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The Last Spell 4.2

by SilverNight


The sunset, already made early by the winter, was hastened by the sun disappearing behind the tall peaks as Leilan and Kaja arrived at the Plaza of Claws. The blue and gray shadows of the mountains covered the city, creeping over streets and buildings, but the dimness didn’t stay for long. Neon lights tinged the darkened landscape with bright color as signs flickered to life, and a whole new side of Crystal City woke up just in time for dusk. Kaja’s pale blond curtain of hair turned purple in the glow of the sign for the hotel as the two of them stepped out of the car and hauled their suitcases through the revolving doors.

About a half dozen people sat in the lobby, most of them leaning back in velvet armchairs, making calls and sipping from drinks. But one person watched their entrance and sat much more stiffly, here for a job and not to relax. They stood up once the two Heirs approached and walked over to hand each of them a keycard. “The others are on their way back,” they informed them.

“Thank you, Acelin,” Leilan said. “Where are Favia and Daphne at?”

“Favia accompanied them. Daphne’s holding down a dinner reservation because everything happened to be a little behind schedule today,” Acelin explained.

“Even their meeting?” Kaja asked.

“They got there late. We had some problems getting a safe private car, and then we sent it straight to you for your own pickup, so they decided to walk back instead of waiting.”

Leilan almost said something surprised about how that seemed riskier than gambling on an unchecked car, but it made more sense after a few moments. Crystal City had excellent public transport, but they were discouraged from using it unless they were disguised enough or undercover. Walking with a bodyguard wasn’t all that dangerous, in a crowded city where no one could see a face for long. And even though Shane checked everything himself, he might refuse to set foot in a car that hadn’t been inspected already and was under suspicion.

“We’ll head upstairs and settle in,” he told the bodyguard. “They can meet us there.”

Acelin nodded, their posture straight as they stepped back and took a seat again. “You should see them shortly.”

Kaja moved over to the elevator, effortlessly carrying her bulky suitcase, and pressed the up button for the two of them. When the doors opened and they entered, Leilan scanned his keycard for access to their floor. The doors closed a moment later and they shot upwards.

Before he’d started traveling around Aphirah and staying in high-rise hotels, back when that had been an unfathomable life to him, Leilan hadn’t known skyscraper elevators could whizz past floors so fast that it could make his ears hurt. Even now, when it had become his life, the vibrating ache in his eardrums never got less uncomfortable or painful. He’d made a remark about it to Shane once, who had shrugged and said he hadn’t been bothered by it since he was four. Leilan hadn’t mentioned it to another Heir again. The differences between him and the rest of them were clear enough even without him bringing them up.

After just a few seconds, the elevator slowed to a stop, and the doors opened directly into the hotel room. The suite reserved for the Houses took up the entire top floor. Every time that Leilan had traveled to Crystal City with someone from a different House, this was where he’d stayed. It was complete with a kitchen, a large dining room, a living room filled with couches, a bathroom for each of the seven rooms, a game room, and sitting rooms that seemed to hold no purpose besides a boast that the square footage was theirs. He didn’t need to gape at the luxuries anymore, but they were still everywhere he looked— golden doorknobs, large windows and a balcony for the view, crystal chandeliers, and as always, so much space.

Kaja made no pause as she went straight for the long hallway to their right, pulling her suitcase behind her. “I’m going to unpack a little.”

“Good idea,” Leilan agreed, following behind.

Kaja ducked in the first room to her left. Her room had the red theme to match the House of Strength’s symbolic color, and he saw a glimpse of crimson carpeting and velvet seats before she closed the door. He still had further to go. Leilan passed the emerald-green room for the House of Courage, where Shane would be staying; the subdued blues and silvers of Kasumi’s room were directly opposite the deep blacks and purples of Dawn’s. All three of those rooms held the luggage of the other Heirs. He went by a closed door that he’d rarely opened, but that he knew was decorated with teal. Just before he got to the room at the end of the hall, a bronze room that Marius had never seen but had heard all about, Leilan pushed open the second-last door and stepped in.

The white and gold of the House of Compassion somehow made his room minimalist and vibrant at the same time. Wherever the soft white of the carpet and walls made the space cleaner, the reflective gold of the bedding, curtain rods and mirror frames made it lively. Leilan pulled his suitcase over to the nightstand and sat on the bed, deciding to figure out what had been packed for him. He hadn’t gotten to do it himself.

