Chapter 34 – Exposed
2.5k 11 104
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.

“Umm… what’s going on? W-why are you all staring at me?”

As Amelia leaned forward, still sitting with her back against the tree, her hair seemed to linger and cling to the tree trunk. It glowed somewhat as it caught the light, the dark brown colour appearing to shift to a lighter, more earthy shade for a moment. The flower on the side of her head pulsed slightly, a brief flash of light running through both it and the vines running down her body as her hair effortlessly disconnected from the tree trunk, not a single piece of bark being caught in it.

“...Guys? S-say something…” 

She looked between Caitlyn, Emily, and I, her expression becoming increasingly distraught as we watched on in shock. The vines within her skin writhed ever so slightly, sharp thorns beginning to form along them as Amelia’s stress continued to rise.

Caitlyn was the first of us to recover, and she recoiled backwards as her gaze roved up and down Amelia’s body. “A-Amelia… your arms…”

“My… arms?” Looking down at herself, her eyes widened in shock as she finally noticed the green lines tracing their way down her body. She inhaled sharply, her hands beginning to violently shake. “W-what is–what’s… happening to me?”

The lines along her arms and legs suddenly began to retract as Amelia panicked, and the back of her uniform started to bulge. Green, thorny vines poked their way out of her collar, quickly extending to curl around in front of her and form a protective cage. 

“Wh…” She tried to speak, but only a breathless noise came out of her mouth as she looked at us between the vines encircling her.

We have to get her out of here, and somewhere safe!

Emily and I both shared a glance, springing into action at exactly the same time. She leapt upright, rushing next to Amelia as I stepped between her and Caitlyn. As she crouched down, the vines lashed out, and she yelped as she dodged out of the way.

“Emily!” I shouted, trying to get her attention without drawing the stares of any nearby students. “Let me talk to her.”


“Look at those thorns. If they hit you, they’ll do more than just tear a hole straight through your uniform.” I gradually stepped towards Amelia as I spoke, keeping my voice as calm and soft as I could. “I made my uniform out of spirit energy today. I can repair it.”

“O-okay,” she replied, slowly backing off.


“Amelia. Can you hear me?” My mind was racing as I gently spoke to her, trying to remember the things that Elena had done for me in the past when I had my breakdown. The priority is getting her out of here. We’re very exposed, so if someone happens to glance over here…

“Y-yes…” The vines forming the cage around her began to twitch as I approached, threatening to swipe at me. 

“I know you might be confused, and you’re probably very scared right now, but…” As I got in the range that the vines could reach, I slowly knelt down, keeping as constant eye contact with her as I could. “I need you to take a few deep breaths.”

“O… okay.” As she closed her eyes, the strips of shadows cast across her body from the vines catching the sunlight began to slow down their shivering. I caught a glimpse of a few teardrops running down her cheeks as she tried to control her breathing, her body still shaking uncontrollably.

“I can explain what happened to you,” I said, trying not to show that I was bracing myself just in case the vines lashed out. “But first, we need to get you somewhere safe.”

Honestly, it’s a bit of a gamble. She’s clearly transformed, but I don’t know what into… a dryad, maybe?

“Emily.” Not moving from where I was, I called out to her. “What’s the best way to get to Elena’s office?”

“Uhh…” A light thump echoed behind me, and I looked towards the noise to see her standing on her tiptoes, peering around. Her ears swivelled from side to side, as if trying to map out every nearby sound as she looked between the main outside pathway, and the nearby building. “Probably down that way, I think. We can cut in through a side door, but… that puts us right at the spot where a bunch of guys from Zoey’s year level hang out.”

“Hmm…” Turning back towards Amelia, I racked my brain trying to think of a solution.

Even if we go through the side door, there’s still a few students hanging out near there. Plus, there’s that group that Emily mentioned. If we can just…

“Emily? Quick question.” Without turning around, I gestured for her to come over next to me. She ran towards me, quickly coming to a halt just outside my peripheral vision.

“W-what is it?”

“Do you know if you can extend your illusions to someone else?” If the two of them can both go invisible, then we might be able to get to Elena’s office without being seen. It all depends on whether Emily knows if she can do that.

“I-I’ll try.”

“Wait, what–illusions?” Caitlyn suddenly spoke up, her voice shrill. “What’s going on?”

“Not the time,” I said, slowly inching closer and closer to Amelia as she continued to take deep breaths.

“What’s–tell me what’s happening. I don’t understand–this is weird!”

“Not. The. Time!” A spark of rage lit up inside me at Caitlyn’s incessant questioning. Amelia’s freaking out, Emily and I are about to be exposed–we don’t need you drawing attention to the lot of us!

“You know what’s going on, right?” Her voice increased in volume as she continued, getting on my nerves more and more. 

I stayed silent, my shoulders tensing up uncomfortably. Just… shut up!

“Answer me!”

“Enough!” I snapped, whipping around to face her. She shrunk back under my glare, her expression morphing into one of fear. “Be quiet!”

