The Praedian Records

J.G. Phoenix

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Lydia’s Golden Treasury: Atoning Mirror (1st Draft)

by | Oct 31, 2021 | Chapters, LGT, Pinned, Praedia, ZAP

Lydia’s Golden Treasury

Atoning Mirror


A week ago, Enya helped Lydia and Irving deal with certain item in the Golden Treasury. It was officially known as Item 3-A-340. According to Todd, it was some kind of machine of Sulan origin. That was all Enya knew about it. She was so desperate to help at the time, she donned the Armor of the Unburdened. Due to the armor’s ancient contract, she had no memory of the days she wore the armor, and no memory of Item 3-A-340. Curiosity had run her ragged ever since.

Enya’s new job at the Tenebrae Estate was exciting, but not much could distract her from the mystery for long, not even an open exhibit. No, not even the exhibit’s visitors.

“Oh dear, I think she’s gone. Let’s try one of the others,” said an elderly man to his wife.

“What?” Enya snapped to attention just in time to see the man’s wife standing up for her, or at least standing up for principle.

“Don’t be rude. She’s clearly on about something important. Just give her a moment; she’s not ignoring us on purpose.”

That was true, Enya noted with a heavy sigh. “I’m so, so sorry.” She couldn’t bow her head deep enough to feel any better, but at least she was back in reality, ready to work. “Was there an item you wanted to know more about?”

The old man pointed out an old, well preserved armoire just a few meters from where Enya was standing. “Tell us about that one. The ‘Greenfield Armoire’ is it? Interesting name.”

It was an interesting story, too, as Enya recalled. Before the Noble Tribes founded Calig, the entire territory was divided between two large regional powers, Unica and Terrel. During the tribal invasions, the leaders of each tried to defend their respective lands through an alliance. This armoire was one of the few gifts exchanged between the two nations in the previous one hundred years, as well as one of the few larger items rescued from the sacking of Valensa. It was likely for those reasons the armoire was used as the physical anchoring point and the source of power for the Greenfield Pact. That mana imbued contract bound the two ruling houses to each other in mutual defense. It was too little too late by then; their defeat was inevitable, but the armoire survived the war and eventually found its way to the Golden Treasury.

Enya relayed all of this to the elderly couple, even as she mentally rejoiced at her own memory. She had received a basic overview of every single item on display at this week long exhibit in the estate. With over thirty main show pieces to contend with, Enya was worried she wouldn’t be able to manage it all. So far so good.

That was when she noticed that the plaque in front of the armoire wasn’t just a large nameplate. Looking closer, she saw a more concise summary below the names than the one she’d just given the elderly couple. It almost called her morning cram session into question, but she tried to let the issue go for now. It wasn’t wrong to have that information ready in two places, in her head and right out in front of the visitors. Enya only wondered why the elderly couple asked her to tell them about the armoire when the plaque’s information was just as informative.

The couple weren’t done with her yet. The wife pointed Enya toward another exhibit item not far from the armoire. This one was a set of ridiculously ornate looking staves. Each held finely cut crystal shards, with the largest being over twenty inches long. Some of those shards still gave off a faint glow as latent mana teemed within. There were six in total, and for the most part, they were quite well preserved.. Enya noted the plenty informative plaque right in front of the staves as she came closer. She held back a sigh and took her spot in front of the six staves, ready to expound on their history as best she could.

“These are called …” the elderly man leaned toward the plaque and squinted to find the name, “Fell Strokes. Hmph. Strange name.”

Also a strange and surprisingly ancient set of magic tools, if Enya’s memory served. A very old empire, the Thunderous Empire, was responsible for the creation and use of these autonomous tools. They were both melee and ranged weapons, shields, a sources of healing, and an efficient mana reserve all in one convenient package. Post-mortem, the mages of the Thunderous Empire were typically ranked by how many fell strokes they were known to have used at one time. Some of the more prominent mages, including a few emperors, could wield dozens with pride and ease. This particular set belonged to the second to last reigning emperor of the Thunderous Empire.

All of this information was right there on the plaque, of course, but the couple still had Enya deliver the details. She figured it had more to do with their waning sight than wanting to hear about it from her. Enya felt her storytelling skills were utterly pedestrian compared to Irving. Unfortunately, Irving wasn’t here at the moment. While some of the estate servants and some of the Golden Treasury’s staff were tending to the guests, Irving was managing the exhibit from somewhere behind the scenes. Enya hadn’t seen him since early this morning.

Enya stayed with the couple as they brought her from one item to the next for another few minutes, putting her last minute cram sessions to the ultimate test.

The next item the elderly couple wanted to hear about was a large mirror. It was the Mirror of Atonement, or Etoile’s Mirror. Enya was surprised by her own excitement; the information on the plaque wasn’t especially informative, which meant what she could relay to the couple wouldn’t be redundant this time. This special mirror had rather a dark history, having gone through several owners before being acquired by Lydia. Etoile, a noblewoman from Fortege, was merely the first. She also crafted the mirror to further her studies of conceptual magic. The results for her house had been devastating, and even Enya didn’t have all the details, but the mirror and its mysterious counterpart had removed any and all doubt in Etoile’s abilities as a mage.

“The lad took his own life?” The husband was shocked to learn that Etoile’s brother had interacted with the mirror and resolved to end his own life mere days afterward.

“The issue with this mirror,” Enya explained, “is that it shows you the worst aspects of your own character. The things you don’t want to admit about yourself. It reflects them back at you with nothing filtered–o-only while it’s active though! We’re fine,” she assured them both.

“Heavens,” the wife said, “what a dreadful thing. Why would Etoile make something like this?”

