Allie. Chapter 31. Understanding & Satisfaction.

Allie turned Claire around, anxious to get back to the caravan and warn Serenity that they were surrounded.
They could fly over the canyon with their dragons, of course, but the caravan itself was stuck until they could create a solid enough pass for the wagons to cross through. That would take precious days; days in which they would be surrounded by the enemy.
Claire flew through the clouds, diving low enough that Allie could barely make out the caravan in the distance when something suddenly slammed into her from behind.
Allie was thrown off her dragon, the force of the attack ripping her grip free of Claire’s wing.
As she plummeted through the air, she saw Claire being dragged down by two other dragons, their roars drowning out Claire’s cry.
Suddenly, Allie slammed against something hard, her vision blackening for an instant as her lungs struggled to pump oxygen to her brain.
Then she was flying back through the air, caught in the claws of a third dragon.
Allie struggled to break free as the dragon carried her toward Claire, who had been captured just as thoroughly as her.
Together they were dragged away from the caravan, their cries lost in the wind.
Before long, Allie’s vision became clouded as the dragons flew them above the clouds. Attempting to track the distance they were traveling by the velocity of the wind, she guessed they had traveled a number of miles away before the dragons began their descent.
When they finally dove below the clouds there was no way for her to determine which direction they had flown. The only landmark she could see was a range of mountains in the distance.
Soon enough, it became obvious that the range was their destination.
Are you okay? Allie thought, hoping Claire could interpret the message.
Claire whimpered in response, impressing on my mind an image of her fighting back.
Don’t, Allie thought. Not yet.
The dragons flew dangerously low as they approached the range, diving underneath the layer of fog and into the forest.
Allie’s feet nearly dragged across the forest floor as the dragons flew them through a clearing and into a cave cut into one of the mountains.
As the dragons entered the cave, they grew smaller, forcing Claire to grow smaller with them. By the time they finally landed on the smooth granite floor, they had become the same size as Allie.
“Welcome,” someone said, their voice echoing throughout the cave. “We’ve been waiting some time for you.”
Allie attempted to stand up straight once her dragon finally released her, but she collapsed to the ground, her legs like jelly.
“Why did you take me?” She asked, searching the darkness for the voice that spoke.
Suddenly, five people stepped out from the darkness, each with torches in hand. There were three men and two women, all of them young, their faces smooth in the light of their flames. The contours of dragons played in the light behind them.
“To give you a proper choice,” one of the women said, stepping forward.
Allie climbed back to her feet. Her legs shook, but she managed to keep her balance this time as she looked back at the five Immortals before her. “Choice between what?”
“Freedom and death,” the woman replied, her voice gentle.
Allie frowned in confusion. “Freedom.”
The woman smiled. “You know not what you say. You have already chosen to follow death. Now you must learn what it means to follow freedom.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Allie said as her legs regained their strength.
“You have chosen to follow Serenity,” the woman said. “The side of rules and death. We are her enemies; the Immortals of freedom and life. Serenity wishes to rule both humans and Immortals as our judge, but we do not recognize her authority.”
“And whose authority do you recognize?” Allie asked.
“We rule as we see fit,” one of the men replied, raising his torch. “We are gods to rule humans as we see fit. We answer to no one but each other. And for it, Serenity and her followers mean to deal us death.”
“And you are her follower,” the woman continued. “But you are also an Immortal, and deserve the chance to choose rightly.”
Allie’s heart beat faster. “What will you do to me if I choose Serenity?”
The woman frowned. “We will take your dragon and deliver your dead body to Serenity.”
“And if I choose you?” Allie asked.
“You would keep your dragon, and we would allow you to rule as you see fit,” the woman said. “However, we would first require you to help us kill Serenity, for there is no true freedom while she lives.”
“I thought you were about life,” Allie said. “Not death.”
“We’re about our own freedom,” the man said. “Our own life. She threatens both.”
Allie looked back at Claire’s whimpering form, still held by the jaws of a pair of dragons. She didn’t know what to think. The more she saw of both sides, the more uneasy she felt.
“You seem more hesitant than we expected,” the woman said, her voice questioning. “We know you ran from her in the city. Your choice should be easy.”
“I don’t want to kill her,” Allie said. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
“It is she who hurts us,” the man said, his voice quivering with anger. “She must be stopped.”
“It’s her or us,” the woman insisted. “You must choose.”
Allie thought about all of the people in the caravan. All of the friends she was just beginning to make. The Immortals had more dragons than Serenity, especially now that Claire had been captured.
Serenity was a murderer, and the more Allie thought about it, the more she agreed that Serenity needed to be stopped, but she knew that people were going to get hurt if it came to an all-out fight.
“I’ll help you,” Allie said eventually, curling her hands into fists. “But only if we do it my way. We kill Serenity, and only Serenity. No one else.”
The woman looked to the others, each nodding in turn. “Done.”


