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Here There Be Dragons [edit] - 3

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Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:41 pm
Ranger Hawk says...

This chapter's gone through a fairly good amount of revision; I hopefully made it less info-dumpish and I also made Jot's abilities less convenient. All in all, it's much better than the previous chapter, thanks to the reviews I had gotten before. :)

Thanks in advance for any reviews!

Here There Be Dragons

Chapter Three - Jot
“You’re awfully young,” I observed. It was more to break the silence than anything else; Chance was not very loquacious, to my disappointment, and it left me casting about for something that would spark his mouth into action. We had barely traveled a mile and already I was bored with the wet, green field we were trekking through. The tall grass tickled my belly, besides. I needed some kind of distraction. “I’m going to say you’re seventeen years of age.”
Chance glanced at me, surprised. Well, perhaps he was simply looking at me, since his eyes were so wide it was hard to tell when he was startled. “I am,” he said.
I sniffed. “Of course you are. I can tell easily. We dragons are good at estimating humans’ ages; it’s a game we’ll play when we’re at the battlefields or some other such place where food is aplenty. It’s quite simple, really: you just pick your next victim, ask how old they are, and if you get it right, you eat them. If you guess incorrectly, you eat them for daring to be the wrong age.”
“How could they dare to be anything else but what you guess?” Chance said dryly.
“Too right.” I watched him with my right eye, intrigued by the boy.
He was smooth-shaven, gangly, and somewhat clumsy, and it was very interesting to observe his lanky body in contrast to his personality.
If left to his own devices without any infirm old fathers or fiefs to run or a sister to save, perhaps he would have been an amiable, carefree youth skipping around the fields instead of the haggard, stern young man striding beside me now. His eyes were most noticeable; even though they made him seem forever staring in shock at something, they were also tired, sad, and wise beyond their years.
“How old’s your sister, then?” I asked, trying again to draw him into some kind of friendly conversation. “I’d guess, but she isn’t here for me to see.” Whoops, probably the wrong thing to say.
Chance looked a bit upset, but he replied calmly, “She is fifteen. She turns sixteen in four months.”
“Lovely. And she hasn’t been married off yet?”
Chance shook his head. “There have been none worthy of her hand in marriage.” His voice tightened a bit, and I hastily dropped the subject.
“What about you? Anything worth noting? Any lady-loves of yours, or dreams of knighthood?”
“By rights, I inherit my father’s lands,” he said, a bit dully. “And the rank of knight is automatically bestowed upon me at my coming of age.”
“That’s lucky!” I said encouragingly. “Don’t have to go through the whole rigmarole of questing to become a knight. You’re one of those types who just sit there and get it handed to you all nicely polished, whether you deserve it or not.”
“Yes,” he said dryly. “That’s one way of looking at it.”
“And what about ladies?” I added innocently. Any sort of glimpse into the life of the boy I was accompanying would be welcome.
He cast me a glance that would have normally been considered scathing, but with his eyes turned out to look more like a dazed frown.
“That’d be a no, then,” I remarked. He continued on impassively, and I shuffled after him. If he didn’t want to talk, then fine, I would stop trying to draw him out. Instead, I tried to think of something besides eating him, because my stomach was beginning to growl. I looked side to side, keeping an eye out for any movement or sign of meat.
The whole countryside of the Westerfold was currently in the peak of its health and bloom, which wasn’t saying much. The skies were overcast with clouds, the wind was nippy, and the air smelled like rain. Flowers occasionally dotted the terrain and the grass waved in the light breeze, brushing my stomach and making me itch. It was a quiet sort of a day, just the sort I’d have been rampaging around on.
There—I sensed it at the same moment that my eyes caught the motion. A hare, big and swift and just perfect for an appetizer. I sprang forward, brushing past the boy with inches to spare, and one claw snagged the hare’s haunch as it tried to dash off. Within moments I had swallowed it and hacked back up the bits of fur and bones.
As I turned back, I saw the boy regarding me with an alarmed look, accentuated by his bulging eyeballs.
“Warn me next time,” he said, raising a hand to his pale cheek. I noticed a faint score of red across his face.
“Whoops, was that from me? Sorry, didn’t mean to.”
He sighed. “I wish you weren’t quite so big.” He started off again and I fell in beside him.
“Well I wish you weren’t quite so scrawny. But we can’t have a perfect life now, can we?”
“If there was some place I could conceal you—or pretend you were some kind of animal…”
“Like a cat? I like cats. They’re smart. And quiet. And they have an unusual tangy sort of taste.”
Chance was paying me no mind, being too busy with talking to himself. “I guess you’ll have to hide outside of town while I go in to make my purchases.”
I stayed quiet. A couple of solutions had presented themselves to me a while ago, but I preferred to see what he’d come up with before suggesting them. After all, this was his idea. I was just along for the steel.
He cast me a shrewd look that I didn’t care for and said slowly, “You have powers, don’t you?”
“Depends,” I replied evasively. “What did you have in mind?”
He hesitated. “There have been stories—”
“A dependable source of information!”
“—from creditable knights who are not known for exaggeration,” he looked at me pointedly, “and they told us facts from their encounters with dragons that the dragons could change size.”
He stared intently at me. “Is this true?”
I yawned, flicking my forked tongue out. “Can’t say.”
He faced straight again, muttering to himself. “If I put him in a wagon…he’d be too big. And I don’t have money enough for one…”