Enya resisted a shrug, then she thought back to what Irving told her when they were standing here earlier. “Well, she wanted to know what her flaws as a person were. She didn’t want anything hidden. That way, she could address everything and change for the better. She wanted to really know herself.” Etoile’s brother didn’t know what he was getting into. He faced horrible truths that his pride couldn’t bear. His countless misdeeds were thrown in his face, and he was left with no room to hide from them or bury them again. This mirror, in Irving’s words, ‘reconciles the humble, and ruins the proud.’

There was one other aspect to this mirror that Irving hadn’t managed to elaborate on before the exhibit opened, but there was enough history Enya could go over to satisfy the elderly couple.

Eventually, Enya had painted enough of a picture for the husband and wife to sate their curiosity. They thanked her and right when she was bracing for one of them to ask about yet another item, they simply walked away. Enya didn’t know what to think in that moment. She briefly started after them, but immediately thought better of it, stopping directly in front of Etoile’s mirror. If the couple didn’t need her help anymore, then it was best to let them go. Enya would have appreciated a goodbye, or some other sign they were finished with the tour, but freedom was fine all by itself.

Enya took a moment to use the mirror to check her appearance. Even if it was a magical relic at its core, it was still a mirror. The reflection in it was flawless, with no cracks, scratches or warping, and Enya and could check herself over while no one was nearby. Her uniform was comfortable now, unlike the day she first put it on, and every part of the dress looked in order. Her hair was fine by estate standards, but Enya still felt compelled to pat it down in places and check for tangles.

“There. Now it’s perfect.”

“As long as those two don’t come back asking me to explain the obvious.” Enya saw herself say that. She heard it in her own voice. She didn’t feel the words come out, but she covered her mouth and quickly scanned the area just in case. The old couple wasn’t around. No one was anywhere in sight. Something was off. The only person she saw when she looked back at the mirror was herself. Enya’s reflection wasn’t covering her mouth like she was. Instead, she was staring daggers at her.

“What?” Enya’s reflection said. The hostility contained in just that one word sent chills down her spine. “They’re annoying as hell, and practically blind. If they come back we need to run the other way.”

“D-don’t say that!” Enya looked around again, hoping against hope that no one was eavesdropping from the shadows. Seeing herself, hearing herself talk like this was the essence of her nightmares. “They’re not annoying or blind! They’re just trying to enjoy the exhibit. That’s why I’m here, to make sure they do and keep everything running smoothly.”

“Oh please. We’re supposed to be looking for that Sulan thing,” Enya’s reflection fired back, “but instead, we’re wasting time on those half dead idiots. Do you want to be run ragged all day by people you don’t even know? By the time we find out where that thing was kept, they’ll have already renamed and moved it somewhere else. How much do you have to hate yourself to let them play us like this?”

“Just–wait, what do you mean? What are you?”

“I’m you, obviously,” the reflection hissed, “I’m the part of you that has to be quiet while you suck up to everyone. Now it’s your turn. Lydia and all the rest of them are toying with us and you know it. We only agreed to her so called punishment because we were so relieved we weren’t losing our job. That doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to know what happened.”

“But we don’t deserve to know,” Enya said, floundering, “I don’t. The armor keeps my memories after the contract ends, so it’s a fair punishment.”

“Idiot! It’s always been like this,” the doppelganger grabbed at her locks as if she was about to start pulling, “We’re always chasing what we want, but instead of taking it with our own hands, you wait right up until the end and say we’re not worthy. Why exactly is that, Enya? We always put in the work. We always pay our dues. We always do what we’re supposed to do, so don’t you dare tell me we don’t deserve to know about the one special thing we’ve ever done!”

“But I,” Enya’s words died in her throat. What could she say to her incensed other self?

“I’m not like you,” Enya’s reflection said, “Everything I say comes from my heart. All I ever wanted was to be someone special, to be more than just some faceless broom pusher in an old chapel. I want to rise up through my own strength like Lydia did. But not you. You just want to do whatever you’re told so they’ll pat you on the shoulder and tell you you’re a good girl. For once in our life we did something heroic, something that wasn’t just good but great, and they stole that memory from us. They’re hiding the most meaningful part of our life from us, and … and you’re just fine with that as long as we don’t ruffle any feathers.”

“That’s not true!”

“Yes it is, but you’re just lying to yourself. That’s why you said you don’t deserve to know what happened, but we’re still looking! You know Lydia’s punishment is wrong! Every time we have a spare moment, we’re trying to track that thing down, and you know what what the worst part is, Enya? We’re just going to give up.”

“What do you mean give up?” If she was searching for this long, why would she give up now? “Why?”

The reflection turned her back on Enya. “Because you’re a ‘good girl.’ You’re pathetic. No matter what you want in life or how badly you want it, the second anyone tells you you can’t have it, you’ll back down. You’ll trade anything and everything you have for just a little praise and peace of mind. Like a dog! And before you tell me I’m wrong, remember the real reason we’re here, Enya.”

“The real reason?” Enya echoed, unsure of what her reflection meant.

“We didn’t come here because we decided it was worth doing no matter what. We gave up at first. You gave up. Mother said no, Uncle said no, and you just accepted it.”

“… Father,” Enya breathed. She remembered, now. He was the one that convinced her to leave home and come all the way out to Idolus with the funds she raised. He had been insistent, alarmingly so. Enya couldn’t help but heed him over everyone else in the family.

“That’s right. You only left because our father gave us the push we needed. Otherwise we would still be at the chapel. We would still be doing the same awful work everyday. We would still be getting yelled at over the slightest mistake, still taking the blame for everyone else. That’s the kind of person you are, Enya, the kind that needs someone else’s permission to be happy. You’ll bury everything that matters in the dirt if someone doesn’t approve. You’re just a chain holding me back. That’s why I can’t stand you.

