Chapter 27 – Uncomfortable Truths
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“Oh, nothing much. I just wanted to thank you, I suppose.”

The man in the cloak showed a toothy grin as he slowly stepped towards us, running his tongue over his pointed fangs.

“You were watching that day, were you not?” He locked eyes with me as he spoke, and I flinched, feeling like his red eyes were trying to burrow into me. “Now, see, I was in quite the pickle, there…”

He spun around for a moment, the air catching his dark red cloak and lifting up the end of it. Slight wisps of a red glow trailed after his outstretched arms. Ending it with a flourish, a wooden staff materialised in his right hand, and he pointed the round, knobbly head of it towards me.

“But you–see, you provided me with a way out.”


My eyes widened and my breath caught in my throat as I realised what he was referring to.

That portal… it’s my fault that it opened up here?!

He clicked his tongue, taking a deep breath as he knocked his staff against the ground.

“Do you know what would have happened if I hadn’t found you?” His voice was low and commanding as he spoke, every word dripping with menace. “I would’ve been sent to an endless abyss by those… those priests!” He spat the last words out, his hand shaking in anger as he gripped his staff.

Every instinct in my body told me to run, to escape from there, but my muscles refused to respond to me. My legs were rooted to the ground, unable to move as an overwhelming, primal fear paralysed me.

“And for what?!” he shouted, raising his hands up. “All I did was put a few spirits to... better use. Does that really warrant being sent to a world of nothingness?”

Zoey took a step forward, gently pushing Mira behind her. She appeared to be uninjured, but her face was extremely pale, and her hands trembled as she clung to Zoey’s dress.

“I would’ve been trapped there with no way out.” His eyes widened maniacally as he stared at me, spitting out every word with an ever increasing amount of venom. “Unable to see, no way to tell what was up, or down. Such an inordinate amount of retribution, especially coming from the church.”

Taking a few steps back, he continued his monologue.

“Just because they lost their precious test subject… Spirits can be put to much better use than just being controlled. Their energy can go to so much greater heights… if only those fools knew how to harness it.”

The red glow that enveloped him intensified briefly, seeping down onto the floor.

“Well… I suppose you wouldn’t know about that, would you?”

“Get to the point already,” Emily hissed, glaring at the man in the cloak. “You’re pissing me off.”

His gaze shifted from me to Emily as he began to address her, nonplussed at her declaration.

“Let’s just say that… I owe a bit of a debt to your little friend, here.” He stretched out a long finger, the nail black and sharp, towards me. “You see, I was about to be unjustly punished for the supposed crime of wanting to progress humanity to its next step. My only way out was to… well, I sent out a call. A distress signal, of sorts… or an invitation for a curious soul. And what should I find but… you.”

He locked eyes with me, staring unblinkingly as the blood drained from my face.

“You were in such… turmoil, when I found you. It was easy to entice you in.”

I knew it…

“I drew you there… to that church. To my trial.”

It’s my fault.

“The most curious soul provides the easiest link to another world.”

It’s all my fault!

“Flora, who is this guy?” Zoey asked, her voice dripping with anger. “Did he do this to us?”

“He’s the…” I gasped out, failing to choke back tears. “H-he’s the mage… from my dream.”

Out of the corner of my eyes, I watched as Zoey’s hair began to glow. Her eyes shone a luminous green, the same colour as her hair, and small gusts of wind whipped up around her, blowing against her green dress.

To the other side, Emily’s tail began to bristle, the fur standing on end. Her ears were folded back, and her fangs were showing as a low, rumbling growl escaped from her throat. Small wisps of flame popped up around her tail, illuminating her from behind with a menacing aura.


As he watched us, the mage suddenly let out a booming laugh, which echoed off the distant walls.

“You seem to be doing a lot better for yourself,” he began, looking down his nose towards us.

“Better?” Emily screamed. “You think she’s doing better? After all she’s been through? All the three of us have been through?”

“Oh, that’s right.” He clicked his tongue again, as if just remembering an important detail. “You used to be human, right? And look at you now…”

The red glow around him intensified, slowly inching towards me.

“A former human, brought down to the level of a lowly spirit… You’re not worth anything, anymore.” His voice took on an almost pitying tone as he continued. “Just a tool to be used, and discarded.”

