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16+ Language Violence

The Forsaken Race - The Hidden Truth: Chapter 18

by RavenAkuma


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and violence.

           

Chapter 18 - Black Omens

                   

                            

Nine days passed since Kita left Lion's Bridge, and the weather in Sybilius's open planes started to turn cold and cloudy. Light sheets of rain came and went, falling for mere minutes before clearing out again. Still, the tall grass blanketing the rolling hills was sprinkled with dew, and the dusty road that wound through them became slippery.

In the morning, about twenty feet off the road, two sylphs were trying to find some shelter under the awning of an inn. Nearby, a small cart was parked with one dark brown armequus pulling it, and just a few cases were in the back.

Mao was at the edge of the awning-covered area, outside the inn. She wore a long-sleeved gray coat with a blue ribbon at the waist and cuffs, a blue dress under it, and stockings with white and pale blue stripes. Yuna was shivering on a nearby bench, regretting her decision to wear a plain light gray dress with no sleeves, and only a thin dark purple coat over it.

As a small crack of thunder rumbled through the overcast sky, Mao finally looked up, inspecting the stormy horizon.

"It looks like the rain may get heavier, Yuna," she spoke. "Are you sure you don't want to borrow one of my coats? You already look like you're freezing."

Yuna laughed a bit. "No offense, Mao, but the last time I borrowed some of your clothes, I had glitter stuck to me for all the following week. I'm not sure if I want to go through the extreme measures to get it all off, again."

"That's not a problem, that's fun!" Mao remarked.

"Not when you work as a nurse," Yuna replied. "I looked like I was one of the patients from the mental ward."

Mao sat down next to her. "Oh, all you wear is boring gray stuff. You need a little sparkle in the mix! Also, the ones I have now only have fur and ribbons. No glitter; I couldn't fit them."

"Still, I don't want to take your things," said Yuna. "I'll live."

Mao sighed, "I sure wish we had the money for that stupid carriage driver. I swear, the first one I found was generous, or he was hiking the prices. Five shillings for me and Kita, very early in the morning, and now the two of us add up to a whopping twenty?"

Yuna arched one brow. "It was five shillings to drive someone from Lion's Bridge to the Royal City?"

"And twenty for us two!" Mao ranted. "I almost slapped the cheap bast -ehm, rude citizen."

Yuna sneered, "I know. I had to hold you back, and keep you restrained until we got back to my house."

While Mao rambled happily, the lady keeping the inn stepped outside, wearing a plain brown dress and cream-colored apron. She swept the porch off, then stepped closer to the duo.

"Careful sitting outside, girls," she said kindly. "You'll freeze."

"Nope, our coats are nice and warm," Mao replied. "Besides, we're only waiting for the rain to clear."

"You may be waiting a bit too long," the innkeeper remarked. "If you're warm enough, though, I have a spare umbrella you can take."

"That'd be great!" Mao agreed.

"What are you two doing out here, anyway?" Asked the innkeeper.

"Passing through," Mao replied. "We're heading to the Royal City. One of our friends is there on business, so we're going there to wait for her to be done. Should be fun!"

The innkeeper laughed, "I bet. Well, I'll go get that umbrella."

"Thanks, bye-bye!" Mao chimed.

The lady went back inside. Now that they weren't being talked to, Yuna made her discomfort a bit more obvious.

Yuna shivered. "You make it sound so nice, but the journey is as terrible as I remember."

Mao moved closer, huddling with her. "I told you that coat isn't warm enough, silly."

Yuna looked unamused. "Mao, all I feel is your boobs on my arm, and they're not very warm."

"Hey, it's not my fault they get in the way!" Mao argued, sliding back just a bit.

"Anyway, let's use that umbrella to expedite this trip," said Yuna. "I want to get there and figure things out as soon as possible, and hopefully that means we can go home faster too."

"Where's your sense of adventure?" Mao teased.

"Easy for you to say!" Yuna argued. "I have a little brother at home, and no one to look after him!"

"Keiru is fine on his own," Mao insisted.

Yuna's eyes narrowed. "As for your parents? I doubt they let you waltz off with an explanation as bad as the one you gave me."

Mao clearly didn't like the subject. "Well, I never told them. I asked once, and they said no, but I went off anyway. I can't stay still when there's so much trouble happening..." She looked out at the horizon. "I want to be able to meet Kita the minute this is over. She may need us after all. Besides, she said to wait for her, but she didn't say we couldn't wait in the city."

