Vyse, Aika and Fina just wanted to have a nice, peaceful vacation. No chance that will happen when Aika got a book of spells… and she’s not afraid of using it. Woe is Arcadia. crackish
Somewhere in the far north of Valua, nestled in snow-covered mountains, lay a small town named Dasestra. It was small, yet still sported a large inn. Currently, it had three Blue Rogues as patrons: Vyse, Aika and Fina.
Upon their arrival, they found that all regular rooms had been booked. The only room left was the suite, which wouldn't be too bad, but it was the honeymoon-suite. Having no other option, they had settled for it. Only the receptionist knew the true story behind it all, but Vyse was certain that if anyone else saw the three of them near that room, rumours of his alleged "bigamy" would be spread all over Arcadia.
The suite consisted of a bedroom, a lounge, and a luxurious bathroom. The whole floor was covered by a fluffy soft red carpet. In the bedroom stood a large bed with drapes. There was also a wide and soft sofa right in front of the cabin-fire. It was for Vyse to sleep on, while Aika and Fina shared the bed.
Right now, Vyse and Fina sat in the bedroom, Aika was out getting lunch. In usual order, if the prices at the inn's shop and restaurant had been one gold coin higher, it would've rightfully been considered as robbery, plundering, assault and devastation. Smuggling food into the hotel was just as much a necessity as sport.
"After this whole week, it feels really nice to just take it easy," Fina said.
"That's what 'vacation' is all about," Vyse said.
"I understand you may have to assure yourself, but yes, I do know that."
"Just checking. I mean, you always seem to carry that dictionary around everywhere you go. Just like Aika's old teddy-bear."
"Vyse, do you know what 'a fistful of knuckles' mean?"
"… why do you ask?"
"Aika said I should give you one such thing at occasions like these. So what is it?"
"Oh, that. It means… ah, shoulder massage. Please?"
Smiling, Fina slipped behind Vyse and let her hands work on his shoulders. Vyse really enjoyed it. She had a real good hand with this. Ever since she had read her word-list on the "M"-section and found that unfamiliar word, he had agreed to be her test-doll. Of course, his shoulders had ached some time after the first sessions, but now she worked wonders. It was a little hard to sit upright like this with no chair to lean his back against, but it all went just fine.
Then suddenly the door was slammed open.
"Hiya, everybody!" Aika shouted. "Guess what I've picked up!"
Vyse opened his eyes, and saw Aika standing in the middle of the room. She held a bag in her hands.
"What've you been up to?" Vyse asked, a bit dumbfounded.
"Getting lunch, like I should. Now, I've also bought a thingy which… well, it's no use telling you 'cause you just won't believe it's true."
Fina let go of Vyse, stepped down from the bed and walked up to Aika.
"So what did you find?" she asked, curiously.
"Ta-daah!" Aika said and reached into her bag. Her hand emerged holding a book. Its leathery covers were old and ragged. "Spells made easy!"
"Interesting. Is it like 'Spelling easy'?"
"Nope. Magic spells. And I'm not talking 'bout those pyri and stuff. Oh no, this is the great shebang!"
"And you threw money away on that?" Vyse said, sceptically.
"Why you seem grumpy. Would you say because it's… impossible?"
To not upset the world’s balance, Vyse chose to not reply.
Just leave it to Aika to buy something as wacky as a book of spells. She even managed to get Fina into it. The girls 'oooooh'-ed and 'aaaaah'-ed as they flipped the pages. It was just another event to put into storage when Vyse thought about Aika's weird antics. Like that time back on Pirate Isle when she had become so engrossed with her red hair that she one night had sneaked into the harbour to paint cannon balls and moonstones red. The following morning she had stated that she only made it to make them all happy. Even worse, 'them' in this case were the painted objects in question.
"Oh, look!" Fina said. "Here is a spell for teleportation!"
"You gotta be kiddin' me!" Aika chimed. "This is terrific! Hey, Vyse, would you like to try it out?"
"Just as long as I'll make it back to dinner," Vyse said and stood up.
Vyse hoped that Aika had saved her receipt. Also, he began to feel sorry for the book-dealer. It wasn’t like Vyse to deem something impossible, but this thing was really testing the limits. Testing? Heck, it had already crossed it.
"Alright," Aika said, holding the book tightly. "Just hope I'll get it right. Now, Vyse, 'Akuyr'!"
A silver-coloured cloud appeared and began to evaporate Vyse. After a few seconds, he was out of sight. Then the mist was lifted, but Vyse was gone.
"Yaaaay!!" Aika yelled, her fist in the air. "It worked, it worked! Not that I doubted it, but still!"
Fina didn't join in Aika's celebration. Instead, she paled and pointed to that part of the floor where Vyse had previously stood.
"You… you… you've…" Fina stuttered.
"I've what?" Aika asked, confused. "C'mon, tell… me. Oops."
Now Aika saw what Fina was pointing at. On the floor lay Vyse's clothes. All of them.
"You've dematerialised him!" Fina screamed. "How could you!?"
"Oh no, even worse," Aika said, and franticly flipped the pages. "Quick, where's the 'un-do' spell? Darn, it GOT to be here somewhere!"
Suddenly there was a knock on the door leading to the inner room. It was opened on ajar and Vyse popped his head in.
"Hey, Aika," Vyse said, clearly doing his best to keep his body behind the door, being dressed only in his eye-patch and all. "It seems your hocus-pocus worked, but you forgot something."
Fina spun around to the door. First she seemed relieved to see him in one piece, but then she turned her eyes to the heap of clothes, and realised what had happened. She gasped and, while blushing ever so slightly, picked up Vyse's clothes and started to carry them over to the door, keeping her eyes turned away and firmly shut.
"I'm really sorry 'bout that, Vyse," Aika said, a bit sheepishly. "I… Really, I didn't know that would happen."
"Yeah right," Vyse answered, not too convinced. "To me it seems like… Fina you're going the wrong way, turn left, no I mean your left. That's better, just straight forward now. Oh, watch out for the…!"
With her eyes closed, Fina slammed in to the wall, luckily with her cheek first and not her face. She managed to hold on to Vyse's clothes, though, and stretched them towards the door. Vyse quickly snatched his attire and closed the door.
With cheeks still a scale red, Fina went up to Aika and asked to have a look in the book. She didn't get to read very far before Vyse came back. Fully-dressed, of course.
"What terrible side-effects," Fina said. "Thank the moons you weren’t sent anywhere else."
"You got it a little wrong there, Fina," Vyse said. "It was more Aika showing her true colours."
"What!?" Aika exclaimed. "You mean that I… No WAY!"
"Quit acting, you're just surly that you sent away me instead of my clothes."
"No, Aika is actually right," Fina said.
Two confused pair of eyes turned towards her.
"The spell only works on persons," Fina said. "Therefore, all other objects are left behind. Quite inconvenient."
"How do you know all that?"
"Well, the book says so. Actually it's spelt out here in the introduction. See?"
Fina held up the book for a good look for them all. Vyse and Aika read through it. Sure enough, "persons only" it said. Maybe the author had been too lazy or just too short-sighted to write it out clear.