A crushing feeling started pressing into me as the red glow crept ever closer, my legs beginning to buckle out from underneath me. As soon as they saw me wobble, Emily and Zoey leapt forward to support me, still glaring daggers at the man in the cloak.

“Flora!” Both of their voices rang out behind me as they grabbed my shoulders, supporting my shaking body.

The mage leapt back as out of nowhere, a strong gust of wind whipped up around a nearby sign, sending it flying towards him. He glanced between Zoey, her hair floating and eyes glowing a piercing green, and Emily, her tail completely engulfed in flames.

“Well, I’ll leave it there for today.” He held his arm out, the staff materialising back into his hand. “I don’t want to aggravate your… windy friend there, and your little guard dog.”

Pressing the end of the staff against the floor, he traced a circle around himself.

“I guess you’ll be seeing me around, sooner or later.”

A white line began glowing on the floor, where he had traced his staff, and smoke started to billow out from within it, completely engulfing the man in the cloak. Within a few moments, the smoke began to dissipate, spreading out as it rose towards the ceiling. The spot where the mage had been standing was empty, all traces of him completely gone, save for a few wisps of smoke and the sign, laying on the ground nearby.

As Emily and Zoey loudly exhaled, releasing their tension, my legs gave out from underneath me, and I crumpled to the floor.

“Queen!” Mira shouted, stumbling forward and clinging to me as I knelt on the floor, panting heavily.

He’s gone… I can breathe again…

“Flora, are you…” Emily crouched down in front of me, trying to peer into my face as I stared at the floor. “...You’re not okay, are you?”

My arms shook as I tried to lift myself up, and my legs were still paralysed from fear. As Zoey knelt down next to her, the last of my strength left my shoulders, and I crumpled to the floor.

“...I can’t move.” 




A few slightly confused bystanders began to filter back into the shopping centre as we made our way outside. I covered my face with my hands, trying to hide from the bewildered stares that were directed towards us, thanks to Emily walking along with me in a princess carry.

“U-um, thanks… Emily.”

After our confrontation with the mage, I was so shaken that I was completely unable to even stand, let alone walk. Feeling that amount of sheer terror was a completely new experience, one that I was emotionally unprepared to handle. I couldn’t even float, since my body was shaking so much that I was unable to control my spirit energy, and thus couldn’t spread it around my body.

“Don’t worry about it.”

Mira seemed to have at least slightly recovered, as the colour had returned to her face. She was unable to float as well, muttering something about an “instinctual fear response”. Zoey was giving her a piggyback ride, and she seemed exhausted as she clung to her back.

“Hey, Zoey…” Reaching into my pocket, I grabbed the Tears that I had put in there this morning, and held my arm out towards her. “Can you… give these to Mira?”

As she received them, she stared at them for a moment, as if trying to recall what they were.

“Oh, these are–your tears?”

“...Don’t ask why I had them in my pocket.”

Mira took the gemstones gladly, clutching them close to her chest as she slowly exhaled. She tapped Zoey’s shoulder, trying to get her attention.

“Um, I-I should be alright now.”

As we reached the car park, she gingerly lifted herself off of Zoey’s back, entering into a somewhat shaky flight. She swooped around alongside us, staring at me anxiously.

“I’ll be alright,” I said, trying to reassure her.



Melissa broke into a run as soon as she spotted us, her ponytail swinging back and forth.

“Are you okay?” she called out. “What happened?”

“We’re fine.” Emily sped up slightly to reach her, tightening her grip on me.

Turning around to walk alongside her, Melissa fussed over me as we made our way to the car. Her voice was full of concern as she stared worriedly at me, speeding up just a little to open the car door ahead of us.

“Let’s get her inside.”

Once Mira had ducked inside ahead of me, Emily gently lowered me into the back seat of Melissa’s car. I struggled with the seat belt as I tried to pull it over me, and she reached out, steadying my shaking hands.

“T-thanks,” I murmured, a slight blush rising to my face. I placed my hands on my chest, trying to feel my heartbeat.

Deep breaths… the mage is gone now. I’ll be fine… everything will be fine…


“Who was that creep, anyway?” Once we started moving, Emily angrily thumped her tail against the car door next to her.

