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The Lost Dragon Chapter 5.2 (LMS VI)

by soundofmind


Chapter 5: The Hill We Die On

Was she lucky? Or was this too good to be true?

Realizing she'd let up the pressure a bit, she pressed harder on the wound. Matt tensed.

"How am I supposed to know that you're not some kind of mage hunter in disguise and this is some elaborate trick? Or that you're not just lying so you can gain my trust and then rat me out later?" she asked cooly.

"You really think mage hunters would take on the guise of a cowboy hoping they'd just run into a mage out in the middle of nowhere one day? I'm surrounded by cows. Not magic," Matt said plainly.

Clandestine narrowed her eyes.

"When you say it that way, it sounds silly," she admitted. "But you could still be a rat the moment we get to Bone."

Matt sat up a little straighter as he turned to meet her eyes, his expression serious and focused.

"Your worry is warranted," he said, much more gently than before. "And I don't mean to minimize the threats you always have to account for. But you won't have to worry about me."

He took in a deep breath.

"I promise," he said, and he sounded like he meant it. "I won't tell anyone."

Clandestine opened her mouth to object one last time, but he beat her to it.

"I have nothing to gain from turning you in," he said. "And it would be dishonorable to turn in someone who just saved my life."

Well. That... made sense, at least.

Clandestine took a moment to let his words sink in. To decide if she really believed him and was willing to trust him.

She surmised, in a way, he'd already trusted her with his life. Granted, he still got hurt, but she took out the worm before it was too late. This was his way of returning the favor, then? Unless he really meant it when he said he had no problems with mages.

Maybe she really did get lucky.

"Well..." she said, not quite sure what to say. "Thanks, Matt."

"Sure," he said. "It's nothing."

"I mean, it's not really 'nothing' when some people literally turn on their family members if they find out they have magic. And that's family. You don't even know me," she said.

"And needlessly make you an enemy?" James asked. "Decent people don't turn mages in."

Turns out a lot of people weren't too decent, then. It did, however, cause Clandestine to wonder...

"So... do you have magic, then?" she asked.

She watched him, hopeful.

"No," he said without hesitation.

Clandestine pouted.

"Sad," she said with a sigh. "You don't have any magic to compensate for your blindness."

"I'm not blind--"

Clandestine smirked and threw her free hand up in front of his face, holding up three fingers.

"Quick!" she said. "How many fingers am I holding up?"

"Four," Matt said, squinting and swatting her hand away.

Clandestine sputtered, trying to hold back a laugh before it burst out of her in a loud "hah."

"Three!" Clandestine said through the wheeze-filled laugh that followed. "It's three!"

Matt, looking entirely unamused, stared at her dead-eyed.

"If you hadn't moved them so fast..." he started to say, but clearly gave up mid-defense and sighed.

Clandestine stifled her laughter and once again had to remind herself to add pressure to the wound again, as laughing had made her loosen up a little too much. Seeing how Matt's blood had seeped through her shirt, practically dying it red, she really needed to hurry up the clotting process.

She pushed down a little harder, and Matt let out a tense, slow breath through his nose. She could feel him tense up again in slight resistance, but he didn't pull away.

"Sorry," Clandestine said softly. "It's just for a little while longer."

There was no reply, and she pressed her lips together in a small frown, nodding to herself as a brief silence followed.

Right. He was in pain. She'd been so caught up with the anxiety of him knowing about her magic that she'd almost forgotten.

"So..." she said, more quiet as she spotted Gregor at the bottom of the hill, starting to ride up. "You really mean it?"

A pause.

She had to be sure.

"Yes," Matt said quietly in response.

She let out a small sigh.

"Thank you," she said.

Thinking that was the end of it, she stared at Gregor and then scanned the herd below. Mid-cow-counting, Matt interrupted.

"Thanks," he said.

"For what?" she tilted her head towards him.

"Killing the worm."

"Oh," she said with a weak laugh. "No problem. That's what Gregor's paying me--"

"And saving my life."

Clandestine blinked.

Oh. Yeah. That.

She offered him a small, warm smile.