"Aha, so Aika the big sorceress didn't make it as far as the introduction?"
"Well, you know how dull they can be."
"That still doesn't explain why it let me keep my eye-patch!"
"It did!" Fina said, awe-struck. She turned to the guilty-looking Aika. "Is it really like Vyse says? Did you really, I mean, did you do all… that on purpose? That was very mean of you."
"Stop it, Fina!" Aika shouted. "For the last time, I didn't do it! You think I wanted to give anyone of us psychic scars for the rest of our lives!?"
Then suddenly, Aika got an idea. The spell only works on persons, had Fina said? If that was so… Or maybe she had really done it wrong, her first try and all, but that was nothing she would like to admit.
"How about this," Aika said, a bit calmer. "Maybe it counts your patch as a part of you? Heck, you're always wearing that thing."
"Could be," Fina nodded. "I… have I ever seen you without it?"
"Not that I know of," Vyse said. "I only take it off when I go to sleep… sometimes. Okay, so it's plausible."
"Great!" Aika sparkled. "Everything sorted out then. I gotta put a bookmark on this page."
"Do that, and I'll shove it down your throat."
"Aaaaw, still angry?"
"If was, I would tie up your braids… again."
Aika decided to take it as Vyse's way of saying: It's alright, let's forget about it all. Sorry I thought that about you. I'll buy you dinner tonight. The last part was a bit exaggerated, but hey, one could always hope.
"Alright, let's try another," Aika said. "Hmmm, 'body-switching'. Cool! Fina, wanna do it?"
"I suppose," Fina said. "But it does have a counter-spell, right?"
"Yep, somewhere. Okay, here goes…"
"Now wait a second," Vyse interrupted. "Are you really sure about this?"
"Relax, whatever can go wrong? It's just Fina and me. Okay: Atfihs."
The whole room was illuminated by a golden eye-blinding shine. Vyse quickly covered his eyes.
When he opened his eyes, he saw Aika and Fina standing next to each other. They looked slightly disoriented, as if they had just awakened.
"Oh, my," Aika said. "That was a new experience."
"What?" Vyse said. "Did it work? Are you…?"
She nodded and smiled, her hands clasped together. Vyse could almost see the typical Fina-istic feature. The way she smiled, her posture, and her gaze. It looked a bit strange, though, in the middle of all that red-braided.
"Oh, yes," she said. "It's difficult to grasp, however, isn't it, Aika?"
Fina's body stood right next to her, totally still. She looked around, the head jerked a bit, like a bird. She then began to flap her arms, as if trying to fly. She really behaved strange, even for being Aika.
"Aika," Vyse said. "Arcadia calling. Were you shocked?"
"WHAT THE HECK IS THIS!!?"
Vyse and Fina at once tried to figure out where the scream had come from. It had sounded like Aika, but more…
Then they saw it was Cupil, who for now sported miniaturised braids, and they realised the truth.
"Aha," Vyse said. "You've finally taught Cupil to talk."
"No," Fina, in Aika's body, said. "Aika is inside Cupil, and he is in my body."
"I DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR THIS!!" Aika screamed once again. "He shouldn't have been into this!!"
"For some reason he was," Fina said, and picked up the book. "Perhaps if we cast the spell one more time the process will reverse."
"Sure thing," Aika said. "But on second thought, we don't have to do it at once, right? I've always wanted to fly."
"Why am I not surprised," Vyse mumbled.
Cupil in Fina's body suddenly lit up, with joy. Widely smiling he stumbled forward and brought Aika in a tight hug, cooing.
"Aaaaack! What's he doin' now!?"
"Psychic reflex of my body," Fina said, without taking her eyes away from the book's pages. "Or he's a narcissist."
"I never thought I would be envious of Cupil," Vyse grinned.
Hissing angrily, Aika managed to loosen herself from Cupil and floated over to Vyse.
"Are you? Then help yourself!" she said and pushed Vyse in his back.
Unable to stop himself, Vyse flew across the room with course against Cupil. But instead of breaking his fall, Cupil jumped to the side. Fortunately enough, Vyse's involuntary rush ended with him falling in the soft bed, even though he hit his shinbones.
"Klutz!" Aika called from across the room, Cupil cowering behind her.
"Just great," Vyse muttered and stood up. "Fina, have you taught him to hate me or something?"
"Yes," Fina said, straight-away.
Two amazed eye-pairs turned to the Silvite. Another eye-pair looked around for chams.
"Or… no, that spell wouldn't have worked. Good fortune I didn't say it." She looked up. "Oh, excuse me, did anyone say something?"
Both of them were totally dumbstruck. Since no one said anything, Fina returned to her book. Quietness hung heavy.
Only to be interrupted by a loud belch.
"What was that?" Aika said. "Vyse, was that your stomach? Have you eaten something bad?"
"No, spud, that was Cupil… again."
Cupil sat on the sofa, right where Aika had put her bag. The bag itself now lay on the floor, empty, with sweets-paper and wrapping thrown around. Cupil's smiling lips was chocolate-brown.
"But Cupil!" Fina said, angrily. "That was not yours, and you had no right to eat it! That was our lunch!"
During a split second, several thoughts moved in Vyse's head. First, he was a little disappointed at Cupil's robbery because it meant that neither he nor Fina could get a taste. Second, Vyse knew that Aika never let anything get in between her and her sweets. And she had awfully short temper for those issues…
"Now that's it!!!" she yelled. "I'm gonna do what I should've done ages ago!!"
She swivelled, turned, changed colours, and suddenly she had morphed into a new form. It looked like some sort of pipe, however it just seemed to radiate just as much trouble as the Hydra ever did.
"What's that?" Fina said, shocked.
"Dunno," Aika replied. "But I think I'm gonna call it 'bazooka'. Fire!!"
A shot burned off from the gunpoint, missed Cupil by mere centimetres, and it hit the window, which was shattered to oblivion. Cupil chimed out in fear, and started to run in circles.
"Aika! Stop it!" Vyse shouted, trying to get hold of her.
"Get out of my way!!"
Fina darted straight towards Cupil. She stood in front of her silvery pet, defiant.
"Don't you dare hurt him, Aika!" she said. "If you shoot him now, you'll shoot me, and that's final!"
"Don't tempt me like that!" Aika screeched. "I can't… oh no!"
She turned aside and let loose another shot. This one hit the wall. After the dust settled, they saw that the room now sported yet another glass-less window.
"I'm so tired of this!" Vyse said, and grabbed the book.
Quickly he skimmed the pages and soon found the spell for body-swapping. Without thinking, he read the spell loud and clear.
New light filled up the room. The golden shine increased in strength until none of them could see a thing. Soon it lifted.
All of a sudden, he felt a yank in his hair.
"You could've killed him!" Fina said, angrily.
"AOW! Ouch, cut it out!" Vyse hollered. "It was Aika!"
"You too?” Immediately, the tugging ended. “Oh, Vyse, I’m so sorry."
