NaNoWriMo 2019 Chapter 9
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 recommend checking out a different category like Short Stories.
~Chapter 9 A Slow Day with Jessica~
Since she woke up in Shatterstrike, she has only been receiving from everyone. Receiving help, receiving shelter, receiving guidance and more. It is about time that she starts giving back.
After Lucy helps her tie her long hair back (it really is very cumbersome, what was her past self thinking?), she heads down to the kitchen, where Derek and Jessica are preparing lunch for everyone. They are happy to have an extra pair of hands to help speed things along.
Even though she isn’t familiar with everyone’s dietary preferences and individual lunchboxes, she can follow directions and scoop food into the indicated containers, so it’s fine. The three of them find a system that works for them and soon have the completely filled lunchboxes laid on the table for collection.
“Thank you, Anastasia,” Derek says with a smile.
“I’m glad I could help,” she says.
There is extra time before Derek needs to leave, so he briefs her on his plan for dinner and runs her through the ingredients he has already prepared.
“Just in case.”
At different times, everyone in the guild walks in to grab their lunchboxes (or a few lunchboxes for some) at their own pace. But when it is time to leave, they are all ready and depart at the same time. Only she and Jessica remain behind.
“What’s your plan today?” she asks Jessica.
“I plan to sleep today,” Jessica says.
She does a double take. Did she hear that right?
“The whole day?” she asks.
Jessica nods and says dreamily, “I’ll sleep my whole life if I could.”
“Oh… have a good sleep?” she says uncertainly.
Jessica practically floats up the stairs to the second floor and disappears from view. Anastasia stands uncertainly in the living hall.
Since she woke up in Shatterstrike, she has spent most of her time with at least one other person. Now she is suddenly faced with the possibility of spending one whole day just by herself.
She rests her hands on her hips.
So, she has a day to herself. What will she do?
The fingers on her right hand tap against the sheath at her hip.
Well, she knows what to do to begin restoring her emph. Now she just needs to do it.
She heads to the backyard and begins the warm up stretches she remembers from yesterday. Then out comes the emph, and she goes through the drills Fletcher taught her, cycling through the different grips and movements at her own leisurely pace. There is no need to rush. She has a whole day, and for now, she isn’t trying to be good, just comfortable and familiar with her own emph.
Her mind wanders as her body moves. Sometimes she pulls her attention back. It’s not safe to be distracted while she is wielding a weapon. Sometimes she lets her mind go. Her body might remember what her mind doesn’t, as long as she relinquishes control and give her body the space to tell her what it wants to say.
It is very peaceful. Other than the occasional breeze or birdsong, it is just her with her emph. And the occasional slap from the tail end of her long hair when she moves too quickly in the wrong direction.
She takes pleasure in the drills, which although awkward at first, become more and more natural the more she repeats the motions. And the smoother her movements chain together, the more enjoyable the exercise becomes too.
Eventually, even though she is taking things slow, her body begins to tire and her mind struggles to concentrate. So she stops the drills and begins to cool down instead.
Jessica is ready with a drink in hand when she is done.
“That was good,” Jessica praises.
She ducks her head in embarrassment. “Thank you. Fletcher thought me some drills yesterday so I thought I’ll give it a try today.”
“So hardworking,” Jessica coos, “If I have a day off, I would rather take a nap. Which I did.”
“How was your nap?” she asks. The drink Jessica gave her is refreshingly sweet. She likes it.
“It was wonderful. Unfortunately, it’s hard to sleep when my stomach’s empty, so I had to wake up to eat lunch.”
“It’s already time for lunch?”
It is. In fact, it’s time for a late lunch. The day has passed a lot faster than she expected.
Fortunately, they already have Derek’s lunch, prepared before he left, so they just need to reheat the food and they can have their lunch. Unlike the other guild members Anastasia has spent the day with, Jessica is content to spend their time together in silence. She however, has a routine she has established with whoever spends the day with her.
“Jessica, how did you end up joining Shatterstrike?” she asks.
“I was scouted,” Jessica says.
“My emph can set up wards. The wards can provide information, or it can act like a wall. I have a few wards permanently set up around our tear. Most of them are informative. They tell me how many monsters have come through the tear and where they are. One is a wall. It stops the monsters from going any further than I want them to. With my wards, I can monitor the tear at all times, so we don’t need to constantly patrol around the tear. It’s a great ability for a small guild like Shatterstrike,” Jessica explains.
“Wow. That’s amazing!”
“It is. But the downside is that I’m keeping my wards up all the time, which is tiring,” Jessica says with a yawn. “Ah. I want to sleep.”
“So you keep the wards active all the time? Even when you sleep?”
“I can. That’s why I was scouted.”
She wonders how it’s like to be specially chosen and invited to join a guild. It must be such an honour, but also a lot of pressure. If she is scouted, she will be expected to be strong, right? What if she doesn’t live up to expectations?
“If you weren’t scouted, what guild would you go to?” she asks.
“I don’t think I’ll join any of the guilds. Being in a guild is hard work. I only allowed Corvus to recruit me because Julia said as long as I maintain the wards I don’t need to do anything else. ”
“That sounds nice.”
“Very nice. I made sure they signed an official document to confirm that before I joined so they can’t take it back. I have copies hidden everywhere. Just in case.”
She can’t help but laugh at that.
Jessica stays long enough to wash her dishes, then disappears once more into her room for another nap.
And once again, she is alone.
As much as Shatterstirke has opened their guild hall to her, she is still very much a guest in someone else’s home. She prefers not to explore alone, just in case she oversteps her boundaries or or touch anything that shouldn’t be touched. But Nolan showed her the guild library the other day. She can spend the rest of the day there.
She takes her time browsing through the books on the shelves, taking note of which titles catch her attention. Maybe, if she can find a pattern with what catches her attention, she’ll find new clues about herself.
What she finds, is that she keeps looking for the books that are purple. It doesn’t matter what the title is or what the genre of the book is. As long as she sees purple, her attention has been caught.
So she doesn’t learn much about her reading preferences except that she is really interested in purple. But is that because she personally likes purple or is it because of the purple crest on her emph?
She draws out her emph, a sleek movement that is becoming more and more familiar to her as she spends more time with the emph. The purple crest on the side of the blade is still distorted beyond recognition by the large crack.
Somewhere out there, there is a guild bearing this same purple crest, with purple she used to know and fought alongside with.
But right now, she is just Anastasia, guest of Shatterstrike.
She slips the emph back into its sheath.
And this Anastasia would like to prepare dinner for her gracious hosts.
~End Chapter 9~
Continue in Chapter 10.
Chapter word count: 1399
Total word count: 13073