Short Story: Waiting to Wake

Follows after Sweet Bribery and Coffee Troubles.
For context on who Shadow is, read Ambition’s Origin.
If you don’t know who Edmund is, check out His Biggest Job.

Shadow was overwhelming power. Shadow was quiet elegance. Shadow was elusive and insubstantial like her namesake.

Shadow was stuck because Leora’s body couldn’t wake up.

This was the problem with sleeping pills. It took the control over her conscious state out of her hands, and the Jaiba coffee might have made it worse.

Of course, Shadow was just an avatar without a physical body and could be dismissed at any time, but with her consciousness completely cut off from her own body, Leora needed a focal point so that she didn’t accidentally drift away.

So Shadow, Polora’s strongest Fighter, sat quietly in the private room connected to Lavi’s office, next to her sleeping body and her bodyguard-turned-starstruck-fan.

Huh. They’d never told Edmund who Shadow really was. That opened… possibilities. Edmund carried out all his work without complaints, but what did he really think about the people he worked for? He guarded his personal thoughts jealously from her and her brother, but maybe he would share with an outsider.

“You’re Edmund?” Shadow asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” Edmund said, back straight as a board and gaze skittering shyly off her eyes to her chin.

She hid a smile and kept her tone politely neutral.

“What do you think about your boss?”

~End~

Genre: fantasy

Part of the Defenders of the Wall verse.

Short Story: Coffee Troubles

Follows after Sweet Bribery. For context, read Ambition’s Origin.

With monsters prowling outside the city wall and hidden ones within, conflict was common. Most could be handled by the Department of Defence, but there were times when their Fighters were stretched too thin or the threat needed a special approach.

Like when a swarm of monsters was breaking through the Eastern wall, which had been weakened by acid poured by a group of protestors who hated the slums that grew like moss at the edge of their otherwise pristine section.

That was when she came in. Not as Leora, little sister of Lavi, but Shadow, their strongest Fighter.

Becoming Shadow was as easy as falling asleep. Literally. The only problem was that this time, no matter how she tried to slip away from the waking world, her heart continued to palpitate, each beat a loud thump in her ears that she could feel from the tip of her toes to the top of her head.

Falling asleep under any circumstance is a skill she has practiced all her life. The only new stimuli she can think of is the Jaiba coffee she had just an hour ago. The strong flavour had been a delight with the sweet mousse cake, but her momentary indulgence now haunted her.

As the seconds ticked by and her body remained frustratingly alert, Leora had no choice to reach for the bottle of sleeping pills she always kept for emergencies.

She washed down the pill with a glass of water and hoped the coffee didn’t interfere with this too.

~End~

Genre: fantasy

The story continues in the related fic Waiting to Wake.

Short Story: Sweet Bribery

Takes place in the Defenders of the Wall verse.

DD – Department of Defence

Due to the monsters that roamed the wastelands, inter-city trade was rare. That meant that the mousse cake made with Vlagos biscuit base, Idofast cream, and decorated with angor berries only found in Acobury could only be one thing.

A bribe.

As the head of DD, Lavi’s plate was barely touched. On the surface, it was because he was too focussed on his discussion with the representatives of the bakers guild. In reality, he was just being cautious to make sure his actions couldn’t be misconstrued as favour for the pastry chefs who were requesting to hire fighters to be their personal bodyguards.

Leora had no such concerns.

She was Lavi’s sister, but she didn’t have any power in the office. People used to try and curry favour with Lavi and her as Lavi’s ‘weak link’ when her brother first started his role, but people soon learnt that any kind of blackmail or bribery only hardened his heart.

That didn’t stop people from trying anyway. While her brother continued to remain unmoved, she reaped the benefits.

Leora happily took her brother’s untouched dessert and left his office. This would go well with the Jabia coffee beans from the coffee roasters guild from last month.

~End~

Genre: general

The story continues in the related fics Coffee Troubles and Waiting to Wake.

Short Story: His Biggest Job

Edmund was hired to be a bodyguard. His sole responsibility was protecting Leora’s health and safety.

Officially.

Unofficially, his biggest job was protecting her sleep. From finding good spots to nap to fending off disruptions and even carrying Leora around when needed if she was asleep. As long as she woke and slept at her own timing, he was doing well.

He wasn’t complaining. It was just… weird. Two years ago, he went to Lavi’s office for an interview to become a Fighter, only for his plans to completely change with one conversation.

Sometimes he wondered how life would be if he hadn’t met Leora outside Lavi’s office that day. Maybe he would be part of a squad now, training with his squadmates and fighting monsters outside the city wall.

Or more likely, he would have failed the interview. Being a Fighter was physically demanding. Although he already knew that he lacked the superhuman strength or special abilities most Fighters had, the immense gap in strength between them became very clear every time he joined their group training sessions.

That didn’t mean he was giving up.

The dream was still the same. He wanted to protect his city from the monsters beyond the wall as a Fighter, so he always took the training sessions seriously. Even if he never become strong enough to become a Fighter, the stronger he was, the better he would be at his current job.

An alarm cut through his thoughts. He turned immediately to Leora, who continued to slumber on a large bean bag.

“Rule 2: Do not wake her up. Not even if the world is ending. Especially if the world is ending.”

They chose this room for comfort, not security. He wasn’t going to wait for the danger to arrive before making a move. He scooped Leora into his arms, keeping his movements smooth so that she didn’t wake and hurried to a room which was easier to defend.

And had better soundproofing.

~End~

Genre: fantasy

You can also check out the related story Before the Interview.

Short Story: Unfair

If anyone had a superhuman ability, they either had immense physical strength, or special abilities. Never both. No exceptions.

Unless that person was Shadow.

And not only that, she was miles above everyone in terms of power in every way possible. To date, there was no individual, monster, or squad she had ever lost to.

It wasn’t fair. Why was she special?

He needed to find out.

Like her namesake, outside of work, Shadow didn’t seem to exist. The only person who could reliably contact her was Lavi, head of Department of Defense. A terrible obstacle. No matter how he tried, the young man always rejected his proposals.

What was wrong with studying Shadow? If they could find out the source of her strength, they could create more Fighters to match her power level.

He wouldn’t give up. If legal means couldn’t work, he would just have to bend some rules, starting from Lavi’s one weakness.

His sister.

~End~

Genre: fantasy

Part of the Defenders of the Wall universe.