Epic Fantasy / 6000 words
PREFACE: Let me introduce you to Thimmin and Kelle, two teen orphans in a world of magic and crime. This is the first of their adventures—there will be more ;)
There are places that people fear—some real, some myths, some locked within our minds. Most would do anything to avoid such places, while others would seek them out... whether to prove that there is nothing there to fear, or to prove that there is. But, sometimes, it was just about the thrill.
Some would argue that Salamandris was such a place. Known as the city of a thousand thieves, few were those who visited without some form of apprehension. But for those who lived there, it was just home.
Despite its shiny towers and the wealth of its ruling class, the city’s streets were teeming with rag-clad beggars, crying urchins, and crippled panhandlers.
Lost amongst that crowd were two orphans—a boy and a girl—named Thimmin and Kelle. They had lived on their own for as long as they remembered, dreaming of one day becoming the best thieves in town. They practiced every day, too.
The girl was tall and thin, with long golden hair. The boy was shorter, with dark hair and a bit of a limp in his left leg.
Earlier that year, they had applied for membership at the Guild. There was, however, a lengthy waiting period before their request would even be considered.
“Look!” said the boy, pointing at an old lady strutting down an alley.
The woman was wearing a jadernatch fur over a brand new velvet shirt, with a golden bracelet and some shiny rings on her fingers. She stood out in this neighborhood like a venar in a kruthar shop.
“She must be lost,” giggled Kelle with mischief in her eyes.
Thimmin grinned. They didn’t need to say anything more, they both knew exactly what the other was thinking. Despite not sharing the same blood, they had become as close as twins.
Sticking to the shadows, they quietly followed the woman. They would come down on her from two different angles—one serving as a distraction, while the other snatched the victim’s bag.
Before they could act on their plan, a shadow rushed toward the old lady and, in one quick swoop, pushed her to the floor and swirled away.
The two orphans ran to the scene and noticed that the woman’s bag was gone.
“Are you alright?” called out Kelle as she leaned down to help the victim back up.
“Yes, yes... I think. Thank you.” She stood and looked around. “Oh my... this is unfortunate. Very unfortunate.”
“What is it, lady?” asked Thimmin.
“I was bringing a gift for my grandson, but it was in my bag.”
“You won’t be seeing that again anytime soon,” said the boy with a bit of a snicker. The girl threw him a glance.
“You’re probably right. Oh dear.”
“Well, we need to go now,” said Kelle. “But you should too. It’s not safe around here.”
The old woman nodded and started in the opposite direction. They watched her for a moment, then hurried to their hideout—an attic in an old abandoned mansion.
Thimmin brought out their treasure box and Kelle dropped into it the woman’s two rings and bracelet.
“Not as good as it could have been,” muttered the boy, “but better than nothing.”
“That’s the third time this week,” remarked Kelle.
“Fourth, if you count that time at the quays...”
“That hardly counts. He got there way before we did.”
She took the box from him and rummaged through it. She brought out two gold coins and slipped them into her pocket. Closing the lid, she returned the container to its hiding place—a hole in the wall that she closed off with a stone slab. Once set in place, you couldn’t tell there was anything else there but a wall.
“We really should do something about him,” insisted Thimmin. “We can’t let him steal our marks like that.”
“And what exactly do you propose we do?”
He didn’t know what to say to that, so he said nothing.
“Let’s go buy some food,” said Kelle.
It had been three months when the orphans finally heard from the Guild. They were summoned for a meeting at the Needle.
Despite what it was called, the thieves’ headquarters was a series of tunnels that spread out under the entire surface of the city. The name was meant to illustrate its purpose—to poke regulars into obedience—but also to mislead those not in the know about the true nature of the place’s location.
The orphans discovered, however, that the lair’s entrance had been hewn in the shape of a needle. It was hidden behind two more regular-looking doors, with a rarely visited shoe store in between.
They were brought into a large room with a stone table. On the other side sat two men and a woman. All three wore the traditional gray cloak of the Guildmasters.
