I blame this entirely on my writing friend Ariel (previously mentioned as Flynn).
A little weasel of a thought came bounding into my head. What if, I took my characters from the dragon story and placed them into a school scenario? There would be classes, homework, teachers, uniforms, and dorms. It would be a political private college, only for the heirs and children of the ruling countries.
Svorak, my dragon, had a few things to say about that.
“Are you mad?” Was the first.
“Well, no. See…” I turn to my friend. “Ariel, this is all your fault. Plunking characters into high schools is supposed to be your obsession.”
She only grins and cackles. No help at all.
I turn back to the dragon. “Look at it this way. I can either agonize over how to properly introduce all the characters in the formal story or I can play around, create a silly universe, have the characters show up without any care in the world, and intro them that way. I’ll be able to flesh out their quirks in no time.”
One navy-blue brow twitches and the scaled snout looms closer.
Panicking, I wave my hands in an effort to ward him off. “I don’t even know how I’m going to introduce Madrik’s sister. Either she’s going to be waiting in camp somewhere or she’s sitting somewhere in a real house, I don’t know. All I’ve got right now is this image of her demanding to know where her twin brother has gone off to.”
There’s a snort of furnace hot air, smelling of charred cedar. “She would express worry in that fashion, wouldn’t she?”
Is he warming to the idea? I’m hoping so. “It’ll be fun. There won’t be any serious threats to anyone. The kids can relax, you can get used to interacting with them and their guardians, I’ll have a blast designing uniforms and–”
I blink. “Ye-es?”
That great big black and blue head of teeth lowers until I’m staring straight into an electric blue iris. God, his pupil is the size of my fist…
“You’re putting the children of the royal families into uniforms.” His tone is flat with disbelief.
“Sure.” I think back to what I was thinking when that little tidbit popped up. “They did that in Broken Blade. So why not?”
Svorak closes that huge eye and lets loose a rumbling growling sound that just about makes the pens at my hand shiver and twitch right off the desk. Takes me a moment to realize that he’s groaning.
“Tell you what, I’ll use colours that won’t clash when you’re wearing it.” I think that’s a pretty good idea. Wouldn’t want one of the main characters to look ridiculous in uniform, right?
Wait, why is he looking at me like that?
And why is Ariel taking cover behind the McDonald’s down the street?
“Jo,” Svorak is back to glaring at me. I should know, I designed him. “Why would I wear your uniform?”
Uh… “Because you’re going into college.”
“You’re putting me into college.” He’s sounding rather unimpressed there.
“For fun,” I remind him. “That’s the whole point. You know: relax, have fun, enjoy the lack of responsibilities.”
“I’m several centuries old–”
“About four, yes.” The eye that I can see narrows at my insertion.
“–and you are putting me into a private college that caters to the ruling families, three of which belong to kingdoms that occupy my old homeland.”
“You’ll get to know them!” I insist. “You haven’t been around any of these people for more than two hundred years. For all you know, they may be completely different from their ancestors.”
Svorak raises his head so that he towers above my own. The great big brute is staring down his nose at me.
“And if they are completely the same?” he asks smoothly. “You expect me not to end their lives at the first opportunity? My human form may not have the mass of my natural form, but that does not mean I am any less dangerous.”
“Assassinating the heirs or the rulers of the royal houses will not win you your dead kingdom back.” Let’s get that perfectly clear. “Besides, they cannot be held accountable for what their dead forefathers did. They are only kids. Hardly more than two decades old.”
Talons the lengths of yardsticks gouge into the floor and I wince at the marks they will leave. Good luck getting our damage deposit back now…
“True,” the dragon in front of me admits, then muses, “but perhaps if I were to take hostages, I will be able to coerce–”
“Oh, hell no!” I’m standing now, one finger pointing straight up at his conniving self. “You will do no such thing.”
“And why not?” He sounds more amused than offended, which–while I’m grateful–annoys the heck out of me.
“Neither Madrik or Alex would take a throne offered in such a way.” Secretly, I doubt Vorne will ever be re-established and I’m fairly certain that Svorak thinks the same.
Another snort, then the dragon is shaking his head. “Fine, have your fun with this college of yours.” He holds up a claw to forestall my happy reaction. “However, I am not wearing a uniform.”
“You gotta wear something.” I frown. If he’s going to wander around with the kids, he needs to be dressed. And since he’s going to be with them in class, he’ll need the uniform.
“I’ll be–What is the term?–a nudist.”
I think my eyes just fell out of my head. “You are not walking around in the nude!”
Svorak cranes his neck around so that he looks back at himself, down across the expanse of metallic scales and folded leather-like membranes that make up his body. “That is exactly what I am doing now.”
“Human form, Svorak! Even then you wear clothing… Right?” I haven’t actually thought that far into his character.
The look he levels at me is positively evil.
I glance away thinking. I’ve never thought up what kind of clothing he would wear. It’s not like he would feel the need for his human form all that often. Would he keep a change of clothing on hand? Does my dragon walk around commando when given the chance? Would he even think to do so otherwise?
“Never have,” he answers from behind me. Right behind me. Like, maybe just several inches taller than me and up close.
I’d be thinking sharp teeth and a jaw that could swallow a Clydesdale right now, only his voice isn’t that vibrating low rumble with the depth of a volcano. It’s smooth and it’s low alright, but it’s lacking the echo that comes with having a chest cavity the size of a house.
Sighing, I glance back at him, making sure to keep my eyes above his sternum.
“You’re an exhibitionist,” I tell him.
“And you’re still wearing a uniform.”
I have the satisfaction of watching that smug look drop right off his face.