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Jesus christ, fuck me this is finally out! Shid! Thank you for all of your patience as always. Story still goes! We are entering our next arc, woo-hoo!

On a secondary note, there is now a Discord server!

Thanks to the constant push of the friends that helped encourage me to actually post this story, the discord has been made for readers to interact as they please(pretty much give you all an open q&a as needed), to continue building the lore and the world/worlds around it, and somewhere to post all of the story related art that we ended up making.

Anyone is free to join and I don't expect it to take off by any means, but it never hurts.

Here's the link:  https://discord.gg/mqjfjuR3qW  (if copy-paste doesn't work, the link is also on my profile)

As always, thank you for reading! 

It was now late afternoon, the day following our fight with the Bulette and Mother's return. Beryl was moved into the Guild earlier in the morning after a group of adventurers showed up with a cart filled full of blankets. They ended up declining payment, referring to Beryl's age as their reason, choosing to do so out of favor. After the adventurers left, Vaughn showed up shortly after and we both chose to sit with Beryl and Sophia. Mother allowed me to stay in the guild with them all while she handled secondary business throughout town, saying both of her friends being there when she awoke would help her. 

"Mmnnn, hello?"

Beryl's voice protruded weakly into the rather quiet interior room of the guild.

"Beryl!"

"You're awake! It's us - "

Vaughn and I both perked up, the two of us growing impatient from waiting and anxious of when Beryl would finally wake. 

"Vaughn? Kiyomi? Where am I?"

Beryl's eyes cracked open, revealing her yellow iris. With her head shifting around, she looked to Vaughn, then myself, and sighed once more. 

"I had this weird dream... we fought a monster... I thought you two were hurt... Mama Sophia and Cressida were there..."

Vaughn visibly clenched his jaw, holding back a rather crooked and awkward smile as Beryl continued. 

"And there was something about the Goddess?... Where am I again?"

Beryl ceased her rambling, slowly raising her head forward.

"Oh, careful, careful!"

Vaughn and I both struggled to slow Beryl without fumbling over each other.

"You've been asleep since yesterday, we're in the Guild right now."

Vaughn exclaimed, moving to a table in the corner.

"That-ah- wasn't a dream."

 

 

The rest of the day passed relatively quickly after explaining to Beryl about everything being real, including her new skill. Vaughn eventually had to part ways with us whilst he went back to helping his father. In the meantime, I began my personal mission to entertain Beryl while she recovered. 

Step one to 'operation: Cheery snake' underway.

I thought confidently as I stood just outside the door to Beryl's room, now holding onto the chicken we'd taken in.

"Ready, Nugget?"

I jokingly asked the hen in my arms, earning nothing in response other than a craning neck and a tilting head. 

Okay, now that I think about it, it's my first time with Beryl alone... here's hoping I can keep her occupied. Step one, hold chicken through the door.

Breathing in, I held Nugget through the doorway. 

"Nugget?"

Beryl asked aloud, confusion evident in her voice. 

"Heya!"

I poked my head through the door just behind Nugget, the biggest smile I could manage on my face.

"Welcome back, Kiyomi." 

 

“Hmm-hmmm-hm hmmm.”

Beryl hummed softly as she braided parts of my hair, obviously content with the activity.

Well, I did say I'd spend 'girl-time with her eventually.

Beryl proposed we'd burn our time by starting out small. By showing me little things she thought would help me as a girl particularly. I'd sheepishly asked for us to start with her teaching me how to braid my hair as I sat in her coils. That also led me to what I was currently struggling with, weakly fumbling my fingers around a lock of dull-teal hair. 

"Grrr, how do you make this so easy?"

I dropped the lock of Beryl's hair from my grasp, its weight pulling itself back over my shoulder for it to hang limply from her head.

"Kiyomi, giving up after a few tries won't make it easier. Do you really want me doing your hair forever?"

Beryl groaned, holding the hair she'd had in her hands.

"Nah, I think I'll settle with you braiding my hair forever."

I gave my excuse in a playfully mocking tone, crossing my arms as I did so. 

