“Dancing Lights” – an actual-play short story

Two weeks after seeing Infinity War and I’m still not over it.

Don’t worry if you haven’t seen it; there won’t be any spoilers in this post. In fact the only reason I really bring it up is because my campaign D&D character for the past ten months has been Gameia, a tiefling assassin and the most dangerous woman in the realm, inspired by Gamora. And my best friend, Sam, has played her drow monk sister, Nova, our in-game equivalent of Nebula. In fact, our whole campaign was loosely influenced and inspired by Guardians of the Galaxy. It started as a joke, but quickly started to mean a lot to us. And you need to know all of that for the actual-play short-fiction piece that follows.

We happened upon these characters a bit by accident, which is a story I can share at a later point, but over time we’ve deeply connected with them. They’ve come to be an important part of our lives. Now Gameia prepares to fight her demonic father, Faranos, just like Gamora prepares to face Thanos in the film. But this scene was from far earlier in the campaign, detailing her first reunion with their father… Now just seemed an appropriate time to share it.

TL;DR: If you’ve seen Avengers, I’m sure you’ll get me.

Art of Gameia and Nova in one the rare happier moments of their lives by Rain.
TW: post-trauma and abuse
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When the goblin’s blade first sunk into her shoulder, Gameia’s vision blurred, and she imagined lights dancing into the cavern.

Then the blade withdrew, and the sting brought a sudden clarity.

The lights were real. Dancing lights. Her sister’s. Nova.

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Of Dragons and Men

At night, my blanket is tucked under my legs, the air on full blast. My weapon is in my hands and I find myself fighting dragons.

All of my imaginary friends are dragons. I suppose they represent different things. This sounds so silly if you don’t appreciate the metaphor. As a writer, I live in a fictional world. I see the little things around me as inexplicably magical. It’s like my imaginary world is imposed on the reality around me. My problems appear as fearsome dragons. And currently, my dragon is writer’s block.

Every time I face the beast, I end up getting burned. I’m exceedingly disappointed in myself for failing every attempt. I can make no progress in my quest — writing a novel — until the serpent is slain and I can proudly stride over it’s hollow carcass.

Okay, I think my metaphor may be getting a bit frightening.

In the process of editing my novel, I keep encountering these obstacles that protect the rest of the story, but don’t allow me to reach it. I have a readership group that is waiting on me to finish another few chapters so they can read and give me feedback. And here I stand, just staring up at a scaled dragon. And I’m so prepared: I’ve got my wooden sword in one hand and my tin-foil shield in the other. Wow, writer’s block can make you feel helpless.

So I finally got past the particular instance of writer’s block that was really getting to me. I aimed high. I wanted to be able to complete the novel by Halloween. Now it’s looking more like it will be Christmas. (But that’s with NaNo sandwiched in there too.)

Really quickly though, I’m not addressing ways to get around writer’s block. There are tons of suggestions out there and everyone differs on which tactic is best for them. No, my encouragement of the day is more along the lines of: just because you feel helpless, doesn’t mean you are. I felt so useless up against this block. It wasn’t coming to me. Even the characters, who have lives of their own, weren’t helping. But I’m the freaking author! I control this world. I can make it happen. I can put them through hell or I can get them out of it. I have the power to say yes or no. The writer manipulates the story and the world.

My wooden sword became a sharpened blade, my tin foil a refined shield (maybe with a little inkwell crest on the front). And I can slay the dragon.