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~Chapter III~

Streetbound Glamour


Part II

The car slows down and parks itself in front of two large, wooden, gargantuan doors. A blur of black, white, and blue blocks the stop’s sign from view.

"Oh, we have stopped."

"Ah, this is our stop...the market is right across from the dorms."

Luana jumps to her feet and grabs her papers wrapped by her ribbon as quickly as she could to get out of the Verdant Lady's cluches. She walks out of the car, unwrapping the ribbon from her papers and tying her hair back over her ears. The Verdant Lady follows her off of it, each step making a delicate clip clop noise.

Those who are waiting for the bus to empty, especially the maid women, stared at the Verdant Lady, which made Luana nervous. But after a minute or two of staring, the women swarm the Verdant Lady and shower her in compliments.

"Oh my gosh, your hair is soooo pretty!"

"Do you live in a villa nearby? Can you hire me personally? I'd LOVE to do your laundry...I have experience in dry cleaning!"

"I can't believe a noble is visiting us! Is she here to pick out personal workers? Pick me, pick me!"

"Oh, her eyes are so green...I'm so jealous!"

In response, the Verdant Lady curtsies and replies, "Ohohoho! Thank you, little ladies-unfortunately, I am simply here to have a grand old time with a friend of mine. Now, Luana, we were off to the market, yes?"

She gives Luana a gentle smile and gaze. The crowd of women look her way after the Verdant Lady does. They look puzzled as they look Luana up and down.

"Ah, t-the market! Kalani City Market. Yeah, um. I was showing Lady...um, I was going to show her Keonian food. Y'know, the nobles really like their sweet things, hahaha..."

The women whisper amongst each other after Luana gives her reasoning.

"Ugh. Maybe I should take a goddamn vacation...just looking at them and the dorms makes me want to run off to a beach and lay there until I fuse with the sand."

"Goodbye, little ladies! May life bring you ease and fortune," the Verdant Lady says to the maids as she joins Luana at the nearest crosswalk.

The crowd of women wave at her and squeal, though their happy squeals were interrupted by an annoyed retort that cut through the air.

"Hey, hurry it up! IDs please," the cable car woman yells to the now befuddled women. "I've got a schedule to keep on top of!"

Watching the workers scramble and form a line, the Verdant Lady muses, "Oh, what adorable humans."

"...You haven't seen them at their worst, like this morning. Anyways, the market is across the street from the dorms. We can start searching there."

"As you wish, dear one."

"...There really is no use wracking my brain over this whole thing...I just need to be careful and get this over with."

Across the street, the market entrance beckons the pair with its many colored banners and wooden arched entrance. In the street, a lone crossing guard waves around his sign in the middle of the streets at the smaller, personal cars going by. Despite his warnings and protests, the drivers trucked over the many cracks, potholes, and bumps in the road, their tires and the crossing guard both be damned.

At the other end of the crosswalk leading to the market's entrance, the electric pedestrian crossing sign shows no signals. The few people on the other end watched the powerless crossing guard, stared at the sign on Luana and the Verdant Lady's end with a puzzled expression, or stared at the Verdant Lady.

"Hee hee hee! How sad for him. Surely he is paid well for this work?" the Verdant Lady giggles as the crossing guard dodges car after car.

Luana sighs and shakes her head. "I guess the streetlights and crosswalk signs are out. Again. But we can't cross if he can't stop them. All we can do is wait."

"Or...you can let me work my wonders. Let us have a little fun, shall we? I am a fairy, and you are a mage-a powerful one, much more skilled and powerful than those coppers clad in blue! We do not have to do things the hard way. Simply ask us for help, and it shall be done."

"Well, asking still has a cost on my end. I want to keep my debts low-I already owe a few folks a ton of food when I get home today."

"Ohohohoho! Well, rejoice, dear one, for I do not need your charity to work my wonders. Let us consider what I am about to do as a part of our little deal, hm?"

"...Okay. Show us a way over."

The Verdant Lady closes her eyes and clasps her hands together, leaning her head forward as if she were in prayer.

"Oh ho, lucky us...there is a path on the other side of the veil we can take...allow me to reveal it, and we shall be on our way."