"You're welcome."

Her eyes flicked between Matt and Gregor. From the looks of it, Gregor was unharmed, and so was his horse. They rode uphill at a steady pace, and his ruddy mare finally seemed to have calmed down after all the stress of nearly being eaten by a worm. She just hoped it wouldn't mind the giant dead worm nearby too much.

Noticing Gregor was almost within earshot, she leaned in and whispered.

"So why haven't you gotten glasses?" she asked.

Matt shot her a look out of the corner of his eyes that said: "Really?" without saying it. Instead, he answered: "Money."

"Ah."

She, too, understood what it was like to be poor. Surprisingly, though monster hunters were highly appreciated, freelancers didn't get a whole lot of money. That's what you got in exchange for more freedom. You didn't have to work with the guilds that hunted down mages (which she wouldn't ever consider) but you got financed by the people who hired you, not the guilds. And truth be told, most people out in these parts were poor too.

"Maybe if we all pitched in...?" Clandestine suggested.

"I'll be fine. Don't mention it. Ever again."

Clandestine raised her eyebrows and drew them together, but decided to drop it.

If this was the hill he wanted to die on, it was a very silly one, but she'd let him. He was keeping a secret for her, after all. It really wasn't much to keep a very petty one in return, however weird it seemed.

Maybe tomorrow, after they reached Bone, she'd see about bartering a pair of glasses for him just as a final thank you. Then he wouldn't have to so stubbornly get progressively more blind as time went on. Because odds were, it'd only get worse as he aged.

"Sure," she said lightly, letting her expression relax as Gregor and his mare stopped a few feet in front of them.

"Matt ain't falling apart, now, is he?" Gregor asked, hopping down from his saddle.

"No, sir," Matt answered.

"I think the bleeding's finally under control," Clandestine offered. "He got nicked by the worm's teeth."

Gregor, who'd only taken a few steps, faltered, and his face paled.

"Worms have teeth?" he said like this was a brand new, horrific revelation.

Clandestine smiled and laughed faintly.

"Well, uh. Yeah. It's uh. Well, they're omnivores, you know. They eat anything, really," she said, not sure how to make the truth any less terrifying for the average cowboy.

Gregor stood still for a moment, staring out at the felled worm, but then shook his head and hurried up beside her and Matt.

"Thank gods it didn't eat Matt," he muttered, sitting opposite her, putting Matt between them. He was looking Matt over like he was scanning for any other wounds.

"Well, it tried to," Clandestine found herself blurting. "But I killed it before... it..."

She cleared her throat. Now really wasn't the time to sound like she was boasting.

"Anyways," she said quickly, carefully pulling the bloodied shirt away from Matt's shoulder. "I can, uh, help clean it and all--"

"I've got some medical supplies," Gregor said steadily. "I can take care of it. It looks like you, uh..."

He stared at her, up and down, like he was searching for words. Clandestine looked down at herself as well.

She hadn't really gotten a great look at herself yet. Right after the worm was out of the picture, she was worried about making sure Matt didn't die.

She really was drenched in now-drying worm blood.

"Right," she said quietly. The smell really should've tipped her off, but now that her attention was brought to it, the strong scent of iron was almost overwhelming.

"I should clean up," she said distantly. "Before I start to stink too bad."

"That would be wise," Gregor said, gently placing his hands over hers to take the bloodied shirt from her. She muttered under her breath as she brushed her hands away and let him take her place as she got to her feet.

"I'll catch you in a bit, then," she said with a nod, snapping her fingers and pointing at Matt with both hands.

Matt didn't look like he was quite all there, but he didn't look like he really knew how to respond, either.

"...Okay," he finally said.

"I'll just be over the other side of the hill," she informed them. "Holler if you need me."

"Will do," Gregor said.

Clandestine clicked her tongue and spun around on her feet, skipping over to Billy on light feet. He bobbed his head, happy to see her, and she took his reins as she started leading him down the hill.

Billy smelled terrible too, so at least it was the two of them stinking up the plains and not just her. Thankfully, if they stayed on course, they would cross a creek before daybreak. They'd both get a better, more thorough bath then.

