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Elys – Chapter 4: Double Vision

A tower of limestone and gold overlooked the city of Elysia, heralding the sun’s rising. The soft glow of morning settled along white stone walls and red terracotta roofs. Residents took to their courtyards, greeting the new day with raised hands. But before long, all eyes were on the mismatched travelers escorted by guards. Their attention in particular was held by an odd bickering couple plodding near the back; a limping Outlander boy and a girl with short blue hair wearing a naval jacket.

“Quit your moaning,” Allie said. “Chose to get your ass kicked all week.”

“I swear, it’s gonna be worth it. I need to be prepared before we run into another fight. It’s bound to happen, you know.”

“Saying you’re in shape for a fight now?”

“Okay, I may have overdone it. Big deal. At least now I know how to swing a sword right.” He made a motion with his hand, mimicking swinging a sword. He hissed as pain shot through his arm.

“Why so set on a sword? Pole arm’s much easier,” she said, admiring the intricate designs on her trident.

“Are you kidding me? Obviously I had to go with a sword. What kind of hero would I be if I didn’t use a sword?”

“What kind are you anyways? May be just be a pointy stick to you, but there’s memories with this one,” The trident was a birthday gift from her father when she was a child, barely half its height. Though he wasn’t around to train her extensively, she’d quickly learned to fish with it. Over the years, its business end wound up in progressively bigger targets.

“So… can’t you just heal me? There’s mana around here, right? I’m pretty sure I can feel it.”

“Sure is,” she said, taking in the full feeling of the natural, mana-filled air. “Been feeling pent up for a week now.”

“Well now would be the perfect opportunity to… take care of that.”

“Nah, I can’t just waste it. Got to wait for the perfect opportunity. Maybe tonight, right. Chance to be alone, and then…” She shivered. “Getting excited just thinking of it.”

“Allie. Please. My everything hurts.”

“Can see that.”

“Too bad you don’t feel that.”

“Wouldn’t even do any good. Can heal the wounds, but can’t heal the pain.”

A guard in hulking steel armor turned around and stared them down. “Enough, you two.”

Allie whispered to Lucas, “Told you they’re no fun.”

“Don’t they work directly under the Augur? I assumed they wouldn’t be such killjoys.”

“Augur’s the odd one, more like. Heard some talk he’s even thinking of allowing magic in the ranks. If this all works out, I mean.”

“Yeah,” He looked over the soldiers who had taken their custody since docking. These guys were no-nonsense. Even Allie seemed less… adventurous than usual. The threat of execution hanging over his head felt much more real in the presence of these men compared to the navy.

The group marched into the grand tower. Colossal statues held up the upper levels with their outstretched arms. Lucas marveled at these imposing figures. The reverence with which they had each been crafted would alone convince him that he was in the presence of gods.

Allie tapped his shoulder and pointed to the main entryway. The Augur walked elegantly to the far wall where a grand curtain hung. His entourage of Holy Order knights surrounded him, and pulled the curtain aside. The temple was filled with dazzling light. With the radiance of the stained glass window behind him, the Augur cleared his throat.

“Children of Elys. We are gathered here in the temple of Auros to embark on a mission of utmost importance. Lady Galvana of Favilla has called for experiments to uncover a way to suppress the dark mana, an issue which has only grown in severity. In hopes of making a breakthrough, we have answered her call and brought together every Sublime residing outside of Favilla.”

Lucas looked around. There were only a few dozen others present. Is this really all there are?

“From the capital city and its surrounding lands: twenty-three.” Several Elysians raised their hands in response.

“From the western territory Flagratia: eight.” A group of young men and women with tanned skin and colorful attire cheered.

“From the distant northern land of Norsheere: thirteen.” Four rugged-looking men who could have passed for brothers hollered with their fists held high.

“And from the southeastern islands of Tarpaul,” he paused. “One.”

Allie cupped her hands to her mouth and shouted a deafening, “Hell yeah!” that echoed through the temple.

