Astaria took Alison and I down the torch-lit hallway to an ornate door that glittered with gemstones and was trimmed in gold, “Here we are, your Majesties, The Atlantean Outfitter.”
They opened the heavy doors to a vast and luxurious room featuring bolts of fine fabrics and clothes of elegant nature. The clothes all seemed to be worn by some sort of invisible mannequins.
So the ghost models are terrifying, Alison thought to me.
Models? I thought they were-
but before I could finish my thought, I saw one move. The lump in my throat grew and I tried to swallow to scrub it. It didn’t budge, I doubt it’s a real person. It’s probably some animatronic something or other.
Just as I thought this, a tall (what I can only describe as a humanoid bird-like person with a sharp beak and large talons) approached us, speaking in a song-song kind of voice, “Good to have you, your majesties. Atlantis welcomes you. I am Pheona. Feel free to browse our traditional pieces or we can create something entirely new for you.”
“You’ll make whatever we want?” I inquired.
“Yes, your highness, whatever your heart desires,” she answered softly. Her feathers were vibrant and held a gradient from her beak to her crown of a bright, sunshine yellow to a bloody crimson.
I turned to Alison who appeared to be frozen in place and thought, It’s rude to stare, Alison.
She broke from her shock and uttered, “I, uh, like that a lot.” She pointed to a dress of what seemed to be a very fine silk. Its flowing, floorlength hem was complimented with what appeared to be wings of lace that draped openly from shoulder to wrist. The pale, blue fabrics seemed to glitter as the invisible model changed poses once more.
“A fine choice, your Majesty. My assistant, Pheobe, will attend you for tailoring,” Pheona’s voice sang, “And you, your majesty?”
“Oh, uh,” I stammered a bit, overwhelmed at the grandiosity of everything, “Maybe I could look around a bit? I’m not really sure yet.” “Take all the time you need, your highness,” Pheona chirped as what appeared to be fire glowed in her irises.
“Thanks, Pheona,” I glanced around the room of exquisite robes and I saw it. The coolest coat I’d ever laid eyes on. I rushed over to the model, “Hey, uh, do you mind if I touch the fabric?” The model said naught a word but simply stretched out its arm.
I touched the sleeve and the velvety fabric felt more supple than anything I’d felt before. It was a deep purple with a silvery trim and the hem went just above the knee. It was decorated with glittering Crystal buttons down the breast and silver threads embroidered the constellation of Orion on the back. It reminded me heavily of the coat of a fashionable, pirate captain.
“I like this a lot,” I announced. Pheona appeared as if from nowhere, “Splendid your highness, we’ll get it fitted for you right after your sister. In the meantime, perhaps a look at our indoor wear?”
Astaria walked over from the doorway and commented on the coat, “This fits your personality well.” I chuckled and thanked them. As I looked at their face I noticed their eyes were no longer grey, but a deep amber color, “Hey, I thought you had grey eyes?” I inquired. Astaria’s face fell in what appeared to be panic.
Pheona called from across the room, “All glamour spells are removed after passing through the door.” I stared at Astaria confused, “So your eyes weren’t really grey. It was a spell?”
Astaria swallowed hard and managed to choke out, “Yes.”
“Why? Why would you do that?”
“I… well, Earth humans tend to be more inclined to be attracted to, and trust people with blue and grey eyes.” “So you were trying to manipulate me into trusting you and sleeping with you?” I asked a bit louder than I’d intended. Pheona could be seen tilting her head from across the room, listening intently.
Astaria blushed, “Actually, it’s a common practice on Earth.”
“Lying to people? Yeah I’m familiar,” I stepped away to look at an interesting pair of pants.
“Actually, a lot of Earth humans do it because people with brown eyes are often looked over or pushed out regardless of their qualifications or character,” Astaria pointed out.
“I see. The remnants of a cruel past seems to linger everywhere on this planet,” I mentioned. “I didn’t do it to lie to you,” explained, “Then why didn’t you say something when I mentioned them? Why did you lean further into the lie?”
“I was scared. I didn’t want you to disregard me. I really do like you a lot.”
“Well, I appreciate your honesty, though I am disappointed it took until you were forcibly revealed to get it from you,” I remarked as their gaze fell to the floor, “If you promise never to hide anything from me again, I may be willing to overlook it. Just this once. If we’re to be partners, I have to be able to trust you completely.”
“Fair enough,” Astaria smiled at me.
I smiled back, “Besides, I like your real eyes better anyway.”
Astaria was surprised, “Really?”
“Sure, they’re like deep amber crystals casting shadows in the firelight. It’s quite beautiful,” I remarked.
Astaria’s ears turned red as they tried to hide a smirk. I could feel they had never heard anyone say that before which surprised me, but at the same time it didn’t. I knew all too well Earth’s toxic, “beauty” culture.
“I think I need to find something to cover the rest of me,” I joked.
Pheona glided over with a pair of black pants that flared at the shin. They seemed to be made of the same velvety material as my coat, “Perhaps your highness would like this?”
“Oh, those are really dope, actually,” I murmured as a admired the embossed design on the pants.
“We’ll add it to the wardrobe immediately,” Pheona stated, and handed the pants to who I could only assume was Pheobe, a bird-like humanoid with beautifully smooth feathers of gold and Crimson, who then chirped and then retreated.
“How about shirts? Unless there are no rules against me not having one,” I chuckled.
No one laughed.
“Geez, tough crowd,” I muttered. I looked up and saw a cropped, black lace top with a steel boned waste. Its heart shaped neckline and open shoulders appealed to me, “That looks cute.”
“Wonderful! We’ll get everything fitted for you now!” Pheona twittered.
Astaria smiled, “Their majesty doesn’t have any shoes yet.”
Pheona sang, “I know just what their majesty needs!” and she fluttered away. When she returned, she had a pair of supple, black leather boots with glittering silver buckles that went up to the knee.
“Oh, these are dope as a motherf-“
Astaria interrupted my verbal admiration to insist on getting fitted properly.
“Alright, MOM. Keep your pants on,” I joked again.
Astaria chuckled this time.
“Right this way, your majesty,” Phoebe chirped, his voice a bit deeper than Pheona but just as beautiful. I followed him behind a heavy satin curtain to be fitted.