Chapter 2:

The Softness of the Stones

Lotian, City of Light

Part 1

Dix stares down toward the ground, she sees herself falling down and has to firm her feet on the roof, but the stones sure look soft today. From the top of the Illusion Eyes, one of the twenty highest time marking towers in all of Lotian, the stones on the ground seem to move in a hypnotic pattern that calls forth those in the sky.

She never had any interest in those windows to the outside, neither does she have interest on the outside itself. Those matters beyond her control should stay where they are and for more qualified people to stress themselves over them. But the stones look really appealing from up here, like a soft bed after a long day of hard work, if only she decided to accept the embrace, but no, she had work to do.

Staring down from the top of the tower, using the overlooking view of the city, she makes the final adjustments to the plan. Ideally, Dix would prefer to have more time to prepare, plan escape routes, gather maps and patrol routes as well as possibly bribe guards to look in the wrong direction. But the client wanted this done by today, she checks again to see if the dagger the client provided is secure, can’t let people see this.

There seems to be some kind of event happening inside the keep, Dix thinks to herself, better to create a distraction, i can use the crowd to hide my escape. Looking to the end of the area in the direction of one of the hallways, a man riding a horse enters the city. She jumps from the edge of the roof, a hook tied to a rope secured where she stood a moment earlier, using the momentum, Dix enters one of the windows that lead to the inside of the tower, in the same movement, she detaches the hook from the roof and pulls it back inside one of her pouches and uses the stairs on the rest of her way down.

Part 2

It always takes a while to find the proper house to make a distraction, it is a part that most of her colleagues overlook when doing a job, one needs a good eye to spot the perfect house, it is almost an art form. Every corner she turns she sees herself being stopped by a guard and ending up executed, or maybe being ambushed and mugged in an alley, but she still continues with the mission.

First, the house needs to be close enough for the guards to bother to take a look at what's going on, but it can’t be too close that they come and quickly solve the problem before she has time to do her part.

Second, she needs it to be currently occupied by at least one person, they need to be as few people as possible, no more than five, and they need to be as close as possible. Too far apart she runs the risk of making unnecessary victims or being spotted, and too many people increases the chances of them getting hurt in the ensuing chaos.

Third, the house needs to be of average size, if it is too small the distraction might be over before it has a chance to start, and increases the chances of people getting hurt, but if it is too big, the distraction might take too long to start and many valuable opportunities might be lost during that time or even the target might become inaccessible.

Fourth and last, the house needs to have at least one smart person inside, this is the most important part, if no one is around to spot the distraction fast enough, the consequences might be catastrophic, and that is what Dix is currently fishing for.

She enters a Herbalist shop, and by her observations the old man that runs the business is the only one in the building. He quickly comes to the counter once he hears the bell at the door ring, a good sign. She sees him pulling a knife once he sees her and decides to look toward one of the shelves.

“How can i help you?” Says the old owner.

“I’m looking for a rare herb,” Dix responds, still looking at the shelf, “but i can’t remember the exact name.” She strokes her chin with her hand while turning around to let him see her face.

When he sees the grey eyes accompanied by the grey hair, his eyes dodge hers, choosing to instead focus on the shelf she was looking at, “Do… do you… the herb… excuse me, do you know at least part of the name?”

Dix approaches him, looking at the ground.

“Let me think.” Avoiding eye contact, smart, “Emberheart, i think, do you know about it?”

The merchant thought for a moment, “i probably have some in the back, give me a few taks.” And then he was gone.

Smart man, Dix thinks to herself while she waits, but a dishonest one, selling imaginary magical herbs used to make love potions to girls that don’t know better. Not long after, the old man comes back with a small wooden flask.

“There you go,” the old man says, handing her the flask.

“Thank you, how much will it cost me?”

“Only a single sky piece?” The owner raises a finger while putting on a smile on his face, despite still avoiding eye contact.

A single? That’s everything i have, i‘ll have to raise the fee for this job.

“There you go” Dix hands a white square coin to the old man.