“That’s why I hate you.”

“I …”


Enya felt a hand on her shoulder. As soon as she turned to face them, she noticed people all over the exhibit. The area was populated again, and Todd was standing by her. Enya’s gaze snapped back to the mirror, but the reflection she saw had tears in her eyes, just like her. “Was I seeing things?”

“Sheesh, are you okay?” Todd searched his jacket for something to offer Enya, but he came up short. “I just saw you standing there and now you’re almost crying. Spot a blemish or something?”

“Sort of,” Enya said. That wasn’t the response Todd was expecting, but Enya wasn’t sure what else to call such an ugly part of her own mind. Somehow she knew it was real. The darkness in her heart was revealing itself, drudging up all the frustration and pain that years of personal responsibility and maturity had buried. “Todd, the mirror activated. It’s not supposed to do that.”

“Whoa, no kidding it’s not supposed to do that,” Todd tried to keep his voice down, but the urgency in his tone alerted some of the servants standing watch. “We can’t let the guests near this thing if it’s casting.”

“What should we do?” Enya asked, trying not to look directly at Etoile’s mirror. She hadn’t even noticed the first time she was pulled in, and it seemed like she only escaped thanks to Todd. She wasn’t taking any chances. “Irving said there was a workshop in the main building. Should we take the mirror there?”

“Oh yeah, good idea,” Todd smiled. He had some bad news, too. “I don’t remember where it is. It’s been a while, sorry.”

Really? Enya’s opinion of Todd was always ‘evolving,’ and today was no different. At least someone had forced him to wear his uniform properly. He even had dress shoes on instead of those dirty old gym shoes. “I’m going to ask Felka. She should know.” Anyone else on the staff should know, but Enya spared Todd the shame. Felka was also subtle enough to help them with the mirror without drawing any unwanted attention.

“Alright. I’ll get this thing ready for the workshop.”

Enya didn’t have to go looking for Felka. The woman was already coming over by the time Todd had started on the mirror. “Is something wrong, Ms. Ward? Mr. Brace?”

“Yeah,” Todd called out from behind the open display case, “someone’s gonna throw themselves out a window if we leave it here. You remember where the workshop is? I never have to go there so I forgot.”

Enya tensed up, wishing Todd had just let her explain. “The mirror activated while I was standing in front of it. We shouldn’t keep it on display.”

“Very well, Ms. Ward,” Felka nodded her understanding, “Once Mr. Brace finishes packing the case, I’ll guide you to the workshop. You’ll come as well, Mr. Brace. Let’s refresh your memory.”

Just like when she first arrived, Felka quickly and quietly brought Enya to her destination. She bid Enya farewell after leading her to the workshop and took Todd with her. According to her, all Enya needed to do was explain the situation to a man named Pharez, and leave the mirror with him.

“Hello? Pharez?” She rolled the mirror into the workshop as quietly as she could and looked around. The place was darker and just a bit larger than she expected. The workshop wasn’t evenly lit. Instead, some lights were off and others were dimmed, leaving only the best lighting for the dedicated work areas. There were dozens of odds and ends around, though Enya couldn’t help but notice how orderly everything was in spite of that. There were no tools out of place or lying around. There were no unattended items or gadgets, nothing sitting on the floor unless it was neatly tucked away beneath a shelf. Order reigned here if no one else.

Pharez was supposed to be here this time of day, so where was he? “You’re not trapped in a magic box or something, are you?” Enya wouldn’t have been surprised.

“You’ve got jokes,” a man said, stepping into the light with a grin.

Pharez was a very large, astoundingly fit Milaen man with a formidable arsenal of tools under his belt. Even from a distance, Enya could tell Pharez was at least two heads taller than her. His stature alone left her speechless. Somehow, she was expecting a more respectable version of Todd, or a younger, gruffer Irving.

“What else did you bring?” Pharez asked, sizing up the large black case.

“Right,” Enya quickly composed herself, “Item 1-C-222, the Mirror of Atonement.”

“The Atoner?” Pharez’s brow furrowed, “Did something happen?”

“It. Activated?” Enya struggled to describe exactly what happened. “It put me in a strange dream, I guess. It shouldn’t be doing anything, especially not during an exhibit. Felka told me to bring it to you to see what’s wrong.”

“Right. Then let’s find out.”

Enya watched while Pharez worked. He was thorough, not leaving any part of the mirror unexamined. Eventually, he settled on a device that was directly attached to the back of the mirror at its center. With some doing, he managed to pry it loose.

“This inhibitor might need some work.”

Inhibitor? Enya was suddenly out of her element again, just like with Todd and his numerous written languages. “What does that do? ‘Inhibit’ the mirror?”

“Yeah. It disrupts the flow of mana inside the mirror to keep spells from forming properly. With conceptual magic, that’s a deal breaker. A spell forms the way it’s supposed to or it doesn’t bother.”

“So you just need to fix the inhibitor, then,” Enya concluded. When she looked at the mirror again, she flinched. Weren’t they in danger now? “W-wait, you just took the inhibitor off! What if the mirror does something?!”

Pharez couldn’t resist a chuckle. “You’ve got a point, but that mirror isn’t some kind of death trap. Just don’t look at it too much.”

Fair enough.

“I guess I’ll just leave this here with you then,” Enya said hesitantly.

“Yeah. You’re helping with the exhibit right? You can head back if you want. I’ve got this.”

“Okay. Thanks.”

Enya’s rest that night had been fitful. She barely escaped her nightmares only to wake up almost an hour later than she planned to. With no time for breakfast or morning chores, she freshened up, got dressed, and flew out the door. She managed to arrive at the Tenebrae Estate before it opened up for the second day of the exhibit. The Mirror of Atonement wasn’t there. Instead, another item had been brought out to replace it. Curious, and with just enough time to look into the matter, Enya went back to Pharez’s workshop.

