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~Chapter III~

Streetbound Glamour


Part I

It is now 4pm, and while the fair is by no means seeing less interest, Luana could tell less people were around just by how much easier it was to walk around. Making her way to the front is a breeze, and the cable car stop isn't as horridly crowded as it was when she arrived. She sits down at the cable car stop's bench and looks through her colorful pamphlets and job application sheets in glee. Among them was a sheet listing her various attributes.

"'Luana Hoapili. Age. Nineteen. Race. Human. Ethnicity. Keonian and Dantalian. Blood Type. O. Mage Discipline. Undefined-similar to wizardry based on events at the fair.' Wow. There's not a single thing they don't know, huh?" she whispers under her breath.

"They don't know everything, though...and that's a good thing."

The cable car pulls up, the gripman this time being a woman, her long hair tied back, body clad in coral blue uniform. Seeing the car, Luana rolls her papers into a scroll shape, takes her blue ribbon out of her hair, and wraps it around the papers. She covers her ears with her thick hair as best as she could.

Knowing her place, she once again jumps on the side platform of the car, but to her surprise, there is actually space within the car for her to occupy this time. Seeing this, she walks back in line, cautiously as to not uncover her ears, and takes a seat on the second row. She sits by the window and stares out of it to scan the bustling streets.

Once everyone is in and safe, the car takes off.

As it glides through the streets, Luana stares out the window. The more she observes the streets around her, the more shocked she is at just how far out the fair went from the fair's heart.

She didn't notice it before thanks to thinking about the boy, but the streets leading to and from the plaza are also lined with stalls. Though these were more entertainment oriented, companies from around the world could still be seen every now and then between the fun and games. It made Luana wonder if she should have stayed and let loose some, but the thought made her feel fatigued. And when the fatigue hit, she began to think about the distance from the dorm to the city's heart, the weight of the morning bickering, the cost of asking the wind spirits to help her, the process of her interview and applying for her visa and passport, she began to feel somewhat depleted.

"Ah. The dorm is a decent ride away, and today has been kinda long. I...could use some rest. I'm so tired..I hope that the boy got his fliers...whatever...I'll check on that once it stops at the dorm."

Luana lays down and curls herself into a ball on the wide seat. Uncomfortable, she sits back up and wraps her hair around her head to block out the light of the sun. Gradually, she is lulled into a nap by the quiet chatter of the people in the car and the sounds of the city.

Shortly after she drifted into her dreams however, she felt a newfound warmth on her left cheek that wasn't there before. Feeling this, she immediately snaps awake, her eyes wide open and her body still laying down, frozen. A wall of green is all she can see before her.

After her eyes snap open, she feels a hand lay itself on her head and stroke it as if she were a beloved pet.

Still not moving, she shifts her eyes upward, daring to meet the stranger face to face, but she is too low and too close to the stranger's stomach to see much of anything. Again, she feels another stroke on her head. The second stroke unsettles her greatly, and she begins to breathe heavily from fear.

Five minutes of sheer discomfort pass as she lay on the lap of a stranger. No words are exchanged between the two this whole time, the silence broken only by the stranger's laugh. It was a feminine one, oozing of amusement and admiration. A third stroke is felt. This time, Luana curled up a little more, the laugh and stroke causing her to blush and give in to the stranger's warmth despite her shaky breathing. Seeing her do this prompts the stranger to finally speak.

"Oh my...did I scare you? Oh, how precious...forgive me. I simply did not know how else to approach you, changeling child..."

The voice of the stranger gave Luana a newfound courage, her willingness to understand the situation outweighing her fear. She sits up as fast as she could so as to not let more fear fester. She comes face to face with a woman most peculiar.

The woman's pale skin is almost lily white, though she seems to have caked on a lot of blush to remedy her paleness. Her hair boasts a shade of red Luana's never seen grow from anyone's scalp, and her eyes are a deep green like the lushest of plants. Looking at her hair and following its flow, Luana noticed that the stranger had laid some of it on Luana when she was laying down, and it is now wrapped around her back like a blanket.

On the woman's lips is a pale pink lipstick. Though they are in a trolley, she holds a red, yellow, and green umbrella open, which has pinkish-red ribbons and bows stitched into the sides, and blocks the sun's rays from hitting her face or Luana's. On her hands, she wears red gloves. On her shoulders, she wears a deep green shawl with wavy edges, a red inside and a yellow rim, the green color matching her deep green eyes and dress. The dress is green and poofy, the top layer being split and curled upward like flower petals, and the frilly, pale green lace underneath peeking through. Around her waist, a golden belt wrapped around and dangled down her dress's middle.

Noticing Luana's staredown, the woman giggles and speaks once more.

"Eying me up and down, are you? That is a tad rude, but I suppose I have been equally so...forgive me, little siofra-I have not been chastised for my propensity to touch and observe without asking one's permission in a long time-I am afraid my self awareness has dulled some. Now, to make up for my rudeness, allow me to introduce myself...I am...The Verdant Lady. Yes, that has a nice ring to it."

She smiles from ear to ear and strokes Luana's head again with her bright red gloves that rivaled Vivianus' own favored shade of red. Luana blushes at the gesture, but once the bewilderment of waking up fades, she accesses the situation more closely.

"...A title instead of a name, that hair, those eyes, coming out of nowhere...she won't say what she is, but it's as clear as day what's up with her...I need to be smart about this-one wrong word, and she may take me back..."

Luana sits upright and responds, carefully thinking over her words.

"...May I ask why you're here? Who sent you? I...every fall, I've given my offerings to the people of the isle for all they've done for me, and to say sorry for leaving so abruptly. There's no reason to take me back, if that's what this is about..."

