The only thing she knows is true anymore is that the dragon needs to die.
In which Writer figures out more worldbuilding by accident, the bad guy gets a POV, and there is a Cool Training Montage.
Daily Wordcount: 2,568
Total Wordcount: 29,394 (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.
Plot Points, Plot Points Everywhere!
“I figured it out!” The Writer bounded into the faux-living room with a giant armful of papers. She dumped them on the desk, scattering the plot bunny flock and startling the heck out of her Muse.
“Figured out what? How not to mess up as badly as you did yesterday?” The Muse put down her tablet and debated on if it was worth actually getting up off the couch this time.
“What the villain actually is and the rest of the dragon life cycle. It all ties together so neatly… I may have to retcon a few things though.” She eyed the mess on the writing desk. “Probably.”
The Muse was not impressed. “Okay, so back up to the point where you tell me what you came up with.”
“Look, remember when we were talking about the fish dissolving in the magic because they had absorbed too much of it?”
The Muse nodded, warily.
“And the dragons are dragons because the humans soaked in the magic too long, right?”
The Muse was not liking where this was going.
“Then it follows that once the humans absorb enough magic they dissolve too! Which is the end of the dragon lifespan and the explanation for the weird smoke monster!” The Writer did a happy little victory dance. “It’s just a dragon that figured out how not to dissolve!”
“Wait, so you mean all of the magic is basically just dissolved dragons?” The Muse really didn’t like this idea.
“Eh, sort of? I mean it’s recycled dragon, not dragon-dragon. There’s a conservation of magic, just like there is of water. It doesn’t go away so much as get converted into other things… and then back again. Somehow.” The Writer poked at her worldbuilding. “There are some details that still need hashing out.”
“So, this still works with the general idea you had from before that you refuse to tell us about in which the bad guy is defeated?”
“Yup!” There was another small victory dance. And then a pause. “And now that scene is really all I want to write. Darn it.”
“Take a trip into the bad guy’s head then,” the Muse suggested. “That might distract you from the ‘fun’ parts and get things back on track.”
“Another POV… yay?” But the Writer sighed and got down to work.
The dark magic beast had long ago lost its emotional connection to the mortal realm. If it had had a name, or a home, or a past, it couldn’t recall. It lived in the moment, thinking neither of the future nor the past, only focusing on that brief bubble of time surrounding itself.
Because outside of that bubble was all of time– all that had been, and might have been, and might yet be.
The creature was magic and it was not-magic, hovering on the very edge of dissolution. It could coalesce into a thick dark syrup, still liquid but solid enough to interact when it needed to.
For now it floated in the pools, thinned to the point of transparency, watching the dragon as she gazed into the future. It could feel the possibilities churn by and with something almost akin to laughter it spun them, warped them, until the visions in the pools were nothing more than scattered bits of things that would never really be.
There was little purpose to its trickery save the goal of driving the dragon away, or into madness. This new home was a good home and it had no desire to share.
The dragon whined in annoyance and dipped a claw into the pool to disperse the images. The darkness pulled gently on it, sucking the dragons own magic down and into the pools. Slowly, not enough to notice or alarm, but enough that she weakened at every encounter.
It had done this before and there were faint memories of other pools and dragons past that hovered on the edges of recollection. But the magic was too strong, too distracting, and it forgot as soon as it remembered.
“Well, whatever it is now ‘human’ isn’t part of the equation.” The Muse eyed the story notes, still not sure this was a good idea. “But this thing is… well, stupid.”
“If would have to be if it was trying to attack them through the vision earlier. But it’s not really stupid, it just tends to react to things on a more instinctual level. It’s smart enough to know that messing with the visions will be enough to drive the dragon away.”
“But wait, if this thing is relatively intelligent, why is it ever leaving the pools?” The Muse pointed out. “It would just find one and then sit there forever.”
“Hah! Already thought of that– it’s draining the pools faster than they fill. So it will soak in a pool until it drops below a ‘comfortable’ threshold and then it moves on to the next one.” The Writer hopped up to draw some quick maps on the whiteboard. “Look, so this thing is old, very very old, but no one has heard of it, right? There has to be a good reason.”