When Enya came inside the workshop, she realized she wasn’t the only one having an awful morning. She saw several items strewn about the floor, as if they had been swept off a workbench all at once. Pharez was sitting with his head in his hands. Enya couldn’t remember the last time she saw someone look so defeated. Etoile’s mirror was still there, right where she left it. Right now, it looked like an ordinary mirror, but Enya wondered if it had been like that since she was last here.

“Pharez?” Enya cautiously approached him.

“Hey, Enya,” Pharez said, not looking up from his grief.

“Are you alright? What happened?”

Pharez shook his head several times, not saying anything at first. “I just haven’t-” Suddenly he shot up to sit straight and roughly wiped his brow. “I just haven’t felt like this in a long time.”

“Felt how? Sad?” Enya knew that sad didn’t so much as nick the surface of whatever Pharez was going through. More and more she suspected the Atoning Mirror. While it hadn’t had a chance to completely overwhelm her, Enya was still struggling with what was reflected back at her. She felt wrong, like some child spoiled completely rotten. She never wanted to hear herself say such vile, warped things ever again. Enya feared she might, though. She even dreamed about the mirror briefly, and narrowly managed to escape herself.

“I haven’t cried since then, either,” Pharez admitted, chuckling bitterly as his head fell back into his hands. “It got you too, right? The mirror, I mean. Smacked you right in the face with a version of you that you just … want to strangle to death. And you can’t. Not unless you’re a fool.”

Enya thought of Etoile’s brother and his suicide. That had to be what Pharez was alluding to. “It was that bad for you?” she risked the question. While Enya disliked her reflection in the Atoning Mirror, she didn’t want to kill it. It wasn’t hatred that she felt. It was more that she wanted to control it, to rein it in. Enya wondered if Pharez’s reflection was leagues worse than hers, so much worse that murder was a tool worth adding to his collection.

“Yeah. I haven’t always worked for Lydia and the gang, you know,” Pharez said, gesturing at the spot next to him on the bench.

Enya didn’t know what to think, but she sat down next to him and listened.

“You can probably tell, but I’m from Milae,” Pharez began, “but before I came to work here I was a … raider. Milean pirate.”

Enya made a face, trying to imagine Pharez in his old shoes. She had heard the term ‘Milaen pirate’ before, but she had never seen one depicted. With no frame of reference, she was positive she couldn’t do Pharez justice, so she left the incomplete picture and tried to make eye contact. Pharez was still talking, but refused to even look at her. Enya couldn’t really blame him. She’d never heard a single good thing about Milean pirates. They were supposedly high seas raiders, known for theft, murder, slavery, and could manipulate the water to their advantage in all sorts of ways.

“The mirror caught me while I was heading out for a breather. I heard a lot of things I didn’t want to hear. A lot of bad memories got hauled up. He just wouldn’t shut up, wouldn’t stop telling me how much better that life was.”


“It’s not. It wasn’t,” Pharez clinched his fists and glared at Etoile’s mirror, “The things we did were unforgivable.”

This time, Enya didn’t dare to ask for details. She only listened.

“I wasn’t with the raiding parties. I’m an engineer, but still. I was one of the crew. I had a gun. A dagger. A sword. I’ve got blood on my hands, too. That life cost me the thing I loved the most, and when I got out, I wanted to get as far away from the sea as I could and never look back. I wound up here in Idolus. I still can’t believe Lydia wanted to take someone like me onboard. A high class, world renowned woman like her plucking a toothless shark like me out of the crowd? I couldn’t believe it. You wouldn’t either if you knew what I was like back then.”

Enya couldn’t understand why. If these were the feelings they had inside of them, why couldn’t they see it? Why couldn’t they even begin to address any of it without the mirror throwing it in their faces?

“I don’t feel worthy, either,” Enya said, “being here, I mean. There were at least a hundred people better suited to this job than me. Lydia still picked me. I’m still not quite over that.”


“But that reflection,” Enya glared at the floor, not wanting to risk another encounter with the mirror and her own doppelganger, “she’s so ungrateful. She’s so, wrong! Everything about her is wrong.”

Pharez nodded. “She’s angry too, right? She just wants it all.”

“That’s exactly it. She’s angry about everything,” Enya closed her eyes, “and if that’s really me? If that’s what I’m really like, then ….”

“Yeah. What are you supposed to do?”

“What am I supposed to do?!” Enya looked up at the mirror, “I … I’m already doing everything I can! I respect authority, I’m polite to everyone I meet! I even put up with things I don’t like if it’s the right thing to do! How am I supposed to deal with something buried so deep I didn’t even know it was there? How?”

The question left Enya and Pharez both feeling drained and miserable. They sat together, lost in thought. No matter how they tried to tackle the question, no clear answer was forthcoming. They could only endure the uncertainty and the silence.

Neither Enya nor Pharez noticed when Irving made his way into the workshop. He took a moment to survey the place, noting the mirror and the displaced tools, as well as the two depressed staffers on the bench. He cleared his throat.

“Of all the places to find two people sulking in the dim. Right then. Who hurt you and where?”

“You’ve got jokes,” Pharez muttered, “What can I do for you, Sir?” he asked, forcing his head up to meet Irving’s gaze.

“Very little for the moment,” Irving grimaced. He approached the two and stood just a couple of feet in front of them, letting his thumbs support his arm by his belt. “In all seriousness, what’s the problem?”

Enya and Pharez were nearly in sync with each other when they both silently pointed at the mirror.

“Ah. Etoile’s Mirror. Or put simply, the Atoner.” Irving smiled to himself as he turned to approach the offending object.

