NaNoWriMo 2019 Chapter 4
Disclaimer: This is a NaNoWriMo attempt where quantity trumps quality. This will also be a long piece, so if you’re looking for a quick read, I would recommend checking out a different category like Short Stories.
~Chapter 4 Emphatic Weapons~
The day after she meets everyone in Shatterstrike, she wakes feeling restful. It is a good start to the day.
Then she walks in on an eight handed Lucy helping Derek unload groceries into the kitchen cabinets.
She stands frozen at the kitchen door. She knows there are plenty of information she has lost along with her memories, but she is quite certain that having six extra floating hands is not normal.
“Good morning, Anastasia,” Derek greets.
“Hey, you’re up,” Lucy adds cheerfully.
Neither of them appear to be alarmed at all by the extra hands Lucy has. Could she be wrong? Maybe having extra hands is normal and she’s just forgotten about it. It won’t be the only thing she has forgotten.
“Good morning,” she replies with her own shaky greeting.
“What’s wrong?” Lucy asks.
Derek follows her gaze to Lucy and has a flash of insight.
“Is it the hands?” he asks and gestures at Lucy’s floating hands.
“You mean these?” As one, the eight hands bob in the air in a circle.
“Yes.” She hesitates, but ultimately decides to venture her question. “Is that normal?”
“Not for the rest of us,” Derek says with an amused smile, “But it is for Lucy. It’s her emph.”
“Emphatic weapon. Emph for short,” Derek explains, “I have one too. Here. I’ll show you.”
He lifts his right hand, only to stop with a thoughtful frown before he lets it drop to his side.
“On second thoughts, the kitchen isn’t the best place to be pulling out my emph. Let’s finish things up here and we’ll go outside for a demonstration,” Derek says.
Between the three of them, and Lucy’s many extra hands, it takes only a few moments to pack everything into its proper places. Lucy claps her multiple pairs of hands in a show of a job well done and the extra hands vanish from sight.
No one blinks an eye. This has to be normal.
They step out of the kitchen through the back door to the backyard, a wide, clear space carpeted by soft grass.
She looks up at the pale sky. There’s a faint breeze in the air. It pulls at her hair, but it’s a gentle sway that doesn’t get in her way.
It’s her first time out of the building.
She shakes her head at herself, feeling a little silly. This certainly is not her first time outside. It only feels like it because she doesn’t remember anything.
Up ahead, Derek rolls his shoulders and gives his arms a warm up shake. Lucy stands some distance away. She walks forward to stand beside Lucy.
“This is my emph,” Derek says and presents his gloved right hand to her, palm facing towards him. On the back of his hand, a crest stands out in green against the black fabric. “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.”
The green crest glows and his glove flash into a scythe longer than he is tall. With familiar movements, Derek sweeps the scythe in an arc until its curved blade is above and behind him, safely out of the way of all three of them.
“Well, that’s it,” Derek says with a shrug.
“No it’s not,” Lucy says immediately. The green-eyed girl turns to her. “Derek’s scythe can also cut through space.”
She looks at the long blade. It certainly looks sharp enough to cut through anything.
“Let me rephrase. That’s it for what I’m willing to show right here, right now. I don’t want any unfortunate accidents to ruin our day. But if you come on a hunting trip with us, I’ll show you what this can do,” Derek says. He swings the scythe in a downwards arc and it flashes back into Derek’s harmless looking single glove.
She looks at Lucy’s hands but finds them glove-free. Lucy catches her look and points at her necklace. Having seen Derek’s glove, she now notices that the necklace sports the same green crest that Derek has.
“This is my emph. Everyone’s emph is different. Which I like. It makes us all special.”
“Does everyone have an emph?” she asks.
“Not everyone. But if you belong to a guild, you usually will,” Lucy says.
“Do I have one?” she asks.
Lucy turns to look at Derek, who has a thoughtful look on his face.
“I can’t remember. But Julia would know. You should ask her. Other than Corvus, and maybe this one over here,” Derek says with a thumb pointed carelessly at Lucy, “She’s the one who has the most information about you.”
“I’ll try,” she says, “She always looks very busy.”
“She is always very busy, but I’m sure she can spare some time to answer your questions. She might even be waiting for you to ask her. She’s a firm believer of answering questions when people are ready for it, instead of just dumping loads of information on people whether they want it or not,” Derek says with a not subtle look at Lucy.
“I’m sorry I’m a chatterbox,” Lucy says with a defiant fold of her arms.
“I think it’s good to have a mix. I won’t know what to ask if I didn’t know I have something to ask about in the first place,” she says diplomatically.
“Aww. Anastasia,” Lucy says and clasps her hands to her heart, “I’ll get you a mowglet’s tooth later when I go hunting.”
“Err… I’m fine. You don’t need to get me anything,” she says and quickly changes the topic, “Do any of you know where Julia is?”
“She might be in her office. Third floor, second door to your right,” Lucy says.
“Thank you, Lucy.”
She heads back into the building. On her way up to the third floor, she passes by a few faces. None of them are Julia. She climbs up the two flights of stairs without needing to catch her breath (progress!) and soon finds herself at the top of the stairs connecting the second floor to the third.
