NaNoWriMo 2019 Chapter 18
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 18 Lucy’s Family’s Store~
By the time they are done for the day, they all need to chip in to help carry the materials they have harvested to Lucy’s family’s store. The store is only a few streets away, so they’ll head over on foot.
“Hmm. Anastasia, have you figured out how to inactivate your emphatic weapon?” Julia asks.
“No, I haven’t. Why? Do you need me to?” Anastasia asks.
“No. That’s alright. Don’t worry about it,” Julia says.
“Are you worried about her crest?” Derek asks.
“A little. But don’t worry about it. I’m just being paranoid,” Julia says.
“No. I can see where you’re coming from. A broken emph is rare. You’re worried about attracting the wrong kind of attention,” Derek says.
“Or… maybe it’ll attract the right kind of attention,” Lex says. “We still don’t know who Anastasia really is, right? If word spreads about Anastasia, it might reach someone who knows her.”
“That’s also possible,” Julia says.
“So, what do we do? Do we trust this city to have bad people or good people?” Lucy asks.
“There isn’t a city that exists that does not have bad people,” Derek says immediately.
“Does it really matter? People will find out eventually, right? People might already know about Anastasia,” Lex points out with a glance at Lucy.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lucy demands.
“I don’t have to go. I can head back to the guild hall,” Anastasia cuts in.
All heads turn to her, then back to each other.
“No. We can’t keep Anastasia locked up forever,” Derek says.
“We can make sure someone is always with Anastasia, just in case,” Lucy says.
Nolan taps her shoulder. When she turns, he shows her a strap he holds in his hand.
“I’ll thread this through your shield straps so that you can carry your shield on your back,” Nolan says.
“There’s every possibility that nothing will actually happen. It’s just a short trip, and we’re all here,” Julia says at the little discussion group that has formed.
“Alright,” Anastasia says and passes her shield to Nolan. He loops the strap through her shield straps and closes the loop.
In front, Lex asks, “So? Hide it? Don’t hide it?”
Nolan gestures at Anastasia’s bag. “Take off your bag.”
She slips the bag off and accepts her shield from Nolan. She slips the loop over her head and one arm so that the strap sits across her chest and her shield rests on her back. Then they put the bag over her shield, partially covering the cracked crest.
In the discussion group, Julia says, “I think it’s fine not to hide it.”
The circle of four nod in agreement. They turn to Anastasia.
“We’re ready,” Anastasia says and and turn to show them her back.
There is silence, then Lex says, “That works too.”
They carry their finds to the city. Some people greet them, a few send their boxes curious looks, but most people pass them by without a second glance. Perhaps they had been worried over nothing?
Lucy’s family’s shop is a gift shop that stands in between a restaurant and a pharmacy. The patrons and workers look with interest as they enter the shop. One waiter at the restaurant calls out as they walk by.
“Lucy, have anything cool for me? the waiter asks. Lucy stops.
“We always have something cool. If you come in and buy it,” Lucy says cheekily.
“No friend discount?”
“For you, I’ll let you buy at double the price,” she says with a wink.
“That’s not a discount,” the waiter complains.
The others walk around Lucy to get into the store. Anastasia follows them in.
“Hey, not going to say hi?”
She looks at the waiter curiously to find him looking at her. Is he talking to her?
“Hi. I’m Anastasia,” she says.
The waiter looks startled. Perhaps he thought she would have ignored him like the others. But he recovers quickly and says, “Hi Anastasia. I’m Vince. Nice to meet you.”
She nods. “Nice to meet you too.”
She turns to follow the others into the gift shop.
“How long have you been with Shatterstrike?” Vince asks.
“I’m not actually part of Shatterstrike. I’m just staying with them at the moment,” she says and takes a step forward.
“Oh? What guild are you from? Vince asks.
“Lucy, Anastasia, we’re waiting for you,” Nolan calls out from the door.
“Coming,” Anastasia says and quickly walks into the store.
Inside the shop, warm light illuminates the many variety of products on display. When Nolan closes the door behind him, it completely cuts off the bustling sound of life outside, leaving behind only the sound of faint chimes in the quiet shop.
