World of Dusk:
© 2015, Anthony Greer. AG Creative Publications
All rights reserved.
No portion of this book may be used without sole permission of the copyright holder except in use of a review.
“World of Dusk: The Wedding” is one of several origin stories that all tie into “The Raven of Dusk” and its respective titles. “The Raven of Dusk” is a series that stands on its own, while the “World of Dusk” is meant to exist as a series of backstories and pivotal events that occur in the world of Noreis. Some of these stories will be mentioned in the series, while others will exist only in the “World of Dusk” origins. I hope you enjoy.
To read book one in the series: “The Raven of Dusk: Transcendence” click here
World of Dusk: The Interview
Eliza unglued her hands from the rectangular steering controls and stared at herself in the reflection of the dome glass. Her dark shoulder length hair with soft sandy brown accents curved inward and rounded out her otherwise hard face. Her emerald eyes had a fiery determination within them. The diamond blue dress shirt her mother bought her made her look both professional and pretty, much unlike her usual garbs. For the moment she felt like a political princess. What she needed was the confidence of a queen—and what she really needed was to stop quivering.
She pressed a button to retract the glass dome of her air shuttle and stepped out of it and into the guest parking lot of the main building on the academy's grounds. She nearly tripped on the bottom rails that held the shuttle up. She'd never done that before.
There was no way she could appear before the dean of admissions while seeming so shaken. This tension needed to go away.
She headed for the air lift platform a few parking spaces away. A sliding glass door opened and closed behind her and she pressed the button for the 42nd floor. Once it started upward, she couldn't stand still. She tried to do all that she could to shake her nerves, but nothing stopped her heart from racing. Her portfolio and her application slipped from her hands and onto the ground. She cussed loudly and bent down to pick them up, then she stood straight and didn't move. She needed to be as professional as possible. She sighed, took a deep breath and, when the lift reached her destination, a mature young woman exited out of it.
Eliza kept a regular, unchanging pace and focused only on the admissions office in front of her where a kind-looking grandmother type smiled sweetly at her.
“What can I do for you, dear?”
“My name is Eliza Bennihan. I have an interview scheduled with the dean of admissions today.”
The receptionist opened up her telescreen. Her eyes went back and forth as she inspected her holographic calendar in search of Eliza’s name. “Oh yes, Miss Eliza Bennihan. Please, have a seat. I'll call you when the Admissions Board is ready to see you.”
“Thank you,” Eliza said, backing away and sitting in one of the office chairs along the wall.
Two seats away from her sat another girl, both a little taller and older than she was. She was dressed in black and white and, unlike Eliza, gave off the aura that she was more than ready for her interview. Eliza took a glance at her application and at the large portfolio on the seat in between them. The top of her application read ‘Helena Cavill’ and beneath it 'Cardeau Advisory Academy: Sophomore.'
“This is going to be my third year interviewing for the academy,” Helena said, “I thought I had it last year but this... this is my year.”
Eliza frowned. The last thing she needed to see was someone who looked more together than was did telling her of her inability to be one of the 3% of applicants that got accepted into the academy.
“Is this your first time applying? I imagine it has to be. You look young.”
“I'm fifteen,” Eliza mumbled.
“I'm fifteen. If I get accepted I'll be sixteen when I start.”
Helena smiled. Eliza couldn't tell if it was legitimate or if there was deviousness behind it. “Well, I wish you the best of luck then.”
“Thank you. And you as well.”
“Miss Bennihan,” the receptionist leaned forward in her desk, “the Advisory Board will see you now.”
Eliza turned to Helena. “You're not first?”
“Nope. I showed up an hour early. I think I'm right after you.”
Eliza gulped and didn't say another word. She closed her eyes for a second to gather herself. Once she did, the receptionist led her down a corridor to a bland-looking door at the far end. She partook in the long walk down the hall, where the kind grandmother-type seemed to morph into a last rites guard. The clunking of her heels resembled the dramatic footsteps that preluded her execution.
She told herself to stop being over-dramatic. It didn't work.
Eliza entered the room where the three members of the board all rose from their seats. The board meeting room rivaled most hotel lobbies in size. Columns formed an octagon in the crème colored room, which was easily thirty feet high. Behind them was a large window where she’d be able to see the rest of the Barencos if it hadn't been a cloudy day. A light orange fog concealed the air shuttles flying by until they were zooming across the building. Even the neighboring skyscraper was barely visible. This was probably a good thing. She'd be less distracted from the board members before her.