“I don’t know–he’s…” My skin crawled as I pictured the man in the cloak, trying to remember as much of my first dream as possible. “I-if you remember that dream you had… where there was a portal–he was the one that opened it.”

“So–wait, is he someone from another world?”


“Other question,” Zoey twisted around in the front seat to face us, her wings turning almost invisible as they phased through the car seat. “What was he? Because he clearly did magic like, right in front of us. Is he not human, then?”

“I dunno,” Emily responded, her ears twitching as she stared upwards. “He said something about progressing humanity to its next step… though coming from him, I really don’t trust that.”

“He’s a demonised,” Mira said, speaking up for the first time in a while.


“Yeah, he–” Mira shivered for a moment, holding the gemstones in her hands close to her body–”he was human, once… but–”

She stopped for a few seconds, leaning sideways to rest her head against my arm as she took a few deep breaths, trying to calm herself down.

“I-in our world, humans use magic by borrowing the power of the spirits… it’s a give-and-take kind of thing. By being around humans, we give them magic power–which they then use to perform magic. We spirits then absorb the mana left over from their spells, which is how we survive.”

She grabbed my arm with her free hand, pulling me towards her slightly.

“If–if a human… k-kills a spirit, there’s a ritual they can perform that… steals their energy. It… corrupts them–mutates their body, and… they start making their own magic power. The humans call them dark mages, but... we call them demonised. I-it's because… the more spirits they kill, the more magic power they obtain. If he gets to you, Queen, I–I don’t know what he might do.”

A bright light began shining to the side as a large flame popped up on the end of Emily’s tail.

“If I see him again, I think I’m like–actually going to lose it and attack him.”

“Yeah, me too,” Zoey added, her hair and eyes glowing again. “I’m pretty sure I have cool new wind powers now, and I would just love to try them out on him.”

I shuddered slightly at how menacing her tone was.




“Can you walk?”

As soon as Melissa parked the car outside the house, Emily threw open the door and leapt out of the back seat next to me, dashing around to the other side of the car and opening my door. Zoey stood next to her, anxiously watching me shuffle out of the car.

Lowering my feet to the ground, I gingerly tried to shift my weight onto them. My feet wobbled underneath me, my legs swaying to the side as I almost collapsed, but Emily and Zoey both reached out to catch me.


After my failure at controlling spirit energy earlier, back in the shopping centre, I didn’t have the confidence to try again just yet. I gratefully wrapped my arms around their shoulders, letting them take most of my weight as they walked me into the house.

“Take your time,” Zoey said, hunching over slightly as she gently lowered me.

Once we made it inside, I lurched forward, half falling onto the couch. Lifting my feet up, I dispelled the energy used to make my shoes, curling up on top of the middle cushion. I reached over, grabbing one of the nearby throw cushions and squeezing it as I slowly breathed, trying to process everything that had happened.

It… really is my fault that everything happened, isn’t it?

Once they had taken their shoes off, Emily and Zoey flopped down beside me. Emily, to my right, leant forward to try and peer into my face as I rested my chin on my knees. Zoey, sitting on the other side, softly rubbed my back to try and calm me down.

“You okay?” she asked, her voice full of concern for me.

“I-I’m…” I tried to reply, but my chest tightened up and tears began forming in the corners of my eyes as my emotions entered a downward spiral. “No–no… I’m not… okay.”

Instantly, Emily wrapped her arms around me, bringing her tail around and resting it against my legs. Zoey took my right hand between both of hers, gently squeezing it.

“I… I’m so sorry,” I stammered, my voice becoming increasingly broken. “I-it’s all… my fault…”

The two of them stayed silent as I cried, seeming unsure of what to say.

“If… if I hadn’t been like this, the p-portal–he never would’ve opened it here, and–and we would all still be human!

“Hey… Flora?” Emily’s tail curled around one of my ankles as she spoke up. “Can I–let you in on a secret?”


She rested the side of her head on my shoulder, her ears twitching and brushing against my hair.

“When I… first grew ears and a tail, I was really scared. I–I had no idea what was happening to me. But–thanks to you, I… you stopped me from panicking–helped me stop being scared of myself. And now–if I’m being honest, there’s a part of me that’s really starting to grow fond of these ears and tail.”

Pulling one of her hands away from me, she combed her fingers through her tail.