When we discussed foreshadowing and payoffs in an earlier chapter, I talked about the rule of three; you must set something up twice before it can be knocked down.
This week, however, we’re covering a slightly different aspect of payoffs: Understanding = satisfaction
Now let’s first look at the prevalence of satisfaction. One could easily define a story as a series of cathartic moments. A chronological (usually) series of events that build tension for the expressed purpose of releasing said tension… or Satisfaction.
You introduce a character so the reader can become attached and care about what happens to them. And you give the reader context such as environment and supporting cast so they will better understand the events that happen to them.
Everything can be viewed through the lens of understanding for the sake of satisfaction. (or whatever lesson you may be attempting to impart)
So it is important to understand how to deliver on that satisfaction. To make those payoff moments as poignant as they can be. And you do this by delivering on understanding = satisfaction.

Let me give an example:

Let’s say your character is walking through the forest at night. Your character knows nothing about this forest and neither does your reader. He or she is scared, but makes their way through, eventually unscathed. It’s not until afterward that your reader finds out that the forest is full of blood-thirsty werewolves that regularly kill humans.
Result: You reader is mildly concerned, but when the character makes it through, their reaction is to be mildly relieved and to question whether it was silly or not to be worried.
However, if your reader knows that the forest is super dangerous beforehand, there will be a significantly increased reaction both when the character originally walks through and when they come out the other side.

Your reader needs enough of the facts beforehand that when it’s time for things to come to a climax, tension is built and released based on the events around the character, not explanations afterward or even during.

The events of this chapter were set into motion because I decided the reader needed to witness and learn about the Immortals attacking Serenity in order to appreciate what comes next in the story.
This exposure to the other side allows the reader to begin forming ideas in their head about how the story will come to a head.
We now understand, to some degree, all three sides of this potential conflict. Draco, Serenity, and the Immortals of freedom.
This, combined with everything else we know about this world, allows the reader to appreciate what comes next without confusion or distraction because they understand the context and consequences.
Understanding = Satisfaction.


Draco. Chapter 30. Movement.

