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The Lost Dragon Chapter 10.3 (LMS VI)

by soundofmind

Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

Chapter 10:The Dead Man's Mess

She might've paid more attention to the dozens of smaller overlapping scars that looked like they were from a whip, or the burn of a brand on his upper back, between his shoulders. But the reason she found herself staring and unmoving was because of the three giant scars scraping down his back. The scar tissue was thick, raised, and discolored, and the width of each scar was at least two inches.

The angle of how all three scars were aligned made a shiver run down her spine.

Clandestine had studied every clawed creature in existence. She knew their prints, and the shape of the marks they left behind.

The only creature she knew of that could leave a mark like this was a creature she'd only heard of in folklore. No one believed that it was real.

But she couldn't think of anything else that could have caused it.

So much for not being a monster hunter. What else was Matt lying about?

She blinked, trying to break herself from her frozen trance.

Blood. Bleeding. He was bleeding.

"Agh," she groaned to herself, scrambling to pull more supplies out of her bag. She found a hunting knife, and it would have to do.

Shaking her head, she set her palm out in front of her and conjured up a small flame. She could feel her energy waning, but she carried on, knowing she had to push through for this.

Instead of focusing on the side of the flame, she focused on making the flame burn hot. It was small, but she watched as it turned from a pale yellow to a deep red.

That was when she held the blade of the knife over the fire.

"I know this is going to hurt whether you're out of it or not," Clandestine said under her breath. "Just..."


She watched as the metal of the knife changed color, her flame making it glow a burning orange. Biting her lip, she dispelled her flame and shifted so she was right next to Matt's shoulder.

Holding the knife, her hand hovered with hesitation over his still-oozing shoulder.

Stop stalling.

Taking in a deep breath, she pressed the dull edge of the blade against the reopened wound, careful to angle it so she was only getting where the wound was open. She didn't want to burn extra skin.

There were dozens of tiny cuts though, so she had to repeat this process a few times, pausing to re-heat the blade in between. It took her a while to finally get it all to stop bleeding, but when it was finally over, she leaned back and stared up at the sky with a deep sigh.

She had to wait for her knife to cool before she just set it down. She couldn't have something else catch fire. At this point, that would just be embarrassing. Not that it wasn't just as embarrassing the first time, too. She just didn't think she could put out another fire. She could feel herself fading fast.

Speaking of fading fast, she needed to use the last of her energy to finish the job.

Shaking the hot dagger, she blew on it a few times and carefully laid it in a patch of dirt to let it cool. She took note to not forget where she put it in the event it was still hot later, and then she got to bandaging.

Picking Matt up was a process. She didn't want to move him a lot, but she only had the kind of bandaging where you wrapped your wound around and around to keep gauze in place. So she had to reach around him a few times in several layers before she got it to stay, and - at this point, no longer to her surprise - saw even more scars all over him.

He had scars on his arms. His chest. Some of them looked like they could've been from knives or swords like he'd gotten them in a fight. But others looked more... deliberate. They weren't your average slash mark.

She didn't want to imagine what Matt had been through, but she imagined it hadn't been pretty.

Suffice it to say, she had even more questions than she had answers.

Clandestine let out a long sigh, shakily pushing herself to her feet one last time.

The horses. She at least had to double-check the horses to make sure they were alright. Now that Matt was face-down on her blanket and no longer actively dying, she had to make sure no one else was falling apart.

Sure, she was, but sleep would hopefully solve that soon.

Clandestine trudged over to Billy with heavy footfalls. Billy had settled by the creek with Elliot, and the both of them looked like they were resting, trying to fall asleep.

She paused in her steps, squinting into the darkness, trying to scan Billy's body. But she was staring at a black horse in the middle of the night. She wasn't going to see anything without light.

That said, though, Billy wasn't behaving oddly. He didn't favor any legs over the others. He looked relaxed, and most creatures who were in pain showed signs of it.

Not wanting to disturb Billy's sleep, she decided to walk past him and turned her attention to Elliot. He was easier to see with his light golden coat, but one glance over him told her he was fine. Just exhausted.

That made three of them. Or four of them, if she counted Matt.

Not that she knew how Matt was feeling. He was drugged to oblivion.

Shaking her head, Clandestine turned back around, ready to finally fall asleep.

But then she saw a figure out in the distance. A shadow, moving down the length of the creek.

In the shape of a horse. With... a saddle.

