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The Last Spell 28.2

by SilverNight


The two of them spent the last of their time waiting in silence— but not an uncomfortable silence— until Kaja’s communicator beeped twice, indicating their seven minutes had run out.

“We’ll want to be on the other side of the pillar for this,” Leilan commented.

Kaja slowly nodded. “You know, you’re probably right.”

They looped around it, and Leilan let the spell stone rest in his palm before he picked it up and rubbed it between his fingers. After a few moments, the pearly-white stone glowed with a soft light. He and Kaja exchanged another glance, then Leilan looked cautiously around. No one seemed to be paying them any attention.

“This had better be fun,” Kaja said. “Mireya said it was the most fun of the tasks, and it’s because we just get to cause problems and general distractions.”

“I’m mostly concerned with whether it works or not,” Leilan said. “But, yeah. It could be fun.” With that, and one last quick look around to make sure no one was watching them, he placed the final stone at the foot of the pillar.

The pandemonium started small. A mage walking just a few feet away bumped into an invisible barrier and was thrown back with a cry of surprise as they stared at where they’d been going, finding nothing in their way. Soon, it was happening all over the Arcade where Leilan and Kaja had been. People were finding themselves enclosed by invisible walls, bumping into obstacles that didn’t seem to be there, and it was causing chaos. The grid Mireya had drawn for them, marking lines between structural pillars, had manifested itself in real life with Force shields connected together by the arrangement of spell stones that Cyrin had charged with magic.

“This is kind of fun,” Kaja remarked, watching a very hardened-looking mage suddenly snap and rush the Force barrier with a battle cry. “I like knowing that Sparrow’s going to hate it.”

Leilan folded his arms over his chest, as the battle cry turned into a surprised yelp and the mage bounced off the shield. “I feel a little bad for this, but I might be taking a tiny bit of pleasure in it too.”

He saw a mage, apparently figuring out it had to be Force, slinging an Acid spell at the barrier, but it fizzled out uselessly against it. Cyrin had informed them that the shields could only be deactivated if the spell stones acting as the points in a matrix of Force were targeted, not where the barriers were themselves. Until someone examined where the invisible walls connected and saw all the stones placed by the bottom of pillars— which wouldn’t occur to anyone for a while yet, with the panicked frenzy just starting— the barriers would stand, and this entire section of the Arcade, including the Nest, would be unnavigable.

“Wanna grab a drink?” Kaja suggested casually, as someone resorted to smashing a wooden chair from a seating area against the barrier with a guttural yell. “We were instructed to stay around until Mireya and Dawn get here.”

Leilan glanced at the chaos. “Sure, but we should, uh, find a different bar. The closest one has about four shields and two hundred rioting people between us and it.”

They slipped away from the scene as nonchalantly as possible and found a bar— which were not lacking in the Arcade— farther from the pandemonium. As Kaja went up to the counter, Leilan got them a table, wondering how this heist was going for everyone else. The time they’d waited should have allowed for Shane and Kasumi to cause chaos at the Nest, getting themselves caught so Cyrin could follow, and Dawn and Mireya had a short task away from the Arcade.

The part about Shane and Kasumi getting caught had worried him the most, because it could also go wrong very fast. He almost hadn’t agreed to it, especially once he’d heard that there would be a real bomb. He trusted Shane to make it work, in terms of setting it off safely, but he was concerned about the part afterwards. Would Shane go into shock? Would Kasumi know what to do if he did? Leilan wasn’t sure he would know either if he were there, but he hadn’t wanted to trade places with Kasumi because he wasn’t too sure about her and Kaja working together, and Mireya had called dibs on Dawn as her teammate anyway. He could only hope the two of them were alright.

Kaja came back with his drink, and he realized he hadn’t given her his order, but she handed him the gin and tonic he’d wanted anyway. “Cheers to making the plan work?” she suggested tentatively, raising her own glass.

“Cheers to being partners in crime.” Leilan clinked her glass with hers.

They both drank, and he found himself glancing over his shoulder at the Arcade section with the barriers, which still had not calmed down. It seemed to be the subject of discussion of the other tables around them, and most of the conversations blended together, but a particularly close one was distinct enough for him to follow.

“The news hasn’t gotten to Sparrow yet,” a woman just behind Leilan whispered. “He seems to be busy.”

“He wasn’t in the Nest, was he?” a man asked.

“No, he wasn’t tonight. He’s either elsewhere in the Arcade or in the next building over.” The woman sighed. “This might interfere with our departure.”

The sounds of the bar got louder as laughter rose up from elsewhere, but Leilan was now listening closely to the man’s response. “We’ll figure it out. Everyone still in there will be able to find some way to get out by the time we leave for Starlight City tomorrow.”

