Luana closes her eyes and inhales sharply, expecting to feel the sting of Lono's hand.
"Hey, Lono!" a high pitched, chipper voice from the surrounding crowd yells.
Lono stops in her tracks, her hand still high in the air. Luana opens an eye, curious as to why the sting of a slap hasn't been felt on her cheek yet. The crowd goes quiet as the sea of women and girls look at one another for the source of the voice.
"...Malie? Wait, that's not Ma-ACK!"
When Lono looked away from Luana and looked around the crowd to find the source of the voice, she is met with food to the face. A piece of egg casserole slid down her face and to the floor when she did a one-eighty, facing away from Luana now.
"You...wouldn't...dare...who did this!?" Lono yells at the top of her lungs. Breathing heavily, she skims overthe crowd of women, her vision blurred with anger.
A short girl in maid uniform pushes through the crowd of women and girls, snickering once her eyes met Lono's. Her face dons a smile so large it was almost uncanny. Her hair is a bob cut, her skin tan, and she looks to be in her mid teenage years. Lono shakes with rage at the girl, and the girl begins her retort as she stands before her, her fists clenched, and her stance battle ready.
"How about you look at how you did that week huh? Luana's a shitshow and a half, but what about YOU going around trying to suck off the nobles and mages by being a tryhard? Luana's fucking weird, we all know that, but you're just as fucking crazy...trying to flash the men while on the job...reporting when people are 'doing a bad job' to our employers...talking about how you're gonna nab a rich dickhead on the clock one day...is just as bad, if you ask me. You need to have your shit kicked in, you whoremongering bitch! Check yourself before you start going around slapping other chicks! Are you sure YOU aren't some demon or spirit? With the way you treat everyone, you fit the bill more than any weirdo with supposed pointy ears and imaginary friends!"
"Thanks for the defense, I guess?" Luana thinks, now too puzzled to even know what to do.
"I-you-I know you aren't-I can NOT believe this. Holy shit. I ought to...oooooh..."
Lono walks up to the girl, bends down and gets in the girl's face, so close that they can feel each other's breath. The girl continues to smile despite Lono's attempt to disorient her.
Now eerily calm, Lono replies, "You're like...what, fucking sixteen? Listen carefully, kid-you know nothing. Being a 'tryhard'-which is just me trying to secure my future, by the way-is better than sitting around expecting handouts and sympathy points like this demon charming fre-mmmnff!?"
The girl smashed more egg casserole into Lono's face, right into her mouth as she spoke. Lono stumbled back and fell on her bum, causing the crowd to laugh. The bobbed girl cackles in victory, falling over from laughing too hard.
"Eat shit, tryhard!" the girl yells between her laughs. The crowd cheers, laughs, and yells Lono's way.
"This is my chance. I'm out."
The maids all began to bicker at the now humbled Lono, adding on their own grievances with her behavior over the last few months. Eventually, the complaints began to span the last few years. But after no more than ten minutes or so, the girls began to turn on one another.
One by one, each maid brought up a grievance they had with the last woman or girl to speak. If the complaint hit a nerve, the woman or girl would run to a table or one of the bars, and throw food or a drink. Sausages, eggs, fruits, milk, and even plates and cutlery began to fly in the air, and the confrontations became more and more loud as time went on. Chefs hid behind the bars as the food fight grew in intensity.
As things escalated, Luana increased the speed at which she darted for the staircase. On the way over, she hears many miscellaneous complaints from various maids. The cacophony made Luana more irate by the minute.
"Oh, you have some nerve, you wench of a woman! Every day at the Albrecht's villa, they bitch and complain about undusted high surfaces. I've had to get up there and clean up all of the spots you missed so that we aren't forced to do unpaid overtime. For fuck's sake, how about you pick up your slack, you fucking midget!"
"You, an oaf of a woman, calling ME names? You tower over everything and you move like a clown balancing on his giant ball! The Albionian nobles say you've knocked over scading tea onto twenty noble's daughters, in one fucking week! Give me a break!”
"Would you BOTH cut it out!? Remember when the two of you both fucked up miserably when the descendant of a saint-one of Lucero's most revered saints, might I add-visited the palace, and you two didn't even offer him food or drinks? On top of the room being filthy as all hell!? Pillows thrown everywhere, dirty seats, the carpet wasn't vacuumed. You're lucky he found it amusing instead of flipping his shit!"