The Augur blinked. “Yes. I applaud your enthusiasm. While I’m sure there are just as many of you here who feel unsure about the… terms of this gathering, I wish to relieve you of your fears. Though you will be monitored by a knight of the Holy Order, they are there to maintain safety and peace. You will be given the rights of an Elysian citizen. You will be taken care of financially during your stay here and in Favilla for your cooperation. If there is any dissent among you, speak of it now.”

The temple was silent.

“Very well,” the Augur said with a smile. “There is one more thing. The seer of Flagratia has come to the mainland with an intriguing proclamation: that the spirit of the Warden walks among us today.”

The crowd exchanged bewildered glances at one another. Lucas’s heart skipped. Is this really happening?

“We have discovered a Sublime Outlander who claims to be from another world entirely. Whether thousands of years have made Elys unrecognizable to him, or if other powers are at play, his presence is something we simply cannot ignore. The birds tell me this young man will play a vital role in our mission.” He looked directly at Lucas. “Would you please come up?”

Lucas took a deep breath, clenched his fists, and weaved his way toward the Augur. He stood beside the man, and looked out at the crowd. Their faces reflected skepticism and worry.

“Young man, you are a gift to us from the winds of fate. Will you accept this destiny?”

Old doubts crept into Lucas’s mind. But he remembered the words he and Allie shared. I’d be even more of a fool to turn this down. He took another slow breath. “Yes. I accept.”

“Declare to the world your destiny.”

“My what?”

“Your destiny. Tell us all the actions you shall take. A hero must make promises before he fulfills them. What are yours?”

He cleared his throat. “I… I will be your new Warden. I will follow in the footsteps of the first Warden, and work to make Elys a world of peace. And… I will eradicate the dark mana!”

Silence gave way to modest applause. The sound exploded into raucous cheering. Lucas could feel his ears burning red. Just what was the Augur up to?

The old man was beaming. There was a twinkle in his eye. “May your spirit be a guide to good fortunes, and may your hand in this time of darkness for Sublime now bring light.” He held his arms out. “Children of Elys. Spread the word to every corner of the city. Let the coming of the new Warden be joyous news to all.”

At his command, scores of Holy Order knights and attendants dispersed from the temple. They went into the streets, proclaiming that a new Warden has come. Some believed the messages while others dismissed it, but they came to the temple all the same. Before long, the crowd had grown to the hundreds.

The Augur raised his voice against the clamoring masses. “Seven days, and the caravan departs for Favilla. Be well, and may the sun shine on you all!”

Allie pushed and cursed against the swarms of people. She couldn’t see Lucas or the Augur. She tried calling out his name, but the cheers and cries of happiness drowned her out. “Shut it, all you! Can’t even- ow! Kick me in the backside, will you?” She tumbled out of the crowd, collapsing on the steps.

Someone offered their hand. She took it and rose to her feet. A Holy Order knight bowed to her. “I am terribly sorry. I must have run into you.” He spoke in a soft voice, a voice that felt out of place for a young man so tall, so brawny, so…

“Handsome,” Allie sighed. Short-cut bronze hair and eyes of blazing gold? It was all too much to take, as if Auros had created this man with his own divine light.

“U-um, thank you,” the knight said, tensing up at this girl’s sudden shark-tooth grin.

“Your name?”

“I am…” He corrected his posture and saluted. “Sir Galain Thurdarc: urban cohort.”

“Allie: um… fisher.”

“Well it was a pleasure meeting you, Ms. Fisher. But I’m afraid I have duties to attend-“

Allie slung her arm over his shoulder. “Nah, pleasure’s all mine. How about a drink?”

“I’m honored, but as I said-“

“Bet you know where to get the finest.”

“Actually, I’ve… never drank at a tavern.”

“Get your first time today, right. Saw a place over that way. Maybe.” She marched off into the city, dragging Galain alongside her.

