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Chapter 23.2: Ilami

by Lightsong


Mr. Haifei only stared at Ilami once she finished her story. It was unnerving, more so when she felt the heat in the office heightened several degrees. Subconsciously, she wiped the sweat on her forehead. He might not say anything to her, but it was certain he wasn’t in a good mood.

‘Child,’ he finally said through gritted teeth. ‘Haven’t you learned from your mistake? Have your forgotten the demise you brought upon yourself with your foolishness? Two of your friends almost died. You thought with this plan you made with your teenage friends, you could do better? Or is it your wish to die?’

‘For Xesar’s sake, don’t overreact,’ Ilami said, trying to maintain her composure. She had never seen Mr. Haifei this angry. ‘Felaris and her friends know what they’re doing.’

He stood up. ‘And I know what they’ve done,’ he countered. ‘They went around this school interrogating students, acting as if no one would’ve known what they were doing. Be glad the ones who know are the ones who won’t report them to Venaria – or worse, the Church.’

Ilami blinked. She didn’t know about this.

‘All of you are dealing with something bigger than yourself. Foolish, foolish child.’ He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples, then took a deep breath. ‘This plan of yours, when are you going to carry it out?’

‘Next week.’

‘Praise Serra!’ he said. ‘I can still stop your idiocy from being fully manifested. This is what you’re going to do. You will go to Gael and tell him there is a change of plan. Do not tell any of this to Felaris and her friends – especially Veris. I don’t trust him.’

‘I – ’ seeing the fire in Mr. Haifei’s eyes, Ilami didn’t continue. ‘Fine. Tell me what you’ve in mind.’

As Mr. Haifei told her the new plan, Ilami frowned. She didn’t like it at all. It involved lying to her Felaris and her friends – plus, she wasn’t sure Gael would’ve agreed to it. There was too much deceiving in this new plan.

‘Do you understand?’ Mr. Haifei said, finishing his explanation.

‘I do, but I don’t think we have to go that extreme,’ Ilami said, folding her arms.

Mr. Haifei looked at her as if she had just shrunk to the size of a child. ‘Do you expect it to be squeaky clean, brimming with moral? Once everything is over, your friends will understand. Now, go and persuade Gael to help you.’

‘He doesn’t know you like I did,’ Ilami said, frowning deeper. ‘Are you certain he’s going to trust you?’

You don’t trust me,’ Mr. Haifei said. ‘You gave me information because you knew I had better chances to stop the Church’s experimentation, and yet somewhere in you, you doubt me. Our common goal is the only thing that puts us in the same side. There are many things you don’t know about me.’

He tilted his head. ‘Who could be certain you know enough about Gael? The reason he doesn’t have a blessing, and the reason Venaria allowed him to study here? You haven’t thought about any of this, and yet you trust him, because you trust who he is in the present.’

Ilami gritted her teeth. She could just feel the needles Mr. Haifei slowly pushed into her skin. She opened the door behind her. ‘You’re wrong,’ she said, and left.

.

‘Um, let me understand this right,’ Gael said as he sat on his bed. ‘Mr. Haifei told you he was a spy from another church that coincidentally –‘ Ilami frowned at the word ‘– has the same goal as us. You wanted to be a part of the church – a part of this stopping-the-experimentation mission, in fact – and he rejected you because of how close you were with Mrs. Venaria, his enemy. For the last resort, you told him our plan and now, he asked you to tell me about his plan.’

He frowned. ‘I don’t know. I know I’m optimistic, but don’t you think you’re trusting him too early?’

‘I don’t trust him!’ Ilami said, sitting next to him. She rubbed her face, tired of rehashing what had happened. ‘It’s just – it’s obvious he has a better chance in this with Xesar’s church as his back up than us, mere students.’

Gael stroked his non-existent beard. ‘Hmm, you do have a point. Alright, I’m in.’ Seeing Ilami’s face lit up, he continued, ‘But only if we have a backup plan. One that is ours and ours only. I don’t want to risk Mr. Haifei backstabbing us after everything is over.’

Ilami nodded vigorously. ‘Yes, yes, of course.’ She grabbed Gael’s hand. ‘Now, we just need to act as if we’re still following Felaris’s plan. She can’t know about this. And that includes Veris and Seya.’

Gael nodded. ‘Understood.’

Ilami stayed there, watching him. There was no way he forgot the thing she asked.

‘What?’

