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The Lost Son 1

by soundofmind


Chapter One: Home Sweet Dragon

So this was home.

The rush of elation when Clandestine had met the other mages was more than she knew how to process. It felt like she was reliving moments in her past but as an adult: being swarmed by other mages who you learned to call family. But things were different, now, too. Back then, guilds were the pillars of society and the heart of so much culture and life. They were the keepers of magical secrets and techniques. That was where you went to find the teachers, the mentors, the experts who had spent years honing and refining their skills. There were weapons experts, potion makers, renowned healers, monster hunters, and so many outcasts who were able to find their place.

She supposed, that, at least, was still the same.

They were outcasts, but not because of personal life circumstances, but because all of human civilization had put a death sentence on their heads. Mages were seen as the enemy, instead of the source of so much hope. Mages used to be the ones sought out for help, now they were sought out to be executed.

And they were in hiding.

Clandestine's sense of time was lost once they were submerged underground. Bo and Mel had ushered her around, introducing her to more faces than she knew how to retain in so little time. She'd been shown the kitchen, the dining hall, the library, the training rooms, the stables, and after that her mind stopped processing images, and she just smiled and nodded until Bo and Mel caught on that she needed a break.

From there, they showed her her room and left her to herself. They said if she needed anything, that they were just three doors down. Or was it four...?

At some point in all the touring, James had been pulled away for something, and she lost track of him. Historically, this would be a source of anxiety, but with all of the other emotions pooling into the mix, Clandestine found herself aimless wandering the halls, unsure of what to do with herself.

She walked along the narrow underground corridors tracing her fingers on the cold walls. There was a strangely intricate pattern carved into the rock. It wasn't coarse to the touch, but instead felt almost like a woven tapestry, but instead of colorful threads, it was limestone and bedrock. The texture grounded her like she was reading an ancient text cut into old stone.

If only she knew what story it was telling.

She was growing familiar with the dim light of the lanterns that hung from the ceilings, each one its own little flame with its own little heartbeat. Sometimes the ceiling would rise, and there would be a bigger hanging lantern, with a few more candles hidden inside its glass and metal cage, but for the most part, the halls seemed the same.

She figured it was the lack of windows. That was what made everything feel a little more suffocating, despite each room and each hall clearly being carved out with care. Sure, she could breathe - and she didn't understand how all that worked, because she wasn't an architect - but still... in the old guilds, she felt free. Here, she felt trapped.

Clandestine paused as she passed two large double doors. They looked like they were made of heavy oak, and they had brass handles and little knockers on each one. One of the doors was cracked open just a peek, and she pulled a little closer to the wall to peek in.

Bo and Mel hadn't shown her this room.

She gently rested her fingertips on the door, leaning her head on it and squinting, trying to see more than a dim shadowy room. For just a moment, she saw what looked like a dense, giant shadow, and a shift of movement, and then... nothing. Well, not nothing, but the shadow that was there seemed to instantly vanish, and suddenly she was looking at what seemed like an empty room.

As she stood frozen with her hand still on the door, she heard the door creak open. For a moment, she thought she'd accidentally put her weight on it, but as she rapidly pulled away and held her breath, the door opened and revealed a man.

A very small man at that.

He looked a bit older than most of the mages she'd seen so far, with his light brown skin showing a few smile lines and many faded freckles. His hair was long and grey, pulled back into a long braid that went down his back. He was wearing a simple green tunic over dark pants, and she couldn't help but stare at his bare feet on the cold stone floor.

"I don't get cold that easily," the man said, and Clandestine snapped her head back up to meet his eyes, realizing staring at people's feet was rude. Right? That was rude.

The man smiled warmly, deepening the crows' feet around his eyes.

"Oh! Hah," Clandestine laughed, trying to hide her embarrassment. "Sorry. Hi. I'm Clandestine. The uh... new..."

"The new dragon," the man said gently like he already knew who she was. "I'm Mickey. It's good to finally meet you."

Clandestine stood still for a moment as the name took a moment to register. So much had happened in the past day, but the memory rushed back with a vengeance, crisp in the front of her mind.

"My friend, Mickey. He's the earth dragon. He can help you."

The ghost of Svida's voice echoed in her head, and she found herself still staring at Mickey for what must've been uncomfortably long by the point she became self-aware of it.

"You..." she started to say slowly. "Knew Svida."

Mickey's smile faded a little and he nodded.

"That I did," he said. "Once upon a time."

He already knew, right? Clandestine's heart felt heavy, like a piece of it was still left in that fiery cave.

"I'm sorry," Clandestine said, lowering her eyes to the floor.

