The White Rose of Fiorazzurro
Chapter 6 (or, "My Name is Milaya")
Night descended quickly upon Fiorazzurro, as the sun dipped beneath the horizon line and the streets became awash in a wave of color. Night meant the limitations on electricity could be lifted, and people could turn their lamps on to see by. It was time for lavish end of the week parties before the next week started and everybody went back to worn on Oneday.
Daisy walked the streets of downtown Fiorazzurro, mulling over the day's events. She was used to these streets by now; for a person who didn't actually have a home to tend to, the streets had become her playground. But it didn't bother Daisy at all. She was actually rather used to it, as faeries themselves only had temporary dwellings and learned how to appreciate the out of doors from day one. Downtown Fiorazzurro was nothing like Daisy's faerie encampment, but she tried to see the good in it, breathe in the energy from the trees and settle into the spots of bare ground she could find.
She longed to go barefoot, to remove the cap from her head. But both acts would expose her.
She took a seat in front of the huge Hall of Justice, located right in the center of the plaza. An interactive fountain shot bursts of water, all scientifically timed, up into the air so they would come down in formation. Children played by the fountain, dipping their hands into the water and throwing minibit coins in, making wishes. How silly it all was to Daisy. Why were people so happy here when there were so many people suffering in and out of the city?
She huffed and continued to walk until someone caught her eye. When she looked closer, she noticed it was the girl from the illusion trick, the one with the short green dress and the boots who looked entirely out of place. Her hair was back in those ponytails that Daisy knew were illegal. A rebel? Who knew?
Daisy picked up her pace and kept her voice low, standing by the girl who stared into the fountain. "What are you doing here? I thought you escaped."
The girl looked up at Daisy, noting her pageboy cap, her black pants, her grey eyes. "I'm not coming with you, if you're from the police," she said in slightly accented Italian. "I'll find a way to resist arrest."
"Oh, I'm not here to arrest you. I was just curious why you were here." Daisy motioned to the girl's hair. "And why you've got this going on again. Do you want to be arrested?"
"I don't want to be anything here. I'm just in the wrong spot at the wrong time."
The girl didn't look up still, so Daisy sat by her. If she threatened anything, Daisy could counter back with any number of secret faerie tricks. Some of them wouldn't work this far out in public, but others would be perfect, sneak attacks she could perform and then disappear with. just like that man had done on the stage earlier that same day. "What's your name?"
"Milaya. Just call me Milaya. You?"
"Daisy. Just call me Daisy."
Milaya gave her another look. "You're a girl? The people in this world must have different gender indicators."
"It's not precisely that -- I'm trying to hide my gender." Daisy didn't know why she was revealing this much to the girl. "Are you not from Fiorazzurro?"
"Nope. Are you?"
"Not from the city itself. So you don't know all the rules they've put in place."
"I know I'm not supposed to wear my hair like this, but at this moment, it's sounding decidedly Soviet." Daisy didn't know the meaning of the word 'Soviet,' but figured it was comparable to Queen Cendrillon's rule. "I'm not from here, and I'm not going to play by your rules."
Now Daisy knew why she liked this Milaya girl so much. She could very possibly be her first ally. "Do you know how you disappeared from the stage so quickly?"
Milaya shook her head. "One moment I was on the stage, and one moment, I was out by the crowd. It was kind of like an interdimensional jump, but I hadn't received any report that the people here could do that."
The ends of Daisy's mouth turned down. She was back to not making sense again. "The clarity I am trying to impart on you is that the man with the cowboy hat used magic. Not just chemical reactions. The access of powers that can't be seen by regular people, the access of energy that keeps this world going. Does that make sense?"
Milaya thought back to the potion Calimero had given her, the way he and Collodi had spoken under their breath, the dead eyes of Collodi's companion. "I think I'm beginning to understand that. That magic has a way of working in this world." She pulled something out of her pocket. "I guess I have a method of magic, as well, but it's not working right now."
Daisy looked the strange brick over. It was black, with a flat surface. "What is it?"
"Well, this side's supposed to light up. This is..." Milaya searched for a way to explain her communicator to someone who had never seen wireless technology before. "It's a way to talk to people when you're over long distances. I'm supposed to push a button on the screen, and then I can contact my friends wherever they are. They can see my face and everything."
