The only thing she knows is true anymore is that the dragon needs to die.
In which Jashn and the dragon of the City By the Sea plot evil plots, Khany gets more random backstory, and Dragon becomes Tony Stark. For reasons.
Daily Wordcount: 2,165
Total Wordcount: 37,622 (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.
Back Side Stories, Gogogo!
“Well I think we’ve officially ran out of plot.” The Writer look down at the story outline with a sigh.
“For the moment,” admitted the Muse. “But I bet if we take a break from the story and try and flesh out the fictives a bit, we might find something else to work with.”
Jashn raised an eyebrow-of-not-buying-this.
“Look, as much as I love you all, you are still basically the same personality,” the Writer said with a straight face. “I know a lot of that is the fact that this is NaNo and we’re burning through the story at an insane pace, but at some point I’d like folks to be able to tell you apart.”
“Fine,” sighed Jashn, getting up out of his comfy chair with great reluctance. “But if you give me character traits just for the sake of having them, I object.”
“Shoo,” said the Writer and chased him into the flashback.
No matter how many times they asked, the future that the pools gave them was one of the city in ruins, but without any clue as to why. They got choppy, chaotic flashes of faces and landscapes when they tried to pin down the source of the destruction, nothing recognizable enough to search on or give the clues. And the only answer they got when they looked for futures in which the city survived was an image of a town in flames.
Only it was hard to tell which town, because the visions seemed bound and determined not to show them anything identifiable. All of the buildings they could see were the sort you’d find in any small town and there were dozens of those scattered around them. The weirdest bit was that there were no people in the visions. There was no one trying to put out the flames and no one in danger of being hurt by them. It was as if the town had evacuated, but why?
Jashn and the dragon spent days by the pools asking question after question and getting what appeared to be random answers.
They finally brought in the couriers to help, having them look over the town in flames, hoping one of them would recognize it. And thankfully one did.
Now that they had a location, it was much easier to start scrying for answers. They were able to use the fire to determine the approximate date that the inciting event would happen and determine that the town’s dragon would be involved. There was an odd haziness to the visions and they skipped and shattered, but the overall picture was clear.
In order for the city to survive the town needed to burn and somehow Jashn was involved.
“So it’s the wild magic interfering with the visions, and maybe the shadow too.” The Muse looked over the new words. “Actually it would make sense for the shadow to be directing them towards the path where the town burns but everyone survives. That would be the more important future to the city folks and they wouldn’t go looking for alternatives.”
“Just like the town folks didn’t look for anything going wrong with the town that wasn’t the fire,” the Writer agreed. “Which I can’t figure out if that’s too big a plot hole to overlook. The dragons have been around quite a while, they have to be relatively adept at thinking outside the box.”
“Once NaNo’s over we need to go back and look at all the visions and make sure they agree with one another,” pointed out Kahny. “I think you have some that contradict.”
“Well Jashn had wings and didn’t have wings, so I’m not too worried about it. We’ll just go with whatever visions work best for the story once it’s finished.” The Writer was a lot less worried about the whole mess than her fictives were.
“Have you figured out how the town burns yet?” Asked Jashn, who was going over his own backstory notes trying to find things to throw into the word count.
The Writer muttered something unrepeatable and got back to work.
“They aren’t going to let us just burn the town down,” Jashn said, frustrated. He was sitting on the floor, leaning back against the dragon as they brainstormed. “We’re not even sure what causes the fire, beyond the fact that it’s somehow related to their pools.” It itched being stuffed down into a human form, but there was a good chance he was going to have to leave the city, so he needed to practice.
“There must be something in the town that’s dangerous to us,” the dragon countered. “If burning the town saves the city, then it has to follow that there’s something in the town that we have to get rid of. We didn’t see any people, so it can’t be a person.”
“Some sort of weapon? In a sheep farming town?” Jashn rolled his eyes. “The fire seems to be coming from the pools, so I’m thinking there’s something wrong there, or something wrong with the dragon.”
“He’s young,” the dragon said dismissively.
“He’s older than I am.” Jashn looked up at the ceiling of the pool room, his gaze absently following the veins of stone. “And you haven’t fought another dragon in a long time.”
“That’s why you’re going,” she said. “It will be good practice for you to learn to deal with other dragons. Peacefully,” she stressed.
“I don’t understand why the pools won’t give us a straight answer, they aren’t usual this unreliable.”
“There’s been something off about them recently,” agreed the dragon, musing down at the pools. “Whatever it is in that town seems to be affecting them. We’re too far away to share magic streams, so I’m not sure how.It dosent taste like dark magic or wild magic, but it’s faintly bitter.”
“Really?” Jashn sat up and reached out to the pools. The magic rose to meet his hand and he watched it play amongst his fingers for a moment before letting it go. “I can’t feel that.”