Her mouth snapped shut, and her shoulders began to tremble as she backed away, slowly lifting herself upright.

Wait, don’t run away! That’ll just draw attention to us!

“Stay!” I commanded, my voice low and menacing. Even though I felt a strange energy swirling around my body, I didn’t care. My only priority was keeping Emily and Amelia safe.

“O-okay…” She shakily knelt back down on the ground, her whole body quivering.

Turning back towards Amelia, I found her staring at me, wide-eyed and in shock. The vines surrounding her had all retreated, instead splaying out backwards behind her, a few of them curling around the nearby tree.

“Flora, w-what was–your eyes…” she blabbered, her gaze quickly switching between my eyes and my hair. “What are you…”

My… eyes? Wait, did I use my powers? Did my hair and eyes change colour?

Internally scrambling to try and push all of the energy flowing around my body back into my core, I reached my right hand out towards Amelia. “I’ll explain everything later. For now, you need to come with Emily and I.”

“Um… okay.” Taking my hand, she tried to lift herself upright, pressing her other hand on the ground for leverage. The vines began to retract back through her collar as her breathing steadied, the thorns shrinking inside them. Her arm shook as she strained herself, the green lines beginning to weave their way down her skin again.

“Easy-” I said, bracing as she gripped my hand. She put more force into her arms, attempting to climb back onto her feet, but collapsed soon after, the strength leaving her grasp.

“S-sorry–I… I can’t…”

She slumped back against the tree, exhausted and out of breath.


“S-sorry about this…” 

Amelia apologised once again as Emily crouched down in front of her, gratefully looping her arms around Emily’s shoulders.

“It’s fine–it’s a rough thing to go through,” Emily replied, slowly lifting herself up with Amelia clinging to her. “It was similar for me.”

“For… you–eep!” Amelia squeaked as Emily deftly slipped her arms under her legs, lifting her upright in a princess carry.

“Easy–hold on tight, okay? And don’t be surprised at what’s about to happen.”

Closing her eyes, Emily took a deep breath. The rest of her body began to turn transparent, the effect slowly spreading outwards from her ears. 

“Wait, Emily–your head… is that–wha…” Amelia babbled breathlessly as her eyes darted around Emily’s upper body, marvelling as she gradually began to cover herself with illusions.

As they reached the ends of her hands, they jumped forward, slowly encircling Amelia within them as well. She narrowed her eyes, slowly relaxing her body as she clung to Emily.

“...It’s warm,” she murmured, resting her head against Emily’s shoulder.

“I wasn’t sure if that was gonna work, but,” Emily turned to me, barely breaking a sweat as she easily carried Amelia. “Flora, how do we look?”

I had been sitting on the ground nearby as she called out, distracted as I focused on keeping all of the stray energy within my core. Emily's mention of my name snapped me out of my trance, and I looked up at her, catching her gaze.

Wait–back in the shopping centre, when she carried me… that’s what we looked like? I felt my cheeks began to flush as she stared at me, the memory of what had happened just earlier today flashing through my head. The strange feeling from that time returned, sending a warm, fuzzy pulse throughout my body.


Her voice dimly registered in my mind as all my previous thoughts gradually faded into the background, save for the image of her leaning over me, her hands either side of my head. My cheeks heated up even further as I tried to respond, my speech coming out rather broken.

“Um–yeah–you look great? I–I mean…” Wait, what was the question again?

“Sweet. I’m gonna head off to Elena’s office, then.” She spun around on the balls of her feet, slowly so as to not jostle Amelia. “You coming?”

“Y-yeah.” As soon as I had replied, she walked off, leaving me in the middle of the courtyard to wrestle with my thoughts.


As soon as the two of them had disappeared into the nearby building, Caitlyn scrambled upright, her eyes fixed on the spot they had been standing.

“She… she disappeared.” 

Her panicked and confused murmuring broke me out of my daze, and I turned to face her, blinking a few times as I tried to push aside the weird fuzzy sensation that permeated throughout me.

“She just… her and Amelia just–and what was…” She recoiled a little as she caught my gaze, jumping back as her eyes went wide.

“Umm,” I shook my head, lightly slapping my cheeks in an attempt to bring myself back to the present. “I-I can explain everything. Follow me.”

“O-okay, uh…” She shakily took a few steps forward as I started walking to the nearby building, stumbling along in my footsteps. “I-I don’t understand what’s going on, but… okay.”

Slipping through the door, we began making our way to Elena’s office.




Caitlyn stayed silent as we navigated through the winding corridors of the admin wing, heading deep inside to where Elena’s office was located. She stayed a short distance away from me, backing up when I slowed down as if she didn’t want to get too close to me. I didn’t pay it much heed, my mind laser focused on how to explain the situation to Amelia.

I don’t know for sure what dryads are like… if she is a dryad. Maybe if Mira or Aeriel were here, they could explain it–though I haven’t heard them mention anything about dryads. The only reason I know about them is thanks to a book I read once.

“Um, F-Flora…” Caitlyn called out from behind me, breaking my train of thought. “Where is–where are we going?”