The dragon whimpered in my arms, weak from our fight the night before. Despite her injuries, her only thoughts were about her need for food.
My stomach growled along with hers, my arms trembling with the weight of carrying her down the mountain.
“We’ve made it,” I whispered. “Can you walk?”
She shook her head, whimpering louder.
“Alright,” I huffed, readjusting her in my arms as we entered the town.
The sun had only just risen as I walked by the broken homes, a stark reminder of the horrors Miguel had inflicted upon the town.
Automatically, I found myself searching for Jade, casting my gaze into the sky. I had ordered her to stay with the girl. “She must be hunting,” I mumbled, my mouth salivating at the thought of food.
Suddenly, my stomach sank with worry that something had happened to the girl. She shouldn’t have been left alone.
With the dragon still in my arms, I ran toward the girl’s home where she had fallen asleep the night before.
There was no door to her home, nor much of anything left of it except two of its walls. Frantic, I jumped over a pile of rubble and found the girl inside.
I nearly dropped my dragon from shock as I took in the scene.
Jade sat patiently in front of the girl, purring as the girl played with her hair.
“What’s going on here?” I asked, my heart still racing from adrenaline.
The girl looked up at me with a blank expression before turning her attention right back to Jade’s mane. She didn’t have much hair around her neck, but what she did have, the girl had twisted around into a bunch of tiny braids.
Jade purred louder as she glanced toward me, keeping her head still so as to not mess up the girl’s work. Mentally, she protected the image of the girl petting Jade: friends.
Overwhelmed with relief, I finally set my dragon down and collapsed onto the ground next to her. “I’m glad you’re both safe,” I said, my voice hoarse.
Yet again, my dragon projected the image of food, reminding me of my own hunger. “Food?” I asked aloud.
“It’s gone,” the girl said, her eyes still fixed on Jade’s braids.
Surprised, I took a moment to get a good look at her. She was older than I first assumed. Maybe ten years old, though I was no longer a good judge of such things.
Jade projected the image of her standing over the girl while she slept.
“I know,” I said gently, “you were following my orders. You did well. Thank you, Jade.”
Jade wagged her tail, seeming perfectly content to let the girl continue her hairdo.
“But we need food,” I added, trying to ignore my stomach. “Can you find some?”
“We can go,” the girl said, sitting back on her heels as she admired her work. “I know where to find berries.”
Jade grew in size, shaking her mane proudly.
“That would do nicely,” I said, smiling gently. “I can go with you while Jade hunts for meat.”
“No,” the girl said with a sudden ferocity. “I’m going with her.”
“Jade?” I asked, taken aback.
The girl nodded vigorously.
I let out a sigh while I struggled with the right thing to do. In the end, though, I didn’t know what the girl needed. And if she wanted to be with Jade, then I wasn’t going to stop her.
“Okay, we all go,” I said, picking up my dragon once more. “Lead the way.”
The girl’s face was still expressionless as she led us out of the shell that was once her town. I suspected she was still in shock, though it was possible she would be like this for the rest of her life.
“So what’s your name?” I asked eventually, keeping note of the paths she took through the sparse forest.
She didn’t answer at first. I was beginning to think she wouldn’t answer at all when she finally spoke up. “Patty,” she said weakly, as if saying her name reminded her too strongly of her past.
“I’m Draco,” I said, realizing I’d never introduced myself.
“I remember,” she said simply, never taking her gaze away from the path.
“What’s her name?” She eventually asked.
I frowned. “Jade?”
She shook her head. “No, the dragon. What’s her name?”
I shrugged, though she couldn’t see me. “I’m not sure. I never learned her name, and I don’t want to give her a new one in case it rang false.”
Silence followed my answer as we emerged into a clearing of sorts. Surrounding the clearing were several bushes filled with wild berries.
Without so much as a glance back, Patty started picking the berries off the bushes.
“This is great, Patty,” I said, setting the dragon down so I could help pick the bushes. “But my dragon needs more than this. She needs meat.”
“You can go get meat,” she said, “Jade and I are picking berries.”
I shook my head, chuckling at her audacity.
“I think we’ll wait,” I said, encouraged at her signs of life.
We settled into silence after that, all four of us eating as many berries as we could before carrying arms full of them back to the town, forcing Jade to carry my dragon.
As we walked back into town, I worked up the courage to speak again. “Patty, I need to talk to you about something.”
Patty frowned as she set down the berries next to her bed, using a torn piece of fabric to keep them clean.
“We need to move on,” I said, searching for the right words. “I need to save my… friend. And I understand it might be hard to leave…”
“I’m going with you,” she said, cutting me off.
I stammered in surprise. “Are you sure?”
Patty nodded seriously.
I smiled, a knot of worry unraveling in my chest. “Good.”
“We leave tomorrow?” She asked.
I hesitated. “Only if you’re ready..”
Patty nodded again. “I’m ready. We can leave in the morning.”
I let out another laugh. “Sound like a plan,” I said as she crawled into bed, Jade and my dragon right beside her.
“Lemon,” Patty said, suddenly.
“Lemon,” she repeated. “The dragon’s name is Lemon. Lemonberries are my favorite type of berries, and she liked them too. Lemon.”
I nodded, amused. “Sound good to you, Lemon?” I asked, looking to the dragon.
Lemon wagged her tail in approval.
“Alright then,” I said. “It’s settled. Sleep well, Patty.”
And at that, for the first time, Patty smiled at me before turning in her bed. “Goodnight, Draco.”


