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 16 An Awkward Conversation~
Julia leans back in her seat with a sigh. Behind her, Corvus stands with his arms folded across his chest.
“I don’t think this is something to be alarmed about, but I agree. We should keep an eye on this.”
“Is this happening because I tried to copy Anastasia’s emph?” Fletcher asks.
“It’s hard to tell. Memory is a tricky beast, and we have Anastasia’s damaged emphatic weapon thrown into the mix. I won’t be surprised if the stunt you pulled has some part to play, but I don’t think that is necessarily the only reason. I suggest we be very careful with Anastasia’s emphatic weapon, which we should have been in the first place.”
Julia says she thinks her memory issue isn’t something o be alarmed about, but that sounds plenty alarming!
The guild medic looks at the two of them, and sighs again.
“Don’t dwell on it too much. Especially you, Anastasia. Stress can turn what should be a small issue into a serious problem. As with many things, give it time, and the situation might resolve itself.”
“Is there a potion you can create for this?” Fletcher asks.
“I might, but I don’t want to add any more unknown factors into this. I think our best approach would be to restore your emphatic weapon. That is the root of our issue. Once the emphatic weapon is restored, I’m quite certain everything else will too,” Julia says.
Fletcher turns to her and says, “I’ll help you.”
“As will all of us,” Julia says.
They mean well, but she feels a weight press on her. She curls her fingers into her lap and tries her best to smile. “Thank you. I’ll try my best to recover.”
“That’s it for now. Fletcher, could you leave us with Anastasia? There’s something Corvus and I would like to speak with her about,” Julia says.
“Not a problem,” Fletcher says and rises to his feet. He claps her shoulder once and leaves Corvus’ office. The door closes behind him, and only the three of them are left.
Corvus approaches and takes over the seat Fletcher was on. With one hand, he lifts the chair and repositions it beside Julia. Her heart thumps against her chest. She begins to weave her fingers together just to have something to focus on. What do they want to talk about?
Julia sends her a soft smile and reaches over to place a hand over hers. “Relax. We’re not going to hurt you.”
She forces a smile. “Just a little nervous.”
“Shall I send Corvus out?” Julia says with a conspiratorial whisper and a nod at the guild leader.
“No. It’s alright.” She takes in a breath and let her fingers unfold on her lap. Julia pulls back. Anastasia waits for them to speak.
“You have been awake for more than a week now. How do you feel?” Julia asks.
“How do I feel in what sense?” she asks.
“Mentally, physically, emotionally, are you settling in, is there anything that concerns you, whatever you want. You can say as much or as little as you like,” Julia says.
“Well… I feel fine? Everyone has been very kind to me, and I’m very thankful to you for letting me stay here,” she says.
“That’s good to hear. How is your progress with your emphatic weapon?”
“Good? I like it a lot more now that it’s a shield,” she says. Her hand reaches for her neck and pull her hair over her shoulder.
“That’s good. I know people who find it difficult to accept what their emphatic weapon turn into after they are comfortable with what it used to be. Have you figured out what your hidden ability is?”
“Not yet. Fletcher tried to find out by copying my emphatic weapon, but we all know how that turned out,” she says as she threads her fingers through her hair.
Julia continues to smile and make conversation. Corrvus continues to look solemn and not say anything. She continues to wonder what this conversation really is about.
“It’s not a bad idea. Just dangerous because of your current situation. Though perhaps Fletcher can still help you with that. Another way to speed up the process, as you have already experienced yourself, is to use your emphatic weapon in combat. For that, we have a proposal.”
Corvus reaches behind him and grabs a document on the table. The guild leader passes it to her without a word.
“While you still have your emphatic weapon from your previous guild, and while you are still looking to restore your memories, we can’t induct you into Shatterstrike, but we would like to offer you a contract to join us at our hunting ground,” Julia says.
“That document outlines your responsibilities, hours and what you should expect. You will also be paid for your services. You don’t have to make a decision right now. Take that with you and think about it. If you have any questions, we are happy to help. If you’re concerned about conflict of interests you can also find someone outside our guild to go through it with you.”
“But you’ve already help me a lot. You don’t need to pay me. I’m more than happy to help. Take it as me paying you back for my expenses staying here,” she says.
“It’s great that you think that, but we provide lodging and food as part of your pay. It’s the same for everyone else here. And we would prefer to keep things black and white for something like this. Let me put it this way, if you are hunting with us as a way to pay us back for your expenses, how would you know how much you need to work for it to be ‘enough’? If we don’t make things clear now, it will only become more and more unfair for you.
“And I’m sure you don’t want to stay in here all the time. You should go out to the city and explore. And when you do, you can use what you earned to treat yourself. There is a joy and freedom in using your own hard earned money to give yourself something you like.
“There is also a possibility that you may never recover your memories, and in the long term this contract would be better than a verbal understanding. You shouldn’t be made to feel like you owe us for staying here if you are going to contribute like everyone else.
“Also, I know we have a good relationship now, but what if one day, things turn sour? Without any of your own savings, you’ll be trapped with us, or you may be forced to leave without any resources. I’m not saying that it will happen, but I think there are some things you need to consider before they happen. And… I will stop here. You look like you need some time to think,” Julia says.
She nods and says, “I’ll think about it.”
To be offered a contract at all is already more than she deserves, but she follows Julia’s advice. In the privacy of her room, she reads the contract she received. The contents match what Julia already told her, just in a lot more detail and with numbers. She doesn’t fully understand what she reads, but she understands enough to make a decision.
She will accept it.
She doesn’t have a signature, so she just writes her name normally at the indicated place. But… her name is just a made up one given to her by Lucy. Does it matter?
She shrugs. She’ll leave that for Julia and Corvus to deal with.
She brought the signed contract back up to Corvus’ office. When she enters the office, only Corvus is inside.
“Hi Anastasia, how can I help you?” Corvus asks.
“I signed the contract,” she says and hands the document to him.
“Already?” Corvus flips the page to where she wrote her name as her signature. “That was fast. Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’m ready to start tomorrow if you want me to,” she says.
“Alright.” Corvus puts the document down on the table and reaches for his pen. He signs his name beside hers, and the contract is complete.
He rises to his feet and walks around his desk so that they stand face to chest. He offers his large hand to her.
“Welcome to the team,” Corvus says.
She shakes his hand and has to crane her head up to send him a smile.
“Thank you for having me.”
~End Chapter 16~
Continue in Chapter 17.
Chapter word count: 1435
Total word count: 27307