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.