Chapter 4

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On the second level of Arx's business district, tucked away from the main streets, was a store. The small storefront had changed hands many times over its history. Before the current owner took over six years ago, it was a yoga studio. Now it was home to Little Fancy Masques and Garments, owned by one Louise Morris. 

Louise opened shop each day at 10:00 and closed up by 3:00. Afterward, she'd work until supper, sewing together various custom clothing for her customers. After all, the great part of Little Fancy was that Louise would custom tailor almost anything. Girls would come to her for graduation or prom dresses, and she often found herself making complex wedding dresses for rich brides. She got especially busy closer to Halloween when people asked her for whatever crazy costume they had in mind for that year. Cosplayers also tended to frequent the business, knowing she would tailor top-quality outfits for as reasonable a price as anyone. 

And recently, she'd started another facet of her business. 

The bell over the door rang around 10:15, when Louise was straightening out a display showcasing some of her more complex pieces. When she glanced around, she stifled a sigh. 

Him again. Not that she'd complain about the business he brought, but she really thought he should grow up and go back to a real job. Nevertheless, Louise smiled brightly and greeted him. 

"James! What can I do for you today?" 

"Hey, Louise," he replied, glancing quickly around the shop. "Nobody else here today?" 

"Not yet. I did just open." She felt that the comment was a dig at her lack of exposure, but Louise didn't let the smile slip from her face. 

"Good," James said with a grin. "I need another favor from you." 

"I will make whatever you want so long as you pay me," Louise replied. 

"Fantastic. So, I found another one yesterday. Someone like me. A superhero. Could you make an outfit for him too?" 

"Okay." Louise grabbed a notebook and sat on the counter. "Can you tell me his measurements?" 

"Uh..." James looked around like a doofus and she sighed heavily. 

"You want the costume to fit, right? Nevermind. Bring him in here someday and I'll measure him then and ask about what sort of design he wants." 

"His name's Jumper!" James said. He could be such a child sometimes. "So make it look something like that. Jump!" 

"Someone with a sensible name," Louise muttered under her breath. James didn't hear her. 

"So, I dunno, maybe with wings or like rocket boots or something?" 

"I'll discuss design with Jumper when you bring him, how's that? I assume he'll need a mask too? And the clothes should be easy to move in, considering the sort of nonsense you get into." 

"Hey, saving the world isn't nonsense!" James protested. 

"Sure thing, James. As long as I'm paid at the end of the day I don't care too much what I make as long as it's nothing illegal. Like that weirdo who asked me to make - y'know what, nevermind. I refused and that disgusting monstrosity did not come into the world by my hands. End of story." 

"I'm really curious now," James said, leaning on the counter with an expectant look in his eyes. 

"It's disgusting to just think about. Trust me, you don't wanna know. Does Jumper want a cape too?" She tried to change the subject back, but James wouldn't drop it. 

"What sort of clothing could be illegal anyway?" 

"I said you don't wanna know!" Louise smacked him with the notebook. "Now if you won't help me with design ideas, get out and come back when you've got your new friend. Just don't drag him into anything too insane, okay?" 

"Nothing's insane!" James shot back. "I'm just protecting the peace, and he'll protect it too!" 

"Whatever," Louise muttered, pushing James towards the door. "If you don't mind, I'm expecting another customer in about ten minutes to discuss a wedding dress. If you want your 'secret identity' to remain secret, Mr. Achilles, you'll leave now without making a fuss." 

"Got it, got it. Sheesh Louise, you haven't changed a bit." 

"I'd like to think I've matured beyond a high schooler, thank you very much. I do own my own business now, and it's staying afloat." 

"That's not what I meant. You're still grumpy." With that, James left the store and Louise finally let out the massive sigh she'd been holding in. 

"You're the one who hasn't changed, James," she muttered. Then she left for the back, checking to make sure she had exactly 333 pearls on that darn dress. How many did a woman think she needed? And that wasn't even mentioning the layers upon layers of lace. 

Couldn't people ask for more practical outfits? Or less complicated at least? But as a tailor, she couldn't complain as long as she was getting work. 

 

In the prison near the edge of Arx, a woman held her knees to her chest and shook with sobs. Her dirty nails scratched at the floor, and her unkempt hair looked like it had grown a life of its own. 

A prison guard stopped by the door and looked at her with sympathy. 

"I'm sorry for your loss. But you really shouldn't have robbed people, so I guess you reap what you sow." 

She did her best to ignore him, digging the nails of her other hand into her shin. What did he know? What did any of them know? Life was hard enough for normal people, but for someone like her...

Life was unbearable. And now the only person who had made it bearable was gone. 

The guard slowly walked away to check on the other prisoners and the woman slammed a fist into the wall. 

If only that masked menace hadn't come chasing after her. If only she'd managed to succeed in her last theft. Then she'd still be alive. The woman's one reason to live. 

Why not just die in prison then? That would be more bearable than continuing to live. If only the security here wasn't so good at keeping the detained from dying. But there would be a way to die. They couldn't make her drink. They couldn't make her eat. As long as she pretended to, her body would waste away on its own. 

With everything left in her shaking body, she cursed Achilles for what he'd done to her. He'd taken away everything. If he hadn't interfered...

"Yes, if only he hadn't detained you. You would still have something worth living for." 

She jerked at the voice and when she turned towards it, a purple figure stood behind her. She stood on shaky legs and leaned against the bars. 

"Who are you?" 

"I am the one who will grant you a Miracle. You can live for your revenge. With this, you can end Achilles like he ended your precious little girl." 

"How do I destroy him?" the woman asked, hatred burning in her heart. 

"You need only use your Miracle, Olivia." 

She felt a pang in her chest and knew. She could fight back. She could destroy Achilles. 

"Thank you. I will not forget your kindness." The woman bowed, her eyes flickering with energy. The purple figure vanished and she took a deep breath. 

First she had to get out of jail. Only then could she find and ruin Achilles. 

"Guard! Help!" she screamed. The guard from earlier ran in, looking worried. Their eyes met and she shivered. Her Miracle burned inside her, and his eyes widened in shock. 

"What happened?" He ran forward and opened the door, rushing over to her. 

She pushed him to the ground, grabbed the keys and left the cell, locking the door behind her. The guard was unconscious. Better for her purposes. 

With this power, revenge against Achilles would be a piece of cake. Gratitude to the purple figure flowed from her heart, mingled with hatred for Achilles. 

Those two things were all she had to live for now. 


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