That's the big question, even for me. I have ideas of what I want, and I know that there needs to be a showdown against the Big Bad. It's the path to get there that's in question. The general direction is south, thanks to Sessarine. South seems like a good spot to have backstabbing snake people. It's warm, it's humid, there's rocks. Everything a snake might like.
Along the way, the group would meet other Niceans and the crystal elves. I don't want a travelogue, but the world would get explored. The Niceans are more laid back than the ambassador to the Realm Under the Mountain is. The crystal elves, well, they're another matter. Like the elves of Wildwood and the Sundered Chasm, the crystal elves are a matriarchy. They're also who the dark elves were sundered from and they have long memories. Jyslyn would become their prisoner until Kazi and Wren sorted things out. Jyslyn has some of her own tricks up her sleeves, too. The crystal elves are very much into magic. Jyslyn goes for practical means as needed, so getting out of manacles while in a magic dampening field is a matter of sleight of hand.
Speaking of ambassadors, it occurred to me that the ambassadors from both the Nicean Islands and the Seven Dominions are officious. While the Nicean ambassador had other matters on his mind, the respective governments may have sent such people to deal with the dwarves because the dwarves appreciate such an approach. That may have been the insight I was missing when I started Chapter 38. Nyssa hinted at it, though.
Once done in the Realm, the heroes will take a canal boat to the coast. I have a working canal locally, the Rideau Canal, that will help me with ambiance and actual working of shipping along a waterway. It can pay to take note of what's around. Anything can be tossed into a story. Once down the canal, off to the Nicean Islands to catch a ship further south. That may be the perfect spot to end the first book. Not that I intended The Elf's Prisoner to have multiple books. It kinda got away from me.
Long term, I need to get Kazi and Jyslyn to become a couple. A possible sequel set decades later would have their children dealing with Valenza and her machinations. Valenza has a long memory and the capability to nurse a grudge until the time is right for vengeance. How best to do that than to tempt one of Jyslyn's kids back into the fold? Jyslyn would be older and crankier by this time and is feeling her years. Kazi, not so much. The difference between dark elves and surface elves.
The biggest lesson learned from The Elf's Prisoner is to have the world built before starting to write. So much effort was spent laying down the tracks in front of the characters that could've been used figuring out plot and characters. However, I also learned that I can create a world on the fly while letting the characters interact to hide the frantic paddling. It's a good skill, one that shouldn't be overworked.
This ends The Elf's Prisoner for now. Unlike the other stories that were unfinished, there's too much right now to try writing chapter by chapter for the next few weeks. I have other stories in the works right now and I do have a serial lined up for the next ten weeks. I'll also post the potentials for NaNo 2019. Thanks for sticking around for The Elf's Prisoner.