She felt Mickey's hand settle on her shoulder, and she hesitated to look up but met his eyes. It felt like he was looking right through her, and she was looking through him too. She expected to see maybe anger, or annoyance, but all she was was a deep kindness. Yes, there was grief and sadness, but it wasn't directed at her.

"I grieved Svida long ago," Mickey said softly. "But I appreciate the condolences. I'm sure you're experiencing a storm of your own, too. The moment you found her, you lost her."

Either Mickey was very good at putting the pieces together, someone had already told him what happened, or something like this had happened before. She didn't even know how to put that into a question, and instead found herself looking back down at the floor, her eyes scrunching up as the weight of everything hit her once again.

"Yeah," she said faintly. "I guess that makes me a dragon now, doesn't it?"

But saying that felt so empty. If it was always meant to be, why did it feel like it was all a big accident? She'd only ever dreamt of being a monster hunter, and after that... well, she hadn't thought that far ahead, but becoming a dragon certainly wasn't even close to being on her list of possible expectations for the future. And now she was stuck living it.

Mickey squeezed her shoulder lightly and pulled his hand away.

"I know you must be overwhelmed," Mickey said. "And you have every right to be. Dragons were never meant to be made in a day. I'm sorry it happened this way, but you're not alone in this. I want to do everything I can to help."

Clandestine glanced up at him, feeling her shoulders grow heavy as she looked out into the hallway.

"Svida did say that..." she said distantly, once again imagining Svida's face. The urgency. The regret.

"Hey," Mickey said, drawing her eyes back to him. "You've had a long day. Have you gotten any rest?"

Clandestine shook her head lightly.

"I've been a little caught up in exploring your whole underground, uh... bunker," she said, glancing up and down the hall walls.

"I suppose that is an apt description," Mickey hummed. "Though I did what I could to try and make it feel less so. I may be a dragon, but I don't have endless resources."

"Hah," Clandestine laughed weakly, though it did draw a small, genuine smile out of her. "I don't know why that makes me feel better for some reason."

Mickey smiled again, patting the side of her arm.

"Why don't I lead you back to your room? It should be by James's," he said.

Clandestine looked behind her, trying to trace back the way she came, but whatever messy map she'd been attempting to create in her head had quickly turned into a knotted ball of hallways that all intermingled and lead nowhere.

She laughed lightly, more to herself, and offered Mickey another little smile in return.

"That would be nice."

Clandestine expected Mickey to bombard her with questions, or at least give her a tip or two on dragonhood (if that was even what you were supposed to call it), but instead, they just talked about little things. He asked about her horse, Billy, and how she met James. He asked about their misadventures and what she thought of the other guild members.

By the time they made it to the hall with all of the bedrooms, Clandestine had almost forgotten she was talking to a dragon. And that she was one.

"Here we are," Mickey said, gesturing to the door to her room.

Clandestine offered him a smile.

"Thanks, Mickey," she said, glancing at the door and then pausing in hesitation. "You said... James's room is right next door?"

She looked down the hall both ways. There was a door on either side of her own, so her options were either James or not-James.

"To the left," Mickey said with a small nod.

"Thanks," Clandestine said again, bowing her head as a small show of gratitude. "I'll uh... see you around."

"After you get some rest," Mickey said, meeting her eyes and raising his eyebrows meaningfully to emphasize that it wasn't just a suggestion.

She laughed weakly, nodding as she started turning around to the left. She glanced over her shoulder to see Mickey walking off in the opposite direction, and when she made it to the door, which admittedly only took her a few strides, she paused to watch Mickey's small frame disappear down the hall until it was out of sight.

She tried to imagine what his dragon form looked like. When she'd seen Svida in the fullness of her dragon frame, it was breathtaking, terrifying, and wonderful all at once. She'd never seen a creature that large and that powerful before in her life, and she'd been face-to-face with many a monster.

But dragons weren't monsters.

That would make her a monster, then, wouldn't it?

The thought skipped in her mind, like a sentence she had to read over and over before she really absorbed it. It wasn't a thought she enjoyed, but it seemed to crawl under her skin uncomfortably. Her hand hesitated over the door handle, and she couldn't help but wonder...

Maybe everything she knew about monsters was wrong. But that would mean Sylva was wrong, and the guilds were wrong, and she didn't know if she had the mental fortitude to let that sink in with everything else pooling in the mess of her mind.

Halfway through turning the doorknob, she realized she should've knocked. She stopped, awkwardly lifting her other hand to tap the door. Gods, it sounded like she was just about to barge in. There was no way to recover from that.

"James?" she asked, feeling like she was shrinking under her own scrutiny.

She heard footsteps, and she pulled away from the door as James opened it up himself.

