Later that evening Meg headed out to grab a few things from a nearby convenience store. Returning to the sweet shop, she came to a screeching halt as she noticed a girl standing outside, visibly drooling over a promotional poster attached to the wall.
Sneaking up, Meg tapped her on the shoulder. “We meet again!”
The girl visibly jumped, turning to face Meg. “What the—! Oh… it’s you.” She breathed out after an initial sharp inhalation, holding her chest. “Are you trying to give me a heart attack?”
“Ah… sorry,” Meg mumbled, her cheeks glowing. Going by what this girl apparently dealt with on – she assumed – some sort of regular basis, it possibly wasn’t the brightest plan to go surprising her; she might end up squashed under one of those gravity balls if she wasn’t careful.
“What do you want?” the girl asked, backing away a couple of steps.
“Nothing in particular. Actually, that’s not quite true. I was wondering if you needed any help? Or… anything?” Meg gave an awkward laugh, a little ‘aha… aha…’ indicating her nervous state. “I’m not sure how much help I can be with giant monsters, but maybe I can help some other way? Anything at all!”
“It’s dangerous, I can’t go getting you involved!” The girl turned to leave, but hesitated briefly to say, “Th-Thank you for the offer, though! I’m happy with the thought.” She attempted to run, but a short and simple sentence from Meg stopped her dead.
“How about just being my friend?”
“Yep! Even if I can’t help you fight, I can give you some company. Maybe?”
“I don’t want to endanger anyone else if I can avoid it,” the girl muttered, her brows furrowing.
“I’ll run at the first sign of trouble, I promise.”
“Just accept the offer, Emilia!” came an exasperated voice, seemingly from the depths of the girl’s jacket.
Now it was Meg’s turn to jump, spinning around a few times as she attempted to place the sound. “Where did that voice come from?”
“What voice?” The girl named Emilia attempted to appear innocent, with mixed results.
“I’m sure I just heard a voice.”
“That was… my ventriloquism practice! Yeah, that’s it.”
Meg narrowed her eyes. “Really…?”
Something from the previous evening popped into Meg’s mind, something she had noticed at the time but which had been forgotten upon the meeting in the park. “Now I remember! You had a little, um, girl? Or a fairy? She had cute blue butterfly wings and orange hair! Was that her?”
A brief sigh escaped the mystery girl’s lips. She had a look around to ensure they were alone, then stuffed a hand down the front of her heavy jacket. “I suppose it’s pointless hiding it if you saw her last night.”
Meg’s face lit up as the little fairy girl she had spied the previous evening was produced, looking what might be described as dishabille, or what Meg imagined the word dishabille meant, which in this case was ruffled.
The fairy, maybe half a foot in height with the aforementioned blue butterfly wings and bright orange hair – held in twin ponytails, one to either side of her head – sat on Emilia’s outstretched palm and gazed up at Meg with a great deal of visible interest, her eyes a crystal clear sky blue colour.
“Pleasure, I’m sure!” the fairy said, giving a shallow bow. “I am Lifa, and this young lass here is Emilia. How do you do?”
The fairy’s voice and mode of speech reminded Meg of those upper class ladies she had occasionally seen in the old period dramas her mother sometimes watched; posh, well-enunciated to a fault, and given half a chance she would likely start using words like ‘smashing’ and ‘super’ in an entirely over-exuberant manner.
Meg managed to find her own voice in order to respond. “Oh, yes, nice to meet you both!” She almost curtsied. “If Emilia can transform and you’re a fairy, does that mean you really are a magical girl?”
Emilia blinked. “A magical what, now?”
“Girl. Magical girl. It’s uh… it’s a type of show here. You can see it on TV?”
Emilia did her best to hide her confusion. “O-Oh yeah, those. I’ve not watched them.”
“We aren’t really from around here, you see,” Lifa said.
“I can show you around if you like?” Meg suggested.
“No, we’re okay—”
“Yes, that would be splendid—”
Attempting to speak at the same time and at cross purposes merely resulted in Meg’s own confusion multiplying. “Mm, so is that a yes or a no?”
Lifa jumped up into the air, her wings a blur as she hovered before Meg’s face. “Perhaps we should discuss this further over a nice cup of tea?”
Every time Lifa spoke, Meg had the feeling she was back at primary school; this adorable little fairy had a matronly air to her, a voice that made Meg’s legs want to buckle every time she heard it, the type of voice that never gets into a flap and always knows what to do. She was less certain as to the reason for Lifa sounding posh and British, however.
Putting these thoughts aside for now, Meg agreed this sounded nice, so Emilia stuffed Lifa back inside her jacket and led the way. Apparently she lived in some large manor house on the outskirts of the city; going by Lifa’s overall demeanour, Meg could believe it.
They arrived at the large house, nestled in a veritable sea of trees, bushes, and hedges. A paved driveway led via black metal gates to the front door, a double affair as befitted the gravitas its owner was clearly going for.
Emilia entered and wandered through into an enormous living room, furnished such that Meg thought she had entered a period drama. Blue featured predominately; blue sofa, blue flowery wallpaper, blue carpet, blue crockery, blue curtains.
“That’s a lot of blue,” she said under her breath.
A voice floated through from an adjacent room, followed by its owner. “Welcome, welcome! Make yourself at home.”
A young man had appeared. He was… blue? Meg was quite certain of what her eyes were telling her. Oh, not his skin, naturally, that was a pretty regular deep pink tone, but his hair was a vivid azure, matching the overall theme of the room.
He wore a shirt, open with manly chest hairs waving in the breeze from the door. And those trousers… the trousers had certainly been picked for their flair; literal flair, they might as well have come directly from a 1970s disco dance floor. They were of course blue, and made from a cord material.
Emilia held an arm out in the man’s direction. “This is Azurine Azul Siyonami, he’s uh… our friend? I guess that’s the best way to describe him for now.”
Meg bowed her head. “Nice to meet you, A… Azureeen!” She coughed. “Um, sorry, that’s a difficult name to remember after only hearing it once.”
“We normally just call him Blue,” Emilia added.
“Ah, that’s much easier, thanks. Nice to meet you, Blue!” Meg said, thinking that while this was easier, it was also odd. Then she remembered seeing an American actor called Rainbow and figured maybe she shouldn’t judge.
Blue’s expression morphed into something welcoming and he clapped his hands together. “A new friend for Emilia? Wonderful! Just this morning I was thinking she really does need some more friends, well done.”
The way he spoke reminded Meg of… well, if she was honest with herself, he reminded her of a character in a TV show she had once seen. A character who spent most of his time stoned. This contrasted with the way Blue fidgeted more or less continually, stepping from foot to foot, snapping his fingers, even doing a little dance on occasion.
Lifa prepared them a cup of tea each – watching this tiny fairy girl lifting a full pot of tea in a single thimble-sized hand left Meg feeling terrified for reasons she couldn’t quite pin down – and the four of them relaxed on one of two long sofas arranged in an L-shape.
Now they were indoors and rather more relaxed, Meg noticed something about Lifa she hadn’t originally; her skin complexion had a shifting quality to it, an almost pearlescent effect moving from white to pink to warm orange and back. It was quite beautiful.
Returning to the matter at hand, Meg asked the important question. “So… are you facing some terrible evil that needs to be vanquished to secure the world’s peace?” She held her cup in shaking hands, afraid she might drop it; she was knowledgeable enough to understand these cups alone were probably worth more than her university tuition fees.
“Eh? Evil? I don’t think so,” Emilia said.
Lifa concurred. “You wouldn’t think of a force of nature as evil, correct? What we face is somewhat of a similar nature.”
“That creature looked pretty evil to me,” Meg muttered.
“Think of it like an element. Fire, water, wind, that type of thing. Benign for the most part, but they can rage out of control in the right conditions.” Lifa sipped her tea and frowned. “However, we believe there is an as-yet unseen force controlling these elements.”
“Yeah, and when I find whoever it is I’m going to punch them in the face! Probably more than once!” Emilia said in a surprisingly malevolent tone. “Is it too much to ask that I get a few minutes uninterrupted so I can see a bit of this world? Really? Is that too much to ask?”
Meg’s ears pricked up at this. “Are you from another world?” She beamed to the point of blinding her new friends.
“Uh, country, I meant country! We’re not from Japan, we’re from… Indiana! Yep, that’s the place, all right.”
“Do you perhaps mean India?” Meg hazarded.
If Emilia’s face had been any hotter she would have set fire to the curtains. “Yes, India. Language barrier, I’m not so used to speaking Japanese.” She nodded, clearly pleased at managing to reverse out of a corner of her own making.
Meg let the matter drop for now. She had her suspicions, of course, but didn’t feel a need to press the issue right at this moment. “Anyway, I’d love to stick around for longer but I have to be in bed soon. I can maybe show you around a bit if you like, Emilia? I’ve been here nearly a year now so I know the city fairly well. I love exploring!”
“I might take you up on that,” Emilia said, looking down. The change from a fiery girl threatening to punch someone in the face to this cute girl who had difficulty making eye contact was as night and day.
Meg carefully placed her empty cup on its saucer, and stood. “Thanks for inviting me round! I’m looking forward to getting to know you some more, Emilia. And Lifa, too.” As she went to leave, she was stopped by Blue.
He held a hand up to his mouth and coughed in a theatrical manner, producing a sparkling red gem between thumb and finger. He held it out. “Here you go, babe, a special gem for a special Meg. Did you know that Meg backwards spells gem? How’s that for crazy coincidence?”
Meg did her best to ignore Blue’s disturbing speech and accepted the gem, holding it up to her eye. “It’s beautiful. Thanks, I’ll treasure it!” A deep translucent crimson, the star-shaped gem sparkled and glittered, and inside she could make out something reminiscent of molten lava. “I’ve never seen a gem like this before.”
“Blue’s gems are special,” Emilia said. “Kind of like Blue himself,” she muttered as an afterthought.
Meg performed a final thank you for the lovely gift, gave her new friends a farewell, and exited, wandering back home. She absentmindedly examined the gem as she walked, before slipping it into her jacket’s inside pocket and continuing on her way.