Author's note: Hi! As you may or may not have read from Chapter 15's author's note, I have decided to do a series of one-shots featuring Fey/Arwyn in a bunch of cliche romantic situations. To be clear, these stories do not actually "happen" in the main Fantasia story and may or may not fit into the timeline; rather, they are what would happen if Fey/Arwyn stumbled upon these situations. Since these are romantic cliches, Leandriel and Blade often show up in the stories.
As I write more of them, I will edit this first post to include all the stories, so if you do not wish to, you don't have to read all the comments. I, however will read all the comments, so comment with your opinions, ideas, suggestions, complaints, pictures of baby ducks, etc.
1 - Valentine’s Day Chocolate
How it usually goes: in the anime, Valentine’s Day is coming up. The main female character stays up all night making homemade chocolates and puts them in a cute box. She spends all of Valentine’s Day dithering over whether to give her object of affections the chocolate. Just as she decides not to give them, she trips, the chocolates fall out of her pocket, and the guy picks them up, asking “Are these for me?” Blushing, female character nods. The guy says “Thanks” and the girl goes home ecstatic.
Valentine’s Day. The beginning of February was a season of desperation as single people frantically tried to avoid being alone and unhappy couples put off their impending break-ups until after that “special day”. Chocolates and flower sales shot through the roof. Dinner reservations were impossible.
Arwyn went home as usual, ate dinner as usual, and went to sleep as usual, logging on to Fantasia.
“Gah!” Fey’s eyes watered in pain. For the special occasion, everything was festooned in pink ribbons and pink flowers. All the slimes were changed to pink for the day (even poor Amethyst). As she stood staring at the gaudy decorations, a baby-shaped cupid threw a garland of pink-and-white flowers over her neck. It was even heart-shaped.
Blade was logged in as well. “Happy Valentine’s Day.” A cupid threw a garland over him as well, which he took off with a grimace.
Fey’s eyes had mostly adjusted to the level of pink by now. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” she replied with very little enthusiasm.
“So, do you want to do any of the event quests?” Blade asked. Fey opened her system notice to see the options.
<Available event quests:>
<Gather flowers for an enchanted bouquet>
<Rescue Princess Apricot (1) from Gloom Castle (minimum level 50 required)>
<Assist in Lord Trevellian’s wedding preparations>
“Uh… Let’s just do some normal training,” Fey suggested. The event quests were too corny for Fey to handle.
Since most people were undertaking the event quests, the normal training grounds were much emptier than usual, and Fey and Blade each gained a level after a marathon of training.
“See you tomorrow,” said Blade.
Blade logged out and Fey was about to follow suit when she received a private message.
<Leandriel: Are you busy?>
<Fey: No, I just finished training, actually.>
<Leandriel: Can you meet me by the Moonwood teleport gate?>
<Fey: I can be there in 20 minutes.>
<Leandriel: Perfect. See you then.>
Fey was actually a 30-minute walk from town, but picked up her pace to a jog to be on time. Her breathing was slightly laboured by the time she caught sight of the teleport gate, which was glowing with magic. In a bright flash of light, Leandriel appeared in the stone circle.
“Hi,” Fey said somewhat breathlessly (it was 100% the jogging… Yeah right).
“Happy Valentine’s Day.” Leandriel spoke in a solemn tone, but smiled because he knew it was not the kind of holiday Fey was particularly excited about. Holding out a bouquet of flowers, he continued, “These are for you.”
“Oh! Thank you.” Fey automatically raised her hands to accept the bouquet. She was actually a little disappointed at the gift; she did not appreciate generic, useless gifts like flowers, and thought Leandriel would be a little more original. The disappointment vanished when she realized the bouquet was no ordinary bunch of flowers.
<Enchanted bouquet: celebrating the power of love, the enchanted bouquet grants a +5 boost to a random stat to both giver and recipient when gifted to another player>
<Fey’s strength has increased by 5!>
<Leandriel’s dexterity has increased by 5!>
Due to its stat-boosting abilities, people had been giving the bouquets to the nearest person they could find. The developers were very shrewd matchmakers; quite a few people teamed up or went on in-game dates due to the bouquets.
“You travelled all the way here just to give this to me?” Upon use, the bouquet dissolved into countless petals that were carried away by a magical wind.
“Of course; who else would I give it to?” (Leandriel’s ability to say lines like this with a straight face is what makes him the male main character).
