Magic Makes my Life Less Lonely!
“He’s a vi-what?!” Tooth’s little voice exploded in disbelief, echoing throughout the cottage. It had been a few days since my evening in the garden with Alkan and I was waiting for the right time to share what I learned with my little comb.
“A viscount, Tooth,” I said calmly as I continued to brush my hair with my perturbed little companion.
“What even is that? It sounds made up!” it huffed.
“It’s a kind of royal title. He’s nobility, see? Not a vampire!”
“Who says?” Tooth replied in exasperation. “A vampire could be royal! Nobility would not make you immune! Anyone can be a vampire!”
“He’s like a prince…” Cushion swooned. “I’m happy for you, Elio! You found the prince from Novella’s stories!”
“...The prince’s lips met with those of his true love, and they lived happily ever after!” Novella spoke up.
“Oh pipe down, you two!” Tooth sulked.
The comb jumped from my hand and landed on the vanity to fume for a while. I figured it wouldn’t take this news well, but I had important things to do! Alkan was taking me to the Fairy Festival and I had spent the last few days preparing my costume! With a little sewing and a ton of magic, I created an amazing outfit! My theme was sunflowers, with bold yellows and reds. I chose a bright yellow waistcoat with a deep red undershirt, all embroidered with beautiful, decorative sunflowers. The tails from the waistcoat flowed down into long dragonfly-like wings.
“Is it all ready?” Cushion asked sweetly, gesturing to my outfit on the bed. I may have told Cushion...before Tooth? I felt bad, I knew Tooth would overreact but only because it cared.
“I think it is! My festival outfit is all done.” As I spoke, I noticed Tooth perked up when I mentioned the festival.
“...Festival?” it said curiously.
“Yeah, Alkan asked Elio to go to the Fairy Festival in town. And guess what? Elio said yes! And guess what else? It’s tonight!” Cushion cheered, only slightly trying to rub it in that it knew something Tooth didn’t.
“Y-You’re going...into town?”
“I...am! Alkan will be here around six,” I said happily, though a little nervously. “Everyone wears a costume, so I can go around and no one will realize I’m me.” I held up the mask I was going to wear with the outfit and grinned. It was a bright gold, v-shaped colombina to cover my eyes and nose enough so that I would not be recognized.
“So this wasn’t for a client, but for you...but then…” Tooth tried to work it out in it’s head. It took a moment to think, when suddenly it yelled out, “YOU DIDN’T TELL ME!” Tooth hopped around wildly on the vanity. “Well what are you waiting for?! Change your clothes! Do your hair! Are you wearing makeup? You should wear makeup!”
I couldn’t help but laugh! I didn’t expect Tooth to be so ecstatic about all this, but I wasn't going to question it. I quickly changed into my outfit and did a little twirl in front of my friends.
“You look wonderful!” Tooth said in awe.
I looked in the mirror and liked what I saw. As an extra precaution though, I decided to change my hair. My natural greenish hue would be a huge giveaway. Maybe...blond? Blond would work well in tandem with the rest of the outfit! I took a strand of hair between my fingers, and ran them down as I recited the incantation.
“Change the hue of my hair, this night. Make it golden, sparkly, bright!”
My hair shined, tracing rays of light across the room. As my fingers moved, the light chased away the green pigment and replaced it with a platinum blond. I examined myself in the vanity mirror once more and smiled. The effects would only be temporary, but I liked it!
“Wow, such lovely locks!” Cushion said.
“Mmm, it looks good, but I prefer your natural color!” Tooth nodded.
“I know, but I have to change it. I don’t want to be easily recognizable.”
“True…” Tooth conceded. “Well, I still think you look great!”
With another twirl, I grabbed Tooth, Cushion and Novella and brought them down with me into the living room. Alkan would be here soon...as my date, I guess? Wow, it would be my first time actually visiting Windbloom since I moved here… I had avoided it at all costs. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely anxious about it, but with Alkan accompanying me, and my costume hiding my identity, I think I’d manage to have a good time!