Now first Vyse saw his body standing over the bed, with the book in hand, just like he had done just some moments ago. And if Fina was back to normal, it meant that…
Slowly Vyse brought his hands up to the side of his head. And yes, he felt the touch of the braids. Aika's braids.
"Stupid!" Aika shouted. "Why did you have to mess it up like that!?"
"Well, at least I tried something!" Vyse called back. "Now where's your plan?"
Aika never got a chance to speak out. Fina walked up to her and grabbed a hold on her collar.
"How could you!?" Fina hissed. "My body would've been destroyed, and Cupil would die!"
"Not to mention the hotel could've been dust," Vyse said.
"I didn't mean to," Aika whimpered, scared of Fina's behaviour. "Honestly. I was angry and all, and yes I may overreacted a teensy bit… okay, a whole lot, but I couldn't help myself. It was like I was possessed."
"Possessed by a silver-ball," Vyse said. "That sounds like one of your old excuses which didn't work."
"Oh, but it's true," Aika retorted. "Isn't it like you said, Fina, that when we swap, we sorta act like that person?"
"Could be," Fina said, and let go of Aika. "And you two combined could've caused a system shock."
"Yeah, Cupil does have temper-troubles sometimes. Like that time when he tried to stab Vyse when he was peeping on you, but let me tell you; it was well deserved."
"I didn't do that!" Vyse protested. "I was just painting Fina's window-lists."
"It's true", Fina said. "And the only clothes I was in the middle of changing into was bandanna and, ah, earrings."
By now, Cupil had flown out from underneath the bed. Beeping quietly, he slowly floated over to Fina. She stretched out her arms, and brought him in for a comforting hug, which made him chirp happily.
A freezing wind blew outside. Thanks to the hole in the wall, the room slowly started to get cold. Vyse and Aika brought down the drapes and spiked it up across the hole. When that was done, they put some small logs in the fireplace and lit it. Fina sat down on the bed and with one hand started to look for the correct spell, while the other one caressed the still nervous Cupil.
"So," Vyse started. "How's it feeling being a guy?"
"Not like I thought it would," Aika replied. "But I can put up with it."
"Enjoy while it lasts. Now you know why we call you the weaker gender … AAAAAAHHHH! STOP IT!!"
"Get back here!!" Aika growled, chasing her original body all over the room.
"Quit it!! You can't hit a girl! Not in my body, anyway!!"
"I found it!" Fina exclaimed.
The hunter and the prey immediately stopped in their tracks, and turned their gazes to the silvite. They quickly walked up to her.
"You found a cure?" Aika asked, excitedly.
"No, but I figured this was the only way to make you stop fighting," Fina said. "Frankly, our only option seems to be continuing swapping until we end up in our own bodies. But there might be a problem."
"We got problem already," Vyse said. "What now?"
"Well, when we began, only Aika and I were supposed to swap. But then Cupil became involved, and then you, Vyse. And that time, only I and Cupil ended up right. If we cast the spell again, there is a chance that only you two change, and then all is fine. But it could also be that me and Cupil changes along with you. Concidering all the variations, well, it could take a long time."
"AAAAIIIIEEEEE!!" Aika cried out in falsetto, her hands clutching her cheeks. Vyse frowned at Aika’s wimpy handling of his body. "You mean I havta be a guy for the rest of my life!?"
"But I just told you that we may eventually be able to switch back."
"She did," Vyse said. "Use my ears for something."
"Asch, those wax-filled oysters," Aika scoffed. "And if I can't keep my concentration, I blame your sun-fried brain."
Vyse applied force behind that part of his body which enabled him to form and speak words. In layman's terms: he stuck his tongue out.
"Meh, really mature, Vyse," Aika said.
"It's enough for the likes of you", Vyse replied. "So, are we gonna do it, or what?"
Fina read the spell, and yet again the illuminating shine appeared. Aika held her eyes shut, and held her thumbs that it would work. Going around in a guy-body was not her ideal. Okay, maybe it wouldn't be a total disaster, she could learn to live with it, but she was just more accustomed with her own body and mentality. How much would the latter change? Would she loose her ability to pack all her wardrobe and accessories in a small handbag? Also, she had been close friend with Vyse long enough to slightly know how guys thought and all. But there was just one thing she couldn’t understand; why in the six moons did…
The shine lifted, Aika quickly clapped her hands up to her head. Aha! There they were! Her own beloved braids! With a cry of joy, she threw her arms around herself.
"It worked!" she hollered to Vyse and Fina, jumping around. "Finally!"
"We'll have to do it again," Vyse said.
"Definitely," Fina said. "Oh, I'm Vyse."
Aika's good mood was shattered to pieces far faster than a lifeboat after being hit by the MoonStone Cannon. Obviously, Aika was banned from the cannons aboard the Delphinus.
"Awww," she sighed. "Hey, guys, can't we just settle for this? I mean, me and Cupil are back, and you can get used to this and…"
"Read it again," Fina's body said.
"That I will," Vyse's body replied.
Thus dawned The Great Swapping. Bodies and souls changed all over. Sometimes they all swapped, other times just two or three of them. Some combinations returned. Fina had managed to calculate that there was in total twenty-four different combinations. It seemed to be a long day. They had already tried out everybody enough times that they needed one whole hand to count the occasions.
One time, both Aika and Vyse had been cramped into the same body. Problematic as it was, they got a great occasion to tell Fina what schizophrenia meant. When they were finished, Fina said that it sounded so interesting that she wanted to try it out herself. Crazy as it was, it could've been aftershocks from being stuck in Aika's body. At least it was Vyse’s theory, which made Aika quite angry. Being in the same body with Vyse didn’t stop her from trying to give him a good beating. Seeing Vyse running around the room trying to escape himself was a weird sight. Cupil had seemed to be slightly distressed and ran away, which made Fina spend several minutes chasing him with a piece of cham. It took a while before they came back.
"C'mon, Fina!" Aika said, impatiently. "What are you waiting for?"
"Sorry," Fina said. "I just… felt something different. It's probably nothing. Alright, brace yourself."
New lights appeared. Again they felt the swirling, outside-body sensation.
"Okay," Aika said, noticing she had ended up in her own body. "I'm Aika."
"I'm normal," said Vyse.
"Then everybody is back!" Fina said, quite relieved. "Oh, I'm so glad it's all over."
"Whoa, hold your dhabus, we're not done yet," Aika said, and turned to Cupil. "Spudey, are you normal?"
Cupil bobbed up and down, just like a nod.
The three friends began their usual high-five celebration, and then fell into a group-hug. It felt so great being back, neither Vyse nor Fina cared that they got Aika's loud "YAAAAAY!" straight into their ears.
"Anyone hungry?" Aika said.
"You bet," Vyse said. "I was hungry even before this whole mess started."
"Me too," Fina agreed. "Even though I've eaten already, when Cupil was me, that is. He says he’s sorry about that."
"Aww, that's okay," Aika smiled. "Always hungry, just like me. Well, there's always room for a little more."
Fina was happy everything had been sorted out, but she had a feeling something still needed to be adjusted.
But, no. Her friends were as normal as they could be which of course didn't say much. What more could she ask for?
