Rarely, Seika considered going back to the Pergrande Kingdom. Just for a visit. It would be... a blast to the past, a chance to see things that she missed dearly. She didn't often think about it, because usually, the mage just did whatever she wanted to do, whatever popped into her head at the moment. Things like this which she didn't go and try to attempt to do after her mind managed to come up with them were more rare and in between. However, lately she had been thinking about it more and more. Eventually, it had culminated into... actually making the decision to return. Hopefully briefly. The worst case scenario, she supposed, would probably include getting stuck there and being unable to come back. Aphelia seemed to agree with her, judging by the uneasy lashing of the cat's tail as she was carried securely in Seika's arms. For this particular mission- er, journey, the feline had chosen her most favorite shape, that of an ordinary black house cat. She would have to hold the same form the entire time they were within the Pergrande Kingdom, except perhaps if they were truly alone. There was no good way to tell if any magical surveillance was around, though, what with the Pergrande Kingdom's paranoia towards magic. Even though they didn't usually have sensors detecting magical signatures that were stagnant, active usage of magic could often trigger alarms more easily. The two of them had to be as careful as possible. It was also for this reason that Seika had chosen to teleport into Bellum and from there, head into the Pergrande Kingdom over the border in an official manner. She had a passport from Fiore, but it showed her as a guild mage from the Rune Knights. While it wouldn't be particularly helpful with securing her passage into the Pergrande Kingdom, since the nation was extremely unwelcome to all mages, she would be permitted through Bellum's lines at the border, at least. After getting through their security, she could glamour the passport in order to disguise her status as a mage.
All of these plans went out the window, though, when the night before the two of them had planned to teleport into Bellum's largest major city near the border, Seika woke up in the Pergrande Kingdom alone, without Aphelia. As soon as she was roused from her sleep (by bright light shining into her eyes through the window) she immediately heard screaming through the bond. Aphelia's voice blasted into her ears. WHERE ARE YOU? SEIKA? IDIOT! GET BACK HERE THIS INSTANT! Said mage winced at the noise, trying to breathe through the pounding of her heart in her head, blood rushing through her ears. How... she somehow knew- she could feel- that she was in the Kingdom again. There was something about the air that still hadn't changed. Maybe it was the lack of magic, but she understood that even though her environment was unfamiliar, the country was undoubtedly the same. Ignoring Aphelia, who was still screeching into her head, Seika momentarily closed off the bond link, wincing when she felt the pain and betrayal briefly arc through when Aphelia realized her decision (interpreting the thoughts from her mind even as she was making the movement to shut it off). Now in the blessed peace and quiet, Seika sank back onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling.
She was back in the Pergrande Kingdom. It seemed like a dream, but she knew something had to have gone terribly wrong with her magic. Or perhaps "wrong" wasn't the right word- but she knew something had happened that wasn't what the two had predicted. Occasionally, her core did this. Tiny fluctuating burps of magic that ended up having small mistakes of effects, such as teleporting the two of them into a cliff side. That had been one time, though. And it was because she had really wanted to pick a flower that she had seen on the top of the cliff, but her power had given out before they made the entire journey, courtesy of the anti magic shields that were wrapped around the cliff. Actually, now that she thought about it, that was a similar situation to what had happened now. It was completely possible that Seika had been filled with enough longing and determination last night to physically propel her to the Pergrande Kingdom. With magic, of course. But it wouldn't have been the first time. And after all, this was the most motivated Seika had become to visit in... well, forever. She had never been so concrete about her plans to come, ever since leaving at least that was. But before she had left she was still here, so that didn't really count, did it? Now getting confused, Seika shook her head, clearing it of all of the messy thoughts. The only thing that mattered was that she was here. The first thing to do was obviously to disguise herself. While it was dangerous, the girl could only think of using magic. Other things might still allow her to be recognized. In a split second, therefore, the girl manipulated the area around her body with heat and light to essentially create a mirage to block anyone from seeing the light as it reflected off of her true body.
Now appearing to be a young woman of around the same height, but a different appearance, Seika opened the door of the room with hesitation. There was no real way of telling where she had ended up, but since she wasn't disturbed at any time during the night, apparently (though she didn't know when she had teleported during her sleep, so it was completely possible the moment had only been when a few hours before Aphelia had discovered and woken her up with her loudness). Still musing over all of these thoughts in her mind, Seika trudged out the door and down the first flight of stairs she saw. Though she was still half asleep, she did remember to completely throw on a glamour to make her invisible. Even though the disguise would be important later when she was trying to walk around the Pergrande Kingdom freely, for now it wouldn't do to be seen by any residents of the house. She successfully made it out of the house and then dipped behind the corner so that she was in the alley between two buildings. Slumping next to a dumpster, Seika allowed all the glamours to fall. For several minutes, she just stood there, trying to steady her breath and understand what had happened. It was magic, so... anything was possible, but she hadn't ever predicted something like this could occur. They had been planning to come, but still, it felt like... too soon. Too sudden.
