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Old Jan 19th, 2019, 01:59 AM
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Chapter One: The most important step




Lumence, the city on a spire, once called the light of Telayleah, never truly slept. During the day it bustled with activity as you might expect, the market opened, crafters worked their trade, politicians saw petitioners and most of the rest worked Sustainment. Without a specific job or apprenticeship, you were expected to work three Sustainment cycles and one Enrichment cycle. The schedules were determined by someone in the government but you could always swap onto different crews if you needed to. But no one was exempt from Sustainment cycles, not even Lord Governer Amalia. The more important your skill or craft, the fewer cycles you had to spend with the crops and the animals. Sure it was very important work, moving animals between grazing spots, tearing down and putting up pens, tilling fields, harvesting finished crops, carting dung for processing.....all very vital, but tiring, and sweaty, and just not fun. Enrichment cycles were much better, when you hit your majority you got to spend your Enrichment exploring whatever personal growth you desired. Much how you can't grow the same thing in one place cycle after cycle after cycle, neither can people be expected to work incessantly. Many adults used their Enrichment cycle to explore the Lumence nightlife. Sure things were quieter and more subdued, but that's merely in comparison. If you knew where to look, you could find all sorts of entertainments lasting long into the night, like gambling houses, performances, even some more fancy restaurants, and of course taverns. And since light magic was low cost and easy to come by, there was never a reason to limit yourself.

Sure, Lumence was always awake to some extent, but using the Runner's Highway after dark was strictly forbidden, which is why Shashara found herself nervously eying the Timelight as she sprinted across the rooftops, which was called the Runner's Highway, racing sundown. Stupid late notice, she thought as she ran. She was mad because this was supposed to be an easy day for her, being on standby duty as a Shortrunner was basically like being given an extra free day. But today, while she had been out enjoying a stroll in the market, her code stone had vibrated the signal for "urgent priority delivery" and she had been forced to get back to headquarters as fast as possible. She wasn't actually supposed to leave even on standby days, but they always scheduled two runners on standby and it was so rare for multiple deliveries to need doing last minute that it was just an unspoken rule that you split the day with the other stander. Her stone vibrating meant that Gemal had been sent out and another package had come in. And tragedy upon tragedies, Shashara had groaned when she saw who it was going to. Of all the days and to all the people, of course, of course Commander Tamas would need a package before sundown when it's my coverage. She was just about to hit her majority and desperately wanted to enter messenger training, had volunteered to take any packages or messages going that way for almost two years now to sneak glances, and now she was going to be late in front of the dusting commander of the dusting messengers himself. No. NO! I can make it. Her feet rattled the roofs of a few buildings and she heard muted curses as she passed but technically...she glanced at the Timelight again....yep technically she still had time.

Like most kids, she had grown up climbing and running the various roofs and levels of Lumence. The slight slope down from north to south had caused a slight tiering effect, and as people tried to build up for more space, the levels changed even more. Once you were familiar with it, you could navigate the city just as easily from the rooftops as down in the streets, and there were even unofficial lanes and markers to help guide you. Shashara needed to go two more streets over, down one level, and then make a sharp left, if she was really lucky the secretary's window would be open. Shashara checked her mental map against what she saw, she was looking for a specific, there! The chapel right at her corner had one of those magically reinforced glass roofs and was one of the few buildings with a slanted roof. If she angled herself just slightly away, she could slide across a flat glass roof, land on the chapel and fling herself in the new direction at the correct level. Sliding on the glass was never as easy as he thought it should be but today she had a new idea to try. Magic was very common among the population of the city, their life would not be possible without it. Even just the way they told time, the Timelight itself, was magic in nature, how else could you have a visual representation of the time of day visible from any location when you looked for it? But if you showed anything more than the common affinity with magic items, you were supposed to report for training. Shashara couldn't make it work all the time and hoped it would give her an edge in her messenger training, plus if she told them about it now it would just delay her start and they would try to get her to join the druids. Of course it was important work, duh, but it wasn't exciting. What she was about to do, now that was going to be exciting.

