The White Rose of Fiorazzurro
Chapter 10 (or, "Magic Users, Assemble!")
Things were not going good for Sheriff William Collodi on this Oneday.
He had woken up to members of the Secret Police outside his door, whom had tracked him through his new address. He had tried to keep the door shut against them, but they had forced their way through, had grabbed Blue by the cuff, and had almost dragged them both out the door when Collodi used more poof chalk to facilitate their escape. Blue was super strong and super fast, just the way he had built her -- and she had grabbed him, nearly throwing him over her shoulder and running with him out of the hotel and down the street to the train.
They had jumped the turnstile and were safe -- for now. Safe, but wanted by the government of Fiorazzurro for disturbing the peace at the Ovest Traders Market and then using faerie tricks. Not as harsh of a punishment as using magic outright -- they hadn't figured that out about Blue -- but it would still land him in prison and Blue in the hands of the government, and who knew what they would do to her?
He studied the map as the train hurtled through the passageway. Who did he know on this island who could help him? That man yesterday, who had most certainly been a potions maker, had taken them all to his home, but he had split soon after that. Blue had needed a recharge, and he hadn't had his supplies to do that in the middle of nowhere. But now they were out a recharger -- and the potions man could probably whip up something Blue could drink that would serve as a temporary recharge. But what stop had they gotten off at?
The train stopped for a moment, and a voice came over the loudspeaker. "Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a train ahead of us in the station. We thank you for your patience. Also, if you are looking for Calimero Pineiro, master of potions, please take the D train to Strada Pianure Bianche. Thank you."
Seriously? Who had said that? Never mind -- it had been what he had needed. Collodi got off the train he was on when he got to the center of the island, then took an I train to Infinity Circle and transferred to a D there. This train was packed full with people; the higher up you got in letters, the more often the routes were used by people, so the D was rather popular with people. He held onto the bar for dear life as it flew through the tunnel.
The train opened up at the next stop, and Collodi wrapped his arm around Blue in a protective manner. Everybody thought she was human, but the last thing he wanted was for somebody to walk off with her in tow. Unlike a regular human being, she wasn’t able to defend herself against creeps. Collodi would have to do that for her.
“Well, I’ll be.”
Collodi turned and saw that Daisy, the girl from the previous day, was standing in front of him on the train. She did not look pleased. "What are you doing here?"
"That's funny. I could ask the same of you, stranger." Collodi tipped his hat. "Fancy seein' ya here again. Reckon it must be destiny."
Oh, trust me, Daisy thought to herself. I've seen destiny, and it looks nothing like you. "I doubt it was destiny. We probably just heard the same message. You’re going to go see that potions man, aren’t you?”
“How’d you know?”
“Because I heard the announcement on the train, as well. Were you on the F earlier?”
“No, I was on the S.”
“This is getting weirder.” Daisy scrunched her nose, a habit she had when she was deep in thought about something. “We shouldn’t go.”
“Because they’ll be expecting us there. Queen Cendrillon and her cronies, I mean. They’re always following everybody. Why should this be any different? I bet they put the announcements on the subway just to mess with us.”
“This is not a drill.”
Both Collodi and Daisy turned toward Blue, who was standing rod still in the middle of the train. She was not holding onto the rail; Collodi still had his hand on her shoulder to keep her balance. Blue could stand regularly, but the ground on the train was too shaky for her equilibrium to handle. “What was that?” Collodi asked again.
Blue was unresponsive save for the words she said. “This is not a drill. The survival tactics have begun. Please move to Strada Pianure Bianche as soon as possible.”
“Blue?” Collodi checked her neck, felt for the information chip he had created. Sure enough, it was still in there, a huge disk the size of his hand that he had installed into her neck to serve as her brain functions. It had taken years for him to write the appropriate coding, and to have something go wrong now would be disastrous…on top of losing her energy supply, he would have to find a way to reroute her daily functions. “She’s fine. I don’t think anything should be malfunctioning.”
“She mentioned Strada Pianure Bianche again.” Daisy’s face had changed to one more concerned. “Just like the person on the loudspeaker did, in connection with that Pineiro potions man. She’s your android, right?”
“Are you concerned about something, Collodi?” Blue asked. She turned her head and watched him check her neck out, as if nothing had happened before.