There were no seats for them, so the orphans stood and waited.
“You have asked to join the Guild,” stated the woman, who sat in the middle. “Why?”
She was slim, with long dark hair. Her blue clinical eyes scanned them both, one after the other.
“Because we are thieves,” said the boy. “We have always been and will always be. We are better today than we were yesterday, and we shall be even better tomorrow.”
“Then perhaps you should come back tomorrow,” remarked the man on the right.
He had a hood on that hid his face in shadows, but his voice sounded deep and confident.
Kelle took one step forward. “That is not acceptable,” she said with steel in her voice. “We have done everything that was asked of us.” She took a leather pouch out of her pocket and threw it on the table. “Even brought you the required tribute—in the form of gems and pearls. We have always served the ways of Yiis, blessed be her name! All we wish is to follow in her footsteps, and to be worthy of her teachings.”
The man on the left—a young blonde with a smirk on his face that the girl instantly disliked—shook his head in disdain.
“You are too young. You know nothing of our ways.”
Thimmin was about to say something, but Kelle motioned him to stay quiet.
She looked the man straight in the eyes.
“You are mistaken. And I shall prove this to you. To all of you,” she added with a glance at the other two. She went on: “For instance, I know you are Pelussar Davanek.” She enjoyed the look of surprise on the man’s face. “I have deduced it by using our ways... and I say ours because, despite not yet being members of the Guild, we have been living by its rules for many years. That is how I noticed the thickness of your brows, which is a typical trait of the Xowos... There are not too many of your clan in Salamandris. The shape of your fingers allowed me to identify your family. The drawl in your voice was all I needed to guess your name.”
When she had mentioned the man’s fingers, an annoyed Davanek had jerked his hands away from the table and out of sight.
The woman seemed amused by this display. “And what can you tell about me, young lady?”
Turning to face her, Kelle smiled. “You are strong, confident... There are few women with such power in the Guild. I have heard of you many times, Safran Dras, and I would recognize you anywhere.”
“And me?” asked the hooded man.
Kelle’s smile turned into a grin.
“Shadows serve you well, but they cannot hide you from me, Syrus Toth. I have heard your voice before, as I have seen your face.”
“Have you now?”
The man brought down the hood, revealing his heavily scarred cheeks. To prove her point, Kelle did not flinch as she returned his penetrating gaze.
Finally, Syrus laughed. “That is impressive. Though I am curious where you might have heard, let alone seen me?”
“I make it my business,” said Kelle, “to know everyone that matters in this city. Such are the ways of Yiis.”
“Indeed,” said Safran approvingly.
There is a sun that shines upon this city, but it is not the same one that shines elsewhere. This one never sets, as it sits motionless at the top of Ratzen Gorah—the highest tower in Salamandris. Its heat keeps winter away, its light forbids the night, and all worship its might—for through it, all may prosper.
It is, of course, a thing of magic. For only magic can keep the real sun away and replace it with an alternate version of itself—albeit one that feels just as real as the real one. So much so that many have forgotten about its true nature.
There is a saying that the thieves of Salamandris, for the right price, will steal just about anything... even the most unusual things. In fact, they even make it a specialty.
And so it was that, one day, a man came to the Guild. He said his name was Svadzek Atzen, an errant mage from Westmania. His bags were full of gold—enough to feed all of the city’s thieves for a year—and he said he would give it all to them as payment.
All they had to do was to steal the sun.
In the months that had followed their entry into the Guild, Syrus had become the orphans’ personal instructor. They had learned much while living on the streets, but he taught them all the other tricks that could not be learned any other way. They were studious, eager, and made quick progress.
When the stranger hired the Guild, Syrus decided it was time for his favorite pupils to be more actively involved. And so it was that they became personal assistants to Elken Firch, one of the city’s greatest thieves.
“How do you steal a sun?” asked Thimmin in bewilderment.
“Not easily,” responded Elken with a chuckle. “But, thankfully, that is not our task.”
“I thought that was what that mage wanted?” asked Kelle.
