The only thing she knows is true anymore is that the dragon needs to die.
In which Jashn meets Dragon, motivations are hashed out, and Khany Learns A Thing.
Daily Wordcount: 2,097
Total Wordcount: 19,027 (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.
Whose Story Is This Anyways?
“There are three POVs now,” the Muse pointed out as the Writer shuffled the notes around trying to find the best way to continue forward. “Khany, Jashn, and Dragon. I know the other two aren’t the main viewpoint, but they could add layers to the story if you include them.”
“But they may also distract from the story,” pointed out the Writer. “This is supposed to be Khany’s story and if I include too much of the others it takes the focus away from her and how she deals with all of this. It just gives too much context to the situation to be inside their heads too and I want to keep this close third person– at least for not. I’ll come back and do DVD extras or other stories later. Ah there we go!” She finished shuffling and tapped the papers into a neat pile.
“So just continue on continuing on?”
“With the usual side trips,” the Writer agreed… and got to work.
Khany was less impressed with the stranger now that she’d see him outside of the pool’s visions. He wasn’t as menacing or dangerous as he’d seemed in those futures and he had none of the heavy syrupy feel of magic about him that the dragon did. She wasn’t sure how he was connected to the fire, or stopping it, but right now she didn’t think he’d be much help.
But at least he didn’t complain as they walked back to the caves. She was walking a little faster than normal, just to annoy him, but it didn’t seem to be working.
He seemed to have come from a long distance, but the knapsack he was carrying had little room for supplies. So either he was buying them as he needed from the villages and towns along the way or he was a much better forager than he appeared. He didn’t have any of the local berries on him though and those were in season and quite tasty. Which made her suspicious.
She had been tempted to confront him about the hazy futures that surrounded him, but the dragon had deemed it safer to touch on that issue when he was within in the additional warding of the caves. If there was something strange about the man, he’d be better able to deal with it there. Plus it was an added layer of protection for the village. Worst case, they’d trap him in the caves to keep everyone else safe.
They’d deal with this, whatever this was and if worse came to worse… her family was all dead, losing her own life didn’t seem that big of a deal anymore.
Jashn followed the girl without complaint as she lead them at an almost breakneck pace up into the black hills. The path was clear, so it wasn’t that hard, but it was mostly uphill and that was a lot more draining than he remembered. He was used to flying places, or walking in much larger strides and it was odd to be so small again.
He was still concerned that he hadn’t seen this girl in any of his future visions. Where had she come from? Was she working for the dragon? Or was she the dragon? She had none of the feel of magic about her and the dragon he was going to see was young and inexperienced, per his dragon so it shouldn’t be able to hide itself that well.
She’d talked about a fire and about her own death with a strange nonchalance that was also alarming. It could be possible she was a supernatural creature to whom death was only a nuisance, but again, she seemed to be a normal human.
Albeit one who was oddly comfortable around strangers whom she thought would cause her death. He’d noticed she never said he would kill her, just that she would die.
His plan should still work, so he tried to tuck away his worry and focus on the carefully rehearsed steps instead. He’d gone over hundreds of futures with his dragon and they had come up with a path that should get him the answers he needed.
“But answers for what?” The Writer looked over at Jashn. “I think we need to decide on why you are here and what you mean to do.”
“If I get to pick, I say we go with the infect magic angle.” He said. “But we have to figure out why I’ve come here. Is it my city’s magic that is infected or am I here because it’s the magic here that’s infected and we’re trying to snuff it out before it spreads?”
“Let’s say your magic was infected and that’s what was causing some mental issues with your dragon, forgetfulness and whatnot.” The Muse offered. “Then you came here, to try and get some clean magic to use to power a spell that will kill the infection in your town– which you can’t do since all the magic there is bad.”
“So why would that cause a fire?” Khany countered. “If all he’s done is come over to borrow a bucketful of magic, why not just ask dragon to dragon? Or man-dragon to dragon. Or whatever.”
Jashn gave her a look.
She ignored him.
“Maybe he isn’t sure how to get rid of the infection and he wants someplace to test it out?” The Writer eyed her notes. “So he comes here, infects the magic in this pool, and then tries out cures without risk to his own city?”
“Aaaaand I’m a bad guy again!” Jashn grinned. “I like it!”
“So he just needs to get to the scrying pools, infect them, and then pretend like it was an accident?” Dragon was not overly enthused about this plan. “Why would we believe that?”
“Because I will have the most awesome cover story and you will totally walk me over to the pool to verify it,” Jashn said, “just wait and see.”
So they did.
The dragon met them at the offering chamber where the stranger looked embarrassingly lost.
“I don’t know the rituals,” he said after an awkward pause while Khany waited for him to begin.
