Fiction Friday; A Bonded Pair

Sometimes when I'm developing characters and trying to figure out how they work together, it's really useful to put them through put them through a scene rather than just asking myself questions. Here's one I whipped up for a new project I'm working on with a friend of mine, which I thought I'd like to share with you all so you might see some more of my process (if that helps or interests you). :)

You'll also notice, no doubt, that where the names ought to be, I put in placeholders that say [Elf] and [Dragon]. This happens when I forget character names, or if I don't have names for them yet. Using the brackets just makes them easier to find later using the Find and Replace functions in most word processing software.

He approached from the beach. There wasn't a lot of traffic from that direction, for one thing, and for another, the slope of the dunes trending higher and higher until the reached the walls of the city allowed him to approach mostly unseen. That was good, all things considered. Better than the alternative. Traveling on the road, especially with [dragon] pacing along beside him wasn't something that he could reasonably expect anyone to overlook. And when people looked a them, they didn't see an ill-used soldier and a maimed dragon. They saw an elf and his steed. Enemies and attackers.

[Elf] sighed and shook his head a little, tipping his head back to look at the walls again. He would reach the city by noon, but the gate was out of his way. He would be inside the walls in more than enough time for their ceremony. Honestly, if it hadn't been for the general's order, he wouldn't have come at all. Let the humans celebrate their pettiness without any of the elves present. That was how the humans preferred it, anyway. But the general had seen fit to honor their request for representatives of the elven force to be present to accept their tokens of generosity on behalf of their people and blah blah blah.

Putting a hand on his dragon's muscular shoulder, the elf looked at him uncertainly. "Do you need a break?" he asked, his voice pitched low as though someone else might overhear.

The dragon rumbled a growling denial, but slowed his sinuous gait to hitch up his maimed wing again. He'd lost most of the sail membrane, and the two longest flanges had been numbed by the blow that had nearly amputated the limb. Now when he pushed himself too hard or forgot to adjust the wing, it would drag on the ground and he was liable not to notice until it snagged on something.

[Elf] watched, but didn't comment. There was so much they didn't talk about anymore - [dragon]'s injury, or [elf]'s damaged hearing. What other people said about them. Burdens, that's what they said. Useless. Valueless. [Elf] denied it when such things were said, of course, but still... there was something about those words that sank in deep and didn't let go, no matter how much he tried to shake them away.

"What do you think? Should we try to get a room at an inn, or sleep out here on the sand? I hear the wind never stops, so it might be worthwhile to get a nice warm room in the city." Though he spoke lightly, it seemed even to his faintly ringing ears that there was nothing light about it at all. There were so many reasons not to stay in the city, and every one of them had short, rounded ears and more bias than should have ever been put into a single body. Every single one of them would be waiting to get a look at the enemy, just waiting for the next war. It was only a matter of time. They all knew that.

"Inside the city would be wise," growled [dragon] with a heavy nod. "The wind doesn't bother me very much, but it will dry your skin and make your lips bleed. I don't like it when you bleed." That wasn't an expression of concern. Just a statement of tired fact. [Dragon] lived only to stay with [elf], and [elf] did everything he could to ease [dragon]'s way in this newly hard life. There was no reason for this kind of suffering. There had been no reason for it before the war. There was even less reason now. But did the humans see it that way? No. Of course not.

Bitterness warred with common sense, but eventually (as always) common sense won out.

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