z
  • Home

Young Writers Society



The Lost Dragon Chapter 9 (LMS VI)

by soundofmind


Chapter 9: Boy I Sure Hope No One's Dying Offscreen Right Now

"So," Commander Salazar said, sliding her forefinger between the papers in her hands, preparing to look at the next one. "Alexander Kingsman."

Salazar's dark eyes flicked up to Carter from behind the file. She sat opposite his desk, posture upright and alert even in the cushioned seat beneath her. It was late at night, and the office was candle-lit with lanterns in opposing corners of the room, along with the tall wax candle burning on his desk. Salazar's silver-plated armor caught the warm light in streaks of orange and yellow and reflected onto her warm, dark brown skin. Her deep, black hair seemed to swallow up the light, pulled back into a neat bun as was customary for their uniform.

"Yes," Carter said, leaning back into his office chair. "He seems promising."

The office was small. The decor was minimal, if nonexistent, but the exposed stone walls kept the room cool even on the hot summer nights. It was always humbling being this far from King's Peak, outside of the Moonlight Kingdom's borders, away from the capital, and away from the hub of the kingdom's wealth and resources.

Salazar laid the file down on the desk in front of her and looked at him with a raised brow.

"I assume what you saw in him was--"

"A useful skill set," Carter answered. "And because of his troubled background, I thought this would be an opportunity to redeem himself and use his skills for a better cause. I didn't think it would do any harm. We've grown in our relationship. He knows the boundaries."

"You're hoping he'll finally catch Tiberius," Salazar said, straight to the point as always.

"Of course that's what I'm hoping," Carter said, tapping his fingers on the table rhythmically as he looked out the window. "It's been six years, and he's been a thorn in the kingdom's side and a mar on the kingdom's reputation for too long. I'm tired of his infamy."

The sun had set, and its remaining light was fading from the sky. The window was cracked open, letting the faint breeze in through, carrying with it the smells of the city.

"You've always had a soft spot for the outcasts," Salazar commented, flipping to the next page as she skimmed the rest of the file.

Salazar was being humorous, but her assertion wasn't untrue. She herself had been an outcast before he took her under his wing and helped her ascend the ranks of the Moonlight Kingdom military, and everyone in his inner circle had a similar story. Of course, none of them were without their own merit, but he always found himself drawn to the ones who were looked down upon. Perhaps it was because he saw himself in them. So often, people were bursting with potential and just needed someone to see it and call it forth. And with him, they were all able to find a sense of belonging and meaning in service of the kingdom - something bigger than them. It not only made them powerful allies but loyal friends.

But he was careful now.

He'd made a mistake in trusting James. That's what led to this whole mess; this years-long headache of trying to catch him and finally tie up loose ends.

He sighed.

"He was supposed to send word a few days ago," Carter said. "Alexander."

"You think he ran into trouble?" Salazar asked.

Carter pursed his lips.

"Well," he said. "Tiberius has made it this far. Seems he still has fight in him yet, so I don't imagine him going down easy."

"But you said he wasn't cruel when you knew him," Salazar said. "Maybe he's just been lucky all this time."

"After six years? That's one lucky man," Carter answered with a huff of amusement through his nose.

"Seems so," Salazar ceded, finally leaving the file alone, done with her interest in Alexander's background.

Sure, Kingsman was a former criminal. But he'd been reformed for years, and the best use of his skill set was channeling it towards something redemptive - or at least redemptive in the eyes of the law - like catching Nye's most wanted outlaw.

He just wished Alexander was better at communication.

A stronger breeze pushed through the window, sending the formerly half-open pane clattering against the outer wall. The breeze flew in and swirled throughout the room, rustling the papers on his desk and blowing out the candle.

Wordlessly, he excused himself first and got up, his plated armor clinking with a familiar rhythm as he made his way to the window, catching the remnants of the sunset. Beyond the tall, leafy trees, there was a glow of red on the horizon, and everything above it was turning to a deep, dark blue.

Overhead, the moon was starting to peek out in a crescent, reminiscent of the Moonlight Kingdom's crest. Maybe it was a sign. Maybe it was just the moon.

A small shadow came fluttering out of the darkness.

Ah. There it was. The poetry of life.