“Further probing revealed what he really wants is the light the sun emits, not the heat. So we don’t need to steal the sun itself.”
“Cause that’s so much easier! What a relief,” mocked Thimmin.
“Ah, but light happens to be my specialty. Or, rather, magic is. Because that’s what all this really is about. The sun is just a set of intricate spells. So it’s only a matter of identifying the one we want, plucking it out, and delivering it.”
“You make it sound like it’s some physical object...”
“In a sense, it is. At least, to me. That’s why I’m so good at this. I can visualize magic as colored strands. All I have to do is reach out, grab, and pull.”
Thimmin whistled in admiration. “You must be a great magician!”
“Quite the opposite. I know nothing about magic. I can see it, and can somewhat guess what specific spells do based on their colors, but that’s about it.”
“So you’ll recognize the right thread by its color when you see it?” asked Kelle.
“That’ll be the easy part, yes. The hard part will be getting there.”
“Why would anyone want to steal that?” asked Thimmin.
“That is not our concern,” remarked the older thief. “We are hired to do a job, we do it.”
“Still... that’s something that could affect us directly. Doesn’t that concern you?”
Elken shrugged. “Worst case scenario: we lose our permanent light source and have to switch to the more natural one, out there. If the rest of the world can make do with that, I’m sure we can as well.”
Thimmin was not convinced, but he could not think of another argument, so he did not press the issue further.
The two orphans had been asked to surveil the tower. They needed to know everything they could about the place, including—and perhaps most importantly—the guards’ schedules.
They would take turns watching, taking mental notes that they would write down once back at the Guild—they could not risk getting caught with compromising evidence.
One night, on his way back to their hideout, an exhausted Thimmin recognized the errant mage—he had seen him once before, when Atzen had visited Syrus to make a payment.
Though the sun was shining as bright as always, the shadows were many and he melted into them to follow the mage. It was one of those split decisions people make—sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
Despite Elken’s reassuring words, the boy remained troubled by their mission. Nor was he the only one. Big jobs like this always generated a lot of gossip. One rumor he’d heard was that the mage had said to be a descendant of those who had cast the ancient spells, so many centuries ago, and that he’d come to claim his due. But that made no sense to him. It’s not like there ever was an expiration date on their sun... When he’d mentioned this aloud, someone had asked: “How do you know that?”
From the streets the mage was taking, Thimmin could tell that Atzen was headed toward the outskirts of town. It was a place of wealth and shiny appearance. The city preferred to hide its poverty deep within, away from the sight of the outside world.
The man entered a structure that the boy recognized as a communication conduit. The magic that infused these places was designed to facilitate conversations—more often than not with those without the city.
More intrigued than ever, Thimmin followed.
Inside was a hall with a large ebony desk in the center and a series of doors in the back. A woman behind the desk was talking with Atzen, but there was nobody else around.
The boy snuck into a corner out of sight and watched as the mage was given a ring and directed toward one of the doors.
His mind raced as he tried to figure out his best course of action. If there had been a crowd, he could easily have followed, but there wasn’t, and the woman would spot him right away. Nor did he see any nearby openings he could try to sneak into. That only left one option.
He ran to the desk and called out: “Excuse me, miss! I’m looking for my dad. He just came in...”
She blinked at him but he quickly described the man before she could give the matter too much thought. She smiled and nodded. “Yes, he just went in. Over there.”
“Thank you, miss!” As he ran toward the door, he looked back and added cheerfully: “I’m so happy to speak with mother!”
Thimmin had never been in a place like this before, but he’d heard of them and had some notion of how they worked and how they were set up. For instance, he knew that the door he was about to open would lead to a small vestibule where one was supposed to leave any magical items they carried. The spells used to make the calls were fragile things that more potent sources could easily disrupt. Once said objects had been discarded, the owner could enter a second door that led into the communication chamber proper, where various devices could be used to control the magic process. All of that was activated by the ring that was lent to the client.
The one thing he did not know was whether he’d be able to hear anything through the door.
