The cards are set, the armies in motion… we’ll see what happens when reality strikes! This is part 3 of Aely’s “transformation” story – you can see part 1 and part 2 at these links. As with the previous parts, this is written with Yva from WTT:RP. We’ll be back to the usually-less-frivolous Anna posts for the rest of the week!
Aely lay back, each hand in a little bowl of steaming, fragrant water, her feet soaking nearly to the knees in a basin of the same. Emma smiled down at her, and she attempted a nervous smile back.
“Right, so Rain said to leave your hair loose, mmm… yes. I can see that – we just need a little something to bring up the curl, mmm. And tone down the frizzies a little. This won’t take but a few moments.”
She reached into the cabinet for a little tub of something, opened it, took some out with her fingers, and rubbed it between her hands. It smelled lovely, of coconuts and some kind of warm, earthy herb. Emma leaned down, noticing the tension in her shoulders.
“Relax, missy, this isn’t going to hurt!”
And slowly she began working the balm into Aely’s hair, forming the haphazard waves into spirals and massaging it into her scalp.
If it was possible to melt, Aely would, most definitely, have melted.
Fifteen minutes or so later, her hair fell in shiny, slightly sticky ringlets, and all the stress had left her face. She was very nearly asleep when Emma washed her hands in a nearby sink, looked over to her, and said “Alright, now let’s see about those feet, mmm?”
The next hour or so was less relaxing. Emma and her assistant trimmed and filed her toenails, and then, in an act totally out of proportion to the profession of the woman being “pampered,” proceeded to “soften up her feet”. Callouses from years of heavy boots and hard work, rasped away with a heavy file under the cheerful chatter of two women used to being ignored by their clients.
Aely would later liken the experience to what wood must feel like when a master carpenter decides to change it from a sturdy plank into a delicately carved filgree.
Rain poked her head into the room and made a shrill “Squee”.
“Look! You don’t have nubs anymore. I TOLD you Emma was good.”
“She’s so flattering,” Emma murmured, patting Aely’s toes with a towel. “Such a sweet girl you are, Rain.”
Rain flounced in, her hair clipped on top of her head, body wrapped in a big plushy bathrobe. She had one in hand for Aely as well, but as the paladin tried to stand up, there was a collective shriek of angry salon workers.
“Wha’s wrong?” Aely’s hands went instinctively for her waist, for a weapon she didn’t have on her. They’d robbed her of her gear the moment she’d stepped inside, tucking everything into a pink and purple coat room.
“You can’t WALK on them now. Slippers!”
” . . . oi. Right.” Her posture relaxed as they slid silk and leather sandals onto her feet. They had little segments of string between the toes to keep them separated so the lacquer could dry. She waggled her toes, marveling at the lack of cracks, callouses, and or anything else ungainly.
“So it’s time for your facial. Umm, don’t mind the mud.”
“Yeah, it makes your skin soft, but it smells a little weird. It’s Un’goro, so there’s this ash thing to it. The cucumbers help, though.”
“Cucumbers f’r salad?”
“Oh, no, you put them on your eyes.”
Rain held the robe up and helped Aely shoulder into it, giggling a little as she peered at the long expanse of legs revealed below. “I owt nae ask anymore, ayeh?”
And she didn’t, and found out that was the smart thing to do, because within the hour, she was smeared in mud and had fruits and vegetables all over her face. Rain’d been right about the smell – it was odd, charry and fresh at the same time – and she had no idea what the horrible concoction was doing, but sooner rather than later they were scrubbing her clean and . . . soaking her in milk.
She was long past the point of asking questions, just going through with this alien regime and biting her sardonic wit back. Rain blabbed about tea and society balls and the difficulty of maintaining her duties along with a socialite’s burden. Aely tried to answer, but every time she started to talk, they were putting some strange paste near her mouth that threatened to seep inside. After a while, she just kept her lips pursed together to avoid swallowing salon gunk.
It took another hour for them to announce that she was “done”. If she’d had to explain the process to someone, if she had to even tell them why she’d sat there while they’d smeared her with strange textured goop, she couldn’t say, but when it came time to touching her skin, to looking at it in the mirror, whatever they’d done made her glow. She shined like a polished pearl, and everything was so soft to the touch, she just kept gliding her fingertip down her cheek.
“Isn’t it though? You look good. The redness will go down. Around your nose I mean.”
She hadn’t noticed it at first, but Rain was right – the skin around her nose was a little too pink, like they may have scrubbed a layer or three of skin off.
Strangely, that didn’t seem to bother her at the moment.
Aely rubbed her hands together, noticing that they too were free from callouses. Which, if she’d thought about it, probably meant handfuls of blisters, like a new recruit, the next time she was on the field… but for now the novelty of it was enough.
Emma tapped her on the shoulder, breaking her out of small wonderment.
“Miss? If you could sit for a moment, we’ll do your eyebrows and get your face finished.”
“… I thowt ye said I wis done? Ayeh?”
“Well, with the mud and things, yes, but we’ve still to get you properly made up!” Emma looked as though her patience was slightly fraying on the corners. Still, she made a good sport of it, and Aely dutifully sat back down and tried not to make unsightly noises as the woman carefully “slimmed out” her eyebrows.
When she reached for a pot of colored powder, however, Aely finally did object. “Emma… I ken tha’ folks usually go f’r this kin’ ay business? Jus… dinna make me look owt… unnatural?”
“Oh sure! We’ll do something really light, don’t you worry. It’ll be fine”
Emma’s assistant was currently dusting Rain’s face with some kind of light copper colored dust to “bring out the color in her cheeks.” Aely was quite sure she’d never heard so much fluff about appearances all in one setting in her life. In fact, in one day, she’d probably outdone everything she’d ever heard in the past.
“Alright now, I need you to look up at the ceiling, and try not to blink.” Emma had a menacing looking fuzzy blackish brush about the size of a pencil in her hand.
“…oi. wha’s ‘at?”
“Mascara! It’s for your eyelashes. You have gorgeous ones, you know – but they’re so light! This will make them stand out.” Aely squirmed. “Be still, Miss, or you’ll have this all over your eyelids.” Thirty agonizing, will-power-stilled seconds later, Aely blinked into the mirror. By some trick of magic or sleight of hand, her eyes sparkled back, their usual hazel flecked with an unusually bright green. Her skin was luminous, the usual pale cream given a shimmer she was completely unprepared for.
“…Ligh’… ‘f I w’s nae sure tha’ my own hands w’re there in ‘at mirror, I’d nae b’lieve tha’s e’en me. Dinna recognize myself.”
Emma smiled, her professional demeanor just about covering up the smug “I told you so” in her eyes.
Rain squealed when she saw Aely. “See! See I told you you’d look good! Your eyes! And you have such beautiful skin! Wait until we get you all dressed!”
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- XX and XY in RP (47)
- Population Disparity (34)
- Tanking Perceptions (33)