Clandestine stared as the horse approached slowly, lacking a rider. She racked her brain, trying to figure out if she was just so tired she was seeing things or if she missed something.

And then it clicked.

That was Alexander's horse, wasn't it?

Of course. One more thing, and it was another horse. Clandestine almost wished she didn't feel compelled to go get it, but the same heavy feeling she felt in her stomach when she looked at Alexander ate away at her when she stared at the horse's distant silhouette.

It wasn't just that she thought there could be something on the horse that could explain all of this. A part of her almost felt obligated to take care of the horse on behalf of Alexander... even though he'd almost killed her.

That was what happened, right?

The last thing she could remember before she was out was him coming at her with a dagger and murder in his eyes. She'd been too frozen by the lumshade dart to do anything, and it was all gone after that.

Obviously, he hadn't succeeded.

She glanced back at Matt, who predictably laid like a dead man without being dead. At least, she hoped he wasn't dying. There wasn't much else she could do if he was.

She pinched her eyes shut and rubbed her face, trying to pull herself together. She quickly regretted it when she realized she was brushing against all the scrapes on the side of her face from when she'd been thrown into the ground. She hissed and shook her hands as she grit her teeth, groaning at her own forgetfulness.

There was too much to think about, and she was too tired.

Horse. Alexander's horse.

Clandestine trudged out into the fields with only one thing on her mind: getting this horse back with her so she could go to sleep. She'd see if there were any useful supplies on the horse in the morning.

Gods, the morning. She didn't even want to think about the morning.

"Hey, there, horsie," Clandestine said as she started approaching it, trying to come at it from its side so it wasn't blindsided by her appearance. "Hey there. Yeah."

She noticed the horse seemed a little jumpy. She would be too if she'd just escaped from a raging fire that mysteriously disappeared along with her rider.

She approached slowly, talking softly..

"I really hope Alexander didn't train you to kill mages," she said, not sure why she thought that'd sound funny out loud. "Wouldn't that be weird? A horse trained to hunt. Horses aren't really built for that sort of thing but I wouldn't put it past-- well, you know. I shouldn't speak ill of the dead. I'm sure Alexander was super nice to you."

Clandestine found herself blabbing the whole way up, and she didn't know why, but it seemed to calm the horse down, so she kept it going.

"You know, it's a shame I don't know your name," she went on, gently and carefully reaching over its neck to bring its reins in front of its head to use it more like a lead line. "Then I'd call you that and we'd be building trust so fast. That's how it works, you know. You use someone's name and it does something to their brain. Makes them think you like them more to remember it. I know this because that's what happens to me when people say my name."

And with each passing word, the horse seemed to grow more and more relaxed. Clandestine couldn't help but wonder if this was something the horse was used to; a nonstop influx of one-sided conversation. In any case, it was working, and the horse began to willingly follow her as she gently tugged on the reins, leading it back to the others.

As she approached Billy and Elliot, the two horses regarded Alexander's horse with idle glances but were otherwise unperturbed.

"This is Billy," Clandestine said. "And this is Elliot."

She looked to Alexander's horse, pausing for a moment.

Now that the horse was in her care... it needed a name. She wasn't just going to leave it. That would be sad. But also, suspicious. If someone found a horse without a rider people would ask questions.

The horse was dark, like Billy. But Billy had a white star between his eyes, and this horse was just black.

"Would Midnight be too predictable a name for you?" Clandestine asked, finding herself slurring her words.

She was too tired for this.

"I'll name you in the morning," she said instead, taking a rope off the horse's saddle to tie to the bridle and attach to the nearest big rock she could tie it to by the stream.

She knew Billy and Elliot were too loyal to run away. But she didn't know about no-name yet.

Finally free from immediate pressing matters, Clandestine allowed herself to fade faster - or rather, let the exhaustion finally catch up to her.

With the last bit of her strength, she pulled her spare blanket off Billy's saddle and wandered over near Matt.

She threw her blanket out a few feet from him and flopped down, hoping that nothing would happen in her sleep. But she didn't spend any time worrying about what those things could be, because the moment her head hit her blanket, she was out.

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Sun Jul 02, 2023 9:12 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...

So! I have spent the last week or so reading every chapter of this there is so far and I finally feel qualified to review some of these ones in the Green Room. So let's get cracking!