Last time, Lucy’s tour was cut short at the foot of the stairs, so she has never actually been to this floor before. It looks much the same as the second floor below. Closed doors line the corridor on both sides, some with plaques on them, some without. The second door on her right sports a simple plaque ‘Julia’s office’, consistent with what Lucy said earlier. This is the right place.
But is it the right time?
“She is always very busy, but I’m sure she can spare some time to answer your questions.”
She hardens her resolve and raps her knuckles against the closed door.
“Come in,” Julia’s muffled voice answers from inside the room.
She opens the door and cautiously looks in. Julia looks up from the documents on the table. One of her fingers holds down a spot in one of the pages. The guild medic certainly looks busy.
“Hello. How can I help you today?” Julia asks.
She is already here. Better not waste more of Julia’s time by waffling around.
“I have some questions that I’ve been advised to ask you about. You don’t have to answer them right now if you’re busy, but maybe you can let me know when would be a better time?” she asks.
Julia considers the documents spread before her.
“Let’s have a talk after dinner,” Julia suggests.
She nods. “Thank you. I won’t bother you anymore. See you later.”
This is good. She will get the answers to her questions in a few hours that would hopefully give her some clues about her identity. Or maybe give her a starting point to begin her investigation.
Uncertainty creeps in.
What should she ask? Is it too much to ask for an appoint with Julia for just two questions? If Julia’s always busy she should cram everything she can possibly think of into this session. But what else should she ask?
Without meaning to, she walks in circles, mirroring the circling thoughts in her mind.
“Is everything alright?”
She snaps out of her increasingly muddled thoughts to see Corvus. Involuntarily, her body snaps away from him and ends up knocking her back against the wall.
Up close, Corvus towers over her. He’s a lot bigger than she remembers from when she saw him from across the dining table.
“Sorry,” she says. Realising how bad her involuntary reaction might look, she quickly adds, “You’re a lot taller than I expected.”
“Everyone in my family is tall. It’s in our blood. And maybe our secret family roast recipe,” Corvus says with a straight face.
She chuckles awkwardly. That’s a joke, maybe? From their limited interaction, he does seem like the kind of person that doesn’t laugh easily.
“What’s on your mind that has you walking up and down up here?” Corvus asks.
She looks around. She’s at a corridor, but she can’t tell if she’s on the second or third floor. Which part of the building is she in?
“I made…” An appointment sounds strangely formal, but she can’t think of anything else more appropriate. “… an appointment with Julia. I have some questions to ask her about myself.”
She looks up at Corvus.
Julia said that Corvus was the one who brought her to Shatterstrike. Of everyone in the guild, except maybe Julia, he should have the best idea of what happened to her before she woke up without her memories.
“Julia says that you were the one who brought me here,” she says.
“That is correct,” Corvus says.
“Do you know what happened to me?” she asks.
“You were injured, so I brought you here,” Corvus says.
“How was I injured?”
“We’re not sure what happened first. Either because your body was badly injured, your emphatic weapon broke. Or, because your emphatic weapon broke, your body took the backlash. It could also have been both.”
She stares at Corvus. She is certain that his explanation makes sense. It just isn’t making sense to her. She’s missing some critical information to understand what he just said, and her confusion is clear to Corvus.
“What do you know about emphatic weapons,” he asks.
“Not all emphatic weapons look the same. They look different when they are in use and when they’re not in use, and everyone’s emphatic weapons do different things,” she says.
“That is correct,” Corvus says, “The emphatic weapon is ’emphatic’ because it is bonded to its wielder. In the same way that different people have different skills, personalities, preferences, emphatic weapons reflect those differences with different appearances and abilities. They are near indestructible. As long as their bonded wielder is whole, so are they. Conversely, when an emphatic weapon break, the bonded wielder is often destroyed too.
“Your emphatic weapon broke, but you, its bonded wielder, survived. It is very rare, but not impossible. But because it is so rare, there is no currently known treatment. Usually, if they survive, both the weapon and the wielder will naturally recover, or the wielder lives the rest of their life with a broken emphatic weapon.
“We don’t know if your emphatic weapon broke first, or yourself, or both at the same time. We also don’t have a way to treat you. That’s the situation you are in right now.”
It’s a lot to take in. And a little terrifying. Something really traumatising must have happened to her past self. She wants to know what happened, but she also doesn’t want to either.
“We kept your emphatic weapon in your room. Come. I’ll show you where it is,” Corvus says and walks away. She follows him down the stairs and to her room in silence.
Once they reach her room, Corvus heads straight for the table and pulls out the top drawer under the table. He picks up a short knife and hands it to her, hilt first. She accepts the knife from him.
Her hand fits comfortably around the knife handle. Unlike Lucy’s and Derek’s emphs, the knife she holds has a different purple crest on one side of the blade, distorted by a jagged crack that extends almost the full length of the blade.
She does not recognise it.
Disappointment sneaks into her heart, but she pushes the unreasonable emotion away. From what Corvus said, she’s lucky to even be alive. That has to count for something.
She looks up at the man who has graciously opened his guild and helped her begin life anew.
~End Chapter 4~
Continue to Chapter 5 here.
Chapter word count: 2084
Total word count: 5466