Lotian, City of Light
Dix, Franklin and Orim walk in between the trees of the ghost woods, the image of the city Mithra took them, when they first arrived, clear in their minds, Franklin carrying a heavy brown cack that makes a metallic clack with each step he takes. And soon they reach it, going directly for the sand colored building. They make their way through the same hallways Mithra took them through, reaching the room where the guards are still there.
“Is that enough to prove our innocence?” Franklin says, sarcastic.
“How did you get here?”
“We took the back door out,” Orim said, amusing himself by the perplexed expression on the guards faces, “I think we don’t have much more to discuss here, do we?”
The guards shake their heads.
“What now?” Franklin leaves the question hanging in the air to wait for a reply.
The three sit together on a bench at the center square of the small town.
“Raziah said that our coins still have value here, i had a few coming here, but the guards took them away during the time we were locked up.” Orim replies.
“We can go back to Mithra’s place,” Dix proposes.
“No!” Both reject the idea immediately.
“Maybe she wanted to help us.” Dix argues.
“She put you to sleep in the stables.” Franklin counters her.
“I’ve already said that i don’t mind.”
“No!” Franklin and Orim reply in unison.
The three fall into silence, thinking deeply about their next step.
“We could sell some of those.” Orim says, pointing to the heavy sack resting by Franklin’s feet.
“You think it will fetch a high price here?” Franklin asks.
“What’s so special about those things?” Dix asks, confused, “they just look like some shiny metal pieces.”
“Those are rainbow-fish scales, a legendary metal.” Franklin explains.
“If we sell this entire sack, we could buy ourselves an entire city with the money, with some to spare even.” Orim continues the explanation.
“Then why not sell all of it?” Dix proposes.
“Because what you can do with them is even more amazing than money.” A spark of excitement flashes deep in Orim’s eyes, "It is also really hard to find someone that can buy so many of those."
“Sure,” Dix dismisses the remark with a wave of her hand.
“That settles it, we will sell one or two scales to make money to cover our expenses for a while. Now we need to find someone who would be willing to buy from us.” Franklin says.
“Alright, give me one scale and i’ll go look around for a buyer, you two go find us some place to stay.” Orim says, the three nod to each other and get up to accomplish their tasks, “We meet here in about a thousand taks.”
Franklin removes from the sack a thin metal piece that counter to what the name suggests looks more like a bird's feather than a fish scale, only the rainbow part being true to the name.
Franklin and Dix walk together on the streets, if they could be called such, the whole town was more like a large patch of land without any trees with houses and shops spread over the area with no particular pattern to it. Franklin gives the few people walking by angry stares as they change their path to avoid Dix once they see her and begin talking behind her back.
“You don’t need to do that,” She says, drawing his attention, “you might even find yourself in trouble for doing that.”
“Don’t worry about it, i can deal with it if it comes down to it.” He replies.
They walk in silence, for a while, having difficulties getting any directions from the strangers, since they all ran away once they saw Dix approaching.
“You!!” Franklin points to a man dressed like the guards that oversaw the trial, who instead turns around, pretending to be clueless.
“You dressed in a guard uniform looking away from us, can you give us any directions?” Franklin says, making it clear to whom he is talking to.
The guard turns around hesitantly and looking anxious once he sees Dix coming his way, she stops halfway to the man.
“What happened?” Franklin turns around and asks her.
“Maybe you should talk to him alone, i’ll go back to the bench.”
Franklin grabs her by the hand, dragging her along as he approaches the guard.
“How...” the guard takes a quick glance at Dix, looking to her own feet, “how may i help you?” He forces a smile upon his face.
“We’re searching for an inn where we can stay for a few days, do you happen to know any nearby ones?” Franklin asks the guard, putting a polite smile on his face.
“The only inn in this town is the Radiant Elk, though they don’t have stables.”
“How do I find this inn?” The smile fades from Franklin’s face.