Waiting until she was more than sure Gregor and Matt couldn't hear her, she leaned close to Billy.

"Well, that went better than I thought," she whispered.

Billy huffed through his nose.

"I was talking about the magic thing, not the worm thing," she corrected.

Billy whinnied.

"Yeah, I know," she said, petting the side of Billy's neck, scraping off some crusted blood.

"You're right," she said softly. "I guess not everyone out there's all that bad after all."


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Sun Feb 26, 2023 11:58 pm
Dossereana wrote a review...



Hi @soundofmind I've been meaning to do a review on this for awhile so let's get right into it shell we.

Was she lucky? Or was this too good to be true?

Realizing she'd let up the pressure a bit, she pressed harder on the wound. Matt tensed.

"How am I supposed to know that you're not some kind of mage hunter in disguise and this is some elaborate trick? Or that you're not just lying so you can gain my trust and then rat me out later?" she asked cooly.


Lol I think she's worrying to much I mean really, he is struggling enough just to even move right now. Shame I do hope that they get Matt back home safely though, pure guy's been through a lot.

"You really think mage hunters would take on the guise of a cowboy hoping they'd just run into a mage out in the middle of nowhere one day? I'm surrounded by cows. Not magic," Matt said plainly.

Clandestine narrowed her eyes.

"When you say it that way, it sounds silly," she admitted. "But you could still be a rat the moment we get to Bone."


Yeah you know why it sounds silly because it is, she needs to relax, her powers are totally secret. Shame just leave Matt alone his in enough pain, he doesn't need you moaning at him for now reason.

"Your worry is warranted," he said, much more gently than before. "And I don't mean to minimize the threats you always have to account for. But you won't have to worry about me."

He took in a deep breath.

"I promise," he said, and he sounded like he meant it. "I won't tell anyone."

Clandestine opened her mouth to object one last time, but he beat her to it.

"I have nothing to gain from turning you in," he said. "And it would be dishonorable to turn in someone who just saved my life."


That's a good man, now keep to your word or I'm goanna jump in and have you arrested. Lol

Clandestine took a moment to let his words sink in. To decide if she really believed him and was willing to trust him.

She surmised, in a way, he'd already trusted her with his life. Granted, he still got hurt, but she took out the worm before it was too late. This was his way of returning the favor, then? Unless he really meant it when he said he had no problems with mages.

Maybe she really did get lucky.


So far I'm really enjoying this chapter, and I can see that you put a lot of character growth into it, witch is always good, every novel needs that.

"Well, that went better than I thought," she whispered.

Billy huffed through his nose.

"I was talking about the magic thing, not the worm thing," she corrected.

Billy whinnied.

"Yeah, I know," she said, petting the side of Billy's neck, scraping off some crusted blood.

"You're right," she said softly. "I guess not everyone out there's all that bad after all."


This moment with her and her horse is awesome, I totally do that with my dog, I tell her everything. I bet she bonds more with that horse than anyone else around her.

Well I didn't have much to say about this chapter, I really liked this chapter sound keep up the great work I look forward to reading more, I might go and read the next chapter now. :) But 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 you're on.

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




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Sun Feb 26, 2023 7:46 pm
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SilverNight wrote a review...



Heya sound! I am back!

I've really missed TLD and getting to review for it, so I thought I'd check out the rewrite on this Review Day! I've made sure to catch up on all the previous chapters and decided to start on the oldest one in the Green Room-- I love everything so far and I'm so thrilled to be reading this story again, I've missed a lot about it :]

Chapter 5: The Hill We Die On


Speaking of something I've missed the chapter titles oh my goodness. You really have a knack for naming those and I always get a laugh out of them XD

Realizing she'd let up the pressure a bit, she pressed harder on the wound.


One thing that I think is helpful whenever there's a new section of writing, like after a timeskip or a separate part of a chapter posted on YWS, is to mention again who pronouns like "she" refer to. I do know that it's Clandestine in this case of course, but it's usually nice to see a name again after a transition ^^

"How am I supposed to know that you're not some kind of mage hunter in disguise and this is some elaborate trick? Or that you're not just lying so you can gain my trust and then rat me out later?" she asked cooly.