 

# # #

 

Lucas slammed the door behind him, leaning against it to catch his breath. Finally. I’m safe. I’ve had enough of those fanatics chasing me around here. Thank God I can actually run worth a damn in this body, and even in this state. I’ll go back out there. Just… just not now. I’m just gonna spend a few minutes here. In this dark room. All alone.

“Welcome, stranger,” said a voice in the darkness. Lucas leapt out of his own skin. The back of his head struck the door. He heard girlish laughter. A small flame appeared on a candle, filling the room with a dim light. The figure of a girl appeared before Lucas. “This is what happens when my idiot sister forgets to lock up after closing.”

“Closing? Where am I?”

The girl brushed her finger against more candles, gradually bringing more light to the room. Her hair was the color of wheat, reaching down to her waist along with several braided locks. She glided about the room, as if her task was part of some elegant dance. Her ruby cape flashed brilliant red with her motions, its golden trim practically glowing. When the final candle was lit, she danced up to Lucas and leaned in close, goggling him with intense scarlet eyes. “Welcome to Charming TakTiks!”

“T-this is a store?” he asked, shifting his gaze away from the garb beneath the cape which revealed a bit too much of her bronze skin.

“Uh, duh! Didn’t you see the sign?”

“No… I was kind of busy run-“

“Running from a sudden increase in popularity?”

“Yeah. How did you-“

“Know that? What do you think I do here?” She waved her arms around at the candles and charms scattered around the room.

“Oh, I see! You’re a-“

“Fortune teller. Correct! And I can tell you’re trying to avoid a whole bunch of people who have taken an interest in you.”

“You saw the crowd?”

“Fortune teller.”

“R-right.”

“While you’re here, wanna get your fortune read? Let’s just say I sympathize with your plight, so I’ll give you a special discount.”

“I suppose it couldn’t hurt.” After all, fate seems to be paying a lot of attention to me recently.

“Great, great! First customer I’ve had in a while. Auros above, how long has it been since I last did one of these?” She continued to ramble to herself while procuring a table and chairs from a back room.

“So how does this fortune telling work? Are you going to do something with cards or bones?”

“Oh, we won’t need anything like that. There’s a pretty simple technique I’ve learned for Sublime.”

“How did you know I was Sublime?” The girl froze and shot him a dangerous look. “Fortune teller. Got it.”

“Call me Tiki,” she said, her mood brightening considerably. “And if you happen to hear horrifying sounds involving metal and explosions, that would be Taki. My sis,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“You two work together here?”

“If owning two separate shops that deal in completely different things counts, then yeah. And before you ask, Taki’s business is in weapons and all that.”

“She’s a blacksmith? All by herself?”

“No, she sits in her workshop all day and night until she’s had enough of it exploding in her face and moves on to the next doomed project.”

“O-oh.”

“Seriously, aren’t sisters just the worst?”

“I’d really rather not-“

“You know what, I don’t care. You’re here to learn about your own impending doom. Now take a seat and we’ll get right to it.”

“Yeah. Okay.” Lucas sat on the stiff wooden chair, while Tiki reclined in her luxurious armchair.

Tiki closed her eyes and began to speak in an exaggerated dramatic voice. “I can see you are struggling to adapt to your new situation. You are nervous about important decisions you will have to make, and the consequences your choices will have on others.”

“What should I do to feel more confident in myself?”

“To gain wisdom, consult the elders. Bring questions to the old men who discuss philosophy and academics in the town square. Offer them great rewards, and they will share with you the great depths of their knowledge and insight. But do not speak with Emulus the Deceiver, the man with two valuable amulets. He knows nothing of worth, and will try to touch you on the butt.”

“Wait, what?”

“Silence! If you are approached by Emulus the Deceiver, strike him across the face or threaten him with a knife.”

“Why don’t I just steer clear of him? Or better yet, bring someone from the Holy Order to arrest him?”

Tiki opened her eyes. “Because he’s the Deceiver. He keeps telling everyone I stole his third amulet.”

