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16+ Violence

The Last Spell 14.3

by SilverNight


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

“Doesn’t anyone worry about the noise of the Arcade getting noticed?” Kasumi asked, glancing over her shoulder at the fake wall that the three of them had just passed through.

Cyrin shook their head, leading them further in. “No,” they said. “There’s a tiny bit of Chant in the Projection spell. It muffles the sounds coming from this side.”

“Hasn’t anyone ever followed someone in when they weren’t supposed to know about it?” Kaja asked. “It seems… unguarded.”

“It does happen, but it’s not as much of a problem as you’d think.” Cyrin scanned the closest meeting area. The two of them had been throwing questions at them all the way here. “A lot of the people that do are drunk from the bar— there’s a reason we have that in front— and don’t know what they’re seeing. If they do figure out what this place is… Well, Aphirah’s gotten rid of witness protection measures, so they always keep quiet.”

Kasumi grimaced. “That makes sense.”

Was that really a wince from her? Cyrin didn’t know how to explain that reaction.

“Anyway,” Kaja said. “You talked to your friend, and she couldn’t help you with getting magic. What are we doing here?”

“We’re going to find someone with magic,” Cyrin said, rather plainly. “And then we’re going to steal it.”

Kasumi paused. “…We are? Do we have to?”

Cyrin gave her a meaningful look. “You’ve literally hired me to steal something for you. You don’t get to be high and mighty about this.”

Kasumi bristled. “It’s not like that. I just— haven’t stolen anything before.”

If you’re rich, you certainly have taken something that isn’t yours, Cyrin thought, but he kept the thought to himself.

“You’ll be fine,” he said instead. “I’ll do the work. I’ve just got to find a target first.”

The Arcade had a lot of mages, and Cyrin knew plenty of them. It wouldn’t do to pick one who didn’t already dislike him, or else he’d just make a new enemy. He examined the people seated at the tables and standing by the bar, looking over faces, until he spotted a familiar one. Pia was on her own, leaning against a pillar with a glass in her hand and a bored scowl on her face. They’d never been great fans of each other, and she was easily one of the more unpleasant people he’d ever had to work with, so he didn’t have many reservations about picking her.

“We’re stealing from her,” they said, subtly gesturing to Pia. “The person by the pillar.”

“I’ve seen her,” Kaja exclaimed, to their surprise. “I nearly got to fight her.”

Cyrin frowned. “That’s not something I generally recommend doing with Pia. Why did you almost fight her?”

“Shane and I were talking here, and she took offense to something she overheard. It was about to get physical, but then Sparrow stepped in and pacified her. That’s how we found him.” Kaja clicked her tongue. “It’s been so long since I’ve gotten to fight someone.”

“Pia’s one of Sparrow’s mages,” Cyrin said. “Not the nicest of them. He’s the only person she’ll take orders from. Picking her to steal from also has the advantage of hindering Sparrow.”

“Can I fight her?” Kaja asked hopefully.

Cyrin wasn’t sure what to think. “We’re here to steal from her, not to throw hands with her.”

Kaja huffed disappointedly.

“Personally, I’m just impressed you asked for permission first, Kaja,” Kasumi remarked.

“Well, I’m still deciding whether I’m going to accept the no.”

Saints help me. Cyrin closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

“I guess I’m not too concerned about messing this up,” he said reluctantly. “So the two of you can help in whatever way you want, and I’ll recover whatever goes wrong. I can’t say I’ll be thrilled if you end up in a fight, but I’m not sure I can stop you if you’re that intent on it.”

“Yes,” Kaja crowed triumphantly.

“What could I do?” Kasumi asked. “Just to be useful.”

Cyrin thought for a moment, then pointed to the interior wall that the bar was against. “Kaja and I are going to hide on the other side of that,” he said. “Try to lure her over. If that doesn’t work—”

“No, no, I’ve got this,” Kasumi assured him. “Go ahead and sneak over there.”

Cyrin was somewhat confused at the confidence, but they slipped off without another word, weaving swiftly through the crowd in a direction that they made sure Pia wasn’t looking in. It wasn’t terribly important that they were quiet, with the background noise of the Arcade covering up any sound they could make, but they stayed cautious. They could tell when they reached the wall and turned around that Kaja wasn’t the stealthy type. Her height and figure made her stand out in a crowd, and she walked like she wanted to be noticed. Cyrin doubted that it was because she wanted to be admired.

