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"Pardon me, but might you have a moment?" I ask the first person I see in wearing what must be the uniform of the train staff—it's cut too professional to be anything else.
The purple-haired girl—a fairy—actually looks around my age, and maybe a few centimeters shorter than me, but the wings give her species away. A subdued goldenrod tailcoat, white stockings, green flats, and a green bowtie make for... <a very striking look>.
Yeah, let's go with that.
"Sure—Uh, yes miss, what can we do for you?" Even though only a single word of it slipped out, I can just hear the internal gear-shift from Casual to Very Polite speech <>.
That could mean a lot of things, many of them not great <or maybe shes just awkward>. Please, no. I need helpful, not worried. But the way she's eyeing me doesn't inspire confidence. Out here by the far end of the first-class car, though, I don't know who she's worried about.
Handing her my ticket seems to give her some focus, however. "I went to put my things away just now, but when I entered my room, someone was already in there," I tell her <sure it wasnt cabin and not room>. It could be, but would Asani know the difference? "When I expressed my confusion, they told me they had been assigned that room, and... well, I did not wish to cause any trouble, so I exited and sought out someone that might be able to resolve this."
Asani is a very nice lady and doesn't cause problems. Or maybe she doesn't like to cause them, at least. I need to think about this whole alter-ego thing a little more <it does seem like that would be a good idea, yes>
"Hmm." The fairy examines the ticket,, occasionally looking up at me. While waiting waiting politely and without much to do but look at her, I notice the nametag on her right breast, but iiiiiit <wait what>, uhhhh. Am I looking at kanji? I'm pretty sure I'm looking at kanji.
[ 莲花 ]
...Or is it? I mean, obviously the last character is; duh. And the first character sure as heck looks like it, but something's both weird and familiar about it. I know I've seen it, or something close to it before, but I can't remember it. Though, it almost looks like—
...Wait, I do know what that is. I think <thats really weird if it is>. No, even if I'm wrong, it's still weird. But it's not impossible.
My ticket continues to be scrutinized much longer than feels comfortable. She flips it over, then back again a minute later. I know something's up for sure when her purple eyes come back up, looking at me with polite suspicion. "All right, l—" A pause. "Miss, you are an onje, right?" <oh come on>
I draw myself up, and give a firm, defiant nod. "That is what they call me in this land, yes. Regardless, I conduct myself impec—"
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/-xztbp37GNs ]
[ ♫: https://instaud.io/private/3c24155738be2eca4c3922d1870987624bffeb5b ]
"Save it, miss." The fairy looks at me with bored contempt, and abandons her formal tone for something more befitting a yankee girl smoking on the roof. "You could be the most perfect human ever, and you'd still ride third-class like every other onje on this line. Rules are the rules. The train's about to leave, and we've all got people to be." She points at the nearby exit. "Either scram-diddle off this train right now and we all forget this happened, or get to third-class and we sort your nonsense out but right." <w wait does that mean like a fight or>
My eyes narrow, but after a few seconds, I nod. "I will accept that challenge. It is to the rear of the train, I presume?" I paid for a ticket; I'm getting my ride, dammit. Even if it's a crappy seat.
She meets the look with skepticism. "Are you sure about that?" Another nod. Her eyes roll. "Like we weren't busy enough," she mutters. "Fine. Second-to-last car; it's right before the caboose." <whys there a caboose> I can worry about that later, or maybe even never.
The fairy walks over to the door and holds it open for me. Well, as confusing and upsetting as this is, there's also no sense in making things worse. Halfway through the door, I pause and turn to face her <aaaand lets go for it>. "Before I go, I would kindly ask of you to return my ticket then, Lotus."
The look on her face tells me that my guess actually paid off <bleagh stupid sutra lessons in chinese and sanskrit why dont we just conduct a mass in latin while were at it uuuuugggh>. "莲" thankfully looks close to "蓮", the kanji I'm more familiar with. Heck, you could almost mistake one for the other... if the person writing spazzed out halfway through.
She goes from startled to surprised, and then, uh. To blushing. To crawling skin. ...Her skin is crawling. Wriggling, even. Oh gods is she infected with some kind of horrible demon disease? Did some kind of breakout happen? Did real life just turn into Biohazard <itll be fine>?! What? How <because i have stars on my side>? This is not the time for puns.
"Hey, d-don't try pulling the sweet-talk on us, onje. We're holding on to this and that's that." says the fairy, her seething skin calming down after a moment <i am so lost>. Her cheeks are still red, though. "We told you already, get off or get on back!"
Right, welcome overstayed <did i even have one>. Good point. More importantly, who cares. I hoist the sack again and step out into the night air once again, like the posh, unflappable lady I'm not.
"Also, it's Lianhua," calls her voice from behind me. Already down the steps, I start turn, but any apology I could offer is cut short by the door closing firmly, followed a second later by the click of a lock.
Stiff upper lip, Asani. Stiff upper lip.