She approached them and shook their hands one by one. They introduced themselves, but she already knew who they were. She'd been doing research on them ever since she'd gotten the interview scheduled. On the right was Adviser Merchant, a man in his sixties and a former Adviser of the city-state of Magent. On the left was former Senator Shander, a woman in her forties who served in Barencos for more than half her life. In the center was Dean Stockton, the head of the admissions for the BAA as well as a former monarch.
Once she sat down she was panic stricken. They didn't say anything right away. Dean Stockton put her application aside and picked apart her portfolio like a surgeon dissecting a body to see how it worked. Pages were removed and spread across the table for the three of them to see. They analyzed her recommendations, essays and grades carefully while Eliza sat in silence, feeling her soul be picked apart document by document. She didn't know if they wanted her to speak, so she didn't say anything. She remained silent with her hands in her lap and her eyes unblinking. As they pried apart her life, she needed to stay focused and professional.
“This portfolio is...” Dean Stockton paused. It was the longest moment of Eliza's life.
“It's quite good,” Adviser Merchant concluded.
She immediately felt at ease. She sat straight up and waited to hear more.
Dean Stockton went next. “You spent three years on Representative Gerald’s campaign, starting on your twelfth birthday? That’s quite young. What was that experience like for you?”
“I loved it,” Eliza said, “When he first met me, he was a little skeptical about my age, but once we became better acquainted I went from doing lunch runs for the staff to becoming a speech writer, editor of his campaign, and before my family moved from Larcos to Kalia, he asked me to stay onboard as his campaign manager. If I took the job, I would have been the youngest campaign manager in Larcosian history. Unfortunately, my mother wasn’t keen on letting me live alone in a continent away from them.”
“That’s a shame,” Adviser Merchant said. “But your mother is wise, and you will have other opportunities.”
“If you were to be admitted into the Barencos Advisory Academy, you wouldn’t be able to live anywhere near Kalia,” Senator Shander said. “Barencos is a half-day’s drive away. Would your mother allow you to come, then?”
“My father promised me that, if I got in, he would leave his job to try and find one in this city if my mother requires that of him,” Eliza explained. “He is much more in tune with my dream than she is. He wanted to get into politics once, too, but my mother convinced him to become an ecologist when she became pregnant with me. He found his own way to improve the world. I am hoping that this will be a great way for me to find my way.”
“Your aspirations can change a million times between now and then,” Senator Shander said. “It’s the risk that comes with being so young. The median age of accepted applicants into the academy is nineteen, and even some of the older ones waver.”
Eliza thought about defending her age, but she remained quiet. Refutations were her strong suit, but didn’t know how to talk to these people. What one official would think of as complimentary could offend another. The last thing she needed was for any of them to get a sour taste in their mouths while the interview was ongoing.
“She is quite young,” Dean Stockton said, “but age doesn't necessarily matter all the time. Miss Bennihan, how well do you know the political system of Noreis and those who run it?”
“I can tell you what every position does and the variations of laws in all four city-states of the Pecorwin Continent. I also did intensive studies on both Barencosian law and Hewenian law.”
“Hewenian law?” Dean Stockton’s octave raised with his surprise. “That’s an unusual study.”
“It’s an unusual place.”
Along with humans, the world of Noreis was home to two other intelligible species: the Hennians and the Trewanians. Hennians were creatures that were often six feet tall and with blue skin covered in scales. Many of them took jobs that required a lot of use of their hands, considering that they had four as opposed to two. They also had some of the brightest, most beautiful eyes that Eliza had ever seen. Trewanians were often seven feet tall—some ever taller, and had a light green skin that was almost transparent. Many of them would look sickly if they weren’t also brute.
Despite looking dissimilar, Hennians and Trewanians had very common core beliefs and lived their lives by them. Just a century earlier, religious zealots, wealthy financial backers, and many hard workers erected Hewenia, a city-state where the two races could live under a government that fused church and state. While not all Hennians and Trewanians lived there, Hewenia was seldom a place where you’d see many humans—and the humans that were there were almost always tourists.