He looked tired, but Clandestine was learning he always looked a little tired, and she didn't mind it. It felt like it was just a part of his character, and that was okay.

Clandestine smiled a little, noticing James was still wearing a lot of layers, with a thick flannel over a long-sleeved shirt, and a jacket over all of that too. For someone who must've spent a lot of time in the Moonlight Kingdom, he seemed to be pretty intolerant to the cold.

"Hey, Clandestine," James said, his voice quiet.

"Hey," Clandestine echoed.

There was a small pause between the two of them as if both of them were waiting for the other to go first.

"You look warm," Clandestine teased.

"Deceivingly so," James replied straight-facedly.

"Oh? Still cold? Do you need to be swaddled in a blanket?" Clandestine said with a grin. "Or maybe I could make a little fire for you."

"Indoors?"

She held out her hand, palm up, wiggling her fingers. A part of her felt eager to test her flames, but it felt like a dangerous game to play. She was never very skilled with her magic before becoming a dragon, and she didn't want to risk hurting herself. Or worse, hurting James, especially after all he went through.

"Nah," Clandestine said with a little laugh, putting her hands in her pockets. "I'm just joking. I came here for a different reason."

James raised an eyebrow.

"Oh?" he asked.

Clandestine's grin grew.

"Yeah," she said. "You see... you still owe me a story."

James stared at her blankly for a moment.

"A... story," he repeated slowly.

"Yeah. You never got past your real name," Clandestine said. "Remember?"

James blinked, and then looked to the side like he was genuinely trying to recall. She let him think on it for a good three seconds and was pleased when she saw the look of realization finally cross over his features as his eyes widened for a moment, and he looked up to meet her eyes.

"Right now?"

Clandestine laughed.

"What, and when's a better time? Last time--"

"I didn't get to finish because I got shot," James said, raising his brows and tilting his chin down as he looked at her.

"Details," Clandestine said, though once she said it, she felt a little bad. Her nonchalant manner wavered, and her smile turned into more of a frown. "I mean, you don't have to. I know it's been a long day, and a long week, and a long everything. I just -- I was just teasing, but, I do really want to--"

"No," James said softly. "You're right. You deserve to know. I..."

He set his lips into a thin line and then took in a deep breath, stepping away from the door and holding it open for her, nodding into his room.

"Come on," he said. "I hope you weren't planning on sleeping soon. It might be a while."


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Sat Dec 04, 2021 4:39 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi soundofmind,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

I´m not so sure about it anymore, but I read in your post, that this is some sort of continuation of a previous story, so I´m a bit unsure if I´m the right person to review this. Anyway, I´m here now, so I´m staying. :D

The rush of elation when Clandestine had met the other mages was more than she knew how to process. It felt like she was reliving moments in her past but as an adult: being swarmed by other mages who you learned to call family. But things were different, now, too. Back then, guilds were the pillars of society and the heart of so much culture and life. They were the keepers of magical secrets and techniques. That was where you went to find the teachers, the mentors, the experts who had spent years honing and refining their skills. There were weapons experts, potion makers, renowned healers, monster hunters, and so many outcasts who were able to find their place.

That´s actually a very intriguing beginning especially with a veil of mystery in it. I like how you summarise a bit and that the tone itself is easy to understand and to get into the first chapter. In particular, the change to the next section makes the first one a very sad one, as you talk about the mages and how they are dealt with. It makes Clandestine a bit of a fallen hero.

From there, they showed her her room and left her to herself.

I'm a bit crushed here with all the "her" in the sentence and think that a short rewrite would certainly make it a smoother read too, for example: "From there, they showed her the room and left her alone."

Historically, this would be a source of anxiety, but with all of the other emotions pooling into the mix, Clandestine found herself aimless wandering the halls, unsure of what to do with herself.

Here we get a very interesting insight into the character of Clandestine and it already seems like she has changed a bit that it is described as “historically".

You describe the situation in a very strange but good way. On the one hand, it seems as if we as readers are not exactly moving away, and yet we reach a different point than before. I like how, from your point of view, it feels very alive and not monotonous.

"I don't get cold that easily," the man said, and Clandestine snapped her head back up to meet his eyes, realizing staring at people's feet was rude. Right? That was rude.

You can see here once again that Clandestine has changed in terms of attitude but still has doubts sometimes. I would even say that she would seem much more self-confident if she wasn't travelling alone.

I can't imagine very much between Mickey and Clandestine's conversation but I have to say that you can clearly see that Mickey is at least trying to get Clandestine's mind off things. But I'm not sure how much I should trust him or wait and see.