“Wow…” Tick marveled at my outfit before realizing I needed it’s help. “Y-Yes, let me see about the time…” the clock said while glancing over to Tock and adjusting its time accordingly.
“W-What is this?! Did you just try to copy the time from me, you lazy old clock?” Tock scoffed in offence.
“Well, maybe you’re right today!” Tick shot back. “I wasn’t paying that much attention for the past hour or so.”
“You stopped counting the time?!” Tock was flabbergasted.
“Maybe I just don’t want to argue with you, you stubborn old gear-head!” Tick huffed. Tock adjusted its time to be a few minutes ahead of the original time Tick had mimicked.
“Well, too bad! You’re still off by a few minutes! I thought you might do this one day, so I always stay a few minutes off from the correct time!”
“So, that means you’re always showing the wrong time?” Tick teased its twin.
“N-No!! That’s not true!”
“Seems if you’ve been doing that long enough...you don’t even know the real time yourself, do you?” Tick said smugly.
The two kept arguing, and I sighed. I really needed to invest in a pocket watch. Tick read 5:45, and Tock had 5:48. Alkan will be here soon.
“Elio!! You need to have a quick dinner before you go!” Tooth scolded frantically as it saw the time. I placed Cushion on the couch and Tooth on the table; Novella I laid gently on the table.
“I don’t think I have time, Tooth. And if I’m honest...I’d rather not anyway.”
“Why not? It’s not healthy to skip meals!” Tooth whined.
“Because I might have an upset stomach...anxious nerves combined with food? Seems like a bad combo on a date night.”
“...I guess...but don’t do this again!” Tooth huffed.
“I promise I will try not to miss any more meals, don’t worry,” I winked at the little comb.
“Elio, do you think you’ll be out late?” Cushion asked from the couch.
“I don’t think too late…”
“Will your hair color change back at midnight?” Cushion questioned further.
“That only happened in Cinderella, Cushion, and that’s not even in the original version. Magic doesn’t work that way,” I smiled.
“But Novella hasn’t read it to us in so long! I had to read a different one that Carton had instead!” Cushion protested, slightly embarrassed.
“Hey! Don’t blame me!” Carton, previously just listening quietly, piped up from the corner. Cushion huffed and was about to respond as a knocking came at the door.
“Oh! That must be Alkan!” I smiled and made my way towards the door. Tooth’s grumbling and Cushion’s sudden giggling were my accompanying soundtrack. I opened the door, and saw...Alkan?
He was dressed in a dark and well-tailored, gothic looking outfit. On his back hung an elegant, flowing red cape. His mask was intricately embellished, shaped like a bat hugging his face. Overall, he looked dapper and mysterious and wholeheartedly...vampiric! His mouth curled into a delighted smile as he saw me, revealing his fangs.
“Good evening, wizard boy,” he said soothingly.
“Good evening!” I smiled. Alkan took my hand and kissed it gently. A twinge of electricity shot through my body as his lips touched my hand, and I felt a delightful chill
“You look beautiful, Elio.” He smiled again, and I looked down in embarrassment.
“T-Thank you. Your costume makes you look very...distinguished,” I tried to compliment him without just saying, ‘You’re super hot.’
“Shall we be off?” he asked, and I nodded eagerly.
I turned back to the objects and waved, saying, “Bye everyone, see you later tonight!”
“Have fun, Elio!!” Cushion called out.
“...And be careful! And safe!!” Tooth said, glaring at Alkan.
Alkan slipped my arm under his, and we walked together arm-in-arm as we headed down the path out of the gate. The evening was crisp, with a tiny breeze that would tickle your skin from time-to-time.
“Are you excited to see the festival?” Alkan looked over to me with an excited smile.
“I am! I won’t deny I’m very very nervous though…”
“It’s alright. If you’re ever uncomfortable, we can leave at any time, but hopefully not before I win you a prize!” He winked playfully, making me laugh. But my joy changed to nervousness as we reached the gate. I had crossed it before, but only to gather some things I had dropped from the mailbox or clean some weeds on the other side of the fence. This was different though… Alkan gave my arm a little squeeze and gave me a comforting smile. I took a deep breath, passing through the gate together and began walking down the road towards Windbloom.
