Chapter 3:

Chapter 3; Gamma- Into the Human Race

CirCular


The sound of crows could be heard in the distance.
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I could see them circling above a forest clearing near the stream that is flowing into the city below: The impregnable city of Tawouest.Bookmark here

Though this is making a slight detour in my mission, I could not leave my little companion behind. Bookmark here

Walking towards the forest clearing, I began to whistle. Normally, that would be its signal to return to me but this time round, it remained, circling above with the rest of its species.Bookmark here

????: [Damn bird, stop getting distracted by every little thing that shines. GLASS, WE ARE GOING! NOW!]Bookmark here

My little companion, the crow I named Glass, refused to deviate from its flight. If anything, it flew lower and lower towards the centre of the place that they were circling.Bookmark here

Perhaps I should leave after all. Damn bird could easily find me back in the city.Bookmark here

So I said, yet I continued venturing to the spot the crows were circling.Bookmark here

And there I saw, the very being that would eventually upturn everything that this world had to offer.Bookmark here

Lying face flat on the muddy floor in a pool of blood was a humanoid figure cloaked in black. No, the black is from its clothing, not the figure.Bookmark here

Quickly, I removed my hooded cloak and rushed to the injured figure, brushing away the crows that were trying to dig their beaks into it. One of them flew off but landed not too far away. It turned its eye towards me and tilted its head in a curious direction.Bookmark here

????: [Damn bird, you see the trouble you are bringing me? No more lunch for you until you have reflected on your actions.]Bookmark here

Glass completely ignored my statements and landed onto a branch of a nearby tree and began to groom its feathers. I sighed, knowing that there was no way that the damn bird could have understood me.Bookmark here

I was not merely talking idly either during that one-sided exchange. When the exchange ended, I had already disrobed the injured figure, that being its black coat, but left its base clothing on. I had also removed its possessions to precisely determine the extent of its injury, though there were only two items removed: A peculiar mask with no features and a strange metallic object.Bookmark here

Judging by the wounds this injured figure received, one could see the intensity of the battle it was participating in. A crushed left eye, a diced up throat, broken calves upon broken shins and several, if not all ribcages broken. The blood loss is only natural with the number of lacerations that covered nearly every surface of its being that made it hard to even see where its base clothing ends and where its skin begins, let alone its species or gender at a glance. Though it is strange that the black coat is completely free from cuts, unlike its base clothes.Bookmark here

That is no injured figure, that is a corpse.Bookmark here

Yet I cannot conclude that in my good conscience. The figure lives, evident from the miraculous beating of its heartbeat and the heaving of its chest.Bookmark here

I removed the heavy backpack I was carrying and took out a rope, rolls of cloth and a scroll. One out of the three magic scrolls I had in possession, this one in particular is engraved with the magic circuits for healing wounds.Bookmark here

Pouring mana through the circuits on the magic scroll, the wounds of the injured figure began to gradually heal up. I have prioritised the more life-threatening ones, mainly the eye and the throat injury with the scroll and worked on stopping the bleeding from the body with the rolls of cloth. The rest can be easily healed up by other professionals in the city.Bookmark here

????: [Can’t have me running out of mana here when the mission is still ongoing.]Bookmark here

The end product of the injured figure now resembled the featureless mannequins displayed in front of shops which is a big step forward compared to being a corpse waiting to rot.Bookmark here

Satisfied, I packed the figure’s belongings into my backpack and secured the figure onto my backpack. Putting my hooded cloak back on, I prepared to move off, now with a heavier weight but a higher chance of succeeding in the mission. Bookmark here

Just before I do, however, I find myself accidentally kicking something solid and metallic. It was the strange metallic object that was retrieved from the injured figure’s coat pocket. Bookmark here

????: [Quite the carelessness of mine, almost forgot to pack you in.]Bookmark here

Picking up the object, I now got a closer look at it. Both sides were different with one side containing parts that seemed to be moving on their own. With every movement came a rhythmic sound that is calming to the ear, at least for me.Bookmark here

On the top of it was a small contraption that hinted at the possibility of being pushed. Before I do carelessly and tactlessly engage the device, I had the mental capacity to take out my second magic scroll, one engraved with magic circuits of detection used to identify the presence of any and all other magic circuits.Bookmark here

Pouring mana through the scroll, I now could see clearly that the strange device is devoid of any magic circuits, which is a relief as one could never be too careful when dealing with magic items. Lux knows whether the device is actually engraved with highly concentrated magic circuits for explosions that could wipe out the whole clearing we are standing on.Bookmark here