They pulled a cluster of magic from their MagicBox when Kaja joined them, beginning to shape it into a spell. They’d been disappointed to find that what they’d gotten from their attacker was Keravara magic, which wasn’t of the best quality, but it would be fine as long as they didn’t need to cast any Salve spells. Cyrin stopped their work one small twist away from a completed Force spell, still undetectable to mage senses.

They saw Pia round the wall, her head swiveling as she searched for something, but her gaze didn’t land on them.

With one fluid motion, Cyrin made the final twist with a flick of their wrist as they activated the Force spell and flung it at her.

Pia was caught entirely off-guard, pushed to the ground with a grunt of surprise. Unexpectedly to them, Kaja moved with stunning speed, tugging Pia’s hands behind her back and wrapping a muscular arm around her neck as she tugged her up. Pia spluttered, but she didn’t sound like she was suffocating, and Cyrin knew Kaja wasn’t squeezing all that hard. Yet.

Well. This wasn’t how he’d envisioned this going, but he could work with it.

“I’d apologize for the brutality, Pia, but I don’t think you understand remorse very well,” Cyrin said, folding his arms over his chest.

Pia narrowed her eyes once her gaze landed on him. “I take it Sparrow wasn’t sending for me.”

He had to admit, he was impressed with Kasumi’s choice of a lie. She’d only just heard that Pia answered to Sparrow alone.

“You guessed right,” Cyrin said. “A little late, though.”

Pia huffed. “Is this because I took your stupid bronze wristbands that were artificed with Flare a couple years ago? I returned them because they didn’t even do anything with fire like I hoped. Useless.”

No, it wasn’t. He hadn’t even been thinking of it during his planning. Cyrin had been bitter over it, and he hadn’t forgotten— he still felt like retorting that they weren’t useless or stupid— but he didn’t believe in revenge where he had to stoop to someone else’s level of pettiness. He didn’t care whether or not Pia thought him to be above that, though. “It can be.”

Pia sighed, as if bored. “What do you want?”

“Tell him where you’re hiding your MagicBox,” Kaja snapped. “I don’t see it on your belt.” Cyrin realized with a start that she was right.

Pia shrugged, her shoulders barely able to move against Kaja’s arm. “Well, people get cautious when some aristocrats talk about putting a stranglehold on magic,” she drawled, then wheezed a little when Kaja’s squeeze tightened.

Cyrin could certainly now see why she’d taken offense to the conversation Kaja had mentioned having with Shane. At least they’d made the decision not to trust their clients upfront.

“I’d worry about this stranglehold on you more if I were you,” Kaja growled, but her gaze flicked over to Cyrin with uncertainty that Pia couldn’t see, and it confused them. Did she not want to go any farther after all? Did she only want to fight when the other person cowered immediately?

Cyrin honestly didn’t want to go any further with physical threats, either. This was already past what they were comfortable with. But they had been putting on a tough act, and maybe Kaja thought they wanted her to go through with it.

They hesitated, and it was for long enough that intimidation wouldn’t work anymore.

Pia snorted defiantly, still short of breath. “You can worry about yourself.”

Something bright flashed before Cyrin’s eyes, but that wasn’t what made him stumble back a step. It was the dark, thick snake that had appeared on the floor between him and Pia, curling and shifting in rings of black. He heard Kaja swear. The snake’s tongue flicked the air as it rose slowly, yellow eyes on him and flashing malevolently—

It’s a Projection, he realized dimly, quelling his panic. She’s just trying to scare you.

He barely noticed that he was weaving a hasty Concealment spell in his hand before he shakily tossed it at the snake. Immediately, the snake went invisible, the illusion hidden.

The three of them were silent and wide-eyed for several moments.

Pia finally sputtered. “Did you— did you seriously just Conceal my Projection?”

Kaja was laughing maniacally, her shoulders shaking heavily as all her fear from the snake turned into amusement. “I’ve never even thought of someone doing that,” she wheezed through a cackle. “It seems so obvious now that one spell just cancels the other.”

Cyrin blinked. “Um. I guess? That’s all I really needed to do?”