“They had better.” The woman blew out a tired breath. “The last thing we need is a stupid prank making things harder. Sparrow will be livid.”

Leilan’s thoughts were buzzing. He tried to catch Kaja’s eye, but she was staring off into the distance, holding her beer halfway to her face. He nudged her to get her attention, raising his eyebrows meaningfully, and she just frowned at him. That wasn’t going to work.

“Finish up your drink,” he said, draining his quickly and standing up while trying to ignore the burn. She looked confused, but she swallowed her beer up and stood with him. “Let’s head to the exit.”

They made their way back to the hidden entrance from the Fortune, but Leilan decided to linger away from it. They didn’t need to leave now, but he wanted to have the option to leave quickly, and it would be easier for Mireya and Dawn to find them.

Kaja cleared her throat, watching him impatiently. “What’s the matter? That was a good beer.”

“Did you hear what those people behind me were talking about?” Leilan asked.

Kaja shook her head. “I found it too loud for any eavesdropping.”

“They were talking about a plan Sparrow has to travel with people to Starlight City and do something there,” Leilan said. “They’re leaving tomorrow.”

Kaja frowned. “Well, did it sound like a big plan?”

“Any plan Sparrow is making, now that he’s got the First Spell, is bound to be big,” Leilan said. “Besides, we’re supposed to be traveling to Starlight City tomorrow, as well…”

Kaja stood up straighter. “We’re going there for the Houses’ anniversary party. They could be too.”

Leilan nodded. “I think it’s too much to be a coincidence.”

“Is that where he’s planning to carry out his plans for the First Spell from?” Kaja’s brow furrowed as she fell deep in thought. “It’d be a very dramatic backdrop, as a celebration his enemies are throwing.”

“I think he means to undermine it, then,” Leilan said. “We’ve obviously got to let the others know what’s happening, but— who else can we tell? Can we even warn them?”

“Not without too many questions.” Kaja shook her head slowly. “Our best bet is to show up, get chewed out for leaving irresponsibly, deliver some half-truths and white lies. We can’t get the event canceled, and we can’t become the subject of too much scrutiny there. But it’s also dangerous to let it take them by surprise. There needs to be someone there who can be prepared in the event that Sparrow tries something there.”

Leilan pressed his lips together. He couldn’t think of any of the Heirs’ close family members who wouldn’t ask too many questions, and his own mothers were out of the question. He owed them a huge apology already, and this definitely wouldn’t bring him back into their good graces. But not everyone at that party would be family…

“We can tell Marius,” Leilan said suddenly. “He’s on the guest list along with the other Cardozos, like other families that are involved with the Houses or just plain rich enough to attend. He’s going to be there.”

“Perfect. He already knows a bit about our recent adventures, too, so he’s safe to tell.” Kaja nodded. “We need him as an ally.”

“We can let him know now, but I don’t want to distract the others from whatever they’re doing.” Leilan blew out a sigh. “We’ll have to wait to tell them.”

“Let’s hope Mireya and Dawn hurry up with their little errand.” Kaja raised an eyebrow. “I know we told them they don’t have to hurry, but I know they wouldn’t anyway. They’re probably too busy flirting.”

“Maybe,” Leilan admitted. “Well, as long as they’re having a good time, right?”


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Sat Sep 30, 2023 7:38 pm
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Ventomology wrote a review...



Heyyyy! Can I just say, I love this use of magic? Here? This one?

The grid Mireya had drawn for them, marking lines between structural pillars, had manifested itself in real life with Force shields connected together by the arrangement of spell stones that Cyrin had charged with magic.

I mean it's definitely not because it reminds me of architectural plans and is how real buildings are constructed and stuff (cough cough). I wish I knew more about the Arcade tbh. Like, is it kind of constructed a little bit like an actual architectural arcade? Are the columns steel, or steel encased in gypsum, or stone? What're the stylings on the building? Is it art deco or whatever the in-world equivalent is? I WANNA KNOW.

...anyway. Just uh... ignore the fact that I'm a total nerd.

It occurred to me while I was reading this chapter that I would really like to know what our protagonist's original plan was. Maybe I'm... forgetful... but I don't remember it ever really being laid out for us readers. And while obviously there's something to be said for the dramatic reveal of a genius chess move, I think that since this plan currently being enacted is almost definitely not the "checkmate," so-to-speak, that it is worth it terms of emotional payout to at least have let us in on more of it than we do know.

