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The Last Spell 16.2

by SilverNight


“Hey, Leilan? We’re nearly there.”

Leilan had thought he might wake up to Cyrin shaking his shoulder, but instead it was their voice whispering in a soft tone over the sounds of the plane that roused him. He blinked, sitting up and rubbing at his eyes. His complimentary water bottle was rattling slightly on his tableside, the water splashing up the sides, and it took him entirely too long to realize it wasn’t the only thing shaking. Everything on the plane seemed wobbly.

“Is there turbulence?” he asked weakly, pressing the button that would readjust his seat so he could be upright.

“There’s not much of it,” Cyrin assured him. “The plane’s just fine.”

It really wasn’t that severe, but the vibrations were causing a wave of panic to rise in his mind. Leilan grimaced. “I’m not a fan.”

“Kaja doesn’t seem to be either.”

Leilan turned his head to the side. The seat belt sign was on, so Kaja was seething in her spot, her teeth slightly gritted together.

“It’s not so much anxiety for me,” he said distantly.

Cyrin nodded. “I understand that.”

Do you? Leilan wondered. Is it like the buzzing noise to you?

He glanced out Cyrin’s window just in time for a city to appear after a cloud passed. Amber City was old, even by Aphiran standards, but the first buildings he always saw flying in were the newest ones. They were skyscrapers and modern constructions, office buildings and high-rise apartments, intentionally built on the city limits rather than the center so that no historical buildings had to be demolished to make way for them. The glass and steel looked so out of place to him.

As they passed the skyscrapers, the height of the city buildings dropped dramatically as the landscape turned to brick and stone— bridges, citadels, monuments, plazas, fountains. These constructions were Amber City’s pride, but Leilan still saw the damage that the earthquake had left, even from thousands of feet up and after all this time. Many buildings were still unrestored, and sometimes there were clusters of abandoned ones left in disrepair. Leilan knew no one cared about those buildings. They’d been in terrible condition even before the earthquake had hit.

He knew it was down there somewhere, if it still stood, but he’d never been able to find which one he’d grown up in.

Leilan did remember it, though. The apartment the Ashworth family had lived in had been extremely cramped for five, and for all of his childhood there, he’d shared a small bedroom with his two older siblings that had also doubled as their laundry room. The paint was always cracked and peeling, and during the rainy season, the ceiling would leak water. The walls were thin, and he’d lost track of how many times he’d heard his birth mother crying over a bill at the dining table when he was supposed to be sleeping. He loathed how that was the sound he remembered her best by.

He wished he could tell her where he was at now. Hey, Mom, I know this might surprise you because you only got to think of me as your daughter, but I’m actually your son. Crazy, huh? I know you would have loved to discover that along with me. I got adopted into another family, so now I’ve got two other moms and all their relatives as well, and I’m far more financially secure than any of us could have ever hoped. It comes with new problems, though, and right now I’m in way too deep. I don’t know what to do.

I wish you were here. I miss you and everyone else.

The speakers crackled, with the familiar speech about donations to Amber City relief charities. Cyrin grimaced at the static that preceded and followed the announcement.

The plane rattled, bags in overhead cabins clattering like furniture toppling.