“Be careful, sir,” Pharez warned, “I couldn’t get a new inhibitor in this morning. The old one’s had it.”

“It’s not a problem,” Irving assured him, “I’ve already had a couple of go arounds with this mirror.”

“You have?” Enya slowly stood up, surprised that Irving could challenge the mirror and not come away damaged somehow. He was too well put together for her to believe it if he hadn’t just told them. Maybe he was hiding the pain? Maybe his encounter was so long ago that it simply didn’t matter anymore. “What kind of reflection did you have?” she asked, though she almost thought better of it.

Irving gently ran his hand down the mirror’s ornate, golden frame as he recalled his own ordeal. “There was a lot of bitterness there. A lot of anger.”

“Just like us,” Pharez murmured.

“There was also hope there,” Irving said, continuing his own thought, “At some point, I recommend the two of you face it again. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the long run.”

“Because it reconciles the humble?” Enya asked.

“It also destroys the proud, remember?” Pharez said pointedly.

“Then I suggest you humble yourselves ahead of time,” Irving smirked.

He made his way back to Enya and Pharez. “In the meantime, how about I tell you the origins of the Atoner and its counterpart, the Condemner?”

“What’s the Condemner?” Enya knew there was a counterpart to Etoile’s Atoning Mirror, but the name implied the objects worked at cross purposes, and this was the first she was hearing of it.

“This should be good,” Pharez forced a smile of his own.

“The Mirror of Atonement and the Mirror of Condemnation,” Irving held up a hand to represent each, “A noblewoman named Etoile of House Salomon crafted these on her journey as a mage and scholar. In the beginning they had no names. The Atoning Mirror was a standing mirror meant to reflect ones nature as it truly was. The Condemning Mirror was actually identical in both its function and purpose. It was a handheld mirror Etoile meant to carry with her, something portable and, consequently, easier to control.”

As so often happened in Praedian history, mages were all too eager to risk their own lives to prove their work. Enya recalled the part of the story when Etoile became a mute, wondering what she could have seen or heard that would leave her in such a state. It wasn’t long after that when the chaos began.

“Etoile tested the Condemning Mirror first. It was smaller, had less power, and if the truth became too much for her, she would be able to free herself from its influence more easily. Even so, her true feelings–whatever they were–were too much for even her to deal with in the beginning. She lost the ability to speak, becoming a mute. Needless to say the rest of the family was troubled by this. The head of House Salomon and Etoile’s father, Manuel, uncovered the mirrors. To everyone’s surprise, he was a man of impeccable character; he managed to face the greater mirror and walk away unscathed. Etoile decided to continue her work in silence. Rather than simply knowing what she truly was, she also wanted to know what she could become. She wanted her father to know as well.

“And so even more conceptual magic was suffused into the mirrors. Etoile told her father what she’d done and he faced the large mirror once again. He was overjoyed to learn of his own future potential, but word spread of his greatness throughout House Salomon. History turns on even the smallest of actions, and these were far from small. Etoile’s brother, Eloi, was heir to House Salomon, and so his sudden suicide after confronting himself in the mirror sent waves of discord throughout their territory. The tragedy even made it to the ears of King Fortier. He was a man of action, and ordered House Salomon to destroy the mirrors at once.”

Enya could understand the decision after what she had been through, but the Atoning Mirror was sitting right there in the workshop. Irving hadn’t mentioned the destruction of its counterpart, either. Both mirrors must have been saved somehow, right?

“So, how’d Etoile get around that problem?” Pharez chimed in.

“They didn’t. Not exactly. In fact, just before his son’s death, Manuel had Etoile craft a third mirror as a gift for House Fortier.”

“Oh boy,” Pharez shook his head.

“He believed King Fortier was a good man like himself, someone who would benefit from the trial of the mirror. With Etoile’s improvements, the King might also find renewed vigor for his own rule. Fortege as a whole could benefit from the king’s refinement as a man. I don’t know how much Manuel’s perspective on this changed when he learned that his own son had been so distraught by it that he took his own life, but he didn’t obey the king’s order. Etoile’s latest mirror was destroyed instead, and the pieces were sent to House Fortier. Manuel instructed his daughter to continue her work, to find a way to make the mirrors useful, but not dangerous. A very interesting leader, I must say. Of course, he’d seen the benefits of the mirrors firsthand. Whatever grief he felt at the loss of his son, he also knew the benefits of such deep insight into ones own mind.”

“So he wanted to save the mirrors and improve them,” Enya said, “even though they got his son killed.” Supposedly Manuel was a good man, but Enya didn’t know what that meant, exactly. Wasn’t he treating his son’s death too lightly?

“Yes, the potential was too great to simply bury everything that had happened. Manuel saw the potential for a purer, more trustworthy monarchy. King Fortier likely saw scores of dead, and the citizenry asking questions, digging up old secrets and the like. Which of them was right seems trivial in light of what actually wound up happening. House Fortier had eyes everywhere, in more places than Manuel could have imagined. They knew that House Salomon still had the mirrors, and so King Fortier sent his own men to deal with the problem. The two houses prepared for battle, and Etoile was forced to make a choice. She could either end this here, destroy both mirrors and turn herself and her research over to House Fortier, or she could fight alongside her father, using everything she knew in her family’s defense.”

Etoile chose to fight at her father’s side. Enya remembered that much clearly. It was inspiring, or at least it had been before Enya became more familiar with Etoile’s handiwork.

Irving gestured toward Etoile’s mirror, “That was when she changed the two mirrors forever, turning one into a tool of refinement for those worthy of it, and turning the other into a shield to protect the first. That was when they received their names: The Mirror of Atonement, and the Mirror of Condemnation. The Atoner showed the user their deeper nature, while the Condemner violently reflected all attempts to harm either of the mirrors back on their attackers. So Enya, how would you feel about another song? I’m sure that would cheer you both up.”

