Something soft rubbed against Violet’s nose.
“Uh…” Violet rubbed her nose and groggily opened one of her eyes.
“Fou!” The white furball’s purple eyes stared at her a few inches from her face. She stared back at him in silence.
“Fou?” he pawed at her cheek again.
“Good morning, Fou” Violet finally said, raising a hand to pet the fluffy familiar.
“Fou!” Fou nuzzled his face into her hand.
Violet smiled before pushing herself into a sitting position. “Whelp! Time to start the day! Excuse me Fou.”
Fou got out of the way, allowing her to get out of the bed.
Violet went into the bathroom and got ready. When she came back out, she could still blurrily make out Fou on her bed. She reached for her glasses on the bedside table and put them on. Fou was looking at her expectantly.
“So, Fou, I get off easy today. I don’t have any work to do until the afternoon. You know what that means?”
“That’s right! No uniform! Now what should I wear?” she questioned, turning to her drawers and closet.
She pulled out a yellow flannel shirt and showed it to Fou. “Yay or nay?”
Fou shook his head.
“Okay...What about this?” she pulled out a blue gingham lolita dress. “Medea made it for me.”
Fou shook his head again.
“Yeah, you’re right. It’s a bit much for today. I was planning on going to the stables and bringing the horses treats…”
She pulled out a pair of pants from her drawer. “I think I’ll save these for my horse riding lessons tomorrow.” She put them back.
“Maybe I’ll just wear my panda onesie today…”
Violet chuckled. “Yeah, I know. I’ve gotta be a little professional at least. Gotta maintain the respect of my coworkers and all. Hmm...I think that I’ll go with this!”
Violet pulled out a pair of short, light blue overalls and yellow blouse with a paw print pattern.
“Yeah! I even have socks to go with it.”
Violet took off her nightcap and shook loose her twisted hair and tossed the discarded cap onto Fou’s head.
Violet changed out of her pajamas into her casual clothing. She sat on the bed to put on her shoes and socks and looked up at the full length mirror across from her bed. She finished tying her shoes and went to her mirror. She fiddled with her hair for a moment, before deciding to pull some of her twists into a sidetail while leaving the rest down.
“There we go! Now, before we head out-”
Violet went to the terrarium by her desk and peered inside.
Violet smiled. “Good morning ,Kermit!”
The green creature stared out at her from beneath a leaf, croaking evenly. It had been a gift from Oryou. She had intended for her to eat it but since the frog was still alive, Violet decided to keep it as a pet. Violet reached beneath the terrarium and lifted a bag of dried crickets. She opened the terrarium and using a pair of tweezers, fed the frog a few of the crickets before spritzing some water into the tank to keep it moist. Her task done, she made her bed and with Fou on her shoulder made her way out of her room.
“By the way, Fou, where’s Mash?”
As Violet stepped out into the hallway she was knocked to the ground.
Violet looked up. In front of her was a golden sheep. The sheep nuzzled her face. Violet pet its soft wool and looked beyond it. Scattered around the hall were golden sheep of various sizes.
“What happened? Why are Attila’s sheep all over the place?” Violet asked, getting up.
Mash came from around the corner.
“Morning Mash! What’s with the sheep?”
“Morning, Senpai! Something set off Darius and he spooked the sheep while Attila was moving them to a different pen. Now they’re all over the place! Some of the others are trying to help but the sheep aren’t used to them.”
“Did you guys already ask for David’s help?” Violet asked, trying to guide the sheep down the hallway with her body.
“Yes. They’ve started gathering the sheep in the atrium.”
“Okay then…” Violet looked at the wandering sheep thoughtfully. “I’ve got something we can try.”
She closed her eyes and began to hum. She relaxed her shoulders and focused on the song she had in mind. She allowed her meager magic circuits to activate and the mana to work its way through her.