He did. Of course he did. Sometimes men were clueless. ‘The thing between you and Haka. What happened?’

For some reasons, Gael’s face reddened. ‘Um, what are you talking about?’

‘At first, I thought the way both of you showed your affection on each other was only friendly in nature. But from what I saw last time when we were with Felaris and her friends – you being cheerful, Veris being crestfallen – I knew there was something more. Now, I can give you a reasonable guess, but I prefer you clear it for me. Makes everything easier.’

Gael held up his hands. ‘Okay, fine! I’ll tell you, but only if you – you know, don’t react negatively to this. Can you promise me that?’

The word rolled out of Ilami’s mouth like a pebble on a smooth sand hill. ‘But of course.’

‘I – Haka and I are a couple. We like each other.’ Gael shut his eyes as if he was waiting for something to come.

Ilami could only raise her eyebrows. ‘Oh. Oh, that’s why. I didn’t know I could be right in this. Interesting. Interesting, indeed.’

Gael opened his eyes slowly. ‘You’re… you’re not mad?’

Ilami blinked. ‘Why should I? Boys can like boys. I just learned it now.’

‘And you’re okay with that?’

Ilami gave it some thoughts. Mother, Jaxin – everyone in her family, in fact – never made it a point that a boy couldn’t love another. Perhaps it was because that wasn’t important in the family – both Alyosha and her weren’t interested in courtship and flings. Father led Alyosha in business while Mother shaped her to be an assassin. Now that she knew anything was possible, she had to make her own opinions about things.

‘I think – I think both of you are perfect for each other,’ Ilami said finally, smiling. ‘He helps you to be a better person and you him. While this is the first time I see such relationship, it’s not hard for me to see a couple of lovers that works.’

Gael smiled and took a nervous breath. ‘Is it?’ He paused. ‘And now I have to save him.’

And Aleveri. And you’re not going to do it alone.’ Ilami grabbed Gael’s hand. ‘For once, we finally have an adult to back us up.’

‘Hopefully it’s the right adult,’ Gael said.

‘Don’t ruin it,’ Ilami said, rolling her eyes. She looked at Secca’s bed. ‘Where’s Secca, anyway? We’ve been in your room quite a lot lately and I rarely saw him.’

‘He’s busy. Said something about a project. At least he’s occupied with his own matter.’ Gael looked at Ilami. ‘Can you keep being here? I long for company, now that Haka’s gone and Veris’s not talking to me –’

‘Hmm?’ Ilami raised her eyebrow. ‘Why isn’t he? He just has a crush on you but you don’t feel the same way, so surely he’d get the hint and move on.’

Gael’s mouth widened. ‘You caught on that too?’ He rubbed his temple. ‘Well, that’s not exactly how it happened.’

Another boy drama? To be honest, she’d prefer to not know about these things. Romance and jealousy weren’t her strongest department, and they didn’t interest her. There were other things much more important than those two. Like knowing what happened to Zivil’s dead son, for example. But this was Gael they were talking about, and like it or not, she had to listen to him as a friend. Well. Not everything could go her way. At the very least, she might learn something new from this… love triangle? … between Gael, Haka, and Veris.

‘Alright, alright. Spill it.’


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Wed Dec 01, 2021 6:57 am
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!

First Impression: Okayy....so this was a bit less eventful and we get a slight sense that things are moving on at least a tiny bit so that's a good sign so far. The ending got a little bit problematic, just a teensy bit, but otherwise, solid end to this chapter.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Mr. Haifei only stared at Ilami once she finished her story. It was unnerving, more so when she felt the heat in the office heightened several degrees. Subconsciously, she wiped the sweat on her forehead. He might not say anything to her, but it was certain he wasn’t in a good mood.

‘Child,’ he finally said through gritted teeth. ‘Haven’t you learned from your mistake? Have your forgotten the demise you brought upon yourself with your foolishness? Two of your friends almost died. You thought with this plan you made with your teenage friends, you could do better? Or is it your wish to die?’


Okay...that was kind of what I was expecting to have as the reaction to Ilami just divulging all the plans. Well, well, let's see if this leads to something good...right now though, it looks like it just only going to end up getting shut down before they inevitably just do it anyway in secret.

Ilami blinked. She didn’t know about this.

‘All of you are dealing with something bigger than yourself. Foolish, foolish child.’ He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples, then took a deep breath. ‘This plan of yours, when are you going to carry it out?’

