Prompt Short Story: Messages (Lawkeepers 5)

Arriving home, Kyra locked the door to her flat, her shoulders visibly slumping as she let the weight of the day pass. She removed her coat and scarf, hanging them on an old-fashioned hat stand. She looked longingly for a moment at the soft sofa, then shook her head. Later. There was one more thing she had to do today.

Kyra entered the darkened room and closed the door behind her, activating the deadlock ward with one thumb. A light shimmer passed over the door, confirming that nobody else could enter.

She turned to the room itself. It was small, barely more than a cupboard.. A ball of light magic cast a soft glow over a desk and chair. On the desk, sat a black box.

Kyra pulled out the chair and sat down. She turned two sets of dials on the box to the right combination, and snapped open the double lock. The front and top opened, and she pushed the box towards the back of the desk as she reached inside.

Cradled carefully in her slender hands was an old, battered typewriter. The metal casing gave it weight, and the slight aura of magic gave it gravity, as she set it down within reach and laid her fingers on the keys.

She drew a piece of paper from the drawer of the desk and rolled it in, then breathed deeply, planning her message, and began to type.

She wondered if she would ever get used to this. Typing in modern day English, and seeing the text come out in Ancient Greek. The magic surrounding the typewriter was far beyond her understanding, as was the…person? Creature? She refused to entertain the term god, even with a small ‘g’, no matter how much they seemed like one. The one she typed to, who replied, she didn’t understand who they were, just that they had come to her in her darkest moment.

She closed her eyes to the flashback. Standing in a field, surrounded by blood and bodies, the echo of the last notes of her song just fading as the men on her side of the war backed away from her and the things they’d done, horror in their eyes.

Not for the first time, she felt their horror in herself, but for some reason this was the time she couldn’t hold it in. She reached down to the nearest soldier, pulling their combat knife from their belt and holding it up to the light. It glinted sharp, and she raised it to her neck.

Something wet dripped on her wrist and she realised it was tears.

With her vision blurred, the approaching figure wavered, and she blinked, changing the position of her hand to wipe her eyes dry with the jacket over her wrist.

It stood, a dark spot in the world, shadows clinging to a humanoid shape. When it spoke, the voice was soft, sibilant, and she recognised the language, but it had been so long…she didn’t speak it any more.

It seemed to realise, and though it continued to speak in the same language, the words in her head reshaped themselves into english.

“Child, I felt your pain from long ago, far away. Why do you do this?”

Kyra shook her head, “It’s all I am. All I can do.”

“Oh, my child. I have watched you for long and long, and you are so much more than your voice. Set it aside. Swear to never use it again, and I will show you a path. There are better ways to live. Better ways to help. Swear to me, and I will ask only one thing in return.”

Kyra frowned, the knife forgotten in her hand, “What else can I offer? I’m only my voice, it’s all I’ve ever been.”

The shadows swirled closer, reaching out a tendril to touch her face, “Child…let go of the things they’ve told you for so long. Swear to me, and all I ask in return is that you report to me. Once a week, use the tool I will give to you, write to me of your doings, and of those around you. Do this, and I will show you a new path. A new start. A new life.”

Kyra returned to herself, mentally shaking the memory away. The shadowy figure had held to their word. The day after she had knelt in the dirt and blood and swore fealty, she had been contacted by the same government who had used her voice for slaughter, and in a secretive meeting, she had been offered a post in a new venture. An extranatural lawkeeping group was being formed, and needed people on the ground, with experience and knowledge.

Kyra accepted immediately, and on her return home, her room, which she rented from a strident couple who looked at her, in her patched and repaired old clothes, paying their exorbitant rent each month as she scraped together pennies for food, like the dirt on their shoe, had gained an extra door, which led to this room she sat in now. This room had followed her to each new rented place and, eventually, her purchased flat. As far as she could work out, it was some sort of dimensional chamber, but the magic was beyond her, and as she couldn’t share the secret with anyone else, that was the best she could do.

As she had done every week for the last hundred years or so, Kyra put her fingers to the keys and typed. For perhaps the millionth time she wondered how it translated any typing errors, and idioms, but as ever, there was no answer forthcoming. She simply typed, and her messages went out to wherever the creature was, waiting.

At the end of her report she sat, patiently, waiting for the reply. It would either dismiss her, ask for more information on something, or request something specific for next time. She enjoyed the latter, usually, they tended to be information seeking missions, often challenging her more mundane abilities, but they had also taught her some magic, and a lot about people.

Today there was a simple reply, coming through in english as they always did.

“Thank you, Kyra. I look forward to your next report.”

Dismissed, Kyra replaced the typewriter in its box, removed the ward from the door, and exited, locking it on the other side. The ward blocked it from the view of others, ensuring nobody would ever seek to enter. And for most of the week, Kyra herself would barely see it either. Only when she focused on it specifically, would it drop fully into view.

She called for takeout, grabbed a beer from the fridge and drank it at the counter, until the delivery arrived. Grabbing a second beer and her food, she finally made it to the comfortable sofa and switched on the TV, selecting a streaming service to continue her current binge.

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a message, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

You put a piece of paper into the old typewriter you recently inherited and start typing… But what shows on the page is not what you typed.

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