Just then, Fey’s alarm went off, notifying her that it was her wake-up time. “I have to go,” she said apologetically.
Leandriel nodded. “Bye.”
Feeling a surge of affection, Fey gave the angel a brief hug. “Thank you for the bouquet.” She logged out.
The day after Valentine’s Day. People recounted their activities of the previous night, trying to convince others (and themselves) that they had had a great time.
Arwyn loved the day after Valentine’s Day; it was when all the chocolate went on sale. Feeding her sweet tooth, she bought large amounts of milk and white chocolate and munched on them happily at home.
(1) Reference to Super Mario’s Princess Peach
2 - Kidnapped (Don't read this until you've read at least up to Chapter 23)
How it usually goes: the beautiful female main character is seen by an evil warlord, who covets her for himself and steals her away to his fortress of doom. The anguished male main character fights his way through hordes of minions, to rescue his love right before she is ravished by the evil warlord.
<Fey: Uh, Leandriel?>
Leandriel smiled at the PM from his favourite elf.
<Leandriel: Hello. How are you?>
<Fey: Well, about that… I need to ask you a favour.>
<Leandriel: Of course. What is it?>
<Fey: I need you to pick up my pets.>
Leandriel frowned in confusion.
<Leandriel: Are they not with you?>
<Fey: Well, they were but… I kind of got kidnapped and thrown through a teleport gate.>
The bottom of Leandriel’s stomach seemed to fall out. He switched to audio chat.
“Where are you?” His voice vibrated with suppressed fear and anger.
“Hey, hey, I’m totally fine,” said Fey in a soothing tone. “Sorry for scaring you like that. I’m not hurt, but I left all my pets in the middle of the Dark Forest, and I’m worried something will happen to them.”
Leandriel knew how much affection Fey had for her small army of pets. With an effort, he shoved down the urge to fly immediately to Fey’s location. “I will go pick them up. Where are they, and where are you?”
“Well, I was in the tree goblin territory, and according to my map, I’m now in some castle in the middle of the Dark Side.”
The land of demons and undead. The knowledge did nothing to assuage Leandriel’s fears. “I will be there in three hours.”
“Really, I’m fine,” Fey tried to assure him.
Leandriel listened politely even as he leapt straight into the air, unfurling his giant white wings and flying straight towards the Dark Forest. “Three hours,” he repeated. He terminated the audio chat, putting all his focus into attaining his top speed.
I think he’s mad. Fey felt rather bad for bothering Leandriel with her problems, but she did not know anyone else who could quickly reach her pets.
She turned her attention to her surroundings. Rather than the expected dungeon jail cell, she was in a sumptuously-appointed room with thick carpets and a giant canopy bed. I really don’t know what’s going on.
A knock on the door sounded. Fey tensed and waited, but no one came in. The knock sounded again.
“Yes?” she asked warily.
“His Lordship requests your presence in his library.”
Who what? After a pause, Fey opened the door. Two men in blackened plate armour waited outside. Neither had a drawn weapon.
Fey considered the situation. Her weapons had been taken away, but her strongest skills lay in kicking and the bladed leg armour she still wore.
Deciding that it was unlikely she could overpower the men without making a lot of noise and drawing unwanted attention, she followed the men’s gestures and turned right down the hallway. Down two flights of stairs and into another hallway, she entered a huge library, the wooden shelves so high they were accompanied with rolling ladders.
A few metres in front of her stood a demon lord. Other than the deep crimson colour of his skin and black curling horns growing from his temples, he looked like a handsome young man. He wore black armour trimmed in red for a suitably demonic look.
The two examined each other for a few seconds. The demon lord inclined his head. “My lady.”
“Your Lordship,” Fey countered with a faint touch of sarcasm, hard to detect if you did not know her well.
Fey was no expert in deciphering body language, but it seemed to her that the demon appeared rather… nervous.
Abruptly, the demon dropped to one knee in a gesture of reverence. “My lady, I apologize for my rudeness in bringing you here against your will.” While Fey gaped in silence, he continued, “At first glance, I fell in love with your grace and beauty. Please, join me and be my queen.”
My what and my WHAT? Fey had a realistic self-image, and rated her beauty as a 7.5/10, her grace a clumsy 5/10. She really was not the kind of Helen of Troy (1) protagonist required for this kind of situation.
Mind scrambling for a logical explanation, Fey finally decided that she had triggered some sort of quest or event while training in the Dark Forest. Better play along, then.