"You're just lucky I want to see her majesty," Yuna replied. "I'm excited for that, too."

Mao beamed and sprang to her feet. "Yup! Now let's press on to that palace! We won't get anywhere sitting around, so onward!"

Yuna shuddered. "Umbrella, first."

Mao looked stumped. "Oh, right. Once that nice lady comes back, ONWARD!"

                   

                   

\\\\\

                

                 

Like many of them, one room in the fortress was truly a strange one. Despite feeling stable, the walls, roof, and floor seemed to be made of dark clouds. There was a ramshackle bed in the front-left corner. There was a door adjacent to it, and two tables in either of the other corners. One was little more than a mess of gears, wires, blades, and other random things. The other was more like a brewer's table, crowded with potion and tonic ingredients. They seemed more advanced than the basics from the Hex Den, from the jar of shimmering golden flakes to the bundle of twitching long-fingered paws.

"Dammit- forget this!"

Enraged, Thundur shoved a bowl of smoking liquid off the potion table, letting it crash onto the ground below. Instead of lashing out further, though, she groaned and rested her head in her hands.

Leiytning, leaning against the other table, finally said something after a long while of being silent.

"No luck, I'll assume?"

Thundur growled, "No. It's the same stupid, pointless, repetitive bullshit I've been hearing, and I'm getting very sick of it. Can't there ever be something encouraging?! Or are we all just..."

She trailed off when feeling her brother's hand on her shoulder.

"You're ranting again, calm down," he insisted.

Thundur sighed sadly, finally starting to calm down. She turned, resting her head against his shoulder while trying to collect her scattered thoughts. That also muffled her voice.

"Helpless spirit-walker," she muttered. "Spoke with the four masters, failed to get an answer. Went to the spirit realms, failed to get an answer. Used the spirit summoner, failed to get an answer. Using whatever's left, even resorting to cheap parlor tricks, and still failing to get an answer. Is there something I'm doing wrong?"

"For the last time, it can't be you," Leiytning responded. "Even none of them have an answer, it's that simple."

"That can't be right; that doesn't just happen."

"Say that about the Extinction Battle. Besides, there's a first time for everything, especially in a place as chaotic as the spirit realms. Maybe there's a first time for nothing, too."

"That's stupid," Thundur argued.

"Everything related to spirits is stupid," Leiytning muttered.

Thundur turned back around, still leaning against her brother. "Says you. Maybe I need to find someone more specific, like-"

"Enough," Leiytning said warily. "You should just give this up. You're not doing anything but wasting time and materials, and exhausting yourself over something that may not even exist. Likewise, it pisses you off more than usual, and guess who has to listen to your endless complaining?"

Thundur smacked him. "Don't test me when I'm irritated, dope..." She seemed taken aback. "Although, it might be dying down because of something unavoidable; fewer strands of possibility to follow, as they thin out as they meet in one place. Maybe a prophecy is coming, but I don't know what. Black omens keep manifesting, and other spirit-walkers report them as well, but I can't seem to figure out where they're pointing. The obvious answer would be to expect a plot from the Aubades, but maybe not; maybe there's something else."

"And maybe you're overthinking this again," Leiytning argued. "Relying on these readings isn't wise, anyway. Everything about the spirit world, and the future itself, changes constantly. If you finally get one answer, it could be completely different the very next day."

"It doesn't hurt to get an idea," Thundur argued.

"We only need common sense, not ethereal nonsense," Leiytning muttered. "One, we're still in a bloody war with Aubades. Two, gods know why, but mutants are now popping up everywhere. Obviously, trouble is brewing, but not knowing who will strike first, the gods and spirits only want you to think they know and keep you convinced that they're useful."

"It makes sense for Aubades to be involved, they always look for trouble..." Thundur shot him a glare. "Much like your new pet."

Leiytning glared right back. "The sylph is vermin, not a pet, and this is exactly why we're keeping her. We need something to use against Corelia."

"At the same time, I don't want anything she could use against us. And like it or not, that is still a risk."

"Why do I keep finding myself trapped arguing the same thing with you?" Leiyting grumbled. "Look, before this gets out of hand, let's make a deal. I don't care how scratched up she gets, but the least you can do is be sure, unlike Kodin, she stays alive and in one piece. Don't kill her, or let her get killed, until we get things straightened out. Alright?"

