Shimmering Mage: Part 81 Ann’s got a Tail by RedPhantom ()
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“Ann’s got a tail,” Kav announced. “She’s turning into a dragon.”
Ann rolled her eyes.
“She’s the palest dragon I’ve ever seen.” Ru laughed. “And she has no scales.” He lifted her ponytail and let it fall.
“Guys, be nice.” Fom admonished.
“She looks good that way,” Kav said. He turned to Ann. “Your hair does look good like that.”
“Thanks.” Ann smiled.
“She still has a chosen,” Ru said.
“I know. Shut up already.”
“If you and Kith ever decide it’s not working, Kav’s available,” Ru told her.
“What?” Kav growled.
“You said you thought she was pretty.”
“For a human, she is. I also said she and Kith make a good couple.”
“What do you mean for a human?” Ann frowned.
“No offense. I prefer scales and wings. But you are one of the prettier humans I’ve seen.”
“Thanks, I think.” Ann smiled. “Besides, Ru, Kav’s got his eye on that orange in the younger class. Didn’t he tell you?”
“He what?” Ru turned to Kav.
“How did you know?” Kav demanded.
Ann laughed. “I live with Mirimar, remember?”
“But I only told Sai my feelings last week. You’ve been gone.”
“I got back last night. She’d been alone for a week.”
“Ann! I love your hair.” Bria told her as she Ghin entered, followed by Dae and Ti.
“Thanks.” Had Ann realized they would make such a big deal, she might’ve left it down. It was getting longer, and she was finally able to pull it back into a simple ponytail to keep it out of her face.
“It look good.” Ghin agreed.
“So, who wears their hair longer, men or women?” Ti asked. “Pt’this has quite long hair and Kith’s used to be, but most of the human men we see have it shorter.”
“Women usually wear their hair longer. Most nonhuman men I know have it long. Elves always wear their hair long. But the humans mostly wear it shorter. Bacna wears his a little longer, about like mine. And my cousin Chittoy wears it about like Kav’s. I have a friend in Thager who wears it as long as Kith and his best friend keeps his hair almost shaved.”
“So why was your hair so short?” Fom asked.
Ann hesitated, and Dae came to her rescue. “She was a runaway. She was in disguise.”
“Ann, what did you do while you were home?” Bria asked.
“Not much. I acted as an aid for my dad mostly. I took my brother and his pledged up to see his grandparents in Paosij.”
“If they’re your brother’s grandparents, wouldn’t they be your grandparents too?” Fom asked.
Ann shook her head. “They’re Nadal’s parents.”
“So? He’s your brother. His family is your family.” Fom insisted.
“It doesn’t work that way for humans. They only see Janta and Piena as family. They don’t even think I should have been adopted and Nadal never adopted me anyhow.”
“Humans can be pretty uncaring.” Dae frowned.
“Trilla’s mom is pretty nice. She treats us all like her grandkids. I guess she didn’t used to. But then she saw my birth mom’s mother with me and felt sorry for me.”
“Why?” Kav asked.
“Because my own grandma didn’t know me. She didn’t understand we were family.”
“Was she a simpleton?” Ru asked.
“She had Nielboh. She didn’t know anyone by then.”
Bria suddenly walked out, and Ghin followed.
“Her dad died a few years ago from that,” Dae explained. “It was real hard on the whole family. Sri shut down for a while. Bria bounced back and forth between Bob and Ghin’s family. She’s only been home three years.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know. Should I apologize?”
Ti shook his head. “She knows other people get it. Ghin will take care of her. He’s good with her.”
“And she is with him. Someday they’ll realize there more than just friends.” Dae added.
“You see couples in everybody, you shapto.” Ru laughed.
Ti growled. “Watch what you say about my chosen.”
“Sorry.” Ru looked stunned.
Ann drew in magic to cast the fire shield in case it was needed.
“If I ever hear you talk like that about her again, I’ll rip your teeth out through your tail.” Ti threatened.
“Ti, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. Dae, I’m sorry. You’re not a shapto.”
“Ti, it’s okay.” Dae put a hand on his arm.
“Ti! Stop. You’re scaring Ann. Look,” Fom said.
Ti blinked and stopped growling. “Shades, Ann, it’s okay. Relax. I’m not going to hurt him, now.”
“I think she thought he’d go mad-dragon,” Dae said.
“I wouldn’t do that. I might if he hurt her, but not for just a name. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“It’s okay,” Ann said. “It was just a misunderstanding.”
To Dae though, she still looked scared.
‘Kith, is Ann okay?’
‘She’s starting to calm down. What happened? She’s not elaborating.’
‘Ti got mad at Ru and Ann thought he’d go mad-dragon.’
‘Do I need to come?’
‘I don’t know. Maybe.’
‘If she doesn’t calm down soon, I’ll come.’
“Ann, release your magic,” Kav said. “You’re too bright.”
“Sorry.” Slowly, carefully, she released it, managing to avoid backlash.