Fey spontaneously created the persona of ‘haughty princess’. Her pronunciation took on a slightly European accent, her phrasing became old-fashioned, and she dropped contractions from her speech. “Join you?” she asked disdainfully. “Nothing about you or my treatment so far has given me the inclination to stay a minute longer in this… place.” She added an extra helping of disgust to the last word for effect.
The demon looked up from his kneeling position, an eager-to-please expression on his face that Fey found very creepy, considering it was directed at her. “Everything I have will be yours. You will have every luxury, servants, clothing, anything your heart desires.”
“What need have I for servants or clothing?” Fey scoffed. “And what do you know of my heart’s desires?” The two sentences rang true to Fey’s real personality.
“It is your heart I wish to win over,” said the demon with sincerity. “Please, my lady, I entreat you, tell me how I can gain your affection.”
Fey had zero life experience dealing with suitors, being the “scare them away before they become bothersome” type. What would Princess Fey do? she asked herself. The answer came to her, but she had to mentally gird herself to do it. Zomg, kill me now. Having not died, ‘Princess Fey’ went into action.
Fey adopted a thoughtful and slightly cruel expression as she strolled forward with her best seductive walk (drawing from her experience watching way too many episodes of America’s Next Top Model), circling the still-kneeling demon lord and brushing her fingertips along one high cheekbone as she passed (Eek, touching a stranger. Eek). “Well, you are a handsome beast,” she murmured as if to herself, though she deliberately pitched her voice to be audible to the demon. At both the touch and the words, he appeared ecstatic, which ‘Princess Fey’ thought her due and ‘true Fey’ found creepy beyond all description.
Dropping her hand, she asked, “What is your name?”
“My lady, it is Abarra’akazan.”
“Abarra’akazan,” Fey repeated thoughtfully.
“Might I have the honour of knowing your name, my lady?”
“Fey?” the demon repeated uncertainly, expecting a longer name.
“Is there something wrong with my name?” Fey asked icily. She had spent quite a long time naming her avatar, so the displeasure was real.
“No, no! It is a beautiful name,” Abarra’akazan hurried to reassure her. He pressed a kiss to the back of Fey’s hand (Eek, being touched by a stranger. Eek). “It is a name fit for a queen.”
“We shall see,” said Fey in her haughty voice. “Stand, and give me a tour of your castle.”
Abarra’akazan hurried to do her bidding.
Leandriel landed in the Dark Forest, breathing hard from his flying sprint. “Amethyst! Magic! Boris! Onyx! Inkblot! Shadow! Midnight! Ebony! Obsidian!” he called out, rattling off the names of Fey’s nine pets with ease (because he’s such a thoughtful guy who pays attention). He listened carefully, and headed towards the sound of squeaking. He slaughtered the few tree goblins that were in his way without even slowing down.
He found the small army of Feypets in a defensive formation, surrounded by angry goblins. The pets were holding their own against the monsters, as evidenced by the pile of not-yet-dissolved goblin corpses and the pile of loot stacked neatly in the most secure spot in the formation.
Even in the midst of Fey’s kidnapping, the pets made Leandriel smile. “You guys make your owner proud,” he said to them, “but we don’t have time for this.” Driving his sword into the ground, Leandriel activated an area attack. “Holy Impact!”
With the huge power difference between him and the monsters, the goblins were instantly annihilated.
Leandriel sheathed his sword. “Let’s go find your owner.” He bent to pick up the pets, starting with Amethyst.
The purple slime opened her mouth and spat out a handful of coins, then pointed her bubble insistently at the pile of loot. Leandriel’s lips twitched at the pets’ dedication to leaving no item behind, a character trait learned from their owner. “Okay, okay, I’ll make sure she gets the loot.” He swept the gold and assorted junk items into his magical pouch. Carrying nine pets was somewhat troublesome, so he also placed them into his pouch, which shrank them down for convenience (*Pokemon*).
Again, Leandriel leapt into the air, heading for the nearest teleport gate and the fastest way to the Dark Side.
Fey stood on the castle wall, escorted by Abarra’akazan, admiring the blood-red sunset. She had rather enjoyed the afternoon tour and being treated like a princess for a day, though it was not a lifestyle she wanted to get used to. Abarra’akazan seemed to be quite nice for a demon. Fey might even have started liking him, if her affections were not already firmly engaged by a certain blue-eyed angel.
