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The Last Spell 7.1

by SilverNight


The First Spell has been found.

Leilan had never heard that sentence spoken, or ever thought that he would, so he had to turn it around in his head a few times. Some news didn’t process easily. While he was still in the middle of wondering if he’d heard Favia correctly, Shane had clearly figured it out already.

“The First Spell?” Shane asked, sounding just as breathless as Favia had been. “As in, the artifact known as the First Spell? Not something else with the same name?”

“No, it’s the name of a new clothing brand that just got launched,” Kaja murmured, but her awe undermined her sarcasm.

“The very one,” Favia confirmed. “You all know the implications of that.”

Leilan’s brain was just getting to unpacking them. It would have to mean that the First Spell didn’t only exist in a legend that was plausible but removed from reality. He’d heard the story of the powerful item, an artifact in uncertain form, but hadn’t ever truly believed that any artifact could wield control over all of Aphirah’s magic supply. But if it was out there… A race for it must have already begun, with everyone scrambling to get that information for themselves.

It was a race that some of them would probably want to get in on.

“We would like to know about that, yes,” Kasumi said, with an interest that confirmed Leilan’s guess.

“Here’s the thing,” Favia said, lowering her voice slightly. “The word is that it got discovered by accident. From what I’ve heard, two thieves were hired to steal a different artifact in the same place, and they happened to see it there. All I know about them is that they’re called the Stormguide and the Specter. They had to film the theft for who they stole the item for, I think as part of proving that they weren’t up to anything else. When someone reviewed the video, they saw a different artifact that the two focused on, and although the thieves didn’t realize what they were looking at, something clued them in on what it was.”

“So everyone’s going to be trying to reach the two of them, because they know where it is,” Kaja mused. “Could we?”

Dawn elbowed her. “I don’t think it’s in our business to hire criminals,” she whispered.

“Come on, the government’s always gotten mercenaries to do their dirtiest work,” Kaja replied, undeterred.

Leilan could almost hear Favia’s frown through Shane’s communicator. “There won’t be any hiring. We’d probably want to get police to take them into custody and hear it from them, however. They’re wanted by everybody, and under threat, as that explosion proved. If we want to make sure no one else gets the knowledge, and that no one can make a successful attempt on them either, there’s not a lot of time.”

“I’m sure the police will take care of it with plenty to spare,” Kasumi muttered.

“Favia, how are you coming by all of this?” Leilan asked. “Is this casino seriously the spot where everyone seems to know everything there is about crime as it unfolds?”

“I agree, it’s suspicious,” Favia said. “I don’t know what it is about here.”

“Do you think you could do some more investigating?” Shane asked. “It could help speed things up.”

There was no reply from the bodyguard, just soft, indistinct sound picked up from her communicator’s microphone. It could have been plenty of noises— the brush of clothing, a footstep, someone nearby clearing their throat— but Favia’s silence was clear.

“Did you hear us?” Shane said, louder now, but Leilan could tell from his voice that he believed she hadn’t.

The silence went on a little longer before the speaker crackled, and he heard Favia’s voice, speaking like her teeth were clenched together. “Hold on,” she grumbled, and the call abruptly ended a moment later. Shane pulled back his wrist, frowning like he wasn’t quite sure what had happened.

“That doesn’t seem good,” Dawn said slowly, and Kasumi nodded.

“Something probably just got her attention. She’ll be okay,” Leilan promised, and he watched the concern on their faces shift into relief. “I bet she’ll call us back within the hour.”

“What kind of casino did she end up at, anyway?” Kaja asked.

Shane pulled up Favia’s location on his screen, pointing at the dot on the other side of the closest ravine. “Just one on the Capitol mountain,” he said with a shrug. “There are so many casinos here that I couldn’t tell them all apart.”

To Leilan’s surprise, Kasumi caught Shane’s wrist, zooming in on the map until she had a closer view of the city block and the address. She stared at it for a long moment, her face blank and unreadable to him. “I know that one,” she announced finally.

“You do?” Leilan asked doubtfully. “What is it about it then?”

“I don’t know that much,” Kasumi said distantly. “There’s a movie theater in front of it.”

“A what?”

“Never mind,” Kasumi said, shaking her head like she hadn’t quite been listening to her own words. “I’m not sure how I know it, just that I do.”

“You don’t gamble,” Dawn said, confused.

“No,” Kasumi admitted, letting go of Shane’s wrist, and he pulled his arm back with a baffled expression. “Anyway, maybe we should find her.”

“It’s not safe, and not our responsibility either,” Leilan told her. “If we don’t hear from her soon, we’ll report it to Acelin. In the meantime, we really should leave for dinner.”

Kasumi nodded, but she didn’t look entirely convinced.

“Let’s all get ready for that,” Dawn suggested, walking towards the hallway to their rooms. “I should be good to leave in five minutes.”

Leilan and Shane followed behind, while Kaja went back to the couch and Kasumi crossed to the entry room. Since Shane was already dressed and ready to go, it didn’t surprise him that his friend followed him along the hallway and into his room, where Leilan knelt beside his suitcase and unzipped it again. “You might have to help me pick out a coat,” he said as he threw open the lid. “They gave me too many options.”