“So say we start here.” She drew a pool in the far southwest corner of the map. “This was where it started out as a dragon. Then it got to the point where that pool wasn’t enough and it couldn’t manipulate the flows to raise it up… so it moved to another area where the pool was small but the ability to grow it into a larger pool existed.”
“And if there was no dragon there already, it would go unnoticed.”
“Yup! So we have it do this a few more times, moving to the unoccupied areas… but by then the humans have really started expanding. The same thing that drove your dragon into hermitage. The more humans, the more dragons and accidental dragons, so now it has to fight for its pools.”
“That’s the point where I don’t buy the whole ‘no one knows what this is’,” said the Muse. “If the dragons didn’t live quite as long, sure, but there has to have been some sort of communication between them that would have mentioned it.”
“So it would make sense that this dragon never directly attacked anyone. It was always using this sort of undetected sabotage to take them over. The local dragon would go crazy or would abandon the pools and then he’s wait a bit and move in.” The Writer doodled out a dozen more pools gradually working their way towards the City by the Sea.
“But it the things mostly magic at this point, how does it move between the pools? It has problems holding a solid form, so…”
“Magic,” handwaved the Writer.
“This is a horrible plan,” Jashn complained as they got ready to start the journey to the City by the Sea. “There’s no way that the four of us will be able to fight something so old and so powerful. He needs to come with us.”
The dragon looked over in the direction of the lake with a sigh. “I don’t think he can leave. He hasn’t said anything, but you can see it in his movements. I think he’s at the edge of falling into the magic himself.”
“That’s why he wasn’t leaving footprints,” Khany said thoughtfully. “He’s actually mostly magic and all of that is just illusion?”
The dragon nodded. “I didn’t want to ask directly… it seemed rude.”
“I don’t care if it’s rude and I don’t care if he’s old, he’s still more powerful than we are.” Jashn said. “Even with the plan to siphon the magic, I don’t think we can do this on our own.”
“Did you want to try and recruit more dragons to help?” Asked the dragon, but he was obviously not fond of the idea.
“There were two dragons you didn’t recognize in the image, right? Do you know where those dragons live?” Khany frowned. “I can’t remember any stories about other dragons in the area, the only one I’ve ever heard of was the dragon in the City by the Sea.”
“Aren’t there people in your priesthood who are also trained on how to handle magic,” the dragon pointed out. “We can just use them,”
“They won’t be able to help as much as you’d like them to,” Jashn grumbled. “They can only handle the smaller magics. I was the only one who could work with the pools directly. They all worked with smaller streams set up by the dragon.”
The dragon gave him a thoughtful look and Jashn worried that he’d somehow given a hint of his true nature. “But they can work with magic if it’s passed down to them?”
Jashn nodded, trying to calm himself and steady his glamour. All of the uncertainty was starting to wear on him. This was nothing like what he had prepared for and there was too much at stake to make mistakes now. Everyone in the city was depending on him. His dragon was depending on him.
“So I can pass it to them,” Khany said confidently. “That’s easy.”
“Since when do you know anything about channeling magic?” Jashn asked as Khany scribbled away at her character sheet. “We didn’t cover that at all.”
“We need to add in some sort of training montage,” the Writer said thoughtfully as she added her own notes to the margins. “It would make sense that they don’t notice that you are a dragon if they are focused on training Khany to channel. Plus if the elder dragon ‘teaches’ Jashn to channel, it might make Dragon less suspicious of him.”
“So we need to backup and add a missing scene? Already?” The Muse sighed.
“We’re still under 30k,” pointed out Khany. “We are going to be adding a lot of backstory to this thing.”
“You have an aptitude,” said the elder dragon, looking down at Khany thoughtfully. “But it’s raw and untrained. There is some danger to you learning this now and even more with you attempting to use it in battle later.”
“I’m dead if I do, dead if I don’t,” Khany said dismissively. “If I can take him out with me and prevent the fire… well then that’s what I survived the flood to do.”