“Will you join me for dinner tonight?” asked Abarra’akazan.
This is the weirdest date ever. “I will,” Fey replied, still using her ‘princess’ voice.
The demon lord escorted Fey to her room with a bow. “I will see you in one hour.”
An hour later, Fey looked distinctly less like herself and more like a princess. She was dressed in an elegant gown of deep red trimmed in black, and her hair and makeup had been done by a servant with far (, far, FAR) more skill than she possessed. She was seated at one end of a giant banquet table, Abarra’akazan so far away at the other end that she could not make out his facial features. Yup, definitely the weirdest date ever.
“Are you enjoying your food?” asked her demon host, pitching his voice to carry over the rather considerable distance between the ends of the table.
In front of Fey were fancy delicacies of every kind. She called back, “Yes, it is very good,” and continued munching on the only plain food she was able to find, a fluffy white bread. She checked the system clock. Over three hours had passed since she arrived at the demon castle. Shouldn’t Leandriel be here by now? It was very unlike the angel to be even a minute late.
As if summoned by her thoughts, a servant entered the dining hall to whisper in Abarra’akazan’s ear. At the same time, Fey received a PM from Leandriel.
<Leandriel: Fey, it looks like I will have some difficulty penetrating the castle’s defences. Will you be okay for another hour?>
<Fey: Oh yes, I’m fine. I could probably talk my way out of here, so you don’t really need to go through all the trouble of fighting your way in…>
<Leandriel: Nonsense. It’s no trouble at all.>
<Fey: If you say so…>
<Leandriel: One hour.>
At the other end of the room Abarra’akazan stood.
“Is something the matter, my lord?” Fey asked disingenuously, knowing very well that the castle was now under siege.
Abarra’akazan replied in a falsely cheerful voice, “Oh, it’s nothing major. I have a small matter to attend to. Please, enjoy your meal. I will be back shortly.” He strode quickly towards the door.
Fey was confident in Leandriel’s ability to handle hordes of minions, but she definitely could not allow the demon lord himself to join the fray. “My lord, wait!”
Fey quickly walked to the demon’s side. “I need to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
Fey wrapped an arm around Abarra’akazan’s neck to bring their heads together, then kissed him on the cheek. With her other hand, she pulled out the diamond-dust nail file she had found in her room and drew it sharply down one demon horn. A single black speck drifted into the air, and Abarra’akazan fell unconscious to the ground.
One hour later, Leandriel had fought his way to the centre of the castle. He found Fey dressed like royalty, munching on bread while an unconscious demon lord lay trussed up (by her trusty rope) on the ground.
“Hi!” Fey greeted him cheerfully.
“…How…” Leandriel was at a loss for words. The demon lord was countless levels higher than Fey in power.
Fey held up the nail file. “Diamond dust is stronger than demon horn.” One of the weaknesses of horned monsters was that if you managed to damage their horns, they would fall unconscious (see Chapter 23 if you don’t remember). Abarra’akazan’s horns were incredibly strong, able to absorb huge shocks from hammers and swords, but the grinding action of a file caused a different kind of damage.
Leandriel gaped, then just had to laugh. Defeating a demon with a nail file was something that only Fey would do.
Fey grinned along with Leandriel’s amusement, fully aware of how weird she was. “Did you get my pets?” she asked.
“Yes, of course.” Leandriel pulled the nine Feypets out of his pouch, the creatures expanding to their regular dimensions as the left they influence of his magical pouch.
Fey’s lips twitched. “I choose you!” she murmured (*Pokemon*).
Fey enjoyed an adorably happy reunion with her pets before the demon lord stirred.
When Leandriel tensed and drew his sword. Fey gave him a look. “Put that away, please.”
Leandriel had a brief battle with the testosterone controlling his brain functions (the author is so sexist, isn’t she?), then sheathed his blade.
Fey knelt beside the bound demon lord. “Abarra’akazan, this is my friend Leandriel,” she introduced. “Please don’t try to kill him.”
Abarra’akazan glared at the angel. “Is he my rival?”
Fey was confused. “Rival in what?”
“Rival in love!”
“Uh…” Fey and Leandriel generally avoided talking about things like “feelings” and “relationships”, so Fey had no proper answer. “He’s my friend,” Fey answered firmly. (Leandriel winced.)
“Anyways,” Fey changed the subject, “I was kidnapped, and he came to rescue me. It’s a very reasonable thing to do when your friends get kidnapped, so really, you have no reason to be mad at him.”
