Thorüsa: Not a Shade of Doubt
CHAPTER ONE: NOT A SHADE OF DOUBT
MY FIRST THOUGHT upon entering the realm of Thorüsa, suspended between life and death, is one of disappointment: Why does everything look the same as it did when I was awake? From what I’ve heard at worship services, Thorüsa is a realm of mystery, but it doesn’t seem mysterious at all! Here I am in Galinicus’ laboratory, gazing down in wonder and fright at my slumbering self. Good. All seems to be going according to plan, at least if my master brewed the sleeping draught correctly. Turning around, I notice I’m floating in midair, lighter than any feather. By Elysium! Am I a “shade,” then, the spirit embodiment of a mortal being? Ordinarily, I’d be able to look at my body and see its solid parts. Now, however, my form is transparent, known only by faded colors and its barely-distinguishable shape.
My worry grows as I explore my new state, but also my sense of certainty that it is real. When I was little, I’d believed everything our church said about the afterlife, including Thorüsa. As I grew older, however, I began to have doubts: Are there really an Elysium and an Abyss, or are they only symbols of our own nature? What about our god? Does he truly exist? There are many people who don’t think so, even in our city. In fact, I know some of them! Are they right when they say we’re fools, who believe in children’s tales and superstitions? These questions had plagued me, but upon my entry into Thorüsa, they all vanish. Now I am a spirit, and I’m here. I’m looking down at my own body. Thorüsa exists, and so does my mission.
A frisson of excitement courses through me, even as a shade. This means that…Galinicus is right. I had so wanted him to be correct, even prayed for it, because if he were wrong, all would be lost! From the beginning, he’d claimed souls could reach Thorüsa and help others, especially those who were to be damned. Our church said the opposite, saying there was indeed a Thorüsa, but no one ever went there. Now, I’m ethereal proof that all of Galinicus’ work is not in vain! I tumble through the still air in sheer joy.
My transparent hands phase through each other when I try to clap, though, so I then settle for trying to touch solid objects. I try to press my form up against the stone wall of the cavernous space in which I’m hidden, but instead, I slip right through it! Alarmed at the possibility of being imprisoned in rock, I slip back out and let my sleeping body lie. I float back through the labyrinthine tunnels of my master’s subterranean lair, until I finally “breathe” the fresh air of his main laboratory on the surface. I should say that the air passes right through me, so I don’t need to breathe in the usual sense. In fact, my lungs feel like mere shadows of lungs - shades of lungs - which would be apropos, considering the circumstances...
“I wonder if Master Galinicus’ journal is here somewhere,” I mutter. My voice is both an echo and a whisper. I can barely hear it, but if my vocal cords are shades, too, what else should I expect? Then, with a start, I notice the complete and utter disarray in which his laboratory been left. Books and papers litter the floor. So do broken glass potion bottles and pools of strange, steaming liquid. As if that weren’t enough, most of the pages of the tomes have been singed. I gasp. The churchmen hadn't started a fire. However, they had tried to burn his works. They hadn’t been satisfied with capturing Galinicus, who had most likely surrendered meekly. Instead, they’d put the torch to over thirty years of hard-won knowledge! My delight at knowing how well my master’s latest experiment has worked is overshadowed by blind rage. How could they? Those aren’t their books, or their theories! Whatever they cannot discover, they seek to destroy!
The question of why echoes through my mind as I try to pick up one of the volumes, which is only slightly burnt. No luck. Someone who is still in his or her physical body can do so with ease, but for me, now a shade, it’s too difficult. I feel like an ant trying to lift a mountain, not a young maiden trying to lift a book! I give up after several tries, and then hear scratching at the door. Oh! Obsidian wants to be let inside. My master’s black cat, twelve years old, meows feebly. He sounds like an old man! In human years, he is seventy: as old as Galinicus himself. Both of them have lived for far longer than most of us, including my own parents. When I was five, they were both taken by a dreadful fever, but then my master took me in.
I don’t know why, because in our city, there are many other bright children who might have benefited from Galinicus’ tutelage. However, that’s one more mystery he’s kept to himself, even after all these years…
When I shove with all my might and open the door to Galinicus’ laboratory at long last, Obsidian hisses and bristles his tail. He knows something’s afoot, and there’s not a shade of doubt in my mind what it is!
As promised, I'm reviewing this too.
So - overall I have a favourable opinion. As you said in your message, you toned down the information dumping and it's good, we're discovering Thorüsa one step at a time along with the heroine, which has two major advantages. The first is that we empathize more with the heroine, since we are discovering the same things she is and sharing the same feelings, and the second is that the pace is better and it keeps more of the mystery and enthrallment alive.
One thing is a bit confusing thought with regards to the prologue. In the prologue you tell us that Thorüsa is kind of a hiding place for those who don't want to go to either heaven or hell. A safe haven, assuming you manage to escape your escort. Based on that I imagined Thorüsa to be a different place. You did say it was not like paradise or hell, but still, it's not the same thing as the real world either. But here the heroine seems to have an out-of-body experience, so she's still in the real world, only in a ghost form ? I'm a bit confused here. Is she on her way to Thorüsa, or is she already there ? You seem to hint at the latter but I don't get how it makes sense.
Apart from that there are a lot of good things to be said. I like the part where you describe her experiences touching stuff and going through solid stone because it's the kind of funny, down-to-earth things you *would* think of when in such an ethereal state.
I have nothing much to say about the style, it's pleasant to read, flows effortlessly, so far so good.
At this point this just needs to be longer. The big difficulty when you write original work rather than fanfiction is building the setting, so I'm curious to see how you're going to go about it. What you've shown us of your world is pretty enticing, I'd like to know what happened to Galinicus and what the heroine is gonna do now that she's... well, pretty much a ghost. Wonder if that allows her to communicate with animals and people the way they do it in Ghost Trick ?
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