───── ⋆⋅☆⋅⋆ ─────
The sounds of laughter and joyful conversation filled the air, punctuating through the gentle musical melody that gracefully permeated through the whole village. I had heard it even before seeing the town gates. The walk from my cottage into town was shorter than I remembered. I could have sworn I lived farther away, but after a short while I could see the rooftops rising in the distance until we were right outside.
‘Here we go…” I whispered under my breath. Alkan just pulled me close and smiled.
The town gates of Windbloom were beautifully adorned with bright blooms and flowering vines. I don’t remember seeing them like this when I first came here…this sang of Rosetta’s masterwork! She must have grown these in time for the Fairy Festival. As we walked though, the sounds of other people grew loud and a little overwhelming. I squeezed Alkan’s arm, a bit nervous to finally be here after all these months.
Throngs of people were walking every-which-way around Windbloom’s town square, as far as the eye could see. The whole place was decorated with charming depictions of nymphs, sprites, hobgoblins and the like, celebrating the fairy world. The costumes were stunning, and more ornate than most I’d seen in any of Crystalis’ events. Everyone seemed to have taken great pride in creating an original look for the event! The enchanted lanterns cast a romantic glow over the whole of this cute little town. String lights were hung to-and-fro between each building, seeming to guide you to different areas of the festival.
Alkan was beaming with excitement when I looked up to him. I was excited too, but still felt that pang of nervousness deep in my gut. Suddenly the smell of cinnamon and sugar hit my nose as we came further in and my nerves eased slightly at that pleasant aroma. An array of booths selling various festival goods were lined up and down the main streets. And in the middle of Windblom Square was the town fountain, which had been partially converted into a makeshift stage. It looked like they were setting up for something exciting!
“Would you like some cinnamon wands?” Alkan asked as we walked over towards one of the vendors.
“S-Sure...are they like cinnamon rolls?”
“Yes, but much better! They are filled with almond paste and you dip them in the vanilla icing sauce, so each bite has as much or little as you want!” He grinned happily. Alkan was so cute, getting excited and showing off his home town with pride.
“They sound delicious!” I nodded. We walked up to the food cart, and Alkan ordered some for us to share. The vendor immediately jumped into action, making them in front of us in an impressive flash of movements. The precision and speed was truly something to behold! I barely had time to marvel at his skill before the vendor presented us with the cinnamon wands. Alkan took them and thanked the vendor graciously before paying.
“Try one!” he smirked as he offered me a stick with a star on top. I grabbed it gently and dipped the wand into the sauce. I gave it a little swirl and pulled it out to take a bite quickly before any of the sauce dripped. The soft dough was so buttery and fluffy, and the vanilla dipping sauce was deliciously creamy and smooth. But the middle… It was filled with a sweet and nutty marzipan spread that just melted in my mouth. An absolutely scrumptious combination of flavors!
“Is it good? Do you like it?” Alkan smiled sweetly.
“I love it! It’s so delicious! Now you have some!” I said as I finished the first bite. Alkan’s hands were full, the cinnamon wands in one hand and the sauce in the other.
“Here!” I dipped mine back in the sauce and offered him the other half of the star on top. He smiled and bit into it. As he chewed, I could see his eyes narrow in pure happiness.
“As delicious as ever!” He licked his lips. This must be nostalgic for him—growing up here, he probably had these every year he attended.
“So Alkan, did you actually grow up in Windbloom?” I asked, brushing the cinnamon sugar from my face.
“Somewhat, yes. My family’s land is technically in the hills and mountains to the east of town. Growing up I spent many happy days here,” he said, nibbling on the pasty. “As I got older though, official duties kept me from visiting as much. But regardless of that, I always make time for the Fairy Festival!” He laughed, flashing his fangs. That and his outfit made him look so vampire-like, I had to laugh too! “And what about you, wizard boy?”