"Oh, I am no agent of those bumbling parasites..." the woman says with a hint of disgust in her voice. "Have no fear, dear one, for you keep your promises just fine...I just...well, I could not help but visit you after seeing you at the fair. See, I am here to visit a friend of mine, but on the way, I thought I might have a little romp with the one and only changeling-or siofra, as is more commonly used by my kind-on Keona. For you see, when I saw you, I realized I owe you a favor...for doing one for me ages ago," she says as she cusps Luana's cheek.

"H-huh? Um, I-I mean...I don't remember-ah!"

Luana scans the trolley, now afraid. To Luana's surprise, no one is looking their way despite their talk of magic and the woman's strange and sudden appearance.

"...They can't hear us, can they?"

"Oh, but of course not, dear one! I would never put you and I in such danger...as far as they know, I look like a classy woman of Ierene, and you, my short-eared friend in Keona. None on this dreadful hunk of iron have eyes unclouded, thank the heavens. The humans here would throw us to the darkest of forests if they overheard our little conversation...I have to ask, what are the people of Keona so afraid of? Does the god you live upon not protect your people from beings like us?"

"...I'm not sure why it's a big deal, and at this point, I don't care to figure it out. I just want out. This place has been like living in a nightmare."

"Oh, I am so sorry, Luana," the Verdant Lady says with the twirl of her umbrella.

Luana stares at the woman, her expression changing from shock to understanding in the span of a few seconds.

"...You know my name. I thought you might."

"You gave it to us a long time ago, and rumors spread ever so quickly among us. But do not worry-I plan to take good care of it. For you see...I am here to help you, free of charge. With anything you like. I require no contract. Just say what you would like, and I will give it to you."

"...Right, you mentioned a favor I did. But I don't remember this favor...and isn't free of charge unfair to you?"

Luana's ears droop as the uncertainty of the situation eats at her some.

"No fairy does things free of charge...what's the catch?"

"So kind! But I assure you that I am just fine helping from the kindness of my heart and nothing more," she says with the twirl of her umbrella.

"Um...was it the time I replanted that tree sapling not getting any sun? Or, the time that I stopped those lumberjacks from cutting into this old tree I found...? Or..."

"Ahahahaha!" the woman howls while kicking her feet wildly under her dress. After regaining her composure, she says, "I am not that kind of neighbor, but those good deeds surely made some neighbor somewhere take a liking to you. In my case, however, it was something much more substantial...though I shall keep it to myself. If I let my gums run loose, well...I fear my friend I am here to visit will not be too happy with me. For now, let me aid you free of cost, and we shall be even."

"...She won't share what I did...? In that case..."

"...A few good folk I know back at home say the good folk don't lie, so I trust you. I wish you'd tell me what I did so I can ask for help fairly, but I'll take your help. Thank you."

"As you should...when have we ever let you down, dear one?"


Luana stares into the Verdant Lady's eyes. She smiles and pats Luana's head, catching her off guard yet again and causing her to blush.

"Now...what is your wish?"

"...I do want to know how the boy is doing, and I would like to know what a druid is...but those three are already on it, so..."

"...I...want to check and see if a boy I know got his flyers. I...casted a spell by asking the wind spirits to take him some. Could you help me check on him? I'm...starting to feel tired, and I want to get this over with fast and move on with my plans."

"...Oh dear, well, I can certainly do that, as your request is so small in comparison to what you have done for me! I thought you would ask me to whisk you away to the Arcane Kingdom when the time comes, or ask to stay in the fairy plane for a vacation! Surely you have little money for a plane ticket, and are weary from dealing with…ahem, the lovely but very...twisted denizens of this plane. Your kind receives no quarter from life among them, I have noticed."

"...I still have something to check out before I settle on Tovera, though I am really leaning towards it…today I did what I had to just to have that option ready if I settle on it. So I can't ask for your help overseas, or a vacation. I want to rely on magic less and less as time goes on, and I still have options to weigh."

"So self reliant, so proactive! Magic is at your disposal, and yet you remain humble and refuse to tap into it all the way. I suppose I would do the same, considering how Keona does not allow you to let loose..."

"...No. It doesn't. And honestly, I...don't mind not being able to let loose. I need to learn how live without magic anyway. I just want to...control it...and stop using it so that I can live like everyone else for once. I-I...only used it here and there on the job and in my room because...things got really rough..."

"Oh, siofra...you know that this world is not built for you. It was not when you were just a wee girl, and to this day, that fact still stands."

"...What do you mean by that?"

The fairy woman laughs and pats her head again. Luana bites her lip and feels her ears shoot down. She feels her cheeks start to burn.

"Ugh...I know what she means, and she knows I know too. But I want to try."

"...Tell me, siofra..."


"To what end do you toil and trouble? Why persist when you could simply go where you belong, hm?"

"...I can't answer that in detail, but. If I fail in carving out an illness free, magic free life..."

Luana looks downward, unable to make eye contact with the fairy woman.

"...I have backup plans, and all of them include going where I belong. That's all."

Luana gently removes the woman's hair from around her, and sits facing forward. She can feel the Verdant Lady still looking at her with a gentle smile even as she avoided giving her further attention.

"...What did I do to prompt this? Who is she really?"

For the rest of the ride, the two were quiet, the fairy woman observing the sights that passed by, and Luana finally drifting into sleep while sitting up as the words "I want to try" echo in her mind.


~To Be Continued in Part II~

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~Author's Notes~

The first image of the novel is here! Fun fact: I struggled bad with it for no reason so this is like, super cropped, and yeah, that's why Luana looks like she's a dead, scrunched up blob instead of her usual self. I'll try to finish it and show them in the cable car proper, but for now I can't make the piece work for me.

We also meet the Verdant Lady! She's pretty blunt for a fairy. A HWTF of her full outfit will be released soon, because she's one of my favorite designs I've made in the last few years.

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