1.03 Maybe

“You guys look rough, did you sleep at all last night, Liv?” Esmerelda’s voice carried down the halls of the airy, tropical place.


Agnes hadn’t expected such a beautiful place to wake up in. At first she wondered if she was still in Sunlit Tides, but she wasn’t. It was too different. There were no signs in another language, nor sandy beaches right out her window.


“I couldn’t.” Agnes could barely hear Olivia’s voice responding, nor could she hear anything but the deep tones of her husband’s follow up remark.


“You’re still stuck on that vial? How come?” Esmerelda had such a stunning voice, it was strange and hard to place. Agnes wondered if it was the accent, but it seemed so unlikely. The accent wasn’t anything unusual - maybe a bit of city slipped in. It was still musical. It made her easy to hear from wherever Agnes stood.


“It’s still not strong enough. It’s going to need another round.” Olivia’s voice got clearer as Agnes got her bravery up to approach the front atrium.
Eavesdropping. Agnes reminded herself. Not something she should be doing to thank these people for saving her life. Had all of that really happened? Or was this just some ridiculously long, twisted dream? She touched her necklace and frowned to herself. No, it certainly wasn’t that anymore.


“I dunno, Liv. It seems fine to me? So what if it’s a little unstable? Most magic strains are anyways…” Esmerelda reclined back onto the couch as she brushed some hair from her face.
Olivia shook her head in response. “It could be more stable though. It’s good right now, but good isn’t good enough anymore - not when we’re up against gods.”


“She’s right.” Kefka murmured, making Agnes jump as he suddenly appeared on the couch, reclining back. She hadn’t even seen him there. How can someone appear out of thin air like that? “With the things we angle to do here we need something that can withstand some of the strongest magic. We have the strength there… but it needs to be more stable to be harnessed.”


“I mean, I’m not trying to be a debbie-downer here but Olivia wasn’t exactly hunky-dory after the last obtusely-long round of stabilization… and this would require even more than that. I have no doubt you can do it, babe, but I just don’t want you to have to go through that again!”


“I’d be lying if I said I wanted to, but I don’t think I have much of a choice in this if we’re to start this line.” Olivia turned then, her eyes landing immediately on Agnes in the doorway, and she smiled. “Please feel free to come in, Agnes, I promise you’re not intruding.”
Agnes’s eyes widened at being caught and she slowly eased herself into the room.


“Were you able to sleep at all last night?” Olivia moved to sit on the couch beside Kefka, who appeared in a completely different position than he had been previously. Were her eyes deceiving her? No, he was appearing and disappearing out of thin air… somehow.
Magic.
Figures.


“At least a little, surprisingly.” Agnes scratched her forehead before giving a loose shrug. She was tempted to ask what their conversation was about prior to her entering, but realized that might seem far too nosy.
“I’m glad. You had a very long day yesterday.” Olivia nodded, sneaking a glimpse at her husband who nodded back at her. “Come, have a seat! Are you hungry?”


Agnes moved to sit near Esmerelda and shook her head. “Maybe a bit… but my stomach is still trying to turn itself back right after being yanked inside-out yesterday.”


Esmerelda snorted, “well that’s one way to word it. I’m starved. Hero-work is hungry business!”
“I’ll go make something.” Kefka pulled himself standing, yet Olivia tugged a bit on his hand and they shared a look. He kissed her head and vanished.


Olivia laughed lightly towards Agnes, “I imagine that has to be startling. Kefka has Vampiric blood, it allows him to move faster than most can see.”
“And she’s got Spirit blood, and I’ve got Siren blood, and we’re all just a happy bunch of misfits 'round here.” Esmerelda clapped with a laugh.


Spirits? Sirens? What? The necklace Agnes wore around her neck seemed to buzz and she reached for it subconsciously.
The second her fingers brushed the smooth surface, everything appeared to freeze.


It was just a moment - a flash of something different. Olivia was so bright.
Kefka was so dark.
Esmerelda looked different too.


And just as she could breathe, color returned to the world and everything picked up pace again.
“There’s no need to overwhelm her with information, Ezzie.”


“Crepes or pancakes?” He wasn’t the pitch-black void with fangs any longer, yet Agnes still stared.
“Whatever Liv’s having, you know I’m not picky.” Esmerelda looked to Agnes then.
Agnes shrugged, nervous to be a decider, “I like either.”
Kefka gave a short nod, “crepes it is.”


