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The Last Spell 12.2

by SilverNight


Mireya let out a curse word in Ren that she hadn’t had reason to use in a good number of years, slamming her hands on the counter as she stared furiously at the screen. It wouldn’t have been so bad if she’d gotten unlucky and hadn’t been able to find the identity of her clients on her search. She could have lived without knowing that, even though that was what she was here for. But those names were being deliberately kept as secret information with something to hide.

That was very bad news for their trustworthiness.

She curled her fingers into fists, strengthening her glare as if the computer would change its mind and decode the redacted names. The computer was not so kind.

If only her ability with electricity extended to finessing and bypassing computer security. Maybe frying its circuits would do something different, or at least make her feel better.

Mireya was oddly tempted to do just that and subsequently get herself banned from the hotel premises, because she didn’t think her luck with not getting noticed by anyone in the lobby would extend to her blowing up a computer, but then it struck her that the censored names were underlined. They looked like hyperlinks, as did all the names of the other guests on the reservation list. She clicked on one, hoping to be directed to the profile of an account with the hotel chain, but instead a text box popped up.

Please enter a security clearance password to see confidential information.

“Just how much of a secret are these people?” Mireya muttered. “I’m rather special, if I do say so myself, and I’ve never been password-protected.”

She’d walked away from the meeting last night feeling confident enough in that she’d learned Shane and Leilan’s true first names, and while those still could be their real ones, there was no doubt that they— or someone else— had taken steps to hide their identity. Mireya didn’t want them to have something to hide. Even if their clients weren’t suspicious, they wouldn’t be getting the First Spell from them, but she was going to be travelling with them and she wanted that to go smoothly.

She and Cyrin would have to be careful.

Mireya heard the soft sound of approaching footsteps nearby, and she barely had time to close the text box, round the front desk, and lean boredly on the counter before the receptionist pushed through the door in the back.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” the concierge said sincerely, even though it was more than fine for Mireya. “I had to submit a tech ticket, since it didn’t seem to be working at all. If you don’t mind waiting until sometime later today to get it recharged, we’ll load a thousand hotel points into your account for the trouble—”

“Don’t even worry about it,” Mireya reassured her. “I broke the card myself, and I was going out anyways, so the wait’s not an issue.”

The concierge nodded quickly. “Can I help you with anything else, then? Maybe you’ve got some questions about that museum?” She pointed to Mireya’s coat pocket.

She remembered that she’d absent-mindedly tucked the brochure there. “No, thanks,” she said. “I know someone who interned there. They wrote the scripts on a few regional art exhibits for tour guides.”

“Oh?” The receptionist raised her eyebrows curiously. “Did they learn a lot?”

“Yeah, they even got a little too good at it. They were going to major in Cultural Studies at the university here.”

“You can get too good at that?”

“When your family sends you to university to learn business, I guess you can,” Mireya said distractedly. “I should go back there. Last time I went, I saw a painting of myself. My hair wasn’t blue yet then.”

The concierge frowned confusedly, looking like she wanted to ask a question but wasn’t sure what it would be yet, and Mireya snapped back into focus. She wasn’t intending to spill things that wouldn’t make any sense to strangers who she’d never see again, but it was surprisingly hard. She didn’t know why she wanted to be heard that badly.

“One more thing,” Mireya said quickly, pulling out the wallet again. “I found this by the doors, and I think it might belong to a woman with a white bag.”

“Yes, her,” the concierge exclaimed, taking it from her. “I’ll return it to her when she gets back.”

Mireya’s wrist buzzed, and she raised it, checking her communicator. The timer she’d forgotten about was going off, meaning nine minutes and thirty seconds had passed since she’d started this part of the stakeout. She had thirty seconds until…

“Thanks for your help,” Mireya said hurriedly as she backed up and turned away, trying not to look too rushed as she headed toward the exit. She didn’t need to look over her shoulder to know the receptionist was confused again.

She knew she was looking peculiar as she walked briskly out the doors and onto the plaza again, but she needed to get back to where she’d been. For a moment, she couldn’t remember what bench she’d been sitting on, and her heart thumped frantically for a few beats, but she caught sight of it again. It was mercifully still empty, and Mireya practically dived onto it, firmly setting her feet where they’d been before. After she’d waited for what she thought to be the rest of her half-minute and for all the stares her behavior had gotten to be gone, she sneakily lifted the heel of her boot.