It turned out that not knowing how to pack for colder weather was something everyone from the West faced.

Leilan had four scarves (that seemed a lot for one neck) and three coats of varying degrees of warmness, but no boots that were meant for snow. The sweaters and pants were of all different types, like someone had gotten a sample of random clothes and only selected the ones with long sleeves or legs. He was fairly sure many of these weren’t really his, and there were far more outfits than he needed. There was even an old chest binder thrown in there, even though he hadn’t worn one since surgery a few years ago. Leilan guessed it hadn’t been packed by someone who knew him too well. He was laughing a little, from how much it looked like it had been thrown together in five minutes, but he knew he wouldn’t have done much better if it was up to him.

With that bag searched, Leilan unzipped his carry-on and pulled out a few items that he’d brought himself. A toothbrush and toothpaste to go in the attached bathroom. A package of duty-free specialty marshmallows from Amber City to be given to Dawn. A book he’d started on the flight to be set on the nightstand. And a necklace with a miniature conch shell pendant and tarnished chain to tangle in his fingers, to hold up to his cheek, then to carefully return to the bag.

Countless travels made as an Heir, and it still amazed him how much emotional baggage could be carried in a backpack with a strict weight limit.

Leilan zipped the bag up, left it leaning against a bedpost, then went to find Kaja again.

~~~

A disadvantage of this much space—though Leilan could think of a few more— was that it was often difficult to find someone else in. There were too many spaces to check. He’d seen her room empty with the door open, so he’d gone to the living room next, then the kitchen, then the game room. He eventually found her in one of the sitting rooms with armchairs, couches and a table that they mostly only used for meetings. Kaja had claimed a couch and turned a television on the news, watching the screen blankly. Leilan read the headline out of the corner of his eye: Tremor and Flare Explosion in Downtown Crystal City: Suspects Fled.

“So things are already going crazy,” he said as he took a seat in an armchair.

“Always have been,” Kaja muttered. Her brown eyes followed the motion of the crime scene of a smoke-filled alley, and she looked ready to go down and see it herself. Her posture wasn’t tense, just prepared in a highly strung way— more like a predator waiting to pounce than prey ready to run.

“And we’re going to hear all about it soon, once the others get here.”

“Not just that,” she said, glancing away from the screen briefly to face him. Her face twisted into a smirk that matched her voice. “It’s up to us this time, not the Heads. We’re going to get to do something about it.”

Leilan looked away even before Kaja went back to watching the news. It was a sentiment he’d heard from her often— it’s real power we need, power in our hands so we can be the ones to reach out and shape the world into what it needs to be. But something told him the responsibility of being a sculptor was lost on her. Ambitious, harsh or cruel touch could crumble the world, and if that happened when it was their turn, the rubble and the blame would be sitting in their hands.

He needed to trust all five pairs of hands that power would be resting in, and watching Kaja’s fingers curl into fists, he wasn’t sure that he did yet.


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Sat Jan 07, 2023 9:38 pm
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AceassinOfTheMoon wrote a review...



hi~

The sunset, already made early by the winter, was hastened by the sun disappearing behind the tall peaks as Leilan and Kaja arrived at the Plaza of Claws. The blue and gray shadows of the mountains covered the city, creeping over streets and buildings, but the dimness didn’t stay for long. Neon lights tinged the darkened landscape with bright color as signs flickered to life, and a whole new side of Crystal City woke up just in time for dusk. Kaja’s pale blond curtain of hair turned purple in the glow of the sign for the hotel as the two of them stepped out of the car and hauled their suitcases through the revolving doors.


the vibes of this opening paragraph are immaculate. 100/10.

About a half dozen people sat in the lobby, most of them leaning back in velvet armchairs, making calls and sipping from drinks. But one person watched their entrance and sat much more stiffly, here for a job and not to relax.


grammar nitpicky thing: don't start a sentence with "but". that's kind of a general writing rule but it makes this section in particular read choppily~

Before he’d started traveling around Aphirah and staying in high-rise hotels, back when that had been an unfathomable life to him, Leilan hadn’t known skyscraper elevators could whizz past floors so fast that it could make his ears hurt. Even now, when it had become his life, the vibrating ache in his eardrums never got less uncomfortable or painful. He’d made a remark about it to Shane once, who had shrugged and said he hadn’t been bothered by it since he was four. Leilan hadn’t mentioned it to another Heir again. The differences between him and the rest of them were clear enough even without him bringing them up.