Thundur groaned as she stepped away. "Fine. Terms first. What do I get out of this?"

"Keep her alive, and I give you the dragon's claw I found."

This time, Thundur looked intrigued. "What about the claw, and the forest's heart emerald?"

"No. The claw and a jar of moonstone dust."

"Oh, come on; what do you even need these things for? Furthermore, why do you have beast parts? Last time I checked, you couldn't harvest anything from animals; you literally almost lost your arm because you saved a rabbit in the middle of an orc battle."

"Rabbits don't deserve to be trampled or exploded by barbarians. Now don't divert, we don't need to go down this rabbit hole again -pun not intended."

"So that's the claw and a full jar of moonstone dust, both on the table? Almost there. Throw in the phoenix wings, and you have a deal."

"Fine, but I keep one. The feathers are good for explosives."

Thundur nodded. "Deal. Unless something gets out of hand, the sylph can live. Should we make some sort of oath over it?"

"No, that's too much of a hassle, and I don't feel like taking risks. Instead, I'll just incorporate a simple punishment that will still keep you and others from breaking it -as I know you're prone to."

"I never break rules, I just bend them," Thundur taunted. "You should know that system well enough. What is this 'punishment' anyway?"

Leiytning explained, "Well, since you're so intent on calling her my pet, if you screw things up with her, I'll get rid of the rules you have against my other so-called 'pet.'"

Thundur immediately looked anxious. "You don't mean what I think you do."

"Absolutely. I'm letting Echo out permanently, and you can shove it."

"I'm not letting that thing run around! You know perfectly well that it wants to kill me! That thing belongs in a cage."

"Are you dumb?" Leiytning muttered. "Echo's an intelligent ten-foot beast, the last place he belongs is in a cramped cell for days on end. It's about time I found a way around your ridiculous rule..." He smirked malevolently. "Look at that, we're already finding potential uses for this new sylph."

"You are, not 'we,'" Thundur retorted. "And blackmailing your sister is not a productive use."

"If the only possible conclusions from it are furthering this experiment and her future as a weapon against that wretched queen, or helping an old friend, I'd say that's productive. And don't act so upset, you still get supplies out of it."

"Treasure will only keep me quiet for so long, brother," Thundur said bitterly. "And that punishment only happens if the sylph dies on our watch, right? If that's the case, I'll make doubly sure she won't..." Her ear twitched with irritation. "Dammit, it's working."

"That's why I said it, sister," Leiytning replied.

"You manipulative little snake, you..." Thundur groaned, "Fine. You better believe I'll be looking for a way to get her out of here faster, though. You can't do anything if she leaves on her own volition -that's all I'm saying for now."

Leiytning sighed, "The deal isn't even settled, and you're already finding ways to weasel around it. Why am I not surprised?"

"Hush," Thundur argued. "This deal is terrible either way, don't blame me for not liking it. Now that we have no interruptions, though, you can at least be a little more open."

"About?"

"Weaponizing her is one thing, but you imply interest in her sickness as well. Have you finally gone soft, and actually want to help her?"

Leiytning sneered, "Do you know who you're talking to? She's already stuck here, our emblem is in her hallucinations, so why not investigate? I would expect someone who spends her time obsessing over omens and possible futures to be more interested."

Thundur shrugged her shoulders. "I can't see past the danger. Either way, I'll keep my word. I'll try to keep reviewing possibilities for those visions, too."

"Thank you, Thundur, I know you hate it."

Thundur spoke teasingly, "I swear, if I had a coin for all the things I hate yet do for you anyway, I'd be making other royals jealous."

"Very funny, coming from you," Leiytning muttered. "How many times have I had to save you from getting crushed, after your mind games fail?"

"No need for details," Thundur said quickly. "Now, about keeping the mortal alive, you may want to reiterate the rules to your apprentice. Yesterday, she remarked on his height, and he tried to hack one of her arms off. He also brought up an intestinal crank, which I regret researching..." She side-eyed her twin. "Wonder where he learned that."

Leiytning sighed, muttering, "I need to stop telling him these stories. Yes, though; I know Timbur's not the friendliest toward sylphs, and I'm keeping an eye on him. Now worry about your own apprentice."

"Don't have to," Thundur remarked. "Seyber's the only one willing to work with her, and even involve her in some daily tasks. Of course, the other three are relatively neutral on the issue, which is just unfortunate. I've been outvoted."