Cyrin’s message was shorter this time. All clear. Flying down now.

Mireya stayed on the bench until she heard a soft whoosh, the kind of sound that could easily be mistaken for the subway passing under the metal grates on the sidewalk. But she knew who it really belonged to.

She stood up, making her way back to the hotel. She must have blinked, because Cyrin suddenly appeared leaning against a pillar supporting the covering in front of the doors, the last vestiges of Concealment magic that they must have decided to use dissipating around them. Their jetpack was an artifact with Concealment of its own, but their back was very much against the pillar, so they must have already taken it off and left it invisible beside them. Mireya waved, as if they were meeting for the first time today, and they returned it as she went to stand by them.

“So, what did you see?” Cyrin asked.

“Their names were redacted in the hotel system,” Mireya told them, and when she saw their frown, she nodded knowingly. “Yeah, bad sign. I couldn’t find out anything without a security clearance. I had to steal some rich lady’s keycard and disable it to get the receptionist to leave and it didn’t do any good, so I feel bad about that too.”

“You only feel bad about stealing from rich people when that rich person was pretty,” Cyrin noted.

“She was pretty,” Mireya agreed. “And I think her boyfriend just up broke with her.”

“Are you saying that to mean that you feel extra bad for her, or do you wish you could have taken his spot?” Cyrin asked.

“Yes.”

Cyrin rolled his eyes amusedly. “Well, this is probably still better than when you said our client for the last job was ‘looking fine’.”

“I take that back, in hindsight,” Mireya said. “He probably didn’t even moisturize. I can’t go around lowering my standards like that, especially for rich people.”

Cyrin coughed to cover a laugh, which might have been funnier than him actually laughing, but it reached his eyes anyway. “I didn’t learn much either, but it’s probably safe up there. I wasn’t really expecting traps, but it didn’t seem like they had any. There’s champagne in their fridge.”

Mireya grinned. “Did you break in?”

“To test the locks on their windows, yes. I was curious about their fridge, though, so I checked it out. It looked fancy.”

“Hopefully they’ll be hospitable and serve some,” Mireya said. “Was anyone awake?”

“Two people that I could tell,” Cyrin said. “I didn’t recognize them. Shane might not have been right about them not being morning people. I made sure they left the kitchen before I went in.” He paused. “Can you think of any reason why a hotel bedroom might be in teal?”

“What?” Mireya had no idea what they meant.

“Like teal walls, teal curtains, teal design,” Cyrin explained. “The room didn’t have anyone in it, and the curtains were open, so I could see it from my jetpack outside. I only paid it any attention because of the color, which is way too bold for a minimalist, upscale hotel room. I couldn’t think of an explanation for why they would design it that way.”

“That… is strange,” Mireya said slowly. “Maybe it’s got something to do with the exclusivity. I saw the suite was listed as seven bedrooms, so all of them could look like that.”

“It might,” Cyrin agreed. “Maybe it’s exclusive because they have trouble finding any rich people who will stay in a place that isn’t all in soulless white.”

“So that’s why your family doesn’t stay there,” Mireya concluded.

“You take that back,” Cyrin exclaimed. “I was raised poorly, but I was still raised to have taste—

She saw their gaze flick over her shoulder as they went silent, and she turned around to face whatever it was. It turned out to be Leilan stepping through the revolving doors, with someone else behind him. Leilan was dressed slightly less professional than he had been last night, but his dyed red hair was brushed to smoothness. The girl behind him was tall and dark-skinned, and she had carefully woven braids that swept over her shoulder as she turned her head towards Cyrin and Mireya. She seemed to pause as she looked them over, soft curiosity gleaming in the brown of her eyes. She’s actually a rich person who’s pretty, Mireya thought to herself.

“You were talking about having taste?” the girl asked timidly, looking slightly amused. "Or perhaps not?"

“Cyrin has a moral objection to caviar,” Mireya said, coming up with the explanation quickly even though her words weren’t rushed, and the girl laughed softly.