The three members of the admissions board pondered her interest in Hewenia for a second longer, and then it was back to questioning.
The dean continued. “Can you name the last ten Monarch Superiors of Noreis?”
“I can name the last eighty,” she replied instantly.
“Who was Superior Parker's successor,” Adviser Merchant asked.
“Which Superior Parker?” Eliza asked. “Shaya Parker’s successor was Superior Wen Fawn while Maya's was Superior Damon Morelli.”
“Superior Shaya Parker's successor was actually Gavin Malloy,” Adviser Merchant said.
“Actually, Miss Bennihan is right,” Dean Stockton replied. “Fawn was the official Superior for two cycles before she resigned. Superior Gavin Malloy was his successor.” The dean gave her a smile, which made her light up inside. “So Eliza, if you were to gain admittance into the academy, what are you looking to study?”
Eliza stalled for a moment and discreetly bit her lip. It was the most obvious question that she'd be asked, but even after weeks of preparation, she didn't have a proper answer for it. “I'm still trying to figure that out. I know that I want to continue studying Norean Law. It's my passion and it always has been but, with regards to a career afterward, I'm still in the process of discovering what my exact path should be.”
Senator Shander nodded. “That's common. Especially for our younger applicants.”
“But—” Eliza went pale. She thought that the senator was done, but Shander opened her mouth to continue speaking. Stifled, Eliza decided to not further with her interruption.
“Were you going to say something?” the senator asked.
“I,” Eliza bit her lip. It was noticeable this time. “What I was going to say was that even though I don't know what I'd like to do yet, there are many who have attended the Barencos Advisory Academy with the same thoughts and have done many great things for Noreis. People like you, Senator Shander. Your motion to restructure the districts of Barencos allowed for your government to obtain the abilities it needed to become more efficient and to drop the unemployment rate back down into low single digits—at one point three-point-five percent!
“Adviser Merchant, you are still known today as one of the greatest Advisers that Magent has ever had. Your backing of the outdoor conditioning technology has saved thousands from heatstroke in your city-state every year, and yet it still didn't add any heat or electric taxes despite what so many people believed. And now, if I may, your daughter is finishing her final year at the academy. She had no idea what she wanted to do before entering, and she's thinking about working for the same district that you got your start in.
“And lastly there's you, Dean Stockton. It took you four interviews before you were finally admitted to this academy, and even then it was just a two-to-one vote. Not only did you surpass the doubts of your advisers, but you became the head of your class and now you're the dean of the academy—and if I remember correctly, you had changed your major four times within your first two years here.”
Dean Stockton smiled. “Actually, it was five times. I was a Common Law Major twice, but I can't imagine that you'd have any way of knowing that.”
Eliza kept quiet. She knew she didn't need to say anymore.
“You're definitely one of our more impressive applicants,” the dean said.
“I agree,” added Senator Shander.
Eliza smiled and looked from the senator to the dean.
Adviser Merchant was still busy sifting through the remnants of her portfolio. He reached the end and started examining the documents on their desk.
“Is something wrong,” the dean asked him.
“Yes,” the adviser said, “I notice that you have copious amounts of praise from Representative Gerald, but you don’t have a second letter of recommendation from another government official.
Eliza felt all of the blood rush to her face. She feared the next words that would come out of her mouth. “Representative Carlton, also from Larcos, was going to write me one, but there was a money laundering scandal that he ended up on the wrong side of and he was forced to resign. My family just moved to Kalia. I do not know that city-state like I knew my home, so I don’t know if I can get a second letter of recommendation any time soon. Carlton will vouch for me, despite what’s happened to him. I was hoping that it would be a satisfactory enough requirement.”
A shockwave of silence reverberated through the admissions board. Three pairs of eyes narrowed in and saw right through hers. She had to sit on her hands to prevent them from shaking.
“That uh... that unfortunately changes things, Miss Bennihan,” the dean said.
Eliza nodded on like a convict found guilty and awaiting a sentence.
“Two letters of recommendation from political figures actively in power is one of the requirements to be admitted into the school,” Senator Shander explained. “You're a very impressive young woman, but we cannot make any exceptions. If one of our own children was unable to meet one of those requirements, we'd be unable to admit them as well.”
“I... I understand.” She felt her body slowly melt. At any moment she would surely become a mere puddle on their white-tiled floor. “Is there anything I can do?”