"Ah- h-hey!"

Beryl tugged on the hair, forcing my head back for a second. 

"I thought you wanted to learn?"

I could see Beryl conceal a smile as she shifted my hair in her hands once more, then dropping it immediately after. 

"Wh- yeah, I do... It's just-"

I looked into the mirror again, eyes plastered to myself as my hair fell free and hung at my shoulders. 

For fucks sake, more of this dysphoria.

I clenched my jaws at the image, the reflection of a young girl just on the cusp of blooming was the one that stared back. I did my best the first time Beryl had me in front of a mirror, but that was without the added laundry list of other firsts to soon follow that she suggested.

I was going to try and move past this so we could remain generally normal... in case I'm not here... forever. Ugh.

I clenched my fists then sighed, relaxing my shoulders as the air escaped me. I just wasn't expecting a simple change of styling to affect my view of myself. That coupled with the awkward interactions with Vaughn had me going back and thinking of how he saw me. It wasn't so much a bother with my view of him.

To me, these two are friends. I have to watch over them considering I have the capacity to do so mentally, and the physical strength.

Realistically while I was just entering my teens, Vaughn was a growing boy just behind Beryl in age. They were both probably both twelve and thirteen going by earth standard of time.

Beryl only escaped my perception since she's also a girl, I don't think I really have to worry about her. Vaughn though...

"Kiyomi?"

Beryl called my name softly.

"You stopped in the middle of your sentence."

I shook my head to clear my thoughts as temporary as it was. 

"-I just... I look okay, right? Do I seem normal?"

Looking over my shoulder, Beryl averted her gaze and smiled nervously. 

"Y-yeah, totally a normal girl! Not weird at all- heheheeeh."

Beryl's attempt at false comfort was almost exaggerated. 

"That response doesn't give me confidence in your words."

I furrowed my brow as I replied, causing Beryl to break under the pressure.

"Okay, for a girl, you're kinda Boyish...and weird. Between you and me, Vaughn had to remember you were a girl."

Beryl looked away as she spoke apologetically. 

"Wha-but-"

"Vaughn actually forgot during your exploration. That thing with the slime was his reminder."

"That piece of shi- owie!"

Beryl flicked my forehead as I nearly swore out of anger from Vaughns's betrayal. 

That asshole! I told him not to tell anyone!

"Langauge! That's one of the reasons! You talk like some of the bullies from our old town or some old man!"

Thinking of my interactions with him, most of my time spent with Vaughn alone was with us horsing around or doing stuff girls would stereo-typically find interest in.

That being said, I haven't done much else other than study, roughhouse with Callum or Vaughn. My idea of doing stuff is very skewed. 

"So I'm guessing this whole 'how to be a girl' regimen is supposed to remedy that?"

I rubbed the spot Beryl flicked lightly, assuaging the dull pain. 

"Yep! The first step, stop slouching while I teach you to do your hair!"

Beryl backed her torso away slowly, leaning back against the bed. 

"Wait, do my own hair?"

Beryl nodded at my question, a smug smile on her face as she dropped the rest of her own hair as she untied a bundled braid. As the bundle fell loosely, it revealed that it was three separate braids packed together.

"Am I supposed to learn how to do that?"

I looked on with concern at Beryl as she loosened the end of each braid and let the hair of each fall free. Her hair actually managed to reach what would have been her hip if she were a biped, giving rise to the question as I looked on in surprise.

"How even?!"

Beryl rolled her eyes.

"Practice. As it stands though, your braiding is shoddy."

Beryl stuck her tongue out, feigning disgust.

"So, follow along. Grab the first strand of your hair like so-"

 

Over the course of the evening, Beryl continued her lessons on how to dress our hair. The 'Veran braid' and the 'Imperial braid' were simply English and French braids respectfully. The one I ended up using was the English braid, considering my hair was still too short to achieve the french braid I'd tried to recreate. By comparison, while my hair was shoulder-length, the hair I needed for the style I was attempting to perform would have to reach past my waist. For the time being, the braid was loosely held over the layer of hair underneath and left my bangs intact.