I looked around and whistled but my small companion was nowhere to be seen. Damn bird probably flew off to find something shiny again. Perhaps it was initially trying to point my attention to this metallic object as well?Bookmark here

Now knowing it was safe, I pushed down on the small contraption on the top of the small device. A side of the outer metal plate popped open, revealing a closer look at the rhythmic movements within. But that was the last thing on my mind. Bookmark here

It was at that very same moment that my ears became flooded with voices. Voices that were loud, voices that were soft, voices that spoke meaning and voices that expressed none. Bookmark here

????: […The fruits at the top of the tree are delicious…]Bookmark here

????: […FOR THE QUEEN, FOR THE QUEEN…]Bookmark here

????: […Where did those little critters go…]Bookmark here

????: […Breadgiver, what are you still doing down there]Bookmark here

????: [… DEEPER DEEPER DEEPR…]Bookmark here

????: [… Don’t you think the water is slightly…]Bookmark here

????: […AHHHHH, I DON’T WANT TO DIE YET…]Bookmark here

????: […Get up, breadgiver, don’t we have somewhere we have to go…]Bookmark here

????: [… The meal of this lux is served, HAHAHA…]Bookmark here

????: […the mission, the mission, the mission…]Bookmark here

????: […Be sure to never run off too far, you don’t want to be…]Bookmark here

????: [… RUN…]Bookmark here

????: […the mission, the…]Bookmark here

It was like billions of living beings were speaking all at once in a grand ballroom and I at the very centre of it all, forced to take in each and every piece of information. I could no longer even hear my own voice in this cacophony.Bookmark here

????: [JYN, HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING TO HUNCH OVER ALL PATHETIC LIKE?]Bookmark here

All of a sudden, a voice broke through all of the cacophony like the chiming of church bells in a bustling bazaar.Bookmark here

There it was, in front of me. A figure in black, staring at me with its head tilted in a curious direction. Its beaked moved, but what comes out is not the usual cawing that I am accustomed to, but…Bookmark here

Glass: [The heck you doing, breadgiver. We got places to be. Chop chop.]Bookmark here

Glass hopped around with its little feet before flying over to grab a hooded cloak on the floor and drop it on my person.Bookmark here

In the short time frame right after I have activated the strange device, I had threw off everything on my person, including my backpack and cloak and was squatting on the floor, desperately clawing at my ears.Bookmark here

Jyn: […Glass, is that you? I could understand you!]Bookmark here

I turned around to find my little companion but it was no longer here.Bookmark here

The cacophony remained but my mind had cleared up, though just a little. Making full use of this brief moment of clarity, I immediately dig up the pieces of cloth in my backpack and stuff them into my ears.Bookmark here

The sounds subsided and became muffled enough that it sounded like manageable background noise you would hear in a busy tavern.Bookmark here

Jyn: [That detour took too long, I had to hurry…]Bookmark here

Ignoring the shaking of my hands from the shock of the sudden twist of events, I once again put on all of my belongings and began to descend the mountain, heading towards the city of Tawouest.Bookmark here

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I did not see Glass on my way down yet I knew it would return the moment I needed it to. I had tamed it for a long time after all.Bookmark here

The way down was not the most tiring, even with the presence of the heavy load I was carrying. I had taken on treks that were worse. So much so that I had the leeway to analyze the strange turn of events that occurred just now.Bookmark here

Jyn: [Was it a psychological attack?]Bookmark here

Glancing back at the bandaged-up figure I was carrying, I could not help but think to myself.Bookmark here

I fished out the metallic device from my clothes pocket and inspected it once again, paying even more attention yet nothing had change visibly on the device. Though with the cacophony in the background, it became more difficult to enjoy the rhythmic sounds coming out of the device.Bookmark here

One thing was for sure, the device had granted me an interesting ability. Judging from my interaction with Glass, it would appear that I can now understand it, or perhaps even other species and can engage in conversation. That is definitely advantageous for my mission.Bookmark here

Before long, I had reached the entrance to the city of Tawouest, specifically the Sagar Gate. Strangely enough, I heard the place before I could see it since the closer I get to the city, the louder the cacophony gets.Bookmark here

I joined the short queue that was gathering in front of the entrance and waited for the sole guard in front of the gate to reach me.Bookmark here