The dean and the senator exchanged glances. It was the dean who answered her. “We are unable to make an official decision regarding who gets accepted into the academy until we've met with all of the applicants. The process will take months. If you can get the letter of recommendation from a second official, then we can add it to your portfolio.”
“While we cannot guarantee even then that you'll be admitted, I will say that your chances are better than most of our applicants,” the senator said.
She let out a sigh of relief and nodded. “I can do this. I swear it on my potential future at your academy.”
Eliza stood and shook all of their hands again and the dean wished her luck. After, she left them and passed through the corridor, the receptionist and Helena, and headed for the air lift.
It’s not the end of the world, she told herself. Just another hurdle. She tried to keep her focus on the positives of the interview. They liked her more than she thought they would. That was the biggest relief, mainly because most people that Eliza had come across in her life didn't particularly care for her. Her peers made fun of the way she dressed and how she knew everything, while her mother was both overprotective and inattentive at the same time. That was all right though. If she got admitted into the academy, the people she'd known in her life up to that point wouldn't matter anyway. She just needed to find a political official that inspired her.
Eliza was relieved when she saw that she beat her mother home. She didn’t tell her that she had an interview scheduled across the continent before her mother left to go visit her best friend back in Larcos. Eliza’s was the first of the family air shuttles to park in front of their new crystal two-story home in the city-state of Kalia.
Kalia was mostly known for its tourism and science programs. The entire city-state was made up of crystals and water. The ground was coated in tiny rock crystals with a consistency barely greater than powder. It made up the buildings and shimmered in the light of Hela, and in the moon and stars above. Tiny streams of neon water etched the sidewalks and shuttle lots from the main roads, and then went to light the city-state with hydroelectric power. If Eliza were to follow the streams of water all to their origins, she would come across one of the several hydrodomes in Kalia, which were two hundred feet in height and funneled water from its core through to millions of pipes dispersed from it.
Most natives even wore crystal beaded shirts and dresses, further blending in with the city-state they’ve grown to love. The Bennihans had only moved there recently. Eliza’s father said that they were there only temporarily while he worked on a project for his company that required them to transplant from their cozy home in Larcos. Eliza never wanted to be there, already having made a positive dent in Larcosian politics. Her mother wasn’t thrilled either, seeing that she spent most of her days cleaning, cooking, and then getting cocktails with “the girls.” The Bennihans needed the money though. The raise that came with the transition would be enough for them to buy a larger house upon their return to Larcos, and help pay for some of Eliza’s schooling.
In truth, Eliza didn’t miss anything in Larcos beyond her job. School in Kalia was the same as it was in Larcos, except now different students rolled their eyes when she answered questions in class, and their library was a little larger and easier to find a spot to read during lunchtime. The names she was called were different, but they were just as uncreative as those in Larcos. When it came to a battle of wits, Eliza won every time. Unfortunately, responding to sophomoric insults with deep cutting truths didn’t result in lifelong friendships. She was as excited in Kalia as she was in Larcos to graduate two years early.
She stepped inside their small empty home. Father must have gone home and went straight to sleep the night before. He was supposed to take her to the interview, but work called him in at the last minute. She would need to let him know that she did the best she could when he came home, and that the reason she didn’t get in was out of control.
When he returned home an hour later, he didn’t share her sentiment. Before Eliza got to tell him anymore, he put his gear down and took her to a local diner that reminded them both of home. There was absolutely nothing special about it, except for that it looked like every other diner in Noreis. Back in Larcos, when Father came home late and Eliza was still up, he would sometimes take her to their diner and they would talk about their day for hours. It was rare for either of them to have anything significant to say, but just talking to him meant the world to her. Father was the only one who understood her, which was probably why he was so upset when she told him the news.
“I’m so sorry Eliza,” he said as the two shared a plate of fries and tempura. “If I didn’t have this job—”
“Carlton’s letter would still be ineligible,” Eliza replied. “Unfortunately, I don’t know the other representatives in Larcos well enough to get a letter that would hold weight. Dean Stockton recommended that I find someone here in Kalia to work for.”
Father took a minute, trying to swallow a mouthful of food. “Do you know anyone?”
Eliza shook her head. “I’ve spent the last couple of months perfecting my portfolio as is. Between that and finals, I haven’t had time to look. No one stands out, though. If they did, I would’ve known who they were before we moved out here.”