She had no idea if Cyrin actually held that opinion, but they played along regardless. They shrugged casually. “It’s the overfishing of endangered fish species roe all for an overrated flavor.”

Mireya thought she caught Leilan smiling slightly. “Honestly, I’m inclined to agree.”

“I’m Dawn,” the girl said. Her voice was melodic, with an accent from Southern Aphirah that made her say her name like don. “And you’ve met Leilan. You’re Mireya and Cyrin, right?”

The two of them nodded.

“There’s two more of us upstairs who you haven’t met yet, besides Shane,” Leilan said. “Are you ready to go?”

Mireya glanced at Cyrin out of the corner of her eye. She saw them sneakily pick up their invisible jetpack and nod again at her.

“We’re ready,” she told Leilan. “Let’s get this thing started.”


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Sat Jun 03, 2023 7:25 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



I'm back for part two of this chapter! If all of these are still in the Green Room you might just help me complete #TeamTortoise ;)

Overall, I really enjoyed it. The pacing was great, keeping me engaged and curious about what would happen next. The way you built up tension and suspense during Mireya's investigation was well-executed. The scene where she tried to access the redacted names and her inner conflict about whether to use her electrical abilities added a nice touch of intensity. I did find this line a bit odd though:

Maybe frying its circuits would do something different, or at least make her feel better.

The feeling better I get, but why would it do something different?

Mireya's determination and resourcefulness came through effectively, and I found her internal dialogue and witty remarks quite entertaining. Cyrin's calm and observant nature complemented Mireya's personality well, creating an interesting dynamic between them.

I did also notice a potential area where the transition could be clarified - when Mireya goes from interacting with the concierge at the hotel reception to sitting on the bench outside. It might help to add a brief sentence or phrase to indicate her movement from inside the hotel to the outdoor area, such as "Mireya stepped out of the hotel and found an empty bench nearby." This would provide a clearer transition between the two settings and might help the flow of the text too (although broadly pacing and flow work really well).

Also being nitpicky, but I found this line hard to follow
My hair wasn’t blue yet then.”

I don't think you need both yet and then - one or the other is fine :)

Overall, I think you've done a great job with this part too. The characters are likable, and the pacing keeps the story moving forward and I love the dynamic between Mireya and Cyrin! Looking forward to catching more of this <3

Icy

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SilverNight says...


Thanks Icy! I appreciate your reviews and feedback, thanks for following along <3

The feeling better I get, but why would it do something different?


Probably nothing, honestly, you're right. Unless Mireya's hoping to see the computer sizzle a bit XD



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Fri Jun 02, 2023 10:35 pm
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Kaia wrote a review...



Hi, I'm here for a quick review. I noticed your piece in the green room, and that it has not yet been reviewed, so I thought I'd take a look.

Let's get on with it, shall we? What impressed me the most about this excerpt is how you eloquently make use of your main character's thoughts. Not only do you use thoughts, but you also use a little description to convey the main characters opinions on what's going on. Nice job there.

Your main character is quite an operator. Obviously, she's doing something wrong, but her bold manner prevents her from stopping her secret deeds going on in the corner. She's obviously in the middle of a complicated mystery and is working with some colleagues through odd means to discover the answers to the mystery. Even though I have not read a word of this piece before this point, I can easily pick up on much about the characters such as I pointed out from your writing. Good job with that as well. Also, compliments to your place description. Even though some of the elements of this piece were above my head (such as how the main character got notified by glancing at the heel of her boot, if I'm not mistaken) your realistic setting put me in a place I was familiar enough with to believe the storyline.

The only thing I find lacking is description of the characters. I know the surface descriptions, but you don't put reminders in that remind the reader of what the characters look like. But, given that I'm jumping in here, that may not be necessary if you have described their appearance elsewhere. Just something to keep in mind.

Lastly, I strongly recommend that you shorten your chapters. I suspect this might be why you have not yet gotten many reviews so far. From just a glance, this piece looks extremely daunting. I suggest shortening the chapters to give them more of a review-friendly appearance. But, that's totally up to you. I know...It des cost more points. ;)




SilverNight says...


Hey Kaia! Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it ;)



Kaia says...


Sure!




I am deeply disturbed by your ability to meow.
— Carina