This actually isn’t bad.”
“It’s my story though,” Khany glared at Jashn. “He was just supposed to be the token bad guy.”
“She doesn’t write token bad guys,” he pointed out, ” sooo…”
“So we have two main characters, one of which might not get a POV.” Dragon said firmly. “The story we have right now isn’t bad, I’m not sure it would benefit from his input, even if it’s an interesting story too. He can have his own short stories in the universe if need be. Let’s get this one done first.”
“But my story is helping to drive this story,” Jashn said. “Look, if I don’t show up, what are you left with? Without some sort of outside force to raise the stakes you two could share a cave for decades without moving forward. Khany might learn things out of stubbornness and a burning desire to kill you off, but throw in something like having to save the town and suddenly there is a time limit on things.”
“How much of your story does the reader really need?” The Writer looked over the notes. “Right now it doesn’t look like any of this is actually important to the story as it stands. If things get more complicated as we go we’ll revise using some of this, but it’s all backstory.”
“Fine, then by all means let’s get back to the story that I’m not in yet.” Jashn sat down in his comfy chair, crossed his arms and waited. “I’m sure you have lots of exciting things that need to be done. Like describing the scenery.”
Khany glared, the Writer sighed, and Dragon led them back into the caves.
The scrying pools refused to uncloud for the rest of the day and the magistrate reluctantly agreed to return to town the next morning and wait for news. The dragon vanished back into the depths of the caves and didn’t return leaving Khany to sit by the pools alone.
There were rules and rituals surrounding everything connected to the dragon and the pools were no exceptions. In theory she should have been able to start her questioning immediately, but the pools hadn’t responded and the dragon had simply said ‘wait’.
But wait for how long? Or for what?
So Khany sat and stared into the murky waters. They seemed to be in constant movement, even though the surface of the pools were clear. There were fourteen pools within the cavern of various sizes, but the one most used was the largest. She had a feeling it was because it was easiest to see things when there was more room to display them, but there were no stories that covered that.
After spending a few bored hours exploring the room and waiting for something to happen, she dipped a hand into one of the smaller pools, playing with the sediment as it swirled around her fingers.
There was pyrite dust in the water that sparkled as the light from the lanterns caught it and she traced the outline of her old house in the shadows. It took her a moment lost in daydreams to realise the faint ghost of the house stayed behind even as she drew in the pastures and fields behind it.
With a start she pulled her hand from the pool and the house dissolved back into dust.
The house was gone, nothing but ash and memories, and the scrying pools only showed the future. But this didn’t look anything like the visions the pools had shown the magistrate.
Hesitantly she touched her fingertips to the water again and the sparkling dust danced up to meet her.
She drew the house again, with hesitant strokes at first that grew more confident and quicker as the image evolved. This time she was more careful, adding in the details that she’d missed in the first general sketch.
The front door carved by her great-grandfather and then embellished on by every generation since.
The lopsided chimney, repaired from when the draft cart had crashed into it when her cousin had jokingly spooked the horses.
The stepping stones made of rough river clay by her mother and her mother’s sister, that had cracked and shattered in the fire, lined the front garden.
She didn’t realize she was crying until her tears hit the mingled with the water, sending ripples through the memories. And for a moment the house blazed, fire-bright and golden, before fading back into the shadows as the dust fell away.
“You shouldn’t dwell on the past,” the dragon said, hidden away in the darkness.
“It’s all I have.”
And with that she got up and left the caves, leaving the dragon alone.
“Well, you win the award for most depressing scene,” said Jashn, “but I don’t see how this advances your complete lack of plot.”
“Just because my story isn’t filled with epic tales of murdering people for a living doesn’t mean it’s worse.” Khany was shuffling through the notes and adding scribbles to her outline.
“Yeah, but the scene doesn’t do anything but show that you’re sad… and that maybe you have some magic.” Countered the Muse, who was still sulking over on the couch. She pulled another soda from between the interdimensional sofa cushions. “We’ll have to add something to it in the next draft. Foreshadowing or something.”
“Or we just cut it.”
“Jashn, stop it.” The Writer shot her fictive a disapproving look and he ignored it. “Now back to work… we’ve got another word war coming up and I don’t want to lose. Again.”
She avoided the scrying pools for a few days after that. There were still parts of the cave system left to explore and she worked on moving her things from the offering room to one of the smaller rooms. She avoided the dragon as much as possible, but it was spending most of its time deep in the caverns, hidden behind the quartz walls.
Finally, when the nightmares got too bad, she returned to the pools and to the visions of fire.
Three drops of blood –an echo of the three offering candles– was all it took to barter visions of the future, but this time she just stared into the pool and watched the waters slow churn. She was done with begging.
“Show me the future where the village burns.”
The waters slowed and cleared, but the pool was still.
“I paid my blood a long time ago,” she told the pools. “As did my mother, and my father, and my aunt and uncle– we’ve paid for a lifetime worth of visions and I won’t give you any more.”
“That isn’t how it works,” said the dragon, its amused voice the flutter of crisp new leaves against the wind.
“All we know is what you’ve told us,” snapped Khany without looking away from the water. “And I don’t believe you anymore.”
The dragon said nothing, but settled in to watch, coiled against the far wall so that all she could see out of the corner of her eye was the glowing golden eyes.
“Show me the future where the village burns.”
The pool’s waters pulsed in response, three waves that rippled out from the center and vanished before they reached the edges.
“No.” She leaned forward. “In the futures where the village burns, what happens to the scrying pools?”
There was a long pause and the dragon shifted, eyes locked on the pool instead of her.
From the shadows of the pool rose a vision of the scrying room, the walls dark with soot and the basins cracked and empty. Heat radiated from the walls causing distortions in the image.
“I thought so.” Khany leaned back thoughtfully as the vision faded. “Anything powerful enough to destroy the village would have enough foresight to destroy the warning systems first.”
“Show me a future in which the pools survive,” said the dragon.
The pools shivered and a vision of the pools undamaged and surrounded by petitioners appeared. Khany recognized none of them and the dragon was nowhere to be seen.
“Show me a future where the village survives but the pools don’t,” asked Khany.
The waters churned with the shadows of an infinite possibilities and then settled on the image of the stranger from before standing in front of the cracked pools, his clothing soot-covered and torn.
“Well that didn’t really solve anything,” said the Writer, tired of fighting with a wordcount that didn’t want to cooperate.
“We’ve caught up with day seven’s wordcount, so at least we’re less behind.” The Muse yawned. “And the story is moving forward, albeit slowly.”
“Still not seeing how this incredibly boring set of scenes is at all a good replacement for my own epic adventures.” Jashn had gone back to doodling the outlines of the kingdom or republic or whatever the area was that they lived in. “On a side note, the town was supposed to be a little bit steampunk-y right? We haven’t really worked that into the plot or setting at all up until now.”
“Eh,” said the Writer. “If it turns out to be useful as a plot point later I may put it back in, but for now I’m just going to retcon it. It could be fun to play with the idea that the cities are more steampunk that the villages, which could give Jashn some fun gadgets to play with.”
“He’s already mostly a dragon,” Khany pointed out, annoyed. “Stop giving him stuff!”
“Fine, fine, I’ll give it you– but I still reserve the right to invoke it if I write myself into a corner.”
And lo, they called it a day.