“What were you just saying about Strada PIanure Bianche?” Collodi asked.
“I did not mention anything regarding Strada Pianure Bianche. Would you like for me to research my archives and pull all of the available information I have on this location in Fiorazzurro?”
Collodi gave Daisy a look. “We’re going to that man’s house, whether you like it or not.”
They arrived soon after, during one of the busiest periods of the day. It was right after school had gotten out for the day, and the main drag was filled with kids running in and out of stores, playing games, up to their regular shenanigans. Daisy had to duck several times to avoid a ball sailing over her head. She had to remind herself that, if she decided to kill one of them now, she would have to answer to Cendrillon’s cronies sooner than anticipated. They would not be happy when they found out a rogue faerie who was hoping to start a revolution against her had actually slaughtered a small child on the west side of town for being too careless while playing. Yeah. That would not go over well.
“Follow me,” Blue chirped, walking at a quick pace ahead of both Collodi and Daisy. He shrugged at her, and together, they followed closely behind the android.
Pineiro’s lab was a mess again — not because there were artifacts thrown around the place, but because he was trying to make sense of the insanity happening. What had that been on the train? Some voice had spoken in English, and Milaya had understood it. And then, it had singled him out. What was going on?
He reached for one of the Memorium potions he had left, looking it over. If he ever needed an escape from reality, it was right here in his hands. He didn’t want to do this with Milaya around, though. She was sitting in the living room, hands flying over her strange device like she could fix something. Calimero tried to let her be. He couldn’t fix it for her.
He nearly jumped a foot in the air when he heard the knock on his door. “I’ll get it,” he said, turning his back to Milaya and approaching the door. He was surprised to find three people there: Collodi, his android, and Daisy from yesterday. “How did you all get here?”
“The subway told us how—“ Collodi hadn’t prepared for the entranceway; Milaya watched as he tripped right over the cords and took a tumble into the living room. Behind him, she could hear Daisy laughing.
“Sheriff, you must look out for where you step,” she heard Blue chirp, and she was certain there was some humor in her own response.
She realized what Collodi had said before he had fallen into the room. “You said the subway told you to come here?”
“Yes, it did,” Collodi’s muffled voice came up through the floor.
She nodded. Sarah’s voice was getting through to everybody. At least she was able to know what was happening here. “Daisy, we need to get together as many magic users as possible in a short amount of time. You had mentioned you wanted to go against the Queen?”
Daisy was surprised Milaya had brought this up, but if that was the reason they were all gathering, she wouldn’t mind talking about it for a little while longer. She sat down on one of the chairs in the living room, right next to the Asian futon mattress Calimero had set up the previous night for Milaya to sleep on. “You haven’t been here long enough to know, but…”
She went on to tell the new girl everything that anybody knew about Queen Cendrillon. She had beeen Prince Len’s older cousin, only directly in line to the throne if something would ever happen to him. She was an unassuming duchess whose main function was to go to parties, look pretty, and submit to the King. As the King got older, he started to give his son Len more and more of his duties before he completely turned over ownership of the island kingdom to him. Prince Len was a ruler, but never a king in name, for his father still lived. Then, the plague came that wiped both of them out, and Cendrillon was away on holiday in England while nearly half of Fiorazzurro lay on bed rest. When the dust finally settled, they tracked her down and made her the new Queen of the island.
There were several problems with that mode of thinking. First of all, Cendrillon was a duchess, and while she could throw a mean party, she had next to no regal training. Her advisors often told her what to do and where to go during the first year of her reign while she stuck to throwing lavish parties and using tax money for frivolous excursions. People didn’t love Cendrillon during this period, but they were all still recovering from the plague, so they didn’t hate her either.
Then Cendrillon really did it. While on one of her excursions out to the Far East, she somehow decided that magic users were from hell and were devil worshippers. Once arriving home, she took back all of the power that she had given to her advisors, rising to the throne and taking total command. At first, the general public had been ecstatic about this and had accepted Cendrillon with open arms.
Then, she had calmly explained to them, in an address to the entire nation, that magic users had been the ones who had caused the plague. Never mind that it had been proven by scientists overseas to be a now-contained strain. If Queen Cendrillon was being responsible and said something, then it must be so. Within weeks, most of the magic users were eradicated from Fiorazzurro, the entire gypsy-like faerie culture regulated to the outskirts with no way back in.
