Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Novel / Chapter » Action / Adventure


The Lost Dragon 8.3

by soundofmind


Chapter 8 Part 3: Wash Away Your Suspicion

Matt smelled like rotten apples that were marinated in wastewater.

He scrunched up his nose as he peeled off his jacket, and hurried to tie Elliot to a tree. Though the smell was strong and disgusting, his nose was slowly starting to get used to it, and that was not a good sign. He tied off the rope around the tree, gave Elliot a pat on the neck and plopped down in front of the creek. As he slipped off his socks and boots, he watched Clandestine out of the corner of his eye.

She was moving slowly.

With the same enthusiasm of a sulking child, she slipped off her oversized jacket and started dipping it into the water, scrubbing out the dried, crusted up goop that the plant's fluids were reduced to after a few minutes in the sun. For a brief moment, he looked back at his own jacket, considering his priorities in cleanliness, before he caught another whiff of himself and came to his decision.

He dug around his saddlebag, pulled out a bar of soap, took off his shirt, and unceremoniously jumped into the water.

The water was surprisingly cold, and he tensed as he curled up his legs and brought his chin under the surface. When he looked back over to Clandestine, she was lowering her arms after blocking whatever part of the splash reached her. As her eyes peeked out at him, he found it difficult to pinpoint her exact emotion.

He knew she was growing fed up with him as much as he was with her. If their shared passive glances didn't make it obvious, their recent 'fight' did. But the stirrings of tension still felt premature - as a precursor to the inevitable dissolvement of their partnership. He didn't know the limits Clandestine would be pushed to before she would break it off, but he was dearly hoping she would be the first to do so.

Though he knew she probably wouldn't. He lifted an arm out of the water with a sigh and started to scrub away at the sticky residue. That was when Clandestine got up, kicked off her socks and shoes, and hopped in beside him. He barely closed his eyes in time as the wave of water smacked into his face. As he rubbed the water out of his eyes he saw the blurred image of Clandestine's head coming up squirting water out of her mouth. She wiped her bangs out of her face and pushed them back into her ponytail with an airy laugh. He sighed again before he continued scrubbing with his soap.

"You know, I've never seen any monsters like that in my book," she pondered. "I mean, I've seen lots of weird ones, like trees that were semi-sentient, but no giant plant traps that eat you alive."

Matt nodded, letting himself sink again into the water with only his head floating above. "That could explain the lack of wildlife," he added dully.

"Mm... that would definitely explain why the forest gave me the heeby-jeebies. It's so quiet. I knew something felt off," she mused.

Matt slow-blinked at her as she stared up into the sky, floating on her back. "Glad that you noticed as well."

She scoffed and smiled. "Of course I would. You think a seasoned monster hunter wouldn't notice?"

Matt only stared at her blankly as she slowly turned her head towards him. Her smile faded. A look of realization crossed her face when she presumably realized what she asked, and what kind of answer she could receive. She looked away.

"Uh... don't answer that," she mumbled.

"Wasn't planning to."

She harrumphed. Matt took that as a sign that she was done with conversation (because any excuse was good enough at that point) and resorted to silently scrubbing away at the rest of the sticky feeling on his skin. Though the water left him chilly, the sun was a warm contrast as it broke through the trees overhead, reflecting off the water and the shiny stones at the edge. When he was done washing, he swam back to the edge of the creek and set the soap on a rock to dry. Before he went to wash his clothes, he backed up into the water again to float and swim around.

He was keenly aware of the subtle wary glances Clandestine was sending his way when she thought he wasn't paying attention. Even as he floated on his back with his eyes pointed up at the sky, he would sink ever so slightly when he saw her eyes land on him. He could feel the questions squirming in her mind just from the way she watched him, observed him, with a look far more calculating and concerned than carefree.

She could tell he was acting - and he was, in truth, pretending to be someone he wasn't to some degree. He was masking certain emotions, playing them down under the pretense of avoiding conflict. But he knew he was failing. Even after years of putting on different masks, it only seemed to be getting harder to maintain them. He knew she was tired of it, and he was tired of it (oh gods, was he tired of it), and for the first time in a very long time, he began to consider removing the mask that was Matt, even partially, in the name of authenticity. Maybe she deserved it.