Abarra’akazan could not disagree with the logic of Fey’s words, but somehow felt like he was being tricked.
“You seem like a nice guy,” Fey continued, “but I’m really not the type to sit around a castle playing queen.” (Leandriel raised his eyebrows.) “How about I leave, with no hard feelings on either side?”
When Abarra’akazan continued to remain silent and motionless, Fey reached over to untie the ropes (no way was she going to leave her trusty rope behind).
As she began to stand, the demon lord caught her hand. “How has he won your affection?” Abarra’akazan asked with intense emotion.
(By being handsome and cool, duh.) “…We go on adventures together,” was the best answer Fey could give.
Abarra’akazan stood in a surge of energy, pulling Fey up with him. “Then that is what I shall do as well!” the demon lord declared, not letting go of Fey’s hands.
“…Go adventuring with me?” Fey asked in disbelief.
“Exactly! I will prove to you my devotion, and that your happiness lies with me.” Abarra’akazan abruptly dropped down to one knee (lots of ups and downs going on here). “I pledge my allegiance to you, now and forever.”
<Fey has received a humanoid pet!>
<Abarra’akazan, level 120 greater demon lord>
Fey looked up at the ceiling. “Who designed this game?” she asked plaintively.
(1) In Greek mythology, Helen was the most beautiful woman in the world. Her removal from her husband by Paris of Troy precipitated the Trojan War.
3- April Fool’s Day (Genderbender) - Written as of Chapter 53
How it usually goes: The main character finds herself in a body of the opposite sex. Awkwardness and hilarity ensue.
April first. Arwyn was not particularly enamoured of human contact, but on this day, she actively avoided all but the most essential communication. She saw no point in expending the energy to talk to people, since odds were that they would waste her time with inconvenient stunts and completely falsified news. Even the Internet was suspect.
Leah-SirenaTheMermaid – How was your day avoiding the masses?
Leah, at least, was no more suspect than usual.
ArwynTheElf – I would say fairly successful. I didn’t feel the urge to condemn the human species to extinction, at least.
Leah-SirenaTheMermaid – I wonder what Fantasia has cooked up for today
Arwyn made a face. She just wanted to have a normal game night (by her standards) and play Fantasia the way she always played it, not deal with some stupid prank quest event that would turn out not to have rewards.
ArwynTheElf – Maybe I’ll just sleep in my actual bed tonight. My pillows miss me.
Leah-SirenaTheMermaid – No way. I’m sure the devs came up with something actually fun and not some loser prank. You can just bring your pillows down to your game recliner, you know
ArwynTheElf – How would I fit five pillows onto my game recliner?
Leah-SirenaTheMermaid – Just pick your favourite one
ArwynTheElf – I can’t play favourites. That’s bad parenting.
Leah-SirenaTheMermaid – Yeah, I’m sure they’ll grow up into terrible… What do pillows grow up into? Duvets?
ArwynTheElf – I guess? Or just flat pillows
Leah-SirenaTheMermaid – Haha, I guess your favourite would grow up into a flat pillow. Spread the weight around.
ArwynTheElf – Are you calling my head heavy?
Leah-SirenaTheMermaid – It’s a compliment. Having large brain volumes is a good thing.
ArwynTheElf – Mmhmm.
Leah-SirenaTheMermaid – It’s settled, then. See you online!
ArwynTheElf – Mmhmm.
Arwyn pushed back from her desk and considered her options. She really did not want to get caught up in some annoying prank, but the game developers of Fantasia had so far proven to have a wonderful, whimsical sense of humour that she occasionally found aggravating, but never truly irritating.
I can always log out if it’s stupid. Curiosity beating pessimism, she headed to the game recliner when bedtime rolled around. Before lying down, she went to her bedroom and grabbed the pillow that looked the loneliest. (What exactly does a lonely pillow look like?) The game chair was designed to provide neck support without a pillow, so she just hugged it after putting her game helmet on and turning it on (*cuddle*).
“Scanning. Please wait. Player detected. Welcome back to Fantasia, Fey E’lan.”
Instead of transporting her into the game, the voice continued.
“There is a limited-time special event occurring. For the date of April 1 in your time zone, you may choose to play with your avatar converted to the opposite gender. During this time, your normal equipment will be automatically adjusted to fit the converted avatar. Any equipment purchased during this period will be adjusted to fit your original avatar when the change is reversed. You may also choose a cover name that will be displayed to players and NPCs you interact with. This change will be automatically reversed when you log off after midnight of April 1 in your time zone. Would you like to participate?”