"Oh, so now Miss Wet Herself on the Job is talking smack? Remember that shit, huh? How about you keep that bladder in check instead of your coworkers' fuck ups? Food for a thought."
On and on the women went, so loud that Luana could hear them on her way up the staircase, and in the first floor's hallway. She speedwalks to the front of her dorm's door, which has a "7" nailed at the top center part of the door.
"Ugh...that was close...I thought I was very careful with where I asked for help, and when I showed my ears...I'm a moron, but oh well. I'll be gone soon anyway...it won't matter in a few months."
Luana frowns, before shaking her head and sighing. The morning sun's lights shone into the first floor's hallway through the arched windows on the wall behind her. The plants that lined the hallway between each window were half wilting, the leaves falling on the coral blue carpet in the center of the hall, as well as the wooden floor the carpet didn’t cover.
Luana sighs yet again and slumps over, making sure the plate doesn't fall, but still allowing her back to arch a bit. However, when the dorm door opens by itself and swings back and forth quickly after doing so, Luana couldn’t help but smile.
"Hello, everyone," she whispers.
The plants in the hallway rejuvinate themselves after she greets what seems like nothing. Luana facepalms.
"It's no wonder Lono suspects me. But...agh, nevermind that..."
She walks into her room and closes the door behind her. After taking off her shoes and slinging them near the vanity's feet, she placed her plate full of disheveled but still warm pastries and now condensating milk cartons on the vanity, and sits on her bed. When her bottom hit the matteress, she let out a deep sigh and smiled as she did so. When her body felt at ease, she spoke towards the window with a slight smile.
"It'll be...whew...alright. Despite everything, it'll be alright. I have a plan, everyone. Let's read over that letter, and look into...Tovera. We have to look at all of our options, after all."
Luana lay in her bed, wrapped in her blue patched up covers, her hair down. She was clad in only her white tank top and baggy pants inside of them. Against the wall on her right is her trusty brown one-strap cloth bag. She held the letter made of phloem in her hands, staring at the glowing green letters. Pastries line the windowsill’s three plates, and the three cups are filled with milk.
"'You have been invited, dear guest. Meet us at the mouth of the forest, the one where the little people dwell.' ...How did these people even find me?"
"But, I guess...if I can talk to spirits-fairies especially-then it isn't too unrealistic that these people would find me somehow...magic always finds me, no matter where I go," Luana thinks to herself as she stares at the glowing letters.
"Is this a letter from the Menehune? Or from the other forest folk that people tell stories about? Not even I would have the privilege of meeting the Menehune though...so it must be...magi? A whole...'circle' of them, undetected, here in Keona? The letter is on tree bark, so they can't be with the royal family or Kapua Association...it says they're called 'druids'...but...how did they manage to escape the law, if this is from mages? What even is a druid? How do they know what I am? Maybe I need to read more fairy tales and history books and see if they fall into anything mentioned in them...or...hmmm..."
"Okay, this is too much to take in at once," Luana says out loud, shaking her head.
It was two hours after the argument turned mass food fight, and Luana had already eaten her fill of pastries and milk. From focusing on the letter she had ignored it, but now she could hear the smacking and sipping of the spirits, though they still hid themselves from her for the time being.
She turns her head to the window with a slight smile, her head spinning somewhat still. The pastries floated in the air just a little, bite marks appearing on the pastries bit by bit.
"Oh, hehehehe. You're all so loud. Is it that good? I bet your faces are covered in crumbs...I can easily pierce through your glamour, you know. All it would take is a small spell or two to see how messy you look..."
The eating stops immediately, and the plates and cups rattle.
"It was a joke," Luana says with a slight giggle.
The eating noises continued.
"I'll...just have to take a gamble and visit them myself, though I could also ask a fairy or two what they are...I have a gut feeling that I know where they live already though...if they're not dangerous, then I can visit and see what these 'druids' have to offer...or...I can search the job fair for a mentor, preferably in that arcane kingdom...Tovera. Magicians everywhere...then, they should take me as an apprentice, right? Or maybe, I can get a job, and hunt for someone that can help me with...existing as...what I am. I have the magic talent, and I have heard ears like mine are more common in the kingdom...there, help must come easier...but...Tovera...what they've done here...I...ack! My...!"