‘Next week.’

‘Praise Serra!’ he said. ‘I can still stop your idiocy from being fully manifested. This is what you’re going to do. You will go to Gael and tell him there is a change of plan. Do not tell any of this to Felaris and her friends – especially Veris. I don’t trust him.’

‘I – ’ seeing the fire in Mr. Haifei’s eyes, Ilami didn’t continue. ‘Fine. Tell me what you’ve in mind.’


Okayy...a little inconsistent here now if Ilami is going to end up just listening after all just because someone yelled at her a little louder than usual. But...umm, Mr. Haifei's yelling is justified I suppose. Their plans can be a bit silly once you analyze them a little bit further down and really thing, but also I feel like he's now breaking his own rule of being quiet by shouting and he could end up revealing this to anyone nearby listening in.

Mr. Haifei looked at her as if she had just shrunk to the size of a child. ‘Do you expect it to be squeaky clean, brimming with moral? Once everything is over, your friends will understand. Now, go and persuade Gael to help you.’

‘He doesn’t know you like I did,’ Ilami said, frowning deeper. ‘Are you certain he’s going to trust you?’

‘You don’t trust me,’ Mr. Haifei said. ‘You gave me information because you knew I had better chances to stop the Church’s experimentation, and yet somewhere in you, you doubt me. Our common goal is the only thing that puts us in the same side. There are many things you don’t know about me.’


Okay...well Mr. Haifei is certainly an acquired taste I will say. Its good to see someone being honest for once, but also after some time of him just continuously berating Ilami, its getting just a tiny bit annoying now how he seems to have a ego the size of a planet.

He tilted his head. ‘Who could be certain you know enough about Gael? The reason he doesn’t have a blessing, and the reason Venaria allowed him to study here? You haven’t thought about any of this, and yet you trust him, because you trust who he is in the present.’

Ilami gritted her teeth. She could just feel the needles Mr. Haifei slowly pushed into her skin. She opened the door behind her. ‘You’re wrong,’ she said, and left.


Well...Mr. Haifei's words are definitely sounding like that even to me, so I can't imagine how Ilami is feeling at the moment. Poor girl has probably gone through enough in the last couple of days.

‘Um, let me understand this right,’ Gael said as he sat on his bed. ‘Mr. Haifei told you he was a spy from another church that coincidentally –‘ Ilami frowned at the word ‘– has the same goal as us. You wanted to be a part of the church – a part of this stopping-the-experimentation mission, in fact – and he rejected you because of how close you were with Mrs. Venaria, his enemy. For the last resort, you told him our plan and now, he asked you to tell me about his plan.’

He frowned. ‘I don’t know. I know I’m optimistic, but don’t you think you’re trusting him too early?’

‘I don’t trust him!’ Ilami said, sitting next to him. She rubbed her face, tired of rehashing what had happened. ‘It’s just – it’s obvious he has a better chance in this with Xesar’s church as his back up than us, mere students.’


This is a weak argument I think. I honestly would trust Mrs. Venaria more than Mr. Haifei at this point, he just went on a bit too much about how great he was and how terrible everyone else was. Also..well, when Gael sums that up there, you can actually see kind of how silly Ilami was being there in that office. I suppose it goes to show where her anger can really be her undoing sometimes.

Gael nodded. ‘Understood.’

Ilami stayed there, watching him. There was no way he forgot the thing she asked.

‘What?’

He did. Of course he did. Sometimes men were clueless. ‘The thing between you and Haka. What happened?’

For some reasons, Gael’s face reddened. ‘Um, what are you talking about?’

‘At first, I thought the way both of you showed your affection on each other was only friendly in nature. But from what I saw last time when we were with Felaris and her friends – you being cheerful, Veris being crestfallen – I knew there was something more. Now, I can give you a reasonable guess, but I prefer you clear it for me. Makes everything easier.’


Well, the Veris situation is still not satisfactorily sorted out to be honest, I still don't like Gael's done at all here....but I like that Ilami has remembered to dig this particular bit of information out. I don't think Gael is going to try to hide this.

Ilami could only raise her eyebrows. ‘Oh. Oh, that’s why. I didn’t know I could be right in this. Interesting. Interesting, indeed.’

Gael opened his eyes slowly. ‘You’re… you’re not mad?’

Ilami blinked. ‘Why should I? Boys can like boys. I just learned it now.’

‘And you’re okay with that?’