A pop-up appeared with all of the information in written form, followed by simple Yes|No buttons.
Arwyn considered the deal briefly, then said, “Yes.” She was curious to see what a male version of her avatar would look like.
“Converting avatar. Please choose a cover name for your avatar.”
Aww crap, not more naming. Arwyn did not want to waste half the night coming up with an appropriate name for the temporary change, but neither did she want to walk around with a stupid name.
Elf names… Elfin. Finn. Meh, don’t like it. Names that start with F. Fred. Frye. Fen. Good enough.
“Fen. F-E-N,” she said out loud.
“Cover name confirmed. The players on your existing friend list will still be able to see your original name.”
“Conversion complete. Enjoy your adventure, Fen E’lan.” A blinding flash of light
Fey – or rather, Fen – materialized near Moonwood Village and looked down at herself. Her – or rather, his – feet were bigger. His arms and legs were bigger. She thought he might be taller. (Anybody getting confused at the author’s confusing use of pronouns?)
“I really need a mirror.” The voice that came out was a baritone rather than its usual alto, but something about it still sounded somewhat feminine. Fen coughed and tried again, this time letting her – or rather, his – voice resonate in his chest. “A mirror.” That sounded male enough.
(Despite the author’s pronoun crisis,) Fen was not particularly troubled by the body change. Arwyn did not see gender as a particularly critical part of her identity, ranking it far below her intellectual abilities, personal values, emotional tenor, and social ties when it came to forming her self-image. She continued to think of herself as a coherent ‘me’. (The author is currently cursing the fact that the gender-neutral singular pronoun ‘it’ in English is used exclusively to refer to non-people. The author will try to phrase things to minimize the use of pronouns because this is about to get confusing.)
On Fen’s shoulder, Amethyst squeaked. Apparently, the Feypets were not confused by their owner’s change in appearance.
Fen patted the slime absently, said, “Come on,” to her other pets, and headed into town. She took advantage of the trip to settle into a more male stride, with a wider stance, longer steps, and less hip movement.
Fen was a little surprised at what she saw in the Moonwood. Elven populations generally had a male to female ratio of 2:1, and so she had expected that ratio to be reversed for the event. If anything, the ratio was tipped further male than was normal.
“Fey, where are you?”
Fen jumped in irritated surprise at the audio chat – typical Blade – but answered. “Moonwood Village, next to the weapon shop.”
A pause. “Fey?” Blade repeated hesitantly.
“It’s ‘Fen’ today,” Fen answered. “Didn’t you participate in the special event?”
“[Censored word] no. What if the joke is that we don’t change back?”
“Paranoid much? It’s not like it’s in the company’s best interest to piss off its player base. Have you been reading too many light novels?”
A grunt that acknowledged the words without agreeing (or confirming Blade’s consumption of light novels).
“I’m headed to the armour shop to find a mirror,” said Fen, and proceeded to do just that.
The armour shop looked just the same as the last time Fey had visited, with racks of equipment and stands to display sets of armour in a humanoid configuration. Topaz the (yellow) slime squeaked cheerfully from the counter, and Amethyst squeaked back.
Behind the counter was an elven male that bore a striking resemblance to Senaia, who usually ran the store. The system notice informed Fen that this was Senair, the blacksmith’s nephew.
Senair smiled in welcome, clearly recognizing the player despite both their transformations. “Fen! How may I help you today?”
“I’d like to borrow your mirror for a minute, if possible,” Fen said apologetically, aware that the mirror was for customers.
“Oh, that is certainly fine. I have been receiving rather numerous requests for this, so I have installed a full-length mirror in each dressing room. Go ahead and use any empty one.”
Fen entered the nearest empty stall and pulled the curtain shut. (Not really necessary, as no undressing is about to happen.) The smaller Feypets piled inside with their owner while Boris was left to cool his (enormous) heels in the main store.
Fen looked in the mirror. A young male elf stared back. His eyes were still dark purple, his hair the same purple-black. Arwyn was not generally a fan of long hair in men, but the same hairstyle that worked for her female avatar also worked for the male version.
Fen’s skin was still pale, and his overall build still thin. However, the thinness was relative to other male bodies; compared to Fey, Fen took up considerably more space.