Leilan steeled himself, like the buildings that wouldn’t fall.

~~~

Their passage through the Amber City airport went mostly smoothly. The inspection agent didn’t seem to trust Mireya’s ID, and he held her up for a few minutes until he finally conceded that not having the newest papers wasn’t an issue as long as her existing ones had not expired. Similarly, Cyrin got randomly selected to go through a screening for the Fading and had to wait in an extra line. Leilan had never understood that preventative measure. The Fading had never spread far out of Renvara, and it made little sense to check those arriving there for it. Not only that, but a screening seemed pointless, as Cyrin was clearly healthy and not dying of any magical disease.

Within minutes of the group being seated at the gate for their next flight, Leilan’s communicator rang.

He sighed, checking the screen to see who he was about to get scolded by. He expected someone from his House, or maybe an angry Daphne or Acelin, but instead it was Marius. Leilan frowned in confusion. It had been less than forty-eight hours since they’d seen each other in this very airport, and he hadn’t thought Marius would be this soon to check in.

Which probably meant he wasn’t calling for small talk.

Taking a deep breath, Leilan placed an earbud in and answered the call. “Hey, Marius.”

“Leilan, where in the Saints are you?” Marius didn’t sound angry, but he sounded very, very exasperated and worried. That couldn’t be good.

Leilan sighed softly. “Am I missing?”

“All five of you are,” Marius said. “You don’t seem to have been abducted, because you checked yourselves out, but you’ve gone absent without official leave. There’s a lot of people wondering where you are and why you left, and they aren’t happy. Both of your mothers called you, and the others have probably gotten some calls too. You didn’t answer, so they brought me into this.”

“I wasn’t ignoring either of them,” Leilan promised, glancing around at the rest of the group. They seemed too distracted in their waiting to listen to his side of the conversation, or they were pretending not to. He stood up and left the gate to have the conversation alone. “I was on a plane and didn’t get their calls.”

“A plane?” Marius asked. “Where’d you go?”

“We’re in Amber City.”

“Okay,” Marius said slowly. “I would stay there if—”

“We’re not done traveling,” Leilan said. “We’re waiting for a plane to Storm City. We’ll spend a few days there, and then we’ll head back to Crystal City.”

“For what, Leilan?” Marius asked, sounding more tired than impatient. “I don’t want you or any of the others to get in trouble, but you need to explain why you left without telling your Houses. I can’t make excuses for you if I don’t know what’s going on.”

“Excuses?” Leilan echoed.

“You’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing,” Marius said. “If you weren’t, I know you’d be transparent about it.”

Leilan bit his lip.

“I don’t think you’d do something wrong, though, because I trust your judgment and your character,” Marius continued. “I want to make sure you’re not getting in trouble for that.”

Leilan understood what his friend was trying to say. At least, he hoped he did.

“I understand that you’ll have to pass along something that I tell you,” he said slowly. “That’s alright, I don’t want you to have to lie to anyone on my behalf. Can I just ask that you don’t share everything with them?”

Silence filled his earbuds during Marius’ long pause. “I can try.”

“Okay. Thank you.” Leilan let out a deep breath. “We’re going to Storm City for the First Spell.”

He heard Marius laugh with shock. “You’re doing what?”

“I know, I know. Not my line of work or even remotely my style.” Leilan pinched the bridge of his nose. “I need you to persuade them that we are in our lines of duty by doing this, though. Tell them we’ve left to meet an informant who can help us secure it for the Houses, and that the reason we left so suddenly is because it was extremely urgent that we get there before anyone else beat us to it.”

“I can pass that along,” Marius said. “Is that what you’re actually doing, though?”

“Well… sort of.”

Marius clicked his tongue. “I’m not ready to hear what this is, am I?”

“Marius, I’m dead serious,” Leilan said softly. “I’m sorry that I have to ask this of you, but I need you to keep this next part a secret. I’m going to need all of your trust in me, too. Please. This— this is important in a way that neither of us has meddled with before.”

The call was quiet for several seconds. When Marius spoke again, his voice was unexpectedly sober. “You know, I have complete faith in you. I trust your choices more than I trust the Houses, even though my loyalty is supposed to go to them first. But I have to ask, are you sure you’re doing the right thing?”

“I don’t know,” Leilan whispered. “I don’t know.”

“Tell me.” Marius was sounding worried.

Leilan swallowed. “We do have some informants who are helping us to get the First Spell. The thing is, they’re the thieves who first found it. We hired them, and we’re traveling with them to help them steal it.”

“Thieves,” Marius said quietly. “So…”

