NaNoWriMo 2019 Chapter 5
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 5 Story Time with Lucy~
“Ah. This brings back memories,” Lucy says as she turns Anastasia’s broken emph in her hands.
“What kind of memories?” she asks.
“All emphs start the same way. Like this. It’s only after you start training and spending time with it that it starts to change and become your very own unique emph. I’m super curious now. What was your emph like before it broke?”
But the broken emph reveals no answers. Unperturbed, Lucy sets it back down on the table and turns her attention to Anastasia’s hair.
“I’m thinking of a ponytail today. What do you think?” Lucy asks as she runs the brush through her long hair.
“I’m fine with anything,” she says.
“That’s the answer I love to hear,” Lucy says.
As Lucy’s hands work on her hair, the green-eyed girl asks, “What do you think your emph was before it broke?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t gotten any flashbacks with the emph,” she says.
“I’m sure you’ll remember it eventually,” Lucy says and pats her shoulder, “So we don’t know what your emph used to be, what would you like it to be? Some people say they can choose what their emphs turn into. I didn’t, but I think that’s cool.”
What would she like her emph to be? She has only seen two so far. Lucy’s extra hands and Derek’s space slicing scythe. Two very different emphs, both look cool, and she doesn’t mind if her emph ends up into something like that (if it can work again at all), but she wants something uniquely hers. That is a little tough, considering that she doesn’t remember what her own identity is like and what kind of emphs exist out there.
Her mind goes back to Lucy’s floating hands. Something she can control with her mind from a distance that can travel autonomously from her.
“I would like a pet. Or a golem. Is that possible?” she asks.
“Hmm. Most people prefer to have full control over their weapon. Even if it’s an emph. But I think there’s a guild somewhere over the other side of the red mountains where everyone’s emph is also their mount slash pet. So it’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t want a weapon with a mind of its own. What if it disagrees with me and tries to run away while I’m in a fight? Too risky.”
“I think it’ll be nice to have a companion. I’m sure an emph animal would be smarter than average. It’ll be bonded to a human, after all.
“People can be stupid,” Lucy says and Anastasia feels her hair move with Lucy’s shrug. “Like Pete from Dancing Blades. He tried to impress a girl and almost sliced his boss in two. Needless to say, he got fired and he’s now no longer allowed anywhere near anything sharp.”
“But you’re smarter than that, right?” she says.
“Much smarter,” Lucy says.
“Then if your extra hands suddenly became sentient it’ll be fine, right?”
“Absolutely not,” Lucy says immediately.
“Why not?” she asks, genuinely curious.
“I use my extra hands as bait. I send them out to be eaten. If my hands become sentient, no one will want to play bait, and then I’ll actually need to fight properly when we go hunting.”
She turns around to look at Lucy, remembering too late of Lucy’s grip on her hair when she feels the pain in her scalp.
“Don’t move,” Lucy scolds her and quickly fixes the parts that have been dislodged by her thoughtless movement. The green-eyed girl picks up the pace after that, as if trying to get her hair done before the next disruption. A wise decision.
“What do you mean by ‘I’ll actually need to fight properly’?”
She can’t see it, but she gets the feeling that Lucy just preened behind her back at the question.
“I can fight, but I prefer fighting from a distance. So I found a way to do exactly that with my extra hands.”
She looks at her broken emph on the table. It looks nothing like Lucy’s extra hands.
A set of Lucy’s extra hands crack their knuckles in the air.
“Sit tight, it’s story time,” Lucy says before she launches into her tale.
“The first time Boss gave me my emph, I was super excited to start. They made me go through some lessons first, just to make sure I won’t stab myself instead of the enemy, which I needed. But it was hard to stay back and take lessons because I really wanted to go out with the others.”
An image of Lucy running for the exit any time there’s a break in her lessons springs easily to mind. She stifles a chuckle.
“But even with the lessons, I wasn’t very good with the knife. It’s too boring, and I don’t do well with boring. But that’s the great thing with emphs. They change. As I learnt to use the knife, it became two knives. Which was cool. For a few months.
“Then it became two knuckles. And I liked that. I don’t need any special techniques. I just need to punch real fast real hard. The only downside is that I need to get close and personal with the monsters, which can get very scary. I’m also not a fan of getting hurt.
“Then my knuckles turned into the extra hands you see right now. I like the extra hands the most. They’re super handy. For bait. And it doesn’t even hurt when they get eaten,” Lucy says proudly.