Together they went to a small restaurant, in the hotel's vicinity. It was rather plain, but it had a nice atmosphere to it. Plus, a good selection of food. Aika felt in the mood of burger, so she settled for a Big Burp Combo. Vyse ordered a dish with kabal skewers, while Fina decided on a skyfish and chips.
The Big Burp Combo lived up to its name, which made several guests turn around in amazement (Vyse would later on assert that he had heard the window-glass rattle. Aika took it as a compliment, which Fina found strange). Aika played innocent, which for once actually worked. Cupil now sat on Fina's left knee, which kept him away from sight. Occasionally she passed him small pieces of her food, which the spud eagerly gobbled down. Even though he mostly ate chams, he had recently found an appetite for human food.
Vyse thought back on the latest hour’s events. That body-swapping had actually been fairly interesting. He knew Aika and Fina very well, but it was a different experience to actually be them. Life really put him in strange situations sometimes. And if it went on like usual, it wasn't over yet.
"Anyone having dessert?" Aika asked.
"Not me," Fina said. "I'm too stuffed."
"Well, I'll have some", Aika said and brought out the troublesome book.
Before Vyse could interrupt her, Aika read an incarnation. Then she closed the book and put it back in her blue bag.
"What did you just do?" Vyse asked, ready for the worst.
'"You'll see," Aika smiled. "Wait and see."
Vyse and Fina exchanged a quick glance. Trouble was coming, and it had them in sight. Aimed, locked on target. Anytime the trigger would be pulled off.
Suddenly the roof above their head cracked, and small debris was scattered around the hall. Then a yellow round object fell down and landed in front of Aika. She smiled widely at the sight.
"Voilá!" she sparkled. "Honey-melon, yummy!"
"Typical," Vyse sighed, but in relief. "Wasn't it any worse than that?"
"You mean, like bittermelon?" Fina asked.
“The time has come to tell you the truth, Fina,” Vyse said. “Bittermelon is neither fruit nor vegetable. They’re the spawn of all that’s evil, and they must be wiped out from the face of Arcadia forever. Join me, and I’ll…”
Vyse’s inspiring speech was then interrupted by screams of horror. He looked up to spot any danger. All the people stood crowded at the windows, looking out.
"It's a catastrophe!!!"
"The rain is back!!!"
"Run for your lives!!!"
The three Blue Rogues immediately got up and looked out. At first, it seemed as thousands upon thousands of rocks were falling towards the city. Just like the Rain of Destruction! But after a few moments, they saw it wasn't rocks. It was…
"And here is the rest," Aika chirped.
"The rest?" Vyse exclaimed. "What… you… what's going in your head anyway!? No, don't tell me, I don't want to know!"
"Geeez, okay. I just figured that one melon would be too little. I mean, it's hardly more than a snack. So I decided two or three would do. And then you might want some, and you decide to share one more and… Yeah, I just wanted to have some in reserve."
"Reserve?" Fina said, shocked. "It's more than enough for the whole city."
"Make that Valua," Vyse inflicted.
"Well, I'm not stingy. Hey everybody, help yourself! Courtesy of me! But only one each, ya hear me!?"
None seemed to take much notice on the red-head's nice offer. Aika muttered to herself something about "ungrateful twits". It was certainly not everyday Aika voluntarily passed out fruits, rather than hogging them.
The fruit stopped falling. The street was buried in a half-metre high value of melons. Some roofs had been cracked open. Melons lay everywhere. They formed a colourful blanket of green and yellow. It all seemed like something that could've been one of Aika's imaginings. That is, out of this world. Maybe they were actually true?
"You and fruit always end in catastrophe," Vyse concluded.
"It wasn’t my fault," Aika said. "Well, okay, it was. But the spell only let you wish for either one melon or thirty-seven million. I mean, what would you’ve picked?"
“Couldn’t you have wished for one melon several times?” Fina suggested.
“What!? Try saying that thirty-seven million times, then we’ll talk!”
Vyse gave up all attempts of explaining it to Aika. Instead, he walked up to the counter and paid for their lunch. They had to use their money carefully, since the room had cost an arm and possibly two legs. Not that they were poor, far from it actually, but pirate-spoils shouldn't be spent easy.
On their way home, Aika made sure to pick up any melons she happened upon. Fina took some too, mostly to clean up. Soon they had a large pack of fruits. Vyse decided that he had seen enough melons for his life.
They went in to the hotel, walked up the stairs and soon they stood in their slightly demolished room.
It was slightly cold-ish, due to the hole. Neither of them had thought to tell the manager about the accident, all due to being their fault. Fortunately it was just noon, it wouldn't get really freezing until nightfall.
Cupil transformed into a knife, and Fina started to cut up the melons. They didn't have any plates, but it went just fine. Aika was always hungry for fruits, so it didn't take long for her to finish her first melon. Being tired of melons or not, Vyse did eat his share. He had to admit they tasted very good. Both watermelons and honey melons were quickly consumed.
Fina also dug in to the fruit. Happy as she was, she had a vague feeling something was still lingering on from the body-swapping spells. Her friends were normal, or just like usual, and she was certain that nothing more would happen to them. It was something elsewhere… elusive…
It was when Cupil had run out, scared, he wasn't really himself. But what was it?
Her thoughts were interrupted by Vyse's waving hand in front of her eyes.
"Still here, Fina?" he asked.
"Of course," Fina said. "I was just wondering…"
"No, don't tell us!" Aika chimed, as she brought out her book again. "I got a spell for mind…"
"No, Aika!" Vyse said with a voice that could pierce velorium. "We've had enough trouble for at least one century."
"Wet blanket," Aika retorted. "It's a spell for mind-reading. A heckload of fun if you ask me. Anyone volunteer?"
Vyse and Fina glanced at each other. They had no reason at all to doubt the book's validity. If Aika said it was mind-reading, then it was.
It didn't seem just as destructive as the last spells, yet in Aika's hands, any stuff could go haywire.
"You may try me," Fina said. "What shall I think of?"
"I dunno," Aika said. "Think of something you" She stooped abruptly. "Argh! I can't tell you! It's for me to find out!"
Fina closed her eyes. It seemed like she was standing sleeping. Her face gave no clues to what was moving in her head. She gave a serene and meditative impression.
Aika then read an incantation. Vyse for once was actually curious to see the result of the spell. Would it work?
Fina then opened her eyes.
"Strange," Aika said. "I didn't see anything. Did you think of nothing?"
Fina replied with silence. Instead, she raised a trembling pointy-finger, and pointed behind Vyse and Aika, her eyes wide as Gordo after a three-course dinner plus dessert.
Aika and Vyse turned around…
… and found themselves looking at two identical Blue Rogues. Identical to themselves.
"Hey, who put that mirror there?" Aika said.
Suddenly, the two "mirror images" turned to each other.
"Where have we ended up at now?" Aika2 said. "Did you miss a turn somewhere?"
"If I did, I was distracted by you," Vyse2 replied. "Seriously, anyone knows that holding a two-metre steel rod in a thunderstorm will neither make you electrically charged nor turn into Thundergirl. You'd be a crisp."