Fen’s height was a very respectable 185cm (6’1”)(1), putting him over half a head taller than his female counterpart. In addition to the extra height, he was stronger in build, with larger muscles making his shoulders broader and thighs thicker. His bones were larger as well, making him look less delicate in his hands and wrists. He still had the same relative build as the original avatar, very thin, but male ‘thin’ and female ‘thin’ were entirely different.
Males naturally had lower body fat than their female counterparts. Fen did not appear to have a single soft spot on his body. Though his muscles were nothing huge, they stood out in sharp definition against his skin, making him look extremely fit. Inside the leather-and-metal assassin’s outfit he wore, Fen looked dangerous in a way that Fey did not.
Fen took a deep breath and studied his new face. It looked surprisingly familiar. The bones were broader, the lips thinner, but still recognizably the same person, or maybe a fraternal twin. Fen raised an eyebrow experimentally, and it looked as sardonic as ever.
“I’m not sure how I feel about this,” Fen commented to Amethyst. If anything, the male version was more attractive than the female version of the avatar.
Amethyst squeaked. (“It’s all the same.”)
Fen chuckled. “I suppose you’re right. It’s what’s inside that counts.”
Amethyst squeaked. (“Slime?”)
Chuckling again, settled into assuming a male identify (and set of pronouns) for the game day, Fen patted the slime and exited the changing stall.
Blade was waiting beside Boris in the store, still looking the way he always did (*boring*). Fen enjoyed how the human failed to recognize his party member until Boris came trotting up to greet his owner.
“Fey?” Blade asked (again).
“It’s ‘Fen’ today,” Fen corrected (again). He gave Blade a minute to stare (and was pleased to notice that he was now taller than the human).
Finally, Blade shook his head. “Weird.”
Fen grinned evilly. “Just wait until you see Sirena.”
Blade jerked in surprise. “There’s no way she’d do it.”
Fen just raised an eyebrow. “Is that what you really think?” He would have guessed that Blade would know better by now.
“…No, not really,” Blade sighed.
Sure enough, a blue-skinned merman wandered into the village wearing distinctive mage robes and carrying a tank containing a pink jellyfish.
“And who are you today? I’m Fen.”
“Is that just ‘mermaid’ in another language?”
“Yup! Latin. It’s a classic.” Syreni smiled brightly. Despite the physical transformation, she still clearly displayed all-female mannerisms.
“You’ll never fool anyone like that,” Fen commented.
Syreni coughed and tried to speak in a lower voice. “Like this?” she asked, making a face before anyone could reply. :It’s much easier to talk like a male when you just have to imagine what you want: she commented in a suitably male telepathic voice.
“I guess you could do that,” said Fen, “but you also have to stop walking like a girl.”
Syreni sighed. “This is too much work. How about you fool people and I’ll be the decoy?”
“I guess,” Fen agreed. “Who are we fooling?”
“Hmm, that’s true. It’s not fun unless there’s someone who doesn’t know us. Let’s go join a hunting party or something.” Plan somewhat settled, Syreni turned her attention towards teasing Blade at the same time that Fen received a PM.
<Leanniel (Leandriel): Hello.>
Fen momentarily reverted to a female mindset to become overly excited. She realized that the change in name meant that Leandriel had also been transformed as part of the special event and was utterly consumed by curiosity to see what this ‘Leanniel’ looked like.
<Fen (Fey): Hi! How are you today?>
<Leanniel (Leandriel): I am rather shorter than usual.>
<Fen (Fey): Haha, I’m pretty tall right now. Want to see?>
<Leanniel (Leandriel): Would you like to meet today?>
<Fen (Fey): If you’re not busy.>
<Leanniel (Leandriel): I can be at the Moonwood teleportation gate in an hour.>
<Fen (Fey): Okay, see you then!>
Fen turned his attention back to his surroundings and found Syreni hanging off of Blade while the warrior attempted to gently fend her off with a mixture of amusement and resigned discomfort. Fen snorted; Syreni’s attempt at gender change was an utter failure despite the changed appearance.
“Leandriel is coming,” he announced. “He’s a girl today.”
Syreni’s eyes widened. “Do you really want to see that?”
“Why not? He’ll still be the same person.”
“…He’s going to be a prettier girl than you are.”
Fen paused, then winced. “Oh boy. This is going to hurt.” He was not referring to physical pain.