“Before I moved us out here,” her father replied. He took a large gulp of his soda and continued to stuff his face. It took Eliza a few minutes to figure out why her father was so hungry, then realized that their mother wasn’t there to make him lunch that day.
“They liked me, though,” she said, sliding a fry from one side of the plate to the other. “I don’t think they tell just anyone that their portfolios are impressive. I think I have a legitimate shot at this.”
“Of course you do. You are one of the brightest, most driven people that I’ve ever met.”
I know. “I’m not even from a royal family, or from a prestigious line like the Donnick’s or the Xeras’… no offense.”
“No, I understand,” father replied. “I guess we just need to find someone that inspires you.”
Eliza frowned. She’d barely eaten all day, but suddenly she no longer felt hungry. “I wish you would go back to politics. You had a seat in our housing board and you were thinking about city council before we left.”
Father shook his head. “No, I think I’m exactly where I need to be. I have no desire to go back now.”
“But I’ve seen you speak,” she retorted. “I’ve watched you stand up in a crowded room and argue your ideas; I’ve seen people’s faces go from indifference to cheering for you. You were well on your way to following your dreams before you and mom became parents.”
He chortled. “You mean before we had you?”
Father stopped eating to take a look at her. His eyes were almost as green as hers, but dimmed with age and responsibility. Mr. Bennihan was more calm and collected now than he was gregarious and influential. Through him, Eliza saw a path that she could easily go down herself one day, if she were to find love and marry (though her lack of prospects made this unlikely). “You know what your mother always says about you is true, right?”
“That my clothes look like that they should be worn by homeless children as punishment by other homeless children with nicer looking clothes?”
“Oh no, that was a barista,” Eliza replied. “Which is awkward because he’s also blind.”
“No, the stuff that your mother says when I’m actually around to hear it.”
Father took another sip of his soda. “She said that you can’t wait to get your life started. Eliza, you were born three weeks early and your mother was in labor for less than twenty minutes. If we weren’t already at the hospital, I would’ve had to deliver you myself. You’ve been reading books before most children even learn to talk, and you started watching televised senate hearings at five. You’re the only kid I know that actually finishes their homework right after school so that you can go to the library—where the entire staff know you by name. You read, and you study, and for fun you read some more. I used to have to read the constitution to you because you preferred that to a bedtime story. We’ve been raising an adult from the moment you were born. At first it was cute, but most of your childhood years have gone by already.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that maybe your mother is a little right,” he winced upon speaking.
“Right about what?”
“That you need to be a kid while you still can be. Maybe make some friends—real ones, this time.”
“I love my job, and I loved having you. When your mother and I talked about our future together as a family, it didn’t take much for her to convince me to not run for a position of power. We didn’t want the stress of campaigning and mudslinging and to be put on a stage. We just wanted to have our own little family unit.”
Eliza couldn’t believe that these words were coming out of her father. “So get married, have a kid, and then get some simple job with a modest income. Is that the path you wish for me to take?”
“No! No, of course not. You are probably going to lead a very unique and interesting life. I just hope that it’s going to be one that you enjoy. Does all of this make you happy?”
“You’re starting to sound like her.”
“Who? Your mother? The woman who has raised and loved you even though you go out of your way to not have anything in common with her?”
She had no response. Did her parents somehow manage to switch bodies while she’d been in Barencos? What was this foreign language that he was speaking to her?
“Look, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t look for someone to try and admire, I’m simply saying that maybe this is a sign. Maybe you should take the year and enjoy yourself after graduation—or during school, since you’re still in it. The Barencos Advisory Academy will still be there in a year, and the admissions board would be foolish to not accept you. You learned that for yourself today.”
“I will not wait another year,” she hissed. “This is my year. I will not be like you and mother and compromise my dreams for someone else. I’m going to get into the best school in the world and I’ll graduate before even hitting the median age of those admitted—”
“And then what?” Her father asked. “I know you want to change the world, but how can you change something you’ve barely spent any time around? What happens if you accomplish all of this and then realize that you know nothing of the world you wish to better? Where will you start?”
“I’ll have years to figure that out.”
“But it’s the one question that you couldn’t answer during the interview,” her father retorted. “It’s a question that most everyone else going there will already have a memorized answer for.”