“Another-oh, yes! Of course,” Enya quickly stood up, “I love these.”

“I didn’t know you sang, Sir,” Pharez cocked an eyebrow at him, “but what about the story?”

Irving let himself chuckle before clearing his throat again. “Enya’s orientation last week gave me some insights of my own. If you wouldn’t mind, Pharez, I’ll finish Etoile’s story with a song.”

Pharez grinned for the first time that day. “Why not? There’s nothing like a good shanty while you’re on the waves or on the ropes.”

“Right then~”

Mirror of Atonement, the truth and hope revealed.

Mirror of Condemnation, the omen and a shield.

Reflected back was sloth and pride, the darkness buried deep inside.

The things Etoile had never known, no not until a light was shone.

The magic mirror reflected truth, that which she could not see,

the failings that all barred the way, from who she wished to be.

Reflected back was envy and wrath, shortcomings that still barred his path.

The things Manuel had feared the least, the mirror revealed the beast.

The magic mirror reflected truth, on this that fateful day.

He cast off envy and put down wrath, resolved to lead the way.

Reflected back was lust and greed, a warning he would never heed.

The things Eloi could not place, the mirror spoke with his own face.

The magic mirror reflected truth, but he thought himself wise.

He could not reconcile himself, he brought forth his demise.

Reported back was death and doom, a House Salomon heirloom.

The things the King had feared the most, upheavals within his host.

The magic mirror reflected truth, it could not be denied.

King Fortier gave his decree, this thing would not abide.

Reported back was the king’s fear, House Fortier’s army drew near. 

The things they saw were not the same, the mirror was not to blame.

The magic mirror reflected truth, so he would not obey.

Manuel rallied his finest men, and sent Etoile away.

Reported back was fear and pain, all throughout Fortier reign.

The things Etoile had seen from them, these things she would condemn.

The magic mirror was not just one, she had crafted three.

The third was gone yet two remained, yes this was meant to be.

Mirror of Atonement, the truth men despise.

Mirror of Condemnation, protector of the wise.

“Etoile escaped with both mirrors in the end,” Irving explained, “and House Fortier was never able to fully bury the incident. As much as they tried to smear House Salomon and place all the blame on them for ‘forbidden magics,’ Etoile still lived, as did many others from Salomon that escaped the brutal battle. She traveled all of Fortege, showing people the truth and staying one step ahead of the Fortiers. Eventually they were overthrown along with many other noble houses in the country. Ironic that the king’s attempts to keep the secrets of the nobility was the very thing that inspired the revolts.”

“We don’t even know what they were hiding?” Enya couldn’t help but be amused by that.

Irving shrugged. “It hardly matters now, does it?”

“I guess not, but what about the Condemner? Is that one in the Golden Treasury too?”

“It is. Item 2-S-06, if you’re curious.”

Pharez crossed his arms in thought for a moment. “Section S. That’s one of Lydia’s quick summons.”

Enya had learned a great deal about the Golden Treasury since she came here, and even the Tenebrae Estate, so when Pharez mentioned Lydia’s ‘quick summons,’ she realized it was the top layer of the Golden Treasury. Items in that section were sometimes called quick summons because they weren’t archived like normal items. There could never be more than ninety-nine items stored there at any one time, but Lydia could summon them out of thin air with a mental command. She could send them back just as easily. If the Condemner was kept there, rather than in Section C along with the Atoning Mirror, then Lydia probably wanted it ready to summon in case of an emergency.

“Yes, it’s one of those golden ticket items from Roburo’s restoration days,” Irving said.

“Right. Well, I do feel better now, so thanks for that, Sir. Still, do you really think we should face the Atoner again?”

“I do. I won’t force the issue, but until you see the other side of what Etoile’s mirror is showing you, you’ll only be part way through the journey. I told you before that when I faced the mirror, there wasn’t just anger there. There was also hope. You need to endure to that moment to have a balanced perspective.”

“Endure.” Enya didn’t like the sound of that. How long would she have to hear herself rant and rave and curse before this hope of Irving’s was made manifest?

“Take the rest of the day off. Both of you.” Irving leaned toward them and put a hand on each of their shoulders. “You can overcome this. Lydia always surrounds herself with the right people. If you have doubts about yourself, then at least trust in that.”

“Okay, Sir,” Pharez nodded, still unsure but willing to try.

Enya mirrored the nod but said nothing.

Humbling oneself was easier said than done, but Irving had given Enya and Pharez the rest of the day off. There was plenty of time to prepare to face the Atoning Mirror again. The mere thought of seeing those twisted versions of themselves again held them back for nearly an hour. Eventually, they decided to face the mirror together. As far as they knew, it was something new that no one else had tried before. When standing in front of the mirror, one always stood alone. Maybe standing together would help. Maybe they could better endure themselves this way, and finally reach the hope Irving had promised them.

Enya took her spot slightly to the left, and Pharez took his place slightly to the right. Enya remembered what happened to her the first time, how everyone around her seemed to disappear when the mirror activated. This time, she took Pharez’s hand and held it firm. Would the mirror pull them both in together? Would nothing be any different from the first time? Would the mirror even activate with another person involved? The questions piled on in Enya’s mind as she tried to focus on her own reflection.

“We can do this,” Pharez said, trying to psyche them both up.

“Right,” Enya nodded, “We’ll win this time.”

As soon as the words left her lips, she was alone with the mirror. Pharez’s hand just wasn’t there anymore, and neither was he. Enya’s heart filled with dread as she slowly looked over at the mirror, and saw her dark reflection staring back at her.

