Challenge #02280-F090: Take My HandsteemCreated with Sketch.

in fiction •  5 months ago 

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The tomboyish girl is actually not a tomboy. She has more dresses than you can imagine, she just understands that a dress is not suitable for her line of work -- Anon Guest

In every village with a dressmaker, Lady Anthe would order a dress. The rest of their group would hear nothing more about it and honestly believed that they would never see them again. Even Wraithvine was mystified and ze had hundreds of years of experience with almost everything. The best ze could come up with was, "I'm sure she has her reasons."

She did, and she wasn't telling anyone a single thing about them. Not even when drunk. Even Rumtum failed to winkle any secrets out of her, and he could charm the back teeth out of an ogre. The entire affair was a mystery. They even followed Lady Anthe on one of her dress missions to see what she did with it.

The answer to that was to accept it, wrapped, and place it inside her Bag of Holding without any further fuss or bother. It was infuriating to the rest of the group. They despised a mystery that had no resolution besides Lady Anthe's evident and eminent satisfaction with her purchase. Left at a dead end, they honestly believed they may never know. That is, until the evening of the Winterfair Ball at Icecrest Mountain Estate.

It was there that she turned up in one of her dresses. It was astonishing for them, in their fanciest wear, to witness a Kobold in the frilliest, fanciest, most bedecked-to-impress dress she had ever bought. It came with a crown that set off her head frills. She may be small, but an outfit like that made her the centre of attention despite her diminutive height.

She, who had once gone by the name of Thief, who had once thought of herself as nothing, carried herself through the throng as if she were Queen of the entire realm. She commanded respect, and the crowds parted for her.

Rumtum almost choked on his fish. "Whoah..."

Marvin had to agree. "...gods..."

Lady Anthe looked like she'd never lifted so much as an eyebrow in mild irritation, and wouldn't know how to even hold a dagger. Her scales were delicately shined, some subtle makeup graced her face. If there wasn't an inch of her that wasn't glistening, gleaming, or glittering, it was likely concealed under an approximate acre of cloth.

Rumtum elbowed Wraithvine. "You do some good work, reform me, next."

"Some things are impossible," said Wraithvine. "Because most of what you see before you is Lady Anthe's own work." Wraithvine could recognise a few lessons. The dignified pace, the way to walk as if one was in command, the how-dare-you glare... but the rest? The dress, the decorations, the formal speech... that was all Chrysanthemum's doing. This was all her.

"I have to work?" whined Rumtum.

"Yes, that is one of the chief aspects."

"Uh," said Marvin. "Did you help out Miss Steelfoot too?"

She had a lovely dress, too. She had coiffed her hair to within an inch of its life. She looked like a competing queen who nevertheless held Lady Anthe as her best friend. Her feet were decorative ones that were made mostly out of glistening quartz, and held in slippers of polished brass and gemstones.

"No," said Wraithvine. "I never advised her on a thing."

"Could you advise me?" Marvin squeaked. "I wanna be worth someone like her."

"Start by telling her that," said Wraithvine. "See what she advises. Listen. Always. Listening is important."

"I could maybe work up to that. What do I talk about for now?"

"You could always ask her to dance," suggested Rumtum.

Steelfoot smirked as Marvin edged ever closer to her. He was slowly turning vermillion, like a-- wait. Exactly like a young lad braving himself up to ask a lady to dance for the first time. Oh good grief, he really had never asked a girl to spend quality time with him, before.

"Uh. Um."

"Of course I'd like to dance with you," she said, taking some of the pressure off. She let him lead her out onto the dance floor and started into the formal patterns where the most they touched was gloved palm to gloved palm. Somewhere across the dance floor, Lady Anthe had paired off with a Gnome of roughly equivalent height. Good luck to her.

"You look real nice tonight," said Marvin. "Not that you don't look real nice all the time. I mean. I appreciate-- uh. You're usually... like... in pants. And you're hair's all... no frills."

Steelfoot decided to take this as a compliment. "Thank you," she said, "I'm sure you can imagine what would happen if I tried to wear this get-up on our regular adventures."

"Oh yeah, that dress would catch on everything and those feet are not made for stealth. Did you put little bells in them?"

"She shall have music wherever she goes," she quoted. "It seemed like a fun idea when I was making them."

"I think it's neat," said Marvin. "I think you're neat. I wanna be neat like you one day."

Now it was her turn to start blushing. This man was a sweetheart. "Really? Why?"

"So maybe you'd wanna be neat with me. Together."

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / stargatechris]

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Oh gods Marvin, I was cackling all the way through XD

The path to true love is paved with soul-crushing mortification.