“I’m sorry,” she said again. “I overreacted. I think I need to go for a walk.”
“Do you want me to contact Kith for you?” Dae offered.
“No. He needs to work. Thanks anyhow.” On her way out, she passed Bria and Ghin returning.
“Sorry for upsetting you.” She told Bria.
Bria watched her go. “Is she okay?”
“Ti got mad at Ru, and it scared her,” Dae explained. “She thought he’d go mad-dragon.”
“She was with Kith when he went mad. Is it any wonder?”
“That was months ago.” Fom protested.
“It takes time. Ann’s been through a lot. The more time I spend with Mirimar, the more I learn about how hard it’s been for her. Mirimar won’t confirm anything really, but she hints at so much.” Ti explained. “Kith was worried about her reaction both when she went into a trance and when he went mad-dragon and attacked her. She doesn’t recover from the stuff well.”
“Chances are it’s too much for her. She can’t get over things well. Each thing reminds her of others.” Dae figured.
“You said she was a runaway. What’s that?” Kav asked.
“Human kids live with their parents until they’re of age. But sometimes something happens that makes them leave and try to live on their own.” Bria explained. “Humans aren’t like dragons who’ll help a kid on their own. They have to find their own food and clothing and a place to stay, and if they get caught, they get sent home.”
“That’s awful.” Dae frowned. “Why would they even leave if it’s so bad?”
Bria shrugged. “My mom said sometimes it’s worse at home.”
“Worse than being away from family?” Dae couldn’t understand that.
“I’ll bet being on her own was harder for Ann,” Ti said. “She’s a princess so a lot of people would know her. And how many others have we seen as light-skinned as she is? It was probably hard for her to not be recognized.”
“A lot of us have had problems or still do,” Ru said. “We just need to help her out and maybe contact Kith if there’s an issue.”
“I did that today,” Dae told them.
“I think I understand more of why she’s here,” Kav said. “She’s an Augmenter.”
“She is?” Dae look surprised.
“Did you see how bright she got? I had to switch to normal sight.”
Ti shook his head. “No. Her magic wasn’t augmented. It was just normal.”
“The same as any other humans. It just shimmered a little.”
“Maybe that shimmer is her augmenting it.” Ru guessed.
“No. Augmenting looks like waves.”
“How do you know?” Ru challenged. “Have you ever seen an Augmenter?”
“Kith told me.”
“When did he see one?”
“I don’t know, maybe when he lived with his parents.”
“He says he doesn’t remember that time,” Kav said.
“Then maybe he’s seen one here. It’s not like they’re going to announce it.” Ti rolled his eyes.
“Maybe she’s an immortal,” Fom suggested.
Bria shook her head. “Kith wouldn’t be involved with an immortal.”
“If he knew.”
“He can see that too. He knows an immortal and has seen him cast.” Ti told them.
“She’s too strong to be a human,” Kav argued.
“Uncle Bob says she is. We’re all different. How can Ti see things we don’t? How can Lar cast like he does? The teacher was right. He’s too slow to cast like that. But he does. How many alternate forms is Kav up to?” Bria asked.
Kav looked surprised. He hadn’t told them he was trying to take other forms and had been successful at most of them.
“I talk to Mirimar too.” She grinned.
“Speaking of Lar, he and Pim have been without a chaperone long enough,” Fom said getting up.
“Are they a couple now?” Dae asked.
“Not yet. I’m pretty sure Pim wants them to be. She’s just not sure if he does or if he even would be interested in that.”
“He’s not that slow, is he?” Ti asked.
“I don’t know. It’s one thing he gets confused on. I just figured I’d give them some time alone.”
“They make a good couple. She’s patient with him, and he tempers her.” Dae agreed.
“You think everyone makes a good couple.” Ru laughed. “I’m not being mean, she does.” He added quickly, looking at Ti.
Fom shook his head. “I got a go. I’ll see you in class.” He left.
“She’s usually right.” Ti pointed out.
“Does she know about Kav and Sai?” Ru asked.
“Really?” Dae smiled.
“Sai? She’s what, fifty?” Ti frowned.
“She’s a hundred and ten. She barely missed our class, and all I said was I was hoping someday maybe we could be more than friends.”
“And what did she say?” Ti pressed.
“She said she’d like that.”
“Just be careful and don’t let her get addicted to sex,” Ti warned. “It’s not easy.”
“I’m not even going to pursue her for a few decades. Besides, she’s already come into her magic.”
Slowly they drifted off, leaving Dae and Ti alone.
“I’m sorry about that.” Ti nuzzled Dae.
“That Ann isn’t an Augmenter. I know you’re hoping to find another.”
“It’s okay. I really just want to stop burning you.”
“You’ll get the hang of it.” He assured her.
“You didn’t scare her on purpose, did you?”
“No.” Ti frowned. “Ru needs to show you some respect. Let me walk you home before we get in trouble for not having a chaperone.”