Guard: [State your name and purpose.]Bookmark here

Jyn: [Jyn. Traveller]Bookmark here

Guard: [I was just joking! Here in Sagar Biquadant, we knew everyone and there is no need to be so formal, though it is true that your face is rather new…]Bookmark here

The guard took a long look at me from top to bottom.Bookmark here

Guard: [Could I ask you to take off your hood? Can’t see your face clearly with it on and all…]Bookmark here

I took off my hood, though with just the slightest of hesitation.Bookmark here

Guard: [Ah, that really is a new face. Hmm… Normally, we would have to register you and all, but you seem like a nice lady…I will let you pass!]Bookmark here

Jyn: [Thank you very much.]Bookmark here

I began to move through the enormous gate that is the Sagar Gate. Bookmark here

Guard: [WAIT!]Bookmark here

I halted on the spot and slowly turn my head to him.Bookmark here

Jyn: [Yes…? How may I be of assistance to you, kind sir?]Bookmark here

Guard: [Nothing much, I notice that your ears and the area around your ears are bleeding slightly. And the friend that you are carrying, she, or is it a he, is no mannequin, is it not? Quite the injury sustained too…]Bookmark here

Nodding my head slowly, I acknowledged him.Bookmark here

Jyn: [Indeed. We were attacked by Inhumans during our journey. My brother here protected me and now it is my duty to bring him into Tawouest and heal him up.]Bookmark here

Hearing that, tears welled up in the guard’s eyes.Bookmark here

Guard: [What noble sacrifice! What familial bond! The Church! You must bring him to the Church of Lux at once. The priests there would be more than willing to heal both of you up, no compensations asked. It is the tall white building, you will know exactly what I am talking about once you are in!]Bookmark here

Jyn: [Much appreciated, kind sir.]Bookmark here

Guard: [Don’t sweat it! If you need anything, just approach me or any of us when you see us on the street!]Bookmark here

Once again I began to make my move… but stopped short, again.Bookmark here

Jyn: […There is another thing I would like to ask, if it is alright with you.]Bookmark here

Guard: [Go ahead, I will be stationed here for quite some time. In fact, I have all the time in the world since nothing exciting ever happens here at the Sagar Biquadrant.]Bookmark here

Jyn: […Right. Would you point me in the direction of the barber?]Bookmark here

Pausing only for a single moment, the guard immediately knew the answer.Bookmark here

Guard: […The barber… Ah, the Granharts, right? Follow the main street down, they are right in the middle of the Sagar Biquadrant. Now go! Go get yourselves healed up, don’t let a random guard like me delay you any further!]Bookmark here

With that, I finally entered the city of Tawouest, specifically the Sagar Biquadrant.Bookmark here

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The guard was correct, in that the Church of Lux could not be missed. With its pristine walls free of any stains standing tall and proud above most of the buildings in the Sagar Biquadrant, it could almost be regarded as one of the symbols of the cityBookmark here

Yet, that is not where I am at right now. Instead, I stood in front of a two-storey building that is not any different from the others in the biquadrant.Bookmark here

From the display window, I could see rows of mannequin heads arranged neatly, each displaying a hairstyle that is different and full of style.Bookmark here

Jyn: [No doubt about it, this is the barber.]Bookmark here

Taking a deep breath, I turned the doorknob and opened the door to the barber.Bookmark here

????: [Welcome, hun! Here for a haircut? Just put your stuff down somewhere at the entrance and come to the chair here.]Bookmark here

In front of the barber was a middle-aged lady with golden hair. Though she may be older than most in the Sagar Biquadrant, she did not seem to lose any of her charms. On the apron she was wearing hanged scissors of different sizes.Bookmark here

Barely squeezing through the small door with my backpack and company, I put down my belongings and made my way over to her.Bookmark here

????: [Your hair is lovely, hun. Smooth and silky that even I would envy. How would you like to look in this lovely lux?]Bookmark here

Glancing down at my hair that is reaching my shoulder due to months of leaving it unkempt, I requested:Bookmark here

Jyn: [If possible, would you kindly cut it a little short? Around neck length would…]Bookmark here

????: [ABSOLUTELY NOT, hun. Your hair is gorgeous and cutting it short would ruin it. Here, how about I…]Bookmark here

She began making quick work of my hair, trimming just so slightly at the excesses that seemed to be growing out of place. When she was done, the me that was reflecting from the mirror barely resembled the me I knew. I could even say that I looked…Bookmark here

????: [Mrs Granhart, I believe that is not what the customer desired.]Bookmark here

