NaNoWriMo 2019 Chapter 11
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 11 A Fight to Start the Weekend~
The next morning arrives with an excited tension in the air. She can’t put a finger on what it is, but doesn’t let it bother her. Once Lucy comes to help her with her hair, the green-eyed girl will tell her anything she needs to know.
And Lucy does.
“We get the weekends off, and we always start with a fight between Boss and Derek,” Lucy says.
“So they fight every week?” she asks.
“Derek joined our guild to fight Corvus. But he lost, and then they decided that he can keep trying every week. And Derek respects power, so he decided to join the guild until he finally wins.”
“What will happen if he wins?” she asks.
“I don’t know,” Lucy says with a shrug. “He’s never won before, so no one knows. But he’s come close a few times, so who knows? Today might be the day.”
Lucy fluffs Anastasia’s hair and taps her on the shoulder. “Done.”
“Thank you, Lucy.”
Today, Lucy has chosen to split her hair into two long braids. She sweeps them both carefully out of the way as she moves.
“What are you doing for the weekend?” she asks as they head down the stairs.
“I’m going shopping with some friends and staying the night with family,” Lucy says. She taps everyone’s door as they walk through the corridor. Some remain closed, other open and the room resident greets them as they join their descent to the ground floor and out to the backyard.
More people are already at the backyard. Further out, Corvus and Derek warm up side by side, both silent. When they are ready, they call out to Julia.
Julia steps up and pass them both a bottle each.
“That’s Julia’s special potion,” Lucy explains. “After they drink that, for an hour at most, even if they get seriously injured, they’ll return to what their condition was when they drank the potion. We haven’t had a lot of serious injuries… but we’ve had some, so it’s good to be careful.”
Julia collects the empty bottles from the two men and step back. Jessica steps in to create a large ward around Corvus and Derek.
“Ready,” Jessica says.
Derek raises his hand. “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.”
The green crest on his glove glows and flashes into his long scythe. He grips the long pole with both hands before him.
“My fists know no defeat,” Corvus says. The ring on his left hand glows into two knuckles that encase his arms from fist to elbow.
They face each other and brace for battle.
“Ready,” Julia calls out. “Go!”
Derek slices Corvus. Corvus shoots forward under the blade’s path but misses Derek when Derek leaps into the tear he made. Corvus immediately sidesteps and jumps back as Derek reappears. The tip of his blade barely misses Corvus.
Derek continues to pursue Corvus as he ducks in and out of space, reemerging in unexpected places already mid swing.
Corvus nimbly dashes and dodges around Derek’s erratic path, sometimes even predicting where Derek will appear.
They lock weapons with each other a few times. Sometimes Derek appears at a great spot to ambush Corvus. Sometimes Corvus is positioned just right to grab Derek as he passes. But Corvus blocks every attack, and Derek slips out of every capture.
It is a fight of many near misses and almosts, which is exciting to watch, but very different from the fight she had imagined in her mind with lots of clashes and trade offs.
Corvus and Derek continue their cat and mouse chase until suddenly, the spare around them seem to crack. Corvus is momentarily taken off guard, but Derek seizes the opportunity and slices at Corvus.
Corvus’s armoured arm snaps up to block the scythe. He twists to catch the blade but Derek pivots out of the way and chains into another slice. Corvus steps in and under the blade. His hands reach for Derek as the space continues to shift like water around them, but Derek keeps his distance.
Until he can’t.
From outside the ward, the fight is a confusing mess. They see parts of the two men in different areas, appearing non-linearly in strange directions, like following a reflection through a spider crack mirror. Yet, in a series of moves, Corvus pushes Derek closer and closer to the side of the ward. Derek ducks and slices, but Corvus closes in and pulls back like a fisherman reeling in his catch, all the time steering Derek exactly where he wants Derek to go.
With a bang, Corvus’ hand slams against the barrier, trapping the scythe beneath it. His other hand grabs Derek by the neck. Derek releases his scythe and raises his hands in surrender.
The fight is over.
Jessica keeps the ward up as they wait for the space inside to settle once more. Inside, Corvus and Derek deactivate their emphs.
“That was new. What did you do?” Corvus asks.
“I kept tearing the space until it couldn’t recover completely straightaway. It was something I noticed when we were fighting an elite monster with Song of Stars a while back. I wanted to try and weaponize it, but you recovered a lot faster than I expected,” Derek says.
“I’m a close range fighter, so my reflexes have to be good. You were fighting a lot more closely than you usually do. What happened to using your superious range to your advantage?” Corvus asks.
Behind her, Lex says, “I’m heading off. See you all on Monday.”
She turns around.
“I’m leaving too. Enjoy your weekend everyone,” Lucy adds with a cheerful wave.
“Same here,” Nolan says.
And just like that, almost half the guild is gone.
Inside the ward, space has slowly fixed itself, and Jessica carefully lets her ward go. Julia immediately walks over to check them for injuries. Fletcher steps in soon after with his observations of the fight.
“I’m going back to sleep,” Jessica announces as she stretches her arms over her head.
“Enjoy your nap,” Anastasia says with a wave.
And now it’s just her standing at the door.
Well, what will she do with her weekend?
She has had some time to get used to the idea of existing, but not enough to know what to do with herself for two whole days without a plan. The weekend, which is a nice break for the others, is a daunting challenge for her to overcome.
