Guardians of Dawn: Volume 1
Sarah wasn’t in a good mood when she entered Strayhaven. The trip back home had exhausted her. She was planning to swan dive right into bed.
“Welcome, Guild Master,” Nero and Bianca greeted her at the door. She walked past the Mechadolls and into the common room.
There was a stranger talking to Emi on her couch.
“Oh! H-Hello!” Emi gasped. “Sarah!”
“Hey.” Sarah pointed at Cynthia. “Who’s this?”
Cynthia’s jaw hit the floor. She jumped up crossed the room in a blur, startling Emi.
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! You’re Sarah Dawn! The Sarah Dawn! Oh gosh, I’m such a big fan! You’re amazing!”
“Again, who is she?”
“I’m Second Lieutenant Cynthia Ross of Central Services!” Cynthia saluted.
Sarah’s face soured. Emi was surprised, it was the first time she’d seen her look upset.
“Central Services? What’s going on? Did someone do something?”
“What? No, wait, she’s not here because of that! She’s Matt’s girlfriend! She was visiting him the hospital! I invited her here because she didn’t have anywhere to stay!”
Sarah immediately took a turn from the better. A bright smile spread across her face. “Oh! Is that right?! You’re Matt’s girlfriend?”
“Yep! I never got the chance to thank you for commissioning him, by the way, he’s such a great guy, and I’m sure he’s a lot of help! …Well, I mean, I know he got injured, but trust me, he’s got talent! You definitely won’t regret making him-“
Sarah raised her hand to stop her. “Wow. You really like to talk. Don’t worry, Cynthia. Matt’s part of my family now.” She winked. “And I’m not turning my back on family. He’s a Guardian for life.”
Cynthia’s eyes began to water. She flung herself into Sarah’s arms and hugged her.
“Oh! You’re the best! Finally someone who appreciates him!”
“Wheeeew, she’s a hugger, huh?” Sarah laughed.
Cynthia pulled back and resumed fawning over Sarah.
“Miss Guild Master, or… Guild Master Dawn, or…”
This girl needed a hand brake. “Sarah. Just Sarah.”
“Uweh?! B-But… c-calling the Sarah Dawn by her name…!” Cynthia was at a loss for words.
“I’d prefer it. Trust me. I’m nothing special.”
“Nothing spe-?! Nothing special?! You’re Sarah! Dawn!”
“Yep, that’s my name. You’ve said it quite a bit.”
“What do you mean by nothing special?! You’re amazing!”
Emi blinked. She knew that the Guardians were prestigious, but the reverence in Cynthia’s voice was surprising. “Sarah… is she really that great?”
“Gee. Thanks Emi. That means a lot.”
Emi went pale. “Nonononono! I-I didn’t mean it like-! I mean, that came out wrong, I’m so sorry! I-I was just… sorry!”
“It’s okay, Emi, I’m kidding,” Sarah laughed, walking over and patting her on the head. “Like I said, I’m nothing special. Just a girl trying to protect people, same as you.”
Cynthia was blown away by Sarah’s humility. “Emi, she’s just being modest. Sarah Dawn is a celebrity! And the Guardians… How do you not know about her? Did you grow up on a mountain or something?”
Emi felt a stab in the gut. Right on the money.
“So you joined the Guardians even though you didn’t know anything about them?!” Cynthia couldn’t believe it.
Emi didn’t know what to say. She shrugged.
“I was just… studying to be a mage. Then Sarah came and recruited me, and I kinda… yeah. I decided to join.”
“Wow. That’s amazing! Well, let me tell you! Sarah Dawn is amazing! A celebrity! She’s the greatest ever!” Cynthia looked towards Sarah with admiration.
“Again, it’s not a big deal,” Sarah said, trying to downplay Cynthia’s admiration. “I just…”
“It was right after the Cataclysm!” Cynthia interrupted her. “When Margilia and the area around it collapsed, when people were panicking, Sarah Dawn appeared and saved everyone!”
“Whoa… no way, really?!” Emi was seeing Sarah in a new light.
“There was carnage, and rubble strewn everywhere. And there were so many people… see, the Cataclysm had struck, and there was so much damage. People were trying to set up rescues to try and find survivors, but when they’re covering that much area… well, let’s just say it was difficult.”
Emi nodded. She hadn’t been to the site of the Cataclysm before, but she could imagine the damage that had been dealt.
“Sarah Dawn’s Star Gate made the rescue operations possible. She came out of nowhere and made a name for herself, opening portals for people to go through at ground zero. If it wasn’t for her, Central Services might still be making repairs and clearing out debris even now.” Cynthia turned to Sarah. “She’s a hero.”
