NaNoWriMo 2019 Chapter 20
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 20 Conversations Behind Closed Doors~
“What do you think we are hiding from you?” Julia asks with her usual smile.
“We talked about what Corvus did to my guild and what he did to me, but we didn’t talk about the why. Why did Corvus attack my guild? Let’s start with that,” Anastasia says.
“Alright,” Julia says and takes a seat. Corvus moves to her side and leans against the table without a word. Anastasia takes a seat in one of the other chairs.
“A few days ago, we talked about Estella, Reuben’s late wife. Do you remember?” Julia begins.
“I remember. You said she died in battle,” Anastasia says.
“Yes. She and Reuben went to help a guild defend against an elite monster. However, she died defending children who were on the hunting ground. Children from you guild, who were there because of a dare,” Julia says.
Anastasia sucks in a breath. She lets it go. “That’s a heavy accusation to make.”
“That was what we discovered. Some of the children in your guild decided to play with their lives, and because of a childish dare, they lured the other children into a dangerous position.”
“You’re giving a little too much credit to the children, don’t you think? That they would lure each other into danger as part of a plan to get other people killed.”
“We’re not saying that they planned for anyone to die,” Julia says.
“Then they made a foolish mistake that unfortunately cost other people their lives, and because of that my guild deserved to be destroyed?” Anastasia says.
“No. That’s not true.”
“Then why attack my guild?”
“Because I was angry,” Corvus finally speaks up. The guild leader rests a hand on Julia’s shoulder. “I’ll take it from here.”
He looks at Anastasia.
“To put things bluntly, I don’t care about other people. I only care about those I consider to be my people. I didn’t care about your guild. All I cared about was that because of someone in your guild, one of mine was dead. I know it’s not a good reason, but that’s my reason,” Corvus says.
She should be angry, like Fern, but right now, her guild is just an abstract concept. It feels like they’re talking about something that happened to another faraway guild. If this is the apathy Corvus feels about other people, she can see how he might easily destroy another guild in retaliation.
But he’s right. It’s his reason, but it’s not a good reason.
“Then after you attacked my guild,why bring me here? I’m an outsider, aren’t I?” she points out.
“You were the only one left in your guild that I knew about, so i planned to interrogate you when you woke up. But there were complications. And by the time you woke up, things had changed.”
“What ‘things’ changed?” she asks.
“I had some sense talked into me,” Corvus says. “And since we had to wipe your memories so that you could wake up, there’s no point in interrogating you.”
So she has been saved by her own inability. That’s new.
“And now? If i get my memories back, will we be picking up where we left off?” Anastasia asks.
“No,” Corvus says. “You’re not an outsider anymore.”
She looks at Corvus, then at Julia.
Oh… Well. That… Oh.
“You’ve been investigating what happened after my guild disappeared. What have you found out?” she asks.
“We actually have not looked too deeply into your guild yet. We were busy organising the funeral for Estella right after the incident. We stumbled into the information about the dare by accident, and the day we brought you to the guild was the first day we had the chance to investigate your guild hall.
“Before that, we thought your guild had been completely wiped out, but we noticed your tear was still being patrolled when we visited over the weekend. Add that with the appearance of your guildmate Fern, and it is likely that your guild isn’t as wiped out as we first thought. That should be good news for you.
“But other than that, we are as much in the dark as you are right now with regards to where your missing guild members are.”
Julia must have seen something on Anastasia’s face, because the guild medic adds, “I know. Apologies for the unsatisfactory answer.”
“No, I understand. This happened quite recently,” she says. “My condolences for your loss.”
So ultimately, the key to their mystery could very well be hidden in her own forgotten memories. If she had not made up her mind before, she has now.
“I don’t know if things will change after I recover my memories, but before that, I want to thank you. Whatever your reasons, you have been kind to me during the time I have been here, and I appreciate that,” Anastasia says.
“Corvus’ eyes soften. “For what it is worth, I’m sorry for what I did to your guild. It should never have happened.”
There is a tightness in her throat and a weight in her chest. Their simple days together is coming to an end.
“Let’s see if we can fix what went wrong.” She forces a smile. Her hands tremble. She clasps them together before her. “Julia?”
“I’m ready when you are. But first, let’s wash up and have dinner,” Julia suggests.
They’re running a little late, so they head downstairs to join the others at the dinner table first, where their encounter earlier with Fern is the topic of the day. The reaction around the table ranges from amused to miffed to apathetic.