Dix, leaves the Herbalist’s shop, goes around the block and climbs to one of the upper floor windows through a back alley. She gets inside the man’s room and immediately pulls out four wooden flasks sealed with a cork from her pouches. Smoke pours out right after she removes the corks, two go under the mat in the middle, while she places the third one under the blankets, the mat already catches fire, she places the last one inside the man’s clothes and quickly leaves the scene while seeing herself getting caught in the fire.

You weren’t the most honest man i have ever met, but you aren’t a bad person for it, you actually heard my request instead of chasing me off. Só don’t go dying because of some pieces of cloth, be as smart as i think you are, i will ask forgiveness from the gods later and that they bless you from now on. She runs off to get in position.

Part 3

Using the opening generated by the wispshapers leaving their guard posts to check on the comotion, Dix slips inside the citadel, she decides to take the long way toward the keep avoiding public paths lest she draws in the worst kind of attention, she sees herself getting killed in a fight with the wispshapers while searching for an route.

When skulking her way forward she uses the time to formulate plans and briefly considers using the rooftops, but what kind of moron tries to sneak inside a place using them during daytime? The images of a fight with multiple wispshapers continue at every turn, decorating the plain walls as she passes them.

It goes easier than she was anticipating, very few patrols in the chosen route, the windows and stray couples were more of a threat than actual wispshapers. Her silent movement made it easier to spot the sound of steps on the grass, that way patrols couldn’t get the jump on her.

About half the way through, the break in was going so well she ended up with quite a lot of unrequired overconfidence and switched from skulking to jogging. Dix turns around an alley, only to see a pair of guards facing one another with their backs against the wall, visions of a fight with them flood her mind. She jumps in a small opening before they can spot her, shit, i was careless.

By listening to their conversation, she sees that they are just skipping work, little did they know they were doing a better job than the ones that were actually trying. Dix retrieves a string of rubber with two rings on each end and a patch of leather in the middle from one of the pouches and puts it around her index and thumb, using a stone as a projectile, she breaks a far away window in another alley that could be seen from were she was hiding.

“Did you hear that?” One of the guards asks his companion, “let’s check it out before someone else appears.”

She uses the opportunity to continue forward, slower than a jog, but faster than her early skulking. Dix makes a good distance between her and the two wispshapers, when once again, she sees herself being stabbed through the chest by a sword not even ten steps forward, but this one felt more real than the previous ones, this was an actual possibility.

Readying herself, she pulls a long needle one third the length of a dagger, a large man with blonde hair and green eyes, wearing the traditional whites and blacks of wispshapers turns around a corner, spotting her. She sees herself getting grabbed by the throat and suffocated to death, without even a hint of hesitation he extends his arm toward her, with the intention of taking advantage of her momentum. Dix slides on the ground passing between his legs to avoid his grasp, he straightens himself while looking at his hand, seeming genuinely surprised by the fact that she was able to dodge him.

Another vision, she gets grabed again by the throat and he rams his sword through her body, she pauses for a moment and almost gets caught, but manages to sidestep his attempt, Dix avoids two more attempts before the look on his face changes from surprised to annoyed. He draws his sword, the contents of her vision change to that of him mercilessly slashing her apart.

The wispshaper makes a wide slash towards her middle portion, which she manages to dodge by almost touching the ground while the blade leaves a long scar on the stone wall of the building when he misses, why is it taking so long? She continues to dodge his slashes, always at the last instant, but she keeps getting pushed back, until he manages to corner her. The wispshaper raises his sword ready to deliver a downward slash, Dix raises her hand to protect her face, but before the sword descends, the man drops to the ground unconscious.

Taking a moment to catch her breath, she observes the long needle that pierces his calf, damn wispshapers, that tranquilizer was enough to drop a room full of people and he still kept going for so long. Already lost too much time, and i need to finish this before he wakes up, Dix breaks into a run, less concerned with being spotted, she was almost close enough to the distance where she wouldn't be able to hide herself anyway.

She reaches the final building, an open stretch of grass lays before her eyes, no patrols in sight, all she has to do is climb the outer wall of the keep and enter from one of the bathroom windows. Taking three short breaths to ready herself, Dix dashes toward her target, but she doesn’t manage to get far before she feels a man dropping on top of her.