As he walked through the vestibule, he glanced at the shelf and noticed that the man had left there four objects: two rings, a bracelet, and a book. He was tempted to take them, but he knew they were shielded and that an alarm would be set off if he tried anything. So he ignored them and glued his ear to the door.
“—when they’re ready,” he heard the slightly muffled voice say. “Hopefully it’ll be soon.” There was a pause as whoever Atzen was talking to replied—he could not make out that part. “Of course, Rakseen, your wisdom be my guide.”
There was a longer pause then, and Thimmin worried that maybe the conversation had ended and that the mage would suddenly open the door and catch him snooping.
Just then, the voice rose again: “If I may, master... I would like to guide our troops when the moment comes, if you’ll allow it.” Another pause. “Thank you, Rakseen, it shall be my great honor to lead us into victory and help us take back what is rightfully ours.”
There was another brief silence followed by a clicking sound that Thimmin guessed was his signal to get out of there quickly. So he put on a happy face and ran out, jumping up and down: “Yay! Yay! Mother’s coming home!”
Without looking at the woman, he left the conduit and hurried back to their hideout.
Thimmin was sitting on the attic floor, watching as Kelle paced back and forth.
“What does it mean?” she asked. “It doesn’t make any sense...”
“They’re obviously planning an attack,” he said helpfully.
“Yes, but what’s all that talk about what is theirs? Who are these people?”
“Maybe there really is an expiration date on our sun and they’ve come to collect...”
The look she gave him told him exactly what she thought about that. She started pacing again.
“Rakseen... why does that name sound familiar?”
“We should tell the Guild,” said Thimmin.
“But they might understand all this better than us—”
“You’ve heard Elken. A job’s a job. None of this will matter to them. Least of all to the Guildmasters!”
“We can’t just sit on this...”
“And we won’t.”
“What are you suggesting?”
She grinned. “We’re gonna save the city, Thim! You and I.”
“You don’t trust me?”
“Of course I do! But—”
“Then don’t worry. We’ll manage. But first things first... We need to find out more. I’ll go do some research at the library.”
“What about me?”
“You’re expected at the Ratzen Gorah for your shift. We need to keep doing our work, to not raise any alarms.”
“Fine,” he said, “but it doesn’t feel right...”
“And not a word about any of this!” she reminded him.
For hundreds of years, the sun had shone. It was infallible, unfaltering, and unaffected by the cycles of the outside world—be it night or stormy weather. It sat there, at the top of Ratzen Gorah, strong and relentless.
There were as many stories about its origin as there were years to its age. But one constant was the name of the sorceress who had enchanted it: Salamandra. She had achieved so many other great deeds, contributing to the birth of the city, that the city had been named after her.
Sometimes, when he stood in that dark alley across from the tower, staring at the shining orb at the top, Thimmin wondered who Salamandra really was and how incredible she must have been to create something so powerful and capable of lasting so long. He also wondered how much longer it would last. Some said it was designed to be eternal... but how could that even be possible? The sheer magnitude of that notion made his mind reel. He preferred to think that it would fail at some point... it would have to, wouldn’t it? But what would happen, then? They might never have to find out if they stole it first—though that would have consequences too, he was sure.
But it wouldn’t get to that. Kelle would find a way to stop it.
He watched as the guards changed and took mental note of the time. So far, in the two days they had been surveilling, they had noticed no changes in the pattern. If this kept up, they’d be ready to start within the next twenty-four hours. He wasn’t sure whether to be excited or anxious about it.
A tall, dark-haired man walked past the spot where Thimmin was hiding. The clothes he wore screamed of wealth, and the boy was tempted to follow him. But before he could do anything, he noticed a shadow swinging down from a window. In a quick swoop, it lifted the man’s bag and disappeared into another alley, across from the one he was in.
Though he was glad it had taken temptation away from him, Thimmin was still annoyed. The shadow had stolen too many of their marks in the past, it was infuriating—and they still had no clue who was hiding behind that disguise.
His attention returned to the tower. The two new guards were standing at the gate, with blank stares on their faces. He didn’t envy them.
