The only thing she knows is true anymore is that the dragon needs to die.
In which they try and convince the dragon from the City By the City and the FIGHT BEGINS!
Daily Wordcount: 1,972
Total Wordcount: 33.862 (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.
And Then They Fight!
“I feel like we’re starting every single day having to repeat the idea that we’re not far enough behind that we’ll lose.” The Dragon had roused itself from the bean bag nest as the Writer stumbled in from the story mists. “We need to get to 38,333 words to catch up to where we’re supposed to be for today, can we make that?”
“Eh, probably not.” The Writer yawned and settled down into the writing desk chair, spinning it around to look out into the living room. “But I think I can pull off two 5k days on Saturday and Sunday, so realistically I only need to do, what, 10k on all the other days?”
“400 words in a 15 minute sprint is 1600 words an hour,” the dragon countered. “That’s one day an hour and we have plenty of hours.”
“Eh, it’s more like 1k an hour, but I need to know what I’m going to write to keep up speeds like that. I’m still hashing out what the heck is going on. Sort of.” The Writer ignored the plot bunnies who were all conked out and snoring at her feet.
“You mean you’re still trying to find a good way to tie the nice neat little ending you started back to everything else.” The Muse was curled up in a blanket burrito on the couch because it was finally winter out and omgcold. “Plus we still need about 18k to win NaNo and you’ve got maybe 3k of work left to stitch the story together.”
“Well then, I’d better get to work!”
There was a pause and they all looked expectantly at the Writer. Who did nothing.
“It’s not that hard, right? I mean we left off in the middle of the final-ish confrontation,” the dragon said. “Just keep going.”
“Wait, are we finishing the end fight or are we going back and finishing the training?” The Muse asked. “I just realized we never really linked that back in to rest of the story. We do need to storyboard it at some point– but we also need word count, so I vote word count first. At least until we run out of ideas.”
“If we do the fight first, we’ll know what to train her for in the training montage,” pointed out Dragon. “Besides fight scenes have to use up more words, right?”
“Never underestimate the power of exposition,” the Writer said, but twisted the chair back around around to face the writing desk and got back to work.
“It’s not our fault,” Jashn argued. “If you let us cleanse the pools everything will go back to the way it was. This is helping you, not trying to hurt you.”
“There is nothing in the pools,” the dragon muttered, pulling back to hover, twisting and undulating over the waters. “There is nothing there because you have brought the darkness with you and you have come to poison them against me.”
“I don’t want your city,” said the younger dragon calmly. “I have my own.”
“A town, a village, a tiny scrap against the wilderness,” she scoffed. “I have the City by the Sea, the jewel of the river, the place where all roads meet. Why would you want that crumb when you can have a feast?”
“Some of us like crumbs,” he said. “I don’t want your city or your magic, I want you to look into the pools and see what we can see. Listen to the truth of things instead of the wild falsehoods that the shadow is feeding you.”
“All you have to do is listen,” said Khany and the elder dragon turned its piercing gaze on her. She tried not to shrink, but the dragon was just as old and just as powerful as her own dragon’s teacher and the feeling to doom was almost unbearable. “You can hear lies, right?”
There was a pause and the elder dragon considered.
“I can tell if you lie,” she said finally. “But what good is that? You’ll only know what you’ve been told and they are more than capable of feeding you false truths.”
“So don’t ask me questions, let me ask the pools.” Khany said.
There was another pause and the dragon sank slowly to the ground. When she had finally landed she walked over to Khany like a wave across the ground and her Khany’s dragon growled a bit. The elder dragon ignored him.
She stood in front of Khany, looking down on her with an expressionless face for one long heartbeat then turned to allow her access to the pools. “Ask then, but there are no futures to be found there. The waters are empty of all but chaos.”
Khany knelt by the pools and took a calming breath. Then she sunk both hands into the water and asked. “Magic, show her what tained the magic in the City by the Sea.” There was a pause as the magics sluggishly fought against the shadow’s control and Khany focused all of her emotions down into the request. Please.
And the waters boiled.
“What’s the point of cliffhangers in the middle of a book?” Khany asked, frustrated at the interruption.
“This is going to be posted as a serialized novel,” the Writer pointed out, “so it helps to end the break on something that the readers will come back to. It will read a little oddly as a proper novel, but to be honest I’ve never written a proper novel.”
“Point,” confirmed the Muse.
“So we’re doing the whole ‘look into the past’ bit to get around the fact that the shadow monster is controlling the visions?” The dragon was not overly impressed by the tactic. “But it it can see the visions as they form, what’s stopping it from just chopping up these vision as well?”