“Anastasia?” A hand claps on her shoulder.
She jumps. The box she is holding slips from her hands. Corvus swoops down and scoops the box before it hits the floor.
“I’m sorry,” she says.
“That’s alright. There are lot of things to look at. What caught your attention?” Corvus asks as he leads her to the back of the shop, walking carefully between the shelves so that he doesn’t accidentally knock something over.
“I like the chimes in the background. They’re very soothing,” she says.
“You have sharp ears,” Corvus says.
“I only noticed it because it was a huge contract from the outside,” she says.
The back of the shop is reached through the shop counter. A familiar green-eyed girl stands behind the counter, but she isn’t Lucy. Lucy is over with Lex where the carved toys are, marvelling at the merchandise.
“Hello, you must be Anastasia. I’m Darcy, Lucy’s twin sister. Nice to finally meet you,” Darcy says with a gentle smile.
It’s the same face, but that where the similarity ends.
“Nice to meet you too,” Anastasia says.
Lucy’s parents, who are at the back of the shop, both have similarly gentle dispositions. They definitely look related. The twins have their mother’s green eyes and their father’s facial structure. It’s the personality that she’s having trouble matching Lucy to everyone else.
“Ah. You’re Anastasia. Lucy has told us so much about you,” Lucy’s mother says.
So she has heard. Who else has Lucy been talking to about her? What was that fuss about back at the guild hall if her existence is already common knowledge?
They don’t stay for long, but by the time they leave the shop, she somehow becomes the owner of the chimes she heard when she first entered the shop.
“Where will you hang that?” Lucy asks as they head back to the guild hall.”
“Maybe the window in my room,” Anastasia says.
“Sherri!” an unfamiliar voice calls out.
She turns towards the voice right before she is tackled by a blur of motion. Before she can react, she is thrown over a shoulder and carried away.
The person beneath her ignores Shatterstrike’s cries and speeds away, but doesn’t get very far. Her attempted kidnapper stops abruptly, and Anastasia’s bag knocks on her head.
She reaches over her head to pull her bag off and hold it in one hand. In this position, it’s hard to check if anything has fallen out of her bag in the commotion. She hopes not. She just received these in the morning.
When Anastasia looks up, the others have caught up and now surrounds them in a circle.
“You’re surrounded. Put her down,” Derek says from the opposite side of the circle, cutting off her kidnapper’s intended path.
“Leave Sherri alone,” the new stranger says.
The Shatterstrike members crouch into more battle ready stances, though they do not activate their emphs. Julia steps forward, prompting the stranger to yell, “Stay back.”
Julia raises her empty hands before her and says, “We mean no harm.”
“What do you mean you mean no harm. You’ve already done plenty of harm,” the stranger snaps.
“This isn’t the right place to talk. Let’s go to our guild hall and talk more there,” Julia says.
“So that you can off me quietly? Not a chance,” the stranger says.
Anastasia reaches up to tap the stranger on the shoulder.
“Excuse me, can you put me down? It’s pretty uncomfortable like this.” She has taken off her bag, but she still has her shield, and its weight digs into the back of her head.
The stranger crouches to set Anastasia’s feet back on the ground, then immediately turns so that they stand back to back.
“Don’t worry, Sherri. I’ll help you escape,” the stranger says.
“You keep calling me Sherri. Do you know me?” Anastasia asks.
The stranger shifts to look at Anastasia out of the corner of her eyes, but keeps the others in her field of vision.
“Of course I do. We’re from the same guild,” the stranger says. After a moment, she adds, “Have you really lost your memory?”
“Yes,” she says.
“That explains why you aren’t trying to run away.”
“Why do I need to run away?” she asks.
“Because that man,” the stranger says and points at Corvus. “Attacked our guild. And I’ll bet my rainbow pillow that he was the one who broke your emph too.”
They turn to look at Corvus.
Corvus meets Anastasia’s eyes.
“She’s right. I’m the one who broke your emph.”
~End Chapter 18~
Continue reading in Chapter 19.
Chapter word count: 1549
Total word count: 31803