“That spell took me ten minutes to make,” Pia muttered disgustedly. “Projection magic is hard. I’ve been saving it for something impressive. And you decided you just didn’t want to look at it.”

“In my defense, it wasn’t very pleasant to watch.”

Kaja reached behind Pia’s back and held up a MagicBox that had been hidden close to where her hands had been. “Sneaky,” she commented. “I think we’ll keep this.”

Pia hissed softly as she thrashed out of Kaja’s loosened grip, dusting herself off as she got to her feet. “Are you working with her even though you know what she thinks should be done with magic?” she spat. “That’s disappointing, even for you.”

“If I ever got your approval, I’d know I was doing something wrong,” Cyrin replied. He wasn’t happy with Kaja’s ideas either, but he wasn’t about to tell Pia that. “Go complain about me to your boss. Tell him he’s a bastard on my behalf.”

Pia’s glare was as venomous as the snake she’d Projected had appeared to be, and for a moment, he wondered if she’d try to fight for her magic back without the help of any spells. But she finally stepped back, eyes narrowed, and stormed away without another word.

Nearly the moment she was gone, Kasumi poked her head around the wall. “Nice job!” she said brightly. “What now?”

“We can just head back to the hotel, right?” Kaja asked, handing Cyrin the MagicBox.

Cyrin paused. They would have to return there before they all left, because their jetpack was sitting invisibly by a couch, but they had another stop to make too. They had finally checked in with Autumn again before they’d left for the Plaza of Claws, but they still had that quilt to bring over. They wanted her to have that before they were gone again.

“Will someone let me up again later if you head back now?” they asked. “I have something I need to do.”

“Sure,” Kasumi promised. “Good luck.”

Cyrin was already thinking about which quilt to give to Autumn when Kasumi and Kaja turned away. They knew she’d like their red one. It didn’t feel right to leave Crystal City again so soon after they’d gotten back, with the days getting colder and bleaker. But if they and Mireya could do this right— and they were sure they could— Autumn wouldn’t have to worry about anything for a long time.


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Sun Sep 24, 2023 1:40 am
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Ventomology wrote a review...



Eyoooo. Back again!

It's so fun to see Kaja in action! Also I love violence.

Now... you've mentioned two different sources of magic, and I'm really curious now: is magic mined like an ore? I like that you have this system that, while never explained, is clearly well-thought-out, and it raises a lot of questions. So many great things! Only time will tell on this front, but I guess fair warning from my own experience is that sometimes I will forget to explain a thing about the non-realistic elements and then it becomes plot-relevant. If the restriction of magic ends up being more prevalent an idea going forward, it may he worth fitting in a deeper dive into its sources and logistics (and... idk, the corporate interests??) before they become too important.

...I'll admit I say some of that just for my own benefit though haha. I'm very curious!

And then, building on Spearmint's comment about passersby's reactions to Kaja manhandling someone, I've noticed in the past couple chapters a general lack of setting description. I get that since we haven't really gone anywhere new, that you maybe don't want to include too much, but I think a little sentence here and there could go a long way. I find it can be helpful to think about how the surroundings impacts an action, or might cause a character to see something in a new way.

Last thing: it's such a treat to see Cyrin doing magic. I often feel like they are a cut above in terms of creativity and strategy, and it's super fun to see all the different uses you come up with. Great work!

Hope this helps,
-Vento




SilverNight says...


Ooooh, love this feedback! You are correct about magic being a mined material, but also thank you for reminding me to establish the details of the system more as we go along. Thank you for the review!



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Fri Jun 23, 2023 6:11 am
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Spearmint wrote a review...



Hiya, I'm back to review this chapter part! ^-^ I have not caught up on reading yet, but at least I read the earlier parts of chapter 14 and got some of Cyrin's backstory... It also answered my question of where Sparrow got his name from. Speaking of Sparrow-- man, he's a shady guy for sure. Threatening Cyrin's younger siblings like that is just :[
In terms of this chapter part, it looks like preparations for the heist are going reasonably well! I do hope that their confrontation with Pia won't lead to negative consequences in the future, though, lol.

Anyways, on to specifics!

Cyrin shook their head, leading them further in. “No,” they said. “There’s a tiny bit of Chant in the Projection spell. It muffles the sounds coming from this side.”