Part 4

“I’m so sorry.” Says the man as he gets up. “I got stuck inside my house, só i had to jump from the roof, are you alright?”

He is using simple yet refined clothes, but the boots and the sword strapped to his back show that he is ready for a fight and the water orbs give him away as a wispshaper. His crow black hair complements his handsome face and he appears to have a well defined build.

“I’m... ” Dix responds, trying to come up with an excuse “fine.” He doesn’t appear to have noticed my equipment.

She starts to slowly make her way to the keep, when the man grabs her by the hand.

“Are you sure?” i don’t have time for this. The dagger she was carrying strapped to her belt loosens itself and falls on the ground, making a metallic clak against the ground, ...Shit!

Dix looks towards the dagger on the ground, squeezing her mind for every single drop of ingenuity she has, how can i not get killed? Images of her starving in prison, being tortured and hanged swirl around her mind.

“Does that belong to you?” The young wispshaper says, reaching for his sword.

Shit, shit, shit...

“I think it belongs to him.” Dix says while looking up.

While he is distracted, Dix fetches her knuckleduster from one of the pouches, ten times should do the trick, and punches him with everything she has in the middle of his face. Maybe i still have time to do part of the job, Freeing her hand from his, she runs with all of her might towards the keep.

Dix makes some progress before being stopped by the man jumping in to bar her advance, how are you fine after getting punched by a Jawduster? Her vision flashes with a scene of her death and she ducks under a slash, he is not as strong as the other one. She uses the interval between her actions to bury a small fuse-bomb on the ground and jumps back to avoid the water attack, gotta be careful of that water. Staying in a squatting position with one hand on the ground, she baits him to take a step closer.

Dix pulls the string to trigger the explosion when he disperses the water, I would kill for one more dose of that tranquilizer. After the explosion she runs toward the dagger she dropped, that won’t kill him, i must get away quickly and finish this before he has time to warn the others.

Half way through, she dodges two water projectiles using the visions of being pierced by them to time her movements without the need to see them, now she stands at arms reach of the dagger when a sudden image of her finger getting cut off flashes in her mind. Dix pulls her hand as the sword slashes the ground, drawing a line separating her and the dagger.

“Last chance to surrender.” The wispshaper points the sword toward her.

I can’t risk a drawn out battle, mission failed.

Dix reaches for a small sack of flour and throws it, making a cloud of smoke in the air between them, when no vision of death comes she is sure of the success and begins her escape towards one of the buildings, it will be faster if i make my way through the rooftops, a vision of her head being separated from her neck comes. She ducks to avoid a slash and moves her head to the left, dodging a trust while simultaneously hitting him with the Jawduster, ten times again, he stumbles backwards and loses one of the water water orbs, how are you not out cold on the ground? Losing hope of quickly finishing the fight and continuing the mission, she decides to focus all of her capabilities on escaping.

He is nowhere near as skilled as the other one, Dix thought to herself as she climbed to the roof of a building. She sets another fuse-bomb at the edge and waits for him a few steps away from the bomb. She pulls the trigger once he shows himself, an instant later, he disappears from her sight and appears again right next to her.

“Just give up and i won’t reveal that you had an assassin’s dagger in your possession.” He says to her, like i would believe you.

Dix runs and the chase continues, he is faster than her and slowly reduces the distance, i have to lose him somehow. She throws a handful of flour in his direction, lets test you, she thinks, after that she sees him pass right through the cloud reducing the distance even further, smart. Now, almost at sword range, Dix is forced to dodge streams of water sent by him to slow her down.

Another vision, her legs getting cut right off by his sword, she jumps to avoid the outcome, then she steps out of the way of the first water stream, images of water piercing her body and a sword slashing her in half. She moves inside his range and manages to dodge both the second stream and a sword slash, countering with a punch with the Jawduster, twenty five this time, he stumbles back a bit and loses control of one more water orb. He is still going?

His recovery gives her the opportunity to put some distance between them, now she is about half way through to the outer wall of the citadel. When he recovers, he begins again to close the distance between them, you are smart, she throws another dust cloud in front of him. He enters the white dust, but not enough, and is received on the other side by a Jawduster to the face, fifty times now. One of the two water orbs is sent splashing on the roof, Just die already.

