I slumped onto the rough wooden bench, finally feeling my sore muscles relax in the heat of the forge.
"Ugghhh..." I groaned, "I'm so tired..." That stupid train ride was just as uncomfortable as I had expected.
"You should've went straight home," Reina replied over the repeated din of her hammer, "It's about time you took a break from the Guild."
A huge sigh escaped my chest, "But I wanted to visit you. Besides, I still need to take care of my computers, and there's still a few experiments running in the lab. Dammit, I didn't think that mission would take so long. And I promised Aya to take a tour around the guild." All of my errands pressed down on my mind, but the thought even one of them made me grimace. "And now Juxon wants me to check-up on Blue. I think he wants me to mentor her."
"I can take care of your stuff. Just take a few days off." The rhythmic bang of her hammer stopped, and I heard the hiss of steam as she plunged the finished sword into a barrel of water.
"Nah, you're too busy." I told her, "And you're still training for your exam, remember? You're so close to becoming an elite! Don't let my stuff get in your way."
"Lara," she took off her thick gloves and put her hand on her hips, "I can handle it. You're too much of a workaholic, you need to take a break."
"Says the girl who works constantly at the forge," I stuck my tongue out at her, "Hypocrite."
If she wasn't my big sister she would've looked menacing, towering over me and staring me down like that. I knew I couldn't get out of this. Once Reina sets her mind to something there's no stopping her.
"Fine, I'll do my stuff and get ready in a day," I told her, "But you're coming with me, got it?" I raised my finger at her.
She nodded, satisfied with the compromise.
1. Talk to Aya
I finally found her, on her tiptoes as she watched wide-eyed at two fighters in the training ring, engaged in battle.
"Hi Lara!" She gave me a wide smile.
"Sweetie, don't watch this violent stuff." I tried to shield her eyes, but then a circle of bright runes appeared under one of the fighters, and a blast of green light engulfed him. The crowd went wild, and I started cheering with them, immediately forgetting about Aya and starting to clap loudly.
Aya watched the victim's figure flicker and disappear. "Did he die?"
I snapped out of it. "No, that's just a projection of him. It's not a real fight."
"When can I do stuff like that?" she hopped up and down with anticipation.
"When you get older," I patted her shoulder and started to lead her out of the crowd, "Maybe you'll fight someday, too." I missed coming here. I've been at every fight during the tournaments when I was a trainee, but now my job keeps me in my workshop most of the time.
"Yeah!" She threw a tiny punch at the air in front of her,"I wanna do that!"
"I wouldn't miss a single game," I said, "I told you I was gonna show you around the guild, right?"
"Yep!" she started bouncing around again. "But Ceres said she would too!"
A huge sigh of relief escaped my chest, "Well that's great! You should make some new friends and go with Ceres, kay?"
"Okay!" She gave me a huge, and went off to find her new companion.
2. Go see Blue
"It's just a dream!"
Blue jerked away, and her eyes stared straight into mine. I let go of her shoulders.
"What are you doing in my room?" Her voice was slightly high pitched, but her expression of panic had disappeared.
"I was just gonna do a check-up, assess your health and stuff." I shrugged, "You were supposed to have it after a discussion with Juxon, but I guess someone put you in a room early."
She didn't look pleased with that answer. "I was sleeping!"
"You were spasming around," I told her, "Nightmares?" She gave me a strange look. "I have potions to help you with that. Weird dreams are pretty regular for people with magic."
"Yeah sure," she said, and accepted the bottles I pulled out of my pocket. "Why do I need a check-up anyways?"
"We can't have any sick or cursed people in the dorms," I explained, "Safety measure."
Blue bit her lip. "Alright then, go ahead."
"Pfft, I've been done," I flipped some of my hair out of my face, "It barely takes a few seconds. You're fine. A healer would do some more in depth stuff tomorrow." I started to leave when I felt her grab my sleeve.
"Hey Lara," she said, "Thanks."
3. Close up the lab
All the screens turned off with a sigh, and I let out a breath of relief with them.
"Argh, I should've shut you guys down days ago," I said to the blackened screens, "Didn't know it was gonna take so long."
For a moment I considered cleaning up the tangles of wires, and maybe trying to fish out all the trash I stuck on the table someone, but the mere thought of it made me groan out loud. It was already painful enough to shut down all of my projects, I really didn't have the-
A siren wail started, and the main computer's screen flickered on to show a red warning sign, filling the room with red light. A familiar figure was at the door.
"Rai?" After a couple of tries with different keyboards, I finally opened the door, the glass even more cracked than before. "People really need to stop knocking on the glass," I muttered to myself under my breath.
Rai was not a person you could easily forget, with the huge, strangely colored scar on her face and her mismatched eyes. It looked as if her skin had cracked open and revealed a vein of amethyst. Her purple eye was flickering like lightbulb. A blindingly bright lightbulb that wasn't supposed to be there.
"What up?" I asked with feigned casualness. You had to step carefully when you were talking to Rai.
I shook that thought off. That was years ago, when I was Rai's apprentice. Her emotions were more stable now.
She covered the left side of her face, hiding her eye and her scar, "Training accident. I need something to fix it."
"Really?" I reached for her wrist so I could magically scan her for any problems.
"Don't! I can see what's wrong with me." She quickly snatched her hand away. "It was a magical malfunction. Healing spell went a bit to far. It's overcharging my system."
Her system. I can still see her scar through her fingers, the hardened flesh that looks like crystal from a distance. The light from her eye turned the edges of her fingers red.
"So you need some kind of mojo cleanser or something?" I headed towards the storage room, and motioned for her to follow.
"No, just a stabilizer," She responded as we walked down an aisle.
"Are you sure? You shouldn't be holding in so much magic." I took a step backwards to look at her again.
"I already have tons of stabilizers, I can handle another one." She grimaced as her scar started to glow slightly as well.
"Really, you should just get that spell out. Or expel some of the energy so I can store it." I took a hesitant half turn towards the battery section.
"It's regeneration, and it thinks I'm still damaged. Just get me a stabilizer so I can wait for it to wear off." Rai said impatiently. There was a venom in her voice that I hadn't heard in a long time.
"O-okay, no problem." I went to a shelf full of tiny scrolls, and sifted through them to look for the right one.
Rai's hand darted in front of me and snatched up a scroll. "Hey," I said, "Don't you think that's a bit too powerful?"
But she was already applying it, pressing the small square of papyrus to her arm until the rune was imprinted onto her skin. Before I react, she turned and headed towards the door.
"Oh hey, thanks Lara," I called after her, "Yeah no problem, Rai. Have a nice day, you know. Nice seeing you after FIVE MONTHS!" I raised my voice to a shout as the door closed behind her, leaving me in the darkness of the room.
Gods, I can't wait to take a break.