“Is that what that is?” Lucas asked, pointing to a golden locket hanging on the wall.

“I didn’t steal it!”

“Okay, okay. What about the Augur? He seems pretty wise. Shouldn’t I consult him instead?”

Tiki sighed. “Fine. The Augur’s okay, too. I guess.”

“Sorry. I do appreciate your words, though. I mean, I know where not to go now, right?”

“Yeah, sure. Now what would you like me to look into your future about?”

“Huh? I thought you just told my fortune already.”

“Uh, no? I was just giving you some advice. C’mon, time is wasting and I’m sure there will be several others waiting outside when we’re done.”

“Okay, I’ll try and make this quick. I just want to know what dangers there might be in my near future.”

“Alright, that doesn’t seem too hard. Just put your right hand here.”

“Got it.” Lucas lay his hand flat on the middle of the table. Tiki placed her hand on top of his and closed her eyes.

“Be absolutely still and silent,” she whispered.

Lucas tried to relax, but something was stirring in the air around him. Am I sensing mana?  Flames danced on the candles in unison.

Tiki’s eyes shot open. She drew a sharp breath. The candles immediately ceased their movement. “I saw it,” she said. “There was a blade. A dagger. It floated in the air, then came to rest in the hands of a faceless man. But then I saw many figures bathed in light, who tore the man apart.”

“That’s… grim.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Judging from the last part, it’s a happy ending. I mean, unless you’re the faceless man. But in all seriousness, it probably means you’ll find people to stand beside you when you need them most. It might sound lame, but my vision is saying to rely on others when you need help.”

“I don’t think it’s lame. It’s kind of a relief, actually. I’ve been really worried about having to do a lot of things by myself. But I guess I’ll be around a lot of people in the near future, so everything should work out, right?”

“Right! Just don’t own a dagger, or else you might end up as the faceless man who gets killed by his friends.”

“T-that was a joke, right?”

“Yeah. But I mean it. Don’t touch a dagger. Ever. Or maybe just until it gets sorted out.”

Lucas chuckled. “I’ll try to keep that in mind. Well then, thank you for your guidance.” He stood up and extended his hand to her.

“Any time, as long as we’re open. That’ll be ten baums.”

“Bombs?”

“Baums. Yeah.”

“Is that… money?”

“No, it’s the love and kindness that makes the world go round. Of course it’s money!”

“I… um… don’t have any.”

Tiki’s smile dropped. “Not a single baum? Don’t try and pull a fast one on me. I’m giving you a discount, you know.”

“I thought you meant it would be free.”

“What, you thought I’d take the pleasure of your company as payment? Did you not see the sign outside?”

“The sign? No, I didn’t see one.”

“It was right next to the door. It had all the prices, it gets switched out every day- oh. This is my sister’s fault. Of course.”

“See? It’s not my fault. So can’t you-“

“Just pay the damn price! Whatever you’re trying to pull, it’s not gonna work on me. You don’t look poor, unless you crawled up to the surface and stole what you’ve got on you. But then you’d definitely be able to afford my reading.”

“I’m sorry, okay? Listen, I’m with the Sublime caravan. The Augur said something about taking care of our finances. I’ll be on my way to him anyways, so I can talk to him and get this sorted-“

“Oh, now you’re trying to tell me you’ve got in good with the Augur? That you’re oh so important that you can just waltz on up to the guy and ask him for advice, and money, and… and… You just might be the worst liar I’ve ever known. At least try to make up more believable stories. The Augur?” She shook her head. “Auros above.”

“I’m not lying. I’m really not. You knew I was being followed by a lot of people, right? It’s because I’m the… Warden.” Now that I think about it, she has every right to not believe me.

“Get out,” she growled, pointing to the exit.

Lucas opened his mouth to protest, but stopped himself and headed for the door. I’ll just ask for money from the Augur. Then I can pay her back. Or maybe an anonymous donation? He pushed against the door. It wouldn’t budge.

“Pull it, idiot.”

