Rest for the Weary is a strange episode in that it doesn’t fit with the other Blood Magic stories.  In that respect it is akin to A Prime’s Place, which is the other episode to which that descriptor most applies, but it is very different in how it earns its status.  That doesn’t make either episode bad storytelling in a non-associated sense, but in the context of Blood Magic I have received feedback from readers that these episodes don’t feel like they fit.

I thought about that a lot as I worked on revisions for this episode, but I did not make significant changes, for several reasons.  First of all, I would have had to substantially change the episode’s plot in order to have sufficient story to compensate for removing the entire historical plotline, which would violate the intent with which I approach these revision efforts.  There just isn’t enough to the episode without the historical timeline, so instead I tried to tie the past and the present together more thoroughly, so that they feel more integrated and cohesive as two parts of one story.

Second of all, I simply like the way the story works.  For all that it is structured differently, and the inclusion of the historical plotline could be considered controversial, I enjoy both parts of the story.  I like the hints we get of the way the world was and how that foundation continues to affect the world that Kiluron and Doil presently inhabit, and I like Kiluron’s struggles, which fit into his overall arc for the season, and are very true to his character.  In fact, I wish that I did a better job of following up on his residual illness and his later injury in The Society of the Broken Promise, because it would explore another dimension of his character.

The danger is that the historical plotline overshadows the present one.  While it does communicate some interesting and relevant information to the reader, it’s not something I intend to follow up on in future episodes, at least not with any specificity – we won’t see these characters again.  Then again, how many interesting characters do we meet for an episode of Star Trek and never see again?  Sometimes I forget that this is allowed to be episodic, and even intended to be, since a lot of the world-building and the character development is so serialized.

This is also the last episode (I think) in which Fetrina gets a major role (if it can even be called that here).  She was supposed to become a more significant character all the way back in All Cooped Up and No Place to Go, and…it just never happened.  Her character didn’t interact in interesting ways with Kiluron and Doil, so she just…faded away.  I stopped including her in side plots and references, and as of this writing, rapidly nearing the end of Blood Magic, she’s no longer a part of any of my plotting.  Sometimes, that happens, and that’s just part of writing.  I don’t consider that my characters have lives of their own, I don’t ‘listen to what my characters are saying,’ or have my characters take me in weird directions, but I also don’t always perfectly predict what will make sense for a character to do when I first draft them, so part of writing is being flexible in that way, realizing that something isn’t working how you expect it and changing it to something that works better.

When I wrote it originally, and when I’m reading it now, I really like this episode.  One of my favorite parts of Blood Magic is the history that underpins everything and that we get to slowly explore throughout the series.  This episode, controversial as it may be, gives me the opportunity to explore that in a little more detail.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

1500 Years Ago

               A storm was raging overhead, a rare occurrence on this part of the coast, and Eldri felt frail and small even within the shelter of the waypost.  It wasn’t that he feared the storm, but rather what it implied, and what it could hide, or at least that was what he told himself.  Everything had seemed more intimidating since he escaped from the gods.  Even the woman crouching in the opposite corner of the waypost frightened him, for all that she was his only hope for something he barely even dared to think.  He was unaccustomed to his mind being a safe place to have thoughts.

               “Stop cowering,” the woman snapped.  She had told Eldri her name, but he had not understood it.  He called her Cruba, which meant hunter.  It seemed apt enough.  “You are man, no?  Not beast.”

               Swallowing past the lump in his throat and the tightness of his bladder, Eldri managed to nod with what he hoped was an appropriate enthusiasm, but he did not miss Cruba’s rolling eyes, and he heard her mutter something in her own language.  He might not know what the words meant, but he understood the tone.  She thought he was weak, not worthy of the risks she was taking for him, and Eldri was not certain that she was wrong.

               A massive shape swooped low over the waypost, rattling the stones in their settings, and every torch in the place went out like candles snuffed by a hurricane.  An inhuman screech echoed through the night, and then a thunderous sound that had nothing to do with the storm clapped across the world; it staggered Edlri to his hands and knees and left him retching.  Cruba, he noted, was also on the cold stone floor, her breath coming faster, but her eyes were fixed up at the top of the shaft leading to the outside world, and she was glaring.

               “Bloody dragons,” she told him.  “They may fight against your gods, but they are no allies of free men.”

               Eldri had no words, but could only stare at Cruba with wonderment and terror.  What kind of person could so casually defy both gods and devils?  It was true they were far from Heart City, but distance meant little to such creatures.  Perhaps this was what it meant to be free: Eldri found himself wondering if he would one day be a dark-eyed warrior like his rescuer, guiding other frightened souls out of Lufilna’s darkness and into the light of the free land in the south.

               Another shriek split the night like a Blood sacrifice’s chest, and then the ground seemed to ripple like a lake disrupted by a tossed boulder.  Somehow, Cruba rode the wave, maintaining her position at the base of the shaft, while Eldri cowered in the corner and wondered how the waypost had not collapsed at this force.

               “Was that?” he asked in a tiny voice.

               Cruba glared at him, and he shrank back, but finally she nodded, the motion barely visible in the darkness.  “Dragon power is different in many ways from that of your gods.  My people once thought to make allies of them, and even that the dragons might be more powerful.  But that is not the way of things.  Better to be free.”

               “Will the devils hunt us, too?” Eldri asked.

               “Call them dragons, not devils,” Cruba reprimanded.  “And no, they will not hunt us.  Not like the giants will.  But this one may yet draw too much attention to this place, and then we will be dead.”

               Finding that he had stopped breathing, Eldri forced himself to take several deep breaths.  “But you could fight them, right?”

               The look he received from Cruba for that question was as dismissive and arrogant as any he had received from a god.  With her dark skin disappearing against the night, and her bronze spear glimmering like the whites of her eyes, she looked a kind of demon herself.  “Fight them?  You do not fight giants, fool.  You can only hope they don’t notice you.”

Click here to read the rest of Rest for the Weary

Click here to read the rest of Blood Magic Season Two

Click here to read Blood Magic Season One

Click here to read the most current Blood Magic episode: A Matter of Facts

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