"Crisps are tasty, you know," Aika2 retorted. "Just don't come crying to me!"
The real Blue Rogues slowly backed off while the two copies continued to bicker.
"Okay, anything to explain, Aika?" Vyse said, his arms folded.
"Me!?" Aika said, indignant. "Ask Fina! Just for once it was her fault."
"I did nothing," Fina said. "All I did was thinking of you. Didn't you see that?"
"Let's see what the book says," Aika said and brought it out. "Aha, here: A spell used for mind-reading, that's as far as I read, and it was clear enough. Hmmm, in so fact that it makes the thoughts materialise in the physical boundaries. A miraculous spell, with wonderful proportions… at least that's what we thought. But in fact, just skip this spell entirely, will you? At this moment, the school residence is yet to be reconstructed from the last time some idiot used it. If you haven't guessed so already, it should be sealed off for eternity. Get my point? Whoopsie. Guess I should've read the rest, huh?"
Before Vyse and Fina had any time to completely agree with her, the two copies slowly walked up to them. Their gazes towards the real group spoke of danger.
"You mean that we are just clones?" Vyse2 said. "That we are not the real thing?"
"I'm sorry to say so, but yes," Fina said.
"Aha," Aika2 said. "So if we take away you two, we will become real!"
The two copies leapt backwards and drew their weapons. Vyse, Aika and Fina got into battle-positions as well.
"Do you think that's really fair?" Vyse2 smirked. "Just you three versus us?"
"Big talk for a little carbon-copy," Vyse retorted. "There's only one real Vyse!"
Vyse2 leapt forward towards Vyse, as if he tried his cutlass fury. Vyse blocked the swords, and delivered a hard kick in his adversary's torso. Staggering backwards, Vyse2 struggled to regain balance. Vyse quickly engaged him, and was greeted with a sweeping cut, which he managed to dodge.
The two Aikas then fought each other. Their boomerangs flew across the room, trying to hit each other. The real Aika however had a big advantage: Fina. Upon her command, Cupil flew over to Aika2 and pulled her hair, covered her eyesight, did everything to distract her. Fina didn't have any weapon herself, so she had to resort to throw melons at the evil Aika.
There had to be a way to stop this madness, but how?
Fina quickly managed to get a hold of the book and looked at the registry. Aha, there was the "mind-reading" spell. Maybe the solution was there.
She paused to pick up a melon and threw it towards Aika2, hoping to hit her in the head.
"Yummy! Fruit!!" the copy shouted and leapt for it.
"Scram! It's mine!!" Aika hollered and moved for it as well.
They both missed the fruit, and their heads clonked together.
"I got you now!" one of the Vyses growled, as he unleashed a barrage of strikes.
"Missed me, faker!" Vyse retorted, ducked and cut upwards, against his opponent’s hand.
Vyse2 dodged at the last second, and then left the room.
"Get back here!" Vyse shouted, and ran after.
The two Aikas circled around each other, their eyes locked, searching for an opening. Their weapons raised, they rushed each other hell-bent on making the process short.
Suddenly, outside, a loud deafening monstrous growl was heard. All the room's combatants stooped in their tracks. They looked out the window…
And what a sight it was!
Out there floated an enourmous, Zelos-sized Cupil. Laughing evilly, he let his scythe-formed tail sweep across the town, several houses and got a new involuntary roof-window. The town quaked in fear. Ships were leaving the dock to escape, or engage the large creature. Cupil2 scoffed at the cannonballs, and moved for the attacking ships. They were swiftly defeated. The peaceful town had in an instant been transformed into a battlefield.
"Now there's something you don't see everyday," Aika2 said.
"Fina," Aika began. "Just what in deep sky did you think of, really!?"
"You, Vyse and Cupil", Fina answered. She seemed a bit despaired, concerning her creation was about to smash the whole town. "I didn't know this would happen!"
"Who would," Aika2 said. "I hate to say it, but you're making us two look normal, compared to you."
"I actually have to agree with you," Aika said. "Only for now, but still."
The real Cupil hovered up to Fina, chirping to her. Aika didn't know all too much of his language, but it sounded like he wanted to...
"No, Cupil," Fina said. "It's very brave, but I don't want you to go out there. Maybe we won't be able to tell you apart."
"Then we'll have to get to our ship," Aika said. "Copycat; you'll have to help us."
"Sure thing," Aika2 answered. "But as soon as big-spud is gone, you're next."
"Don't need to," Fina said, pointed at the Aika-copy, and read a spell.
At that very instant, a purple sparkling vortex appeared above Aika2. Struggle as she might, she was sucked in. With a last scream of torment, she was gone. The vortex then dissolved.
"Good thing I managed to find that counter at last," Fina said. "Now for him."
Fina stretched out her finger at the distant Cupil2, read the incarnation loud and clear. Immediately, he fell to the ground, creating a massive crater, and then dissolved in a mass of purple lightning. Aika and Fina rejoiced, glad that Fina had successfully managed to point at a target as big as the old Imperial Palace.
"Now only that other Vyse remains," Aika said.
"True," Fina nodded. "But where are they?"
At that moment, their captain came rushing into the room.
"Watch out!" he gasped. "He's coming right after!"
As soon as he had said that, the other one ran in.
"There you are! Aika, Fina, don't listen to what he says! He's the false one!"
"Liar! You are!"
"Why would that matter," Aika said. "Just give 'em both a pick of the counter-spell and we'll see who the fake is."
"I can't," Fina said, almost panicked. "The spell works on not only the copy but the original as well!"
The realisation hit Fina and Aika like a lightning-bolt. They actually didn't know which one was the original! Which one of those two was the real Vyse?
"Oh, no!" they all said.
They couldn't live on with the false Vyse. He had shown his true colours, and one day he would do away with the real Vyse… and possibly the real Aika for vengeance. Zapping them both would get rid of the problem, but it would also get rid of Vyse, and that was unthinkable. Not their Vyse!
"Maybe if we ask them something only the real Vyse know?" Fina suggested.
"Could be an idea," Aika said, fidgeting her fingers. "Guess we have no other options… uhm…" She looked down at her feet, thinking hard, or feeling embarrassed, Fina couldn't tell. "Vyse; that time when you by mistake, I realise that now and you didn't get to see anything either, walked in on me; what object did I smash against your head?"
"That blue, round vase. It hurt for several days," both Vyses said, and then glared at each other.
Shoot! It seemed like Vyse2 was copied directly from Vyse not only physically, but mentally as well, and that meant he knew all his original knew. There was no way of telling them apart!
Aika and Fina looked at each other in despair. Oh, if only Aika hadn't brought up that spell, and oh if Fina just hadn't thought the way she did. Their best friend, who had always had their back, saved them from all sorts of peril, and now they had put him into this horrifying situation. Vyse who had always stood firm in the face of all evil that…
Aika covered her mouth, turned to Fina and mouthed a certain word. Fina gasped at this, turned to the guys and had a look. She nodded.
"By the way," Aika said, in a leisurely tone of voice. "Did anything happen outside? Were you hurt?"
"Not a scratch," said the first one. "I just rushed after him all the way."
