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The Lost Dragon Chapter 13.1 (LMS VI)

by soundofmind

Chapter 13: *Record Scratch*

This whole time, Clandestine had been watching James. There had been several hours where she'd had to leave him alone while she dug up Alexander's grave, but ever since she'd come back to rest, she'd been keeping an eye on him - not just to watch for movement, and obviously to see if he was alive - but to see what he'd do.

She couldn't lie that when she found the wanted poster in Alexander's things, it did make her think twice. When she'd first seen James as Matthew, she hadn't put two and two together. He'd changed up his appearance enough that he didn't hold an exact resemblance to any of the posters she'd seen, and she hadn't thought once that he could be the Tiberius Hemming that the whole world was looking for - that the kingdom was looking for in particular.

It made her a little more wary. She'd heard the rumors about the war hero turned traitor. No one seemed to know anything for certain besides the fact he'd done something bad, but most people assumed he'd tried to assassinate the king.

And that still painted him in a more favorable light to her, if that was true. But she also knew that was only a rumor.

She really didn't know the full story, and she really didn't know what to expect.

James - if that really was his name (and she was inclined to believe him, but still admittedly skeptical) - had been surprisingly meek when he woke up.

She thought maybe it was the drugs. Or the pain. Or a mix of the two. It was hard to imagine the man as a war-hardened soldier or even a killer, but maybe that was only because his wrath hadn't been turned to her. If anything, all she knew of him was that he seemed to throw himself into danger on other people's behalf more than anything.

But it sounded like he was that way even back in the army. It was just that, since then, he'd changed sides.

She was trying to understand him. And she noticed that, for moments at a time, he seemed to get lost in thought.

But she had a feeling it was more that he was getting lost in memories.

"There's... one more thing," James finally said after a long pause.

Clandestine tilted her head. It seemed like he wasn't finished telling his story like she thought.

"We didn't leave the ruins right away," James said. "We were burying the dead when we... accidentally dug up a coffin."

Clandestine stared at him.

"A coffin," she repeated.

"Yes," James said stiffly.

"Were you digging up graves in a graveyard? How'd you find a coffin?"

And why was it relevant?

James seemed to get flustered by the question, letting out a small huff of breath, like he was frustrated, or at a loss of words to explain.

"There were no indications that anyone was buried there," James said quietly. "It was an accident on our part. But it was-- it was unusual. The coffin was perfectly preserved and though it was dirty from being buried, the wood showed no signs of aging. Which-- there's only one tree with wood that never ages--"

"The lifeblood tree," Clandestine said, her eyes widening as she stared at James even harder.

But those trees were extinct now, as far as she knew. The last one that got chopped down was by Silva...

"--yes," James continued. "Which meant that the coffin was specifically made for preservation so whatever or whoever was inside wouldn't decay. But it was more than just that. There were markings on the front of the coffin in a dead language - one that I couldn't read in full, but I was able to translate one of the words, only because I'd learned it from old texts that--"

James closed his eyes, shaking his head like he was shaking away a thought.

"It said 'dragon,'" James said, looking to meet her eyes.

Clandestine froze under his stare.


The needle pierced into Clandestine's arm with a shock, and she couldn't help but stare at Silva, wide-eyed, as confusion finally began to mix with fear.

She hadn't seen it coming. What was Silva doing?

Silva had led Clandestine into her potion room under the premise that she was going to tell Clandestine something important, but Clandestine had already overheard some of Silva's conversations with the strange woman who'd come to visit in a hurry, eavesdropping through the door.

The visitor said Clandestine was "an inheritor." Clandestine didn't know what that meant. The conversation had been muffled and much of it had been hard to make out, but she kept hearing the woman say: "I just know." And over, and over: "You have to keep her safe."

But this didn't feel safe.

"Ow," Clandestine said quietly, reaching up to rub her arm, looking at Silva with her brows pinched in pain and worry. "What was that? What are you doing? What's going on?"

Silva rested her hands on Clandestine's shoulders and stared into her eyes, intensely urgent. Clandestine could feel Silva's cold, sweaty palms through her shirt, and Silva's dark eyes seemed severe and focused. Clandestine had never seen Silva so distressed. She'd always been so collected and calm. But this was... this felt out of character.

It made Clandestine anxious. Her heart was starting to race, and she was beginning to feel lightheaded.

"Everything's going to be alright," Silva said, her words slow and melodic.

Clandestine tried to pull away, but her head was starting to spin.

When had the shelves of plants, vials, and boxes behind Silva become blurry? She blinked, but they didn't come into focus.

The world around her was starting to spin.

"What did you...?" Clandestine tried to ask, but consciousness was leaving her quickly.

Silva had drugged her.

"I'm so sorry," Silva's voice melted overhead, dripping in her ears like ore. "Please remember all of this is to protect you. All of this is to..."

But that was the last thing she heard, before the walls of a coffin closed around her, and it all went black.

Clandestine couldn't move.

No. This was... no. It couldn't be.

"Clandestine?" James asked, his voice far away.

"You found me?" she whispered.

The tense silence that fell between them was palpable.

James was watching her with a look of increasing confusion and concern, and she couldn't meet his eyes anymore. She looked down into her lap, feeling like everything was falling into place, and at the same time, falling apart.

"What?" James whispered, his brows pinched together tightly.

"What did you do with the coffin?" Clandestine cut in. "What did you -- where did it--"

"What do you mean I found--" James tried to interrupt.

"I was inside that coffin!" Clandestine raised her voice, leaning in towards James with her hands raised, fingers tensely arched as she gestured at him in a desperate frustration she hadn't expected to be unburied.

It felt like she was waking up from it all over again.

Blearily, her eyes opened up to darkness. The whole world around her shook, and she jolted, hitting her head on a hard surface above her with a thump.

Her whole head throbbed, and her ears started ringing. Her arms shot out at her sides, trying to steady herself and get her bearings, but she was quickly met with four wooden walls, locking her inside what felt like a coffin, or a closet.

The air was stale and thick, catching in her lungs with what felt like a decade's worth of dust. She choked out a cough, feeling panic rise in her chest as reality began to dawn on her, and she realized she was trapped.

She started hyperventilating.

Every breath felt pained like she couldn't get enough air or oxygen.

Finally, her ears stopped ringing, and she could hear another thump somewhere outside. A voice. It sounded like a man, maybe above her.

A desperate, feral panic overtook her and she began to smash her fists into the wooden surface above her, gasping for air.

"Please!" she screamed, her voice hoarse and wavering. It felt like she hadn't used her voice in ages. It felt weak, and it hurt to talk.

"Please!" she shouted again, tears streaming down the sides of her face as she thrashed inside, feeling the desperation pool in her chest, suffocating and inescapable.

"Get me out of here!"

And suddenly, a crack.

It was loud, like thunder. There was a rush of air that flooded in, and she could hear it come in with a whoosh, filling her lungs like she was taking her very first breath of real air.

Light flooded in. Bright, and blinding.

Not far from her face, the blade of an axe broke through, splintering the thick wood around her. It felt like something in the air around her broke - like a seal had shattered, and suddenly, the world felt tangible again. Her voice left her, and she glued herself to the other side of the coffin, as far from the blade as possible.

"Did I get you?" a man's voice asked, crisp and calm.

Clandestine stared as the shining blade of the axe receded, leaving a sliver of an opening she could see through.

She could see a portion of the man's face.

His skin was pale but weathered. His eye looked haggard, and the lower half of his face was hidden by a shaggy, patchy blond beard.

She didn't recognize him.

Not at all.

"Stay back on that side," the man said. "We'll get you out."

Clandestine pulled away, holding her breath. She heard the whizz of the axe through the air before it came down with another crack.

Is this a review?



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1399 Reviews

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Tue Jul 04, 2023 4:14 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...

Ah ok, we have more explanation now!
So I had kind of assumed that Clandestine was the dragon in the coffin, but I still would have expected a bigger reaction from her in the previous chapter given that she didn't actually know what James was wanted for. It makes sense that she didn't remember the part about the coffin though, so I thought that felt relatively realistic.

Side note: James and Matt are both relatively simple names. Why on earth did he pick Tiberius? xD

I found going back to before James' revelation in the beginning of this chapter perhaps a little jarring. It makes some of her thoughts up until now a little more clear, but I found it harder to stay grounded in where we were in the narrative. I also thought the repetition of the bit about James finding the coffin seemed repetitive, and I'm not sure it was needed to get us back up to speed.

This chapter feels like it's going to be a real turning point in terms of where the narrative is going. There are still some questions, but we as the reader essentially have the backstory straight in our heads now, so are ready to proceed onward! I assume there's going to be some tension between James and Clandestine for a little while as they process all this, but it's cool for them to know how their backgrounds intertwine.

That's all I have for this part, but I'll see you for part two!


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Mon Jun 19, 2023 8:03 am
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Liminality wrote a review...

Hi sound! Lim here with a short review.

General Impressions

Wow, that was quite the plot twist. I hadn’t seen that one coming. I’d expected James found a relative of hers in the coffin, but not Clandestine herself. That seems very coincidental that they then bumped into each other again (or perhaps it was not a coincidence, hmm <.<). Additionally, the scene from Clandestine’s point of view of being hacked out of the coffin felt very real.

And suddenly, a crack.
It was loud, like thunder. There was a rush of air that flooded in, and she could hear it come in with a whoosh, filling her lungs like she was taking her very first breath of real air.

The way you used different senses like sound and touch in this part make it more vivid.

Clandestine stared as the shining blade of the axe receded, leaving a sliver of an opening she could see through.

This detail is specific, and I like how it draws attention to the spot where Clandestine now has visual input. I feel like that made me see things from her perspective in the coffin more, if that makes sense.


Clandestine’s motivation for asking James questions comes across to me as very curiosity-based, like she’s putting together puzzle pieces. It kind of raises the question: what does she want to do with that information? To decide whether she can still trust James? (Though it does feel that she’s kind of decided ‘yes’ to that one already.)

James - if that really was his name (and she was inclined to believe him, but still admittedly skeptical)

That makes sense: if a guy has two fake names, he probably has more.

"I was inside that coffin!" Clandestine raised her voice, leaning in towards James with her hands raised, fingers tensely arched as she gestured at him in a desperate frustration she hadn't expected to be unburied.

I thought this was another believable and ‘real’-feeling reaction. The dialogue in this bit flows naturally and gets the idea across while still showing her being lost for words.


The backward movement in time relative to the end of the last chapter felt a bit abrupt. I guess it’s good that we have some sense of what Clandestine was thinking while James was out, though I kind of wish we’d known it earlier because these thoughts seem like they would contextualise her part in the previous chapter. I also thought James’ verbal explanation of the coffin felt a bit unnecessary, since we’ve already seen it in the flashback last chapter.

Something I liked was the big plot twist this chapter. While it does make me wonder about their chance re-encounter, I like that this turn of events brings the focus back to the dragons. It made me think there must be something significant about all the named mages so far using fire, rather than water or some other kind of magic.


I like the level of realism and believability in this chapter, as well as the direction the story is going. If you’re planning on revising this or cutting some things out, I’d suggest the repetition of the coffin information in the beginning might be a good one to consider.

Hope this helps – keep writing!

And then, as if written by the hand of a bad novelist, an incredible thing happened.
— Bartimaeus of Uruk