I like that this was a bit slower in pace, because goodness knows we've had plenty of fast paced high tension action sequences recently. It feels like James is unwillingly revealing more secrets to Clandestine than he intended to, and I like how that's kind of balancing out their relationship again given that he knows about her being a mage (because let's face it the eyesight thing was not equal knowledge for her to have).

I also really liked the character building for Clandestine here. The fact that she talks to both James and the horse despite being unable to have a response shows that she's tired, but also really shows her compassion.

I've only got one nitpick - if you can even call it that:

It wasn't just that she thought there could be something on the horse that could explain all of this. A part of her almost felt obligated to take care of the horse on behalf of Alexander... even though he'd almost killed her.

I'm not sure if this is foreshadowing (the part about there being something on the horse) but it feels too heavy handed. I think you do a good enough job of explaining and rationalising her getting the horse without this, so it's not really needed.

Now I'm all caught up, I can't wait to read the next parts!


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Tue Apr 25, 2023 10:26 am
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Liminality wrote a review...

Hi sound! Lim here with a review and a little message! I bumped up this chapter and the last to a 16+ rating since it contains discussions of violence and injury, based on the content rating guidelines. Let me know if you have questions or concerns about that!

Now on to the review.

General Impressions

This was a more slow-paced chapter again, where Clandestine is kind of alone inside her head as she tries to save James. Since reading the last part, I was anticipating that cauterizing the wounds might come up, so it’s interesting to see that was in fact where it was headed! I thought it was nice of Clandestine to take Alexander’s horse with her. That actually makes me think he’s dead for real now, since this kind of gesture in a story feels more ‘final’.


I like that we have a further piece of the puzzle regarding James’ backstory revealed, and that it ties in a bit with Clandestine’s monster-hunting background. It makes me wonder if the Moonlight Kingdom had something to do with this beast – were they trying to capture it? (Because that just sounds to me like something they’d do, given they seem to have the technology to pull something like that off) And how was James involved?

Clandestine had studied every clawed creature in existence. She knew their prints, and the shape of the marks they left behind.
The only creature she knew of that could leave a mark like this was a creature she'd only heard of in folklore. No one believed that it was real.

Are there not many clawed creatures in this setting then? Because every one in existence sounds like it would be a lot if the setting is more similar to our world (do wind wolves have claws? I’d assume they probably do, if they’re basically wolves in the sky).

I wonder how Clandestine is going to cope with bringing three horses and an injured person around with her after this. It sounds like it’d be hard (which makes it a good complication for the protagonist to have to deal with, especially if her solution to the problem makes a lot of sense for the character/setting).


The disoriented tone from the previous parts is still present here, so props to you on keeping that continuity! I’m not sure if it’s because I happen to be tired while reading this, but the exhausted stream-of-consciousness aspects are being conveyed pretty clearly, especially with the repetition of thoughts/ words such as in “Horse. Alexander's horse.”.
"I know this is going to hurt whether you're out of it or not," Clandestine said under her breath. "Just..."

I think Clandestine’s compassion and empathy are focused on quite a bit in this part. The moment above illustrates that with James – it seems like she imagines what things must feel like for him a lot as she’s treating him. Although she has realistic thoughts that situations could be dangerous (she has the thought that Alexander’s horse standing around might lead people to suspect something has gone wrong), she seems ultimately driven to help for the sake of it – and also perhaps driven by a sense of guilt as well in taking Alexander’s horse.


I like the direction the story is going from here, and I also like that Clandestine is shown dealing with a morally challenging situation in more depth. I wonder what James will say when he wakes up – I suspect he’s going to have to give Clandestine a bit of an explanation.

Keep writing!

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Fri Apr 14, 2023 8:00 pm
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urbanhart says...

*farting noise* I actually forgot for a second that Clanny is a monster hunter, so OF COURSE she'd know animal-induced scars when she sees them. A+ character consistency 👌
Also great examples of consistency are:
- Alexander's now riderless horse-- who Clanny, compassionate soul that she is, decides to take along with her.
- the wind wolves making a reappearance in this chapter (this time to help!! that was a super fun twist, I was so happy when I came to the same realization as Clandestine!)
- any/all injuries sustained from every action/reaction (many owies for our heroes here :(( they have my well wishes)

uhhh silver lining as far as James|Matt being drugged?? he uhhh can actually sleep for a leetol bit.

Am excited for the next chapter!!! :3

I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.
— Pablo Neruda