Chapter Thirteen: Part One

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What had started out as a proclamation to begin Gwen's training had turned into a guided tour of the Spectrum. The upper levels in particular.

From the network of walkways and hidden passages, to the white marble balconies and Reg. Force lounge, there didn't seem to be an area Gwen didn't see.

Except the portals; the glowing archways were forbidden, leading to various parts both within and without the Spectrum's core. Forneus had made Gwen promise she wouldn't go anywhere near them without either him or Phenex to escort her. With the sheer number of archways scattered throughout the Spectrum and those whose locations were constantly changing, it would be weeks before they found her. Perhaps longer.

Gwen didn't need telling twice. After the grand tour, she spent the day waiting in her room, taking advantage of whatever amusements Forneus could conjure up for her. Mostly, this involved reading books or listening to music. When those had run their course, she'd watch the veins in the walls shift from colour to colour until Forneus dropped by, promising that it wouldn't be long now; her training would begin soon. They just needed more time to work out the details.

It wasn't until the following day that Forneus was finally able to make good on his promise. He came to rouse Gwen first thing in the morning—or whatever passed for morning in the Spectrum—and once she'd finished wolfing down her breakfast, nearly choking on her fruit salad in the process, he left the room so that she could get ready.

When Gwen stepped out into the pyrite corridor, hair still damp from her shower, it was to see that both Forneus and Phenex were waiting for her. The latter leaned against the wall opposite, one corner of his mouth twitching into a grin in greeting.

Even though they had resolved their differences the day before, had even spent the better part of it talking and laughing afterward, she still couldn't believe the entity who had glared at her with such fury in his eyes less than twenty-four hours earlier was the same one smiling at her now. Not in the bitter or mocking way she had become accustomed to, but like that of an old friend sharing a private joke, his amber eyes dancing with amusement.

From there, they had left the pyrite corridor and entered the Spectrum's central area, the stone walls falling away on either side as they descended a spiral staircase leading onto another platform. Gwen peered at the vast network of walkways above and below, many with matching stairways that branched off; either disappearing into one of the few closed-off areas like the pyrite corridor, or through the white archways with their glowing red symbols. The soft, undulating colours stretched on in all directions, making it impossible to tell whether the lights were coming from afar, or if they were part of the very air she breathed.

If there had been oxygen in space, and if space had been made up of the ever-flowing colours of the aurora borealis, filled with crystal bridges instead of planets and stars, this is what she imagined it might have felt like. One glance over the edge of the path was enough to make her feel weak in the knees, for there were no supports, no railings that she could see. If there was any protection at all, it would have been the scattering of marble columns on either side. But even these didn't instill her with much confidence.

Fortunately, she had Phenex and Forneus on either side of her, all three of them maintaining a steady gait as they descended into the Spectrum's lower levels. It was with mild curiosity that she noticed the colours seemed to darken as they went farther down, and yet they were no less beautiful than those in the upper levels, the tones far more soothing.

As they descended yet another quartz staircase, this one accented with traces of what she thought might be citrine or topaz, Gwen asked, "So how are we going to figure out what my powers are, exactly?"

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