She sighed and then led him through lighting the candles and placing an offering in the dish– which he hadn’t thought to bring, so he put in a small metal bookmark from his book. It felt a little silly to call on the dragon when he was standing right there, so she abridged that part.
“Now ask your question,” she said.
“I come from the city by the sea, where the dragon is as old as the riverbeds and as wise as the stars. But there is something wrong with our magic. Over the past few years there is a growing bitter taste to it and a hint of madness. Our wards fail without warning, our small magics spark and fizzle, and our dragon loses herself in the past. Our pools no longer show the future, they show only nightmares and impossible things. I’ve come to you, the closest dragon, to ask permissions to scry in your pools and find a solution.”
There was a long pause.
“Your magic went bad?” Khany asked, when the dragon didn’t. “How?”
“If I knew that, I wouldn’t have walked all this way,” Jashn pointed out. “We didn’t notice it at first, so I can’t even tell you how long it’s really been going on. We started noticing the futures in the pools were coming back more often with fantasy in the last year, but the magic has been a little off in the years before that. Nothing I can find in the archives talks about magic going bad. Wild, yes and dark, but nothing like this.”
“Wild magic can’t be controlled and would have caused random havoc with everything until it was drained away,” the dragon said. “Dark magic would have turned everyone’s thought to evil and that can’t be drained it has to be burnt out. Did you try burning out this sickness?”
“By the time we realized what was happening, the magic wasn’t listening to us.” Jashn frowned. “We’ve got too big of a pool to use conventional fire, it would need to be magic fed fire and our magic isn’t working. I was hoping to find an answer here, even if it means bringing in an outside dragon or war magics to light it.”
“That’s dangerous to use war magics on that big of a pool,” said dragon. “The city by the sea has been building up magic since before the first great war, if what my old master told me was true. If the magic is merely tained, maybe we can heal it instead of purge.”
“Wait, if it’s the city by the sea that needs to be purged, why is it our town that’s in flames in the futures we are seeing?” Khany demanded.
“We’ll have to go to the pools to find out,” the dragon said and reluctantly led the way.
The dragon went into the pools by himself, leaving Khany and Jashn alone in the room before it.
“So do you work for your dragon?” Khany asked him, curious. She’d heard rumors about the city by the sea, but they didn’t get visitors that often. For the most part it was the caravans and merchants that made the long trek down the river to the sheep.
“Don’t you work for yours?” Jashn still hadn’t figured out quite what she was doing there or how she would be involved in his plans. He had hoped to avoid the path where the dragon went into the pools alone, but it was still salvageable unless she interfered somehow.
“No, I’m here to kill him.”
There was a startled flinch. “What?” Jashn stared at her, but she seemed unconcerned with the enormity of her statement.
“He let my family die. He let my neighbors die.” She glared down the passage towards the room where the dragon was working. “He could have saved all of us, but he chose not to. So I’m going to kill him.”
“Does he know that?” He asked, faintly.
“Yup.” She frowned. “I’m just not sure how yet and he won’t tell me.”
“So he’s told you that you are going to kill him?” Jashn felt like he’d fallen back into conversations with his dragon once she had started going crazy. Maybe the magic here was already infected? “Why?”
“He’s implied it.” Khany turned away from the passageway with a sigh. “He can see the future– he’s known since I was a baby that I’d be coming for him. He almost killed me then and I’m not sure why he didn’t. Maybe he knows he was wrong.” She wiped her palms against her legs, suddenly annoyed at the trail dust coating them.
There was a pause.
“Have you ever asked questions of the pools?” He finally asked, trying not to offend, but with growing concern.
“Of course, otherwise I couldn’t have seen the fire.”
“Not the little questions, the big ones. I don’t mean asking it what’s most likely to happen next month– have you asked it about ten years from now, fifty, a hundred? And how have you asked it real questions? Or are you asking for focused, specific futures?”
“Why?” The more he talked the more defensive and concerned Khany got.
“Because the future isn’t stone, it’s water. There’s no way to ask it things like ‘how will I die’ and ‘what will this child grown up to do’.” He waved his arms as he talked, small motions that grew larger with his intensity. “You said he knew this was coming, he didn’t. He can’t.”
“You seem very sure of that,” said the dragon as it stepped out of the passage, great golden eyes glowing like embers and its voice the sound of trees in a storm. “I wonder why.”
“Wait, wait, so none of that was real?” Khany looked over at Dragon, offended.
“You are taking the word of a not-quite-dragon over me?” Dragon was offended right back. “He’s been doing this for centuries and I’ve been doing it for millennia.”
“To be fair, his argument makes sense with what we know about the pools so far,” said the Writer with a frown. “I think this story may need some major tweaking when the rough draft is done.”
“The world building always does,” the Muse pointed out. “It’s NaNo, things are always a little messy.”
“Oh well, at least the story’s moving again!”