Though, right now, he thought he knew how they felt.
The Great Library of Salamandris was one of the largest known in the world, though few ever had the privilege of passing its doors.
As an apprentice with the Guild, Kelle could now easily get in. But in truth, she was no stranger to these halls. For even before that, she had found ways to sneak in.
Kelle had always loved books. She struggled with them at first, as she did not know how to read. But she persisted and she learned, with help from some of the staff.
She had read many books over the years. Her favorite topics were history and magic.
The more she thought about it, the more she believed she had read that name in one of those books... but it would take forever to go through all of them again.
Thankfully, there were other ways to conduct research.
Most of the books had been indexed and categorized, with spells cast to record keywords. One needed only say a few Words to unlock them and access a vast amount of knowledge. There were devices—much like the ones in the communication conduit—that allowed you to manipulate the data even if you could not do magic yourself... which Kelle most definitely could not.
She sat down at a table and set the device down before her. It was a large blackboard with the letters of the alphabet lined up in a row at the bottom, numbers at the top, and some random symbols on each side. Magic imbued each character. Hitting them in a given sequence would generate a word and cast a search spell, with the results appearing on the central part of the board.
Kelle wrote Rakseen’s name, hoping she was spelling it correctly, and waited.
A list of four books came up, all about the recent history of Salamandris. She recognized one of the titles, a treatise about the most influential and powerful families in town. That one she had read—which likely was where she’d seen the name.
She went to get the books and used the magical device to open them on the pages where the name was mentioned.
It came back to her as she reread the one she knew. Rakseen had been the son of a major house of Salamandris, the Nors Valk. She remembered wondering what had become of them as she had never heard the name before reading that book. She found the answer in the other works.
Two decades earlier, Angkar Nors had been caught performing sacramant magic. There had been suspicions before this of the entire family practicing the black arts, but this specific event started an uproar that led to a very public trial. Because the family was powerful and well connected—some said they had ties to the king himself—Angkar was only admonished, and all his magic-related books confiscated. No other penalty was pronounced.
Anger spread through the streets like wildfire. The Nors residence was attacked and vandalized. Angkar was taken to the streets, beaten, and hung. Other members of the family suffered similar fates, though most managed to flee. Knowing they would no longer be safe in Salamandris, they left the city, never to be seen again...
Until now, thought Kelle.
There were many illustrations throughout the books—of the family house, their sigil, even some portraits.
One picture, in particular, gave her pause. It depicted all known Nors Valk members shortly before their fall from disgrace. She stared at it for a long time, then slammed the book shut in anger.
She stood and stormed out of the library, ignoring the disapproving glances thrown her way.
It was a beautiful, sunny night—like every other night in Salamandris. Elken had given them their marching orders. They were ready and would start the mission in ten hours.
When they came out of the meeting, Thimmin hurried after Kelle—whose pace was quicker than usual.
“Hey! Wait up!”
She’d been acting strange since her return from the library. They hadn’t had a chance to discuss it yet, but he could tell she was upset.
“So what’s the plan?” he asked as he reached her side.
“You heard him, didn’t you?”
“No, I mean, our plan.”
She shrugged. “Nothing.”
“What do you mean, nothing?”
“I mean nothing! We follow orders.”
Thimmin stared at her. “Are you serious right now? I thought you said—”
She spun to face him, hands on her hips. “I don’t care what I said, okay? We’re not going to do a single thing.”
“Because that’s the right thing to do, that’s why.”
She started walking again. It took him a few seconds to shake off the surprise. He ran after her to catch up.
“What’s going on, Kelle? Why the sudden change of heart? What did you find out?”
The girl walked on quietly for a moment before she finally said: “Rakseen is of the Nors. A family that was unjustly banished. They deserve to be fully reinstated.”
As she talked, Kelle could feel a knot forming in her stomach.
“Oh.” Thimmin frowned as he pondered her words. “Alright, but aren’t there better ways to make that happen than to attack the city? People could die—”
“People,” she snapped, “don’t trust them. People have hurt them in the past, and would do so again in a heartbeat.”