“Me? Oh, I lived in Crystalis all my life. Well...until...you know,” I said a little sheepishly. I felt that pang in my stomach again, but Alkan seemed to notice.
“Come this way!” He grabbed my hand and pulled me through the streets. We wandered around and looked at all the different stalls as we ate the other cinnamon wands. Some were selling art and handmade crafts, others sold clothing and jewelry. And at one stall...
“Fairy wings! Epimediums! A beautiful bouquet of fairy wings for luck and magic!” I knew that voice immediately, even under the flower crown mask and clown-like costume. Rosetta was manning a busy stall covered in beautiful, delicate flowers in the shape of fairy wings, mixed with glowing stalks of goldenhorn! She looked so happy, but I had to stay away in case she noticed me. Before I even realized he had gone, Alkan was already returning from Rosetta’s flower stall and presented me with one of her bouquets.
“A magical flower for a magical boy!” he said so gentlemanly. Such a charmer…
I took them gladly and smiled. Maybe Rosetta didn’t see me? Or if she did, she didn’t recognize me...my costume is working wonders! Alkan linked his arm in mine and we made our way over to a particularly crowded spot. It was a section filled with all kinds of games.
“Take a good look at the prizes! Is there anything you see that you would like me to win for you?” He said with an air of confidence.
“I-It’s ok, you don’t have to do that!” I waved my hands awkwardly.
“Nonsense, I insist! I might be a bit rusty, but I at least want to try to win something for you.” Alkan put his hands on his hips and puffed his chest out a bit. How cute...he wanted to impress me! I looked around at the different prizes, but nothing was really catching my eye. Most seemed to be basic dolls or silly toys that would likely break after a few uses.
“Oh my...that one!” I exclaimed, pointing excitedly. In the middle of one of the stalls was a bright pink dragon plush with black dotted eyes and tiny eyelashes. But the best part was the bold red lipstick on its mouth! Lipstick! How cute and silly, I couldn’t resist!
“Yeah! I mean, if that’s ok…”
“Of course!” Alkan said as he marched over to the stall. The game looked simple enough, a series of shelves with different colored wooden dowels sticking up from them.
“Welcome!” the colorful barker called. “Welcome to Fairy Ring Toss! Let me explain the rules! If you get one ring on the pole, you can pick a prize from the left here. If you get two, you can pick one from either the left or the right. If you manage to get all three, you can pick one of the grand prizes in the middle! You get five chances, got it?”
Alkan gave a determined nod. I guess the dragon was one of the grand prizes… Why didn’t I pick an easier one for Alkan to try for?
“Ready? Go for it!” the barker said as Alkan carefully eyed up one of the rods. and gently tossed a ring into the air and...missed completely. The ring didn’t even reach the rods.
“Heh...I did mention that I was a bit rusty, did I not?” He gave a little reassuring laugh and raised his hand again. This time he tossed with a bit more force. The ring bounced off of one rod and right onto another.
“We’ve got one ring!” the barker called.
“Nice!” I clapped.
“I’m going to win you that dragon!” Alkan smirked as he readied to toss another straight onto a rod.
“That’s two! One more gets you a grand prize!”
“You can do it!” I called excitedly. I quickly clammed up, not wanting anyone to recognize my voice.
Alkan stuck out his tongue and gave a cocky head tilt as he eyed up another toss. Up it went and...he missed. I could see his cockiness turn to nervousness as he realized he only had one chance left.
“Don’t worry, you got two! That’s amazing” I said supportively. I didn't want him to worry, but he shook his head defiantly.
“You want the pink one. I am going to win it for you!” How galant… He carefully lined up his toss, practicing his movements back and forth. With a final throw, he tossed the ring up into the air. It arced down, bouncing between a number of rods until it fell...sliding perfectly onto one of the rods!
“We have a winner!”
“You did it, Alkan!!” I smiled and jumped with excitement. He smiled back and before I knew it, had pulled me into a tight embrace.