Ooh, magic lore~ I remember something about various types of magic! I think it'd be cool if you made a graphic with little symbols and colors for each type. Just for fun, maybe. =P

Kaja clicked her tongue. “It’s been so long since I’ve gotten to fight someone.”

It's neat that we get to see a bit more of Kaja! Now I understand the thing about Kaja being the brute force and Kasumi being the cleverness/fast-talking that was mentioned in the last chapter part I reviewed. xD I do wonder what other depth Kaja might have to her, though! Is there a particular reason she wants to fight everyone? To test her strength? Was fighting part of her upbringing?

Cyrin wasn’t sure what to think. “We’re here to steal from her, not to throw hands with her.”

Kaja huffed disappointedly.

XDD

They pulled a cluster of magic from their MagicBox when Kaja joined them, beginning to shape it into a spell.

Haha, this might just be me, but MagicBox sounds a little cheesy. xD Like a toy or something... Maybe shortening it to "Mox" or something would sound cooler?? Though honestly, MagicBox is descriptive and gets the job done.

Cyrin stopped their work one small twist away from a completed Force spell, still undetectable to mage senses.

Okay but. I'm assuming people can still see their hands moving. >.> I guess no one's really paying attention to him?

Pia was caught entirely off-guard, pushed to the ground with a grunt of surprise. Unexpectedly to them, Kaja moved with stunning speed, tugging Pia’s hands behind her back and wrapping a muscular arm around her neck as she tugged her up.

Ya know, when Cyrin talked about stealing magic, I was envisioning a bit more stealth and pickpocketing... XD But I suppose Kaja's involved, so, yeah.
I wonder how the people around them react to this sudden takedown. Or are fights like this not uncommon in the Arcade?

Pia shrugged, her shoulders barely able to move against Kaja’s arm. “Well, people get cautious when some aristocrats talk about putting a stranglehold on magic,” she drawled, then wheezed a little when Kaja’s squeeze tightened.

Oho! Seems like there's a larger conflict here (well, one more to add to multiple xD). Of course, magic is power, so it makes sense that people would want to control who has access to that power. Interesting worldbuilding detail! (I'm curious if/how it'll be relevant later!)

Cyrin could certainly now see why she’d taken offense to the conversation Kaja had mentioned having with Shane. At least they’d made the decision not to trust their clients upfront.

Also a bit confused here, like Icy mentioned. ^^ I think it's mainly the second sentence. It seems like Cyrin is talking about not trusting the Heirs? But it seems a little disjointed and unclear, and it took me a few minutes to puzzle it out.

The three of them were silent and wide-eyed for several moments.

Pia finally sputtered. “Did you— did you seriously just Conceal my Projection?”

LOL. This was an unexpected moment of humor, and I loved it! =P

Kaja reached behind Pia’s back and held up a MagicBox that had been hidden close to where her hands had been.

I would like more details, please. How was it hidden? How come Kaja didn't notice it before? :]

Pia’s glare was as venomous as the snake she’d Projected had appeared to be, and for a moment, he wondered if she’d try to fight for her magic back without the help of any spells.

Nice callback to the snake in your simile~

Cyrin was already thinking about which quilt to give to Autumn when Kasumi and Kaja turned away. They knew she’d like their red one.

Autumn sounds like a sweetheart. <3

Hmm I'm trying to think of any overall feedback I have for this part, but it's late and my brain isn't working quite as well, aha. Perhaps in my next review! Thanks for the story, and have a fabulous day/night! =D




SilverNight says...


Hey Spearmint! I have been reading and loving these reviews even though Blizzard has kept me from responding, but now that I'm done with LMS I'm going to try to catch up to all your wonderful comments!!

Ooh, magic lore~ I remember something about various types of magic! I think it'd be cool if you made a graphic with little symbols and colors for each type. Just for fun, maybe. =P


WRITING THIS DOWN AS WE SPEAK this is such a good idea and I love it!!

Haha, this might just be me, but MagicBox sounds a little cheesy. xD Like a toy or something... Maybe shortening it to "Mox" or something would sound cooler?? Though honestly, MagicBox is descriptive and gets the job done.