No, of course she did, but that had never stopped him before. Because what she deserved more was to be safe, and to not know him was to be as safe as she could be with -

"Uh, Matt?" Clandestine called out. "You're floating downstream!"

Matt's head shot up, seeing Clandestine and the horses watching him upstream. He started to swim against the current, taking a minute to get back into shallow water. Clandestine was already drying off, finding a spot to sit in the sun, while her jacket and socks hung over the branch of a nearby tree. Her hair was down and she wrung it with both hands, creating a little puddle beside her.

He hurried as he walked up out of the water, becoming again, self-aware of his collection of scars - now with the burn scarring among them. It was far too late to hide them, and he feared drawing more attention to himself by rushing to cover them up, so he simply hoped that Clandestine would spare him her curiosity.

Thankfully, she was silent as he grabbed his clothes and sat at the edge of the creek to wash them. He kept himself from turning his back to her and instead sat adjacent to it as he started scrubbing the stink from his shirt.

Then Clandestine cleared her throat, immediately filling him with a resigned dread.

"Look, uh," she started. "I'm... I'm sorry I've kept dragging you into the mouths of monsters and stuff. I know it can be really scary and not a lot of people like to just hop into things like that. You probably like-" she laughed. "-Want to live and stuff!" Her laughter continued, and he looked up, watching her smile wane along with her laughter as it grew weaker and less confident. She looked down into her lap, her face more somber than he'd seen before.

"I mean, I guess for me I just... well, I don't really have anyone to make me afraid of dying anymore." She paused, and rubbed her arm, keeping her eyes down. "If that makes sense. That and well, a monster hunter's gotta just go for it sometimes. Or a lot of times, if you're me. Though to be fair, I knew what I was doing with the worms! Sandworms are afraid of fire! I knew that! I just didn't know the goblins would have them trained with fire. Or whatever they did."

As she fell back into silence, she resorted to playing with the sand and dirt, poking and digging with her fingers. Matt took a moment to consider how to reply.

It concerned him that she spoke lightly of wanting to live, which was a reasonable desire, but he felt it was not the time or place to address it. Especially when he knew that their foundation for trust was deteriorating. So he decided on the path of least resistance.

"You really feel that bad about it, don't ya?" he asked.

She finally looked up at him, meeting his eyes for a brief second. "W-well, yeah! But like... you said you were cool with coming with me and being my partner," she said as her voice gradually grew quieter. "I thought it was kind of just implied it would be dangerous..."

I just didn't anticipate you being this reckless.

That was what he wanted to say, but instead, he nodded with a small, apologetic smile. The effort it took to do so convincingly was more than he wanted to admit. "No, you're right. I did agree. It's unfair of me to complain, even if it's mostly inside and such, and you're just pickin' it up telepathically."

She stared at him blankly.

"Tele what?"

"Tele-" He shook his head. "Nah, nevermind."

"No, no! Tell me!" she urged, leaning forward. "I don't know what that means."

He sighed. "It's like, when things are communicated through your mind. You don't say it out loud, but you can hear someone's thoughts kind of thing."

Clandestine nodded slowly, her eyes wide as she leaned back. "Is that a real thing? Is that some kind of rare magic?"

Matt had to keep his face straight. "...No."

"Oh."

Silence. He looked away to wring the water out of his shirt.

"You don't have magic, do you?"

Matt glanced back at her. "No," he answered simply before wringing his shirt again. There were another few seconds of silence.

"I bet if you did, you wouldn't tell me though..."

Matt froze, holding his damp shirt in his hands. Was she about to ask him directly if he was hiding anything?

"...because it's outlawed," she finished, causing Matt to breathe again as he threw out his shirt into the air with a sharp movement.

"It probably wouldn't be wise," he said.

And with that, they were both quiet.

--

The years have worn down on me. Like a candle wick burnt down too low, I'm running out of the motivation necessary to maintain that which preserves me. And I am coming to doubt my intentions from the start.

It's possible that all this time, all I ever wanted to do was hide since the beginning. I fear that I only jumped at the opportunity to do so with a justifiable excuse.

And now that I am slipping, and find myself weary, I can't seem to fight it. Years of resolve have dissolved into laziness, and I find myself simply waiting for the opportunity to leave. Then, maybe I can retreat into isolation until the end of my days, or worse things come to me.

I know this won't end well. I can't keep this up, and I don't want to.