"Why again did you want the braids so loose?"

Beryl asked as she looked over my braid, making sure it wouldn't come loose by placing a small pin she'd gotten from Sophia when she came to check on us. 

"Well... it's embarrassing honestly."

I avoided Beryl's question until I felt a tug at one of the strands in the braid.

"Is that so?"

Beryl asked, beginning to pull at the strand.

"Ah, wait! Okay-okay! I'll tell you!"

I shot my hands up, holding the braid close to my head in an attempt to save my hard work. Beryl released the strand of hair, smiling as she sat back on her coils, her chin in her palms as she posted up and awaited my reasoning.

She's trying to help, may as well pay her back by talking with her. 

"So...there's this...girl, from this story I remember reading-"

Great, you're recounting earth media... just fudge it the best you can.

"It was some one-off story I remember, it's a fake version of the actual person. But she was someone that became a saint a long time after her death."

Beryl tilted her head, the tip of her tail swinging to the opposite side as she did so.

"What's a 'Saint'."

I wanted to think Beryl's question was stupid for just a split moment before sighing mentally.

More earth terminology, French and English weren't exactly earth terms, why would 'Saint' be an exception. Good going K-..Aidan.

"A person that did really good or brave things... I guess... usually... I don't remember too well."

I wasn't all too sure from my memory alone, that being said, I also couldn't say it was always given accurately. That was neither here nor there at the time, however.

"She's the only woman you can remember?"

Beryl asked, her head still tilted to one side, her question surprisingly directed.

"Well, no, but she's the only one I would say I could look up to as a little-... as a little girl."

I fudged my words considering my lie, thankfully Beryl continued to listen intently; possibly searching for any other context.

"All the others were adults. Like my-"

I thought for a moment about my step-father from before, yet it felt proper to refer to both him and strangely enough, Kiyomi's father.

"-My Papa was one... I don't remember much about him though. I didn't have many women to look up to, not until I was brought here. I'd say I could look up to Mama... to Auntie Avery, as smothering as she can be... Miss Lorn feels almost unreal."

I looked to the ceiling thinking of the Elf that secluded herself in her office for most hours of the day.

"She's probably the one I've talked to directly the most. Auntie Avery is cool, but she spoils me way too much."

I looked down, feeling ashamed of the rankings I gave each of them. I cared for each of them in a unique way, but I couldn't really attribute life lessons to any of them that would develop my personality as far as I could predict. Personally, I blamed my position as someone intruding on Kiyomi.

I haven't looked up to any of them out of fear... of myself... really?

"What about your Mama?"

Beryl asked shifting around slightly.

"Mama, I love Mama, but I don't know how to ask her about stuff. I can look to her for help, or when I'm afraid... but not when it gets... embarrassing. I clam up if I feel embarrassed."

I instantly recalled my first time using the bathroom, bathing, or when my period came. I dreaded the day I'd need to ask for a bra or new underwear in general, it would be an even more embarrassing version of my first experience getting clothes with Mother and Lorn. 

Ugh, am I that week? Couldn't I just ACTUALLY have amnesia myself? That would make this better.

"So you've had no female role models?"

Beryl's words cut through the air, child-like innocence permeating from them. 

"Excuse me?"

I looked up, I could feel the sway of my own tail begin as Beryl continued.

"Y'know, someone to emulate... to copy... your Mama is one... you should look at how she acts. Or better yet-"

A smile crept across Beryl's face from ear-to-ear just as Nugget jumped up to settle into the coils that Beryl leaned into.

"-I could be that figure..."

Beryl smiled held as she left her words hanging in the air, expecting a response. 

What am I getting roped into?

"I guess?"

I replied nervously, causing Beryl to jump and forcing Nugget to fly to some other section of the room randomly. 

"Perfect! The big sister plan is now in effect!"

Beryl yelled out, slumping back onto the bed as she did so. 

Did... did 'operation: cheery snake' just get inverted? Or... it worked? Do these kids really bounce back like that?!

 

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