"You really think mage hunters would take on the guise of a cowboy hoping they'd just run into a mage out in the middle of nowhere one day? I'm surrounded by cows. Not magic," Matt said plainly.


I noticed that it's probably spelled "coolly", but I also love this exchange of Clandestine being anxious and suspicious and James is utterly indifferent XD

"I have nothing to gain from turning you in," he said. "And it would be dishonorable to turn in someone who just saved my life."


I admit I'm using my prior knowledge about James to make this comment on this, but I'm not sure how honor could tie in as one of his reasons? It would make sense to Clandestine because that's a valid point, but since James is a runaway and wanted, he doesn't really have honor to maintain in society or in the eyes of anyone. He could be making up this second reason to have more, but it also seems like the kind of thing that wouldn't occur to him if he hasn't been held in high esteem for a while.

"And needlessly make you an enemy?" James asked. "Decent people don't turn mages in."


I almost didn't notice this because I know that it's James and Matt is an alias (and I know him better as James), but Clandestine wouldn't know him by James, so this name needs to swapped out ;-;

Clandestine stifled her laughter and once again had to remind herself to add pressure to the wound again, as laughing had made her loosen up a little too much. Seeing how Matt's blood had seeped through her shirt, practically dying it red, she really needed to hurry up the clotting process.


This is almost a funny typo in this context, with James having a near-death encounter, because I believe the spelling is actually dyeing. Thankfully James isn't dying XD

They rode uphill at a steady pace, and his ruddy mare finally seemed to have calmed down after all the stress of nearly being eaten by a worm.


This poor horse needs therapy. Billy and Elliot probably will too before the book is over >.>

If this was the hill he wanted to die on, it was a very silly one, but she'd let him.


Love this SO MUCH with the chapter title. don't let him die here Clanny

Maybe tomorrow, after they reached Bone, she'd see about bartering a pair of glasses for him just as a final thank you. Then he wouldn't have to so stubbornly get progressively more blind as time went on. Because odds were, it'd only get worse as he aged.


AWWWWW CLANNY. This might be just me, but this is giving me the impression that she'll at least try once they're in town (and maybe accidentally create a problem by doing so?). This is super sweet of her but also wonderfully delivered with a tone of "this silly cowboy needs to see >:("

"Matt ain't falling apart, now, is he?" Gregor asked, hopping down from his saddle.

"No, sir," Matt answered.

"I think the bleeding's finally under control," Clandestine offered. "He got nicked by the worm's teeth."

Gregor, who'd only taken a few steps, faltered, and his face paled.

"Worms have teeth?" he said like this was a brand new, horrific revelation.

Clandestine smiled and laughed faintly.

"Well, uh. Yeah. It's uh. Well, they're omnivores, you know. They eat anything, really," she said, not sure how to make the truth any less terrifying for the average cowboy.


I like Gregor in these lines. I assume we won't be seeing him for too much longer because of how something's sure to happen soon that results in Clandestine and James teaming up on their own, but I love how well-meaning he is and I'll miss him XD

Waiting until she was more than sure Gregor and Matt couldn't hear her, she leaned close to Billy.

"Well, that went better than I thought," she whispered.

Billy huffed through his nose.

"I was talking about the magic thing, not the worm thing," she corrected.

Billy whinnied.

"Yeah, I know," she said, petting the side of Billy's neck, scraping off some crusted blood.

"You're right," she said softly. "I guess not everyone out there's all that bad after all."


Love love love Clandestine talking to Billy. It's so pure and sweet whenever she has a conversation with horse friend :']

~

ahhhhhh I'm so excited to be reviewing this again! I love it so much and I'm glad that I'm back at it-- hopefully I'll get to do some more soon. Great work with LMS and good luck!!

- silver <3




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Sun Jan 29, 2023 8:04 am
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi again sound!