"Sure, there was this giant Cupil there," the second one filled in. "But it didn't bother us. By the way, I was chasing him."
"Quick, before he finds out!" Aika shouted.
"Disappear!" Fina said.
The two guys covered on the spot, and the huge amethyst vortex appeared above them. Then suddenly one of them, the left one, was sucked in.
"Cuuuuuuurrrrrseeeeeeessss!!!" he yelled. "How did she knoooooooow!?!?!?"
The magical field disappeared, and he was gone.
Vyse opened one of his eyes, and stretched out from his crouched position. He blinked a couple of times, and realised he was still there.
"Is he… gone?" Vyse asked. Both girls nodded. "How did you know it was him?"
Aika and Fina just smiled, with still happiness and relief. Without saying anything, Aika walked up to Vyse and let her finger stroke him on his left cheek. Vyse took a step backwards in surprise, then he realised that…
"So he didn't have a scar!" he exclaimed. "Yeah, I thought something was strange about him."
"Yep," Aika nodded. "Good thing Fina excluded all the defects."
"Defects!? Hah!" Vyse said with an utmost snobbish voice. "I'll have you know that I don't have any faults or foibles. You two commoners should feel utmost grateful of basking in my utter presence. Hmph." He ended his little speech by flicking his hair.
Both Aika and Fina giggled at Vyse's impersonation. Alfonso would've been proud.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, how 'bout cut the silly talk and get to the thanks?" Aika grinned.
"Sure thing," Vyse said, walked up to Aika and laid his arms around her tightly. "That could've ended really badly," he whispered. "Thanks."
Lacking anything to say, Aika just settled for hugging Vyse back. No words were really necessary. Vyse then broke the embrace, walked over to Fina and hugged her as well.
"And thanks for taking away that scar," he said low.
Relieved and on the border to tear-eyed, Fina lay her arms around Vyse, glad to have him with her, and the faker gone away. But there was something she might have to tell him…
"Well, actually," Fina started. "That was not my intention at all. It was totally random and I didn't…"
"No, Fina, that was not 'nothing really'," Vyse smiled, and released her. "By the way, you were the one who erased him, right?"
Well, he got her there, alright.
Of all the spells Aika had cast, this one was really the worst. Vyse had been real shaky through it all. He was deeply relieved now that it was over. It didn't matter that Aika and Fina had created all the copies in the first place. It was not their intention, and he didn't hold them responsible for anything. He was just glad they had freed him of his evil twin.
"Good thing you got that scar," Aika said. "Even though it's a horrible story."
"Yeah," Vyse agreed. "And that it remained for so long. Also, it looks better than a regular black mark."
"But those will surely disappear," Fina said. "Or, they can be covered with cosmetics."
"Can it be done on scars?" Vyse asked.
Immediately Aika gave up a cry of delight. Her lips then turned into a smile mixed with mischief and madness, keeping her eyes on Vyse, all her appearance was screaming: ‘Hey, I got a great idea!’. She nodded energetically.
No, wait! Did she…
"No, no, no, NO!" Vyse shouted, leapt back while holding his hands out, palms forward. "No way! Forget it! I'm NOT gonna…"
"Yeeeeees," Aika chimed, paying no attention to Vyse. "Fina, wouldn't he look soooooo pretty if we fixed him up a bit?"
"No I wouldn't!!"
"That's hard to tell," Fina said, her hand up at her mouth. First it seemed like it was in shock, but then they saw she tried to conceal a giggle. "You don't know before you try. And with that reason, we don't have any other choice, do we?"
"Yes you do!" Vyse said. "You don't!"
"Aaaaw, come on now, Vyse,” Aika said. "It could be fun to try out, you know. By the way, I'm curious to see if it's possible. Pleeeeease?"
Both Aika and Fina looked at Vyse with that certain kind of gaze. Vyse had seen it before, but never been exposed to it. It could separate any guy from his money in brief moments. But no!
Still, there was a small part of Vyse's mind whispering to him to give in. Maybe it was some rest from the body swapping? Maybe a part of his female self?
Rubbish! That he would agree to try out make up! Hah! Never in this life! No way!
"Not too much then," Vyse sighed. "You've promised."
"I don't remember saying that," Aika grinned. "But okay. Please have a seat."
Vyse sat down on the bed, while Fina and Aika went to get their little kits. What had he got himself into this time?
He closed his eyes, waiting for whatever to happen. Soon he heard the sounds of Aika and Fina's footsteps closing in, and he felt their presence.
"Okay," Aika started. "Where do we begin?"
"Well, after we have applied the foundation, a little rouge might fit nicely," Fina said. "What fragrance should we take?"
"Blue! Blue rouge!"
"… I doubt anyone would have their face in that colour. Maybe this one? It fits with his skin."
"Yeah, or maybe… nah, it got to be some difference."
Vyse felt his eye-patch being unbuckled. It felt weird to be without it, even though he didn't really notice it much when he had it on. Then something soft stroked against his forehead. It felt like a small cushion, of sorts. Soon it reached down to his cheeks. Vyse carefully opened his left eye a bit. He saw a close up on Fina with a small powder puff in her hand, concentrating carefully on her work.
Actually, it didn't feel too bad getting fixed up like this. One could almost see this like a new discovery; how does it feel to wear cosmetic, figuratively going where no man had gone before. Sure, no one would pay for that info. Might be just as well, 'cause he had no intention of telling this to anyone, less he wanted to spend the next twenty years hiding on the Dark Rift while it all blew off.
"Okay, now the right one. Aika, would you do the honour?"
"Mmm, you can. I had something better in mind."
Vyse promised himself that if he felt anything that even resembled lipstick, he would jump out of the window, anything to get away. Of course, out in broad daylight like that, it would be like out of the frying pan into the fires of hell.
"Try to sit still now," Aika said.
Doing his best to comply, Vyse felt something against his eyelashes. He had a vague idea on what that might be. Clearly not being an expert in this stuff, Vyse also knew that whatever it was, it had nothing to do with cheeks.
"Now it's done," Fina said.
Vyse opened his eyes, blinked a few times.
"Already?" he said, surprised.
"Sure, if you don't want anything more," Aika said, and handed him a mirror. "Have a look?"
"Do I dare?"
"Geeeeesh, some legendary hero you are. Have you never looked yourself in the mirror before?"
"I have, but those times I was never made up," Vyse said.
Taking a deep breath, he brought up the mirror and had a look.
And what a sight it was!
Actually, it wasn't too bad. Aika and Fina had said they wouldn't do too much, and they always kept their promises. But "too much" could be highly subjective. Yet, he couldn't complain. That stuff they apparently called "foundation" looked more like a tan rather than regular cosmetic. His cheeks seemed thinner, or neater, with a hint of red. The eyelashes were darker. The scar then… Hmm, if one knew where to look, one would see it. Still, it could deceive for at least some time.
"How do you like it?" Fina asked.
"… don't spread this out, but okay," Vyse answered. "It feels a bit stiff, though."
"It's normal," Aika said. "This one is just prone to dry much faster, and rouge is a powder so it’s dry from the beginning. You'll get used to it."