Leandriel-turned-Leanniel winged his way over to the nearest teleportation gate in a vague state of anxiety. For him, the transformation had not been a choice; he was a beta tester, after all, and had in fact been playing with a female avatar for the past week though his name had only changed for today. It did not particularly bother him. Nothing except Fey really disrupted his emotional equilibrium.
It had not occurred to him that she might want to meet on this particular day. It was not unusual for them to go for long periods of time communicating only through PMs and the occasional video call. He had not been able to say no to her invitation, but… he worried.
Fey liked him. Whether it was merely as a friend or something more, he was hard-pressed to tell, but he was certain that when she smiled at him, it was not faked. He did not know what effect a gender transition would have on their relationship.
At the teleportation gate, he hesitated before he walked in. “Here goes nothing,” he muttered.
“No worries,” Magic reassured him. “No danger.”
“I hope you’re right,” he said before activating the gate.
Fen had enough imagination to create a pretty good picture of what Leanniel would look like as a counterpart to Leandriel’s perfect male beauty. Therefore, he waited at the teleportation gate and sprang forward the moment the transfer was complete, enveloping himself and Leanniel in Shadow Cloak before anyone could see and start a riot.
Leanniel looked up at him in surprise, vision unobstructed within the Shadow Cloak. Their usual height differential was almost exactly reversed. “Hello.” Leanniel’s voice was now soprano, but the intonation was the same.
Fen did not allow himself to become distracted by proximity or Leanniel’s appearance. “Let’s sneak out of town before you attract too much attention.”
Leanniel looked like she did not understand the necessity of the course of action, but agreeably allowed Fen to lead the way into the forest. They weren’t sneaking, as the ability was not nearly at high enough level to cover two people in broad daylight under the regard of at least a hundred other players. The purpose of the Shadow Cloak was simply to blur Leanniel’s appearance enough that she would not have creepy guys following her around all night.
Ten minutes’ walk into the forest. Fen dropped the Shadow Cloak but continued walking. He still had not closely looked at Leanniel, though her beauty was apparent even with the briefest glance. Bracing herself(-esteem), he examined her appearance.
The angel beside him was perfect. A tall, strong body endowed with more curves than Fey had was matched by a beautifully delicate, perfectly symmetrical face. The extraordinary blue of her eyes was unchanged, as was her grace of movement. Her wingspan was reduced proportionally to her decrease in weight, so that the intimidating effect of the massive wings was less than usual.
Nothing Fen had not expected. He could still see the core person within the avatar, and was happy to find that the mental attraction was unchanged. (Our MC is pleased to find that she’s not shallow.)
“Do you mind saying hi to Sirena – Syreni today? She promised to go away after.”
“Of course,” Leanniel answered, as adorably correct as always.
A few more minutes of walking brought them to the agreed-upon meeting place with Syreni and Blade.
Syreni took a good look at the angel, said, “Wow,” with a mixture of delight, envy, and pity for Fey, then grabbed Blade’s hand and said, “Come on. I’ll be the decoy and you can fool people.”
“But I didn’t change,” Blade protested, the sound of his voice attenuating over the increasing distance.
“They don’t know that,” Syreni replied. Her voice could only be described as ‘full of deviltry’.
As they were being left alone, Fen found that he was being examined closely by Leanniel, the angel taking in every detail with a thoughtful expression on her face. Fen struggled not to look down and blush. “Is this weird?” he finally asked.
“It is… interesting. It is not nearly as ‘weird’ as I feared it might be. You are still you and I am still me.” The angel smiled, and Fen felt a familiar zing at the warm expression.
When Fen found himself unable to reply, the smile broadened. Holding out a hand in invitation, Leanniel asked, “Would you like to go train in the infinity dungeon? I think you’ll find your physical capabilities somewhat different from usual.
Fen took that hand, now smaller than his but filled with the same strength as always, and the pair walked on, their bond intangibly stronger than it was before.
The next day, players found themselves back in their original avatars with no permanent effects from their decision the previous night. Every player who participated gained a generous amount of experience. The developers of Fantasia congratulated each other on the successful anti-prank(2).
(1) The average height difference between males and females is 13cm (5 inches), and this height difference was used during the conversion of all avatars in this chapter
(2) The anti-prank is based on the premise of the anti-joke, in which the humor is based upon the unexpected lack of punchline in a typical setup for a joke. The author’s absolute favourite anti-joke is as follows:
“Ask me if I’m a tree.”
“Are you a tree?”