“I’m so happy I was able to win it for you…” he smiled down at me excitedly. “Now, go get your dragon!”
“The dragon, eh? What a cutie it is!” The barker smiled sweetly as they retrieved it for me. “Here you are! Enjoy the rest of the festival!” They waved as Alkan and I walked away with our new fluffy companion.
“Do you like it?”
“Of course! Here, take a look. You won it after all!” I said, handing my prize over to Alkan.
“It is so much cuter up close.” He said while cuddling the dragon. “N-Not that it was not cute, umm…” He stammered awkwardly and handed it back to me.
“Silly, I know what you mean. Thank you for winning it for me!”
“I’m glad I could,” he said as he gave a wink. “What are you going to name it?”
“Hm…” I examined its cute little face. The lips were big and pouty with the bright red lipstick… I got it!
“Lips?” he said, pondering the name. “That’s adorable!”
“I think so too!” I smiled.
In the distance, elegant music began to play. Everyone in their opulent costumes were gathering around the makeshift stage in the town square as an orchestra had assembled to play.
“Would you like to listen?” Alkan asked.
“S-Sure, let’s go!” I nodded. Being in a crowd did little for my nerves, but since I was with Alkan, I wanted to try. We made our way towards the front of the crowd as they clapped along to the beat of the song. As the music ended, the conductor turned with a bow and addressed the crowd.
“Thank you all for coming to this year’s Fairy Festival!” he said before clearing his throat. “Our humble town of Windbloom has grown more and more each passing year…” He continued speaking…
“These are just formalities,” Alkan whispered in my ear. “Afterwards they will play...well, you will see!” Another surprise?
As the conductor spoke, I started to zone out and examine the crowd. So many costumes, it was hard to guess who was under them. One group stuck out in particular though… An older couple stood across the square; a short, mustachioed man with an amazing hat and a sweet thin woman in an elegant feathered dress. Even under her mask I could see her making eyes at the older gentleman. Suddenly an elbow nudged between them and pushed the woman aside! Another woman dressed as a raven waddled her way in between the two and began talking with the gentleman. It had to be Irina, I knew that waddle anywhere. Then the man must be Mr. Bartel, and the other woman… I couldn’t help but giggle as I realized that must have been Mildred!
“What is so funny?” Alkan whispered again.
“Oh nothing, just a few angry birds getting their feathers ruffled,” I chuckled.
“...And so, enjoy this wonderful evening in our fair town of Windbloom! May the fey bless each and every one of you.” The conductor nodded to the crowd and turned to the orchestra, as the crowd began to break into pairs through the square.
“What’s going on…” I started, before I noticed Alkan bowing before me and offering his hand.
“Would you care for a waltz?”
“A-A waltz?” I said nervously, not because I was afraid of people seeing me, but because hardly anyone had ever asked me to dance before. “I’d love to!” I said happily, taking hold of Alkan’s hand. I realized I was still holding Lips and the bouquet and wasn’t sure what to do with them… I didn’t want to leave them on the floor somewhere, they might get trampled! I know, a little bit of magic won’t hurt, right? I’ll just make Lips float and follow me with the flowers! That way my hands would be freed to enjoy this special dance with my dashing viscount!
“Just a second, Alkan.” I said as I held the pink dragon plush close to me, concentrating on it.
“Float like a feather by my side, fly through the air and follow my stride!” I gently threw Lips into the air with the bouquet. Suddenly the tiny pink dragon’s wings began to flap about! Lips caught the bouquet and flew alongside me.
“Elio! Did you just enchant it?” Alkan exclaimed both in shock and excitement.
“No no, just a simple levitation spell so we can dance!” I smiled.
“I see...brilliant!” Alkan said as Lips twirled clumsily through the air around us. Despite flapping its wings like a real baby dragon might, it could only manage to barrel-roll in an orbit just above me. Alkan grabbed my hand, and placed it on his shoulder.
“Shall we?” he asked, wrapping an arm around my waist and pulling me close to him. I could feel the warmth on his breath, and the scent of his cologne. It was a scent I hadn’t noticed before, a combination of vanilla, amber, and musk. It was intoxicating. He grinned excitedly as the music began.