As the boy prattled on, I subtly began to shrink. He had been right again, to my annoyance; we dragons could become smaller, but it was a tedious process and one we didn’t have much reason to do unless searching for tiny prey in tight spots. Every single part of my body started diminishing at the same time; all I had to do was keep focused on the task and let the natural process do the rest. It took about a minute, and at the end I was the size of a cat.
Surprisingly, Chance didn’t seem to notice, even with those large eyes of his, so I decided to get his attention.
“So, what suggestions do you have for me when we reach Marshwin?”
“The best I can come up with is leaving you on the outskirts while I go in.”
Really? That could work, I suppose.”
He sighed, still staring ahead. “Yes, but it’s awfully inconvenient. Besides, I wouldn’t know where you were or if someone found you when I came out. And I’m probably going to need to stay at an inn there for the night.”
“What if I came with you?” The boy was being infuriatingly inobservant.
“As if. That would be ideal, but you’re too big for me to disguise you or hide you anywhere.”
“Even if I pretended to be a cat? I can act like one really well. I can pounce on people like they do—see!”
Impatient with his obliviousness, I leapt up and grabbed a hold of him. Chance let out a terrific cry as my claws punched through the armor on his arm. With a hurried flap, I pushed off of him and quickly spread my wings to slow my rapid descent to the ground.
Please don’t scream like that again! Someone might think a maiden’s in danger and come hurrying to save you.” I swished my tail, irritated.
“Why did you do th—” Chance suddenly noticed my size, and for a moment blinked down at me in genuine shock. “You can change! It’s true.”
“It appears so,” I said nonchalantly, pleased now that he was actually paying attention to me. “And it seems like I’ll be able to sneak along in your little pack instead of spending the night out in the cold.”
He frowned. “You live in a cave. How much colder could it be on the ground?”
“That’s beside the point. Here, let me into your pack. I want to try it.”
Chance obediently slung the pack off of his back and knelt down, opening it. I jumped in; he let out a cry.
“Squishy,” I commented, looking down into the dark recesses of the leather bag.
“That’s my food,” he whined, extracting a flattened loaf of bread and two ruined pears.
“Really? Why would you want to eat that? Looks awful.”
Chance sat back on his heels and sighed. “Don’t ruin anything else while you’re in there. And keep still, especially when we get to the village; people are going to notice a moving pack.”
“Just as long as you don’t bang me around, don’t suffocate me, and don’t forget about me for the first pretty face you see.”
He let out a mumbled protest and gestured crossly at me. “Come on, come out.”
“Why?” I hunkered down. “It’s cosy in here. Besides, my paws hurt with all the shuffling I’ve had to do to keep up at your slow pace.”
Chance looked frustrated, but I just nestled down even more. With an exasperated huff, he flipped the flap closed; I was submerged in darkness, and waited while he hefted the bag onto his back.
“This won’t do,” I muttered, and poked my snout up through the little opening between the flap and the rest of the pack. Now I had a nice view from slightly behind and over his right shoulder, and could whisper comfortably in his ear if I wanted.
“How much longer?” I asked, settling in on my haunches. It was a bit jerky, but it was better than having to exert any of my own energy.
Chance sighed. “Not too much more. Stay still, will you?”
I stopped my slight shifting and contented myself with making small talk in Chance’s ear over his shoulder. The boy’s mood seemed dour, and I attributed it to the overcast skies; grayness will do that to a person.
It was just turning into eventide when we reached Marshwin. Chance stood atop the crest of a small hill, hidden by a few scraggly trees. I peered over his shoulder and sighed at the sight; such a cozy little village, nestled snugly in a nice gathering of trees, with high walls and a minimum of guards. I could easily set it ablaze and chase or devour all the inhabitants in a night. In fact, I was sorely tempted to try it, but Chance’s presence kept me from doing so.
Chance set the pack down on the ground and I poked my head up. “What are you doing?”
“I’m taking off my armor and putting on a cloak instead. It’s too cumbersome, and it’d draw too much attention.”
“It certainly would,” I agreed.
He unbuckled the infinite amount of straps and set to quickly removing his metal suit. He then bundled up the small pieces and stuck them into the pack with me; I raised a paw as he took a cloak out from under me and swung it around his shoulders. He then swathed his breast-and-backplates with a kind of cloth cover and strapped them to the outside of his pack. It was neatly done. He had obviously performed these actions before; they were well-rehearsed, which led me to wonder about the boy’s life. Chance hoisted the pack back onto his shoulders and started to walk down the hill, talking quietly to me as he did so.
“We find an inn first. It’s too late to conduct any business. And stop peeking over my shoulder!” He glanced round at me, his eye baleful. “People will notice.”
“Yeah, yeah, we’re not there yet,” I replied, looking around with interest. “My goodness, can’t you go any faster? I would have been at the gates in half the time it’s taken you to just walk down the hill. You’re so slow.”
“Compared to dragons, any creature is,” he replied impatiently.
“Not when it comes to unicorns. You should see them run. Especially when they’re mad. They come at you with that horn of theirs, and you’ve only got a short time to move. And then those slinky little weasel-like things—can’t remember what they’re called. The ones that sneak into your beds at night and bite a finger or toe off?”
“That’s it. Those are pretty quick; though I caught one once. Tasted awful, like stale meat.”
“I don’t want to know about this.”
“Well, too late.”
“Shush. We’re here.”
His long, lanky legs had covered the terrain fairly quickly, despite my comments on his pace, and we were at the town’s gates; I accordingly hunkered a little lower down into the pack and tried to stay as still as possible.
I needn’t have worried; there was only one guard at the gate, and after giving Chance a once-over, he nodded the boy through without a second glance.
“That was easy,” I observed softly, peeking up a little.
“Shh!” was the response. “Now to find an inn.”
There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people:
psychopaths and mystery writers.

