Thursday, February 25, 2016

Don’t leave home without your … dragon card?

A couple years ago, I came up with an idea for a fantasy story with humans, dragons, centaurs, goblins, and two other invented races.  I usually write science fiction, but I do dabble in other genres, and the story was somewhat science fiction because it was about an archeological expedition in this fantasy world.  So I started writing the story, which I eventually titled “Scars of the Blood Fire Valley,” thinking it would be a standalone story.  But as I got to the end of the first draft, I realized that I could very easily continue it.  I still only have some basic ideas, but now this Pathfinder Saga involves twenty-some stories spread out over sixty years.

Having a series can be fun letting you explore different ideas and you can laugh behind your hand as your readers miss subtle hints you’ve dropped that won’t be explained for three or four stories.  Of course, it also means you have to write the damn thing.  “Scars” needs a great deal of revision, which I’m slowly working on, and I’m maybe a sixth of the way through the second story, “What is Found in the Wilderness.” But what can be aggravating – or fun – are all the ideas I have for scenes in later stories.

For example, the main character in the series is this woman named Loma who leads the “Scars” expedition.  The second main character, introduced in “Wilderness,” is a female dragon named Rine.  The two become best of friends and are almost inseparable.  In story … ten, or thereabouts, there is a general who – for reasons – doesn’t like Loma.  He starts spreading rumors about her.  Loma response to these with some quip about his visits to brothels, but Rine has a more direct response.  She takes a talon and pokes it through the general’s chest plate … while he’s wearing it.  She doesn’t hurt him, just shows that she could.  I know it’s a silly little scene, but I can’t wait to write it.  Partly because I think Rine is becoming my favorite character.  When I first designed her, I thought of her as a hippie dragon, but as her character has grown, that is becoming less and less accurate a description.  But that is still an interesting starting point.  She doesn’t show up until the second half of “Wilderness,” but I want to skip the “boring” stuff of the first half to get to her scenes.  What’s going to suck is that at some point in the series, she goes away for a couple of stories to take care of her hatchlings.  When I get to those stories I’m going to miss her.

Anyway, the point of this post is a cool thing that happened with a scene towards the beginning of the third – so far unnamed – story.  At the end of “Wilderness,” Loma goes to spend time with Rine and some other dragons for a … project.  The third story opens with Loma returning to the capital of the human Kingdom.  She meets with family and friends, and then heads to Little Centaur.  In this fantasy world, centaurs are mercenaries who will provide protection for anyone who can pay them.  I don’t know if this ever comes out, but about half of the expense of Loma’s expedition in “Scars” was to employ four centaurs to protect them from bandits and goblins.  In Little Centaur, Loma comes across one of these four, Aureain, who asks if she is looking to hire more centaurs.  She answers that first she needs a guide to this centaur temple, but then she’ll need about fifty centaurs for a mission into Goblin Territory.  Aureain knows that Loma had to work for years to save up enough just to afford four centaurs, so he wonders how she’ll pay for fifty.  And she answers that she has the backing of a dragon.

This scene came out as I was vaguely plotting out the series so I have some clue as to where I’m going.  But as I was running through everything again, I came to this point and I wondered why Aureain would just take her word that she was backed by a dragon.  Yes, this is a world where if you owed a centaur money your life expectancy would be very short, but Aureain would need some proof.  But I don’t see dragons dipping their talon into some ink and writing on a large chunk of parchment “The bearer of this note ….” So I thought, maybe they’d just have these small things of gold with jewels embedded in them with some dragonese script to show this human has their support.  As soon as I thought that, the first thing that came to mind was a dragon credit card.  Yes, it’s a silly idea, but come on, a dragon credit card.  I have to use that now.  Loma shows Aureain this bejeweled gold thing, he takes her to a higher up centaur who can command a group of fifty, and they just send the bill to Rine.  I wish I had a friend like that.

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