He extended his hand, recognizing the raven as one of the kingdom's messenger birds for the shape of the small cylindrical pack on its back. The bird recognized the inviting motion and seamlessly landed on his armored finger, looking a bit spent from the journey.

He gently pet the bird's head with the padded portion of his gauntlet. With his other hand, he reached out and pulled the window shut, latching it to prevent any more windy disturbances.

As he turned with the bird in his hand, Salazar got to her feet, standing at attention. Carter waved for her to sit back down and opened the leather container on the bird's back to pull out the letter it carried. With the rolled-up letter in hand, he let the bird to a standing perch in the corner of the room, and it hopped off of his finger to its resting place.

Then Carter turned to Salazar, opening the letter.

Sent on the 26th of Sol, to the High Commander Carter Haddon,

I expect to capture Tiberius within the next few days. He is traveling north of Bone under the guise of a cowboy. I will deliver him to you in Ruddlan before the month's end.

Rest in the Moon's Light,

Alexander Kingsman

"Kingsman?" Salazar asked as Carter's eyes flitted across the letter.

"He's a few days late for correspondence," Carter said, rolling it back up. "But he's on schedule. He should be here in two days."

He paused, letting out a faint laugh. "Apparently our outlaw's pretending to be a cowboy, of all things."

"You think he still has that horse you gave him all those years ago?" Salazar asked.

"We've received reports of sightings of him with a golden steed," Carter said. "Though only in recent months. I thought he'd done away with it but he's always been the sentimental type, even if it's to his detriment."

Salazar chuckled.

"Well, at least it'd make him easier to spot," she said.

That was true.

Carter walked back to his desk, setting the letter to the side as he sat down again across from Salazar.

"You don't have to stay," Carter said. "It's getting late. You should get some rest. If Alexander is coming soon we'll need to prepare to transport Tiberius to the kingdom."

Which would be a several weeks' journey.

Salazar hesitated, glancing off out the now-closed window. Carter watched out of the corner of his eye while he pulled out a blank piece of paper, pulling his pen and ink towards him to write back.

Salazar looked deep in thought, with her brows pinched together, pensive.

"Will it be painful for you?" Salazar asked. "To see him again?"

Carter's expression softened, and he let a wistful sadness show.

"Yes," he said. "But it's been a long time coming. And it's been a very long time since we were friends."

Salazar nodded, starting to get up to go. Her armor clinked as she stood and she paused, standing in front of her seat.

"If I was betrayed like that," she said. "I don't think I'd ever be able to trust again. I respect you for not letting that interfere with the future. Otherwise..."

She looked like she wanted to say more but her eyes fell to the ground as if she were embarrassed. Carter tried to smile with understanding.

"I'll be fine," Carter said. "Go get some rest."

Finally, without any more delay, Salazar nodded her head and turned to march out the door down to the barracks. When the door closed behind her, Carter let out another sigh in her absence, leaning back in his chair.

He let his gaze drift over to the raven, already asleep on its stoop.

It would, indeed, be an interesting reunion.

At one point, James had been wanted alive for information. But after six years, it was entirely possible his information was useless, now.

He wasn't exaggerating when he said that James had been a thorn in the kingdom's side - but he'd been a thorn in Carter's side before he'd ever made himself a problem for the kingdom. The only reason James accomplished what he did was because Carter had enabled him. James never would've gotten close enough to do that much damage if Carter hadn't helped him get there.

No one saw it coming. Not even him. But he should've.

Carter sighed, idly twirling the ends of his mustache as he looked down at the empty paper in front of him.

If Alexander was still near Bone, Carter needed to send the letter immediately.

He sat up straighter, dipped his pen in the inkwell, and began to write.


Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
542 Reviews

Points: 41664
Reviews: 542

Donate
Sun Apr 16, 2023 9:27 am
View Likes
Liminality wrote a review...



Hi sound! Lim here with a review.

