Goethe Ackermann slowed down to a stop, as his eyes took in the lavish setting before him. Everything was dazzling in hues of red, white and pink. There was a myriad of love shaped balloons: some had been positioned in massive clusters at many points of interest, others had been strewn across the pathways, and still there were many more floating in the gentle breeze. There was a soft song wafting on the wind; something romantic to put couples "in the mood". Goethe's expression had been blank, but now, a suspicious frown was slowly creasing his eyebrows.
"This isn't a pilgrimage site, Arnie. Start explaining."
The tawny owl on his shoulder looked forward without uttering a sound, but Goethe could clearly hear the goddess' voice in his thoughts, as if she was speaking out loud. Of course, only he could hear her.
"Of course this is an important site. Do you think that sentient beings are not a part of nature, simply because they are not driven solely by instinct?"
Goethe sighed. "I expected something more... 'foresty'."
"Life is life, Goethe, and all of it is sacred. This gathering of so many people is sure to leave a psychic impression on this area. That is enough to make it a sacred site, even if it's temporary."
"Like we couldn't pick a market... like the one in Hargeon. Or Motor City." His eyes twinkled at the thought of the technological town.
The owl made a rumbling sound of sorts; Goethe knew it was a sign of exasperation. "Walk around and enjoy yourself for goodness' sake, young man!"
"As her worship commands," Goethe said with a roll of his eyes, and proceeded into the cheerfully beautified city. Hands in the pockets of his hooded jacket, the young man walked leisurely, taking in the sights and sounds. Most people here were in pairs, though there were small groups of people also chattering away merrily or engaging in some of the activities. He had to admit, whichever company was responsible for hosting this event had really outdone themselves. He was impressed, but of course, his face refused to betray his emotions.
"Such a large gathering of people, with their mates, too."
"Good for them, I suppose."
"Don't you feel like walking hand in hand with a pretty girl, whispering sweet things to each other? This place seems to encourage that. Besides, I think it will be good for you."
Goethe scoffed. "As if!"
"Well, let's make it happen!"
The realization hit Goethe a second too late, and as he opened his mouth in protest, the owl spread her wings and regally took flight. Goethe's outfit changed in a series of twinkling flashes into something more formal: he found himself in a blazer jacket, buttoned long-sleeved shirt, pants and dress shoes. And all, save the shirt, which was white, were of a rich burgundy color. Oh, he also was in a tie.
"Come back here this instant, Arnie!" Of course, she could hear his thoughts too, if he let her, but even if she heard, she did not return. The owl instead perched herself in the branches of a large tree laden with pink flowers, and watched him. Goethe growled. He would have liked to shake his fist at the bird, but he couldn't risk people thinking he had gone nutty. So, he turned sharply, intending to walk straight through the Rose Garden and be on his not-so-merry way, and reached to yank the tie off his neck. At least, that would be his act of vengeance against Arnoba for setting him up like this.
And he walked straight into someone with enough force to knock himself, if not the other person, down.
Oh yes, Goethe Ackermann's woes were just beginning.