“R-right,” he said, hoping she couldn’t see his embarrassment. He reached for the door handle. It turned on its own, and the door swung back, slamming into his face.

“Oh no! I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me,” a girl on the other side of the door whimpered. Lucas clutched his throbbing forehead as his assailant entered the room. She resembled Tiki, but her hair was wavy and dark brown, and not nearly as long. She wore a modest orange tunic with a grey shawl wrapped around her shoulders. She looked up at Lucas with tearing eyes, as if the whole world was about to fall apart.

“It’s okay,” he said, trying to appear fine for her own sake. “It was just a little accident.”

“Good one, sis!” Tiki laughed, then switched to a serious expression in a flash. “Now why are you in my side of the shop?”

“I-I-I… um, I accidentally might have… left my key inside.”

“I figured as much. You forgot the sign, too. Fine then, go on back to your side. You’d better learn to make it on your own. I’ll only be around for another week, and I don’t wanna come back to a mess. Got it?”

“Y-yes, sister.” She brought her attention back to Lucas. “I really am sorry. Are you hurt? I think I have some m-m-medicine over on-“

“Stop trying to steal my customers!” Tiki roared. Her sister yelped and buried her face in the shawl.

Lucas smiled for the timid girl. “I’m fine, see? Nothing to worry about. Thank you for being so kind,” he said, casting a sideways glance at Tiki.

“M-my name is Taki,” she said, revealing a bashful smile.

Lucas felt an overwhelming desire to protect this girl. “Nice to meet you, Taki. My name’s Lucas.”

Taki’s smile grew. Her raspberry-colored eyes began were ready to well up with tears of joy. “Nice to meet you too, Lucas.”

“Lucas?” Allie called just outside. “Is that you in there? What are you doing, running off to hang around a bunch of girls?” Taki hid her beet red face. Tiki snorted and rolled her eyes.

“I wasn’t up to anything. There was a huge crowd waiting for me, and then I couldn’t find you, so I just tried to find a place where I could be alone. And that’s how I got here, but then it turned out to be a shop for this fortune teller, and she said she’d give me a special discount so I thought she meant it would be free but instead at the end of her fortune telling she said I owed ten bombs which I guess is the currency in Elys but obviously I don’t have any so I told her that and now she thinks I’m lying because I told her about the Augur and-“

“Shut up and get out of my shop.” Tiki shoved Lucas outside, slamming the door behind him.

“Run that by me one more time,” Allie said.

“I got my fortune read but I don’t have any money. But I want to pay her back.”

“No time. Gotta go see the Augur.”

“Actually, I was planning to see him as well. He did mention something about taking care of our financial needs during our stay here.”

“I’m afraid… you won’t be doing any... anything of the sort,” said an out of breath Holy Order knight. “I’ve finally… caught up to you.”

“Who the hell are you?” Lucas asked.

“I am… I am Sir Galain Thurdark: urban cohort.”

Allie laughed. “Just can’t stay away from me, can you?”

“After witnessing your… your… devilry, it would be unwise of me to allow you to remain unchecked any longer.”

“Oh, shut it. You liked it.”

Galain’s face turned red. “I have no interest in allowing a young woman such as yourself to behave in such a shameful manner.”

Allie whispered to Lucas. “Quite the catch, right?”

“What did you do?”

“Had some fun and brought him along for it.”

“In the name of the law, do not run away or resist anymore,” Galain said.

“Bought me a drink and now this?”

“I will not fall to your twisting of words. You will cease your degeneracy and be brought before the Augur.”

“Relax, big guy,” Allie said. “Heading over to him anyways.”

“Right. Then allow me to escort you to the temple, so that I may keep a close watch on you.”

“Haven’t got an eyeful already?”

“At this point, I only wish to see you restrained.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere, right.”

Galain sighed and shifted his attention to Lucas. “You are the Warden, correct? On behalf of the Holy Order, I humbly apologize for any harm that has befallen you. From this point on, we have been assigned to guard you at all times.”

