You start flipping through. You already read enough to grasp some of the plot.
There’s a Prince Namde, and a commoner named Frei. They have a passionate affair. But Namde’s mother, Kasa, insists on an allegiance with the Aedrans, and so Namde has to marry a foreign princess to cement the alliance…
Somehow, the names jump out at you this time. You imagine connections between the central characters, how they interact throughout the novel. You process the pages faster than you thought possible, and your mental diagram updates almost immediately.
What you see at the end… you wouldn’t be able to describe it to anyone else. If you were to draw it, it would just be a mess of lines that don’t seem to be pointing anywhere else.
But… you know, just know that it’s a metal.
And now, when you look at Captain Long, you see that metal everywhere. No, not quite… you see small pieces of it, flowing through his body. It’s hurting him. You need to stop his pain…
A moment later, you feel something moving from your missing arm. Then you see it. A brightly glowing arm, much larger than the one you lost, moving towards the Captain.
Your ethereal arm reaches in, and the toxic metal flows into it. You withdraw it.
A moment later, you see Captain Long sitting up, smiling, and a large chunk of oddly-colored metal floating in the air in front of you.
Then you pass out.
Wake up naked on an operating table.
Wake up with a bunch of curious grebling scientists poking at you
If you’re just reading this, it may seem like something planned that I was leading up towards.
It very definitely was not. I didn’t know why Rider wanted the book when I had him ask for it – I just needed a reason for him to go to Mudviper’s room and then immediately leave. The book was something in the room that had been mentioned, so I opted to make that his goal.
Marshall had the book at this point because there was a suggestion to have Marshall hold onto something important, and it was simplest to use the object that had already been implied to be important.
When I arrived at camp, the main thing I had set up was that Captain Long was sick and it was serious enough that Rider ran back to the Marsh Fortress through a mysterious gateway in hopes of finding a cure. So I felt had to address that as soon as possible once they reached the camp. And Marshall still had the book at the time.
The result was I found myself in the situation where the book was going to be used to cure Captain Long and I didn’t really know how it was going to do that. So: I asked for suggestions. What I got was that “the story hides the formula”, but I felt I needed to add a little something to the suggestion. And what I decided to do was make it flashier. I also included the ethereal arm to tie into Marshall feeling pain where the missing arm had been earlier.
The fact that this is a suggestion-based story often gives me the opportunity to handle situations where I don’t have a plan for what happens next by having the character confront them while having no idea what happens next. Some of my favorite moments have been when I’ve pulled this off well.