I'm tired.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
982 Reviews


Points: 111200
Reviews: 982

Donate
Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:21 pm
HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

And we finish chapter 8.

First Impression: Well things are deteriorating and I have more theories. Pretty extensive detail on that whole washing part. Might be a bit too much.

Matt smelled like rotten apples that were marinated in wastewater.


That is one of the best opening lines I've read right there.

He dug around his saddlebag, pulled out a bar of soap, took off his shirt, and unceremoniously jumped into the water.


Dude has like everything in his saddlebag. I wonder what surprises it will yield next.

He knew she was growing fed up with him as much as he was with her. If their shared passive glances didn't make it obvious, their recent 'fight' did. But the stirrings of tension still felt premature - as a precursor to the inevitable dissolvement of their partnership. He didn't know the limits Clandestine would be pushed to before she would break it off, but he was dearly hoping she would be the first to do so.


Ominous signs for this partnership.

She could tell he was acting - and he was, in truth, pretending to be someone he wasn't to some degree. He was masking certain emotions, playing them down under the pretense of avoiding conflict. But he knew he was failing. Even after years of putting on different masks, it only seemed to be getting harder to maintain them. He knew she was tired of it, and he was tired of it (oh gods, was he tired of it), and for the first time in a very long time, he began to consider removing the mask that was Matt, even partially, in the name of authenticity. Maybe she deserved it.


This part is very very interesting. Matt is definitely not his actual name and it looks like he's pretended to be people quite a few times.

He hurried as he walked up out of the water, becoming again, self-aware of his collection of scars - now with the burn scarring among them. It was far too late to hide them, and he feared drawing more attention to himself by rushing to cover them up, so he simply hoped that Clandestine would spare him her curiosity.


Common sense detected.

"It probably wouldn't be wise," he said.

And with that, they were both quiet.


And the plot thickens.

The years have worn down on me. Like a candle wick burnt down too low, I'm running out of the motivation necessary to maintain that which preserves me. And I am coming to doubt my intentions from the start.

It's possible that all this time, all I ever wanted to do was hide since the beginning. I fear that I only jumped at the opportunity to do so with a justifiable excuse.

And now that I am slipping, and find myself weary, I can't seem to fight it. Years of resolve have dissolved into laziness, and I find myself simply waiting for the opportunity to leave. Then, maybe I can retreat into isolation until the end of my days, or worse things come to me.

I know this won't end well. I can't keep this up, and I don't want to.

I'm tired.


This is making me think of lost dragons now. Anyway.

And that's it for this chapter.

Overall: Not much errors here. This whole relationship is visibly deteriorating. It is going to be very interesting to see where this goes from here.

Okay I had too much work today. I'll probably manage only one more review. As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




User avatar
315 Reviews


Points: 17879
Reviews: 315

Donate
Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:54 pm
View Likes
Vincian wrote a review...



Ayy let’s jump in! I finished my food (well, most of it xD) and am ready to catch up! (Even though Review Day is almost over)

So, I think a lot of my critiques this chapter part are just extensions of what I said last chapter. I don’t know, I feel like this is moving too fast about her finding out. Yes, I definitely want her to find out and James just to be truthful to her, but I guess I didn’t want it to be this abrupt or so completely obvious. And, boy, is it obvious. It’s obvious to Clandestine, obvious to Matt what is going through her head, and obvious to me. And I gotta say, I’m just not a fan of how obvious it is to ANYONE here. Like, Clandestine is usually so oblivious that it hurts, and now all of a sudden she has him entirely figured out. Like, I get that when something clicks, it clicks, but usually that stuff should feel earned. Well, soundo, you didn’t earn this for me, to put it bluntly. Matt’s reaction I can get a bit, as he’s used to reading people, but once again he has nailed it on the head with what she’s thinking with just looks. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that they could read each other’s minds, it’s that frustrating.

I do like Clandestine’s reasoning for this. It’s a surprise (not for the reasons you think –I’ll get back to that in a bit) to hear how little she cares for her own life. I mean, it makes sense because she’s lost everything and everyone she knew and was thrusted into a world she doesn’t want to be in, and for all intents and purposes, doesn’t want her either. Now, the reason why this wasn’t great to me is that, well, we’ve been in her head for awhile now and this hasn’t come up at. All. I guess it doesn’t really need to because the point where she was reckless was in Matt’s POV, but I think my point still stands. I like this explanation a lot better than my own, but I will say that it felt a lot more like ineptness and not just a lack of caring.