Unnecessary hint, since Vyse had no thoughts of trying it again. Not even for their sakes.
It sure had been a strange day, but hopefully fate had decided to quit kidding around with him… for the moment. But still, a couple of years from now, they would probably smile and laugh at the memory of this day. In between friends and all.
"Not that I know what you think, but this has been one of the craziest days ever," Vyse said.
"Don't be too sure," Aika said. "Things were pretty wild back at Sailor's island too, you know."
"Yeah, but that doesn't cover half of this."
"Is that so?" Fina asked. "We were actually chased away, and I'm still banished."
"Just because you gave Cupil that cham," Aika said.
"And who gave him loqua just before?"
"Okay, okay. I just wanted him to have some fun. Sitting on your shoulder every day calls for some partying sometimes."
"You mean my shoulders are boring?"
"Nah, not really…"
Aika then walked up to Fina and grabbed her. Swiftly the silvite was turned around, and the redhead jumped up on her back, her legs around her waist.
"Hey, it's actually pretty fun!"
"Aika, no, I can't keep my balaaaaaaa…!!"
Fina stumbled forward. Vyse tried to catch her fall, but too late. She hit the side of the bed, and fell down, just next to Vyse, face first.
"Vyyyse," Aika whined. "She's not any fun. She just trips all the time."
Vyse shook his head in bewilderment. No matter what Aika did, it always ended weird. He looked at Fina, laying in the bed, with Aika on her back.
He suddenly got an idea. One Aika might get.
"Good, Aika," Vyse grinned, and started to take off Fina's socks. "Hold her like that."
"Vyse?" Fina said, confused. "What are you… ha ha ha, no please… ha ha stop it!"
"Hey, great stuff!" Aika exclaimed. "Vyse, pass me the second tootsie, will ya?"
"Be my guest. You won't mind, Fina? Laugh if you don’t."
Fina sure did, but she was laughing so hard she couldn't voice any protests. She lay helpless as her friends got on her. She kicked wildly with her legs, trying to get away.
Fortunately, Aika had to lean forward to get to Fina's foot. The pressure on her back lifted a bit, she managed to twirl around and get a hold on Aika. Quickly she turned over and, making use of gravity and her own strength, managed to pull Aika off herself. That didn't stop Aika, though, and she leapt upon her blonde friend in a wrestle. Vyse would’ve gladly joined in, if not for his cosmetics. He didn’t want to smear them.
Besides, he had something better in mind.
With Aika and Fina busy with each other, Vyse reached for the book.
“Wait!” Fina shouted. “Vyse, what are you going to…?”
“Surprised?” Vyse grinned, the magic book in his hands. “Now I’m gonna do what I should’ve done a long, long time ago. This time, no one will stop me.”
Before Aika and Fina could do anything Vyse had already read an incarnation out, loud and very clear. And then, a new object appeared in the air in front of Vyse. He grabbed it, and then they saw it was…
“Finally, it’s mine,” Vyse said. “Enrique’s tiny purple hat.”
It really was. They had seen it enough times to know. Purple with a golden feather, woven in silk and cloth. Elegant, but practical.
“It really is,” Fina said, astonished. “Can I have it?”
“Heck no!” Aika intervened. “Ya realise what we got here? We’ll just send a letter of ransom, and we’ll be forever minted!”
“No way,” Vyse said, with a firm grip on the hat. “Ever since I saw it, I just knew that someday it would be mine. Oh, yes it would. And now I have it! By the way, Fina, what’s it to you?”
“Well,” Fina started. “Recently I met someone at the tavern who would like to trade something for the hat. Something I really want to have.”
“And that is?”
“Quetya-plushies. First edition! They’re so cute! If you just saw them…”
“Sweet, but I’ll keep it.”
“Shut your mouth, tranny-boy!” Aika said. Equipped with a sheet of paper and a feather-pen she sat down. “Now, how do I start? Hmm… ‘Do as I say and nothing bad will happen’. Nah, that’s not a good greeting.”
“Vyse, you have already stolen his ship. Why should you have his hat too? It’s not fair!”
“I wished for it before you did and that’s the whole thing,” Vyse said, and put the hat away on the sofa, well out of Fina and Aika’s range.
“Okay,” Aika muttered. “How about: ‘Listen and weep, you…’ Nah, he’s supposed to read it and not listen. Or maybe he’s so friggin’ lazy someone does it for him.”
“Well, I saw the hat long before you ever did!”
“Just because you got captured.”
“I got it! ‘Dear -called-emperor-who’s-an-air-sicko; we got your hat. Give us lots of cash, you little puke! Love and hugs: Aika and the gang’. Perfect!”
“Only because your dad couldn’t put up an adequate defence. By the way, I was just about to break out that train-car when you showed up! If you had been a little more late, I’d be the new Houdini. And Aika: maybe we shouldn’t call Enrique puke. Even I know how hard Valua been at you.”
“Alright, alright. ‘Give us lots of cash, you little vomit’. Better?”
“BUUUURRRRPP!!” sounded Cupil.
The three friends turned to see the horrifying truth. Being left on his own, Cupil had devoured the hat! Small pieces of purple cloth lingered around his wide mouth.
“NOOOOOOOOOO!! My moneeeeeeeeyy!!” Aika cried. “WAAAAUUGH!!”
“My… my plushies,” Fina whimpered. “Nooooo! I was so close.”
“The greatest treasure of all,” Vyse said, shocked, numbed. “I can’t believe it. It’s…”
Cupil was the only one in the sad group who manage to smile. Vyse had really wanted that hat. Aika and Fina sunk down on the bed, their heads buried in their hands. It was a heart-aching sight. It hurt so much to see them sad.
“Maybe it was for the best,” Vyse said. Aika and Fina looked up from their sobbing. Vyse walked up to them and grabbed their hands, comforting. “That hat… ever since we got it, it has only brought us trouble. It brought out our worst sides, and it pit us against each other. Fina, next time we visit Enrique, you could always nick another one of his hats. And Aika: I know it isn’t much, but you still got us. For free.”
“Thank you, Vyse,” Fina said. “It’s sad that I was so close, but there’s always another chance. I won’t let it hurt me anymore.”
“Me neither,” Aika smiled. “But if you just let me have it… ah, what the heck.”
A knock on the door suddenly interrupted it all. Vyse walked up to the door. He turned the doorknob…
And then remembered that his face was a mess of cosmetic.
Quickly he slammed the door in the face of whoever the guest was. He desperately ran into the room and dove under the bed.
"We'll keep them busy," Aika said.
She and Fina ran to the door just as it opened up.
Outside stood the manager. Dressed in a formal grey costume, he made a stiff and correct impression.
"Good afternoon," he said, in a well mannered and polite voice. "I apologise for the interruption, but we have a few things we need to discuss with you, before we take additional steps."
"Oh, that was a lot at once," Aika said. "Has anyone complained?"
Fina had a quick look over her shoulder at the bed, and saw Vyse's feet sticking out.
"Not at all," the manager said. "It's about that hole in the wall."
