Chapter Two Part 1: The Farm is Infested and I am Invested
As they rode up to the sheriff's office, they could hear a loud ruckus inside - sourced by the poor excuse of a robber. Clandestine looked over to Matt, raising a brow as she hopped off Billy and hopped up the steps to the door. She could still hear the yelling, and though she couldn't quite understand what Dega was saying, she could tell he was angry. As she pushed the door open the man's words hit her ears at full volume. As the sheriff finished locking up the cell, Dega flipped around, grabbing the metal bars and shaking them.
"YOU IDIOT OF A SHERIFF, I'M GONNA BREAK YOUR ARMS WHEN I GET OUT OF-"
The assault on their ears stopped for a solid three seconds as Dega saw Matt walk in behind her. She looked back at Matt, who didn't give Dega even a second glance. For a second, she expected Dega to scream again, this time at the two who were responsible for his quick catch, but instead there was just a quiet, heated glare sent their way. Clandestine sent Dega an awkward smile and waved. She didn't know why she did that. He just kept glaring. Clandestine looked away quickly and put her hand down, shuffling up to the Sheriff who'd sat down at his desk.
"Hey there, Sheriff - uhhh -" she looked around for a sign, or a label. His name had to be somewhere, right?
"AHA, yes! Sheriff Mitchell. I'm just stopping by to follow up on a rumor I heard about sand worms. I'm a monster hunter looking for work, so I'm here to offer my services. Oh. And also," she held out the two guns she'd confiscated from Dega in their earlier scuffle. The Sheriff raised a brow.
"These belong to the big guy behind bars," she said. "He had lots of fun pointing them around before Matt kicked his butt."
"I didn't-" Matt began to start, but Clandestine held up a hand and shushed him.
"But anyway!" she interrupted. "About those sand worms?"
The sheriff grinned in amusement as he set the guns on his desk. "Well, the complaints have really only been comin' from the Saint's Farm. I went down there to check it myself but I ain't well equipped to deal with those buggers," the sheriff sighed, rising from his seat. "If it was just me, I'd light some dynamite and throw it down their tunnels and blast 'em. But I guess from what Kaleb and Laura have told me, that might do more harm than good. They've already been doing lots of damage to the land, so I figure they're tryin' not to blow it to bits."
Clandestine nodded, smiling wide. "Well, I'm sure I could hop on over and offer my services!" She pulled out a piece of paper from the inside of her jacket. It was an aged old thing, folded one too many time and stained a little, but it had the official seals of the kingdoms, which made it official. Or at least, it looked official to anyone who wasn't an expert in forgery, so she didn't mind flashing it around. She unfolded it, showing it to him. "And you know, just the formalities. I like to run a legitimate business, you know."
The sheriff rubbed his bearded chin, looking closer at the document before nodding and pulling open a drawer in his desk. "Well, you can let them know that Sheriff Mitchell sent you when you get there," he said as he pulled out a map, rolling it out on his desk. "They're just a little east a ways from here," he said, drawing a line on the map from where they were to where they needed to go. "Shouldn't be more than a day's trip."
Clandestine leaned forward, giving a map a close look. "Well. That looks good to me! I think I got it. We just follow the trail, right? There's a little path?"
"Something like it," Mitchell shrugged. "Ain't like it's cobblestone."
"Nobody likes to ride on cobblestone anyway," she laughed. "Well... I suppose that's it from me!" She turned around to Matt, giving him a pat on the shoulder - though she didn't really give notice to his slight flinch. "Let's get goin' partner! I don't know about you but I'm itching to stab some big fat sand worms."
Clandestine led the way out, her boots tapping quickly down the steps as she made her way back to Billy. Matt paused at the bottom of the steps, giving her a peculiar look. She tilted her head to the side, curious.
"What is it, cowboy?"
Matt walked slowly over to his horse. "How long... have you been monster hunting?"
Clandestine looked at him blankly for a moment before her hand went to her chin in thought. "Hmm, that's a good question. I think it's been... maybe uhh... well, at least four or five years I think? I started pretty early under the wing of my mentor. But no worries, Matt! You're with a bonafide expert here. I know my monsters," she said with a little wink, before hopping up into her saddle.
Matt was a little slower to follow, but once he was on his horse, she began to lead the way out of the town. As she looked back at him for a moment, she couldn't help but pause for a moment at just how much of a cowboy he looked like atop his pretty, golden palomino horse and his brown leather jacket and boots. Or maybe it had less to do with him looking like a stereotypical cowboy and more like the cowboy she knew.
A gentle tug and coarse hands, pulling her out of the mud.
"You look lost, little girl."
She was shivering.
"Here," he'd said, as he took off his jacket and wrapped it around her.
Clandestine blinked. Ha ha, she weakly smiled to herself. Best not to dwell on sad memories, right? She tore her spaced-out gaze away from James and looked forward, towards the path. Matt wasn't him. But dragons above, he reminded her of him.
"So!" she began again with a clearing of her throat. "What do you know about sand worms?"