“Mmm, you are young yet,” said the dragon. “But it’s very faint. I may be imagining it.” She huffed out a breath of heavy magic and it curled over the pools. “We have months yet, almost a year in fact. The pools aren’t unreliable, just stubborn. We’ll find a plan, have faith.”
“Always,” said Jashn, leaning back and daydreaming of how they would start the fire.
“That’s a little… vicious.” Pointed out Dragon, somewhat taken aback at their easy acceptance that burning down his town was a thing that needed to happen.
“Says the person hiding something dangerous in his town.”
“I am not!”
Jashn had made a lot of hard choices in his life, on behalf of the dragon and his city. This choice seemed easy. There were no people in the town when it burned, that much the visions had been solid on, and things were easily replaced. They hadn’t been able to pin down what happened to the dragon or the pools, but dragon very rarely died and the pools would refill over time. If the dragon wasn’t to blame he was even willing to help redirect the magic to refill them faster.
He had no illusions that the other dragon would agree to any plan involving setting the town on fire, so he spent long hours at the pools working out just the lies to tell that would get him to the place where Jashn could start the fire if needed. Everything pointed to something else kicking off the blaze, although they couldn’t tell what.
Whenever he’d get frustrated with the process, he’d call back up the vision of the pools if all went well. Seeing the blue and white dragons curled around the pools, obviously happy and at peace, gave him the strength to keep going.
And once he had a plan in place and the futures aligned, he headed out to the town.
“So that pretty much catches us back up to the story,” said the Writer with a frown. “I can’t think of anything else to write for you two for now… so Khany, you’re up next!”
Khany sighed and reluctantly abandoned her half of the couch.
Khany’s family was more farmer than shepherd and has been for several generations. They got their start when a farmer from a nearby town married into their family. When the idea of opening up the floodplains to farming was suggested they were one of the first farms to be established. They did have some sheep, mostly for wool since part of her family did weaving, but most of their income came from the crops.
When Khany moved into town she was taken in by a family who had just had an elder child move out of the house, so it was easy to move her in. They were grocers or merchants of some sort, something that was a small business where they could use the help and it wouldn’t be a drain on their finances to support her.
The only close relatives Khany had were her aunt and uncle who also had a farm in the floodplains and had died. The only family she had in town were very distantly related and were unable to help support her.
Khany had survived the floods because her wild magic had flared when she was clinging to a tree. It had strengthened the tree and its roots and prevented it from falling and trapping her under the water. Because of the unpredictable nature of wild magic, this was a future with an incredibly unlikely probability which is why the dragons didn’t see it while scrying.
Wild Magic is a bit like a get out of jail free card when it comes to showing up in the visions. If she knew how to control it, things wouldn’t be as fuzzy, but since it’s just a spontaneous magic usage attempt, there’s no predictability to it. There were other futures, just as unlikely, where she used her magic to save herself and her family. Khany doesn’t realize it was magic that saved her and has no idea she has wild magic (or what it really is) that runs in her family.
Wild magic will show up in humans (and other animals), but it very rare. Although Khany’s relatives all carried the possibility that their children would have the gift, she was the only one born with it.
The dragon has done his best to remove all of the wild magic carriers from the town and to weed out those humans with a strong magic handling talent. In many cases he can do this by maneuvering things so the person moves out of town, but in some cases he has killed the infants who could have grown up to pose a danger.
“Wait, wait, so I’m vicious for wanting to burn down a town and not hurt anyone and you’re going around killing people?” Jashn was not impressed.
“My town’s not the one with a shadow demon,” Dragon pointed out. “And I don’t kill all of them, just the ones I can’t get rid of any other way. Look, we’re all good guys, but we’re not Good Guys.”
“I could have told you that,” muttered Kahny. She was still waffling on the whole idea of killing the dragon after this was all over.
The dragon is looking for a nice, calm, drama-free little sheep herding town. He is diligent about checking for anything that might disturb the peace, or harm the town’s future. He takes a very active role in the breeding programs for the sheep and in making suggestions for the town’s growth. He hasn’t encourage the cult-like following that has sprung up around him, but he hasn’t discouraged it either.
He is only vaguely aware of the dragon in the City by the Sea. She’s far enough away that there’s no danger of him intruding on her domain and she’s never made any movement in his direction. Unlike his mentor, the dragon sees no need to be social or try and form any sort of alliances with his neighbors. There are no futures he can see where he would need their help so he just ignores them.
While he does spend a lot of time micromanaging the town, he also spends a lot time in his lab behind the quartz walls. There he was playing dragonic Iron Man and inventing a whole boatload of new combinations of magic and technology, most of which didn’t work. He used the scrying pools to help with his research, but a lot of it was unpredictable.
One of the reasons he made sure there was no one in town that could sense magic well was because of what he was doing in those caves. The last thing he needed was someone getting in and messing around with his experiments.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”