“Just a warning, I am out of practice... I learned how to in the city, but it’s been a long time since I last waltzed,” I confessed to the handsome man.
“It is ok, let me lead.” he said as we began to dance. We were so close, it felt incredibly intimate to be held by him like this—I felt surprisingly comfortable.
A few people over, I saw a young couple dancing awkwardly together. The broad, purple-haired guy was looking down at his feet while trying desperately not to step on his partners feet. As I watched, I realized it was Jasper! That meant the young girl must be Iris, the master blacksmith’s daughter. They looked so cute together, even if Jasper was incredibly clumsy.
Alkan and I both laughed and continued to dance, focusing on eachother, never breaking eye contact. When I looked at him closely, I noticed a pale reddish-hue appear on his cheeks. Was he blushing? The song ended, and we bowed to one another at the end of our dance. He paused for a moment, his face getting redder.
“Elio...I…” He was about to say something but there was a sudden gasp behind me.
“Oh. My. God!!” I heard someone say.
“A flying plush doll? Where did you get that?”
“You just have to tell us which stall is selling this!”
“Huh, I wasn’t aware we had automatons of that nature here in Windbloom.”
I spun around quickly, noticing a small crowd had formed around us. Lips was doing loop-de-loops in the air above my head and was drawing too much attention. I had to ground it…I closed my eyes and recited a spell.
“No more flight, come to this height! To the ground for the rest of the night!”
I opened my eyes and rubbed my face. The poor dragon plush had fallen onto my head and dropped to the ground. I knelt down to pick Lips up. The poor plush had gotten dirty and my bouquet of fairy wings was ruined. As I knelt, I noticed a v-shape lying next to the plush on the ground. There, in the grass, was my mask.
“Elio, are you alright?” Alkan said softly as he knelt down next to me.
“My mask!” I whispered in fear. They could see me! I tried to hide my face with my hands, but the small crowd has grown into a larger commotion. I suddenly heard a familiar voice.
“Alright, alright, what’s going on here—Elio?” Breaking through the crowd and looming over me was Mei. She recognized me. “Well good evening! I didn’t expect to see you here tonight, and making a commotion no less!” she said jokingly.
“Y-Yeah…I-I...” I was beginning to get super anxious. I felt a deep pain in my stomach and had tears begin to well up in my eyes a bit. No...it’s ok! I can do this, Alkan is here with me. But more voices piqued up in the crowd.
“Oh wow, Elio’s in town?”
“Elio… wasn’t that the name of the royal wizard in Crystalis?”
“Royal...wizard?” I heard Alkan say quietly. He glanced at me with a look of confusion and concern on his face. This all was too much. My head was spinning and I felt sick.
“Ok folks, back it up a bit. Give our little celebrity some space,” Mei commanded, holding the crowd back. Celebrity?
“Well, well, Elio! So this is where you’ve been hiding?” I heard another voice call out.
I flashed a panicked glance towards a familiar looking man closeby. Oh no...I recognized him. He was one of the princess’ royal guards!
“The princess has been looking for you!”
The princess?! This was all too much, and now the princess has guards looking for me? I...I don’t...
“Breathe, Elio,” Alkan said, trying to calm me down. “Just breathe, it will be—wait! Elio!”
I ran. I stumbled through the crowd, barely able to see as my vision blurred with tears. This wasn’t at all how this was supposed to go.
“Elio!! Wait!” I heard Alkan call from behind me. I felt horrible for leaving him...but I didn’t want to involve him in my embarrassment any further. If they learned a viscount was courting someone who had embarrassed the royal family, who knows what that might do to him? That incident in Crystalis wasn’t something I would ever be able to escape...not in a town as close by as Windbloom. The tears stung my face as they flowed down my cheeks. I was a fool, making friends with everyone here...more than friends...and now I had to leave them all behind. Alkan...I’m sorry. At least I still had my friends at home, they’d help me pack.
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