“Oh? Well, I appreciate it, but I think I’ll be fine if you just make sure the adoring masses give me some space.”

“Yes, of course. It would be my pleasure. And as for this troublemaker,” he looked at Allie.

“She’s with me.” Allie stuck her tongue out at Galain.

“As you wish, milord,” he said with another heavy sigh.

The group headed back towards the temple. The streets were busier than ever, and it was difficult to take more than a few steps without running into a passerby wishing to speak to the Warden. Galain did an admirable job of deterring fanatics and the occasional protestor. To Lucas’s surprise, Allie was not making faces or crude gestures at everyone. By the time they had reached the top of the hill where the great tower stood, the people of Elysia had learned not to overwhelm their new hero.

The Augur appeared before them. “Welcome, welcome. I assume you have been out, exploring the grand city?”

“Sir!” Galain started with a salute. “This girl, Allie Fisher. Her behavior is absolutely unacceptable. I believe she should be discharged from the project and punished accordingly.”

“Was good the whole way here. Swear it.”

“Allie, I’m afraid we cannot allow you to act in the way those of the navy have allowed you to.”

“K-knew about that, did you?”

“This is a place of order, and the journey of the Sublime requires unity and control. Your freedom does not hang in the balance. Henceforth, you will be held accountable for your actions, as any other right-minded individual should. I pray you learn to appreciate your good favor.”

“Understood… sir.”

“I have no intention of turning you away. Therefore, you and Lucas shall be monitored during your stay in Elysia. Sir Thurdark? I believe you are up to the task.”

“Sir, I must ask that you assign someone else to watch over… her.”

“Nonsense. You two seem to be getting along just fine.”

Allie grinned. “Won’t let you down.”

“I am glad to hear it. Now, as for our Warden... I hope you’re fitting into your new title well?”

“Well, I’d say it’s been a bit of a mixed bag. I sort of stumbled into a fortune teller’s shop, but she kicked me out because I didn’t have any money. I want to pay her what I owe. She did give me a reading, after all.”

“I see. Yes, you would be unlikely to have a single baum to your name at this point. But performing a reading before presenting the price seems less than reputable. Were you perhaps tricked?”

“It seemed legitimate enough. I mean, I could feel some power moving around the room. I thought it might have been mana, like she’s a Sublime.”

“Elaborate magic techniques are used to feign divination. Some practiced… artists, as they call themselves, can read the effects their client’s presence has on mana to sense one’s current state of mind and lingering emotions.”

“So I was being played the whole time?”

“I’m afraid that is likely the case. It is quite common for fraudulent fortune tellers in Elysia to recommend visiting a place where philosophers meet. The clients will return feeling more knowledgeable, despite no real input from the teller herself. We’ve even had to deal with a man being assaulted and baselessly accused of horrific things repeatedly by complete strangers. Emulus the Receiver, if I recall.”

“O-oh, I see.” Lucas cursed his stupidity. I assumed people like that wouldn’t exist in this world. I guess anywhere you go, people are still people.

“But I digress. I already have a wallet here for you. I had lost in you the crowd before I could hand it over.”

“Woah, how much is in this thing?” Lucas stared in awe at the pouch filled with small silver coins.

“Five hundred baums, which should still last several days if shared between the three of you. If you’re ever in need of more, stop by the tents on the west side of the temple.”

“Wow, thank you. Um, this might sound bad, but I think I’d rather not pay back that fraud.”

“Thank Auros. Thought you’d insist on it,” Allie said.

“Warden, may I suggest something?”

“Galain, right? Just call me Lucas. What is it?”

“If you are so keen on having your fortune read, we can go visit the seer of Flagratia.”

“She is a real fortune teller, yeah?”

“Indeed, she is renown across all of Elys for her readings.”

“Well then, why not? I’m actually kind of excited to see the real deal.”

“Wonderful. She may even offer her service for free to the Warden. I do hear she’s quite the charmer.”

