I've got a plot, villains and heroes, and a general idea of how things are going to go down, but one of the bad guys is giving me fits. I've been going back and forth over his motivation, and I'm hitting a wall. Any ideas would be welcome here. A little backstory: Fantasy world, has magic. Magic is elemental (there are 12 elements, not four, and magic manipulates matter, not energy); mages are sent to an Academy to train. A few millenia ago, there were only the four basic elements and numerous Academies (most nations had one or two); all mages could use all elements, to some degree. The Academies didn't work together unless they belonged to allied nations - basically, they were all separate city-states. There was a war, the mages got involved, and things got ugly. Someone came up with a way to make elemental constructs (dragons) that can be linked to and controlled by a mage. If the controller dies, though, his/her consciousness ends up inhabiting the construct. This was a completely unforeseen and unintended side effect, which resulted in a lot of new, immortal creatures being created. Some of them went insane, and some reveled in their new form and wrought destruction for the sheer fun of it. Some of the mages got together to try to put a stop to the war (and destroy the dragons) by performing a ritual that would temporarily halt the flow of magic - since dragons are sustained by magical energy, it would kill them. Some of the dragons got wind of this and attacked during the ritual, which caused it to backfire; all that energy caused a huge cataclysm and shattered magic into the 12 elements. The dragons were not killed (though 80% of humanity was). Mages can no longer use more than one element, and four new races appeared, brought about by the influence of the shattered elements (long story, and not really relevant here). A century or so after the apocalypse, the Academies were reestablished, but this time there were only four - one each for earth/air/fire/water; the other eight are called "lesser elements" and are taught at the associated Academy (each one has two lesser elements related to it). They formed an organization called the Guild to which all Academy-trained mages belong; the Guild is run by the Council, which oversees all the Academies and enforces laws on mages. The Guild stands apart from politics and wars - they don't mess in other nations' business. The villains and their motives: * A faction of the dragons who want to end their existence (immortality isn't always what it's cracked up to be). They want to reverse the process and return to being mortal, so they can live out their lives and die like normal people. Unfortunately, it can't be done with magic being the way it is now (nor can more dragons be created) - the greater elements are weaker now, and the general fracturing makes things too unstable. Thus, they need to reunite the elements. * Unnamed Human woman(?); a member of the Council. In return for becoming a dragon herself, she'll give them a way to reverse the process, as well as the ritual to reunite the elements. And the one who's giving me fits: * Valacius Deliinus, male dragon. The leader of the faction. Ostensibly, he's supporting the dragons and seeks the same thing as they do, but he's actually after something else, something bigger. He doesn't really care if his compatriots get what they want - reuniting magic won't interfere with his goal (maybe it'll help him achieve it?). Originally, he was the one who'd started the war - he'd been tired of all the infighting and competition between the various Academies and wanted to unite them all under his rule "for the betterment of mankind" (he wasn't necessarily going to be a tyrant; he's just a little sociopathic - in his mind, "tearing down the system to rebuild it" is the best way to accomplish something, and "you have to break some eggs to make an omelet" is completely acceptable), but the new Guild took care of that well enough, so I tossed that idea out. Now the only thing that comes to mind is that old standby: power. Which isn't a bad thing, but it's cliche - I want him to be more than a one-dimensional villain who's out to rule the world. The reasons the protagonists cannot let the ritual take place: * It will likely cause another cataclysm. * It will kill or cripple every mage on the planet, since they're not equipped to handle pure magic and it'll burn them out when they try to use it. (Yes, I know the human conspirator is a mage; I've think I've got a way for her not to kill herself before she turns into a dragon.) * It will kill every non-human in the world (about half the total population). Since they came about through the influence of the fractured elements, merging the elements would remove the magic that sustains them - anyone who survived the cataclysm would waste away and die.