“We’re participating in crime and acting outside of our responsibilities,” Leilan said. “All for an item that has great and terrible potential.”

“It’s got the potential for a scandal,” Marius said, each word slow and careful. “But I believe in your reasons, whatever they are. I don’t think it’s best that you’re working with them, but I guess there isn’t much choice. I won’t say a word.”

Leilan hadn’t realized how stiff his posture was until his shoulders relaxed. “Thank you. Tell my moms I love them, please.”

“Of course,” Marius said. “Speaking of thieves, I’ve got to talk to the board of the family company soon. Someone stole a prototype of a product in development, and apparently, it’s a big deal.”

“What kind of product?”

“I dunno. It hasn’t yet been patented, so it was secret enough that I wasn’t told about it. It was some kind of electronic device.”

“Well, best of luck,” Leilan said. “I’ll still see you at the House anniversary in Starlight City in a few days, right?”

“You will,” Marius promised. “I’ll be there.”

Leilan smiled. “There’s only one thing left to say then. Avoid the paparazzi.”

“Won’t that be hard.”

Marius ended the call, and just as Leilan lowered his wrist, he heard the gate announcement that the flight to Storm City was beginning to board.


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Stickied -- Sat Apr 08, 2023 6:13 pm
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SilverNight says...



Hey readers! In my planning for this novel, I considered these first sixteen chapters as the first and longest part of four parts in the book. Now that the story's entering a new phase, I want to mention that my LMS thread is a thing! It's got lots of maps, character summaries, and information about the world's magic system, so if you're reading along and you want some extra content, feel free to check it out ^^




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Thu Jun 29, 2023 8:49 pm
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Spearmint wrote a review...



Hiya Silv! I saw the little description for 17.1 and noticed that it said heist time, so I'm definitely excited!! :D But before that, it looks like you're hinting at some things in this chapter part~ I was definitely intrigued by the Fading and Marius's mention of the electronic device. I have a couple of theories, but I'll save them for later in the review. =P Regarding my thoughts on filler chapters from my last review-- I think you executed this chapter well! The flight wasn't dragged on for too long, and you're keeping things interesting. So nice job!
In terms of critiques, my only concern would be how Leilan feels so comfortable speaking about sensitive matters in a public airport. As an Heir, shouldn't he have been trained in secure communications? Or at least have some kind of scrambling device or magic so that no one can overhear? (Of course, I could be missing something if it was covered before... xD)

Anyways, on to specifics! :]

Many buildings were still unrestored, and sometimes there were clusters of abandoned ones left in disrepair. Leilan knew no one cared about those buildings. They’d been in terrible condition even before the earthquake had hit.

Aw. :c I like the information you sprinkle in here. Seems like the city is focused on innovation and the future instead of nostalgia or the past.

The walls were thin, and he’d lost track of how many times he’d heard his birth mother crying over a bill at the dining table when he was supposed to be sleeping. He loathed how that was the sound he remembered her best by.

This. The emotion. </3

I got adopted into another family, so now I’ve got two other moms and all their relatives as well,

Interesting! I know Leilan mentioned that he'd had to fight to become Heir unlike Shane, but I wonder how it happened. I wouldn't think of the Houses to be the kind to adopt children, or at least not adopt them and make them Heir. How did they find Leilan? Sorry if this was mentioned already. I'll catch up on reading soon! xD

Leilan steeled himself, like the buildings that wouldn’t fall.

I like your choice of simile here, because buildings can fall. So it shows that Leilan is doing his best to stay strong, but he isn't invincible...

The inspection agent didn’t seem to trust Mireya’s ID, and he held her up for a few minutes until he finally conceded that not having the newest papers wasn’t an issue as long as her existing ones had not expired.

This seemed like an odd amount of detail to me. I wonder if it'll be brought up later?

The Fading had never spread far out of Renvara, and it made little sense to check those arriving there for it. Not only that, but a screening seemed pointless, as Cyrin was clearly healthy and not dying of any magical disease.

Hm, now how could that be relevant? Does Mireya have the Fading?? 0.0 Or Dante? Wait, did Dante disappear to find a cure or something??

“We’re not done traveling,” Leilan said. “We’re waiting for a plane to Storm City. We’ll spend a few days there, and then we’ll head back to Crystal City.”

Leilan, I thought you all were supposed to be sneaking out. >.> Telling people your final destination kind of defeats the purpose, no?

