Author's Note: This is part two of "The Guilds of Atmos", my Reedsy-cast series. The prompts didn't fit well for it to take place where part one left off, so this is one week before part one. Sorry if this isn't a great continuation, the prompts were hard to continue it with. Hope you enjoy it!
𝓞𝓷𝓮 𝔀𝓮𝓮𝓴 𝓫𝓮𝓯𝓸𝓻𝓮 𝓹𝓪𝓻𝓽 𝓸𝓷𝓮, 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓢𝓽𝓪𝓻𝓁𝓲𝓰𝓱𝓽 𝓕𝓮𝓼𝓽𝓲𝓿𝓪𝓵:
Luminescent fairy lights weave through the slender branches of every tree in Atmos. Multi-colored tents are set up in the park at the center of town, they vary in color. Sherbet pink, canary yellow, shamrock green, periwinkle blue, and wisteria purple.
The tents also vary in shape, some with steeply pointed tops, and others with round caps on top. The fabrics are adorned with patterns of mountain ranges, flowery meadows, and starry skies. Children from every guild stand in the fresh green grass, admiring the sight. The night is drawing near and with it the start of the Starlight Festival.
Every month on the full moon, all of Atmos gathers for the event, regardless of their guild.
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Sapphire, Luna, Amethyst, and Celeste make their way through the winding, majestically lit paths of the park. Occasionally stopping to watch a performance or examine the magical items for sale.
“Look, over there,” Saph says, pointing to a series of metallic purple and gold necklaces laid out on display.
“What is it?” Ame asks as the four girls make their way over to the tent.
“Amulets, for good luck,” Emerald responds, she’s already at the stand examining the charms, “Apparently they offer some sort of protection from dark magic.”
She has short red hair and green eyes, charcoal dust covering her fingertips. A winding pattern of roses and vines is drawn on her arm, her artistic talent making her obviously from the Artists Guild.
“Wow,” Ame says, taking in the table. The violet streaks in her dark brown hair shine in the dim lighting.
“They’re pretty, in a mysterious way,” Luna says, looping one of the delicate chains around her finger.
“I’ll take the one with the purple gem,” Celeste tells the woman standing inside the tent.
“What?” she asks her friends watching, “I could use some good luck, lately.”
“We probably all could,” Saph replies, laughing lightly.
After some consideration, Luna picks a silver star-shaped one, Saph and Ame pick ones with gems corresponding to their names, and Em loops a heart-shaped locket around her neck.
If the city of Atmos is anything, it is superstitious.
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At the edge of the park, most of the Warriors Guild sits perched in the branches of the towering magnolia trees. Most of the other guilds watch them cautiously, never daring to mess with the fighters and respecting them for their service to the city.
Nainika, Lily, and Isaac sit at the very top of one of the remarkably large trees, slowly licking their melting snow cones. Isaac’s black kitten named Ti sits on his shoulder, purring happily. Their feet dangle off the branch, hanging high above the heads of people passing by underneath.
“What do you think of the festival so far?” Lily asks them, swinging her legs back and forth.
“I love the tradition, the lights are always so beautiful,” Nainika says, her lips stained bright red by the cherry syrup. “You?”
“I found these new matching knives I like,” Lily says, holding them up to show the others, “I think there is some sort of hieroglyphics engraved on the handle.”
“How about this,” Isaac says, smiling mischievously, “We’ll see which of you can hit the very middle of the tree trunk across from us, what do you say?”
A spiraling knot in the wood forms a bull’s eye, perfect for knife throwing.
“A competition?” Lily asks, “Sounds fun.”
“I’m in,” Nainika says enthusiastically as Lily hands her one of the knives.
Nainika holds out an arm to aim, narrows her hazel eyes at the target, and throws the knife crisply through the air. The blade buries itself at the very center of the circle, a perfect throw.
Lily tosses the knife into her right hand and pulls her arm back over her shoulder. Her wrist flicks and the second knife goes whizzing through the air, landing at the exact same point as Nainika’s. Both knives stuck in the same crack in the wood.
“Let’s call it a tie,” Isaac says laughing and licking his tangerine snow cone.
Down on the ground Varsha, Ivy, and Haripriya are making their way through the trees from tent to tent. The girls have chains of lavender flowers woven into their hair, the petals glowing under the light of the full moon.
“Where should we stop next?” Varsha asks, taking a bite out of the chocolate croissant in her hand. The pastry tent offered all sorts of desserts; strawberry tarts, coconut macaroons, and chocolate truffles.
“How about the tent right over there,” Haripriya suggests, pointing to a magenta-colored tent tucked at the very edge of the park.
“Sounds good,” Ivy says, popping chocolate drizzled with raspberry syrup in her mouth. Almost instantly, her whole body seems to rise up in the air, the tips of her boots only barely brushing the grass.
“Looks like that was one of the ones with magical enhancements,” Haripriya says, laughing.
They eventually make their way to their destination, stopping right in front of the amber-colored curtains of the tent.
“Get your fortune told,” Varsha reads from the sign, whispering as not to disturb whoever may be inside.
Ivy pulls open the curtains and enters the tent. Inside an ancient-looking man sits at a low table. A soft carpet covers the ground, and plush pillows circle the table.
“Have a seat, children,” the Prophet says, gesturing to the ground. They each exchange a doubtful look before taking a seat on the cushions.
“Which of you would like your fortune told?” he asks, looking between them. After a few seconds of silence, Varsha comes forward.
“What should I do?”