A figure dressed in a maid outfit spoke elegantly from behind. Through the mirror, I could see her long pointed ears poking out of her silver hair, showing that she is an Elf.Bookmark here

Mrs Granhart: [Ah, Anna dear, you are here! What do you mean by that? Our customer looked even more beautiful with this haircut. Wouldn’t you agree, hun?]Bookmark here

Looking at me with eyes filled with excitement, she asked eagerly. It was hard. Really hard, but I had to say it.Bookmark here

Jyn: [My apologies, ma`am. Cutting it short would be just fine. I really do not wish to stand out… ]Bookmark here

Seeing her face turned from one beaming with excitement to one that is completely dejected was gut-wrenching. It felt like I had just robbed her of an opportunity to express her craft.Bookmark here

Mrs Granhart: [Really? Is that what you really want, hun?]Bookmark here

She looked at me with sad puppy dog eyes that made it really hard to reject her, but…Bookmark here

Jyn: […I’m sorry ma`am, but yes, that would be what I hoped for. Thank you, ma`am!]Bookmark here

Sighing, she began to cut short my hair, undoing all of her precious work. Bookmark here

Mrs Granhart: [How unfortunate. Now the injuries around your ears would be all the more visible. Would you be alright, hun?]Bookmark here

Just before she completed, she commented on the injuries around my ears, the second person to do so this lux. Bookmark here

Why does everybody seem to notice it? Is it that obvious?Bookmark here

Mrs Granhart: [Here, all done, hun! Not my proudest but it is my best to keep you beautiful the way you would have wanted it.]Bookmark here

She sat down on the barber chair beside me and turned it towards me.Bookmark here

Mrs Granhart: [So? What is your next plan, hun? I would assume it would be going to the church to get yourself and your friend all wrapped up over there healed up?]Bookmark here

She was almost spot on, but as a traveller, there is something else I must settle first.Bookmark here

Jyn: [Yes, ma`am. Thank you for your concern. But before that, I would like to settle our lodgings first before Umbra comes. I believe there are a few taverns in the Sagar Biquadrant that would be suitable.]Bookmark here

Anna: [The Phantom Cat would be most advised. It is the least costly and had the best food in the Sagar Biquadrant.]Bookmark here

Jyn: [Thank you for your suggestion, Ms Anna, perhaps I will…]Bookmark here

Before I could finish my sentence, Mrs Granhart interjected.Bookmark here

Mrs Granhart: [No, hun, that would take up too much time, you might miss the church just before they close their services. Plus, it is your first time around here and you are unfamiliar with the place. It would be difficult for you to navigate around.]Bookmark here

Jyn: [But I did not…]Bookmark here

Mrs Granhart: [Your backpack tells all, hun. Not a lot of people in the Sagar Biquadrant would carry so many things. Also, everyone in the Sagar Biquadrant basically knew each and every one. New faces like you are oddities we could pick up on rather easily.] Bookmark here

She tilted her head up and crossed her arms, feeling proud of her familiarity and knowledge of the place she lived in.Bookmark here

Jyn: [That is quite true, ma`am. Thank you for your concern. What would you suggest?]Bookmark here

Mrs Granhart: [No problem, hun. Mrs Granhart got you covered. You see the room above?]Bookmark here

She pointed to the second storey and diverted our attention there.Bookmark here

Mrs Granhart: [My son is barely home but his room had been kept in its best conditions for his return from the Matha Biquadrant. Sometimes I even feel sorry for Anna dear who had to go through the trouble of cleaning it every lux. Frankly, it would be of more use to you now than my son.]Bookmark here

Jyn: [Ma`am, that is very kind of you but I…]Bookmark here

Mrs Granhart: [No “buts”, hun. May I have your name?]Bookmark here

Leaving no room for rejection, she continued.Bookmark here

Jyn: [Jyn, my name is Jyn, just Jyn would do. Thank you very…]Bookmark here

Mrs Granhart: [Well, Jyn hun, I welcome you to the Granharts! Anna dear, could you help her up to Elyza’s room?]Bookmark here

Anna: [Most obliged, Mrs Granhart.]Bookmark here

Mrs Granhart would not even give me the time to thank her before setting up everything that was needed for me to move into her son’s room.Bookmark here

By the time everything had settled, Umbra had arrived and the church was no longer in service. I had done what little I can to clean up my injuries and the wounds of the injured figure in the meantime.Bookmark here

Though just by a little, I think I am beginning to get used to the cacophony.Bookmark here

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