Sarah’s face was bright red. What Cynthia was saying was true, but she didn’t like drawing attention to it. “Listen, it’s not that big of a deal, guys, really! I just did what I had to do. I had the ability to help, and so I did. That’s what anyone would do.”
“She used that fame to go on and establish the Guardians, making a guild on the idea of helping people. Your Guild Master is an inspiration!”
Emi was in awe. She’d never heard any of this. She’d always thought of Sarah as an admirable woman, and knew that the Guardians were famous, but… wow, this was something else.
“It’s just me. I just did what I ought to,” Sarah laughed. She’d come back hoping to rest, and didn’t expect to arrive with a hero’s welcome.
“Um… to be honest, when Emi invited me and I learned you weren’t here, I was kinda disappointed,” Cynthia admitted. “The other Guardians are great and all, but you… you’re my hero. And besides, I… can I ask a favor?”
“Hmm? An autograph? I guess I could-“
“No, not that. …Okay, well, yes, that too, but… I was wondering…” Cynthia looked shyly up at Sarah. “Can I… can I travel through your Star Gate? Just one time, please!”
Sarah’s Naturia was pretty much drained for the night. “Look, Cynthia, my Naturia isn’t for fun. I have to be very-“
“Sarah? You’re back already?”
Sarah whirled around to see Lori enter with a perplexed expression.
“Oh! Lori! Yeah, change of plans. See, there was this whole thing, and I decided it would be better if I came back early, so…”
Lori didn’t buy it for a second. “You told me you were spending the night in order to sleep in and skip work, didn’t you?”
“…Cynthia! Now that I think about it, this is a great time to show you around the place!” Sarah said, summoning a portal with a snap of her fingers.
“Sarah, wait, you can’t-“
“Sorry Lori can’t talk right now, need to entertain the guest!” Sarah called, quickly ushering Cynthia and Emi into the portal.
Lori watched the air close shut behind her and exhaled. She’d pay for this.
Sarah’s portal couldn’t go far, so she dumped them out on the second floor. Right on top of Nick.
“You know, I’m not one to complain about three women getting on top of me, but this is one of those rare exceptions,” he grumbled.
“Sorry Nick! Just got a little lost showing our guest around!”
“No problem. Just watch where you open those,” he laughed, picking himself up off the ground. “Running from Lori, I’m guessing?”
“He came in just as I got back!” Sarah groaned. “It’s like he’s psychic or something!”
Emi helped Cynthia to her feet. The girl giddy with laughter.
“That… that was amazing! I love it! I move fast but that… wow!”
Sarah really liked having Cynthia around. She was so amazed by every little thing.
“I’m surprised you’re back this early from the conference. Did something happen in New Margilia?”
Cynthia perked up. “Conference? At the capital?”
Sarah sighed, slumping against the wall. “Some shit happened. There was another Emergent attack in a populated city. But the king and all those bureaucrats don’t want to admit it.”
A chill went through Cynthia. Images of the Emergent that had attacked her flashed before her eyes. Emi was the only one to pick up on it.
“Hmm?” Cynthia glanced at her, and Emi immediately shut up. She didn’t have it in her to press the issue.
“N-No, just… never mind.”
Nick sighed. “Well, we should have expected that the king wouldn’t want to listen. It’s like I’ve been saying all along. Folks are getting too complacent when it comes to dealing with Emergents. Even us.”
“The problem is, no one wants to hear that the Emergents are getting more dangerous. They’d love to dismiss what happened as just a few fluke incidents, not anything to take seriously.”
“Um… do you mean when that Emergent attacked us in the city?” Emi asked. “It… It didn’t happen again, did it?”
“Damn right it did. It’s happened three times now.”
“Three times? And the king still won’t do anything about it?” Nick groaned.
Sarah actually had some good news in that area. “Actually, no, he said he’d give it serious consideration. And not the ‘yes yes go away’ kind of ‘serious consideration’, either. He looked really shaken by what happened.”
“Well that’s… good, I guess? Still, it would be nice to know just what he planned to do. But it’s good that you managed to convince him. I guess you aren’t one of the most famous Guild Masters for nothing!” Nick tried to bring a bit of levity in, but it didn’t work. Sarah glanced away.
“It’s mainly thanks to that girl from House Volstgalph. She agreed with me and actually showed the king footage of the attack on Ruvaud. If her guild hadn’t taken care of things, then I don’t think anything I said would have convinced him,” she clarified.
“Oh? A girl from House Volstgalph?”
“Yeah. Her names was… Lu-something? Luna… Lulu! That was it. Lulu.”
Emi was worried that Nick was going to throw up.
“What? You know her?”
Nick couldn’t meet her eyes. He was as red as a child caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
“We’ve… had some dealings.”
Sarah felt a little grossed out herself. She decided to drop the issue.