They follow the guard’s directions until they arrive at a building a little larger than the average in town, a sign with the sun surrounded by an elk’s antlers on both sides indicates to them that they arrived at the right place.
Franklin swings the door open and strides confidently across the main hall, all the attention turns towards him, Dix enters timidly right after.
“Out!” The man behind the counter yells with rage, silencing all the small conversations, then picks up the ink bottle by his side and throws it at Dix.
She flinches, putting her arms in front of her face for protection, Franklin intercepts the improvised projectile, this was way faster and harder than what i was expecting, he thinks when receiving the impact on his hand. He waits for Dix to catch up to him and approaches the counter, putting the ink bottle back in it.
“Three rooms,” He says, “...please.”
“Group of four?” The man asks.
“Group of three, didn’t you hear what i just said?” Franklin corrects the man.
“Best i can give you are two rooms, our stables haven’t been built yet, so the thing will have to sleep somewhere else.” The man points towards Dix, making it clear about who he is talking about.
“We won’t cause any trouble, just give us our rooms, one is enough.”
“And what about the bed sheets i’ll have to throw away? What about the plates and spoons?”
“I’ll buy them from you!” Franklin said without hesitation.
The innkeeper seemed a little taken aback by Franklin assertiveness.
“No, get out.”
“Because i said so. Out.” The man pointed at the door to give further strength to his order.
“One day, and then we are out of here, you’ll never hear from us ever again.”
“OUT!!!” The innkeeper screams from the top of his lungs, a commotion began to form among the surrounding onlookers, who began to talk about a stranger defending a grey one.
“Franklin,” Dix pulls the sleeve of his coat, “let’s get out of here.”
“Listen to your thing boy, and get lost.”
Franklin opens his mouth ready to reply, then he sees Dix figure at the corner of his eye, trying her best to hide behind him, trying to disappear in plain sight. Then he notices the animosity coming from the people around them.
“Fine, let’s get out of here, Dix.” He says, leading her to the door while watching her back.
Sitting on a bench on the outside a dozen meters or só from the inn.
“Maybe we can go to another town?” Dix proposes.
“I doubt we will have a different reaction from the folks there.” Franklin says, while focusing on the inn in front of them.
“I’m sorry.” Dix says in a melancholic tone.
“What happened there wasn’t your fault.” He replies reassuringly.
“Not about that,” she corrects him, “i abandoned you...”
Franklin turns around to look at her, she averts her eyes quickly, preventing them from crossing them.
“You fought on my behalf, more than once, and saved me twice already.” Dix continues, “yet all i did for you was run away and give up.”
“Are you talking about what happened in Orim’s shop?”
“I’m talking about all the times i ran away,” she snaps, “i ran away when we were at Orim’s shop, i ran away when we met Mithra for the first time i also gave up my trial, even though i knew succeeding would help you.”
“It all ended up working in the end, and you had your reasons.” Franklin says in a conciliatory tone.
“I abandoned you, multiple times, how can you not get mad at me?”
“You tried your best in the trial didn’t you?”
“How can you possibly know that?” She raises the tone of her voice, yet refuses to meet his eyes.
“Because you brought me to the hideout, even though i was a total stranger to you.” Franklin explains.
“I don’t even know why i did that.”
“Yet you did it, at Orim’s shop i was fighting to protect you, it wouldn’t be reasonable for me to want you to join the fight as well. And then there wa--”
“I was going to choose you.” Dix interjects, “When Raziah told me to decide which one of you should die, i was going to choose you.”
“But you didn’t make the choice.” Franklin says.
“In the end i couldn’t bring myself to say it out loud, but i was going to.” Small tears begin to form at the corner of her eyes, “it seemed like such an impossible choice.”
Franklin puts his palm in front of Dix’s face, interrupting her, “You don’t need to justify it to me, just, be sure to be there the next time i need you.” She already has enough to deal with, i can’t put even more burden on her shoulders.
