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(LMSVI) The Ruptured Shadow, Chapter 1.3

by HarryHardy


“None of you are helping either of the two young ladies here,” spoked up Raymond. “Apologies for all of this, really. I let this go on too long.” He stood up from his seat.

“I’m Raymond Sanders. You can call me Mr. Sanders, or really Ray is fine. We’ll all be colleagues soon enough, either on or off the field. Neither one of you is getting fired. Well unless…” He paused. “We’ll get to that explanation later.”

Safi gulped. That was not comforting to hear right after breaking down a door within the agency walls, especially with her still holding onto the perfume. Why was she still holding the perfume? Serafina had put the lighter away. Well, it was too late now to put it away without making things look even more awkward than they currently were.

“So… as I was saying. Apologies on behalf of Kate here and our third panel member for this meeting." He pointed at Vankous. "Vankous Frostification. He insisted he be called Lord Kous Kous, but feel free to ignore him and just go with Vankous. Everyone calls him that.”

Safi watched in wide eyed horror as Serafina moved to stifle a laugh at Vankous’s name. Sure, it was absolutely worth laughing at, but how could you possibly be so open about it as to visibly stifle a laugh. Serafina, as far as Safi could remember, was much better than that at controlling her emotions.

There was an indignant squeak by Vankous at that. Safi immediately took a step back, wondering what fury was about to be unleashed. Nothing happened. In fact, as she looked at everyone else in the room, they hadn’t even turned in his direction. Kate and Ray, she was still giddy about being able to use those names, Safi could understand, but Serafina was not taking it seriously either.

Ray, meanwhile, continued with his talk. “So, as I was saying there earlier. That’s what these three are called. With that, I’d like to formally welcome you to the first step in your path to become proper field agents. Congratulations. You have the passed the first test, which is getting into the room.”

Safi couldn’t help the incredibly goofy grin that immediately replaced every sign of worry on her face. They had done it. The idea was correct. They did it. They made it. Okay, it was just the very first step, but they hadn’t messed up and that was always a big deal.

“You did quite admirably in fact,” continued Ray, seemingly ignoring Safi’s change in mood and Serafina’s indifference. “There are three ways into the room. They are in fact used to begin a sort of preliminary sorting process to see what type of person you are. Kate, if you’d maybe explain it to them.”

Kate stood up to join Ray. “Thank you for stealing my speech and ruining the fun.” Something about the way Kate said it made it sound like she was sincerely thankful. Safi didn’t think too far on it. Her mind was too occupied with processing bigger revelations.

“On that note, I’ll explain. You really don’t need to know these, but it helps,” said Kate, “besides we have some time that needs killing.”

Vankous rolled his eyes from next to her.

Kate didn’t seem to want to dignify that with a reaction. “So, first of all there’s the people who stick with the obvious route, that is the ones who use the handle. Its very usable, as long as you can absorb the pain. Then there is actually a very intricate pattern of tiles that, if you tap perfectly, can unlock and open a side window. Last but not the least, you can do anything to destroy the door. If the spell reads that it would be effective in destroying the door, it does… well you saw what it does.

“We have the brute force, sacrifice my hand for this job people, the ones who spot details that are literally invisible, and the ones who pick the simplest solution,” Vankous explained. “All perfectly valid ways with their own pros and cons, but don’t think about those. You don’t have to worry about what it might mean for you. That’s for us to worry about.”

“What did I say about unnecessarily scaring the new recruits?” asked Ray, voice tired like this wasn’t the first time he’d asked that question.

“Not to,” chorused Kate and Vankous.

“And what did you just do?”

“Ooops,” said Vankous while Kate smiled sheepishly.

“Alright, I believe that’s pretty much all we need to be doing in this room, why don’t we get a move on. You two come with me.” Ray pointed to Safi and Serafina before he wheeled around on Kate and Vankous. “And you two get back to whatever you were doing, we want our new recruits to actually stay with us.”

“Whatever,” huffed Vankous, snapping his fingers. There was a brilliant purple light, so bright that Safi had to shield her eyes. Once she managed to blink it away, there was no longer anyone standing where Vankous had stood besides an annoyed looking Ray and a still sheepish looking Kate.