She would have done a double check if not for Lucy’s firm grip on her hair. “Excuse me?”
“Your hand was eaten?”
“All the time. We used to use raw meat, but this way’s a lot more convenient. And cheaper. And I don’t need to go anywhere near the fight if I don’t want to. It’s win-win-win all around. As long as I can still do my job, it doesn’t matter how I do it. Our guild’s flexible like that,” Lucy says as she ties her now brushed hair into a ponytail.
“That’s nice. Your guild is very nice.”
“We’re a small guild, so we don’t have uniforms or procedures we have to follow. We can all do our own thing as long as we can work together. I like it here.”
She wants to say ‘I’d love to join Shatterstrike too’, but as much as this group of people have opened their guild to her, she belongs somewhere else. She just doesn’t remember where. Until she remembers or gives up finding her way back, Shatterstrike is just a temporary shelter.
“All of you go out for hunting trips every day. What do you really do on your hunting trips?” she asks.
She makes a disgruntled face that Lucy can’t see.
“I can’t see your face, but I’m sure you just made a face. Am I right?” Lucy says and pulls her hair tight for emphasis.
“Is this because you yourself know how uninformative your answer is?” she shoots back.
“I admit to nothing!” Lucy declares.
She shakes her head in exasperation. Her ponytail swishes behind her, whipping Lucy across her face.
“Hey!” Lucy sputters.
“Sorry,” she says as she turns to look at Lucy.
“It’s fine,” Lucy mumbles as she wipes her mouth to get rid of a few strands that had gotten caught on the edge of her mouth.
“How did you end up joining Shatterstrike?” she asks as she fingercombs her hair back into place.
“That’s a good question,” Lucy says as she rubs her chin with one hand, “I mean, not the part where I joined Shatterstrike, but why Boss invited me in the first place. But I’m getting ahead of myself.”
Lucy claps her hands.
“So, the beginning before the beginning. I’m not from a family of hunters. We’re business people. We collect items from hunters, refine them into something better, and sell them to people who don’t want to go out and risk themselves for things like the mowglet’s tooth,” Lucy says with a wave at the almost forearm long tooth that leans against the wall at the corner of her room. “You need to find a better way to display that, by the way.”
“I’m still thinking about it,” she says.
“I was supposed to stay in the family business, but one day, Dad was talking about alternative careers, and about how there was a man who has volunteered to help me try monster hunting. Why don’t I give it a try?
“So I did. I got into a fight with one of customers earlier that week, so I didn’t feel like dealing with any other customers at the time. Boss came to pick me up, let me hang around and watch his team when they hunted, and at the end of it he asked if I wanted to join them. I just watched everyone destroy monsters with really cool weapons, of course I wanted in!
“So now I hunt monsters and supply our loot to my family’s business. We give them good rates, they take everything off our hands. A mutually beneficial arrangement.”
Someone knocks on the door. They turn to see Nolan.
“There you are, Lucy. You’re on the hunt team today. They’ve been waiting for you downstairs,” the purple-eyed man says.
“What time is it?” Lucy checks her watch. “Oh wow. Sorry Ana gotta go. Thanks Nolan,” Lucy says and dashes out of the room.
“The two of you get along well,” Nolan says.
“She’s been helping me a lot,” she says.
“She’s helpful,” Nolan agrees with a nod, “When she’s not trying to run away from doing the things she doesn’t want to do.”
“I’ve heard about that too.” From Lucy herself, who seems proud instead of contrite for all the unwanted chores she has wriggled herself out of, successful and otherwise.
“Well, Lucy’s out today, but you have me. What would you like to do today?” Nolan asks.
“I don’t know. Do you have any suggestions?” she asks.
“I was planning to change the lights in the library. Have you been to the library yet?”
She shakes her head. “I didn’t know Shatterstrike has a library.”
“If you want, you can join me and take a look. Maybe read some books.” Nolan suggests.
“That sounds good,” she says and rises to her feet. After a moment’s hesitation, she takes her emph too. Fletcher had found her a sheath for the broken knife in one of the storerooms, so it isn’t difficult to attach it to her side. She can’t use it, but it’s still nice to keep it with her.
“Good. We have a plan. Let’s go.”
~End of Chapter 5~
Continue the story in Chapter 6.
Chapter word count: 1791
Total word count: 7257