General Comments

This chapter makes me even more curious about what exactly James did. Did he kill someone? Steal something? Tell a secret Carter told him to keep? The chapter is from Carter’s POV, of course, so perhaps what he sees as a betrayal and a lot of damage might not be, but it does make me keen on seeing more info on that revealed. Salazar and Carter have a kind of likeable dynamic, which is good since they’re being set up as antagonists as far as I can tell (gotta get the nuances in!). Their dialogue portrays them as being sympathetic characters, and also a little more down-to-earth than Alexander, perhaps. I felt pretty intrigued throughout the chapter, even with more minor details like the bird flying in and Carter petting it. And ‘Salazar’ is a cool-sounding name.

But he was careful now.
He'd made a mistake in trusting James.

Hmm how careful? Is there something about Alexander that makes it so he won’t betray Carter? <.<

Glows – What I liked

I thought the descriptions of the setting and the characters were really good in this chapter! I liked how you used the descriptions of the light to contextualise the character’s appearance in:
Salazar's silver-plated armor caught the warm light in streaks of orange and yellow and reflected onto her warm, dark brown skin. Her deep, black hair seemed to swallow up the light, pulled back into a neat bun as was customary for their uniform.

I could imagine this vividly and it also created this quiet, secretive kind of atmosphere, which felt fitting for the two characters alone discussing their plans.
I also liked the descriptions of the bird, which were simple but effective.
The bird recognized the inviting motion and seamlessly landed on his armored finger, looking a bit spent from the journey.

I like that the bird also stays in the scene after that and is described moving around – that helped the scene flow.
I also thought the pacing in this chapter was fitting. It felt slower, but still with enough change happening like the little bits of information about Alexander and James being revealed and then the message coming in.

Grows – Ideas to consider

I just had some minor thoughts about phrasing.
Salazar laid the file down on the desk in front of her and looked at him with a raised brow.
"I assume what you saw in him was--"

The “I assume” line felt a bit abrupt to me at this point in the conversation. It kind of felt like she was going to ask him a question with the “raised brow” description and the earlier dialogue where all she mentions is Kingsman’s name. Unless the full sentence was going to end with a question mark before Carter cut her off?
Overhead, the moon was starting to peek out in a crescent, reminiscent of the Moonlight Kingdom's crest. Maybe it was a sign. Maybe it was just the moon.
A small shadow came fluttering out of the darkness.
Ah. There it was. The poetry of life.

Giving this chunk a second read, I think what is being said here is that 1. The moon looks like a sign something is about to happen 2. Something does happen 3. Carter remarks that the fulfilment of the sign is the “poetry of life”. I didn’t quite catch that on the first read – it kind of felt a bit disjointed and left me wondering hmm, what’s that all about? Could be worth looking into on an edit to smoothen things out!

Overall

I enjoyed reading this chapter. I like how it builds towards the plot of James’ past coming back to bite him, which is fitting since that was what the last chapter was about as well. I don’t have any big suggestions for revision, but let me know if there’s something specific you’d like my opinion on!

Cheers,
-Lim




User avatar
137 Reviews

Points: 4200
Reviews: 137

Donate
Fri Mar 17, 2023 4:03 am
View Likes
SilverNight wrote a review...



Hey sound! Back again for this chapter and more The Lost Dragon fun and chaos ^^

Ah, it's Carter again-- I was wondering when we'd see him this time around ;) This chapter had some really good characterization and did well at refreshing my memory on him after it's been a while. It provides some really interesting perspective!

Chapter 9: Boy I Sure Hope No One's Dying Offscreen Right Now


me too, sound, me too >_>

Salazar's dark eyes flicked up to Carter from behind the file. She sat opposite his desk, posture upright and alert even in the cushioned seat beneath her. It was late at night, and the office was candle-lit with lanterns in opposing corners of the room, along with the tall wax candle burning on his desk. Salazar's silver-plated armor caught the warm light in streaks of orange and yellow and reflected onto her warm, dark brown skin. Her deep, black hair seemed to swallow up the light, pulled back into a neat bun as was customary for their uniform.


I like this way of incorporating character descriptions for the physical appearance of new characters! It feels very natural, as opposed to how a info dump would seem. The imagery of it is also interesting-- I usually think of plate armor reflecting light and skin catching/absorbing light, so the reversal felt very poetic.

I will say that the word "file" felt slightly out of place for the fantasy setting to me. It strikes me as having modern, professional/corporate vibes, like the document just came out of a manila folder from a cabinet drawer, if that makes sense? It's not incorrect, it's just got connotations and associations that you probably aren't trying to evoke in readers' minds ^^

"Yes," Carter said, leaning back into his office chair. "He seems promising."

