The only thing she knows is true anymore is that the dragon needs to die.
In which the Writer prepares for ENOWE, there is Unexpected Villainy, and the plot only derails a little bit.
Daily Wordcount: 1,806
Total Wordcount: 22,420 (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.
We Didn’t Start The Fire
“Have you developed some sort of allergy to writing on odd numbered days that we should know about?” The Muse asked as the Writer wandered back into the faux-living room, “And, or, and addiction to poorly written werewolf novels on Wattpad?”
“They are so awesomely bad!” The Writer sighed. “You can tell how much joy the other writers had making them, even though they aren’t perfect. I just can’t resist following a story like that. They’re full of plot holes and weird pacing and characterization– but there’s an addictive sort of honesty to them.”
The plot bunnies scattered as she started clearing off the writing desk and brushing off some clinging strands of proto-story fog. She needed to start packing for the write-in later that night, but she wasn’t quite sure what to bring.
… But you can never go wrong with index cards and colored markers!
“Please don’t tell me you are going to add soulmates to this story.” The Muse said warily as the Writer started looking over her notes.
“Ha, no, but I think once NaNo is over I might start up another werewolf ‘verse. The whole soulmark/fated mates idea is something that really breaks a universe once it’s introduced. I am a little concerned about that second dragon though.”
“Wait, so that’s not me?” Khany wandered into the living room with Jashn and a couple of fast food bags. “I just assumed if the one was Jashn the other one had to be me. I’m still turning into a dragon, right?”
“In only a hundred years?” Jashn gave her a dismissive look. “It took me that long to even be able to manipulate the smallest complex magics, there’s no way you could pull of a shapeshift at that age.”
“Dragon said I had wild magic in me though,” Khany pointed out. “And what if I fix the magic by eating the bad parts instead of burning it? I’m red, so I’m a fire dragon right?” She plopped down next to the Muse on the sofa and pulled out a hamburger. A very messy burger.
The sofa quickly provided her with a lap tray in self defense.
“I’m not sure that dragon’s you,” the Writer hedged.
“Well, until we get a better explanation it is, plus I have red hair, remember?”
“Alright, first things first, we’re updating the character sheets.” The Muse said with a sigh. And you might want to do some actual sketching if you can’t keep them straight. And then some wordcount. We really need some wordcount.”
“Eh, I’ll do that at ENOWE,” the Writer was doodling in the margins of the story again.
“E-whatnow?” Jashn had settled into his comfy chair and was very carefully eating his lunch. The sofa gave the chair a jealous look and the chair smugly rippled fabric patterns right back.
“It’s the Epic Night of Writing Epicly,” supplied the Muse. “It’s a lock-in at a church that the local NaNo group holds. She always wusses out and heads home by midnight.”
“But there will be words!” The Writer pulled out her sketchbook and started sketching for realz.
[Badly-drawn images will go here… when I get off my lazy butt and scan them in.]
“I had the best idea on the car drive over!” The Writer unpacked her laptop at the write-in trying to get all of her stuff on the table as fast as possible.
“And the idea was…?” The Muse looked around at the other Writers and their hazy ghosts of Muses. It was always weird seeing other Muses and fictives at these events. She could see them, but she couldn’t interact. With a shiver she grabbed a chair and sat down beside her Writer, trying not to stare.
“I can’t tell you,” the Writer said. “It’s the end of the story, or at least part of the end? Or the middle? I know we aren’t at 25k yet, so I’m not sure where this really falls.”
“And only half of this is actual story, most of it is just meta craziness.” The Muse snagged some of the munchies. “So you’re really closer to 10k, and that’s what, a short story at best?”
“Which is why my epic idea is epic and we need to get going!” The Writer stole her dark chocolate M&Ms back from the Muse and got to work.
They stared down at the pools for a long moment and then it rippled and the future dissolved back into the churning sediment.
Khany almost moved to touch the waters herself, but Jashn still had his hand in the pools, almost absently playing with the dancing gold flecks.
“In the possible futures where the sickness in the magic is cleansed and the town and the pools don’t burn, does my dragon survive?” Jashn asked, but he wasn’t sure he was ready to see the answer. This had all gone so wrong so quickly.
The pool swirled thoughtfully, then showed a picture of two dragons, one white and one blue and Jashn let you a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He hadn’t been sure how to phrase the question in a way what would specify he was asking about his city’s dragon and not himself without giving away the fact he was also one. She had always spoken of him replacing her as the city’s dragon, but he wasn’t sure how far into the future that moment would be.