The idea this week is simple: movement.
Movement gives the reader an impression of progress, and helps to ground them in the story.
This chapter is basically just one conversation meant to establish the relationships between these characters and finally get them moving toward Draco’s goal.
I could have had them standing in place the entire time, but that would have felt stagnant. Even as it was, it might have felt too slow given the fast-paced nature of this chapter-blog, but either way, I guarantee the movement in the chapter increased your feeling of progress.
This doesn’t mean that you have to have your characters walking around when they have conversations, this only means two things:

  1. You need to be aware of the pacing in your story
    You reader should always feel like the story is progressing. (or regressing) So make sure your story is not stuck in one place for too long unless your reader expects it – in longer epic fantasies, it’s common for stories to take a while to develop, so the reader will naturally have a higher tolerance for a slow pace.
  2. Give visuals to the conversation
    Is your character nervous? Have them shuffling their feet. Do they need to pee? Have them shuffling their feet. Do they have some other quirk or quality? Now is the time to show it. Movement. Any movement. Is helpful.

Allie. Chapter 29. Writing Good Bad Guys.

“We’ve been here too long,” Frank whispered into Serenity’s ear.
Serenity shot him a withering look, forcing him to take a step back as she turned her attention to Miguel, hogtied on the ground. “Shall we proceed to the next trial?”
Miguel didn’t bother to answer, his teeth grit in pain. His entire body shook as it worked to heal itself from the last trial of Serenity’s torture.
Allie forced herself to stand with Frank, watching Serenity work with one eye closed. Serenity had insisted she learn what it meant to deliver justice.
“What haven’t we tried?” Serenity asked sweetly, squatting down next to Miguel. “Bleeding out?”
“You tried that yesterday,” Frank replied, his voice devoid of emotion.
“Burned alive?”
“The day before last,” Frank answered.
Miguel spat at Serenity’s feet, his eyes full of hatred.
“We’re running out of supplies,” Frank said, continuing his plea. “Another one of the supply wagons burned down last night.”
Serenity let out a low growl. “The rebel Immortals won’t scare me out of delivering justice. We will move once we’ve taken care of Miguel.”
“I can help you fight them,” Miguel said, his voice strained.
“With what dragon?” Serenity asked with a malicious smile. “Little Allie has your dragon now.”
Serenity shot Allie a mysterious look, making her heart race. Her smile twisted into the smallest hint of a grimace. Something told Allie that Serenity very much desired to take Claire as her own.
Then Serenity turned her gaze back to Miguel, allowing Allie to breathe once more.
“I can fight,” Miguel insisted, his voice growing stronger.
Serenity seemed to consider him for a moment before responding. “Acid?”
Frank nodded. “We have not yet tried acid. We can obtain some from the belly of one of your dragons if you like.”
Serenity suddenly turned to Allie, her eyes alive with intensity. “Why don’t you summon Claire?” She asked. “Have you learned to do that yet?”
Allie froze, wanting nothing to do with the stranger’s torture, but she was trapped. “Yes,” she said after a moment. “I figured out how to communicate simple demands only yesterday.”
“Then why don’t you summon her for us?”
Allie nodded, steeling herself as she sent a mental picture for Claire to understand. Distantly, she felt Claire pull against her, not wanting to crawl out from her hole in the ground, but she quickly gave in.
“She’s on her way,” Allie said, pointedly ignoring Miguel’s stare.
“Good,” Serenity said, stroking Miguel’s head like she would her dragons.
Allie felt Claire’s presence almost a full minute before she finally emerged from the ground, pulling herself up onto the surface.
Serenity stood upon her arrival, staring a Claire with a hunger that put Allie on edge. “Tell her to regurgitate acid over Miguel.”
Allie hesitated. “How do I order that?”
“You know what it looks like to regurgitate?” Serenity asked.
“I’ve seen pigs vomit,” Allie said, frowning.
“Then just picture Claire doing that, except show the color as dark green. She’ll understand.”
Allie scrunched her nose in disgust as she pictured the command. Claire watched her attentively, waiting as the image was delivered. Surprisingly, she didn’t resist the command.
From what Allie could tell, Claire seemed eager to obey as she crawled to Miguel and spit acid all over him.
Allie couldn’t watch as Miguel screamed in pain. She forcibly restrained herself from covering her ears, attempting to seem strong in front of Serenity, but the noises coming from him were torture.
Worse were the images she was receiving from Claire as she released the acid.
Eventually, his screams subsided. He had either died or healed. Allie prayed he was dead so this could be over, but she knew better than to hope.
When she opened her eyes, she found Miguel alive and healing, most of his body already reformed.
“So not acid,” Serenity mused out loud, sounding disappointed.
“Serenity,” Allie said hesitantly. “Can I be excused to practice with Claire?” She would have done anything at that moment to get away from the situation.
Serenity frowned. “Very well,” she said. “It’s important for an Immortal to become proficient with their dragon. Work on your commands.”
Allie nodded profusely, immediately hopping on Claire’s back to fly away.
“Don’t go far,” Frank said, his face full of concern. “The other Immortals are looking for ways to weaken us. They won’t hesitate to attack you if they find you alone.”
“I won’t,” she said, taking off.
Allie’s stomach lurched as Claire leaped into the air.
As soon as they had climbed high enough, she directed Claire along the caravan, making sure to stay within sight as she dove in and out of the thick clouds.
Claire responded to her every thought, maneuvering through the air with precision she never thought possible.
It wasn’t long before all thoughts of Miguel had vanished from her mind. With Claire, she was free. There was nothing to restrain her in clouds. Nothing that sought to enslave her. Up here, she was the one in control.
Lost in her thoughts, Allie flew Claire farther than before, the caravan nowhere in sight.
Allie sighed, beginning to turn Claire around when she saw something strange along the ground.
A wide canyon stretched below her, looking like it was recently dug out from the ground, loose dirt piled around it.
Curious, Allie flew lower to better see the canyon. Suddenly, Claire imagined giant dragons digging at the ground, as if to show her how it was made.
Panic began to take Allie as she directed Claire to fly along the canyon. The canyon curved sharply, the end nowhere in sight.
As she followed it, she eventually grew close enough to the caravan to spot it from a distance, but the canyon kept going. She followed it all the way around until she reached the very point from which she started.
It was then that her suspicions were confirmed. The canyon formed a complete circle around the caravan.
The Immortals had them completely and totally surrounded.