“I’m not sure I understand this, Kelle. How is it going to work out exactly? Are they going to seize power and force everyone to obey them? Are they going to imprison those who did them wrong? Kill them, maybe?”
The girl felt her resolve falter as her friend voiced all the things that had been troubling her, deep inside.
“I can’t go against them, Thim,” she finally whispered.
He sensed tears welling up in her, and it stunned him. Although she was taller than him, she was the youngest of the two. She had taken over leadership in recent years, but in the past he had always been like a big brother to her, protecting her and consoling her when she most needed it—and she often had... when she was younger. He hadn’t seen her cry in at least five years. He had not expected this.
“Why not?” he asked softly.
As they walked past a bench, she stopped and let herself fall upon it. He sat next to her and wrapped an arm around her.
“They’re my family,” she said as the tears finally poured out of her.
All of her life, Kelle had wondered who her parents were. She had been found, as a baby, at the doorsteps of a church. There had been no note, no explanation, nothing. This mystery surrounding her origins was part of what had made Thimmin take her under his wing, as their stories were eerily similar.
But Kelle had something he did not. A birthmark on her shoulder. It was in the shape of a sunburst. An odd mark that no one had ever seen before. And yet, while looking at that family picture at the library, she had noticed a very similar marking on one of the women. She would have chalked it up to coincidence, had it not been for the striking physical resemblance between them. It had to be her mother.
Then the shock of that revelation had morphed into anger as she finally had a face she could pour all her resentment on. Why had that woman, that family, abandoned her? Had they hated her so much?
But as she’d walked through the brightly lit streets of Salamandris, she became convinced that the stories were wrong. They had to be. Her family had never meant to leave her. They were good people who fell victim to a huge misunderstanding. It got out of control, and the mob had them running for their lives, leaving behind everything they owned... along with a newborn baby.
It was not the Nors that she should hate, it was this city. They had to pay. Let the sun be stolen and they’d get what they deserved.
Except... none of that made any sense to her anymore. Thimmin was right. If they truly were good people, they would seek... nay, they would have sought—why wait eighteen years?—justice by other means. They could have made appeals. History claimed they had connections with the king, so why not go to him to have things cleared up? The more she thought about it, the more she grew convinced that her family likely was guilty of all those horrible things.
“But they’re still my family...” she whined.
“Are they?” asked Thim. “You’ve never met them, never spent any time with them. That’s not family. I’m your family.”
She smiled and sniffed at the same time. “Yes, you are. But I can’t betray them...”
“Did they not betray you first?”
“I should be better than them!”
“Yes, you should. And that means stopping them. If you don’t, many people would die. Is that a price you’re willing to pay to reconnect with a family that cast you away, not to mention dabbled in black magic?”
“Did they really reject me, though? It can’t be... there had to be a reason.”
As her head rested against his shoulder, he stroke her hair—like he used to when she was a child.
“You know, most people can’t choose their families. You’re lucky to have that choice today.”
She jumped to her feet, with newfound resolve in her eyes. “You’re right! We can’t let them do this. Too many innocent people would get hurt. Come on, let’s go. We need to hurry, there isn’t much time left...”
In high-profile capers, every little detail must be meticulously planned and carried out. It was like a castle made of cards. There was no room for errors, lest the whole thing fell apart.
When the three thieves set out to steal the sun, everything that could go wrong, did. The opening of the back grate took too long. The creeping through the vents was too noisy. The map that was to show them the quickest path to the peak had been forgotten. And when they finally reached the platform that gave access to the beaming globe, Thimmin dropped the bag with the equipment Elken needed to capture the light spell. They watched as it fell to the ground, ten feet below, with a loud clatter that would surely bring guards in within minutes.
Elken cursed. “We’re not gonna make it. Retreat!”
They hurried back into the vents, but they all could sense it was too late. Guards would be waiting for them at every exit. Chances were they’d even found their entrance point by now.