A bottle comes flying from the inside of the Radiant Elk, landing on the ground between Franklin and Dix and exploding in hundreds of small glass shards. Dix screams of fright, hiding her face, Franklin raises his arms to protect his eyes, but remains unfazed, looking towards the inn, he can see the men inside making rude gestures towards them.
“GET OUT OF HERE THING!!” One of them yells.
Dix's expression goes from bad to worse and she gets up, preparing to leave.
“Where are you going?” Franklin asks Dix.
“I don’t know, i just want to leave before the situation gets out of hand.” She replies.
A second bottle flies through the air, hitting Franklin in the head, shattering on impact and wetting his clothes, he turns around, animosity painted all over his face.
I had enough, “Dix, wait here!”
“Franklin, please, don’t cause any trouble. We can find some other way.” She begs him.
“I’ll just find us some place to sleep.” He says, calm anger in his voice, then he walks toward the Radiant Elk.
Orim couldn’t find neither Franklin, nor Dix at the center square, instead, he decided to look around for inns they could be visiting. Did not take long for him to find out that the Radiant Elk was the only one in the small town, a bag of coins in his hand, clacking in a satisfactory manner.
Facing the inn, he sees two figures sitting in a bench, one is small and has grey hair, marking her as Dix, the other one is large, wearing dark clothes and has black hair, there they are, Orim thinks, stepping up the pace as he gets closer.
Once he is upon them, he notices Franklin's sitting with his arms crossed staring daggers at the inn, his nose is bleeding a trail that goes down past his lips and chin for small drops to fall in his shirt, one of his eyes is swollen and he has bruises all over his face, and something that looks like a bite mark on his left cheek. His right sleeve had been torn off, exposing bruised forearms and bloody knuckles, on further inspection, Orim notices a speck of white stuck to one of Franklin’s fingers, is that a tooth? He thinks.
Once he paid more attention to the building opposite to them, he saw that the door was broken in and someone was lying on the ground unconscious next to a broken window.
“What happened here?” Orim asks, not sure if he wants to know the answer.
“I got us a place to stay...” Franklin refused to elaborate further, instead, he got up and walked in the direction of the inn.
The three enter the Radiant Elk together with Franklin leading the way in, broken tables and chairs litter the main hall, on the very few that are still usable, sit people with black eyes, parted lips and bruised faces, drinking with apprehensive looks towards the trio. Orim almost stumbled on a scar made of the cracked wood on the floor that almost splitted the main hall in two.
The innkeeper eyes Franklin with animosity once they reach the counter, then his eyes shift rapidly between all the members of the trio. Orim notices the ink bottle embedded on the wood, then the broken nose of the innkeeper and his left arm wrapped around in an improvised splint.
“Are our rooms prepared?” Franklin said in a loud and powerful voice that carried throughout the room, making itself be heard by all that were present.
“Yes, master Franklin.” The innkeeper said, Orim then noticed that the man was also lacking some teeth.
“Yes, the rooms you requested are ready, sir.” The innkeeper said.
“How many?” Franklin almost screamed the question, all the others frowned.
“Three... sir.” The innkeeper said in a hesitant tone, looking around to those that were watching the exchange. They paid for the rooms with the money Orim brought, took the keys from the man and went upstairs to their rooms
After Franklin inspected Dix’s room meticulously, they all went to Orim’s to plan their next move. The three were identical rooms with a single bed in each of them, a small writing table with a chair and a cabinet were the only other things in them.
“What will be our next move?” Franklin says, sitting on the table, while Orim was sitting on the chair and Dix on the bed.
“We need to know what’s happening outside, and i need some tools so that i can start to work on the rainbow scales.” Orim says.
“Dix?” Franklin looks towards her.
She moves her eyes from the door to their general direction.
“I could go back to Lotian and bring you a disguise,” she says, “me and Orim are easy to blend in, the problem is you.”