No I agree! It was always a placeholder from the first chapter and like... nearly a year later I still haven't thought of another XD This is a good suggestion, I'm keeping it!

Also a bit confused here, like Icy mentioned. ^^ I think it's mainly the second sentence. It seems like Cyrin is talking about not trusting the Heirs? But it seems a little disjointed and unclear, and it took me a few minutes to puzzle it out.


Oof yeah I definitely need to work on this because I made something unclear. I was trying to wrap the second sentence back to the conversation in 10.2 where Clarity suggested stealing the First Spell back from their clients once the job was over? But mostly I accidentally made it look like Cyrin already sleuthed out their identities XD

Thank you for the feedback! I'm off to reply to as many as your other reviews as I can <3



Spearmint says...


Aww, thanks for the reply! <3 And awesome job finishing LMS-- you should be super proud!! :D
WRITING THIS DOWN AS WE SPEAK this is such a good idea and I love it!!

Omg please show me if you make it!! :DD



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Mon Jun 12, 2023 10:07 am
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hi. It me. (My intros have gone rapidly downhill haha I apologise)

“Hasn’t anyone ever followed someone in when they weren’t supposed to know about it?” Kaja asked. “It seems… unguarded.”

This is such a valid point because like,,, five of them got in unnoticed the other night and only because one of them was accidentally eavesdropping on the arcade being in the other direction.

Also pausing to ask the very important question... Where is Favia?!

Kasumi grimaced. “That makes sense.”

Was that really a wince from her? Cyrin didn’t know how to explain that reaction.

This felt a bit forced to me, as though Cyrin is overreading into her reaction because we know what's going on but they don't. Does that make any sense?

“We’re going to find someone with magic,” Cyrin said, rather plainly. “And then we’re going to steal it.”

Yesssssssss! I am so so here for this.

“Personally, I’m just impressed you asked for permission first, Kaja,” Kasumi remarked.

“Well, I’m still deciding whether I’m going to accept the no.”

I am absolutely living for this interaction but I must confess I don't really know why Cyrin brought the two of them along if they're just supposed to stay out of the way? Wouldn't it have been easier to get this done without them?

They pulled a cluster of magic from their MagicBox when Kaja joined them, beginning to shape it into a spell. They’d been disappointed to find that what they’d gotten from their attacker was Keravara magic, which wasn’t of the best quality, but it would be fine as long as they didn’t need to cast any Salve spells. Cyrin stopped their work one small twist away from a completed Force spell, still undetectable to mage senses.

Lore and worldbuilding thrown in like this is so good!

Cyrin could certainly now see why she’d taken offense to the conversation Kaja had mentioned having with Shane. At least they’d made the decision not to trust their clients upfront.

I'm not sure I followed this part?

Kaja reached behind Pia’s back and held up a MagicBox that had been hidden close to where her hands had been. “Sneaky,” she commented. “I think we’ll keep this.”

Does she find it because of the projection spell? That would make sense, but I think a line to clarify would help!

So I loved the ending to this chapter and the development between Kasumi, Kaja and Cyrin was nice because they haven't interacted loads up until now. Am I right in thinking that Cyrin now knows who they are because of Pia? I feel like this part was glossed over and as a result I'm a bit confused as to where we're at with that whole part. If he doesn't know, what was the thing with Pia/Kaja and knowing Kaja's views on magic? If they do know, I would have expected a bigger revelation and more questions about what they all want with the first spell.

I think I expected this secret identity thing to be more of a tension point with a big reveal later, so I'm left a bit lost! I guess I better keep reading xD

I think I've just gushed rather than offered anything constructive, but I hope this was still a little helpful!

Icy
Image




SilverNight says...


Am I right in thinking that Cyrin now knows who they are because of Pia? I feel like this part was glossed over and as a result I'm a bit confused as to where we're at with that whole part. If he doesn't know, what was the thing with Pia/Kaja and knowing Kaja's views on magic? If they do know, I would have expected a bigger revelation and more questions about what they all want with the first spell.

I think I expected this secret identity thing to be more of a tension point with a big reveal later, so I'm left a bit lost! I guess I better keep reading xD


ahhhhhh no he doesn't know yet! There isn't a way for him to figure out from this that they're Heirs, exactly-- he's just putting together a little more about them regarding their privilege and goals, not specific details.




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