Ilami gave it some thoughts. Mother, Jaxin – everyone in her family, in fact – never made it a point that a boy couldn’t love another. Perhaps it was because that wasn’t important in the family – both Alyosha and her weren’t interested in courtship and flings. Father led Alyosha in business while Mother shaped her to be an assassin. Now that she knew anything was possible, she had to make her own opinions about things.


Hmm....well, I'm not surprised by Ilami's reaction at all, but hmm, Gael's seems to have had some proper fear about how that reveal might go. Well, I suppose that is going to be dealt with quickly now. I just hope that the relationship isn't going to be nearly as cringey as it was in that first part where things went a little too fast.

Gael smiled and took a nervous breath. ‘Is it?’ He paused. ‘And now I have to save him.’

‘And Aleveri. And you’re not going to do it alone.’ Ilami grabbed Gael’s hand. ‘For once, we finally have an adult to back us up.’

‘Hopefully it’s the right adult,’ Gael said.

‘Don’t ruin it,’ Ilami said, rolling her eyes. She looked at Secca’s bed. ‘Where’s Secca, anyway? We’ve been in your room quite a lot lately and I rarely saw him.’


OKayy...well I don't think its the right adult there, but it probably is not the wrong adult, there's a bit of a grey area there...and I guess this is now going to start a different kind of change in plans here with this new development.

Another boy drama? To be honest, she’d prefer to not know about these things. Romance and jealousy weren’t her strongest department, and they didn’t interest her. There were other things much more important than those two. Like knowing what happened to Zivil’s dead son, for example. But this was Gael they were talking about, and like it or not, she had to listen to him as a friend. Well. Not everything could go her way. At the very least, she might learn something new from this… love triangle? … between Gael, Haka, and Veris.

‘Alright, alright. Spill it.’


Hmm...this seems to be blown a tiny bit out of proportion here given that we haven't seen Gael even take to Veris since that relationship reveal earlier. I also how to wonder if a love triangle is really suited to this moment right now. There are so many more things going on, dangerous things that need addressing and so throwing a love triangle into the mix is just not a good idea and is a little unnecessary at the moment. Those are best reserved either for the earlier parts of a story where things are quieter or if the entire story itself is mainly romance themed, here there are so many more important things happening, and this just seems like an unnecessary detour more than anything else.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, I think its a good chapter. There's some interesting information getting tossed about, but then also this now feels like a slight bit of a stagnation point here because there's this new plan we're told nothing about and another plan that's not going to happen, it all seems like quite a bit of chaos at the moment and that bit of excitement isn't quite there anymore.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:02 am
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Mea wrote a review...



Hey Light! I'm finally here for this review - sorry for the delay. :)

I'm not sure how I feel about you skimming over what Mr. Heifei tells Ilami about the new plan. It kind of feels like you're deliberately concealing information from us, when we should know that information because Ilami knows it, and we're in her viewpoint. Whatever it is, I hope it's a great plan.

He tilted his head. ‘Who could be certain you know enough about Gael? The reason he doesn’t have a blessing, and the reason Venaria allowed him to study here? You haven’t thought about any of this, and yet you trust him, because you trust who he is in the present.’

I'm sorry, this just didn't really make sense to me. The best I can guess is that he's saying that she trusts Gael because he seems innocent and trustworthy around her, but at what point has he given her reason to doubt her trust? What is he trying to say here?

Also, in the scene break, did Ilami explain the whole plan to Gael, or just explain who Mr. Heifei is and that he has a plan that requires their help? It's not clear how much she explains, and it feels kind of odd that they would move to talking about Gael's love interests rather than the more important topic of their new secret plan. I agree with Pan that it doesn't seem to be a topic of conversation that fits the chapter.

Overall, I'm still not sure what to make of Mr. Heifei. I feel like he's come in really late to the story, and I'm just waiting to see how he's going to change things, but right now I just don't know enough about him or the church he works for to have any kind of opinion on whether this alliance may be a good thing or not.

I also agree with Pan that it's starting to feel like a lot of talking and not enough doing, so I hope they carry out their plans soon.

And I think that's about all I've got for this one! Sorry it's a bit shorter. As always, let me know if you have any questions, and keep writing! :D




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Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:40 pm
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Panikos wrote a review...



Hey, Lightsong! Sorry again for the delay. Everything's just so hectic and busy at the moment - I really miss the summer, when I could actually keep on top of my reviews!