“Right now… just Deus Ex Machina,” the Writer said with only a touch of shame, “but we’ll find a proper explanation later… now back to the fight!”
The waters boiled and danced and everyone but Khany pulled back in alarm. She could feel the heat on her face and arms, but this was the only thing she could think of that would work.
“Show us,” she pleaded with the magic. The monster living in the pools could warp the visions of the future, but maybe it would have trouble with the past. Or if it wasn’t very bright maybe it would think to attack the past self it could see in the mists.
The same dark, rancid, pulsing shape that they had seen before began to form, but this time the eyes were already open and glaring through the vision. The elder dragon snarled at the image and it undulated back, shapeless, but still obviously aggressive.
“That’s a false vision,” the elder dragon growled. “It’s tricks of the light and the darkness. There is nothing in the pools, nothing true, not anymore.”
“This is the past,” said Khany through gritted teeth, her skin reddening but not blistering in the heat. “This is what it can’t touch.” And it was true, or almost true, because she could feel something oily moving in the waters.
The creature from the past howled suddenly, the sound of steam escaping from a burning rotted log. Kahny flinched when it lunged at her and for a short moment the connection was lost and the vision stuttered.
Then there was a flash and the vision was replaced, with the future where her town burned and Khany stumbled backwards. “No, no, that’s not the past, that can’t be the past.” She looked over at her dragon, panicked and he hissed at the pools.
“It’s not real, remember, the futures are never true.” He said with a growl. “He’s trying to distract us.”
“There’s nothing in the pools,” the elder dragon repeated, almost to herself. “There’s nothing in the pools because the future can’t be seen anymore.” She looked over at the younger dragon. “You know, you’ve seen it, the future where there is only darkness because there are too many possibilities. Everything is possible and nothing is possible. And it’s all your fault.”
“You let her live, you saw the wild magics in her, and you let her live.” The elder dragon snarled. Refocusing on Khany. “None of this existed before she did. All of it was clean and calm and then the floods came and she didn’t die.”
“…what?” Kahny said, scrambling backwards to get away from the dragon as it approached. “I didn’t do this! I didn’t live on purpose, it just happened!”
“I’ve seen it in the pools,” said the elder dragon, “that moment where the tree held when it shouldn’t. That wasn’t fate or luck or the ‘will of the dragon’, that was you.”
“Her dying now won’t make a difference,” growled the younger dragon, moving to get between them. “I didn’t know she’d survive, she wasn’t supposed to, but killing her now won’t change anything. I’ve seen the futures where she survives and the futures where she dies and she doesn’t– it doesn’t matter. And she didn’t cause the shadow, you know that.”
“It was there long before the flood,” said Jashn, also moving closer. “It’s been around for centuries and nothing Khany did brought it to the city.”
“Ripples in ponds,” said the elder dragon. “You don’t know what causes anything, it’s all connected and all unconnected.”
“The futures with her are unpredictable,” the younger dragon agreed, “but not impossible. You could see if you came to our pools.”
“NO!” Roared the dragon. “You won’t get me out of my city, it can’t live without me! I have to save it! I have to bring the futures back.” She snapped at Kahny and the younger dragon snarled back.
“Then let us kill the monster!” He reared up and she moved back, but only slightly. She was still at least twice his size and his magic was much less powerful.
Frustrated by the stalemate, Jashn ducked in behind them and jumped into the largest of the pools. The magic came up to his knees, churning and frothing around him like an angry sea under at storm.
“Show me the monster now,” he said.
“No!” Both dragons turned in alarm, trying to override the request, but the magic was already starting to churn faster.
“Show me what is,” he demanded again as the magic rose, fighting to pull the futures a second from now and the pasts from a second past. They spun up around him in a frenzied water spout as the magic fought with itself.
Magic poured in from the other other pools, pulled into the vortex, until he was standing in a column of howling magic that boiled and froze from one second to the next.
In response, Time began to flicker around them in a pulsing heartbeat that kept rhythm with the vortex.
“Stop it!” Yelled the younger dragon as the two dragons fought to break through the magic. But it was too strong, too caught up in the contradiction of the current moment to listen to them.
And there in the edges of the maelstrom came the shadow. Faint at first but with rapidly increasing solidity, it spun with the movement of the magic, down into the center where Jashn stood.
And when it reached the center everything stopped.
“I hate to be the one to point this out, but if we’re getting to the climax of the battle… how are we burning the town down?” The Muse was frowning at the whiteboard. “It’s nowhere near here and there’s no good reason for the fight to change locations. At least not yet.”
“Oof, right.” The Writer frowned down at the scene.
“You have no idea do you.”
“Not really, no.”