Thanks to Triggerpigking for the amazing drawing!
Mélodie must have fallen asleep. That had to be it. There was no other possible explanation for the chaotic scene before her. Surrounding her was a mishmash of people from across time and space, chatting the night away like nothing was wrong.
“Did you know that it was I who first warned the King of the incoming plague?” “Really? And what did he say?” “Don’t listen to Albert, he can’t keep his stories straight to save his life!” “Please don’t shout so loudly…” “Aye, I’ll drink to that.”
She recognized some of the figures around the campfire. There was Rose, of course. Her excitable sister, dressed in peculiar clothes of her old design. The quirky sibling almost felt normal here, but that mainly an indictment of the rest of the company.
For starters, what was going on with Charles and Alba? She had met them before. But the people she knew were older, had hardened with time. Alba lost all the self-confidence she had gained over the years. At the opposite end of the circle, the drunkard before her was hard to reconcile the calm storyteller she got to know. Unless… Was he merely pretending to be one? There was a suspiciously high amount of beer left in the bottle he held for how often he chugged it.
In any case, Mélodie couldn’t sense any tension between the two anymore either. Sure, they sat at opposing ends and did not make an effort to talk with each other. But it felt like a comfortable silence. They were both quiet people, after all. Each in a different way.
More peculiar still was the pair of knights. One boastful, the other... seemed a little too friendly. They shared stories from long, long ago, before the age of machines. The two had gone through many ordeals together, but one’s jokes undermined the other’s tales at every corner. They were both so loud. Nothing compared to what she’d expect from that era. So as Rose was eating it up, every exchange only served to confuse Mélodie more.
Enough to make her consider the possibility that, maybe, she wasn’t asleep. Maybe she was the victim of some sort of trick. In this distrustful mindset, she felt the need to get more information, and quick. She quietly thought of a good question to ask, then raised her voice.
“Ahem! Since we’re all having a good time here, why don’t we share our abilities? Let’s get to know each other a little better!”, she asked as genuinely as possible. Which... wasn’t very genuine at all. Even in her dreams, her acting skills were practically nonexistent. Still, Rose quickly jumped in.
“Oooh! I’ll go first, I know how to make things lighter or heavier”! As a demonstration, she gestured towards the boastful knight. Soon enough, he began to float a few centimeters above the ground. Fair enough, thought Mélodie. That was accurate.
“Impressive, young lady!”, the weightless cavalier exclaimed, without a worry in the world. “Still, you may want to limit your use of spells, just in case. Who knows what the state of mana is in this era!”
There was a moment of silence as the knight gently returned to the ground. Alba and Charles exchanged a glance, at a loss for words. Both waited on the other to speak and expose a prank. Alas, the time for a great reveal came and passed, and still, the two stayed put. Awkwardly shifting on their tree stumps, they both decided on their own to play along.
Charles broke the silence first. “Alba and I don’t have anything. Except, I don't know, maybe being decent at Superb Chimp Sphere.”
Of course, nobody around but the pair even knew what that was. Before anyone could ask any questions about it, Alba abruptly chimed in. “This is... a lot to take in. But you two don’t look surprised… Are you able to do this, too?” If this was truly happening, this was the chance of a lifetime to learn about a whole new world. Charles had no response but to take a swig from his bottle once more.
“That is correct! My partner here and I have both learned the standard fare. Fireballs, seals, energy transfer, flight… Those of us attuned to magic get to learn it all from prestigious schools.”
“He barely scraped by, you know”, the energetic knight pretended to whisper.
“How dare you! We did not even know each other at the time!”
“And yet this does not sound like a denial to me!”
Laughter erupted from the ensuing argument, and Mélodie couldn’t help but feel silly. She had to be dreaming, after all! She felt embarrassed for even considering any other idea in the first place. After all, she didn’t remember how she got there, and the cast around her made no sense whatsoever! What kind of foe would think of a scheme this bizarre in the first place?
Alba spoke up. “That’s… wow. To think there’s a whole world out there we can’t even begin to imagine. It’s… honestly really exciting! How about you, uh…?”
“The name’s Mélodie. I can’t do any of these things, but I can do… this.”
She closed her eyes as she finished speaking. Silence, apart from the rhythmic breathing of everyone around and the distant sound of crickets. The atmosphere could have been cut with a knife. Everyone stayed on the lookout for anything of the ordinary.
Finally, a light breeze started to blow, breaking the tension. A few chuckles of relief were heard.
But the winds did not stop.
Quite the opposite, as the gusts grew in strength, getting louder and louder. Trees swayed, creating a dizzying hissing noise from every direction. It felt like at any point, the earth could split in two, unleashing havoc the likes the world had never seen.
Finally, and all too suddenly, the winds abruptly stopped as Mélodie opened her eyes.
“Aaaand, that’s my ability. I’m pretty good with the wind”.
“Wow, this is mind-blowing and yet so disappointing!”
The frankness of the reply caught Mélodie by surprise. “Haha, are you already over this?”
This exchange was enough to spark the entourage anew. Alba, in particular, was getting invested in figuring out the inner workings of magic. As everyone around her got lost in conversation, Mélodie smiled and turned her gaze to the sky above. Among the countless stars, one shined brighter than the rest.
“Here too, huh”? she softly whispered.
She was determined to do something about it, back in the real world. In the here and now, however, she would just let herself enjoy the company.