Chapter 11:

In a Mess

One Wish They Never Wanted


"Tiger's Tale" ("Tora no Gaiden"), informally known as "Toragai", was always a lively place because its staff were friendly and cooperative to the customers.


Most of the time, at least.


"Why do I have to go back to the school?!" Takuma yelled at Amelie, anger burning in his eyes.


"Well, I was the one who helped you with this, right? Do this for me!" the blonde made a pleading gesture, but Takuma turned away to collect a calculator from a cupboard behind her. Amelie paused momentarily, then procured a to-scale Saijou keychain from one of her hip pockets. "I knew you'd think that, so here's some incentive - show up at the school on Wednesday after the final bell and you can have this."


Takuma's eyes sparkled at the keychain. It had only been sold with a first-run Japan-exclusive DVD of "The Familiar of Forty", and to use online shipping for such an impossibly rare item would be blasphemy in his book!


"How did-" Takuma glanced over the counter to find a small audience, so with a wave of his hand he temporarily dismissed the keychain and got back to work.
----
Kris was on a plane with Fumika when he realised an essential item - or rather, fairy - was missing.


However, if he acted out of turn in front of her, he'd probably end up having to reveal how she became a mangaka in the first place...so all he could do was act natural and hope Quartz had gone somewhere that they could meet again.
----
Quartz wasn't actually lost this time.


He was following a hunch he had after he'd met up with Kris, which had led him to use the reversal spell on the Improved Razor to show him Ember's location.


Ember normally kept two wands, one spare and one main one she'd received as soon as she was able to. (His own incompatibility with performing spells without a physical aid made certain he didn't possess a wand of his own.) The spare wand holster Ember kept on her right leg had been empty the entire time he'd been with her.


Therefore, she must have been looking for the spare wand.


As to why that only made sense to him as soon as he'd parted with her, he had no idea, but either way, he had to get back to her (without getting lost along the way!) and help her find it.
----
Quartz and Ember were watching him from the highest shelf in the room on Tuesday morning. Takuma was visibly trembling in his cocoon of blankets.


The male fairy alighted on the shivering lozenge that was Takuma and produced a tear-shaped gem full of silver glitter. Takuma shook him off, not even considering the fact he'd watched the fairy leave a few days ago. This was just as Quartz got the glitter out of the gem with an incantation, so a flurry of sparkles and gems flew everywhere.


The human peeped out of his cocoon with a single eye, almost blinded by the sheer amount of sparkling the new landscape presented to him.


"You're cleaning this up," Takuma hissed at them, but then he had an idea. "Hey, Quartz - do you have any of Em-"


"Oh no, you don't!" Ember swooped in to protect a mini quarry of gems filled with her signature golden magic, her face suddenly pink. "I'll deliberately miscast a reversal spell on your hand if you threaten to use my magic for any of your purposes!"


"Then why are you here? Don't just say 'ogling the bishonen', you've had tonnes of time to do that."


"I was originally intending to figure out who stole my spare wand," she glanced at Quartz, "and no, it's not Quartz. I've been getting nowhere with my investigation, so I've just been minding my own business. By the looks of things, whoever has my spare wand hasn't come searching for me either." With an incantation, Ember cleared the room of unnecessary glitter.


"Sorry, mailbox human. I was trying to cheer you up, and I made a mess of it..." the male fairy mumbled, but Takuma replied with a laugh.


Well, all things considered, what the fairy said was true. Metaphorically and literally.


Quartz cut Takuma's laughter off by handing him a clear stone that resembled one of his gems. As the human accepted it with a careful movement of his index finger and thumb, it shimmered in the low light of the room with a golden radiance.


"I believe that we shouldn't be helping you with whatever's troubling you, so...this stone is just in case you need encouragement from us. It has no magical properties, mind you," the fairy explained while Takuma observed it.
----
As Takuma peered over the metal wire school gates, he felt sick to his stomach and nearly turned back multiple times before the all-too-familiar bell resounded in his ears.


Surely enough, Amelie emerged from the closest concrete complex after a little while, some other students in pursuit. All of them wore the grey uniform of the high school, in contrast to the lime green polo shirt and jeans he was wearing. Takuma tried to curl up into an unnoticeable ball and lean on the fence for support, but was stopped by what he could hear.


"That's him? You sure?" they all whispered in unison, loud enough for him to whisper, "It's me you're talking about, right?" in protest.


As soon as he saw the crowd was mostly those he'd been fouled by in school, he turned his gaze to the floor, the shine on his glasses obscuring the fear in his eyes.


With Takuma's heart in his throat, he made his way around the fence so he could face them properly.


Amelie stepped forward from the crowd and held out the keychain. "Take it - I know just being here is painful for you."


Takuma kept his eyes down as he grabbed the air repeatedly, eventually getting Amelie's hand in his own - Amelie began to feel regret pressing down on her heart when she felt the miniature tremors his hand was making. His fingers then wandered down to where the keychain was and snatched his prize up.


Slowly, one of the crowd members started to clap and soon the whole group, Amelie included, were all clapping.


"I guess you're willing to forgive us now?" a deep male voice came from the back of the crowd. It was a heavy-set brunette from Amelie's - and previously Takuma's - year level, holding out his hand for a reconciliatory shake. The dark-haired boy backed away, but more members of the crowd came from behind and shoved him back.


Takuma went stiff and attempted to bolt for it, but Amelie dragged him back by the back of the collar. "If you're not making amends now, you're going to regret it forever and ever! You might not ever get this chance again, so do it while they're all still willing!"


"B-B-But," Takuma was close to tears now, "you were all so mean to me..."


There was something unnatural about how these students behaved. It was almost as if they were in a similar state to "Ember's clairvoyant dream recollection" state - basically speaking, they appeared to be under a spell.


However, if that was the case, then who was responsible for it? He'd left the fairy duo at home...