The office was small.


The word "office" has the same kind of feeling as "file"-- I tend to picture an office chair as plain, modern furniture that would be found in a corporate setting, which I'm guessing also isn't what you want to convey-- so maybe something like a "study" would communicate your ideas better? There's probably other words that would also work, too!

"Of course that's what I'm hoping," Carter said, tapping his fingers on the table rhythmically as he looked out the window. "It's been six years, and he's been a thorn in the kingdom's side and a mar on the kingdom's reputation for too long. I'm tired of his infamy."


This mention of six years is making me wonder, how old is Carter roughly? It seems like he might be older than James from this, though that only gives me a vague idea, so it could be a good detail to include.

The sun had set, and its remaining light was fading from the sky. The window was cracked open, letting the faint breeze in through, carrying with it the smells of the city.


This could be a little nit-picky, but since the smells of the city doesn't describe any particular smell, this might be a good detail to expand on and let some of the city's character come through!

He'd made a mistake in trusting James. That's what led to this whole mess; this years-long headache of trying to catch him and finally tie up loose ends.


Oooh, so Carter knows James by that name even though he still calls him Tiberius. This is interesting >.>

He extended his hand, recognizing the raven as one of the kingdom's messenger birds for the shape of the small cylindrical pack on its back. The bird recognized the inviting motion and seamlessly landed on his armored finger, looking a bit spent from the journey.


I have exactly 0 knowledge on the practicality of different birds used for messages, but would ravens be somewhat impractical in the dark like this? Or is that actually more of an advantage of stealth? I could believe either, so some remark on why ravens were chosen might be helpful ^^

He paused, letting out a faint laugh. "Apparently our outlaw's pretending to be a cowboy, of all things."


*obligatory I wanna be a cowboy, baby vine reference*

"We've received reports of sightings of him with a golden steed," Carter said. "Though only in recent months. I thought he'd done away with it but he's always been the sentimental type, even if it's to his detriment."


This remark about James being sentimental seems a bit in opposition to what Salazar mentioned about James possibly having turned cruel, so if this was mentioned in conversation after that by Carter, it could create some confusion for Salazar between the conflict of character/identity that would appear to cause and who James really is. If you're looking for more places to discuss James from the Moonlight Kingdom's perspectives, this could be a spot for it!

Carter sighed, idly twirling the ends of his mustache as he looked down at the empty paper in front of him.


I don't know how to explain it but yes Carter absolutely has mustache vibes XD

~~~

I really liked this chapter! It was an interesting look at a new point of view and a shift away from Clandestine and James-- though I want to see those two again, because nooooooo they're in trouble >:( I'm hoping that I'll have more to read soon! I just want to say again that this is a wonderful story and I'm super excited for what happens next <3

Great work with your LMS! You're doing awesome ;)

- Silver c:




soundofmind says...


this is super late silver but im so thankful for all of your reviews and commentary and feedback :^) i have smal brain rn and cant think much more but yes



User avatar
9 Reviews

Points: 0
Reviews: 9

Donate
Thu Mar 09, 2023 4:28 pm
View Likes
Lexus2017RX350 wrote a review...



Ok, I am relatively new to reviews and I have never read any of this ever. BUT I saw the cover art and wanted to check it out instantly.

Speaking of the art: I mean I know that is definitely not all this is about, but the art is fantastic. I actually am going to work on getting something done for my story too. I just wanted to comment on how great that looks.

First impressions: So, what do I think of the writing style? It's very clean cut and sleek, the detail is divine and perfectly encapsulates clearly what the story is trying to feel. This is certainly an overused way to describe something but, the environments really feel alive! I can tell that you have a very clear talent for structure too as this is very fun and easy to read. I myself have a lot to work on in this department as I am fairly new to writing so it is great to see someone thriving so much here.

Story: I would say more here but I think to properly asses the story I would need to read the other chapters. So far though I love what I am seeing.

Complaints: Not much to see here, I mean, I think that considering your writing skill I would not expect to see much here regardless.





A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
— Paul Simon