In a show of extraordinary endurance, her opponent manages to still remain standing after getting hit by fifty five times the force of a normal punch, there goes my Jawduster, time for the last resort. Dix jumps from one roof to the other and throws yet another dust cloud in the wispshaper’s direction. As expected, her opponent jumps inside the cloud, Dix lights up a match and throws it inside the white powder cloud, the force of the explosion launches them in opposite directions.

Dix almost falls off the roof, but manages to stumble back to her feet, shit, almost killed myself. Using the hook and rope, she began her climb of the outer wall, i knew that this job was not worth the payment. Almost at the top, the rope gets suddenly cut by a water blade, you gotta be kidding me, she thinks as she falls to the ground below.

Part 5

Visions of her falling in weird angles and dying or getting cripled flood her mind, she hits the hard stone ground with a loud thump.

Dix tries to pick herself up as if pieces are scattered all over the ground, the wispshaper drops from the roof, crashing on the ground but still manages to get up and stumble in her direction, though his sword was sent flying away during the explosion. Why are you so persistent? She crawls away from him, searching her pouches, there must be something useful here.

One of her pouches catches fire and she sees herself being burned alive, in a burst of energy she manages to remove and throw them away. The wispshaper collapses, one knee on the ground, trying to catch his breath, he looks around, probably searching for his sword. Dix touches the wall and leans on it to get up, he approaches her once more.

“Stop it” comes a voice that approaches them.

They see a elderly looking man making his way towards them.

“Ardyn? What are you doing here?”

“Master Franklin, your family is in danger.” The man named Ardyn responds.

“What happened?” The wispshaper asks.

“There was a ploy, they came too fast, it was a planned action”

“Wait, explain what happened!” He demands an explanation.

“I don’t have time, you must stay hidden, they are looking for you, i’ll send both of you away.” The man named Ardyn says as he extends his hand toward them.

“Wait...” Dix interrupts “I don't have anything to do with any of this--”

Reality was warped in the form of a spiral, the next moment they were dropped in a shallow water canal, she recognized this place, she lived here, North Whisper, she was transported to the opposite side of Lotian.


Some time before the fight between Franklin and Dix.

The grass crackles as Purple walks upon it, today he is wearing his favorite black cape, the one his father gave him. Wear that when facing your enemies and you know that i’ll always be by your side, the words echoed in his mind. Red rain bleeds from the illusory sky, indicating that a lot of blood has been spilled recently and disappears before reaching the ground. Ahead lies only a crater atop of a small hill where there should be one of the private training facilities for aspiring wispshapers. Halfway up the hill he meets with two other men and salutes both.

“Sir...i see that the report was true... any new information as to where and why would someone disappear an entire training facility?” Purple asks.

“We already found it.” One of the men, wearing a sharp government official uniform with two golden knots on the shoulder indicating his ranking, says as he turns to continue ascending the small hill, “come.”

They make their way upward, followed by another man with a uniform just as sharp as the previous one, but with four knots on his left shoulder.

“You are late,” says the man with four knots, “thought i said it was an emergency.”

“...My apologies sir... i was dealing with personal matters.” Purples replies nervously.

“You must remember that your duties stand above personal matters.”

“Won’t happen again... sir...” The man with the four golden knots nods in a sign of approval.

The three reach the edge of the crater at the top of the hill.

“...You said that both of you already found where the missing castle went” Purple says to the man with two knots on his shoulders, “then...why are we here?”

“Because the castle didn’t get stolen,” the man points to the center of the crater toward a small brown sphere, the size of a human head “it’s there.”

Purple notices that the sphere has sunk on the ground as they approach and tries to pick it up, it’s heavy, as heavy as an entire... castle. He squats and puts more strength into the lifting, his feet sink into the ground.

“The blood rain was evidence enough, but if not even a reaver can move it, that confirms it.” concludes the man with two knots.

“And the method?” Inquires Purple.

“A gravity spirit.” The man with four knots answers, “Confirmed by myself and multiple scholars, we’re questioning the holders, as of right now they all have alibis, the only one remaining is Lord Dawnlight.”