Bad guys. They are not created equal. Some are straight up evil. Others are just normal people in the way of the protagonist. (or vice versa)

Every character in your story should serve to shed light on the true nature of your main character, and none are more important than the bad guy.
Your antagonist should challenge your protagonist. They should be tailor-made to push your main character to the limits.

To examine how the bad guy should impact the story in relation to your main character, we will examine The Joker from The Dark Knight: one of the best bag guys ever written.

4 Characteristics of a compelling bad guy

Your bad guy needs to be more powerful than your main character. This forces the main character to grow in order to succeed against them. However, power comes in many ways.

The Joker didn’t have tons of money or henchmen. Nor was he physically more powerful than Batman. But his intelligence allowed him to be in control the whole time, to the point where he actually beat Batman at every single turn even at the very end. (We’ll touch on that with the 4th characteristic)

If your bad guy doesn’t have a really good reason for what they’re doing, then the entire story will fall flat. They have to want something and want it badly. A weak motivation is a weak story. (For both protagonist and antagonist)

The Joker is a complex character, but the movie gives several points of dialogue to help us understand the Joker’s real goal. It wasn’t to destroy Gotham. He was a Nihilist. He truly believed nothing and no one really mattered, and his goal was to prove that, deep down, everyone else was just like him. “I took Gotham’s white knight and I brought him down to our level. It wasn’t hard. You see, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push.”

This encompasses a lot of aspects of character, but the finer points of this are: Bad guys are people too. They have feelings. They don’t think of themselves as bad guys. Sometimes they win. Sometimes they get away with it. Don’t ruin the story: be believable.