“Sounds like a good idea,” Orim reaffirms her idea, “i will go with you, i need to buy a new set of tools.”
“Why not go back to your shop?” Franklin proposes.
“My sentries warned me that the shop was looted the day after we fled here.”
Franklin nods in understanding.
“Alright then, you two go back to Lotian, you will bring me a disguise and you will buy a new set of tools,” Franklin says, pointing to Dix and Orim as he talks, “something we are forgetting?”
“I need another scale to sell.”
“Alright, i’m gonna go back to Mithra’s place, i forgot my sword there.”
They decided on the final detail and then went their separate ways.
“Are you alright?” Orim asks, once they were alone.
“Yes.” Lied Dix.
Franklin is received by Mithra in the living room of her home.
“How should i start this...” She says to him.
“Listen, i’m only here for my sword, not an apology or anything like that.”
“Alright.” Mithra nods.
Not long after, a servant brings Franklin’s sword wrapped around a red cloth, and hands it to him, “thanks.” He says to the servant, unpacking the weapon and strapping it once again to his back.
“I should get going, bye.” Franklin says, waving his hand and walking towards the door.
“Good luck out there.”
“Hey… can you tell me one last thing?” Franklin stops to ask.
Mithra remains silent, Franklin takes that as his queue.
“How did you do that thing with the light?”
“What thing?” Mithra asks, confused.
“You created a spear and a rope, light shaping doesn’t allow you to do that. At most you can shoot a beam of light, but that’s about it. How did you do it?”
Mithra still remains silent, Franklin turns around to look her in the eyes.
“Sorry,” she says, “i can’t teach you that.” Mithra waves her hand, dismissing him.
The three once again reunite in the Radiant Elk, Dix is applying dye on Franklin’s hair while Orim is unpacking multiple goods from a wood box he brought back with him. In his hand, Franklin fidgets with a small case with a pair of lenses that change the color of his eyes from brown to green, if i let my beard grow it will probably enhance the disguise, he thinks.
“Let me tell you,” Franklin says, “i was quite shocked to see you come back, i thought you would have been really far away at this moment.”
“I tried to convince Dix that we would be better off leaving you behind, but she wouldn’t listen.” Orim explains while inspecting the contents of the tools he bought, inspecting the quality of each one.
“Maybe she is starting to believe me when i say your folk shouldn’t be trusted.” Franklin nods to himself.
“What now?” Orim asks, repacking his new tools once again in their box, one by one, carefully.
“How’s the current state of the other side?”
“The new lord Dawnlight is going to make an official statement tomorrow night, other than that, the world is the same as it always has been. Minus one castle, of course.”
“The new? My brother?” Franklin says, more to himself than to the others, “how long until tomorrow? I can’t tell the time in this place.”
“I bought us a tak glass.” Orim retrieves one from his box of tools and puts it on the desk.
A small double ring frame made of metal, no more than fifteen centimeters tall sits atop the table, four metal legs support its glass main body shaped as two large almost spherical sections connected by a narrow vertical path. Eighty thousand grains of sand inside, falling one by one from the top section, marking the passage of taks. The glasses that weren’t made by steel mages normally would be much larger to account for the increased number of grains, since they couldn’t make them fall one by one and would be required to be turned manually. This une used the double ring to turn one hundred and eighty degrees and reset itself once it detected that the top portion was empty.
“Couldn’t you make one? Aren’t you supposed to be one of those smart steel mages?” Franklin mocks.
“Spare me of your insufferability,” Orims says in an exasperated tone, “i just didn’t want to waste precious time building one.”
Franklin shrugs at the honest explanation.
“So, tomorrow me and Dix can go to the center room to hear what my brother has to say.”
“Why take Dix with you?” Orim interjects.
“She has more experience, if someone recognizes me she will be more likely to notice.” Franklin explains.