I say this because, given where we are in the story, I think it is a given (and has been proven at this point) that things will go wrong with the plan. Explaining some of it beforehand gives you more opportunity to foreshadow all the ways it can go wrong, and also lets us see better into how everyone works together as a single unit, rather than in their little pairs all over the place. It might be difficult to write, as dialogue-heavy scenes with--what, seven people?--are, but I think it would have been worth it to see the plan crumbling down and really feel some additional tension and disappointment. ESPECIALLY because this time, unlike in Permafrost's Fall, the entire team is intentionally working together on the action, and not just Cyrin and Mireya.

Aside from that, great job introducing more of Sparrow's intent with the first spell. You've done an awesome job setting up the 'sides' at play and making some hints about the direction they want to move the world in, so I'm very excited to see his actions at this big meeting.

Great work,
-Vento




SilverNight says...


Thanks Vento! I will be sure to pay special attention towards the architecture of the next place we go just for you!



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Sun Sep 24, 2023 12:51 am
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Ooh, we got an info drop I wasn't expecting in the end of this part! I loved the hints at a bigger plan going on, on Sparrow's part. I'm now guessing that they're going to fail at this current plan, given that that's being introduced. It seems like it'll lead to a very interesting face-off at the anniversary party, which I look forward to reading about. It's interesting that they're still planning on going; I feel like they've not been doing very many Heir duties as of late, and I'm surprised they've not run in to more people trying to track them down. Especially since they've been staying in House-sanctioned lodgings.

I also really liked how you described their part of the plan coming together; portraying physical comedy through a prose format is pretty hard, but you've done a great job at painting a picture of people ramming into invisible barriers left and right. This might become clearer in the next part, but as of now, besides causing more chaos, I was a little confused at what this will do for the plan besides making Sparrow more angry; I'm sure it'll get explained later, though!

Specifics

As Kaja went up to the counter, Leilan got them a table, wondering how this heist was going for everyone else.


Not well, Leilan. Not well.

He trusted Shane to make it work, in terms of setting it off safely, but he was concerned about the part afterwards. Would Shane go into shock? Would Kasumi know what to do if he did?


Loved this moment of Leilan being worried for Shane.

Mireya had called dibs on Dawn as her teammate anyway.


I figured something like that had happened. Very much hoping this next chapter focuses on them, and hoping everything goes smoothly for them. Given what you've revealed about Sparrow's plan for the heirs, I feel like there's going to be some hiccup, though.

Overall: great job! I'm excited to see the plan come together once we learn what Mireya and Dawn have been up to, and then on from there! Until next time!




SilverNight says...


Welcome back Plume! Appreciate the feedback and the heist enthusiasm as always!!



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Mon Aug 28, 2023 9:10 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Part two let's goooo!

“We’ll want to be on the other side of the pillar for this,” Leilan commented.

Kaja slowly nodded. “You know, you’re probably right.”

Is this not something they could have/should have figured out before the timer was up? They're also very chill vs what I might have expected (I was thinking the timer would go off and there would be chaos lol).

“This had better be fun,” Kaja said. “Mireya said it was the most fun of the tasks, and it’s because we just get to cause problems and general distractions.”

Trust Kaja to have different priorities to everyone else xD

The pandemonium started small. A mage walking just a few feet away bumped into an invisible barrier and was thrown back with a cry of surprise as they stared at where they’d been going, finding nothing in their way. Soon, it was happening all over the Arcade where Leilan and Kaja had been. People were finding themselves enclosed by invisible walls, bumping into obstacles that didn’t seem to be there, and it was causing chaos. The grid Mireya had drawn for them, marking lines between structural pillars, had manifested itself in real life with Force shields connected together by the arrangement of spell stones that Cyrin had charged with magic.

I loved the build up in this paragraph. It's a gentle escalation up to complete chaos and quite frankly I am here for it!

Leilan glanced at the chaos. “Sure, but we should, uh, find a different bar. The closest one has about four shields and two hundred rioting people between us and it.”

It sure seems like these two have managed to get the most chill of the responsibilities so far. It breaks up the tension from the last chapter well, but I can't help but feel they've gotten off lightly. Also, of COURSE Mireya has opted to pair up with Dawn xD

The eavesdropping for me was a good balance as sometimes these things seem too convenient but the fact Kaja couldn't hear them made it a bit easier to swallow. I didn't super follow the logic because to begin with I thought the people Leilan was listening to were talking about escaping Sparrow but I'd probably put that down to me being tired rather than anything else xD

This is the first chapter in the plan where I really realised what they were accomplishing, so I hope the next chapter with Dawn and Mireya ties it all together!

Can't wait for more <3

Icy




SilverNight says...


Thank you for the helpful review! I hope the next chapter ties things together too (I say, as the person writing it XD)




'They are afraid of nothing,' I grumbled, watching their approach through the window. 'Together, they would brave Satan and all his legions.'
— Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights