Starlight - Book 1 in the Starlight Trilogy

After an enjoyably peaceful year living and attending university in the east coast town of Kamogawa in Japan, Meg Momozono finds herself thrust into an exhilarating and terrifying adventure of magical girls, fairies, and gods. And the discovery that not everything can be easily explained by science...

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12. Chapter 12

  Awakening in the same bed she used that first night she spent at the mansion, Meg sat up and clutched at her head. The last time she’d depleted her magic it had felt like three hangovers at once. This time felt closer to five. Lethargy, nausea, headache, dehydration, the works.

  Her droopy eyes opened wide as she remembered the previous evening. “Emilia!” She jumped out of bed and hurriedly pulled her clothes on – same ones as she wore the previous night, not like she’d had a chance to change them – before running around to Emilia’s room.

  In her haste, she slammed the door open, eliciting a disapproving tut-tut from Lifa, currently seated on the bedside cabinet. Meg brought a hand up to her mouth, blushing like mad. “Sorry, Lifa!” she whispered, and walked across. “How is she?”

  Emilia was unconscious under her sheets, brows knitted in pain and discomfort even while asleep. The bruising from her fight also remained.

  Lifa sighed. “Not well, I’m afraid. Blue’s power is limited and Emilia asked him to heal a lot of the damage to the area last night. Simply put… he didn’t have enough left to heal Emilia herself. Not fully.”

  “This is my fault, isn’t it… I lost control of my power, I couldn’t—”

  “It wasn’t your fault…” Emilia murmured, opening her eyes for the first time that morning.

  Meg rushed forward, kneeling by the bed and stroking her friend’s forehead. “Hey…”

  Emilia gave a weak smile, tolerating the forehead stroking despite minor pain there. “Hey. I should’ve told you before, my fault for leaving it too long. Lifa?”

  Lifa hovered over. “You want me to tell her about that, yes?”


  Clearing her throat, Lifa floated over to Meg’s face. “There is a strong emotional component to the magic you and Emilia use. Powerful feelings strengthen it and increase its efficacy. But likewise, emotions running out of control can… have dangerous consequences.”

  Meg hung her head. “Like destroying an entire street with fire?”

  “Like that, yes,” Lifa said in a soft tone, wholly free from judgement or criticism. “It’s very similar to how elementals themselves are created, in fact.”

  “I’ll have to teach you how to keep your emotions from overwhelming you when I’m better,” Emilia muttered, her face and voice both strained.

  “You still trust me to be your partner?” Meg asked, surprised. She placed her hand on her friend’s forehead again, eliciting a mild groan of complaint.

  “Ah, not the head, bruises…” Emilia said, though she managed to laugh a little, hoping to put her friend at ease.

  “Oh god, sorry!” Meg exclaimed, pulling the hand back. “I can’t seem to get anything right at the moment, haha…”

  “Of course I trust you, Meg.” Emilia took a breath, a pained expression again flashing across her face. “Blue healed the worst of my internal injuries, but the rest…”

  “Will you get better?” Meg asked with trepidation.

  “She will. Eventually,” Lifa said. “Once Blue has recovered he can help things along, but that also takes time, alas.”

  “Let’s hope they don’t attack again, then,” Meg said. “Maybe they’ll think twice thanks to my… um, actions last night?”

  Emilia emitted a cute yet agonising giggle, coughing a few times as a result. “Ah, okay, that was a bad idea…”

  “You should probably get some more sleep?” Meg suggested.

  “You’re probably right,” Emilia said, resting her head back down on the pillow and closing her swollen eyes.

  The other two exited and headed downstairs, at which point Meg burst into tears.

  “If I’d just been there I could’ve helped her! Instead, I was in bed, asleep…!” she said between air gulping sobs. “I’m a terrible partner!”

  “You are not a terrible partner, Meg!” Lifa said, her tone this time soft yet stern.

  “Yes, I am! How could I not have been there for her!? Partners are meant to look out for each other, they’re meant to—!”

  Lifa lifted a diminutive hand and brought it round to connect with Meg’s cheek. The resounding ‘thwack!’ echoed around the living room, stunning the upset girl into abject silence.

  During her first visit to the mansion, Meg had been mildly worried by Lifa’s ability to lift a full teapot of scalding hot water in a single thimble-sized hand. And that slap had just added weight to something she already believed; that this adorable fairy was probably the most terrifying entity alive on the planet.

  Massaging her tiny hand, Lifa sighed. “Are you a little calmer now?”

  Meg was frozen for a moment, eyes wide and her cheek stinging. “Y-Yeah, I think so. Sorry, Lifa…”

  “You have nothing to apologise for, silly girl. Everyone needs sleep, everyone has important priorities in their life. You can’t be at Emilia’s side at all times, even if you’d like to be.”

  “No, but I should be there at the most important times!” Meg yelled, then clamped her mouth closed, her brows furrowing. “I’m just frustrated, Lifa, sorry, I shouldn’t be snapping at you.”

  “‘Even the ever-vigilant sentinel must sleep sometimes, for without strength and clear sight, the sentinel is as powerless as a babe.’”

  “Where’s that from?” Meg asked.

  “Just a little saying I heard once,” Lifa said, smiling. “It is your job to trust Emilia, as much as it’s hers to trust you. That includes trusting each other to rest and recuperate and ensure you’re both fighting at full power.”

  Meg flopped down onto one of the sofas. “How can she trust me if I’m not there when needed? Is there anything we could’ve done differently? We’re not infallible or all-knowing, how can we be aware there’s trouble, beyond hoping you can find us…?”

  Lifa had sensed the presence of an elemental when it spawned, but she had also sensed that Emilia was in danger. Prioritising her human partner’s safety, she’d zipped over to Meg’s place via Blue’s mirror system, waking her from deep slumber. But that wasn’t what might be called efficient

  “I wonder if…?” Lifa began, hovering back and forth with an intense expression, thinking hard. She nodded. “Yes, I believe I might have an idea on that front. Leave it with me.”

  “Okay! Um… can I sleep here again tonight? I’d like to be here in case Emilia needs anything…” Meg said. She had uni again in the morning, but she’d be damned if she was going to let her partner down a second time.

  Lifa nodded again. “Certainly! You need not ask, Meg, you’re as welcome in this house as Emilia herself, remember.”

  Meg’s own eyes immediately filled again, this time with happy tears. “Thanks! Okay, I’m going to go shopping and find some things for Emilia. I’ll be back later, need to head to uni for the next few hours.”

  “Don’t pamper her too much, please, she might grow used to it,” Lifa said, stifling a giggle.

  “I promise nothing!” Meg called back over her shoulder as she ran for the front door…




  Returning around early afternoon carrying a bag filled with sweets, Meg ran immediately up to her injured friend’s room. “I’m back!”

  Emilia was sitting upright in her bed, staring out of the window with a vaguely disgusted look on her face. She turned her head. “Hey…”

  “Wow, you look like you just swallowed a lemon…” Meg commented.

  “Not actually far off,” Emilia muttered. “Lifa had me drink some nasty concoction she says will help with my swelling. Blech…”

  The fairy herself, hovering nearby as usual, sighed. “You’ve never been one for medicines, have you? Easier to convince a cat to herd sheep than get Emilia to swallow medicine.”

  Emilia snorted. “Make it taste like sweets and I’ll be happy to take my medicine! When it tastes like liquid poison, is it any wonder I hate it?”

  Laughing at this, Meg sat on the edge of the bed and handed over the bag she carried. “Seems you’re doing a bit better now, at least! Here, some sweets for you.”

  “Oooh! This is more like it, thanks!” Emilia replied, carefully grasping the bag in a bruised hand. “Ow… jeez…”

  “How long do you think you’ll be bed-ridden?” Meg asked.

  “Poo fong!” Emilia said, barely comprehensible through a mouthful of sweets. She swallowed and tried again. “Too long!”

  Lifa settled on the mattress and waved a tiny a hand. “Potentially the next two to three weeks, I’m afraid. Blue is still recovering, he used a lot of his power to repair the damage from last night. It’s being reported as a gas pipe explosion, so we at least have a cover story.”

  “How did last night even happen?” Meg asked.

  Emilia explained as best she could. “No idea why he suddenly decided to fight instead of using an elemental. I’m not a close range fighter, jeez, I can’t deal with that!”

  “And this is why I said you need to learn to use your abilities faster,” Lifa said. “To add to that, I shall also be making sure you start practising close-quarters fighting with Meg. We can’t have you being injured like this again!”

  Meg gave a vehement nod. “I agree! Also, shouldn’t we get you to a hospital or something?” This had been preying on her mind all morning.

  “And how would I explain my injuries?” Emilia wheezed.

  “Oh… yeah, that might be a bit tricky.”

  A knock on the mansion’s front door interrupted proceedings.

  “That’ll be Yacchan,” Meg said, zipping downstairs to let her friend in. On return, she resumed her position on the bed. “I sent her a message to let her know what happened.”

  Yasuko’s expression looked distinctly pained, almost matching that of Emilia’s. She sat with Meg, placing a bag on the floor. “Damn… Meg told me you’d been injured, but this…”

  The door opened again and in walked Blue. He beamed like a junkie catching sight of a hookah and held out the tray he was carrying. “How are my favourite girls doing? Good? Groovy. Have a ramune.”

  Meg took the three blue-tinted bottles and handed them round, being very careful not to catch any of Emilia’s sundry bruises. “Thanks!” she said, taking a swig.

  Yasuko guzzled some of the deliciously fizzy lemonade-like drink, the marble inside rattling against the glass bottle. “Mm, ramune always takes me back. Used to drink so much of this stuff as a kid it’s a surprise my bloodstream wasn’t clear.”

  Lifa gave an amused chuckle. “Emilia is fairly addicted to it, aren’t you?”

  Pausing halfway through downing the whole bottle, emitting occasional pained sounds in the process as her bruised body protested, Emilia blushed. “It’s kind of similar to a drink back home. It… reminds me of my family.”

  Meg had to fight back the urge to hug her friend. She figured it would be more painful than comforting, given her current state. “I hope you can see them soon!” she said, raising her own bottle in a toast.

  “Likewise,” Yasuko said, tilting her own bottle and tapping it to the other two.

  “Thanks, both of you,” Emilia said in a small voice.

  A few minutes ticked past as they chatted, and soon Yasuko had an empty bottle. She rattled the marble about a few times – an old habit from her youth – and went to place it on the bedside table. As she did so, the light from the window glinted off the marble, producing an unusual sparkle.

  “What’s this?” she muttered, holding the bottle up to her eye. A gem? A familiar gem, in fact, though this one was blue in colour, with what appeared to be a whirlpool of water and bubbles swirling around inside.

  Running downstairs, she exited onto the paved area behind the mansion, ran down to the old clunkers Emilia had previously been destroyed, and carefully smashed the bottle’s bottom end on one of them.

  Back in the room, Yasuko held the gem on the palm of her hand. “I’m not seeing things, right? This is like the one Meg had!”

  Blue merely smiled and pointed a finger at her. “My power is limited. Yours isn’t.”

  The light the gem emitted danced around the walls of the room, making Meg’s face light up in response. “It’s so pretty…! You can’t say no, Yacchan, you just can’t!”

  Closing her fingers over the gem, Yasuko smiled in response. “I have no intention of saying no. Thanks, Blue… I accept!” She opened the hand again and the room exploded like a , pure ice white light spilling through the windows and illuminating the trees outside.

  Yasuko glowed blue-white, shining brightly, a white hot mantle of energy covering her body. A flurry of activity later, she had transformed fully, the now-standard outfit coalescing around her in a cool blue and white motif, with white thigh socks and knee boots.

  The lights, glows, swirls, and other effects that accompanied a transformation faded gently away, leaving nothing but Yasuko, the other girls and, standing off to one side, a pleased-looking Blue, singing Queen’s ‘I Want to Break Free’ for reasons beyond the comprehension of mere mortals.

  Yasuko looked down at her new form, turning this way and that, clearly liking what she was seeing. Her hair had lengthened, reaching the small of her back and turning pure ice white.

  The next moment, Meg threw her arms around her best friend and hugged her tightly. “Aaah, you look amazing, Yacchan! Welcome to the team!” She was over the moon, happy and elated at having a third member, thinking this would give them the edge they needed.

  “Thanks, Meg, I’m happy I can finally help out,” Yasuko said, still enjoying her new look.

  Pulling away, Meg stared at her friend’s chest. She swallowed and gave a discrete cough. “I think I see now why most magical girl shows have younger protagonists. Animating those would be tough…”

  Yasuko looked down at herself and chuckled. “Finally, a busty magical girl. My life is now complete!” She flexed her muscles, feeling the raw power flowing through her body. Clenching a fist, she opened it to reveal a ball of glowing white light. “Huh… what’s this?”

  Blue stepped forward, gently took her hand, and had her touch the light to Emilia’s forehead. As they watched, the bruising faded, a more natural russet tone returning to Emilia’s previously pale face. She groaned a little as the pain passed, then let out a sigh of relief.

  “Yacchan has healing powers?” Meg whispered, her jaw hanging open in disbelief.

  Emilia stretched, enjoying the ability to do so without agonising pain. “I don’t believe it… even at the temple, healing types are super rare!”

  “I just thought I’d like to help you in some way and the light appeared by itself,” Yasuko said, chuckling.

  “Well, this seems like an excellent time to inform our new member of some important details,” Lifa said, floating forward and giving Yasuko a brief rundown of what she’d told Meg.

  “So basically… you’re saying that we can turn raw emotion into power?” Yasuko said, releasing her transformation and returning to normal.

  “As long as you can control it, yep,” Emilia said. She clambered out of bed and hugged her friend, whispering a heartfelt thank you into her ear. Standing back, she limbered up, checking that she was all there. “Much better!”

  Moving downstairs to relax in the parlour, Blue disappeared through into the kitchen, leaving the girls to chat amongst themselves for a time. Soon, he returned carrying three objects, like miniature mirrors, each around three inches by five. Just the right size for a phone.

  “Here you go, babes, a little something Lifa asked me to whip up for you,” he said, handing one each to the three of them.

  “Is this what you mentioned to me?” Meg asked Lifa, who nodded.

  “Indeed so! A mirror you can attach to the rear of your phone cases, allowing both instant communication and transport, thanks to Blue,” Lifa said.

  “It’s super small,” Meg said as she stared at the new mirror attachment, lining it up with her phone.

  “The size isn’t actually important,” Lifa said.

  This elicited a snort from Yasuko. “So they say…”

  “Yasuko!” Meg snapped, though she was giggling, too. She touched the mirror to her phone, nodding as it snapped firmly into place. “How do I get it off again if I need to?”

  “Simply touch the mirror and say, ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’,” Lifa said, looking a little embarrassed. “I felt it wise to use a phrase you couldn’t accidentally think of under normal circumstances.”

  Meg said the magic words and the mirror detached. “Okay, perfect. Thanks, Lifa, this’ll help loads!”

  Yasuko had a naughty expression on her face. “Hmm, the ability to teleport right into Meg’s vicinity at any time? I like this. I like this a lot.”

  Emilia had been silent, but let out a sigh at this. “Suddenly I’m feeling worried…”

  “Likewise…” Meg said, glaring at her best friend.

  “You know you love me really,” Yasuko said, unabashed.

  With their injured member fully healed and the new mini-mirrors attached to their phones, they split for the day, heading home. Meg had things to be getting on with – things involving setting up for a spot of painting in her flat – so she wished her best friend a nice day and ran off.

  Emilia headed outside and transformed with the intention of getting some close quarters training underway, and Yasuko strolled back to the hotel. But in deference to her new situation as a magical girl, she decided it might be nice to spend a few hours somewhere quiet in order to train and get used to her powers.

  That evening, sitting before her easel at the flat, paint brush in hand, Meg figured it might be time to enjoy that spot of urbex together with her now fully recovered partner. Kamogawa had a number of interesting spots on its outskirts, buildings and warehouses and forgotten paths an adventurous girl and her friend could explore.

  And she intended to do just that.

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