"Outvoted, but not ignored," Leiytning replied.

"I hesitate to believe that..." Thundur went to retrieve her bowl. "I think I'll-"

"Don't even think about it," Leiytning intervened. "You're going to tick yourself off again. Besides, there are things to tend to in reality."

"The night shift is your thing," Thundur argued. She crossed her arms. "Were you distracted because you were smoking again?"

"Stop patronizing me, harpy," Leiytning retorted. "But no, I have no cigars left."

Thundur looked unamused. "Regardless, I want to try one more thing in the realms -then I'll be done."

"You better," Leiytning muttered. "And don't waste too much energy."

Thundur rolled her eye. "For Zyra's sake, I'm a lousy spirit-walker but not a stupid one. How about, instead of harassing me over my job, you find a way to put the mortal to work? As much as I don't want her snooping around, we are supposed to be studying her, and we won't find much if she just sits on the beach and does nothing all day."

"Yes, I'll find something for her to do."

"Hell, try talking to Seyber. As I said, she doesn't mind working with the mortal. Maybe she can help with both problems. Finding a use for her, while seeing if she can find anything interesting."

"Fair enough," Leiytning agreed.

"Told you," Thundur taunted. "I'm a lot of things, but not dumb."

Leiytning sneered, "I wouldn't argue. I could think of more than a few names to call you."

Thundur's ear twitched. "Shut it, dope."


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Wed Mar 06, 2024 1:33 am
dragonight9 wrote a review...



Hi Raven, So excited to read more of your amazing story.


As I'm reading through:

I like how you always (or almost always) start with a description of the environment. It really gives a good mental image right off the bat. Especially when switching between places between chapters.
One thing I did want to mention though, you described the rain as leaving dew which painted a picture that it wasn't currently raining at the start of your story. Then a few lines later Mao says "It looks like the rain may get heavier..." which implies that it is currently raining. Perhaps by saying that the grass was dripping with the light misting of rain or soaked (depending on the intensity of the rain) it would paint a better initial picture.

Also, I'm so excited to see Mao and Yuna again! Mao putting glitter and ribbons in her clothes is a great reminder of her personality. Same with Yuna talking about her job.

I like the short conversation you but in with the innkeeper. It shows the kindness of the average person from a perspective other than Kita's. I wonder if this is normal. Also, Yuna waiting until she was gone to show her discomfort was a great note. Not only is she a medical professional, but it also shows how comfortable she feels around Mao.

I love Mao's adventurous personality. She is a major catalyst for the story as a whole. The mention that the innkeeper was kind tells me that many wouldn't have done that (which answers my earlier pondering).

One little bit of grammar I feel could be improved: "There was a ramshackle bed in the front-left corner. There was a door adjacent to it, and two tables in either of the other corners."
Using the word 'there' at the start of both feels a little off to me. It might be better to modify the first sentence to something like, "In the front-left corner laid/sat a ramshackle bed."

I like the idea that being a Spirit-walker allows for some kind of divining or communication with higher powers. Leiytning comforting his sister added a new dimension to both their characters. I liked both sides of their argument and the little bits of lore sprinkled throughout.

Leiytning saved a rabbit? He continues to be my favorite character. I also loved your 'pun not intended' bit.

I enjoyed the deal making process between the twins. You opened the door to more ritualistic deal making while also alluding to the potential dangers of using it. I especially loved the comment Thundur made when she realised the deal was working.
Their affection showed through even as they insulted eachother. Really great job on that.

Overall thoughts:

This chapter was a good mix of two short stories progressing the bigger story. Mao and Yuna sound like they are going to find out what happened to Kita while Thundur and Leiytning showed their affection for eachother while deciding Kita's fate. It sounds like she's safe for now and has a few adventures on the horizon.

It was also good to get confirmation on how the other Zyreans feel about Kita. (Though I thought Scorch was on Kita's side rather than neutral)
This chapter seems like a good base for the story moving forward.

Last thought:

I wonder if Kita's hallucinations are similar to (or connected in some way to) the spirit world accessed by spirit-walkers.

This was a great chapter. Awesome job!
Have a good day/night.




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Mon Mar 04, 2024 3:32 pm
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keeperofgaming wrote a review...