Shane’s green eyes sparked with amusement as he sat down next to him. “Let’s see it.”

Leilan pulled out the three coats that were packed for him and spread them out, pointing at each one as he described it. “Red parka, green down jacket, and black fur-lined.”

“I think the fur-lined one is warmest, but red’s your color.” Shane lifted the parka’s sleeve, flashing him a grin. “So, how did eight consecutive hours with Kaja go?”

“Oh, Saints, it felt more like nine,” Leilan said, rubbing his eyes while Shane laughed. “That was a true test in Heir management.”

“At least you had Marius there.”

“She was more polite for it,” Leilan agreed. “It’s hard to be mean to him. Speaking of management, how was your supervising?”

Shane blew out a sigh, turning unexpectedly sober. “Difficult. You know I like Kasumi and Dawn, but I had some regrets in the moment.”

“Like what?” Leilan frowned.

He shrugged. “Getting here. Having to be in this role and inherit the responsibility that comes with it. Not pushing harder for what I wanted for myself.”

“You’ve had it for a few years now,” Leilan said softly. “It still doesn’t feel right?”

Shane shook his head, running his fingers through his dark hair to smooth it back. “It probably won’t ever,” he said. “I’ll get used to it with more time, I bet, but I think it won’t ever be for me.”

You could still try to change your uncle’s mind someday, Leilan wanted to say. It’s not like Flint wants to see you in a spot that’s bad for you.

But he had the feeling that the discussion was already a common one between the two most powerful of the Hawkings.

“You don’t have to want it,” he said instead. “It’s okay that being an Heir doesn’t match your plan for life. It’s fine that you’d rather contribute to how our existing history is understood than create more of it.”

Shane blinked, staring down at the coats. “It just feels like there’s something wrong here,” he said with a tired laugh. “You had to fight for it, and I didn’t. I wasn’t even asked.”

Leilan found himself pressing his lips together instead of responding. It deserved a reply, but he wasn’t sure what to say. He knew it wasn’t intentional on Shane’s part, but the reminder stung a little too much, and he silently struggled with the words for a few moments until he was saved by Dawn and Kaja showing up in the doorway.

“Oh, hi,” Dawn said, biting her lip like she was worried, as she poked her head in the room. “So, Kasumi—”

“Marshmallows,” Leilan managed to say while still distracted in his speech, scrambling to grab the package from his open carry-on and toss it in her direction.

Dawn instinctively moved aside instead of catching it, and the bag hit Kaja, who was just behind her, in the hip. She stared down at the projectile as it bounced off her with an indifferent and bored look, as if she had been attacked by something so small and puny that it wasn’t even worth her time, then shook her head and picked it up for Dawn.

“Why is everyone deciding to throw food instead of just handing it over normally?” Shane asked confusedly, and Leilan had to look away awkwardly.

“Thank you, Leilan,” Dawn said, as she took the bag from Kaja. Her words were genuine, but her voice was distracted, and Leilan noticed she was fidgeting with the package in her hands. “Anyway, we might have a problem—”

“Kasumi’s left on her own,” Kaja interrupted.

Leilan really wasn’t doing well with responding to things that caught him off guard today. “Wait, what?”

“She’s gone in the same direction as the casino,” Kaja said, with dry irritation. “We couldn’t find her here, and her location is moving in that direction. It seems like she snuck off.”

Shane groaned, getting to his feet as Leilan scrambled to pull the parka on. “No one saw or heard her calling the elevator?”

“I did,” Dawn admitted. “She said she was calling it so it’d be here when we were ready and wasn’t happy about long it took to get to the top floor, which wasn’t out of the ordinary for her. I didn’t think she’d get in alone when it arrived.”

Leilan mumbled a curse under his breath as he got to his feet and rushed through the hallway with them. “Did either of you tell a bodyguard?”

“Not yet,” Dawn said. “We told you both first.”

He resisted the urge to sigh and pressed the button for the elevator. He glanced at the three Heirs standing side by side in a line behind him, all tight-lipped and serious. “Shane, let Acelin and Daphne know we’re cancelling dinner. We can still catch up to her.”

“So we’re following?” Shane asked with a frown.

“She’s going to have to catch the monorail over the ravine, right?” Leilan said, gradually feeling his confidence returning to him as a plan quickly formed in his mind. “Our goal is to reach her before she can get on one, and then get her back here quickly. If we’re swift enough, it won’t be dangerous, and none of us will get in a report or in trouble with our bodyguards.”

The elevator doors opened, and Kaja moved next to him when they all stepped in. “Didn’t you disapprove of them walking back without Favia?” she whispered. “And now we’re going without a bodyguard?”

“This has to be fast, and I care more about Kasumi’s safety than whether she gets the appropriate scolding for doing something badly thought out,” Leilan whispered back. “Also, I don’t think anyone will mess with us if you’re there. You look scarier than any of our bodyguards.”

Kaja nodded in satisfaction. “I knew I didn’t need one of those.”

The elevator sped downwards, out-racing even his spinning thoughts. In the midst of the ache in his ears and slight dizziness from the descent, Leilan managed to pin down one of them. The responsibility that comes with this isn’t always expected.