I do like the ending (before the journal part). I think it was done well and that anticipation is well done. But, like, this chapter had the same problems as the last chapter part. You have a few things last time around that were good, and the same here, and I like what you’ve done with those! But, there are also a lot of problems in my opinion with the build up here. I’m also not a fan with how much right everyone’s guessing about what’s happening. Things get more interesting for them and us when they guess wrong or just don’t guess at all!

I feel like next chapter will have the reveal! Can’t wait!




soundofmind says...


I fell asleep before I could reply to this lol. YES n YES to the mind-reading and whatever of them just knowing what's going on. I gotta work. On. SUbTLETY. And slow,, ,building of tension. Aagh

Now, the reason why this wasn%u2019t great to me is that, well, we%u2019ve been in her head for awhile now and this hasn%u2019t come up at. All.

That's fair!! I think... it's one of those thoughts she avoids and doesn't like to think out-loud b/c shame and how it directly conflicts w/her optimistic nature. It's a bit of a tug-of-war. I'm sure I could write that better though. I'll have to figure out how to though cause she tries not to dwell on things for too long, especially when she's around other people if that makes sense.

BUT AA THANK U FOR ALL THE AMAZING REVIEWS AND COMMENTARY <3 <3



User avatar
350 Reviews


Points: 14340
Reviews: 350

Donate
Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:46 pm
View Likes
mellifera wrote a review...



hey sound! I'm FINALLY back oh geez one day I'll catch up. it's probably not today rip. but I gotta see how these two are doing!!


Matt smelled like rotten apples that were marinated in wastewater.


yummy

As her eyes peeked out at him, he found it difficult to pinpoint her exact emotion.


This feeling a little too telling for me? Like, what does this mean? Is she staring blankly at him? Is her brow furrowed a little? Is her mouth twisted at all? I would've preferred a description of like, a neutral expression than "hm. idk what's she feeling."


are they,,, cleaning themselves off with their clothes on? are their clothes off? what is happening


She wiped her bangs out of her face and pushed them back into her ponytail with an airy laugh.


I wish MY bangs were long enough to sweep back into my ponytail.


you know, your partnership might not be suffering so much if you two would actually talk and not hIDE THINGS coughmattcough


A look of realization crossed her face when she presumably realized what she asked, and what kind of answer she could receive.


I might just be super tired and my brain is shot but I'm not understanding what this is supposed to mean?

the way she watched him, observed him, with a look far more calculating and concerned than carefree.


I know it's Clandestine and stuff, but there's been nothing so far to suggest she would be watching him "carefree"? so I think that's, kinda unnecessary.

and he was, in truth, pretending to be someone he wasn't to some degree. He was masking certain emotions, playing them down under the pretense of avoiding conflict.


I don't know if this is because I already know The Secrets or not- but this feels really unnecessary? I mean, to emphasise that he is doing this. By now, I think the readers have a good idea that Matt is lying and stuff, and we already know Clanny knows now, so adding it parts to just repeat that is, y'know, unnecessary.

Because what she deserved more was to be safe, and to not know him was to be as safe as she could be with -


mAYBE YOU SHOULD LET CLANDESTINE DECIDE THAT (also?? what doesn't make sense that if she's "in danger" with him- why does it matter if she knows who he is or not? like, the only reason I can think of for him to not want to tell her is because he's an outlaw or something and doesn't want her snitching or something. maybe I'm not using my imagination but I can't think of any reason she would be in anymore danger knowing who he was while she's travelling with him than to not know)

He kept himself from turning his back to her


*squints* out of politeness or a really bad scar or something?

It concerned him that she spoke lightly of wanting to live,


YEAH THAT'S KINDA A CONCERN

I just didn't anticipate you being this reckless.


well I don't think she anticipated you'd lie about your identity either.

Clandestine nodded slowly, her eyes wide as she leaned back. "Is that a real thing? Is that some kind of rare magic?"


oh clanny I missed you.

"No," he answered simply


if this had been phrased "he said" I wouldn't have been suspicious but "answered simply" makes me squint.