As usual, small fixes will be shown in blue.

Small Comments

‘Haven’t you learned from your mistake? Have your forgotten the demise you brought upon yourself with your foolishness? Two of your friends almost died.


'Demise' very specifically refers to death, so this makes it sound like the mistake killed her. Which it obviously didn't. I'd swap it out for something like 'peril' - that would fit better.

‘Do you expect it to be squeaky clean, brimming with morality?


‘He doesn’t know you like I do,’ Ilami said, frowning deeper


‘You gave me information because you knew I had a better chance of stopping the Church’s experimentation


‘You don’t trust me,’ Mr. Haifei said. ‘You gave me information because you knew I had better chances to stop the Church’s experimentation, and yet somewhere in you, you doubt me. Our common goal is the only thing that puts us in the same side. There are many things you don’t know about me.’

He tilted his head. ‘Who could be certain you know enough about Gael? The reason he doesn’t have a blessing, and the reason Venaria allowed him to study here? You haven’t thought about any of this, and yet you trust him, because you trust who he is in the present.’


Don't start a new line here; it made me think that Ilami had started speaking and I got confused when she actually spoke.

‘Um, let me understand this right,’ Gael said as he sat on his bed. ‘Mr. Haifei told you he was a spy from another church that coincidentally –‘ Ilami frowned at the word ‘– has the same goal as us. You wanted to be a part of the church – a part of this stopping-the-experimentation mission, in fact – and he rejected you because of how close you were with Mrs. Venaria, his enemy. For the last resort, you told him our plan and now, he asked you to tell me about his plan.’

He frowned. ‘I don’t know. I know I’m optimistic, but don’t you think you’re trusting him too early?’


1) Don't start a new line here, either - it makes me think that someone new is speaking.

2) Is Gael optimistic? I've never thought he had a particularly positive outlook on things. He's too much of a thinker for that.

Gael nodded. ‘Understood.’

Ilami stayed there, watching him. There was no way he forgot the thing she asked.

‘What?’

He did. Of course he did. Sometimes men were clueless. ‘The thing between you and Haka. What happened?’


This seemed really abrupt. I expected them to delve into the details of their backup plan, so I don't understand why Ilami would suddenly shift the conversation to Haka. Plus, she gives no indication that she wants to talk about him, so she can hardly criticise Gael for not picking up to it. They hadn't mentioned Haka once.

‘Hmm?’ Ilami raised her eyebrow. ‘Why isn’t he? He just has a crush on you but you don’t feel the same way, so surely he’d get the hint and move on.’


I don't know if this is supposed to be hilarious but it is. Ilami is so incredibly out of touch with how emotions work. I find it funny that she can pick up on the relationship yet still be so ignorant about how people will react and feel.

Overall Thoughts

I'm going to try and wrap up my thoughts fairly quickly because I desperately need to start my essay, but I've got two main takeaways from this. First, I think this story is becoming a little bit too talky at the moment. It feels like the last few chapters have just involved the characters sitting around and planning their actions rather than actually...doing the actions. It's getting slightly repetitive and I want the story to move. I don't feel like I have a very clear idea of what Felaris is planning and how it's actually going to advance the plot, so I really hope we see some significant developments soon.

I also think that the discussion of Haka and Gael's relationship doesn't feel like it fits in this chapter. I know that Ilami's bound to have questions about it and I like that they're talking about more personal stuff, but it just feels like it cuts off all the suspense. Because, like Ilami says, it's boy drama, and they're dealing with a religious conspiracy. I'm so eager for something dramatic to happen that it's hard to really get invested in a love triangle and gossip about Veris.

I don't want to labour the point, though, so I'll leave it here. The long and short of it is that I want drama. I want to move forward. I want less focus on planning conversations and more focus on action.

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




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Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:22 pm
FireSpyGirl wrote a review...



Hi there!
Interesting chapter!!! Now this is going to be short, so sorry about that. :).
Now there is one sentence that could use a little work.
First off:
"Have your forgotten the demise you brought upon yourself with your foolishness?"
I know that it is just a typo, but it just makes the sentence awkward. Right there at the beginning of it, you want to get rid of the "r" on "your."

I really liked the ending! Keep up the good work!




Lightsong says...


Thanks for the review! I'll appreciate it more if you touch on the plot, characters, flow, etc. That would be a great help. c:




I exist as I am, that is enough
— Walt Whitman