“Well, I don’t!” she shouted. If the diner was even remotely busy, people would’ve stopped to turn their heads to see a girl feuding with her father for what might’ve been the first time.
An uncomfortable and unfamiliar silence corroded their table as if Eliza was in the middle of a terrible dream. Father was and always had been her main supporter. If he wasn’t with her now, then she needed to find a political figure to follow as quickly as possible. She didn’t want to spend another year in the Bennihan household, where one parent could never relate to her while the other wanted her to become someone else.
She stood from the table and turned to him with the fire in her eyes that had been extinguished in his. “I’ll walk home from here. Have a good night, father.”
The buildings shimmered navy blues and greens in the moonlight. Some of the trees had glowing branches and leaves, and nearby there was a large fountain that spouted out water in brilliant designs that often caught the attention of tourists and passerby’s. Eliza had no interest in the beauty of Kalia that night, though. All she wanted to do was go to bed and pretend that nothing that night had ever happened. Father was always her defender. Without him, and without Representative Gerald to assist with campaign management while he acted as a second father to her, she had no one to depend on but herself.
The walk home was a somber one. She passed groups of people in the streets, all interacting with each other on their way to a late night dinner, drinks, or the park. None of them paid her much attention. They were too engrossed in their own worlds and their own social circles and, for the most part, they also all seemed to enjoy their group’s company. She was willing to bet her allowance that none of these people worked half as hard she did to struggle to make a change in the world, and yet that didn’t seem to bother them. Maybe her parents were right; maybe she needed a childhood, or at least friends.
The very concept made her nauseous. Aside from a couple of scholars at the library, there was no one that she could think of that she’d want to befriend.
She grimaced when she saw that her mother’s air shuttle was in front of their house. She didn’t want to get the same advice repeated to her by a woman who didn’t understand why she wanted to go to the BAA at all. Thankfully, Eliza came home to find the lights all off and a tepid snoring coming from her parent’s bedroom. She slinked by and headed into her own bedroom, feeling immediately more secure with her door shut behind her. Neither of her parents would bother her for the rest of the night. She would have plenty of time to start searching for someone in Kalia to follow.
She sat at her desk and swiped her textbooks away from the keyboard to her telescreen, which gave off the same glow as the cerulean crystals that the moon shined upon outside her window. The screen divided up into three parts: her e-mail to the left, a series of scrolling breaking stories to the right, and a blank black screen in the center waited for her voice commands.
“What…?” she muttered as she glanced to her right. A story titled ‘Progressive Representative Vila Pirral introduces a bill to the Hewenian House of Representatives to Separate Religion from Government Regulation.’ She clicked on the story, which opened up to an image of Representative Pirral, a Hennian creature with bright fiery purple eyes and lavender furs. Her white feathery hair draped across her shoulders and over her blue scaly skin as she stood behind a podium with a look of such defiance that Eliza imagined that the whole House fell silent when she spoke.
“Since the creation of Hewenia,” Eliza said, reading one of Vila’s quotes aloud, “We have believed that religion and government are fused together in our city-state. What we as Hennians and Trewanians have neglected to acknowledge in the last century is that it is actually our culture that defines our primary differences between our races and humans, and that our culture is what brought us together to form this city-state. Religious zealots have ruled Hewenia for too long, using the ‘Book of Gods’ as a weapon and not as a text in which to follow with our own personal, private beliefs. We as a city-state should continue to celebrate our culture but, now that we are strong enough to stand on our own feet, it is time to separate the beliefs we have and the rules and regulations that we are to follow.”
Eliza read the next paragraph and blinked with surprise. “Shockingly, Representative Pirral’s bill did not die upon its birth. While the House of Representatives voted it down, Pirral’s own district has decided to add it to their list of legislation to consider. If it passes in Pirral’s district, it may return to the House with strong support.”
Wow… a progressive woman administering a drastic, seemingly positive change in her district.
“Hmm,” she muttered. A human girl goes to Hewenia, interns for a district representative there while that representative alters the course of her city-state’s future, and then gets a letter of recommendation to show to the BAA admissions board.
For the first time that day, Eliza smiled. “Now that’s a way to get admitted…”
To read book one in the series: “The Raven of Dusk: Transcendence” click here