okay now I'm starting to get a good picture of who Leilan is. you're doing that cool thing again where a single paragraph gives you a lot of info about someone. I love it.

Just before he got to the room at the end of the hall, a bronze room that Marius had never seen but had heard all about, Leilan pushed open the second-last door and stepped in.


hmm. I agree with Shady, this is kinda awkwardly worded?

There was even an old chest binder thrown in there, even though he hadn’t worn one since surgery a few years ago.


beautiful way of casually including the fact that he's trans.

Countless travels made as an Heir, and it still amazed him how much emotional baggage could be carried in a backpack with a strict weight limit.


the drama of this line I love it so much

“Not just that,” she said, glancing away from the screen briefly to face him. Her face twisted into a smirk that matched her voice. “It’s up to us this time, not the Heads. We’re going to get to do something about it.”


the little bits of lore we get about the Houses is really interesting but I want more
like
what role do they play in the world and why are they so important? if there are Heads to these Houses, why are the kids making the decisions now? just- what's going on with them in general? I think you're doing a great job of weaving the lore in naturally but you could weave more lore in naturally, too.

overall: loved this part. beautiful descriptions, great characterization, and some gorgeously dramatic lines.

see you in the next part <3




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Sat Dec 17, 2022 5:00 am
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Shady wrote a review...



Guess who's back -- back again? Shady's back (tell a friend) ;)

Another short chapter part so I'm expecting another short review, but we'll see how it goes! I'll try to make this as helpful as I can <3

as the two of them stepped out of the car and hauled their suitcases through the revolving doors.


Slightly odd to me that they are important enough to have bodyguards but have to haul their own luggage around ^^

The differences between him and the rest of them were clear enough even without him bringing them up.


Ooh! That's interesting! I'm intrigued ^^

Just before he got to the room at the end of the hall, a bronze room that Marius had never seen but had heard all about, Leilan pushed open the second-last door and stepped in.


This is a really convoluted sentence and I had to read it a few times before I understood what was happening here. I suggest reworking this one a bit ^^

more like a predator waiting to pounce than prey ready to run.


I really like this! It's really good characterization and is done very smoothly.

~

I liked this chapter part as well! I feel like I am very slowly untangling the plot in my head of the houses and the heirs. That being said. I am still a little confused, and that is mildly frustrating. Granted part of it is because I've been reading this so slowly so it's on me, but I don't really understand how the Houses fit together or what their roles are. Are the Heads like Lords? And these Heirs are kids up and coming to take over? Where are the Heads, then? Why are the kids the ones making the decisions? Why did Marius's house get kicked out? Who appointed these Houses? How does the government work?

There are just a lot of questions I have. And I recognize that these are hard to work in without it just being an infodump. But at the same time, I am at the end of Chapter 4 and am starting to feel like I should understand more about the plot than I currently do, which is mildly frustrating.

But! I trust that you do have a wonderful plot planned out and that I'll get there eventually. So. I trust you to get me there xD but I thought I'd point out that it's getting to the point I would like it to be tying together a teensy bit cleaner than it currently is.

That being said, I'm very tired right now and feel my cognitive state rapidly declining, so this is all I've got for you tonight! I'm aiming for at least a minimum of one review tomorrow so I can get the KotGR badge, but with any luck, you'll be getting several more from me before the end of Review Day! Trying my darndest to get caught up on this :')

Thanks for providing excellent content for me to buzz through! It's making maintaining my out of practice reviewing stamina easier ^-^

~Shady 8)




SilverNight says...


Shady! You are so good at figuring out what most needs fixing in each chapter and it is tremendously helpful every time <3



Shady says...


Aww I'm so glad to hear that <3 I feel like I'm rambling most of the time so I'm glad it's helpful xD




Life is like a bag of potatoes, it starts out rough, but can turn into something beautiful (and yummy).
— Ley