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The Lost Dragon Chapter 3.1 (LMS VI)

by soundofmind


Chapter 3: Anxious: The Cows and Me

It was nice to have a stomach full of food. Clandestine never ate too heavy when she was on the road, though some days she didn't eat much at all. Monster hunting could get you good money when you were registered in a city guild and committed to that city, but she'd tried that sort of life for a few months and didn't take well to it. It wasn't that she didn't like working with other people, but she found it too constricting. City-paid monster hunters had more protocols and paperwork, and while it was mostly for good reasons, she could never use her fire magic in a sticky situation, and she never did feel fully safe within a city's walls even if the point was to keep the monsters out of them.

Truth was, monsters were inside city walls too. They just took a different shape - one that looked a lot more human than anything else.

Clandestine could remember a time when magic was a natural part of life. It was as common as breathing, as normal as having a bite to eat, or going for a walk. No one bat an eye if you used your magic to stoke a fire, to stir a pot of soup, or to smooth the path out before you. But something changed in the past 100 years that scarred the world forever - both literally, and in every sphere of society.

Everyone called it the calamity. She just wished she knew what that really meant. At her age, it was hard to ask questions without sounding like an idiot.

Sure, she'd pieced things together here and there. Magic was illegal. Mages were hunted. They'd built a worldwide business on the bones of the dead just to enforce the law. There was a war, there were disasters, but none of it ever added up. Then again, maybe these sorts of things were never supposed to. Every version of the story seemed curated by the side that won, always painting people with magic as the villains. And, well... she didn't fall on the winning side. Not on this side of history.

The past few years she'd been able to get by. It was a clumsy effort, adjusting to all the changes, but she'd settled into a rhythm that made sense. Freelancing as a monster hunter allowed her to pass under the radar, kill monsters, keep people safe, and do something that at least made a little impact in the world.

It was all she had. She didn't want to lose it.

After everyone finished their food that night, things settled down pretty quickly. Gregor said they rose with the sun, which meant they'd have to be up early, so they wasted no time cleaning up and pulling out their sleeping mats.

Clandestine helped clean off a few dishes while Gregor reassured her that she wouldn't be expected to do anything but keep a lookout for monsters and any creatures that could cause trouble.

Kenneth and Percy were the first to go to sleep, finding spots to curl up a little ways from the fire, but still in the light. Gregor lingered and explained that they slept in shifts, and they'd just fold her into the rotation, putting her at the end for the night.

It was kind of nice, though, to be around cowboys. There was something about it that was strangely comforting, and she couldn't help but think of the cowboy who found her and helped her get back on her feet all those years ago. Of course, she never did get his name. Neither of them had talked about their pasts, but it had been for the best in the end. It hadn't been relevant. At least, that was what she told herself so she could make peace with it.

She never knew what happened to him after he left. She didn't know why he even left in the first place, either. But she supposed that was part of life. People leaving.

Or, particularly, leaving her.

She tried to find a comfortable position on the ground, tossing and turning a few times until she settled on her side with her blanket pulled around her shoulders and her legs curled in. She always slept with her sword near her side, usually on the ground, and she kept it in view, within reach.

Just in case.

She found herself facing the horses, all of them lined up in a row, with Billy on one end and Elliot on the other. She didn't get the other horses' names yet, so they were just horse one, horse two, and horse three for now.

Her eyes followed Matt, who was evidently on the first shift.

He went over to Elliot and seemed to be intentional as he looked around like he was checking if everyone was asleep. She closed her eyes for a moment, feeling a bit childish as she waited a few long seconds before opening them again to see what he was up to.

Turns out, it wasn't anything that exciting. Of course, she didn't know what she expected. If he was going to turn her in it'd probably be when they reached town. There wasn't much he could do in the plains unless he tried taking things head-on himself, and he seemed pretty avoidant, to say the least.

He took out a brush, it looked like, and started brushing through Elliot's mane. Though they were a few feet away, she could overhear him softly talking to Elliot. She couldn't understand what he was saying, but it sounded... gentle.

Awh. That was kind of cute. For a guy who might want her dead, anyway.

Matt turned his head, looking out over the plains again. This time, his gaze swept faster than she was able to hide her face, and she felt her cheeks burn when it looked like his eyes landed on her.

Well, this was embarrassing.

She pretended to make a snoring noise, grunting as she rolled over to the other side and hid her head under her blanket, cringing at herself. Her face burned and she pinched her eyes shut, wondering if she was going to regret all of this.

Maybe she should've called it at the start. Maybe she should've taken the risk and asked what he'd seen. She supposed she still could. She just needed to find a way to frame the question so he wouldn't be suspicious if he'd, in fact, seen nothing.

This was stupid. She was overthinking it, wasn't she? No, she couldn't afford to not overthink her literal livelihood. Not when the stakes were so high.

She sighed, muffling the sound in her blanket.

She just had to figure this out before she got to Bone. And in the meantime, all she had to do was keep an eye out for monsters.

It was going to be okay.


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Sun Jan 29, 2023 12:01 am
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Dossereana wrote a review...



Hi @soundofmind I'm back for another maybe short review, let's get right into it shell we. I'm totally enjoying catching up on the chapters and the story in total.

It was nice to have a stomach full of food. Clandestine never ate too heavy when she was on the road, though some days she didn't eat much at all. Monster hunting could get you good money when you were registered in a city guild and committed to that city, but she'd tried that sort of life for a few months and didn't take well to it.


Me looks at this first part, okay sorry I have to ask you might think I'm being weird but was this like based on a game called Monster Hunter, because those are the sort of vibes I'm getting, unless I've just played this game to much XD. Reads next part when you say monster hunters *wide eyes* Hmmm now I must know the answer to this question.

Everyone called it the calamity. She just wished she knew what that really meant. At her age, it was hard to ask questions without sounding like an idiot.


Okay thought I'd just point out the swear word because you might want to right this 12 for some people might go to this work thinking there is know swearing. honestly some rating can be a bit tricky and sometimes the Arthur doesn't know what to rate it.

This was stupid. She was overthinking it, wasn't she? No, she couldn't afford to not overthink her literal livelihood. Not when the stakes were so high.


This is like what every girl thinks about, we just over think things where as for guys everything is just so simple. I thought this part was cool and I like how you ended the chapter there.

so that all I can say again a really good chapter sound! So if I was being harsh I'm really sorry that was not my intention, I'm only saying what I think might be helpful, I hope to read more of your chapters, keep up the great work.

I hope you have a great day/night witch ever side of the world your on.

@Dossereana Flying Over The Green Room And Spreading Shards Of Encouragement




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Sun Dec 18, 2022 1:46 am
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi sound! Lim here with a short review.

First Impressions

Now this chapter certainly has a very different mood/ atmosphere than the last. It feels a bit darker and more bitter. It’s a purely introspective part, almost, since there’s no dialogue happening. It was interesting to see what Clandestine knows about the magic persecution. The cowboy thing kind of has a different context to it now that we know Clandestine has indeed met *a* cowboy before. I don’t think it’s going to be something as simple as she and James having met before, since I think James only started working as an ‘actual’ cowboy recently – but I have a feeling this prior cowboy might be important to the story.

Characters

So now we’re seeing a sadder, more reflective, possibly more resentful side of Clandestine. I find it interesting that nothing happens in particular that seems to trigger this change in emotion? It’s kind of like she starts thinking about it once there’s some quiet and time to rest.
Something I like about Clandestine’s characterization this chapter is that her personality traits are shown to have multiple sides. For example, in previous chapters she tends to ask ‘innocent’ or slightly silly questions about the cowboys, but here her want to ask questions has a more melancholy side:

Everyone called it the calamity. She just wished she knew what that really meant. At her age, it was hard to ask questions without sounding like an idiot.

I notice also that she seems to be lonely, which is a good set-up for a story focused on two characters becoming friends.

Exposition

I kind of wish at this point we would see a supporting character or someone being afraid of magic? The persecution of mages seems to be an important setting point, but we only really experience it through Clandestine’s reflections, so it feels a bit info-dump-like when she says things like:
Every version of the story seemed curated by the side that won, always painting people with magic as the villains. And, well... she didn't fall on the winning side.

It’s a bit harder to sympathise when our experience of it is limited to this sort of internal monologue, I guess?

Worldbuilding

Sure, she'd pieced things together here and there. Magic was illegal. Mages were hunted. They'd built a worldwide business on the bones of the dead just to enforce the law.

Something that made me curious here is that it’s implied Clandestine doesn’t know the full story of why mages are being persecuted. I wonder if it’s not public knowledge, at least not fully, and if there’s some interested party that’s trying to suppress the story <.< Clandestine’s comment about “monsters” within the city walls also makes me think there are specific groups of people responsible for the mage persecution and that there are concrete faces to pin this too, rather than there just being a sudden fear of magic.

Overall

This chapter seems to be headed in a slightly darker direction or exploring the darker implications behind things introduced in the first two or so chapters. I like that there are some struggles and conflicts being set up at this point and am wondering how they will develop.

Hope this helps – and keep writing!
-Lim





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