Olivia’s voice spoke slower and she turned to eye Agnes skeptically. No, not Agnes herself, but the necklace she wore. “I dislike asking forward questions, usually, but I’m afraid our time is very short, Agnes. Has the artifact spoken to you at all?”


“Sp-Spoken?” She frowned. She glanced down, though she couldn’t really see the necklace from where it hung on her neck. Would dreams count as being ‘spoken’ to?
“It’s not time yet.”



“It’s likely the artifact that you’re wearing will try to make contact with you - to make a deal. Has that happened?” Olivia’s eyes were inquisitive, yet gentle.
“I… I had a dream last night, but… it didn’t talk to me, no… it didn’t say anything at all.” Agnes frowned. “It was just memories that it altered.”


Olivia nodded, her eyes seemed far away, distant in thought. After a moment she appeared to return, as her gaze came to life and looked back to Agnes. “What kind of alterations?”
Agnes shook her head, unsure of how to answer, “...um… small things? Age changes… tweaks in the memories.”
“Yeah, I don’t think so-” Olivia murmured to herself before shaking her head and smiling. “How are you feeling, Agnes?”


Agnes pondered the question for a moment. Social norms dictated she should answer with, ‘I’m fine, thank you,’ while most of her hadn’t yet figured out what fantasy novel she stepped into. She sighed, shaking her head, “well, I’m happy to still be alive, which is more than Er-” She stopped herself and corrected, “-Sam wanted for me. I’m confused and still wrapping my head around all… this.” She gestured to the room, “but overall I feel angry, mostly. Angry at how everything went down. Angry at life. Angry at Sam. Just… angry.”



“That’s the spirit!” Esmerelda gave her a friendly clap on the shoulder with a grin.
The phone that sat on a cushion beside Esmerelda began to go off and she jumped. She snatched it up quickly and made her way out of the room to take it.



Olivia stood up as well, slower, after Esmerelda left the room. “Agnes, why don’t we go for a walk?”
Agnes nodded. She had quite a few questions she wanted to ask, and now that it was just the two of them she felt more comfortable to do so. “What happens next, Olivia?”


“Well, that depends on a few things.” Olivia smiled at her in an airy way, and it was comforting. She had a confident demeanor that made her seem wiser than everyone else there. Confident, yet not intimidating or aggressive. “The first will be the fate of the artifact you’re wearing. Kefka and I were doing our research last night on the outcomes we could be looking at. If we give the artifact to one of the Gods like the God of Order, then you could be relocated somewhere safe to live your life normally within a week or so.”


Olivia stopped in a small library off the main hall. The sound of cooking drifted down the spiral staircase in the corner and filled the room with the sweet scent of batter. “If we give the artifact to Adessa, you could return to your home in Sunset Valley after a month and continue your life as there’s about… ah…” She pursed her lips and contemplated what she wanted to say. “Well an 85% chance that Adessa will forget you exist, and if she doesn’t we have ways of making sure she’ll leave you be.”
“There’s always a safe bet that we could give it to the God of Magic in exchange for protection, well, even more than that. Kefka and I want to avoid that one if we can, but we’ve acknowledged its an option.”


Agnes nodded along but it was all foreign to her.
Ok, not entirely foreign, but she hadn’t exactly been sure the gods were anything more than a legend prior to this whiplash of an experience. Yeah, sure, there were groups and gatherings and people whispered about them a lot. There was even history lessons on them, but no one really took them seriously - not in Sunset Valley.


She did remember the exchange student who came to study during high school. Where had she been from? Some… small town in the southern hills of China - literally across the world, and her eyes nearly bugged out of her head when people told her they didn’t believe in gods.
Everyone just assumed she was extremely religious and let her be.
Now Agnes was wondering who was right these days.
“Is everything ok?” Olivia’s brow furrowed, already sensing that Agnes’s head was somewhere completely different. “Oh… right…” She said, as if answering her own question. “You’re from Sunset Valley, aren’t you? They’re very… insulated there.”