 

# # #

 

“You’ve got a lot of nerve coming back here,” said Tiki.

“I certainly didn’t intend to,” Lucas replied.

“You’re the fraud, right. And seer too?” Allie asked.

“And who’s this bitch?” The candles behind Tiki erupted, startling her.

Allie smirked. “Guess.”

Taki poked her head out from the door separating the two sides of the shop. “Who’s there? Ah, is that… Hello, Lucas!”

“Hi, Taki.”

Tiki turned to her sister. “Yes. Hi, Taki. What did I tell you about coming over to this side when I’m talking to customers?”

“Not to!” she squealed, disappearing behind the door.

Tiki huffed, then regained her composure. “So what are you here for?”

“I want to have my fortune read. Um, I’m the Warden, so could you maybe-“

“Do it for free this time too? How about no.”

“But you already knew about me.”

“So?”

“You tried to scam the Warden.”

“You tried to get a reading for free.”

“Okay, fine. I’ll pay the ten baums from last time.”

“And you’ll pay for this reading too. Right?”

“Yes. Happy now?”

“Unbelievably,” she said, beaming. “Now this is going to be a very special reading, since you’re the Warden. This reading could alter the very course of history! I’ll just add interest from last session, and… that’ll be two hundred baums.”

“Two hundred? Are you mad?”

“Oh, come now. Do I look like the type to hold a grudge?”

Allie scoffed. “Tell you what you look like…”

“It’s okay, Allie. We can afford it. But we better be getting our money’s worth from the seer of Flagratia.”

“Of course, of course. Now just give me your hand.”

“What about the table?”

“What about it? I never use it for my real readings.”

Lucas shook his head and put out his hand. Tiki clasped it between hers and shut her eyes for a moment. Her eyes suddenly opened, glowing bright red. When the light faded, she took a nervous step back.

“It was that quick? What did you see?”

“W-well it was kind of hard to make sense of it. The place I saw… it was nothing like anywhere I’ve been.”

“Maybe it was my world?”

“Couldn’t say. It wasn’t a place I recognized. It could be your world, it could be in the Outer Lands. It could even be on some backwater island where a bunch of dirty inbreds live.”

Allie let out a low whistle.

“But yeah, all I saw was a beach and some girl. It looked like you two weren’t exactly getting along. I think she was crying? Sorry, it was really hard to coax it out of you for some reason. Does that remind you of anything?”

“No,” he said coldly. “I don’t have any clue what any of that could mean.”

“Well excuse me for trying.”

“S-sorry. Thanks for your reading, I guess.”

“Oh, you don’t want another one? I almost feel like I should care about not accomplishing much for you.”

“No, I think we’re done here.”

“Then thanks for the two hundred,” she said, pocketing the coins. She didn't bother to send the group off with a good-bye as they left.

Once they were a good ways into the street, Lucas breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m so sorry I dragged you guys into this.”

Galain was shaken. “How could the seer of Flagratia be so… so… unpleasant?”

Allie was smiling from ear to ear. “Best day ever.”

Discussion (3)

  1. Justice

    This addition had far more detailed description that was lacking in the other chapters. Well done. I am able to picture the world you have created a lot better.

    Allie has blue hair? Really?! Dang. I was rooting for red.

    I was a bit confused at how Lucas’s sudden fame played out in this chapter. The title of Warden has no meaning to me here at the current moment. Lucas is just suddenly given this and now is super famous. There is a lack of explanation or history shown that would tell a reader that this is a big deal. Is a Warden like Jesus famous and people just want to touch him? Do women want to have his babies or does everyone want to stone him? (It may be in past installments but I don’t recall or it was passed up too quickly to commit to memory).
    Also, Lucas’s reaction was too scripted as if he knew this bestowed title was coming. I’ll have to read chapter three again but I don’t recall any discussion of his elevation into VIP status to prepare him for this.
    If just being thrust upon him at the spur of the moment then his calm and accepting reactions was way out of place to make the event at the temple feel real.
    I think something like a Paul Revere moment would help sell this event. Some random citizen goes around town announcing there is to be a new Warden. This will open up a chance to explain why a Warden title is so valued and serve as a good build up to people wanting to chase the man down afterwards.

