I woke up with water in my lungs, doubled over on the shore as I fought for breath. After simultaneously gasping for air and coughing up water, I finally managed to breathe.
“You alive?” Miguel asked.
I allowed myself a moment of respite before answering, opening my eyes. “Worried about me or my dragon?”
“The dragon,” he said flatly.
I coughed again before finally sitting up to find Claire curled up at my feet.
“Did you rescue me?” I asked, petting her favorite spot behind the left wing.
Claire cooed, stretching out its wings.
Both Jade and Jessica kept their distance from Claire, taking turns flying behind Miguel. Jessica seemed close to being able to fly again, testing her wings by launching herself into the sky and attempting to keep in flight. More often than not, she managed it.
I couldn’t help but smile as Claire climbed into my lap, nudging its head against my hands as she impressed on my mind an image of her being pet by me.
“I’ll give you two a minute before you have to give her over,” Miguel said graciously, his eyes following Claire hungrily.
“About that,” I said, standing. “I have a proposal.”
Miguel’s eyes went hard, his knife already in hand. “You’re not reneging on our deal.”
“I gave my blood,” I said placatingly as Claire hoped onto my shoulder, curling her tail around my neck.
“So you know you don’t have a choice,” Miguel said dangerously.
“I will give you a dragon, but it can’t be this one.”
Miguel tensed up, his eyes filled with loathing. I could tell he was seconds from attacking me, dragon or not.
“You gave your blood too,” I reminded him. “We can’t hurt each other. I’ll get you a dragon. I know where we can get another one.”
Miguel took a step toward me as if to attack, but Claire suddenly jumped off my shoulder and grew to her full size, casting a shadow over all of us.
I mentally held her back as I tried to reason with Miguel. “We needed Claire to help us subdue the other dragon. Now that we have her…”
“You’re giving me Claire,” Miguel said, his voice like steel. “Now.”
I stiffened, unsure as to how far Miguel would be willing to take things. As I tried to figure out a solution, Jessica flew toward Miguel, landing in front of him. He must have summoned her. Jade followed right behind, sticking close to Jessica.
I realized what Miguel was doing right before it happened, forced to watch helplessly as Miguel held a knife to Jade’s neck.
Jessica didn’t react, subdued by her link to Miguel. Jade instinctively started to struggle, forcing the blade to bite into her neck.
Frantic, I forced her to remain calm. “Miguel…”
“Give her over,” Miguel said, no trace of sanity left in his eyes. “Or I kill both of them.”
I froze, my mind reeling. “We can’t hurt each other,” I said, my voice pleading.
“I’ll let the blood decide,” he said, licking his lips.
I watched as his body tensed, a split-second away from killing Jade.
“Fine,” I said, raising my hands in defeat. “I’ll give her over.”
Miguel frowned, his knife poised against Jade’s neck as I signaled for Claire to shrink back down. She couldn’t hold that size for long anyway; not without food to sustain her.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered to her as she hopped back on my shoulders.
“Lay your hands on her,” I told Miguel, holding my hands out for Claire to balance on.
Miguel placed his left hand on Claire, his right still holding his knife against Jade.
Almost immediately, I felt my bond with Claire weakening. Images flashed through my mind as I lost my link. Some were from long ago. Others were from just before her last hibernation. And then one last image of Miguel as our link was broken.
As soon as it was done, Claire jumped from my hands onto Miguel’s shoulders.
Tears fell down my face as I stepped back.
“We can still go get the other dragon,” I said, my voice wavering.
“No, I’m good,” Miguel said, a grin breaking on his face. And with that, he removed the knife from Jade’s neck and sliced Jessica’s open instead.
Without so much as a single sound, Jessica fell to the ground, bleeding out over the grass. It wasn’t until her very last moments that she finally let out a groan before falling silent for the last time.
I cried out, falling to my knees beside her. “Why?” I asked, shaking.
“She served her purpose,” he said as Claire grew large once more. “And so have you.” And with that, he climbed onto Claire and launched into the sky, leaving me and Jade behind with Jessica’s body.
To be clear, there are more than 6 stories. There are as many different stories as there are people, and then some. When I say there are 6 types of stories, what I’m really saying is that throughout time, there have 6 different plot structures used to tell stories.
1 – Rags to Riches (Rise)
This doesn’t have to be a literal rag to riches story. What this means is that the plot starts with the MC in a bad spot and then throughout the story, the MC steadily makes their way to the top.
2 – Riches to rags (Fall)
The exact opposite. Your MC starts at the top and steadily makes their way to the bottom. (Not a very happy structure)
3 – Man in a hole (Fall, then Rise)
Your MC is walking through whatever life you gave him, then he falls into a hole. But lo and behold he gets out of the hole and ends the story a better person than when the story began. This could very easily be “Riches to rags and back to riches.”
4 – Icarus (Rise, then Fall)
Again, the exact opposite. “Rags to riches and back to rags.” (Still not a very fun ending, but more entertaining getting there) In reality, these would usually be stories about morality, as in cautionary tales about getting too close to the sun…
5 – Cinderella (Rise, then Fall, then Rise)
This is the most used and generally most effective plot to a story. There’s a reason Cinderella has stood the test of time and it isn’t our love of slippers. Cinderella starts the story in a bad spot. But then she gets to go to the ball, meet the man of her dreams, etc. but then just as she might have it all, she loses it all and goes back to where she was when the story began. But that, as we know, is short-lived until Prince whatshisname finds her again for her last and triumphant rise. This is so satisfying because she has to climb to the top multiple times and ends up victorious.
6 – Oedipus (Fall, the Rise, then Fall)
Very similar, just doesn’t end on a high note which usually isn’t very satisfying. Could get you some awards, but not usually a lot of casual fans. (Oedipus brought disaster on everyone by accidentally fulfilling a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother) So if you love tragedy, this is the way to go.
In reality, all stories are merely a series of rising and falling. It’s a matter of deciding what kind of story you want to tell. That will determine where you begin and end your story.