I'm the kind that pays better.
~Rick Castle

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Sun Jun 19, 2011 9:42 pm
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IcyFlame says...

First to review again! Woah I'm good *flicks hair*... well anyway...
Nitpicks first, because that's how I roll:
Ranger Hawk wrote:“Like a cat? I like cats. They’re smart. And quiet. And they have an unusual tangy sort of taste.”

You have a bit of a thing for cats don't you my dear Ranger? Or is this merely Jot developing an obsession?

Ranger Hawk wrote:It took about a minute, and at the end I was the size of a cat.

Ranger Hawk wrote:“That was easy,” I observed softly, peeking up a little.

This is the only real comment I have and it's not of much use! I put the cat ones in to fill up space... Wait, did i just say that out loud? But yeah, I don't think peeking up is the right description - might just be me though!

Again, great chapter and I'm a little in love with Jot... In a non- weird way though, so it's all good!
Write more soooooooooooooooooooon!

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Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:27 pm
borntobeawriter says...

Hello there daughter!

I liked this very much. I remember the previous version of it, and you're right: much less convenient.

Don't have much else to say, still like Jot's voice, although at first, I had to wonder why Jot would care about Chance being the quiet type. I mean, he's in a cave alone all the time, wouldn't he appreciate the peace and quiet?

Anywho, great chapter, can't wait to read more!


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Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:00 am
JabberHut says...

I'm baaaack! For more lovely Jot and Chance 'cause they're so lovely. <3

Gah! I'm in love with Jot and Chance. They're so fabulous. Like... I can't begin to explain how much I love them. lksdafj;sdf *fangirl squee*

“and they told us facts from their encounters with dragons that the dragons could change size.”