The Joker wins at every turn. Though arguably insane, he has clear motivations. The Dark Knight is one of the most real stories out there, which is impressive considering it’s a superhero movie.

Again, your bad guy should directly challenge your main character. Not just in plot, but in beliefs. They both should stand for something mutually exclusive with the other. This way their conflict is forced to be a moral fight with meaning tied to the outcome.

Batman believes in the value of human life. He believes every criminal can change and so he refuses to kill them. Joker believes in the exact opposite, and spends all of his efforts on proving Batman wrong. At every turn he forces Batman to make impossible choices; to assign value to some lives over others. And he ends up doubly “Winning” in the end by turning Harvey insane (“proving” everyone is a push away from being just like Joker) and forcing Batman to choose between two impossible choices. (Chooses to lie to millions of people)

Fun fact: I just thought of this, and I don’t know if this is accurate, but I think “The Dark Knight” could easily be referring to Harvey Dent, and not Batman as I originally assumed. Joker called Harvey the “white knight” and then tarnishes him and turns him dark. “Dark Knight.” He might have been putting a name to his last and final victory.

Draco. Chapter 28. The Art of Writing.

I would have screamed in agony had I the lungs to do so. My every nerve was on fire as acid ate at my body, disintegrating it to the point that I could no longer control my arms or legs.
Yet, my body refused to yield, struggling to heal itself as it had countless times before. The healing hurt almost as much as the acid. The pain of both blurred into each other, becoming an endless cycle of pain.
My eyes no longer functioned, my vision overtaken by large blotches of pain pulsating against my brain, but my nose and tongue still worked, adding to the agony.
Distantly, I was aware of the dragon moving, carrying me inside of her as she struggled to fly away. Her body stretched, attempting to flatten me within her, but my body retained its form, refusing to be crushed.
Moments later, she crashed against the ground, jostling me on impact. If I had been whole, I would have screamed yet again from the shock of it. As it was, I managed to move my lips wordlessly.
This was a game of wills. Or, rather, of the dragon’s will versus my body. Neither of us could die, but one of us could end it. I prayed she smarter than she was stubborn, or I was in for a long stretch of suffering.
I had no sense of time; no way to measure the length of my suffering. Instead, I focused on the dragon’s movements, forcing myself to stay awake as I did so for fear that she’d spit me out and leave me behind without a fight.
Several times, she attempted to fly with me inside her, but she was unable. Eventually, she gave up, digging into the mountain instead.
The pressure of the mountain pressed against me, adding to the discomfort of my situation, but I welcomed the distraction.
I knew she was getting close to giving up. She was discovering what I already knew: impact would not flatten me, nor pressure. She would never breathe or eat properly again until she threw me up.
At some point, the pressure was relieved as she emerged from the ground. Then, with a great heave, she started gagging.
Slowly, she managed to work me up her neck, pulling it out of the acidic bile of her belly. I worked my shoulder as much as I could to help her.
With each heave, I grew closer to freedom, my body beginning to properly heal.
The acid somehow hurt worse as I began to pull free, regaining the use of my eyes and arms. Finally, she gave one last heave and shot me out of her mouth.
I regained the use of my legs just as I crumbled to the ground beneath her.
I stood as fast as I could, my legs wobbling as I faced my draconic captor. I knew I only had seconds to Claim her before she recovered and flew away.
Instead of leaving, however, the dragon shrunk in size, collapsing onto the ground with a whimper of pain.
Gently, I knelt to the ground, laying a hand on her shoulder. She was shuddering, exhausted from the fight and famished from being forced into her largest size without food.
Feeling guilty, I pressed the palm of my hand against her head and imagined feeding her.
“I’ll get you food, little one,” I whispered as I Claimed her. “Just get some rest.”
A wave of peace settled over her as she closed her eyes, resting against her head against her wing.
Gently, I picked her up and carried her down the mountain. I wasn’t sure where she had carried us, but I knew the way nonetheless. The town was at the booth of the mountain.
The sun set over the mountains as I set out to carry her to town. It had been at least a day, if not several since Jade left me to watch over the girl.
I thought about calling for Jade, but decided her rest was more important, and I didn’t want to leave the girl alone again.
The sun had already risen on a new day by the time I finally returned to the town with my new dragon.