“Sure, it’s a lot to get used to, but… it’s also kinda fun. At this point, I don’t think I could go back to living without them. Plus,” she leaned forward on the couch, turning around to face me with a slight smirk, “my tail keeps me warm at night. It’s really soft and–like, perfect for hugging.”

A smile involuntarily rose to my face, and I couldn’t suppress a laugh at seeing her cheeky expression.

“That’s more like it,” she exclaimed, jostling my shoulders slightly.

“Just–adding on to that,” Zoey began, lifting her left hand away to fidget with her hair. “If… this whole thing had never happened, I don’t think I would have–we’d have never met, and become friends. I like spending time with you two–it’s fun.”

Taking a deep breath, she shifted into her fairy form, flying around to hover in front of me.

“And like Emily, I was really confused at first, but… I’m starting to think that being a fairy is actually really fun. Like… we all have magic powers! How cool is that?! I can control wind… I think.”

She shook her head back and forth, her green hair falling in front of her eyes.

“A-anyway,” she continued, readjusting it out of the way, “Don’t blame yourself for this. I don’t actually think that what happened to us is a bad thing. Weird, sure, but… like–it’s fun.”

“Yeah,” Emily added, hopping up off the couch to stand next to Zoey. “It’s fine–Zoey’s enjoying being a fairy, I’m kinda liking the ears and tail… and you honestly seem a lot happier, now that you’re a girl. What happened to us wasn’t really a bad thing.”

“O-okay,” I timidly lifted my head up, slowly uncurling my body and stretching my legs out. Emily reached out, patting my head as I wiped the tears out of my eyes.

“We’ll take things one step at a time, and learn to get used to all of this. Don’t worry about it.”

“Okay… I’ll try…”




“Queen… where are you?”

In the middle of the night, I awoke to the sound of Mira’s panicked voice.

“Please… I need to find…”

Her small body quaked as she lay next to me in my bed, her arms slightly twitching in front of her.

“Please… Queen…”

I reached out, taking her hands in my own and pulling her closer to me. Her eyes slowly flickered open, and she stared at me, bewildered and disoriented.

“Queen, I… Queen!” She quickly shuffled towards me, leaning her whole body into me and burying her face in my chest. I gently stroked her hair, trying to calm her down in the same way Emily and Zoey had done for me so many times.

“It’s okay,” I said, trying to keep my voice soft. “I’m here.”

Mira’s shaking gradually stopped, and her breathing slowly returned to normal as she clung to me. She lifted her tear-stained face up to look at me, mumbling “t-thanks,” as she shuffled around, trying to make herself comfortable.

“Are you alright?” I asked, softly stroking her hair again.


“I… had a nightmare–of the first time I came to this world. I spent days trying to find you, following… traces–of your power.”

Traces of my power… From those outbursts I had on Monday? That weird–messing with the electrics thing?

“But… I couldn’t find them in time… I–couldn’t find you… for days...”

“I’m sorry, Mira,” I murmured. “There was… a lot going on.”

“Don’t apologize, Queen,” she responded, her voice slightly panicked. “I’m just... I’m sorry for burdening you with this.”

“It’s alright. You’ve been through a lot, this past week.”

Mira went quiet for a bit, distancing herself from me slightly. A moment later though, she reached out, latching onto my clothes like a child.

“I think–you’re like… my mum,” she said, her face turning a little pink from embarrassment. “I-I don’t know if it’s the same as… what humans consider as family, but…”

Her voice slowly trailed off as she gradually became more and more self-conscious, and she shuffled forward, burying her face into my torso again.

“It’s okay.” I softly rubbed her back as she clung to me. “You can think of me as your mum if you want.”

If I’m honest, being called “Mum” might be a bit less awkward than constantly being called “Queen”! 

Mira’s breathing gradually slowed as she settled back down, and she drifted off to sleep, snuggling close to me.

She’s a spirit but… she really is just a kid. A child who got thrown into a mysterious world, far different to the place she was raised. Of course she’d be scared–who wouldn’t be in that kind of situation? But… she’s trying so hard to be strong…

I rolled onto my back, carefully so as to not wake Mira up, and stared at the ceiling.

We all need to be strong. We’re heading back to school tomorrow… I think Elena sorted everything out for me? She said that it should be fine, so here’s hoping it will be…


I hope no one finds out about us…