"...because it's outlawed," she finished,


but she told matt that she has magic. clanny doesn't seem at all the type to snitch on someone regardless but she's in the same boat?? I don't know, this just feels like a weird comment.

also:
causing Matt to breathe again as he threw out his shirt into the air with a sharp movement.


he did what with his shirt


I don't have much else to say? This chapter was quieter, and there's definitely an underlying, awkward tension between Clanny and Matt and I bet it's gonna blow up into a fight later. I have this Feeling. Because they keep not addressing things? I mean, Clandestine is much more of an open book then Matt, obviously, but it's not like she's confronting him about what she's reading from him either.

Also, WHAT IS MATT HIDING omg I know like, a little bit of the Secret but I don't know why? It's a little frustrating that he's like "I'm not telling her for her protection!" because that's such a,,, common excuse? But I also really don't know why he is or what the danger is, so I guess I have to wait. But like, that should be her decision my man. her job is dangerous already, what is so much more dangerous?


Anyway! Yay I'm back finally <3 good work, as always, and I'm gonna go try to hop over and review the next chapter but we'll see how far I really get haha.

I hope you're having a wonderful time!!




soundofmind says...


This feeling a little too telling for me? Like, what does this mean? Is she staring blankly at him? Is her brow furrowed a little? Is her mouth twisted at all?

LOL that's fair. I find it hard to describe specific facial expressions and all of the nuances of them so I think when I try they end up being really confusing or really vague [view exhibit A] BUT UR RIGHt, I don't gotta keep ramming the "Matt is lying" thing into the ground. I'm gonna try and make it more of a slow build/slow realization next draft tbh because I realize in this one I jump right into it and just keep hitting that point repetitively ahlkjshlfkdgj

out of politeness or a really bad scar or something?

OH! that's cuz he didn't want his big 'ol scar on his back to be in full view/didn't want her to stare!

he did what with his shirt

LOLLL I was trying to describe the thing where you like toss your shirt out to get out wrinkles?? Like u hold it from the sleeves of top or whatever and just flip it around to like, air it out and whatever ahlsdkjfghdlk

It's a little frustrating that he's like "I'm not telling her for her protection!" because that's such a,,, common excuse?

TRUuUuuuu,, it's an ANnOYing excuse and I mean,, yeah... sigh. I wish there was a more fun reason but that's, at least, the one Matt tells himself

THANK U FOR ANOTHER REVIEW!!!! <3



User avatar
804 Reviews


Points: 31662
Reviews: 804

Donate
Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:38 pm
View Likes
ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Hey Sound,

Shady here with a review for you on this fine Review Day, courtesy of the Red Team. My style tends to be to comment on things as I notice them when I'm reading (both positive and negative!) and then give a general summary on my thoughts about the piece at the end. Let's get started...

Matt smelled like rotten apples that were marinated in wastewater.


That's... lovely. :P Seriously, though, I'm interested to know what in the world he did to get himself smelling like rotten apples and wastewater. But, seeing as that was likely covered in a previous chapter that I haven't read, I won't harp on that.

but no giant plant traps that eat you alive."


Ahhh, and suddenly the scent makes sense. Sounds like there was quite an exciting chapter that came before this xD

~ ~ ~

This was a good chapter! I didn't fully understand all the subtle nuances since there's been so many previous installments that I haven't read, but just from an outsider's perspective, it seems like a nice break in the action. I'm assuming they got attacked in the previous chapter and/or chapter segment, so this was a nice little breather for the readers, while still digging into the character development and propelling the story forwards -- even though there's nothing particularly exciting plotwise about a bath.

So, overall, I think this was a nice advancement of your story. Well done!

Keep writing!

~Shady 8)




soundofmind says...


YO SHADY!! THank you so much for the review!! Sorry this reply is so late!! I'm glad you liked the break in the action <3



User avatar
162 Reviews


Points: 4265
Reviews: 162

Donate
Sun Nov 18, 2018 4:22 pm
View Likes
FireSpyGirl wrote a review...



Hi there!
Sorry it's taken me so long to get to this. Awesome chapter! I liked it a lot, and I'm looking forward to more.

There is one sentence that I noticed:
"He knew she was growing fed up with him as much as he was with her."

I would say "getting" instead of "growing." It isn't as awkward, it flows better, and it is grammatically correct as well.

That was all, I'm sorry this isn't a better review!




soundofmind says...


Thanks for the review!




Every time our next guest is here, all of our lives are seriously in danger.
— David Letterman