This should probably be split into two sentences or reworded.

I accordingly hunkered a little lower downinto the pack and tried to stay as still as possible.

"lower down" sounded redundant to me.

So Chance was very unobservant, as Jot kindly told us, when the dragon changed size. That makes me wonder how successful a knight this kid is. xD I should think knights were trained to use their peripheral vision or notice these things. It seemed very wrong for a knight to not notice. Then again, I pictured them walking side-by-side.

Also, when Jot shrinks in size, I think his voicebox probably would too? So his tone would be more high-pitched. Maybe dragons are magical though and that doesn't change.

There was also a bit mentioned where the dragon lives outside anyway. I think it'd be good to mention that caves are nice in blocking those cold winds at night. So technically, they're still warmer than just laying out in the trees. Perhaps Jot would care to mention that since he's a talkative guy anyway. :D

Nothing else stands out to me. I'm upset I don't get more of this though. xD I'll just have to wait for the next installment. So far though, this is an awesome story. Very great job, and definitely keep going!

Keep writing!

Jabber, the One and Only!
I make my own policies.

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Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:02 pm
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Sins says...

Me agaaaain! This review's going to be even more useless than the last two, by the way. :P

I agree that this whole scene doesn't seem as convenient as it did before. Jot's powers are definitely more believable now, and I think you handled them well too. I like the way it takes Chance ages to realise that Jot has actually shrunk. You've clearly taken what the reviewers said about this chapter, then edited it with the help of those reviews. In fact, you've done it really well with all of these edited chapters. I seriously wish I could edit as well as you could. x3

I think I actually only have one thing to say for this one... err, and it's really minor and technically something I've already said in the last review anyway. In this chapter, there was a lot of mention of Chance's eyes. Okay, we get the idea: they're buggy and they stick out. You mention it a lot in the first two chapters, but it seemed to come up all the time in this one. There's nothing hugely wrong with that or anything, but it can get a bit annoying after a while. I think you should vary things a bit.

Right now, Jot is concentrating on taking the mick out of Jot's eyes, but try and expand that. Have him take the mick out of him for having hair that matched the colour of a dying rat, or for having a tiny nose that makes him look like a little girl, or for having weird hands or something, I don't know. xD Although Jot's insults based on Chance's eyes are hgihly amusing, I'd like to see more of a variation of insults. By doing that, you'll also be describing Chance's appearance to us in more derail too, so it's a win-win situation.

I think that's it. I'm so useful. LOL, no. One thing I'd like to mention before I shrivel into the darkness is that I've noticed that there's a lot more filler in-between dialogue in the novel now, so far. I remember that one of my main issues about the novel as a whole was that you could sometimes have a lot of dialogue that took up a lot of the chapters. Now though, you've managed to keep the great dialogue, but have also spaced it out more. You've added in some great descriptions here and there as well as Jot's thoughts, so I think you balance between dialogue, action and description is more or less perfect now. I'm not sure if you've intentionally done this, but even if you haven't, it's ended up good!

So yeah, now I'm done with all your edits, I'm pleased to say that you've edited the chapters really well and effectively. It's obvious that you've listened to your reviewers and you've taken their advice well, plus you've added some other touches by yourself that only add to the story even more. Jot has an amusing, steady voice throughout the whole thing, and I also like Chance even better in this version, for some reason, even though you haven't edited loads or anything. You rock, my-Logan-loving-friend! Keep up the good work, and please post the next part soon!

Keep writing,

xoxo Skins
I didn't know what to put here so I put this.

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Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:32 pm
Sonotmybirthday says...

One thing I noticed: Food, Jot, Armor and who knows what else can fit in this pack. How big is it??? I love the story though!!!! Please post more!!!!!

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Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:27 pm
sandayselkie says...

I really like this story. You have a great easy going mood to it. I think the best bit is Jots almost sarcastic annoying manner. Keeps the story light hearted and humorous. Not a bad plot either. Chance seems a bit out of his depth as well. I am surprised that the sole heir to his fathers land would be aloud to just wonder around like this. I love the way Chance is so guarded with his life. Keeps a bit of mystery to him
"Live in the present, remember the past and fear not the future, for it doesn't exist and never shall. There is only now."

"That's the spirit. One part courage. Three parts fool"

"People should not be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people."
— V for Vendetta