General Impressions

That’s a nice hopeful ending! I liked Gregor’s lines this chapter. James also gave a bunch of really convincing reasons/ arguments why Clandestine shouldn’t worry about him turning her in – it was pretty impressive, even though Clandestine’s continued paranoia is definitely understandable. I wonder if James is trying to keep his near-sightedness a secret or something. He seems to want to hide it more than Clandestine thinks he should? I don’t know.

Glows – What I liked

"When you say it that way, it sounds silly," she admitted. "But you could still be a rat the moment we get to Bone."

^ I liked this line and the things Clandestine says to further this conversation. I think this exchange shows a good balance between Clandestine’s rationality (noting that it sounded “silly” for her to think a random cowboy would be a mage hunter in disguise) and her well-warranted feeling of fear. It makes her come across as an intelligent person who has good reasons to think she’s right about James potentially turning her in . . . while also *actually* being wrong, if that makes sense.
"Matt ain't falling apart, now, is he?" Gregor asked, hopping down from his saddle.

I love this line from Gregor. I think you’re good at having characters deal with serious situations while having a touch of humor, which feels very real to me. Also, the “worms have teeth” moment made me chuckle.
Another good thing about the chapter was the details given about the setting, such as why Clandestine chooses to work as a freelancer despite poor pay and also James not being able to get glasses because they’re expensive. I do wonder how Clandestine is planning to barter for glasses though – since they only usually work well if they are ‘tailor-made’ to the person who needs them.

Grows – Ideas to consider

I had a couple of questions about Clandestine’s thoughts as she slowly accepts the idea that James *really* isn’t going to turn her in.
"I have nothing to gain from turning you in," he said. "And it would be dishonorable to turn in someone who just saved my life."
Well. That... made sense, at least.

I’m not sure how much honour counts for in this setting? Of course, when Clandestine thinks it “made sense” she could be talking about the part where James says he has “nothing to gain” from turning her in – though that’s not specified in the text. I guess that’s kind of overruled when Clandestine notes that not too many people were “ decent” as James said, though I was still a bit puzzled about the “made sense” response.
Clandestine pouted.
"Sad," she said with a sigh. "You don't have any magic to compensate for your blindness."

For some reason I felt like the transition from the magic conversation to talking about James’ near-sightedness was kind of abrupt? And Clandestine teasing James about something she just found out about also felt kinda speedy, especially since we haven't been told what the social attitudes towards things like near-sightedness are like in this setting. Could just be me though.

Overall

I thought this was a nice wrap-up for the first sub (?) plot of the story. I do wonder where the story will go from here though. I suspect James’ POV may be up next, since we have mostly been hearing from Clandestine in the recent chapters.

Hope that helps – keep writing!
-Lim




soundofmind says...


I%u2019m not sure how much honour counts for in this setting?

Now that I look back at it, I definitely could tease out that rationale a lot better. Glad you pointed this out!
For some reason I felt like the transition from the magic conversation to talking about James%u2019 near-sightedness was kind of abrupt? And Clandestine teasing James about something she just found out about also felt kinda speedy, especially since we haven't been told what the social attitudes towards things like near-sightedness are like in this setting. Could just be me though.

I think this was mostly Clandestine wanting to quickly lighten up the conversation, so she grabbed for the closest relevant thing (based on the whole of the conversation) to pull from for joke material (something I do sometimes lol). AKA: "things are getting awkward maybe I should make a joke so things don't feel as tense." Though it's less a self-aware decision and more of a habitual one.

As far as social attitudes toward near-sightedness, I haven't thought that out too deeply actually. ^^''

I think you%u2019re good at having characters deal with serious situations while having a touch of humor, which feels very real to me.

This is nice to hear, :,) because it is something I try to make feel natural. It's something I've observed to be a pretty normal thing for a lot of people to do.



Liminality says...


I think this was mostly Clandestine wanting to quickly lighten up the conversation, so she grabbed for the closest relevant thing (based on the whole of the conversation) to pull from for joke material (something I do sometimes lol).
Ah I see! I think I guessed it might be something like that but wasn't sure based on the dialogue alone.




If you are tired remember it's a sign that you haven't expired
— fatherfig