The way Olivia had carefully chosen her words had made Agnes resist a dry laugh. Yeah, it was getting a lot more clear where that line was. “I guess you could say that.”
Her last history teacher referred to the gods as mythical beings that were made up by rich people to control the population.
Then again, he also firmly believed that aliens were more probable than gods.
And that he, himself, had been abducted before.


“I’m sorry if I overwhelmed you, what I was trying to say is… we have options and we’re looking over which one might be the best for you, but we don’t want to make the decision for you, either.”
Agnes reached for her necklace, her gaze down. “Olivia?”
“Hm?”
“What… What if…” Is there any way she could even ask this? After all they’ve done, would she really ask them for more? Yet could she imagine parting with it? “What if I wanted to keep it?”


Olivia’s eyes widened briefly, then she eased into a smile. “We wondered if you might. Well, we did prepare for anything, if that’s the case then I need to start arming you with information, and… fairly quickly.”
“Would… would it be bad to want to keep it?”


Olivia tilted her head, her brow furrowed. “I don’t think so, but it depends on what you’re implying for the word ‘bad.’ If you mean morally wrong to keep it, I would say it’s quite the opposite. You were chosen, so by that standard I’d say you’ve got far more moral standing than anyone else. If you mean ‘bad’ like… you’d be in mortal danger… then yes, it’s bad.”


Agnes let out a short breath, “would it put you all in more danger?”
Olivia brightened in response, “if you’re worried about us, then don’t be. All of us here tend to walk on the line of danger. I used to be apart of the Circles. Esmerelda,” she looked across the way to Ezzie pacing in the courtyard on her phone. “She’s been hunted by a goddess since she was a child, and my husband?” She smiled to herself. “Well, he’s a god’s son, believe it or not."
"A... god's son?" Gods can have children?
"Yes, indeed. Son of the God of Magic. Gods have their own lives - families, homes. They're a lot like everyone else, but with a lot more power. We’re all familiar with the gods and the inner circles around here, and that’s a big reason why we do what we do.”
“What do you do?”


“We help people.” She answered it simply, like there was nothing else to it: no mortal danger, nor high-stress situations. Just helping people.
“People like me?”
She nodded, eyes smiling, “anyone who needs us. That’s what we were talking about earlier before you came in. We’re working on starting… an… organization of sorts.”
“An organization? Like… vigilantes?”


This got a small laugh from Olivia, “sort of... yes. Only… a tad more legal.”
“Just a tad, though.” It was Kefka who gracefully descended the stairs with a grin.



“We’re working on perfecting a strain of very powerful magic that we can use to help others.” Olivia nodded, smiling at her husband who embraced her.
“She says that like Ezzie and I actually help. She’s the one that does all the stabilization.” Kefka grinned into her hair.
“Stabilization?”


Olivia looked back at Agnes. “Magic tends to have a drawback of being very unstable as it gets more powerful, however if we put it through rounds of stabilization it will get stronger and more stable. The strain we have still needs one more round of stabilization in my opinion, but that’s for another time.”
It was enough to make her head spin. “Seems there’s a lot I don’t know about the world.”
“The food is ready, by the way. Feel free to go up and have some.” Kefka nodded towards the stairs, leaning on Olivia’s shoulder as he did so.


“I’ll go let Ezzie know.” Olivia nodded. “If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to ask any of us. We’ll talk more about your options after we eat something.”
She pulled away from Kefka who grinned as he spun her before letting go of her hand. She laughed and Agnes couldn’t help but watch them be happy.


It wasn’t pain she felt, just warmth. It was nice to see that relationships could work for some people, especially for someone like Olivia. There was something different about her, even if Agnes couldn’t put her finger on what.
“She’s such a bright person.” Agnes murmured to no one in particular.


Kefka smiled as he watched Olivia. “That she is. I’m just happy to be in her light.”
It must be nice to be part of something bigger, Agnes thought, her fingers brushing the necklace again. 
Maybe.

3 comments:

  1. I can't wait to see the rest of this story play out!!!

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    1. Magpiieeee! Hi there! I've missed your comments!

      I'm excited too! Thank you so much!

      Delete
  2. Did you make the poses for Kefka and Olivia this chapter? They're so cute! Also I love the gifs. They really add something special.

    I liked when Olivia asked what she meant by bad, haha. Being in mortal danger is bad, but the necklace chose Agnes and it could be very powerful. If all the gods want it, she should keep it. 😛

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