Art is not a science. Obvious, yes, but important to understand nonetheless.

I can give you countless outlines, formulas, examples, plot lines, and character arcs, but at the end of the day, you have to be an artist to write.

You can’t just plug in characters to a formula and make a good story. You have to create and imagine and explore. You have to understand how to put it all together in satisfying ways.

This takes practice.
But it also takes exposure.

The better stories you surround yourself with, the better writer you will become.

Just as you tend to pick up on the mannerisms of your friends, writers tend to pick up on the tendencies of the books they read and movies they watch.

If you read and watch trash, then you will likely replicate that trash. That doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it, just that it is trash and it’s likely others won’t enjoy it.

So if you want to write good stories. Read good stories. It’s that simple.

Allie. Chapter 27. True to Character.

Allie watched with curious eyes as Serenity returned with her prey. The five dragons blotted out the sun as they passed overhead and landed right in front of her.
A stranger rode on the back of the new dragon who was being held down by three of Serenity’s own. Allie wouldn’t have been able to tell the new dragon apart from the others except that it was roaring in agony, its skin pulsating different colors of red.
The stranger’s face was oddly calm, a mask of stillness as he sat astride his captured dragon.
As Allie studied his face, she wondered at his stoicism. If she had been captured by Serenity in such a manner, she would have been terrified, but this man didn’t look scared at all. A part of her wondered if he was a part of the enemy; a rogue Immortal.
Serenity slid down from her dragon and gestured for the stranger to do the same. His face remained placid as he followed her directions, jumping over the maw of another dragon to land on the ground in front of her.
Allie gathered her courage and stepped forward, standing at Serenity’s side to face him together. Serenity raised an eyebrow at her, but said nothing as she regarded the stranger.
“You know who I am.” Serenity said, raising her chin. It was plainly a statement, not a question.
The stranger nodded. “My name is Miguel.”
Serenity said nothing as she measured he and his dragon in turn.
“I am news that may interest you,” Miguel continued after a moment, his voice steady and confident.
“You know where my husband is,” Serenity said simply, her hands clasped behind her back.
Miguel’s air of confidence faltered as a frown broke across his face for the smallest of moments. “Yes, I know where he is. I propose a trade.”
Serenity sighed as if preparing to reprimand a small child. “I have no need to ask you where he is. What I need to know, I will learn from Claire. I’m more interested in you.”
Claire let out a roar at the sound of her name, struggling to break free from the grasp of the dragons to no avail.
Miguel frowned openly at that, looking back and forth between Allie and Serenity. “I have no other information to give. I’m as unimportant as they come.”
“A lie,” Serenity said, stepping closer to Miguel. “You are an Immortal. An Immortal riding on my husband’s dragon, no less. How did this come to be?”
“A trade,” Miguel said, standing his ground as Serenity stepped close. “His life for his dragon. We made an oath.”
Allie stepped closer with Serenity, drawing dangerously near the waiting dragons.
“The same trade you would propose now, I suppose?” Serenity asked, looking down on the slightly shorter Miguel.
“I’m not offering my dragon,” Miguel said, standing straighter. “Nor am I offering my life. I came with the offer of information in turn for letting us loose.”
“You came with nothing,” Serenity sniped, frowning at Miguel. “You ran because you are guilty. And now you hold your head high as if you’re a man of honor.”
“I ran because a slew of dragons were racing toward us,” Miguel spat. “Any man would.”
Serenity shook her head. “You think I don’t know who you are, but I do. I’ve seen you through Geleo’s eyes, and I know your worth.”
Miguel looked unsettled at that, his eyes shifting between the dragons. “I don’t see him here,” he said warily.
Serenity pursed her lips. “He was taken from me recently. I’ll recover him soon.”
Miguel chewed on his lip as he thought on how to proceed. “What do you want to know?”
“How about your heel?” Serenity suggested with a steely voice.