“What do you think, Anastasia?” Lucy asks.
“Isn’t it Sherri now? Better practice now before the intense guildie comes back and catches you calling the wrong name,” Derek says.
Lucy’s face scrunches up. “That’s going to be hard. We’ve been calling you Anastasia since you woke up. Since before you woke up too, actually.”
“I don’t mind for tonight. Not sure if I’ll say the same tomorrow though,” she says.
“What’s happening tomorrow?” Fletcher asks.
“I’m going to take Julia’s offer to try and recover my memories tonight.”
“You can really do that?” Derek asks Julia.
“Yes, I can,” Julia says.
Lex nudges Fletcher’s side. “Fletcher, take note. We might need your help with this in the future.”
“Sure. If Julia doesn’t mind me copying her emph again,” Fletcher says with a look at the guild medic.
“That depends. How’s the armoury we talked about going?” Julia says with a smile. Fletcher groans as the others laugh.
After dinner, she doesn’t linger at the table for the usual after dinner conversation.
“I’m heading upstairs for a shower. Goodnight, everyone,” she says.
She receives a chorus of goodnights in reply. Then she turns her back to the group and heads upstairs.
She takes a quick shower, though nothing is ever quick once her long hair gets wet, but she tries. She doesn’t know what to expect, so she wants to be prepared, including in the worst case scenario where she has to leave the guild without warning.
Lucy enters her room as Anastasia is in the process of towelling her hair dry.
“I’ll give you a hand,” Lucy says and grabs a towel.
They have worked together on her hair many times before. Usually Lucy chatters away as Anastasia listens. This time is a little different. Lucy is silent while she works, a furrow in her brow as she thinks about something. Anastasia lets her be, not bothered by the silence.
“You’re going to get your memories back tonight, right?” Lucy finally breaks the silence.
“That’s the plan,” she says.
“Do you think you’ll be different afterwards?” Lucy asks.
“I don’t know. I probably will change, at least a little. Why? Is it a problem if I do?” Anastasia asks.
“I don’t want it to be, but I don’t get to choose. I had another friend who lost her memory. We hosted her at the shop for awhile, then she remembered who she used to be and changed completely. Didn’t even say goodbye before she disappeared.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
Lucy presses her lips together, then she says, “Must you get your memories back?”
“I need to, for my guild.”
“But there’s no guarantee that it will help,” Lucy says.
“Regardless, you were there at the cafe. I’m next in line for my guild. If the guild leaders are missing, I have a duty to step up,” Anastasia says. She runs her fingers through her hair. It’s still slightly damp, but it’s dry enough for her. She hangs the towel back on the rack installed next to her table for this very purpose.
Lucy continues to rub Anastasia’s hair between the folds of her towel. Anastasia waits, but Lucy continues with no signs of stopping.
“I think it’s dry enough,” Anastasia says gently.
“Your hair is way too long. It’s never dry enough,” Lucy says.
Anastasia rests a hand on the towel. Lucy stills.
“I’ll say goodbye before I go,” Anastasia says.
Lucy presses her lips into a think line, but when Anastasia pulls the towel away, Lucy lets it go. Anastasia hangs the towel with the rest on the rack to dry.
“Well, we’re done for tonight,” Anastasia says with deliberate cheer.
“Yup. All done.”
Anastasia rises to her feet and pulls Lucy into a hug.
“Thank you. For everything.”
Lucy presses her face in Anastasia’s shoulder and replies with a muffled, “You’re welcome.”
After Lucy leaves, Julia steps in. She holds a bottle in one hand. Anastasia slips into her bed, possibly for the last time.
“Are you ready?” the guild medic asks.
Julia hands her the bottle.
What if it’s poison.
She drinks until the bottle is empty.
“Because your emphatic weapon is damaged, your memories may be scattered too. I recommend looking for specific memories to start or if you get lost,” Julia says as Anastasia lies down.
“I’ll do that,” Anastasia says.
“If this doesn’t work, I have other ideas, so don’t worry and just see what you can remember.”
“Alright.” Anastasia looks up at the guild medic. “Thank you, Julia.”
The older woman smiles. “It’s my pleasure. Happy dreaming.”
She closes her eyes.
Take me to the event that started this tragedy.
~End Chapter 20~
Continue reading in Chapter 21.
Chapter word count: 1723
Total word count: 35913