First impressions:
Mao and Yuna are in for a big shock. They are gonna have a heart attack. I also snorted when Yuna suddenly said, "Mao, all I feel is your boobs on my arm, and they're not very warm." I was not expecting that. This chapter echoed more into the lighthearted nature of the dark series. This leveled the human feeling of all of the characters.

Characters
Mao- Her enthusiasm makes the impending crush that much crueler. Her want to see both Corelia and Kita allows for us to see how serious she is about wanting to help Kita. I also like her wanting to make Yuna more excited. It shows her as funloving, hyper, and serious.

Yuna- Her dry sarcasm is a welcome contrast to the rest of the cast. It allows a more cynical and dark view of this dark world. Her being there makes it feel like Konosuba, a dark and cruel world with a lighthearted cast. It shows the more darkhearted part of the world. Mao being enthusiastic about the rain, compared to Yuna's dark cynicism.

Thundur- Her worry is understandable. She doesn't want to risk those that she cares for by letting Kita run around free, and her bickering with Leiytning allowing her to calm down helps amplify their connection. I also like that she is at a loss for the monsters appearing, showing that there is an anomaly that even they are finding unique, possibly to do with Kita.

Leiytning- He shows more of his playful side with his sister. I like how he acts more childish while simultaneously showing his seriousness in wanting to know what Kita has to do with their mark, as well as how much he wants his sister to calm down. He also shows his regard for life in insisting that Kita remains whole.

Timbur- bro chill

Stud- Where my boy at?

Overall:
Good job, it really set the tone for the future.




RavenAkuma says...


"Timbur- bro chill" had me laughing to myself XD Thanks for the review!



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Mon Jan 15, 2024 11:30 pm
PKMichelle wrote a review...



Hello friend!
I'm here once more to check out another epic chapter!


Per my interpretation, this was a great chapter! While it was a little slower than most of them have been so far, there were still a lot of awesome details packed in here!

The chapter starts with Mao and Yuna trying to get back into the city to see Kita and meet the queen. After that scene passes, it jumps to Thundur and Leiytning trying to negotiate what to do with Kita. After much debate as well as some bickering, they come up with a plan to keep her both alive and useful.


If I could offer any sort of advice, it would be a small thing related to a discrepancy in how you emphasized words throughout this chapter.

When Thundur and Leiytning are arguing, throughout the scene you used both bold and italics to emphasize certain things, saying things like,

...I'm getting very sick of it.


AND...

At the same time, I don't want anything she could use against us.


Making sure you use either one or the other in your writing can help keep it more concise and tidy, as well as make it easier to follow. So, maybe pick either italics or bolds and stick to that throughout a chapter to help out with those things.

But, obviously, this is just a suggestion, and it's always up to the writer, so please take this criticism lightly and know that I mean nothing negative by it—only trying to provide a somewhat useful critique.


If I had to pick my favorite part, it would absolutely have to be the sibling relationship in this chapter! I feel like you captured the idea and essence of what it's like to have siblings, and I feel like it's worth the mention!

You portrayed Thundur and Leiytning's relationship really well, especially when you showed Leiytning comforting Thundur at the start of their scene...

She turned, resting her head against his shoulder while trying to collect her scattered thoughts.


...just for Leiytning to immediately take all of that comfort away a little while later and blackmail Thundur.

...if you screw things up with her, I'll get rid of the rules you have against my other so-called 'pet.


This showed how they can fight and bicker all the time and yet still be incredibly close and care about one another. This was just a very sibling-like thing for Leiytning to do, and you wrote it really well!

I've said it before, but you seem to have a real knack for writing these sorts of relationships, and I always find it quite remarkable how well-done they are, so kudos to you for that!


Overall, this was an awesome chapter! Even though it was on the slower side of things, it still had a lot of really great aspects that I genuinely enjoyed reading! You did great with this, and I can't wait for the next one!

Thank you for taking the time to write and post this, and I hope this review is of some use to you!


Goodbye for now! I hope you have a magnificent day (or night) wherever you are!




RavenAkuma says...


Welcome back, PK, glad you enjoyed! Thanks for bringing up that bold vs italics thing. I think I have a habit of using bold words when I intend for a character to sound aggressive, rather than just putting a draw/emphasis on the word to make a point or something. I didn't know it came off as confusing, so good to know ~

Thanks for taking the time to read/review! :)




Well, if I can't get this chapter to work....at least I will have exercised my fingers.
— Kaia