Mickey's description was simple yet effective. I have already formed an opinion about him, but as I said, I am still not sure what to make of him. Especially because Clandestine is as unsure as I am. :D

Halfway through turning the doorknob, she realized she should've knocked. She stopped, awkwardly lifting her other hand to tap the door. Gods, it sounded like she was just about to barge in. There was no way to recover from that.

I can't always come up with the excuse that I'm not a native English speaker, but something I've noticed more often here, throughout the chapter, is the frequent insertion of "she". Like here, it seems a bit too much in places and think that maybe it would be helpful to insert the name again sometimes.

There are, in fact, somewhat longer "pauses" where we only read "she" and this then becomes somewhat repetitive when only the pronoun is to be read for several sections. This is also just my opinion but I think reading the same name ten times, no matter how long it is, is better than just sticking to one pronoun. The reader doesn't always get much out of it, as if with each new use of the pronoun Clandestine in this case seems more blurred and distant from the reader.

In general, as I said, I can't do much with the chapter yet. You notice that some relationships between the characters have already settled in or others are mentioned where I assume the reader should already know them, and yet it is easy to follow the actual thread and thus the heroine Clandestine. I like this part so far and it feels like you are setting out on a longer adventure here. A lot of things still raise questions, but they don't stop my curiosity to read on.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




soundofmind says...


This is super belated but thank you so much for your review! This was really helpful and thank you for taking the time to give all of this feedback. I am glad to have piqued your curiosity! :^)



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Tue Nov 16, 2021 6:21 am
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



SOUND GUESS WHAT--

I am doing the #ReviewTag challenge so I figured MAY AS WELL get started on this even though I'm terrible and haven't caught up on most of The Lost Dragon okay? Okay!

Bo and Mel had ushered her around


For a hot second, I was like WAIT A SECOND MEL IS NOT YOUR CHARACTER and then my brain broke a bit but I guess you and @Carina can share.

From there, they showed her her room and left her to herself.


You got a lotta "her" in this sentence.

One of the doors was cracked open just a peek, and she pulled a little closer to the wall to peek in.


Kinda redundant using "peek" twice in the same sentence. I'd suggest mixing it up a bit.

There was a door on either side of her own, so her options were either James or not-James.


aha I love this

It felt like it was just a part of his character, and that was okay.


:eyes:

"Come on," he said. "I hope you weren't planning on sleeping soon. It might be a while."


Ayeee this is an EXCELLENT hook!

~

Love the first chapter! I honestly have 0 idea how to write sequels (i cri about my nano novel) but I think? It might? be good to add a teeny bit more context in to make things make more sense in case people haven't read the first book. Like, ideally, this would be a direct continuation and I feel like you did a really excellent job of setting this up as a first chapter for that -- but, like, not everyone is gonna do that, you know?

Like, my favorite series of all time is The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner -- and I discovered it by accident by browsing in the library, didn't realize it was a series, and read the second book. Got hooked and then went in search of the series and corrected the transgression xD But like that book did a good enough job of filling in details so that I didn't realize I was missing context, you know? It's a novel that can stand on its own, even if someone hasn't read the previous book.

And like you do a pretty good job of this here -- but you name drop quite a bit and as someone who has only read part of the last book, I'm a little iffy on the details. Which, again, is on me I promise I'll finish it... eventually but like the bit about Svida and the interaction with Clanny and James also felt more like a direct continuation instead of a stand-alone-able you know? Let me know if this doesn't make sense -- happy to try to clarify my rambling and ALWAYS HAPPY TO TALK ABOUT YOUR WORK <33

Anyway, hope some of this was somewhat helpful <3

~Shady




soundofmind says...


I keep waiting until I have more braincells to give a thoughtful reply to this but I just wanted to say THANK YOU and this is helpful yes and your points about explaining more instead of just namedropping lol yes good yes ... big brain thoughts right here bless

AM GLAD U READ IT AND THANK U FOR HELPFULNESS



ShadowVyper says...


:'D



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Sun Nov 14, 2021 3:43 pm
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veeren says...



ooOOOoOOo its JAMES TIME BOIIIIIIIIIIIII




soundofmind says...


the final countdown!!!



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Sat Nov 13, 2021 3:54 pm
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Carina says...



ladies n gentlemen we finally get to read JUICY JAMES SEKRETS




soundofmind says...


LMAOOOOOO james about to spill the piping hot tea




"For a short space of time I remained at the window watching the pallid lightnings that played above Mont Blanc and listening to the rushing of the Arve, which pursued its noise way beneath. The same lulling sounds acted as a lullaby to my too keen sensations; when I placed my head upon my pillow, sleep crept over me; I felt it as it came and blessed the giver of oblivion."
— Mary Shelley, Frankenstein