“What good am I to you?” I growled, slumped against the cavern wall.
“You’re insurance,” Brianna said as she brushed her dragon’s scales. “In case things go wrong.”
I adjusted my posture, trying to ignore the stones jutting into my back. I wasn’t tied. There was no need for anything like that.
Four dragons and three Immortals stood between me and the cavern entrance. Even as I spoke, I found myself calculating the likelihood of escaping. It wasn’t good.
“Seems unlikely to work,” I said, keeping a close watch over Brianna. “If she knew I was here, she’d kill you all just to get to me.”
“Oh, I’m counting on it,” she said with a thin smile.
“You don’t think she would fight harder knowing she was close to her goal?” I asked. “You don’t think she’d be that much more motivated to cut you down and take your dragons? I could split her attention if you let me go. You could surprise her while she’s going after me.”
Brianna shook her head, her smile growing wider. “You would have me believe you’d volunteer? I am not so young as to be your fool.”
I straightened against the wall, holding my head high. “You may not be young, but you’re young enough. You weren’t there when Sarah and I won the war. Ten thousand Immortals. Ten thousand dragons. And only a hundred remained by the end. I will do what needs to be done.”
Brianna stopped brushing her dragon long enough to give me a searching look. “You said so yourself, Drumond. You are not who you once were. You’ve been running for the last thousand years. You would run again.”
I swallowed by retort, slumping back against the wall. She knew more about me than I’d hoped. “Better to run than to spill more blood.”
Brianna finished brushing one dragon just as another took its place under her comb. “Her blood is ours to spill,” she said eventually. “Sarah threatens our right to rule. She acts as though she is Queen. As if she is our god.”
“And you have no gods,” I finished for her.
“I am my own god,” she replied haughtily. “The Immortal blood is mine. The right to spill blood is mine.”
“You are no god,” I said, my voice tired. “Nor am I. We are humans blessed with lifetimes of suffering. Nothing more.”
Brianna set her jaw, her eyes like burning coals. “We have the blood of dragons.”
“So we are gods?” I said. “Would that not make the dragons our true gods? And yet we enslave them to our wills.”
“We have reason,” Brianna said, her teeth bared. “We were given the power to enslave dragons.”
“Given by whom?” I asked mockingly. “Gods don’t need to be given anything. And yet we were given these powers…”
“Our powers may have originally been given by dragons,” Brianna reasoned, “but they do not let us claim them. We conquered them ourselves. We made ourselves gods.”
I nodded. “So we did. But what poor gods we make.”
Brianna scoffed, turning back to her chore. “You’ve merely confirmed what I said before. You would run if you had the chance.”
“Maybe,” I sighed. “Or maybe I’d stay and fight. Maybe I’d show you the fragility of the so-called gods.”
Just then the dragons let out a simultaneous cry; a warning.
Seconds later, the other two dragons and their Immortals flew appeared through the clouds, flying through the cavern entrance.
Stephen hopped off his dragon just as it landed, walking straight toward Brianna and I at the back of the cave.
“Is our guest behaving?” He asked, smirking down at me.
“As well as could be expected,” Brianna said with a hard look. “What word of the camp?”
“They’re making plans as we speak,” he said. “We’ll know more once they make their finals touches.”
“Are they leaving any behind?” She asked.
Stephen shook his head. “From the looks of it, one way or another, they’re going to send every dragon they have at us.”
“So the camp will be unprotected,” she said, a malicious smile breaking across her face.
“Embarrassingly so,” Stephen purred, looking down at me. “Tell me, King. What is a Queen without her people?”
I met his gaze evenly. “Just a god.”

Have you ever been impacted by a story? Have you had moments where you watch or read something happen and it’s so enthralling or powerful that it becomes burned into your mind?

Of course, our instinct is to replicate that experience. We want our stories to impact people; to blow them away. So we write something similar in our stories, and that’s fine.
But there’s a mistake that many writers make. And it’s that they don’t understand what truly makes that moment great. So, instead of replicating the important aspects of an story, they copy the parts that don’t matter.

It’s the equivalent of using hobbits in your story in order to capture some of the greatness of Lord of the Rings.
Yes, they represent the average powerless person, so using them in a story would still work on a natural level and appeal to most readers, but putting hobbits in a completely different story does nothing to replicate greatness.
The greatness of Lord of the Rings has to do with how everything in the story relates. The story is inseparable from the environment is inseparable from the characters, and it’s the work as a whole that synergies greatness.

Can you think back to a powerful fight scene? It’s not the fighting techniques you need to steal, but the context.

Impactful dialogue? Don’t copy the words, but the tension.

Characters? It’s not about their quirks or mannerisms, but their wants and needs. Their failures and triumphs.

I’ve already mentioned all of these different aspects and what to look for regarding each, but we all ultimately like different things.
It’s up to you to look at the works that inspire you and figure out what about that work makes it great.

Steal the greatness, not the hobbits.

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