“You’ll see.” Turning the last corner just outside Elena’s office, I beckoned for her to hurry up. “We’re nearly–ahh, there they are.”

Waiting just outside the door were Emily and Amelia, still covered in illusions. Amelia had her arm looped around Emily’s shoulder, leaning on her to stay upright as her legs shook.

“Hey, you two.” Emily twisted her head around as soon as she heard my voice, lifting up her free hand to wave at us, her other hand looped around Amelia’s waist to help support her.

“Hey.” I waved in response, dashing over next to them. “Is Elena in there?”

“Pretty sure, yeah–we were just waiting for you two.”

As Emily lifted her hand up to knock on the door to Elena’s office, I turned around, seeing Caitlyn standing still at the end of the hall.

“There is–where…” Confusion was evident in her expression as she stared at me, and she briefly flinched as she noticed me looking at her. “What–who are you talking to?”

Oh, right, Caitlyn can’t see them. They’re invisible.

“Once we get inside, you’ll see.” As Emily helped Amelia through the now-open door, I slipped inside behind them, followed by a very bewildered Caitlyn.


“Emily? What are… who’s this?” Elena was still eating her lunch as we arrived, her fork hovering over a salad sitting in a plastic bowl. The lid lay just to the side, next to a small bottle of salad dressing. “Is everything alright?”

Gently lowering Amelia down into a nearby chair, Emily released the illusions covering the two of them, prompting a gasp from Caitlyn.

“Wha–where did…”

“Someone else has transformed, and…” Ignoring Caitlyn’s confused blabbering, Emily sat down next to Amelia, waving for me to sit down on her other side. “We needed somewhere private, so we can catch these two up to speed on everything that’s happened.”

Pushing her bowl to the side, Elena slid her chair over in front of her computer, switching the monitor on.

“Alright, let me just check something…” As she clicked around on her computer, she tried to relax in her chair, flinching as her back pressed against the seat. Grimacing, she leaned forward again, spinning her chair around. “I don’t have to go anywhere, so you’re free to use this room for the rest of lunch.

“Sweet.” Leaping up out of her chair, Emily turned around to face Amelia and Caitlyn, taking a deep breath as she prepared herself. “Okay–so, um…”

She hesitated slightly as she tried to speak, her voice catching in her throat as her hands began to shake. Her ears, which were still covered with illusions, were folded back, and her face went pale with anxiety.

“Um–the thing is…” All of her previous energy rapidly dissipated, as if she had suddenly realised what she was about to do, and her anxiety had spiked as a result. She threw a helpless glance in my direction. “Sorry–it’s just…”

She’s been so nervous and on edge the past few days… even if Amelia has also transformed, the idea of telling someone about us is still scary!

I quickly hopped upright, moving next to her and grabbing her hand. Giving it a gentle squeeze, I smiled at her, trying to give her the courage to go on. A slight blush rose to her cheeks as she glanced at me, and she took a deep breath, squeezing my hand in return.

“Okay, so…” she began, releasing the illusion on her ears and tail. “We’re… not human.”


“Wait–so, let me get this straight.” As we relayed the story of what happened to us, Amelia had listened with great interest, glancing down at the green lines running along her arms every so often. “You’re a fox… spirit, was it? And Flora’s the… Queen of Spirits?”

“Yep.” Emily scratched at the base of her ears, relief clear in her voice at having let everything out. “We transformed early last week. That’s why we missed all of last week of school.”

“O-oh, right–that’s why–um… yeah…” Amelia stammered distractedly as she lifted her arms up, tracing the vines running along her skin with her fingers. “And–um… what… am I?”

“You’re probably a dryad, at a guess.” Elena spoke up from the desk behind us, where she had returned to her lunch. “Have you looked at a mirror yet?”

“N-no, not yet.”

“There should be one in the bathroom just outside.” Gesturing with her free hand, she pointed the directions as she spoke them out. “If you head just outside, it should be the door on the right.”

“Okay–um…” Nervously lifting herself up out of her chair, Amelia scurried away to the door. “I’ll… go and take a look.”


The moment she had left the room, Caitlyn spoke up, eyeing us suspiciously as she leaned against the wall.

“I don’t get it. You’re all–how am I supposed to…” She thumped her hand against the wall in frustration, causing Emily to flinch. “It’s too weird.”

“W-what do you mean?” Emily’s face began to turn pale as she listened to her, her ears folding back in fright.

“Like–I thought you were acting a bit weird once you came back to school. You were super jittery, like you were hiding something, but this…” Her voice trailed off for a moment as she turned her gaze upon me. “And what was up with you? You were–like, glowing… and then, whatever you did with your eyes when you snapped at me, that was…”

“Caitlyn, I–we…” Emily looked away, her eyes downcast as she squeezed my hand even tighter.

“Look, just… I won’t tell anyone, but…” Lifting herself off the wall, she let out a deep sigh, running a hand through her hair. “I need to go and think for a bit.”


Throwing one last wary glance towards us, she left Elena’s office, slamming the door shut behind her.