Miguel ground his teeth. “Is that it then? Through the eyes of a dragon, I’m sentenced to death? I thought you considered yourselves the peacekeepers. Instead, you’ve stolen what is rightfully mine and intent to do so again.”
Serenity let a smile play on her face as she walked past Miguel to the dragon. Claire was still roaring furiously, a dark shade of red as she fruitlessly tugged against the grasp of the other dragons. “Claire was never yours. You have judged rightly, and you will now either suffer forever under my hand or die. The choice is yours.”
Allie saw the knife too late as it appeared in Miguel’s hand. Before she could call out, he leaped on Serenity, stabbing her repeatedly in the back.
Allie froze, horrified. As far as she knew, steel might have been Serenity’s weakness, but even if it wasn’t, the sheer brutality of the attack was shocking.
Serenity let out a brief blond-chilling scream before passing out with Miguel on top of her.
On instinct, all four dragons lunged for Miguel, momentarily releasing Claire from their grasp.
Miguel grabbed Serenity’s limp body and held her before him like a shield in one hand, his knife in the other.
Allie didn’t see how he could possibly win that fight, but her attention was elsewhere. Behind them, Claire was struggling to stand, preparing to launch into the air.
Without a second thought, Allie sprinted around the fight, attempting to catch Claire before she could take off.
With a whimper, Claire jumped off the ground, but faltered on her take-off. As Allie ran toward her, she saw hundreds of blood-streaked tears across her wings. Even so, she pumped her wings in desperation, attempting to escape her captors.
With a shout, Allie threw herself on Claire’s back, desperately hanging on to the hinges of her wings.
Claire fell back to the ground under the extra weight. Chances are she wouldn’t have made it far regardless.
Allie held on tightly as Claire collapsed onto the ground, whimpering from pain.
A short distance away, Miguel was still facing the dragons, avoiding their attacks through the use of Serenity’s body. The dragons were too wary of hurting her to attack him head-on, but the four of them were herding him away from Claire and Allie.
As she listened to Claire’s whimpers, Allie could think of only one thing for her to do. Slowly, she climbed farther up on the dragon’s back and reached over to lay a hand on Claire’s head.
Allie didn’t know how it was supposed to work, but she closed her eyes, focusing on the dragon’s scales as she mentally reached out to Claire.
An image appeared in Allie’s mind; an image of Miguel, but she mentally swatted it away, replacing it with an image of herself. Then something snapped.
Miguel fell to the ground in pain, dropping Serenity’s body as Allie released Claire’s head. As soon as she released her, Claire laid her head against the ground in relief, growing roughly to the size of a pig.
Allie could feel her pain and exhaustion. “Don’t worry,” she whispered in Claire’s ear. “I’m going to take care of you. I promise.”


I did not know what would happen in this chapter, but, often, I’ve found that stories have a way of working themselves out.

Symbolism works its way into stories whether you intend it or not. Characters will mirror each other in unexpected ways, and plot-lines will line up perfectly with character development… IF you stay true to your characters. I’ve already said this, but it bears repeating, and this chapter is a great example.

All I wanted was for Miguel and Serenity to interact. By now you might hate both of them… or maybe just Miguel, but either way, this interaction was bound to be entertaining.

And it turned out I was right. I knew that these two characters would bring the heat, and because I stayed true to their characters, they did. I could have easily done a trade, or showed Miguel mercy, or had Allie attacked again, or had Claire escape, or just simply imprisoned Miguel without a conversation, but it’s just not what either character would have done.

Miguel would act in control and then fight out of desperation when backed into a corner. Serenity would show no mercy, but underestimate him.
And then there’s Allie. She finally has a dragon, and it’s at the perfect time to signal her shift from servant to royalty. Swine to dragons. She’s starting to own who she is, for better or for worse.

That’s a lot of stuff for a short chapter, and none of it was planned. This is every. Single, chapter for me. And it’s what makes it fun.

So approach your plot-writing however you want. But don’t you dare force your characters to do something just to fit a plot. Stay true. Have fun.