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“No, Carina.” Syren objected.
Carina was pulled back once again from the bustling crowd surrounding the reporters and cameras that clicked away at the beauty they had all gathered for. It was hard to look away from it, despite how long Carina Curio and her friends had been at the shore.
The bow of the RSV Bellador shone a stunning jet-black, its steel gleaming against the late afternoon sun. It rose out of the water like the tail of a colossal whale or the skyrisers they saw in the bigger cities. Carina could hardly believe the ship was a work of their own teeny tiny town— and she also could hardly keep her feet from taking her over to where the media that the town had been talking about for months, was gathered.
“Why not?” she retorted, throwing an annoyed glance at her friend.
Syren huffed a puff of frosty air, blowing strands of her white blonde hair off her face to reveal her narrowed grey eyes.
“We don’t know the first thing about them. My mom’s always telling me we aren’t supposed to trust people from outside, they’re usually trying to manipulate us.”
“How does that make any sense?” Carina’s neighbour, Bren, asked, appearing beside them with another ice cream cone, “What the hell do they want with MageTown?”
“No, it could be true.” Carina argued, her interests now sparked, “But I’ve never seen any foreigners here till now, do you think they sneak in after dark? Do you think that’s why we can’t go to the White Forest after sunset?”
“No, Carina.” Syren repeated again, trying to keep her patience, “It’s just that MageTown is going to be in the press for a while because of the ship, and they’ll want to know all about us and twist our words. That’s what they do. That’s what they did with Rainiville when they had that murder and all the press was down there last year.”
Carina looked around at the strange faces cloaked in strange attire of all sorts of bright colours and silk fabrics that she wasn’t used to seeing. It put into perspective just how blue and green MageTown was if this was how the rest of the world dressed; it was fascinating, she could observe them all day, but the clock was ticking and she needed to take advantage of the press, as well as her a good look at the Bellador. She seriously regretted not taking on Syren’s offer to visit the shore all week after sunset, because she was only just realizing how magnificent a work that ship was— it was bigger than anything she’d ever seen.
Carina adjusted her hair in a nearby carriage that rode by and adjusted her yellow ribbon quickly.
“You mean to tell me that we aren’t supposed to get photographed at all?” she cried, turning back to Syren in disbelief.
“Yeah, you think we came down here to talk about your stupid purple lights?” Bren agreed, taking a step back as Syren’s eyes flashed warningly in his direction.
“I knew I shouldn’t have told you.”
“No, no, we believe you, really.” Carina assured, “We’re just trying to process it.”
“Yeah, we’ll believe it fully tomorrow, when we don’t have other things to focus on.”
“Where’s Maliko, Carina?”
“Fucking hell— hey, watch it!” Carina cried, as a gold velvet overcoat shoved her from behind.
“You don’t have to be aggressive.”
“And you don’t have to tell her what to do, Syren.” Bren replied, if only to stir the pot further.
“No, she’s right, I promised Mom I’d watch out for Maliko. Only problem is, it’s about as easy to keep him under my line of sight as it is to kidnap a honking goose.”
“When was the last time you saw him?” Syren asked, standing on a nearby wooden box and scanning the intense crowd with increasing panic, “Oh, he must be so scared all alone out here.”
“I last saw him before you pulled me to the side to show me the purple lights in the sky.” Carina answered, her previous annoyance returning.
“What purple lights?”
All three of them froze and threw each other questioning glances before peering over their shoulders to find, sure enough, Carina’s other best friend, Naya, beaming behind them. She motioned at the Bob her wild, brown curls were in and then twirled around in the feathery black dress she had picked for that evening.
“What do you think?!”
“What are you doing here?” Bren blurted, earning a uniquely intense glare from Syren.
“How are you?” Carina attempted to repair the damage.
Naya, however, seemed unfazed.
“I’m so excited!” she squealed, “Oh, did you see all the photographers? I’ve been photographed three times on my way here. One journalist said she’d call me a ‘dashing MageTownian’. You’re not seriously telling me that’s what they call us. But look at the ship, doesn’t it look like it’ll just come crashing down at any moment?”
“You should see it at night.” Syren laughed.
After that, they fell into a briefly awkward silence, glancing at one another while trying not to let Naya notice, even though she was observing them avidly, the grin on her face slightly faltering.
Bren went on to say something about how lame Carina and Syren were being about the ship and how he only needed to find Richie in order to ditch their asses, but Syren quickly pulled Carina aside before she could hear the rest.
“Just be normal with her, alright?” Syren ordered in a low tone, “Respond to her in whatever way she initiates.”