Her fingers tap against the sheath at her hip.
Well, if she can’t think of anything else, she can always train with her emph. The more time she spends with it the more progress she will make, right?
She looks up as the remaining group walks towards her. She steps back and away from the door so that she doesn’t block their way back into the guild building.
“Well then, see you on Monday,” Fletcher says.
“Enjoy your weekend,” Julia says.
Derek waves over his shoulder too and disappears with Fletcher. Now it’s just her with Julia and Corvus in the kitchen.
“How do you plan to spend your weekend?” Julia asks kindly, asking the same question that is on Anastasia’s mind.
“I’m not sure. I might do some training with my emph?”
Julia nods. “Corvus and I plan to visit the guild hall of the missing guild after lunch today. Would you like to join us?”
An actual plan!
“I would love to.”
The weekend looks less daunting now that she has something to fill it with. At least for one day. Sunday is still a mystery, but maybe she can use today to figure out what to do.
For that, she joins Julia in the kitchen as the older woman prepares a simple lunch.
“What do you do during your weekends?” she asks Julia.
“Sometimes I like to take a nice long bath. Or explore new restaurants or shops that just started.”
“Hmm.” They are good ideas, but neither options feel very attractive.
“You can also try picking up a hobby. What about cooking? You’ve been helping in the kitchen,” Julia suggests.
“Maybe. But I’ll need to buy ingredients to do that,” she says. Her brow furrows. So far, she has been living off the generosity of Shatterstrike. She doesn’t have any money to her name. It wouldn’t be right to ask for more just because she doesn’t know how to kill time.
“We should already have most of the equipment you’ll need thanks to Derek. Don’t worry about the ingredients. Unless you want to buy a whole box of truffles and gold leaves, then we’ll need to have a chat and check our budget. You can just pay us back for the ingredients by letting us eat what you make,” Julia says.
She nods. That’s an idea.
“Lunch is ready. Can you help me call Jessica and Reuben down? Julia asks as she turns off the stove.
“Reuben is here?” She didn’t see him at Corvus and Derek’s fight earlier.
“He usually stays here over the weekend. You should be able to find him in his room. Same for Jessica. Both of them are on the second floor. Just look for their names,” Julia says. “I’ll call Corvus down.”
“Alright,” she says and heads up the stairs to the second floor.
She reads the name plaques and finds the one that says “Jessica” first. She knocks on the door.
“Yes?” a sleepy voice replies.
“Lunch is ready,” she says.
“Yeeeees,” Jessica yawns.
She takes that as an acknowledgement that her message has been received and moves on.
Next, she looks for Reuben’s room. She continues walking down the corridor until she finds the plaque that says “Reuben and Estella”. Who is Estella?
She shakes her head. This isn’t the time to ask. She has a task to do. She raises her hand and knocks on the door.
After awhile, a voice answers, “Yes?”
“Lunch is ready,” she says.
“… I’ll eat later. Eat without me.”
She turns back and heads towards the stairs, picking up Jessica along the way. When they arrive at the dining room, Corvus and Julia are already seated at the table with the plates laid out.
“Reuben said he’ll eat later,” she says.
Corvus and Julia share a look.
“I’ll go talk to him,” Corvus says as he rises to his feet. “You three start first.”
“I’ll keep your food so it doesn’t go cold. Jessica, Anastasia, feel free to eat first,” Julia says.
The table of four suddenly becomes a table of two. Jessica helps herself to the food. Anastasia looks uncertainly at Julia’s empty seat. Julia said they could eat first, but that doesn’t sit well with her. So she fiddles with the ends of her braids and wait.
Julia isn’t gone for long. She returns to her seat. Noticing Anastasia’s untouched food, Julia sends her a smile, “Let’s eat.”
She wants to know what’s up with Reuben that would garner such a reaction, but she doesn’t know if she should ask, but… everyone has been willing to answer her questions so far. Maybe Julia won’t mind?
“You want to know about Reuben’s situation,” Julia says.
She looks up, startled.
“It’s written all over your face,” Julia says with an amused smile. “Don’t worry about asking us questions. If we don’t want to answer, we’ll let you know. Just be careful with Reuben. He lost his wife recently and is still coming to terms with it.
She remembers the name plaque on the wall.
“Was his wife Estella?” she asks.
Julia nods. The older woman’s smile is pained.
She hesitates, then asks cautiously, “What happened to her?”
“Estella was caught up in an unexpected monster wave a few months ago. She and a few others died stalling the monsters until more help could arrive.
“Oh.” She struggles with what to say. “My condolences.”
When Reuben eventually arrives with Corvus, she doesn’t know how to react. She awkwardly nods at him in greeting, which he silently returns with a polite smile.
Lunch is a quiet affair. The more talkative guild members like Lucy and Lex have left, leaving just the ones seat now around the table who are comfortable with silence. It feels strange. She’s used to noisy meals.
A cacophonous mix of laughter and clinking cutlery filled the room as they crowded around the table. The food was already half gone, and the rest wouldn’t stay for long. Excited voices recounted the day as hungry mouths ate, sometimes at the same time.
She blinks. The phantom image disappear, and so does the memory of the faces around the table. An inexplicable pang of loss lingers.
Ah, she thinks. This must be how Reuben feels.
~End of Chapter 11~
Continue in Chapter 12.
Chapter word count: 2133
Total word count: 17426