“Just look into my eyes, child, and try to clear your mind,” his sharp gaze fixes on her, his eyes becoming distant as he reaches out to the universe for an answer.
“Magi spirituum, id est sors, in copia tamen haec cara puella?” he murmurs softly, then his eyes snap back in focus and he takes a deep breath.
“Dear child, what comes will not be easy. However, you are strong. If you stick by your friends, you will make it through the night to see the sunrise.”
The tent is silent again for a little while after those words.
Looking shaken, Varsha hands the man a few gold coins and abruptly stands up. Haripriya and Ivy watch her, concerned, none of them looking so excited to see the future anymore.
“Thank you sir, but we should be going now,” Ivy says quickly as the girls rush out of the tent, eager to put distance between themselves and the Prophet.
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On the other side of the park, Carolina, Luke, Katelyn, and Sophie wait in line for Atmos’s Ferris wheel. The ride is one of the most well-loved events of the Starlight Festival, which isn’t surprising considering the remarkable size and the fact that it’s powered by magic.
After five more rotations of the wheel, the group finds an empty box, Luke and Carolina sitting on one seat, and Katelyn and Sophie sitting across from them.
As the grinding machine ticks around in a circle, like the hands of a clock, the group waits patiently to reach the top. Katelyn grips the edges of their box and shakes it, leaving them to swing precariously back and forth. Luke glares at her, the other guilds never seemed to appreciate the Warrior’s recklessness.
“Come one, Luke,” Carolina says, holding back a laugh, “Don’t you want to enjoy the ride?”
“I’m perfectly fine enjoying the ride without feeling like I’m about to fall to my death,” he says, but he’s barely able to keep the frown for long.
A few minutes later, their group reaches the top of the ride.
“Wow,” Sophie says, sounding in awe, “The view of Atmos from here is absolutely incredible.
The other nod along in mesmerized silence, enjoying the bird's eye view of their city.
The Warrior’s flat barracks line the edge of the city, just inside the wall to the east. And on the other side, to the west, the elegant forest of Aramark stretches across the land, home to the Writers and Prophets.
In the middle of the city sits Dragonspire palace, home to the Artists. Multi-colored light is fractured across the roofs, casting rainbow shadows on the cobblestone streets of Atmos.
“It really is beautiful,” Katelyn agrees, resting her elbows on the edge to peer over the side of the box.
Eventually, their ride comes to an end and they find themselves on stable ground, but the sight isn’t easily forgotten.
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A roaring fire gathers people at the center of the park, the warmth from the flames licking their icy skin. People from all guilds sit around on logs, making smores and spinning tales of the Unknown.
The Explorers ramble on about everything they have seen, while others sit listening, captivated by their words.
“What exactly is it like wandering the desert for days on end?” B asks shyly, her pale purple eyes shining in the firelight.
“It’s definitely never boring,” Meg says, smiling at their small audience.
“Never a dull moment,” Brooke agrees, most likely remembering all they have encountered on their travels.
“What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen in the Unknown?” B questions again, nervously fingering the fraying drawstring of her jacket.
“I found a crimson feather in the sand once,” Brooke starts, “It was larger than the feather of any other bird. Almost as big as one from a- What’s the name again?”
“Dragon,” Megan says, “But it couldn’t be that, those creatures are only a myth from the Old World.”
“I could imagine it would be dangerous,” Annabelle ventures, curiously, “Aren’t you ever afraid?”
“Of course we are sometimes, but then we use the fear to our advantage. Instead of making us smaller, it makes us stronger, faster, better fighters,” Jay tells her softly, staring thoughtfully at the shapes the flames form before their eyes.
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Under the glow of the fireflies, Danny and Billien walk side by side through the park. Paper lanterns hang from the branches of the trees, amber light reflecting off the bark of the birch trees.
The sidewalk is still slightly wet from the night before, making it look polished under the shine of the full moon.
“It’s been a while since we last got together for anything other than business matters,” Billien says, thoughtfully.
“That was your choice,” Danny reminds him, regretfully, “Ever since we were five years old we were tinkering together, building things, you always said you would be an Inventor with me, start a shop together.”
“I wanted to,” he starts.
“But you chose to be an Explorer instead,” she states, simply, “The pull of the Unknown was just irresistible to you. It’s not your fault we drifted apart like this, but you chose this.”
“I did, and there are times I wish I would have chosen differently. But in my guild, it feels like I could really be a part of something bigger, maybe bigger than even Atmos itself,” he’s pleading with her to understand by now.
“I can make a difference without exploring, all I need is my work to make a change,” she says, brushing some of her raven-colored hair behind her ear.
The tense silence surrounds them as they continue on the path, very aware of each other’s presence. Until Billien breaks the silence, not easily backing down.
“I can’t change the bloody decisions I made in the past, as much as I may want to, but can we at least try to stay in touch? Separate guilds don’t mean we can’t be friends like before.”
After a moment of thought, Danny looks up at him and nods, “I’d like that.”
He nods, satisfied, and a soft smile spreads across his face, “It’s getting late now, we’d best be heading home.”
“Of course, see you soon,” she says.
He kisses her hand lightly before walking off into the moonlight leaving her smiling softly under the fairy lights.
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Once alone in the isolation of his cabin, Billien collapses on the dusty couch in his living room and pulls off his light coat. He rolls up the sleeve of his shirt to reveal a mark of metal chains wrapping around his forearm.
The ink is faded as if it has been there for a while, keeping him chained to stale decisions for years. A mark depicting him as a traitor to everything he ever truly cared about.
The mark of the Obsidian Hand.