Pretty soon, everything was regulated down to a T. Cendrillon had increased the police force to a point where it wasn’t even possible to be mainstream and into magic any longer. Her tactics were starting to be accepted by the entire European Union, and while magic hadn’t been illegalized in any other country, general public opinion was unfavorable. “I seriously think the only place where magic is looked on happily these days is in America,” Daisy said with a sneer.
“America?” Milaya asked.
“Yeah,” Daisy noted. “And nobody lives there anymore. America used to be a great land, until the Great War three hundred years ago. Most of America was blown to smithereens. There are only a few small areas that are even inhabitable now. We don’t talk about them much.”
“Oh.” Milaya debated on whether to tell them what she knew about America in her world. “Then let’s not focus on that. Gathering magic users from there is going to take too long, anyway. If we end up getting some users from America, then so be it, but for now we should just focus on the European Union. What is that in this world?”
“All of the countries in Europe,” Calimero noted. “That includes your native Russia.”
“Alright, so I’m cornfused.” Collodi raised his hand. “We just gonna round up all these magic users from the Union and do what with them? And how long is this gonna take?”
“Less than two weeks, optimally,” Milaya noted.
Calimero almost knocked over one of his beakers. “Two weeks?!? I have two weeks to help you?”
“Help her do what?” Daisy quipped.
“Help me get together magic users for your cause.” Milaya smiled at Daisy, hoping her ruse would work. “We talked it over last night, and I decided to help you. That’s why we’re here. Collodi made Blue, the magic robot. Calimero makes potions. You did your thing with my communicator, and I’ve got the communicator period — though I don’t have any more magic than that. I wish I did.”
“You’re organizing us all,” Calimero said. “That’s almost enough.”
“I agree.” Daisy crossed her arms. “I was organizing it, but I think I’m too rough around the edges to organize something like this. Milaya is soft enough that people will listen to her. I’m too loud, and besides, I’d rather kick some Queen Cendrillon ass than figure out how to get a bunch of magic users in one place in two weeks. Though, if we do that, I’ve got the perfect way to fight back.”
Milaya was interested. “Fight back? Do tell.”
“There are many different magic users, but there is a spell that can combine all of their power into one source. There’s a potion that’s required for it, by the way, Calimero. It combines the energies of all of the magic users into an elixir, which is then drank by the most powerful magic user, usually the one with the most stamina. That magic user is then embedded with all of the groups’ magic powers and stats for the next two hours, at the temporary cost of their own powers when it wears off. It has to be done exactly right, though. If one small part of the potion is done wrong, the magics won’t mix right and it could kill the drinker.”
“I think Calimero would be able to do that,” Milaya said. “You were talking earlier about how you trained under that great Rossini guy.”
Daisy’s mouth dropped open. “The Master Rossini? THE Master Rossini who mastered the Memorium and the Forgetful Fancy? We used a bunch of those during Cendrillon’s early days to escape detection from her forces. If you were his student, then I’m sure you can do it. I’m…sorry about the loss, by the way.”
“Everybody lost somebody.” Calimero fixed his beakers again so they were all in a row, then came over to sit by the others in the living room. “It’s just a fact of life.”
“It was a loss to us all. He was a great man, a pioneer of his art.” Daisy took Calimero by the arm. “I don’t have the blueprints for that potion, but I know who does.”
“And, pray tell, who the hell’s ya father?” Collodi asked.
Daisy grinned. “There may have been something I’ve neglected to tell all of you. And if we’re going to do this together, I’ll need to trust you with this much. You can’t turn me into the police anyway, because you’ll all get put in prison if you even come face to face with the cops.” She pulled off her pageboy cap, and her few dark black locks fell from her head. This time, though, she shuffled her hair around and pushed her strands of hair back behind her pointy ears, exposing them for the first time.
Collodi was the first to notice. “Holy shit! She’s a faerie!”
“Not just any faerie.” Daisy grinned. “I am Ata’laika Margherita Fae, Princess of Gallathia, first daughter of King Raza’qiel Gericaria Fae of Gallathia. I think it’s high time we paid my father a visit. What do you say?”
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