Just then, a voice came from the alleyway nearby her. "Akies? Is... that you?" Seika glanced up only to see... Ayane? It couldn't be. The mage shook her head, unable to say a word. There was no chance- she had teleported to the town where Ayane lived? But she hadn't even known where the girl was, or- or anything. It was impossible. Without even realizing it, Seika rose to her feat unsteadily and backed away, sprinting in the opposite direction. The other girl's bag clattered against the ground, jars of jam rolling out as Ayane gave chase. "Hey! Akies! Wait up!" She called out, huffing before finally jumping and tackling Seika to the cobblestones. She shrieked but the breath was knocked out of her as they collided with the ground. "G-Get off of me!" Seika shoved Ayane away, too panicked to do anything else. Without saying anything more, she turned and tried to run away, but then a voice stopped her. It was Ayane again. But in a cold tone- it was suddenly the opposite of what it had been moments ago, all the warmth sucked out.
"You know, they told me it would be like this. They said I shouldn't worry about you or think about where you went. I said how could I do that? But I should have listened to them. You were never worth my time. I- cried over you, Akies! I wondered where you went. When you disappeared- I thought you would come back, say something to me, send a letter, a message, anything. Then I thought maybe you forgot- but I knew you would come back, someday. I thought you cared about me. I thought you missed me too." Seika had gone very, very still. She wanted to turn around desperately, recollect Ayane into her arms, and give her a hug, but it was too dangerous. She was a mage. There was no telling what could happen if she was discovered with Ayane. Things were better this way. "I bet I know what's going on in your head now. You're thinking, she's caught me. How long were you here? Right next door to me all this while, and I could never find you? Did you see me? See how I cried over you after you disappeared? Do you know how your disappearance affected your parents? Huh?" Ayane's voice got louder, and louder, until it was all Seika could hear, drowning out her own thoughts with the words echoing over and over in her head, accusingly, painfully, tortuously. "I guess you really don't care."
Seika bit her lip, but she still refused to turn around. After a momentary pause, silence fell over the area, and the mage heard a shaky breath from behind her. Then without another word, the sound of footsteps hitting the cobblestones reached her ears, slowly becoming fainter and fainter. After a few more minutes of not moving, Seika let out the breath that she hadn't realized she was holding, and with it, came a barrage of tears. She was bawling in the street without even realizing it. Slumping down onto the curb, Seika lay there, feeling the worst that she had been in a long while. Why hadn't she said anything to Ayane? When confronted with all of her friend's questions... it had been like there was no explanation. If she had told Ayane she was a mage, nothing good would have come out of it, Seika felt sure of that, but... at the same time, she wished she could turn back time and tell her anyway. Biting her lip uncertainly, Seika finally rose to her feet and was about to head down the street when another voice stopped her. "Hey! You!" Freezing in her tracks, Seika slowly turned in the direction of the speaker. It looked like an elderly man. "Excuse me, miss, but if I could bother you for a moment?" Relieved that he didn't seem to be suspicious and eager to help someone after that fiasco with Ayane, Seika hurried over. When she stepped too close, he moved away a little bit- noticing that, she stopped a few meters away. "Yes! Um, what's wrong? How can I help?" She asked, her voice still a little bit unsteady. Luckily, he didn't point it out- or perhaps he was being polite. "I need your help. If you don't mind, that is. You see, I have the flu, but I still need to ensure all of my plushies are properly suitable for customers. If you would come inside and squish each one of them to test the softness, I would be very thankful and willing to pay you for your time."
Seika had no reason to say no, so she stepped inside of the store, eyeing the shelves tentatively. When he led her back to a room filled with new plushies to be squished and then packed into boxes, she nearly cried for joy. The girl wondered if he had purposefully done this, seeing her crying on the street. Well, it wouldn't do to get snot on any of the toys, at any rate. Keeping that in mind, Seika steeled herself inwardly and then cleared her capillaries and all of the inflammation of her body away with a flush of magic. Now no longer rosy faced and with her nostrils threatening to drip snot, Seika proceeded to press the first stuffed animal across her cheek. It was... perfectly fluffy. The rest were none to difficult to do; the only problem she had was momentarily with figuring out a way to keep track, but she ended up making a new pile of successfully tested plushies. It worked out beautifully, and after all the work was done, the man ushered Seika outside after pressing a few folded jewels into her hand. Dazed and feeling... not much, she stood on the street, watching the lamps brighten as the sun went down.
2123 Words, -1000 for Greetings from the Past and -1000 for Floofy Plushie Tester