Prompted by nothing at all, Luana coughs around four times in the middle of her deep thought, the last one sounding of mucus. Her body feels hot all over as she notices her fingertips began to glow a pale blue color. As the heat intensified, blue goosebumps pop up on her body. After they appear on her body, she begins to sweat and feels an odd coolness as the sweat goes down her face. She placed the letter at her feet, and covered her mouth with both hands.
"Oh, not this! Anything but a flare up!"
Coughing still, she reaches into her rucksack and digs around for a little bit. Her glowing fingertips helped dig around more effectively in the deep bag, she took out a translucent orange bottle with a white top filled with small white pills. She takes one out and pops it into her mouth, swallowing it without using her milk cup on the vanity. Immediately, the bitter taste and horrid feeling in her throat made her squeeze her eyes shut and curl into a ball for a minute before recovering. The symptoms have already begun to die down.
"A-ah...the cough is back...but...oof...no...problem...nothing...a pill...can't fix. Phew...o-okay, back to...planning? Thinking? Figuring this out?"
Yet another sigh escapes her lips, though it was one of relief. Her body felt its normal temperature, her fingertips were the usual brown, and she felt no unusual heat or coolness.
"Gugh...if this sickness keeps going on...I won't be able to live with other people...and...jobs will be a hassle, just like this one...ugh, maybe Lono is right to an extent. Maybe...should I...go back...?"
She frowns at the letter, and clenches onto it a bit tighter.
"No...I just have to fix this, and it won't be so bad anymore. Maybe...a mentor can help me control my magic, and then I won't feel fatigued and sick all the time...or be completely useless in front of people...or make people angry...or get flare ups like this...or..."
Her racing thoughts went silent as she traced each glowing green letter with her eyes.
"...Alright. I'll try the job fair first, find the Tovera booth, ask questions, come home, sleep. Then, we visit the forest folk tomorrow, see what they have to offer, and then we-ah, I mean, I...that's what I meant...I...make a choice to invest in the forest mages' help, or I go to Tovera to get more...I guess...on the grid help. Whatever the choice may be, that does mean leaving you all behind," she says, looking at the windowsill's plates and cups.
"Let's hope these forest people are as kind as the letter makes them out to be...actually, do you three mind finding out what a...'druid' is, and reporting back? In turn...I'll share some more food, if that's okay...I can also share some of my magic...a lock of my hair...? Um, skin flakes? I've given those before...oh, I also have trinkets from your homeland too, if you all want that...which do you want?"
The windowsill plates sit upward on their own. The cups float upward by the handle. The cup's empty insides face Luana's direction.
"Okay! Food it is. I'll either bring some from the fair, or brave the buffet again...they should have bread and milk laid out tonight. A classic meal for your kind."
The plates gently fell back to their bottoms, and the cups sat upright again too. They rattled with a bit more vigor than usual this time. Luana's ears shot straight upward, and she smiled.
"Thank you for being good to me, especially when I was sick...I...do want to ask...that you take care of whoever comes to room seven. It...this job...isn't easy. Not as easy as they advertised, and it isn't as beneficial as they advertised either. The next person will need your help, I just know it. Just don't do anything that would...well, you know...would get them arrested. I can deal with it because I can escape, but the average person can't. So try to be good, okay?"
The plates and cups rattle once again.
With a sigh and smile, Luana nods at the invisible beings. She looks back at the letter, which shimmied its way to the bed's foot during her flare up.
After a few minutes of staring at the letter, she goes back into deep thought.
"...Whatever beef I have with Tovera, especially after all they've done in Keokeo and Keona in general, that...has to be put aside. At the end of the day, opportunities in rich countries can't be ignored, or I'll be asking for poverty, especially as things go up and up in price here...but it is unfortunate that Tovera of all countries is my best shot. Whatever. Enough thinking. It's time to go."
"...Thank you, you three. I'm gonna go to the fair now. You can leave whenever you like for the druid hunt."
She slips into her blue shawl, which was haphazardly thrown onto her vanity stool, and once again heads towards the door. After putting on her shawl, she takes her lanyard from the hook, and slips her head through it. Looking down to the floor near the door for her shoes, she gasps, realizing her flats were gone from their usual placement near the door. Her shoes then float over to her, coated in a golden, glittery aura. She smiles as she takes them into her hands, and slips them on once again.
"...Oh, ahahahaha! Thank you. I owe you all everything and more," she says, beaming ear to ear. "Expect a grand dinner tonight for all of your hard work."