Shashara lept just a little, crossing the last step onto the glass in the air, and while she did she flung her fingers out and sad a word she barely understood, and when she landed she began sliding toward the edge. Her heart skipped a beat, maybe a few, and she whooped with joy, she had been practicing on sand and once on some conjured ice during the solstice festival, but she had never managed to jump, cast, and land all at the same time. She bent her knees a little more, preparing for the jump to the chapel roof, but just as she pushed off one of her feet slipped and she lept with only one leg. She knew she wouldn't make the roof, but there was an advertisers sign she just might be able to nab. Knowing this as her only chance to make it in time, and to not get so hurt she was grounded, she stretched mightily for the sight and just managed to snag it. She was surprised to feel some well-worn indents almost exactly where her fingers fell, Guess I'm not the only one to think of that. She smiled and redirected her momentum to swinging along her new path and flung herself onto the lower tier. She was one level lower than she wanted to be but that was fine, she'd just have to use the main entrance.

She burst in the main doors, no more than a minute or two until she was late. Urget delivery for the Commander, out of my way! She shouted as she dashed past reception and up the back steps. She took them two at a time, breathing hard and when she saw the door she got a final surge of excitement and sprinted hard for it. She hit the door hard and thankfully it was partially open, although it did slam against the wall with a loud BANG before coming back and almost clipping Shashara's heel as she strode to the Commander's desk and mad a sharp but amateur salute. Panting she managed to gasp out, Special.....delivery for.....Commander......Tamas! He looked at her with disapproval, then his eyes darted to the chairs in front of his desk and Shashara saw the two people sitting in front of him for the first time. Dusts he's in a meeting... She noted the dwarf, looking dangerous and his hands settling like he had gone for a weapon and then she saw.....Leah? Yes, that was Leah! People had wondered how her training was going, but...Shashara suddenly realized what must be in the package for the Commander. Oh gods beyond... She hurriedly pulled off her pack and presented the nice if plain wooden box to the Commander. She waited a beat under that glare and thought for a second she saw a glint of amusement, but then her eyes caught the twin scars framing his eye and she realized she shouldn't wait for a tip, she was tardy. She turned to go, shoulders slumping slightly. This was to be delivered by sundown. His voice seemed to beat her down a little more but she paused waiting for the rebuke. I believe, he started, voice softening slightly, that when a rush delivery is completed on time, payment is due immediately... He trailed off as the words settled in and Shashara whipped around, looking toward the center of the city and the Timelight, she actually watched the color shift as sundown completed and walked toward the Commander in a daze, she had done it...she had done it! Commander Tamas pulled out glass disc and scratched across it with a nearby stylus, and after a moment it glowed with a soft yellow light indicating infused funds. He held it out to her with a smile, Payment in full with a nice tip for your efforts. She took it and walked out still in a daze.



Now then where was I? the Commander said gruffly. He muttered to himself quietly for a moment, Congradualtions...best recruits....service...happy to have you..... Clearly he has given this same welcome speech to new graduates many times. Oh yes! Your first assignment...no wait! He pushes the box across his desk and opens it revealing two metal palm-sized objects sitting on a sleeve of leather. Every messenger gets two things upon graduation, the tattoo you got earlier today and a badge. Both can be faked of course, and untrained eyes wouldn't be able to tell the two apart, but if you ever need to prove your identity beyond any and all doubt, someone viewing both will know...and I stress that word, know when you identify yourself truthfully. Don't ask me how it works, something to do with natural and magical resonances I think, ask one of the enchanters if you're really curious or... He trails off and reaches into a drawer pulling out a roll of paper with an official Messenger's Guild seal, ...or you could ask the...person...you are escorting to Vithence. Commander Tamas stands up and clears his throat eyeing you both until you stand. He then speaks formally as he had in the beginning, Mordek and Leah, this assignment is to escort Cephandreaus from Lumence to Vithence, do you accept? The offer is a formality although you technically do have the right of refusal however, that would most likely mean expulsion from the Messengers. When he gets a verbal agreement from each of you he hands over the sealed orders. Very good, his address is included with your orders and you are to report to him tonight for final confirmation of your departure time. Any questions about supplies can be addressed to the quartermaster downstairs, I believe Jeph is on duty tonight. He gives you both a quick salute and then sits in his chair to begin working, the dismissal clear.



Who:
Mordek Blackshield & L34-H designated "Leah"
What:
Escort Cephandreaus et al and associated materials from Lumence to Vithence
When:
On or around the third day of the seventeenth cycle
Where:
Departure will be from the Western Gate at a time TBD by the client
Additional Info:
Upon receipt of these orders on the second day of the seventeenth cycle, Messengers will report to the following address for finalization
Crafters Section
Northeastern Quarter
Ground Level #7
__________________
-Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.
-I will protect those who cannot protect themselves.
-I will protect even those I hate, so long as it is right.
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