Work on the next Realmgard story, featuring the group I’m officially unofficially referring to as the Three Ladies of Middlesbrooke has begun in earnest when I want a break from proofreading Charge of the Lyte Brigade. So, naturally, it seemed like a good time to revisit Lucia, Apolline, and Petra (also, Roland and Alda).
Incidentally, reading up on the effects of catnip on cats (particularly big cats) has been really amusing.
And, full disclosure: I doubt that header image is actually a catnip plant, but again, stock photography means my options are limited.
“How are you feeling?” Apolline asks Lucia, draping a blanket over her.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” the lynx-woman mutters.
Her head hurts. Her tongue is dry. Her eyes are itchy. Her ears and tail are twitching restless. And she can’t remember most of the last few hours.
She glowers at Roland.
“Why did you think delivering a shipment of catnip was a good idea?” she exclaims at the muscular alchemist. “I am a cat!”
Roland raises his hands defensively. “What? Catnip has perfectly legitimate medicinal uses,” he protests. “Alchemists and doctors use it all time!”
“You could have at least warned me,” Lucia continues, her ears drooping. “Maybe that way I could have managed not to make a fool of myself.”
“It’s not like I knew we were going to get jumped by bandits,” Roland continues.
“You’re the one who smashed the crate open!” Lucia counters.
“Only because he dodged my punch!”
“Only because you’re a big, clumsy idiot!” Lucia declares.
“Now, now,” Apolline interjects, as diplomatic as ever. “Let’s not fight. We’re all on the same side here.”
“Too bad for us,” Lucia mutters.
“Lucia,” Apolline scolds. “Roland is right. This was all an accident.”
“Yeah!” Roland says.
The Aurorean sorceress turns towards him. “And you, Roland. You’re an alchemist. You know the effects of your materials. Lucia is right. You could have warned Lucia about the catnip.”
Lucia sticks her tongue out at Roland.
“Not helping, Lucia,” Apolline says.
“Look, Roland says bashfully. “I’m, uh, I’m sorry. I should have warned you. But I didn’t think there was going to be a problem. It was it was in bags, in a bigger bag, in a crate. I really thought it was going to be safe.”
“Well, yeah. Just be more careful next time,” Lucia mutters.
She turns to Apolline.
“Be honest,” she says tentatively. “How much of a fool did I make of myself?”
“Well, it’s lucky we dealt with most of the bandits before the crate got smashed,” Apolline answered. “You weren’t much help in the fight. You were rolling on the ground and giggling.”
“Oh,” Lucia mutters.
“Then, you spent the next little while staring at your hands,” Apolline continues.
“Then, when we came to help you, you became quite fascinated with my face,” Apolline says, her usual unflappability giving way to a wry grin. “As I recall, your exact thoughts on the matter were that I have the smoothest skin you’ve ever seen.”
Apolline nods and her grin grows. “Yes. And you were quite keen to test out that theory by pawing all over my face.”
Lucia blushes with embarrassment and pulls her blanket over her face, desperate to disappear forever.
“S-sorry,” she mutters from beneath the blanket.
“It’s alright, Lucia,” Apolline assures her. “We’ve been travelling together long enough and we’ve found ourselves in enough strange situations that one more is hardly going to make me think any less of you.
“Thanks,” Lucia mutters, though she remains in no hurry to rejoin the world. “I think.”
“Besides,” the sorceress muses, “it’s gratifying to know that my skincare routine is working.”
But, seriously, kids: don’t do catnip.
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