“I’m back,” Enya said bravely. She straightened up and put herself directly in front of the mirror. “We have to finish this.”

“We will finish this,” Enya’s reflection smiled mischievously. Then, she stepped forward. Before Enya knew what was happening, the other Enya somehow stepped out of the mirror altogether. “Tell me something, Enya. What do you deserve?”

“What in the world?!”

“Do you deserve to be working here?” She took a step closer to the real Enya, prompting her to step back, “Do you deserve to be in Roburo?”

“Why are you asking that?” Enya kept moving back, but the other one kept an almost exact distance with every step.

“Do you even deserve to be alive? Well, do you?”

“I don’t know.” Too panic-stricken to think, Enya’s answer came out all on its own.

Her doppelganger suddenly lunged and tackled her to the ground. “That’s why I hate you! You’re just like an animal!” She quickly wrapped her fingers around Enya’s throat and held her down. “That’s why I’m the one that should be in control! Not you! It never should have been you!”

Was this real? Was she really being strangled by her own reflection? Enya tried to breathe, to speak, to do anything that might break the illusion, but nothing was working. She really was being attacked. Why didn’t Irving warn them something like this could happen, and where was Pharez?

“Pharez-” Enya barely eked out a cry, “h-help!”

Her attacker laughed. “You really thought holding hands would save you both? Idiot! He’s a pirate! Do you know what scum like him do to people? Do you know what he’d do to you if he had the chance, when he gets the chance? And he’s the one you’re calling for help?”

Even if she could speak, Enya didn’t know what to say to that. She believed in Pharez, even having only known him a short time. The man had a conscience, one she suspected was better than hers at times, if only due to his greater life experience. It hurt to hear herself slander him so relentlessly. To suggest he was some kind of monster, even after seeing all of his regrets shoved in his face, was cruel. It was unfair. It was worse than what she was going through now. It had to be. Enya grabbed her attacker’s wrists as tightly as she could. She didn’t have the strength to free herself, but she could at least take some of the weight off her neck.

“Face it, he’s either going to go completely insane, or he’s going to give in and become a pirate again. Trying this together just means you’ll be his first victim before he dies like a proper murdering scumbag!”

“That’s not true,” Enya said, pushing back as hard as she could, “He’s stronger than that!” Little by little, Enya was lifting her reflection up by the wrists. Little by little she was able to breathe freely again.

“How do you know that?”

“Lydia believes in him … and so do I!” Finally, Enya had her other self high up enough that her fingers could no longer reach.

“Now you’re just parroting that weasel Irving!”

“He’s right,” Enya said, throwing the doppelganger aside and rushing to her feet. “Pharez won’t hurt me, and neither will you.”

“I’m not going to hurt you, Enya,” the enraged reflection said, slowing rising off the floor, “I’m going to end you!”

Suddenly a great howl filled the workshop. Both Enya and her other self flinched and looked toward the mirror. Enya barely caught sight of a gray dog, a gray wolf? It scurried on by just below the inside of the mirror, but there was no creature on this side to mirror it.

“Oh no,” Enya’s doppelganger winced, “Not you.”

“I’m afraid so~”

The voice Enya heard could only be described as amazing. It sounded so much like herself, but the gentleness and the confidence that issued forth was all the help she would ever need. What Enya felt in that moment was too much for her to fathom. She stood there beaming as ‘hope’ finally arrived. A third Enya stepped through the mirror into the workshop. She was a few years older, taller, her hair was longer and tied into a long, elegant braid, and her dress marked her as a senior at the estate.

“Go away, you pretender,” Enya’s attacker hissed.

Now things were different. Enya wasn’t the least bit afraid anymore. Her dark reflection’s rage was nothing more than desperation. She was still dangerous, but in a moment, Enya knew what she would become in just a few short years if she never gave in. If she just kept fighting, and kept moving forward, this monster would be facing the so called pretender, and standing behind her would be an even greater, even more mature, more powerful Enya Ward. This was only the first step.

“I’m not leaving. In fact, I’m coming a little closer each and every day.”

“You aren’t even real! I’m the real Enya! I’m the one that’s been here this whole time!”

Enya watched, wondering what this hope of hers would say to a claim like that. Suddenly the third Enya was pointing at her.

“That’s the real Enya.”

“No! All she does is roll over and take whatever the world gives her! She never acts on her true feelings! She-” The doppelganger was stopped short by hope’s laughter.

“You silly little imp. What responsible person would act on every impulse? Who barks like a dog at every passing problem? You’re no more real than Enya’s nightmares. Now go. You’ve shown her enough.”


“You had your chance to drag her over to your way of thinking, and you failed. She’ll never listen to you now. Go and be angry somewhere else.”

“I said no!” This time, instead of lunging at Enya, the dark reflection came charging at the Enya of tomorrow. It was her last mistake.

Enya tried to reach out in a vain attempt to help, but the fight was over before it had even begun. A small silver shield appeared in the future Enya’s hands and she effortlessly repelled the attack. A barrier erupted from the shield and threw Enya’s attacker back so hard she was reduced to a gust of wind.

It was over.

Enya’s future self sighed. “Enya has always been stronger than you. What chance did you really have? Silly little imp.”

“I’m stronger …” Enya wasn’t completely sure she believed that yet, but she wasn’t afraid anymore. Maybe that was enough.

With only the two of them left, they both approached each other. “You’re amazing,” Enya said, “I have so many questions, though.”

“What kinds of questions?”

Where to start, Enya mused, “Where did you get that shield from? Erm, what was that dog from earlier? A wolf? What’s my life going to be like?”