“There’s two dragons again, but wasn’t one red before?” Khany said, confused. “Does your city normally have two of them? What happened to the red one?”
“I wouldn’t know,” he hedged, ignoring the question he didn’t want to answer.
The dragon looked over at him, golden eyes slowly swirling, but said nothing.
“So we know there’s a future in which everything goes right at least.” Khany looked down at the pool thoughtfully. “What does the future look like for you if the magic isn’t cleansed? You must have scryed for that.”
The pool stirred slightly, but didn’t change, the magic didn’t sense an actual request. Jashn ruffled the waters with his hand, dispersing the old vision and trying to find the right phrasing.
“The taint in the magic makes the pools unreliable and it confuses the dragon’s mind. She can’t tell what is real and what isn’t. In the futures we saw the city was in ruins.” It was true but it wasn’t the complete truth. “But if we do nothing, if the tainted magic is allowed to deepen and spread then it won’t just be the City by the Sea that suffers.” He waited to see if they’d believe him.
“You think it could spread here,” the dragon said, his voice the crunch of fall leaves, sharp and brittle.
Jashn nodded, not trusting himself to speak the lie.
“How fast?” asked Khany, “When does it spread here? How can we stop it?”
“Where did it come from?” The dragon had moved from the shadows to stare down at Jashn. The weight of the dragon’s magic was smothering, rich and heavy to the point where he could taste it.
“The pools can’t look backwards,” Jashn countered.
There was a pause and he felt the weight of the magic deepen as the dragon’s eyes narrowed.
“They can’t!” Jashn insisted, annoyed and slightly intimidated. He forced down his unease and focused on the fact he knew his glamour would hold. There was no way the dragon could know what he really was. “There are rules the pools have to follow, I’ve learned them since I was too young to count.”
“You told me they can’t see backwards too,” Khany cut in suspiciously.
“I thought you had already decided that I always lie,” the dragon snorted. “There are rules and then there are rules. Break some and you’ll see the futures you were better off not knowing about, break others and there’s a chance you’ll unravel time itself.”
“What you mean ‘better off not knowing about’?” Khany challenged. “Why would finding out what the future holds ever be bad?”
“The future is endless,” said the dragon. “In that future are all the horrible nightmares that you have ever dreamt or have only glimpsed the outline of. There’s more there than just the most probable outcomes and in those shadowy corners are horrors you can’t imagine.” He drew back from where he had been hovering over Jashn and the man relaxed.
“So the pool can see the past then?” Khany looked down at the murky waters.
“No, it can see the possibilities of the past,” the dragon moved over to the smallest of the pools. “For the pools there is no set past, they see everything that was and everything that will be.”
“But isn’t the future that actually happened the most probable one?”
“Not always,” he touched the waters with a claw. “Show me what tainted the magic in the City by the Sea.”
The waters bubbled and churned, frothing furiously as they splashed over the sides to hiss against the rocks. Khany and Jashn bolted away from them, terrified, but the dragon did not flinch.
Mists started to form over the pools and within them grew a dark and rancid shape, a pulsing mass of tangled vines. It had no true shape, but was endlessly shifting, changing even as the image solidified. Then, for a brief second a pair of eyes blinked open, bright red as flames, and the mass lunged out of the mists at dragon.
With a snarl, the dragon pulled his claw from the pool and swiped through the ghost of the past, the boiling mists dispersing into nothingness.
“What. The. Heck. Was. THAT?” The Muse glared at her Writer.
“Um, the thing that made the magic go bad?” The Writer offered, sheepishly. “Look, I didn’t know it was there either! I thought it was just going to be a type of stone that went bad and leached into the magic or maybe some dragon somewhere that was purposely corrupting it. I didn’t know it was– well, whatever that was.”
“But you said you had an idea,” growled the Muse, who did not appreciate being startled.
“It wasn’t that! It was how to get rid of it, plus where the red dragon came from.” The Writer looked down at the last scene. “Now I have to figure out what the heck this is, and to be honest I really don’t want to.”
“You created a giant semi-disembodied evil that apparently can see through time… I wouldn’t want to meet it either,” the Muse agreed. “Now how are we going to cope with the fact that you just said the pools can see the past?”
“Sorry, can’t hear you, word sprint is starting!” The Writer fled back into the story.