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Wed Sep 13, 2023 12:28 pm
Ventomology says...



Haha kids about to get themselves in some major trouble. Nice foreshadowing.




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Mon Feb 13, 2023 2:10 pm
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4revgreen wrote a review...



In this chaper, the characters are discussing the discovery of a powerful artifact called the First Spell. The artifact was discovered accidentally by two thieves who were hired to steal a different artifact. The group discusses the implications of the discovery, including the fact that there will be a race to find it.
The characters also discuss the idea of hiring the thieves, but ultimately decide that it would be best to get the police involved. The passage employs several literary devices, including foreshadowing and characterization. For example, the fact that Kasumi recognizes the location of the casino where Favia is located suggests that she may have connections or a mysterious past.
Once again, you cleverly used dialogue to reveal the characters' personalities. Kaja's sarcastic remark that the First Spell is "the name of a new clothing brand" shows that she has a witty sense of humor, while Dawn's caution about hiring criminals shows that she values moral principles. Also, Kasumi's distant and vague recollection of the casino suggests that she has a mysterious past.

Finally, the author uses setting to create an atmosphere of tension and urgency. The fact that the First Spell was discovered by "two thieves" who were hired to steal a different artifact, and that they are now "wanted by everybody" creates a sense of danger and risk. The characters know that time is of the essence, and they need to act quickly to prevent others from getting their hands on the First Spell. There is much tension and action in all your chapters, it really keeps me on edge and guessing the entire time i'm reading!




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Sat Dec 17, 2022 11:28 pm
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Shady wrote a review...



[insert generic opening line here pretending like this isn't my 10th review for you in the past two days]

Ooh, interesting that you're not switching back to the other POV! I think this is good -- you left us off on a cliffhanger in the last chapter so I'm down to hear more from Shane and the other Heirs now to explain what it means. But after the pattern of switching back and forth, this surprised me a bit. Excited to see if there's an explanation given, though!

They had to film the theft for who they stole the item for, I think as part of proving that they weren’t up to anything else.


You know, reading this gave me two thoughts immediately, so I figured I'd share them here. The first is that in retrospect, it's really weird that Cyrin both filmed their theft and then shared it with their employer when they knew nothing about the man. Like. They literally incriminated themselves there, videoing a crime in the act, and then giving it to someone they didn't know. That seems incredibly stupid, even for them.

The other part of me though likes that they're completely oblivious to what they've done, because that feels very in-character for them xD

“Come on, the government’s always gotten mercenaries to do their dirtiest work,” Kaja replied, undeterred.


Hahahah I mean she's not wrong.

Since Shane was already dressed and ready to go, it didn’t surprise him that his friend followed him along the hallway and into his room, where Leilan knelt beside his suitcase and unzipped it again. “You might have to help me pick out a coat,” he said as he threw open the lid. “They gave me too many options.”


this "him" and "his" confused me about whose POV we were in here. At first, it seemed Shane, but the further I read, the more I think it's Leilan? Not sure. Either way, it's ambiguous and I suggest you clarify it a bit in revisions.

“So we’re following?” Shane asked with a frown.


Wait, isn't Shane the Head Heir? Why is he asking Leilan, isn't he the authority figure here?

~

Look at me, being correct that Kasumi is the problem lol

I still think how they interact with their guards is kind of weird, and I feel like we are also reaching the point where we need more info on the government structure. Like it sounds like they are near royalty-level importance in some contexts, like they have a lot of authority and influence and the need to have high-security clearance. But then they only have a minimal guard and have to carry their own luggage and act like high schoolers sneaking out to go actively put themselves in danger.

And like... what kind of a guard would let that happen? Like... how could she possibly have gotten past her guards without them seeing her? Doesn't that mean that others would be able to get past the guards in the opposite direction? So the guards aren't actually guarding them?

Maybe it would be helpful if I summarized what I understand so far? I'm sure I probably missed some plot because my brain is notoriously bad about not absorbing everything lol but what I understand:

There are 5 Houses, each of which has a Head that is actually in charge and an Heir that is a younger relative that is presumably getting groomed to become the Head eventually? Marius somehow was the Heir to the 6th House but now that House doesn't exist for some reason. The job of Heir is important enough to be influential and meet with high ranking government officials, but discrete enough that normal people don't recognize them on the street and they don't need actual security measures to keep them safe.

... Yes? Maybe?

~Shady 8)




SilverNight says...


Wait, isn't Shane the Head Heir? Why is he asking Leilan, isn't he the authority figure here?


Ack no Shane is not supposed to be. I think there was a bit about that somewhere in the second chapter but I can't recall XD

Also I think just about everything you said in that summary is correct! The only thing is that Marius was never Heir to anything, just of the family line that was the 6th House, and likely would have become it if it were still in existence. There's a bit on top of all that still, but I think you got all the information I've introduce so far (and I've doing a very poor job of communicating it, so congrats on putting that together) :')




I was promis'd on a time, To have a reason for my rhyme: From that time unto this season, I receiv'd nor rhyme nor reason.
— Edmund Spenser