“I don’t think this is a good idea,” the younger dragon objected. Again.
“I know,” said the elder dragon, amused but not dissuaded. “But I would like to you live and the pools don’t like the futures where you go alone.”
“He wouldn’t be alone, he’d be with me and my dragon,” Jashn pointed out.
The elder dragon just looked at him.
After a moment Jashn turned away, frustrated.
“So what do I do?” Khany looked down at the very small pool of magic that the elder dragon had summoned from the earth. “Do I just– push it or something?” She looked over at the second empty pool.
“Not push, pull.” The elder dragon said and demonstrated with a smooth effortless motion that sent the magic dancing up in a fluid arc between the pools that caught the light and turned it to rainbows.
“He’s making it look easy,” the younger dragon warned, but Khany was already roughly mimicking the motions, just trying to get the movements right before she tried for real.
“Jashn, can you show her please?” The elder dragon asked, startling him out of his sulk.
“Think of it like water,” he said as he moved the magic between the pools, turning it into a fancier continual loop. He’d done this thousands of times during training. “Only instead of being pulled downhill, it’s pulled towards other magic.” He separated out a small orb of water and left it hovering to the left and bottom of the flow. With a flick of a finger he released it and instead of dropping down, it popped up to merge with the other magic.
Jashn let the magic splash down into the pools and kept out a small orb that fit easily in his palm. “Here, hold out your hands.”
Kahny did, fascinated by the churning magic.
“Now try and hold it.” He carefully placed the orb in her cupped hands and as soon as his hand moved away it ran up and over her fingers and streamed back into the pool.
“Why didn’t that work!” Khany said frustrated.
“Because you weren’t listening,” said Jashn. “You were trying to keep it from falling, not from rejoining the pool. Look, I don’t think this is a good idea, it takes years to learn this, we can’t expect her to do it in a few hours.”
“That’s because you were taught differently than I’m going to teach her,” said the elder dragon mildly. “Go sit by the pool small one.” He raised a bench up so Kahny could comfortably sit next to one of the pools. “Now try and pick up a handful of water.”
She gave him a look, but tried with the same failure as before. He let her try and fail a few more times before he interrupted again.
“Now instead of pulling, or lifting, or trying to control it in anyway, cup your hands above the waters and ask.” He looked down at her, his eyes the deep blue of a calm sea. “Politely.”
Khany eyed the waters with disbelief, but cupped her hands over the waters.
“Um, come here magic? Please?”
The waters churned, but didn’t rise up and Jashn snorted.
“That isn’t going to work, you can’t just ask it to do things. It’s not smart enough for that.”
The elder dragon looked down at him, quiet and unimpressed.
“Don’t ask it like you’d call a dog,” the younger dragon said, lying down to curl around her and the pool. “Ask it like you ask the river for fish or the fields for a good crop. He stirred the waters with a claw and the waters swirled around it.
“That’s superstition nonsense,” said Jashn. “The river and the fields can’t answer you. They’re nothing like magic.”
“Do you really think magic is only in the pools?” The elder dragon asked, amused.
“Alright, stop, stop,” the Muse broke in. “You are seriously redefining the laws of magic here, can we take a moment to figure out what the heck is going on?
“Either the magic is sentient or it’s not. Either it flows around using the normal ley lines or it clumps all up in one spot because of magical magnetism, or something. Either the river and fields and whatnot can hear and respond or they can’t.” The Muse was annoyed. “I know we’re going to be hashing a lot of this out in the second draft, to fit the plot, but it still has to make sense.”
“Fine, fine,” The Writer eyed her notes. “Okay, so the magic is sentient, to a point. The more concentrated it is the more intelligent. The magic is everywhere, but will flow in things akin to ley lines to gather in areas. Magic is drawn to magic, but it’s at a much lower concentration so it doesn’t hop about like it does in the demonstration. The river and fields can’t answer, he’s just using the ‘praying to a not-god’ as an example of how to ‘talk’ to it.”
The Muse was mollified.