Thieve: Chapter 18
Before she found herself in wonderland, Alice would have never believed that mushrooms could change her size or that animals could talk. After she found herself in wonderland, Alice was hardly surprised when she was pulled through the looking glass. That was what Jovlin felt like as soon as she stepped out into Brenden’s world- Alice falling down to wonderland. It might have been even more spectacular if she hadn’t actually been falling down. What was it with her and falling?
Maybe it was just the lingering effects of falling off of a moving dragon, or maybe it was simple disorientation, but Jovlin started down the ladder and quickly found herself falling through space as if there had never even been a ladder to hold onto. Fortunately, Jovlin’s fall was much shorter and less bizarre than Alice’s. In fact, her fall ended in less than a moment when she hit the ground, which was only a few feet below her. It still hurt, and she again found herself wondering if she had died.
The light from the tress was much brighter outside and she found herself blinded again. All she could see was shadowy figures walking around like ghosts- thus the heaven assumption. One shadow, which she recognized as Brenden, seemed to fall down towards her and then stood and gently slipped something over her head. Immediately, Jovlin found her sight returned. It was much hazier through the goggles than the real world looked, but it was still better than the blurred shadows that she saw without them.
As her eyes adjusted to the multiple vision impairments, people came into focus. They looked so normal at first glance, like she could simply be wandering with her friends through the forest surrounding the city. Once they came completely into focus, Jovlin immediately noticed the strange outfits. That was when she realized her true inner calling- fashion! Well, not really, but it at least surprised her that the first thing she noticed was the clothes.
Everything they wore was green. Sure, they were all differing shades of green, but all green nonetheless. Most people wore hoods and shirts that looked like they were made of leaves wrapped around them and then sewed together. These outfits seemed to be cunningly designed for the greatest amount of movement, which seemed strange to Jovlin because none of them were running or doing any sort of agile activity that would require such flexibility. And then she looked up. What she saw was a crowd of people simply jumping from branch to branch as if they leapt across the sky every day.
Looking up made Jovlin dizzy, so instead she looked down and was again amazed. The ground didn’t glow like the trees, but it wasn’t exactly green either. Instead, it was a sort of translucent pink that seemed to literally emanate a scent that was visibly colorful and fresh. It permeated the air and bounced around in tiny air bubbles of color that pranced around the forest.
Brenden steadied Jovlin as she began to fall over and held onto her arm, her left arm, which made Jovlin extremely uncomfortable. “First things first- we need to get you a new outfit. You’re current one’s kind-of falling apart.”
Jovlin then let him lead her through the woods a short distance to another tree which had a normal looking door at ground level. The entrance way was more of a short hallway carved with intricate designs that led to a larger inner room. Inside this inner room piles of thread and different clothes were tossed about in messy piles that were manned by a constantly moving woman. It was hard to keep track of her as she bustled from pile to pile, sniping, cutting, measuring, folding, and sewing something different every few moments. She didn’t even stop when she came over to help them, but immediately started measuring Jovlin and muttering about color and pattern.
“This” Brenden motioned towards the woman, “Is Leelee, our very own fashion designer. She makes everyone’s clothes here, or at least designs them. We are a small community, so we don’t need multiple clothing shops.”
“Yup,” Leelee continued to flutter about, “And I have the perfect idea for you. Come right this way!”
Leelee led Jovlin to the back of the tree and into a separate room where she seemed to make an entire outfit appear from mid-air. She then immediately set to sewing, cutting, and adjusting the outfit so that it best fit Jovlin. There was only one problem- it was sleeveless on both arms. When Leelee began to adjust, she first ripped the sleeve off of Jovlin’s current outfit before she could protest. Immediately, Leelee muffled a gasp as Jovlin tried to cover her arm up again. The gears faintly clicked as they turned, filling the awkward silence as Leelee took the sight in.
Jovlin’s entire left arm was made of gears and other pieces of metal that fit together as closely as possible into the shape of a normal arm. With something covering it, Jovlin’s geared replacement was incredibly like a real arm and looked completely normal. Unfortunately, it was not normal and never would be. The place where the gears met her shoulder was mostly hidden by the leather straps, but what little of the skin could be seen was grotesque to say the least. Her hand looked like a normal hand, but further inspection revealed that it was really just the remainder of what had been a hand at one time filled with miniature gears.
After staring for quite some time, Leelee finally regained her composure and calmly stated that Jovlin’s gears needed some care and cleaning. Leelee wasn’t wrong, so Jovlin didn’t protest as she left for a moment and then returned to gently clean every tiny piece of Jovlin’s arm. When she was finished, she went back to fitting Jovlin’s new clothes and made a few special additions with Jovlin’s arm in mind.
When she left the tree, Jovlin was wearing a new pair of clothes and beginning to think she might have just made a friend- an actual friend. Besides that she looked really good. Her top was a loosely fitting, forest green, shirt with a beautiful draping hood that fit perfectly on her head so that she doubted it would even fall off while she was running. The hood draped around and over and was secured to her shirt at her right shoulder by a delicate rose shaped pin. Her left sleeve, as always, was extended all the way down to her hand, where it connected and was sewn securely to a black glove. Her shirt flowed down to her knees, but was slit in the sides, front, and back far enough up that it allowed extreme freedom of movement. Her pants were black and, while not loose, were not tight either. Both her shirt and her pants were secured by a beautifully braided and stamped leather belt. On her feet were a pair of tall and extremely flexible black boots that, while not as beautifully designed or embellished as the other articles of clothing, were nonetheless startlingly delicate and fashionable.
Jovlin had to admit- she liked the new tough-girl-with-a-sense-of-fashion look. Plus, the green really brought out the red specks in her eyes. Brenden immediately seconded her private thoughts by declaring that she looked really cool. Honestly, cool wasn’t exactly the right word. It was more that she looked like she belonged. Sure, she stood out from the crowds of flying forest people, but she really felt like she belonged- like she was home.