Discreetly, Fina slipped away, grabbed the bed's sheets and pulled them down to the floor, while nudging Vyse's sole with her foot. He crept in a bit further.
"Oh, oh that. Uh, aren't you gonna fix that? It's been quite a drag. Not to mention cold."
"We'll just put it on your tab," the manager answered, without breaking his smile.
"What!?" Aika exclaimed. "But it wasn't us! You're not gonna believe this, mr Manager-man, but all out of sudden there was like, woooooosh, a huuuuuge white monster outside of the window, and then, Ka-POOOW KRASH" Aika gesticulated wildly while she was talking as well as making sound-effects "it like smashed the whole wall, and the window too."
"I see," the manager answered. "But all the debris lay outside the building."
Three hearts skipped one beat. Aika's desperate lie was shattered. They knew they were in deep trouble now. Not to mention in debt.
"Smooth move, Aika!" Vyse called from under the bed.
"Be quiet you! I don’t take abuse from some lousy furniture!"
Then Fina stepped up to the manager, her hands clasped together.
"It's actually like she says," Fina said. "All the wood splinter dusted so much. It's very bad for my lungs. The doctors say I need fresh air, that's why we decided to stay up here in the mountains. And it seemed so messy I wanted to clean it out. I shouldn't have done that, should I?"
When Fina wanted, she could pull off the whole young-fair-maiden bit very convincing. Her eyes were mixed with worry and contrition, her whole appearance seemingly frail.
"No, no, no", the manger hurriedly said. "Our customer’s health is always our first concern. I have full understanding that you threw it all out. And of course, things have been utmost strange lately. There was indeed a giant silver creature here not too long ago. You certainly won’t have to pay. Apart from that, is there anything we can do to improve your stay?"
"Not that I know of," Aika said. "I'm more than happy, actually."
"Very well. For your information, we will get to work and repair the hole. The carpenters will be here soon. It shouldn’t take long."
"That sounds good," Fina said. "Maybe we'll go for a mountain walk. I could really use some crispy air. I'm still shocked after that monster."
Feeling happy with the answer, the manager closed the door, and soon they heard him walking away.
"Coast clear!" Aika said aloud.
Vyse crept out from under the bed. His clothes were stained with grey layers of dust.
"Seriously," he coughed. "Why is that when every time you need to hide under a bed, it's never been cleaned for the last ten years!?"
"Always, you do these things often?" Aika then turned to Fina. "That was a great performance. You do have your moments of brilliance, well, all the time. You just saved all our spendola. That means money."
"I guessed so," Fina smiled. "Now, for you Vyse, I got just the thing. Cupil!"
The little creature chimed, and then turned into a feather duster.
When Vyse was free from dust, they put on their jackets. Luckily for Vyse, his robe had a hood, so he could conceal his face. The make-up (it STILL felt weird to think of it) was dry, so he could put his eye-patch back on. They walked out of the hotel, and set their steps at the snowy hills outside of town.
They spent some hours there, making snowmen and snow angels, had some snowball fighting and other pleasant things. Aika both wanted and tried to build a replica of the Grand Fortress. At the evening, they caught a small glimpse of a beautiful aurora. The yellow moon shone with its beautiful shine. Life felt good.
They started to feel hungry, so they began walking back to the town. Then suddenly, a distant figure was rushing towards them. Vyse tuned his eye-patch and saw that…
"Hold on," Vyse said. "That's…"
Running towards them came…
He had his aim set at Aika, and he shouted some inarticulate scream which would've suited the Ixa'takan jungles.
"Take this!!" Aika screamed, and threw away her boomerang.
It twirled as it flew with swift velocity, straight at Vigoro, and it hit him straight in his face with a loud smack. He stopped in his tracks, howled squealing, then turned and ran away.
The three Blue Rogues stared after him. The boomerang came flying back, and Aika grabbed it.
"What was that all about?" Vyse said, stunned. "He's never turned you down for anything, has he?"
"Not that I know of," Aika said, as she hooked back her weapon. "Sure is strange. Or maybe he wanted to get back for last time."
"It did almost seem as if he was about to attack you," Fina said. "First being hit, then running away like a…"
The realisation struck them as hard as a bolt of Valuan lightning. Just what type of monster was infamous for their annoying habit of running away before they could be taken out?
"Is he really…?" Vyse said, not being able to finish the sentence.
"I knew there was something left from our body-swapping!" Fina said. "But how he of all people… and then a…"
"You mean that, out there is a looper who isn't a looper?" Aika said, slowly.
Several thoughts crossed their minds. What should they do now?
"No!" Aika said, all of a sudden. "This book is too dangerous, and it should not be used by anyone again! Besides, I'll never go though that swapping one more time!"
"But should we really do that?" Fina said. "Isn't that too cruel? For the poor looper, I mean."
"Well, at least no one will know it's a monster," Aika said. "Except for the looks. But he had a shiny future as the new village idiot."
Having settled everything, they resumed their walk. After having a delicious dinner at a nice restaurant, they went to the hotel, and found their room repaired, with chocolate on their pillows. In addition, there was a note that said they would get discount on the rent.
"Great," Aika said. "Now I don't use that spell on how to base gold into chocolate."
"Isn't it turn metal into gold?" Fina asked.
"Bah! Ever got a sugar-kick from eating gold coins? Me neither. By the way, money is just used to acquire sweet stuff anyway, so what gives?"
"Don't worry, Fina," Vyse said, with a reassuringly pat on her shoulder. "You'll get used to her in twenty years."
"Really?" Fina said. "But you haven't even turned twenty."
"No, and I still haven't."
"Some fun you are," Aika smiled.
They spent the evening talking and playing cards. Aika had wanted to play truth-or-dare, but Fina and Vyse still remembered all too well how it had turned out last time. Still, they gave her a chance to redeem herself. They made it without any disasters. The worst things that happened were that Fina had to stand on the balcony and sing a naughty sailor-song loud and clear, Aika had to eat a whole mouthful of khale, and Vyse was dared to eat a slice of bittermelon. Soon evening turned into night, and their eyes turned heavy, and they decided to hit the hay.
Fina lay in the bed, thinking about the day’s events. It had been most unusual, even for being them. But that didn't matter. Fina knew that she wouldn't have it any other way. Sure they experienced some chaos, mayhem and magical disasters from time to time, but it was all like it should be. It was a cheap price to pay for being with them both. Fina knew Vyse and Aika thought the same. Best friends in thick and thin.
Today was another gold coin in the treasure-chest that's called fond memories.
A/N: Many thanks to Martin III for proofreading.
Thanks to Cosenangel for testing.
The spell ‘Akuyr’ is ‘Ryuka’ backwards. It’s from Phantasy Star II and IV. Also: ‘Atfihs’ is ‘Shifta’ from the same games.
The Big Burp Combo that Aika ate is property of Monolith Burger from Space Quest III and X (in the form of Big belcher Combo).
The events on Sailor’s Island they were talking about are documented in the story “Aika’s dairy” which can be found on the Skies of Arcadia Life forum.
Thanks to Elli for information on cosmetics. Why should I have any idea about such things?