As the questions came flooding in, Enya’s future self seemed less and less so, looking rather amused and uncomfortable at the same time. “Let’s see, the shield was a gift, the wolf’s name is Ein, and … I don’t know how to say this, so I’ll just say it. I have no idea what life is like, Enya. I’m your hope, your potential. I’m not your future. Not unless you make it happen.”


“Yes. It’s up to you. By the time you get to where I am, you’ll have all those answers. You’ll make all those answers.”

Enya supposed that made sense. No one said anything about the Atoning Mirror being able to see into the future specifically. It certainly painted a beautiful picture in any case. It was just too bad that the worst part always came first. “So as long as I don’t let her win, I’ll be like you someday.”

“If you want to be,” the taller Enya noted with a grin.

“Okay, but how do I go about that? I still don’t know what I should do.” Now that Enya knew it was possible, she wanted specifics. She had to know how to stay on this course. She couldn’t let herself get derailed and become anything less than the woman standing in front of her.

Enya’s potential self crossed her arms in deep thought for a moment. “I have a question for you, Enya. You’ve already answered it, but I want you to think a little more this time.”


“What do you think you deserve?”

That question sent a chill down Enya’s spine. The last time she heard it, her reflection had just stepped out into her world and was threatening her with violence. This time it was her own hope, the potential inside of her that was asking the question.

“Do you deserve to be here, working for Lydia? Do you deserve to be living in Roburo? Do you even deserve to be alive? Do you, really?”

Enya couldn’t answer with any certainty. To say yes reeked of the same arrogance as her doppelganger. To say no was just as bad, granting a victory, however small, to that same ‘imp’ that wanted control of her life. She couldn’t give it any ground whatsoever, or she might lose her way. “I don’t know.” The same answer as before.

“That’s fine,” the new Enya smiled. “I just wanted you to think it over without any distractions.”

“So what should I do?” Enya asked. Her shoulders fell as her newfound confidence left her. “I was so sure a while ago, but now I feel lost again.”

“You can always do what I do.”

“What’s that?”

“I remember all the people and things I’m grateful for. When all’s said and done, life just isn’t about what you deserve, Enya. Everything you should have in this life is just a passing thought. It’s no more real than that silly little imp that was bothering you. Whatever you have is a blessing, and whatever you can have is a blessing in the making. That’s why I always give in to that wonderful feeling.”

‘Give in’ was an interesting choice of words, if somewhat worrying at first. “Give in to what feeling?”

“Gratitude. It’s one thing to not take it all for granted. It’s another to feel true gratitude. It’s something she will never feel, because all she does is lash out and grasp for more. Let that feeling of gratitude wash over you like it did when you heard my voice.”

“That feeling.” Enya remembered it clearly. She knew the exact feeling her potential self was talking about. Just thinking about it seemed to bring it all back. It really was a wonderful feeling, something she didn’t want to let go of.

Yes. Remember that feeling, Enya. Embrace it.”

That feeling didn’t leave room for much else, Enya realized, and the moment she did, she felt Pharez’s hand tightly gripping hers. She looked over and saw him standing beside her just like he had been before. She was standing in front of the mirror with him, just like she was before the mirror activated.

Enya never let go of Pharez’s hand, and she was careful not to move his arm too much, in case it might interrupt whatever was happening on his end. The temptation was there. As much as she wanted him to experience his own hope, his own potential self, she knew that he must be facing an almost overwhelming opponent. Was he facing that opponent right now, or had he already overcome it? She couldn’t tell. Even leaning around to see his expression told her nothing. No frown, no smile, no sweat, no tears. Nothing.

Just as Enya was about to settle for a very long wait, Pharez let out a sharp breath that almost sounded like the start of a laugh. Enya looked up and saw the widest, brightest smile she had ever seen on a person. As he looked down to see they were both still linked, Enya lifted his hand up and clasped it in hers.

“You saw it, too?” Pharez asked, barely able to contain himself.


“Mine gave me some really interesting advice to get on his level. How about yours?”

“More or less the same,” Enya said. “What did yours say?”

“How about you first?” Pharez hesitated.

Enya had been waiting for a couple of minutes, so she wanted to hear Pharez’s side before sharing her own. He obviously felt the same way, so they weren’t likely to get anywhere like this.

Eventually they both decided to go first.


It was the third day of the exhibition. Enya had gotten off to a good start this morning. She had no bad dreams, woke up exactly when she meant to, and arrived at the Tenebrae Estate with plenty of time to check in on Pharez and the Atoning Mirror. Everything was working as intended. The new inhibitor was installed and thoroughly tested for flaws. Even so, Irving decided not to put the mirror back on display in the exhibit, if only to leave Enya with as few distractions as possible.

“Excuse me, Miss?” an elderly gentleman tried to get her attention.

Enya was surprised to see the same elderly couple from two days ago back at the exhibition. “Oh, hi there. Were there any more items you wanted to look at?”

“Yes, but what happened to that mirror you showed us the other day. The one that Etoile girl made.”

Enya smiled awkwardly at them. “You noticed it was missing?”

“You were too, oddly enough,” the wife noted. From the sound of things, they had been here all three days so far. There were only thirty items on display; Enya didn’t see much reason to make the trip back up here each day, but to each their own. At least this way she could make up for such a spacy first impression.

“I was off yesterday,” Enya explained, opting not to go into the details. “Anyway, the mirror needed some maintenance, so we’re keeping it in back for now. If there’s anything you haven’t seen yet, I’d be happy to explain the history to you. Just point the way.”

“You aren’t going to start daydreaming again, are you?” the husband teased, even playfully jutting a finger at her.

“Don’t be rude,” the wife swatted his hand.

Enya laughed, mostly at herself. “Not at all. I’m actually glad you’re both back today. You have my full attention~”


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