The senior thief made them stop as they were halfway down. He glared at them. “We’re gonna have to use Plan B.”
Kelle had made sure that there would be one. Elken was too confident—he’d never failed before—but she had insisted that just because it had never happened to him didn’t mean nothing could go wrong this time. She had been so persistent that he’d agreed just to shut her up.
The Guild had magical amulets that could transport you back to the Needle. They were rarely used because of their unpleasant side effects: dizziness, headaches, nausea, and a plethora of other charming inconveniences.
They heard voices and running footsteps behind the surrounding walls. Yelling and odd banging sounds, too. A warmth spread through the vents as the air trembled.
“Oh great!” said Elken as he pulled out the amulet with a grimace. “They’re using magic now to find us.”
He motioned for the two orphans to come closer so they’d be within the artifact’s range, then set a hand on its surface and voiced a single Word.
The whole world spun around them as they felt their bodies disintegrate into particles of dust. It was a strange feeling to remain conscious despite the lack of a physical form. But it only lasted a few seconds.
When the particles coalesced back into their former selves, they stumbled and fell to the ground. Their bodies felt weak and sick.
Kelle barely had time to recognize one of the training rooms they had used at the Needle before she blacked out, with a smile on her face.
Syrus was furious. There were no excuses for such incompetence! How could they have messed up such an important and vital job?
Thimmin and Kelle remained quiet as the scarred man yelled at them. He was not ready to listen to excuses—let alone reason. At this stage, he needed to blow off steam... so they let him.
“We can’t even try again, thanks to you! They’ll be on high alert now. This is unacceptable!” His eyes finally stopped on them as he asked: “What do you have to say for yourselves?”
He was still angry, of course, but was now ready to hear something, anything, that would make their actions make sense.
Kelle took a deep breath and let it all out. What they had discovered about Atzen—whose real name, Kuvakan Nors, had been revealed by the history book—, the plot to invade the city once night had bathed it, the Nors Valk’s history with sacramant magic...
Syrus glared at them. “And it never once occurred to you that, maybe, just maybe, you should come to us with all this information?”
The girl stared back at him defiantly, hands on her hips. “And what, exactly, would you have done then, pray tell?”
“We would have discussed it,” he retorted.
“And then done nothing!”
“Either way, that was not your call to make, young lady!”
“Well, someone had to make that call, and it obviously wouldn’t have been you. The Guild does not take sides, it is well known! You do the job, no questions asked.”
“Should I remind you that you wanted to join the Guild?”
“I did! We did. Because we believe in Yiis. She built the Guild and made it what it is. But do you truly believe that she would have wanted Salamandris sacked? That is not the way!”
“Enough!” snapped Syrus. “We shall deliberate on your case and a proper punishment shall be chosen. You’ll know soon. In the meantime, go and lie low.”
He turned and walked out without waiting for a response.
The orphans knew there was more to the world than Salamandris, even if it felt otherwise. They had never left the city and they often would talk and dream of the wild expanses beyond.
As they sat at the edge of the city, their feet dangling in the air, ten miles above the ground, they stared into the distance and wondered if they ever would see other places.
Word had got out of how they had saved the city, which had surprised them. Kelle suspected this was why they had not been kicked out as they had half expected. Instead, they were barred from non-training activities until further notice.
Thimmin was throwing dirt into the air and watching as it rained down on the earth below, when a shadow swooshed behind them. By the time they’d looked back, it was already gone. But they noticed a small box on the ground near them.
Inside, they found a sapphire and a yellow rose. Kelle giggled. “I think our nemesis wants to thank us.”
The boy grumbled. “That doesn’t give us back our marks, though, does it?”
“The sapphire might make up for them,” she remarked.
She took a turn at grabbing a handful of dust and threw it down.
They both watched as the particles spun and danced in the air, shifting in odd patterns, before exploding in a frenzy of colors.
Then the remaining dust fell away through the clouds.
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Text (c) 2022 by Alex S. Garcia.
Header: royalty-free stock images, edited by me.
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