    That aside, the new characters were a charming addition. Sir Galain Thurdarc sounds like an uptight boot fresh out of boot camp. Probably still has ideas of grandeur and noble dreams in his head. And his interactions with Allie? Nice touch. Kind of feel sorry for him trying to contain the girl’s behavior.
    Taki and Tiki were fun to read. Lucas’s reaction to Taki’s aggressiveness seems a bit off. It may just be his character but as I read it I was thinking; ‘What is with this chick? And why isn’t Lucas just as agitated with her as I am?’ I can’t think of one male who would put up with such behavior so passively. Lucas should at least harbor some inner venting thoughts about it.

    Tiki was just too cute a character for me to have complaints with. If she does have a larger role to play, I hope Lucas goes into overprotective father mode with Tiki. That is my favorite troupe in any anime. Comedy gold!

    I’m going to be really direct with this next part of the review. I’m enjoying your supporting characters far more then Lucas. Not much was here in this chapter that made me want to root or sympathize with him. His interactions with others were okay, but nothing that made him stand out among the other more colorful personalities being presented. He’s too watered down and lacks flavor to be considered the hero or anti-hero of the story at this point. If I recall correctly, you were building him up as a good guy who has to make choices that morally make him into a bad guy in the eyes of everyone. If that is the case he needs to start being a paragon of higher quality at this point. Something that would cause the reader to outright feel sorry for a person who tried to be better only to fall hard.
    What is fun here is that the way it is written is you can still do this in future chapters of building Lucas’s public image as this refined noble hero which will give Allie and other side characters who stick around more value as they know Lucas is not these things people believe him to be. They get to support the man being placed on a pedestal who is not really fit for the position.

    I may be looking too much into the character development with Lucas or just don’t like him. Could just be a really slow build you have in mind for him. I’ll keep reading the future installments to find out. Regardless, the interactions with new characters were fun and were solid additions. Looking forward to the next installment.

    1. Cheyenne J Austria Post author

      Thank you very much for all of these notes!
      I’m doing some heavy revisions here and with the other chapters. Though I’d still consider this Act 1 of the overall story, you make good points that I need to establish more of what’s going on. The original Warden was briefly discussed in the first chapter, but basically it was an Outlander who came to Elys and fought for the equal treatment of their people. They were also considered the first person to use magic, even though it’s only been available to Elysians afterwards. There’s a lot of tales about the Warden’s power, but most are considered tall tales instead of historical fact. I’ll elaborate on it more in revisions, but the title itself has more meaning to Lucas than it does for others. In not too long the characters will be discovering more about it.
      Lucas could kind of see being made Warden coming, because he’s kind of in the mindset of being a protagonist. It’s kind of meta, but he is familiar enough with these kinds of stories to anticipate certain tropes. I’m going to change his character to make him more confident but also reckless, to have him feel like this world is more of a fantasy than a real place with real consequences.
      I think I’m also going to tone down my use of profanity. It’s a habit I picked up from writing a screenplay involving teenagers and young adults, but other than a select few moments, when I look back on these chapters it sometimes seems like too much.

  2. Justice

    It might have been because its been a while since I first read chapter one to remember this detail. It might be good to have people whisper about the Warden or tell an epic tale or say something like: ‘Is Lucas as powerful as a Warden?’ I don’t see a motivation or gain for Lucas with this current version as to why he take on this title and not fight it. So far, it seems to be nothing more then a headache for him.

    It really depends on what kind of guy you want here with Lucas. He can be brutish which could show confidence but has a guilty conscience which makes him dependent on the other characters for support. On the other hand, Lucas can be so out of place that others are basically leading him to do this and that and he does this because he can. Again, it will give the side characters more purpose and connection with this guy.

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