“It was nice meeting you two,” said Kate, turning to Safi and Serafina, although Safi thought she lingered a little longer on Safi. It was probably wishful thinking. “I’m sorry if that made you uncomfortable, I assure you that you’ll love it here. Good Luck. I’ll see you around.” With that, Kate promptly walked into the nearest wall, and instead of a painful collision, she vanished straight into it. Safi tried to keep her gasp below audible levels.

“With that out the way, follow me,” said Ray, gesturing to the door.

Serafina finally spoked up. “Excuse me. Sorry if this is rude, but we were told to come her for an interview of sorts.” She looked back towards Safi who nodded in the affirmative, keeping her mouth firmly shut. Part of her wanted to yell at Serafina to shut up and stop jeopardizing them but she did really want to hear the answer to that.

“That was the interview Ms. Gianova. If you must imagine a traditional interview, think of the door as the interviewer and the question of how to get in as the question asked.” Ray chuckled. “Come on now. This is hardly a job where we’re going to quiz you about your qualifications and aspirations. If those didn’t align with what we needed, you’d never have set foot in the academy, much less the agency.”


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Mon Oct 24, 2022 2:16 pm
Liminality wrote a review...



Hi again Harry!

First Impressions

One of the focuses here seems to be how the trio of judges interact with each other. Raymond definitely comes across as the most traditionally ‘professional’ of the three, but he’s got his own quirks too by that witty ending! I thought Kate and Vankous come across as being younger than Raymond, because some of their dialogue almost makes them sound like someone’s young siblings:

“Not to,” chorused Kate and Vankous.
“And what did you just do?”
“Ooops,” said Vankous while Kate smiled sheepishly.

I wonder if the characters in general so far are meant to be young-ish?
I’m starting to find Safi more endearing now, and I definitely smiled when she did at finding out she’d succeeded.

Dialogue

I felt like the mood between the dialogue and descriptions was a bit discontinuous at times. For example, when Kate says:
Kate stood up to join Ray. “Thank you for stealing my speech and ruining the fun.” Something about the way Kate said it made it sound like she was sincerely thankful.

It’s hard for me to imagine that line being said in a sincere way, and there isn’t really a concrete description to help me make sense of that. Is she smiling warmly? Even with something like that, I can’t help but imagine this line as sarcastic or teasing, somehow >.<
Ray, meanwhile, continued with his talk. “So, as I was saying there earlier. . .

The description here sounds a bit monotonous, “his talk” feeling very mundane, but the dialogue is him congratulating the two and Safi at least has a pretty big emotional response to it.
It’s not a super big issue, but just something to think about.


Characters

I think the characters I like the most in this chapter are Safi and Raymond. I always enjoy a ‘professional’ character that contrasts with their more light-hearted team members, so that might be a personal bias on my part xD

As usual, Safi’s character is depicted consistently – I liked this moment in particular:
She looked back towards Safi who nodded in the affirmative, keeping her mouth firmly shut. Part of her wanted to yell at Serafina to shut up and stop jeopardizing them but she did really want to hear the answer to that.

It shows different aspects of her character at once. On the one hand, she’s afraid of getting things wrong or getting into trouble, so asking a question like that seems like a big no-no to her. On the other hand, she also second-guesses herself, so she doesn’t actually tell Serafina to stop because she thought Serafina’s question might be good to ask after all.

Safi watched in wide eyed horror as Serafina moved to stifle a laugh at Vankous’s name. Sure, it was absolutely worth laughing at, but how could you possibly be so open about it as to visibly stifle a laugh. Serafina, as far as Safi could remember, was much better than that at controlling her emotions.

I like the humor in the bolded part! It felt like a comedic line to me because it’s such a long and complex thought and it seems to be running a mile a minute in Safi’s head – yet ultimately it’s just her admitting that Vankous’s name *is* funny.

I also like that Serafina is getting more jokey moments, as that helps develop her character from the confident and cool impression we got in the first part. Safi’s comment in the first quote also suggests Serafina might have changed a bit since they last saw each other. (which hints at some potential backstory?)

Overall

The agency comes across as quirky and interesting in this chapter and it seems like we’ll be finding out more about it as the story progresses. I’m not super invested in the judges yet at the moment, even though they seem charming-- I expect I’ll get more invested as we spend more time with them. I wonder what further challenges lie ahead for Safi and Serafina.

Hope some of this helps, and feel free to ask for more feedback!
-Lim





Resistance is futile.
— The Borg