Daisy had never heard of this before. "Really?"
"Yeah. But it's kind of broken at the moment. I think the battery -- the power source is dead." Milaya pouted. "And that's where I'm at now. If the power source is dead, then I can't contact my friends. I bet they have no clue where I am. There were five of us all together, and we were headed someplace as a group, but I got separated. I can't tell them where I am right now, and I don't know why." She glared at the device and muttered something that Daisy could just barely pick up.
"Вы говорите по-русски?" she asked.
Milaya looked up. "я из Москвы. A long time ago. How do you know?"
"I have a gift, you could say. For picking up languages." The faerie were attuned to nature and, as such, attuned to communication. Daisy could speak many European languages, but could also speak to the trees, flowers, and the fish of the sea. She knew her fair share of Russian, mostly from old tales that her mother had told her.
"That explains why you sound so fluent in this Italian. I'm picking it up, but I don't think any of the slang is translating effectively. Especially since I can't power this blasted thing back on." Milaya glared at her communicator's dark screen. "I think the jump fried it."
"Is there a power source?"
Milaya nodded. "There's a battery inside it, if that makes sense."
"It does. Can I hold it?"
She was nervous at first, but Daisy couldn't do any more harm to a busted communicator. "Sure."
Milaya gave Daisy the communicator, and Daisy ran her fingers over the edges, finally seeing a few small buttons on it. There was a small hole in the top and a slot near the bottom. She ran her fingers along the slot, feeling that there was still electricity in the device. What had caused it to prematurely shut off? She tried to make a connection with it, but the device was too foreign, would not give up its secrets this easily.
Holding the communicator in her left hand, she traced the insignia of the King of Gallathia onto the flat screen with her right hand's pointer finger, slowly, then faster, five times in a row. Then, she connected her wrist to the edged slot, and there was a spark as the device connected. In an instant, two images flashed through her mind: what looked like a faerie circle, rising up into the sky with spirals of light, and then the face of a man, possibly English in nature, with closely cropped hair wearing a suit.
"I don't think I'll get it to turn back on," she said as she handed the device back to Milaya. "But I saw a man in a suit. Did he turn the device off?"
Milaya's eyes widened. "Then this is more serious than I thought," she said, gritting her teeth. "I need to get back to Calimero's. Daisy, you're new to the city as well? And you know about magic? That cowboy used magic, too. I don't understand everything yet, but I'm going to need to. I need to know who uses magic and who doesn't."
"That cowboy definitely uses magic. That much I can tell you. Do you know where he went?" This was going according to plan. Milaya would help her, and then Queen Cendrillon would be thrown from her position, and her kind would be restored to their rightful position in Fiorazzurro!
Milaya thought to herself. "They all came over to Calimero's lab, but I don't know where he went after that. I told Calimero I was taking a walk, but I just wanted to see if I could get some reception. It had some power before, but now it's just all broken."
Calimero. "You mean the other person who was on the stage? He's probably a magic user as well. He's got the look for it. The goggles and the coat, I mean. He's probably a potions maker."
Milaya snapped her fingers. "Yeah! He makes potions and sells them. He had his own booth and everything. Kitschy stuff, to make you lose weight or what not."
"Not just that." Daisy's look was sure. "I'm positive he has other potions, more magical brews. Transformation potions, teleportation, love spells, you name it, I bet that man can make them. Do you mind if I come with you to Calimero's place?"
Milaya shook her head. "If you use magic and he uses magic, I think it will be okay. I just want to make sure everybody's on the same page. I...I don't know if I can do this alone." She glanced one more time down at her device. "But I'm going to have to."
"What do you mean? We get all of us together, we're all magic users, and then we'll --" Daisy finally realized that, as a newcomer to Fiorazzurro, Milaya couldn't know all about Queen Cendrillon just yet. "Wait. Why do you want all of the magic users to get together?"
There was a strangely dark look in Milaya's eyes, particularly dark for a girl as young as her. "Because your world is going to depend on it, Daisy. Your reality is in trouble, and if I don't do something, everything will be gone in a matter of two weeks."