From below the pair, flowers similar to the shape of her dress grow at their feet, curly and colored red and yellow. Then, the flowers disperse from their feet in a circular wave. The wave of flowers spread across the city, going up buildings, electric poles, and signs, coating everything in an iridescent, crystalline coat.

Once everything had an iridescent, crystal-like coat, plants grew at the sides of the iridescent coated buildings, almost taking them over. Grass, shrubs, and trees grew from the concrete, cracking it as they arose. The plants that slowly swallow the city are various greens with a soft, iridescent, glowing aura radiating from them.

The people and cars that were once going about their day dissipated into glowing white flower petals in the wind, taking the noise out of the air little by little. All that can be heard now is the chirping of birds, the buzzing of insects, and the sound of plants swaying in the wind. All that could be seen is Kalani City's structure intertwined with a glowing forest.

Little spheres of light with glowing insectoid wings flew slowly to and fro, leaving a trail of light. One comes up to Luana's face, lightly taps her nose with its small, warm, light obscured body, and flies off.

"...This is..."

"Impressed? I superimposed the veil path over your dreadful excuse of a city for a spell. No churlish drivers, suffering lollipop men, or the overwhelming, oppressive smell of iron and smog to get in our way. Goodness, after years with us, I am surprised you can even stand living here, if I may be so blunt."

"...This does feel really nice. I already feel a little better. Not enough for spell casting, but I have a little more energy..."

"But of course. Nothing nourishes the magic within like being around actual living things. Now, let us go to the market, before the spell wears off and those metal made death machines maim us-or really, you."

The pair cross with little problem. It takes all of Luana's willpower to not take off her shoes and feel the glowing grass with her own bare feet as they did so. Once they were at the market's arched entrance, the Verdant Lady takes her left hand and made a cutting motion in the air. Immediately, the hustle and bustle of the city assaults Luana's ears. She covers them and feels herself becoming irritable by the second.

"Ohohoho, apologies. I should have given you a warning! Those ears surely pick up anything-I should know, mine are quite large too! Now, let us look for the bo...oh my, look at all of the wonders this market holds!"

The Verdant Lady speed walks ahead, admiring the many small grocers and food kiosks built into the buildings, as well as the more classy, intricately styled storefronts. The owners of the stalls become flustered when she approaches, blushing and fumbling over their words when she leans too close to them to look at their wares.

Once Luana adjusts to the sounds of the city, she walks into the market after the fairy, looking back and forth for the boy.

Each block of the sidewalk has an intricately designed street light, which is unlit as it was only around 5pm now. The sidewalk and street both bustle with people going every which way, as the yellowish-brown brick road and sidewalks are much more friendly to walkers.

The Verdant Lady, seeing Luana finally walk into the market proper, joins her side.

"Quite the clash of worlds on the main street of the market alone. Some even remind me of home. So Keona is the next country to be 'blessed' by Albion's involvement in foreign politics?"

"...Not just Albion. Frangoi, Gallia...Tovera too. Though Tovera chooses more desolate places to do...whatever this is."

Luana clenches her papers tightly, bending them some.

"Oh dear. I understand the feeling, darling. ...I hope moving to Tovera does not spurn some bad memories."


Luana bites her lip.

"...Let us get to searching. If you like, you may uncloud your eyes and keep those ears alert-my glamour will make your eyes and ears appear normal to those who see you. Perhaps seeing past the veil will give you clues to the boy's whereabouts."

"Got it, thank you."

Luana closes her eyes for a minute, and then opens them. The ribbon in her hair unties itself from her head and around her papers, letting her hair run loose and her ears poke out like a sore thumb. Seeing Luana's beast like pupils and elfin ears, the Verdant Lady smiles from ear to ear, her emerald eyes shining with admiration.

"Oh, how beautiful you look this way..."

Her comment, combined with her piercing eye contact made Luana blush, but the sensation is short lived and she is hit by a wave of discomfort a few seconds later.

To shake off her mixed feelings, without a single cue to the Verdant Lady, Luana walks straight ahead to the market's middle plaza, where a large beige fountain lies. As she walks to the center, the storefronts become more lavish and classy, making the Verdant Lady oo and aa.

When they reach the plaza, which is decorated with shrubs and lined with shops for clothes, shoes, and accessories on its circular perimeter, Luana exhales sharply as many streets before them, each one filled with people from Keona and all over the world going about their day, seemed to go on forever and ever.

