"Not that it makes a difference! We're stuck here!" He replied to Samira's question concerning whether everyone in the group had come through The Recheeserator to get here. Seconds later he made another angry remark.
"All thanks to her! I knew I should have stayed home instead of going to some stupid festival. Now I'm going to die here. HERE!" The same man fumed, pointing his finger directly at Leona. There was no mistaking that he laid the blame for what had happened to him squarely on her. The Wizard Saint of Courage initially bristled at the accusation, but then she thought about it a little and realized that he had a small point.
It was true that Leona had created the grilled cheese sandwich that had formed the nucleus of The Recheeserator. She also could not deny by that by making the grilled cheese sandwich she had a part in the weird chain of events that had led up to this point. That much was true. However, the fact that it had come to life, formed The Recheeserator, and had went on to run around and capture people with a cheese lasso was NOT something Leona had anticipated happening nor had wanted to happen. The way the man talked he made it sound like Leona had created the beast and set it loose on the spectators for fun.
Leona was deeply insulted by the accusation that she was to blame for the man's troubles, but by sheer force of will she kept her mouth shut. Samira was starting to get the people to listen to her and Leona did not want to jeopardize that now that the hostile mood was starting to simmer down. However, there was always that one person in every group who had to throw gasoline on the fire and that one person in this group was none other than Chef Ramsey.
Chef Ramsey tore into Leona with all kinds of insults that pushed all the wrong buttons. He insulted her upbringing by calling her a desert bumpkin. He insulted her intelligence by stating that potted plants were smarter than her. He insulted her cooking skills by stating that she was so outclassed by him that she needed to resort to magic trickery to try and win the contest. Then he added another string of insults about her poor fashion sense and how her outfit was sorely outdated, but she tuned those out without really trying.
Leona bristled at the insults before realizing that the chef had a couple of small points buried beneath the numerous cheap shots. He was right about her being a "desert bumpkin" and he was right about her having very poor cooking skills. However, he was wrong about her intelligence and wrong about the accusation that she would resort to magic to try and win a cooking contest she had no stake in. She had tried multiple times to avoid participating and had even publicly claimed that she had no cooking skills to try and get out of participating in the contest, but he was being willfully ignorant of that fact.
Leona looked at Chef Ramsey for a moment. She was really getting tired of his nonsense and really wanted to shut him up with a Mach Straight to the mouth, but that would be exactly what he wanted. He wanted her to hit him so that he could play the victim and turn people against the Wizard Saint by painting her as an emotionally unstable person who solved any and all problems with violence. Leona was not going to play his game. As tempting as it was to punch him in that smug face of his, she would refrain from doing so.
Leona turned away from the chef and listened to Samira speak indirectly on her behalf to Chef Ramsey. Samira gave the chef an ultimatum of sorts... set aside his grudge and act like a decent human being or feel free to remain here in the crazy food city and the crazy cheese dimension. Leona could care less if the chef stayed here or went with them, but if he went with them she expected him to behave like a decent human being. A few moments later Leona heard Samira speak again, this time to the group as a whole.
Even thought Samira was not outright ordering the group to stop insulting Leona, the point was being made that no further insults and aggression would be tolerated. Leona was surprised that Samira would put her own reputation on the line to help a "desert bumpkin" like her. The Goddess of Humility was taking a big risk by doing that... if she insisted on defending the blonde she could get blame for this situation unfairly heaped on her like Leona had.
For some reason the group had already decided Leona was their scapegoat and she was going to get the blame for this mess whether it really was her fault or not. The extent of the blame Leona deserved was making the grilled cheese sandwich that had formed The Recheeserator and even that was arguable, but the angry people acted like Leona had personally captured each and every one of them and then hurled them into the jaws of The Recheeserator for the fun of it. She figured that the group wanted an easy punching bag to vent their frustration on and that she made the perfect target since Wizard Saints were supposed to put up with adversity without complaining about it. Leona would bear the group's animosity if it meant getting everyone to follow Samira to safety, but she was not happy about it.
Leona kept her mouth shut and followed the group while Samira led them towards the way out. The blonde was feeling slightly better now that they were actually moving towards getting out of here, but she was still miffed about being a scapegoat for the Recheeserator's victims. Moments later she had bigger concerns when she spotted Ida and the other costume-wearing people run towards them as fast as they could possibly go. Her good mood instantly evaporated and was replaced with concern.
What was going on that had made them run to the Wizard Saints?
Was it a cheese monster that had stomped out of the cheese lake to terrorize the town?
Or was it something far worse than yet another cheese monster?
[Post Word Count: 1,140]
[Leona's Word Count: 9,690]