“And to be honest,” Dix finally decides to add something to the conversation, “i rather be as far away from this place as possible.”
“Alright then, i’ll head to my room and start working on those scales.”
Orim awkwardly tries to carry the heavy sack of metal and the tool box at the same time.
“Too heavy for you?” Franklin says, without trying to hide the smile on his face, “i’ll carry it for you once Dix finishes.”
“You know what?” Orim looks at him, showing a smile of his own, “maybe you muscle brained wispshapers do have your uses after all. I’ll just need to think of you as someone that is here to carry heavy things and fight other brutes like you.”
What if this doesn’t work? What if there’s an entire battalion waiting for us when we get out on the other side? Franklin thinks as he and Dix cross the trees, What happens to Dix? Soon their shadows reappear both on them and on the ground below, and they get out in a small town near the center room.
Just as the name suggests, the center room is the one that sits at the very middle of Lotian, equidistant from South, North, East and West Whisper. Out of the four capitals, being the one with the most wild architecture, separated in four sections, commons, joy, stars, crown.
As the duo arrive, they enter commons, a gigantic city, spanning the entire floor area of the room, all manner of shops, houses and even factories and small forests. from where they stand, they can see the other three sections, joy, being built horizontally, circling around commons and sticking out of the outer walls like spear tips, this is the region where most of the tourist attractions and high entertainment sit. stars points down at them like icicles in a cave, buildings built vertically down with bridges connecting them. Multiple sets of lifts and stairs are used for the citizens to traverse between sections and in them, faster travel is possible between commons and stars via the spirit gates that connect them.
crown is the white pillar that goes from the floor up to half the height of the room and a black pillar that descends from the ceiling, the point where the two meet emits a radiant light that illuminates the entire room with sunlight or moonlight.
“They say that the light comes from the power of the gods” Franklin says to Dix as they walk the streets of commons.
Looking up, they can see tiny specks of light all around stars.
“Do you know where it will happen?” She asks him.
“Official statements happen all the way up there, let’s go to the spirit gate, it’ll be faster.”
“Don’t they cost money to use?” Franklin nods and she continues, “how much it’ll cost us?”
“If they haven’t changed it, a white divinity.”
“We can’t spend that much money, we still have plenty of time.”
Franklin nods and they begin to search for a lift nearby to take them up. Once they reach stars, Franklin guides Dix to where the statement will happen, the tiny speck of light they were seeing from the ground now surround them.
“It should be about to start.”
A small crowd formed around what looks like a wide circular pool with a silvery liquid inside, after a few hundred taks of waiting, the contents inside of the pool rise in the air and begin to shape itself in the image of a human. A man with young features, similar to Franklin’s own, wearing regal clothes with no colors that could be identified, over his left shoulder hung a short cape with a coat of arms displayed on it.
“Citizens of Lotian,” the mouth moved, the voice sounded like that of a giant, being carried to everyone in the crowd, yet somehow sounded boyish, “i’m sure everyone of you is aware of the tragedy that has befallen our beloved city in the last few days. Many were quick to point fingers and direct accusations toward the Dawnlight family.”
“Do you have any idea what he is going to say?” Dix asks.
Franklin simply shakes her head in denial.
“And,” the boy continues, “it pains me to admit it, but they seem to be half right about it.”
Franklin's eyes grow wide as his brother proceeds.
“During our investigation, we found that my father and my brother, Lord Baldo and Franklin Dawnlight respectively, planned together the destruction of Brownstone Keep. We are unsure what their reasons could have been and we’re positive that my brother is currently in possession of the missing gravity spirit. I would like to apologise to all of those that were hurt by the events, and lastly, say that the Dawnlight family vows to locate the missing gravity spirit as well as investigate the motivations for such a horrendous crime. That’s all, thank you all for your attention.”
“Franklin, are you alright?” Dix asks, she can see that his face went pale with sweat running down.
“I’m… fine.” Lied Franklin.
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