"...There's...a lot of people here," Luana says as she shakes her head, covers her ears, uncovers them when she realizes her efforts are futile, and sighs. "I remember what the boy was wearing, though. We're looking for a boy in tan. He has a pet black cat."

"I see. I shall keep that in mind...I do wonder if...this cat is...ah, ahem, nevermind," the Verdant Lady says as she places a hand on her cheek.

“...I thought the same thing, especially since it stared at me for a while when I went to the fair," Luana adds after she sees the Verdant Lady's expression. "However...all animals look at me that way, and I wasn't close enough to check if it was a fairy or not."

"I see...well, let us keep our eyes peeled for cats still-even those who are not fairies can be helpful in our search."

To her surprise, the large market has very little oddities to be seen past the glamour of the veil. The occasional glowing light would zip through the air, the sign of a little neighbor going about their day, but none of the people walking around were neighbors in disguise, and no large neighbors walked among the people.

Luana checked the whole plaza, as did the Verdant Lady. Their efforts in the plaza bearing no fruit, they also check alleyway upon alleyway, street upon street, and find no sign of a boy in tan there. They also didn't see him stalking stalls, or running around digging into the trash either. The two come back to the plaza, sitting at a bench under it to rest.

"Oh dear. I suppose we will need more than unclouded sight to find the boy...well then...I have an idea. You say he has a black cat, but you are unsure if it can speak or if it is a fairy."

"Yes. I couldn't tell if it had a white chest tuft or not from where I was."

"Ohohoho, so knowledgeable! Well, during our search, I sensed one of my kind here, the presence getting stronger near the ends of each street. I believe the reason there are little neighbors here is because this neighbor is lord of the market and drove them out."

"...I probably shouldn't say this, but...you aren't implying that cait sidhes are strong enough to become lord of an area, right?"

"You underestimate your adopted kinfolk, Luana," the Verdant Lady replies as she twirls her umbrella. "Even the smallest of us can become lords on the human plane if we are old enough and cultivate our skills. Look around-there are very little of us here. Not even Keonian spirits linger in this market. Again, this lord does not seem too keen on visitors."

"You speak truth, Lady of the Flame Lilies. I am not keen on visitors…mostly non-human ones such as yourself," an unknown, high pitched feminine voice chimes in from all directions."As for you, siofra, I shall ignore your bold claim and not retaliate and show my power, as I need you unharmed...for you see, you owe me a favor, and I need you unscathed for you to do it."

Once again, the city is consumed by plants, shrubs, and grasses, and the buildings have an iridescent coat. The people fade into white petals yet again, and the sounds of the forest are heard once more. The veil has once again been superimposed over the city, though this time the iridescence slowly fades into a gold coating instead.

Speaking to the sky, which is now a golden hue, the Verdant Lady shakes her head and sucks her teeth.

"The siofra owes you a favor? Why, as far as I know, she always pays back those she borrows from...what manner of trickery is this, fiend?" the Verdant Lady asks, her voice rising in what sounds like frustration to Luana.

"Hold on, Verdant Lady. If I owe something, I have to face it head on. ...I'm sorry. I don't recall ever hearing your voice or taking a blessing from you…can you tell me what you've done for me so that I can remember?"

"Come now, siofra. Has the iron and smog of this accursed city fried your brains? Do you not remember what I have done for you the week you came back to this wretched world?"

"It can't be...it's all coming back to me. To think we'd meet again this way...to think it became so powerful after all this time..."


~To Be Continued in Part III~

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~Author's Notes~

Happy 100 pages! Or rather, 105 pages. If you've read this far, you're 1/3rds done with the prologue! As I edit and add and take away scenes, more or less pages may change this fact, but so far it's looking like it'll be in the 300-350 page ballpark, making this a good checkpoint!

Chapter 3 is a CHUNKY chapter, so I expect 5 parts, actually. If this were a webcomic, this would be a SUPER long chapter, like endless pages and would take a whole year to complete or something. It's times like these where I'm glad I chose a novel, even though comics get more traction.

Next chapter...next part, we'll be seeing a new side of the VL, and the lord of the market shall make herself known.

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