“You know, I have complete faith in you. I trust your choices more than I trust the Houses, even though my loyalty is supposed to go to them first. But I have to ask, are you sure you’re doing the right thing?”

Aww, I liked this peek into Marius and Leilan's relationship. They seem very close.

“I dunno. It hasn’t yet been patented, so it was secret enough that I wasn’t told about it. It was some kind of electronic device.”

Omg, I bet that’s the device the astronaut had!! 0.0 So if Dante has it... what could be his motives? Was it some kind of superweapon, and he was trying to keep it from the Houses or something??

“Well, best of luck,” Leilan said. “I’ll still see you at the House anniversary in Starlight City in a few days, right?”

I bet something big's going to happen there. >.>

Thanks for the chapter, and I can't wait to read the next one! Have a great day/night! =D




SilverNight says...


Hey hey again!

I wouldn't think of the Houses to be the kind to adopt children, or at least not adopt them and make them Heir. How did they find Leilan? Sorry if this was mentioned already. I'll catch up on reading soon! xD


You're good, there's been hints but this is the first place it's been properly introduced! It was (and still is) a pretty controversial decision to adopt him.

Leilan, I thought you all were supposed to be sneaking out. >.> Telling people your final destination kind of defeats the purpose, no?


I couldn't decide whether the reason he's doing this was because he's very trusting of Marius or because he's like "ha, they can't actually stop us" XD

I bet something big's going to happen there. >.>


>.> you heard nothing from me ;)



Spearmint says...


I couldn't decide whether the reason he's doing this was because he's very trusting of Marius or because he's like "ha, they can't actually stop us" XD

XDD Alright, that's fair...



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Wed Jun 14, 2023 9:07 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hello hello! I'm back for another installment of TLS :)

Leilan had thought he might wake up to Cyrin shaking his shoulder, but instead it was their voice whispering in a soft tone over the sounds of the plane that roused him.

Um, am I allowed to ship it?

Leilan turned his head to the side. The seat belt sign was on, so Kaja was seething in her spot, her teeth slightly gritted together.

Do all of the heirs have issues with various modes of transport? I like that they're all so kind to each other about it (even if Kaja would rip their heads off if they even mentioned it).

Amber City was old, even by Aphiran standards, but the first buildings he always saw flying in were the newest ones. They were skyscrapers and modern constructions, office buildings and high-rise apartments, intentionally built on the city limits rather than the center so that no historical buildings had to be demolished to make way for them. The glass and steel looked so out of place to him.

I absolutely love this as an intro the city along with the next paragraph. It feels so natural and effortless and was lovely to read.

I was surprised Leilan hears from Marius at this point. I was expecting him to come back because otherwise there wouldn't have been reason for him to be introduced in the fourth chapter, but I don't really get the dynamic. Why is he aware that they're all gone and why is he the one calling up to check on them and relay everything back?

I think I assumed from earlier on that because Marius' house had fallen and Leilan had to fake running into him at the airport that Marius didn't have any involvement in their world of things anymore. So I'm a little confused, but hoping to get more as I keep reading!

Overall though, this whole chapter was a good intermission to get them where they need to go. I'm guessing we'll be back for some action soon, so I'll brace myself!

Looking forward to chapter 17!

Icy




SilverNight says...


Hey Icy!! I have been appreciating your reviews even though Blizzard has kept me from responding until now, but I am trying to catch up on them now-- thanks for your patience! <3

Do all of the heirs have issues with various modes of transport? I like that they're all so kind to each other about it (even if Kaja would rip their heads off if they even mentioned it).


First you're so right about Kaja XD Second, I guess I've only really developed this for Kaja (fear of heights and therefore planes) and Shane (fear of having to sit in cars), but the Heirs are all definitely very understanding about each!

Why is he aware that they're all gone and why is he the one calling up to check on them and relay everything back?


Good question! This means I need to focus on explaining their friendship a little better, so I'll find a place to add that in full, but the short story is that Marius' family is still connected with the Houses despite no longer making up a House. The Houses know of his friendship with Leilan and the other Heirs, so if they'd tried to reach the Heirs themselves first and it didn't work, they would assume Marius would be able to get in touch and act as a go-between.

Thank you so much for the review! I'll try to reply to all the others you left in a timely manner <3




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