She sang out. “Old McDonald had a farm! E-I-E-I-O! And that farm he had a sheep! E-I-E-I-O! And a baah, baah here and a baah, baah there! Here a-”
The sheep wandering the hallway began to meander closer to the two girls.
“Old McDonald had a farm! E-I-E-I-O!” Violet continued to sing. She gestured to Mash.
Mash nodded in understanding and got behind the approaching sheep, herding them closer to Violet. Violet turned around and began walking down the hallway, gathering sheep as she went along.
She kept singing the song as more sheep followed her down the hallway, bleating louder as more of them joined the throng. She nodded to staff members and servants as they pressed against the walls to make room for the sheep.
Finally, the procession came to the atrium where David and Attila were busy wrangling the sheep that were already gathered.
Violet stopped singing. “Guys! We got a couple more for you!”
Attila gave Violet and Mash a grateful smile. “Thank you, Master, Mash.”
David quickly counted the added sheep. “Huh, we actually have one more than usual.”
“I believe one of those belongs to me.”
The group turned to see Medea approach them.
“Oh! It’s a white ram ,right?” David said, looking around.
“Sorry, Medea! We must have picked it up by mistake,” said Violet.
Medea smiled. “It’s okay Violet. It’s good to see that you're getting practice with your animal charm.”
Violet smiled in return. “Yep! One step closer to becoming a Disney Princess.”
“Remember you still need to test it out in the field. It’s one thing if animals familiar with you respond,” she said, patting her white ram as David ushered it towards her, “but it would be really useful if it worked on phantasmals.”
“It would certainly make farming easier,” Violet murmured in reply. “You guys all good here?” she said to the two shepherds.
“Yes, Master. Thank you for your help,” replied Attila. “Now, to get you guys back into your pen,” she said, guiding her sheep out of the atrium.
“Come on, Senpai. Let’s go have breakfast!” suggested Mash.
“Mister Horse! No being greedy! It’s either the carrot or the apple! You can have another snack after everyone else has one!”
Saber Lily scolded one of Boudica’s horses as it tried once more to snatch an extra carrot out of her hand.
Mash and Violet giggled as they held out their own produce for the horses to take. The three of them were in Chaldea’s stables where most of the servants' steeds were kept.
The stables were a special room within Chaldea. It was a large open area with stalls for the horses. The stalls opened on their own allowing the horses to wander about the room and interact with each other when their riders weren’t using them. It had similar technology to it embedded in the walls as the simulator, allowing for the room to project a wide open pasture for the horses to enjoy for a few hours of the day. They were given fresh hay in the morning and there were even large balls for them to play with.
The steeds, like their heroic spirit masters, didn't need food to survive, but getting the occasional treat was always nice.
“Easy there, Bucephalus, you big baby!” Saber Lily continued, steadying the muzzle of the overexcited young black stallion as he nuzzled her hair.
“An apple for Tayuuguro, another for Kyoguro, a carrot for Bailard…” Mash said as each horse accepted their treat gratefully
“Did Lalter already bring in Llamrei?” Violet asked as she fed one of Achilles’ horses.
“She’s over there,” she pointed. “Oh, some of Pegasus’s feathers are loose. We should tell Medusa.”
“I’ve got her,” called out Saber Lily as she went to tend to the mare. She held her hand and the mare pressed its face into her palm.
“It’s always so astounding how docile she is around you and the other Arturia’s. Whenever anyone else tries to touch her, she gets so riled up,” Mash commented.
“Yeah,” agreed Violet. She picked up the sealed bucket that was resting next to her. “Does Bailong get produce or does he get meat like Tarasque and Hippogriff?”
“Produce. Sanzang always gives him produce. Why would he get meat?” asked Saber Lily.
Violet fed Bailong a carrot. “You do know he used to be a dragon right?”
Saber Lily whipped around. “Really?”
Mash plucked a card from the deck.
“Got any threes,” Bunyan asked Violet.
“Got any kings ,Robin?” she asked.
“Go fish. Got a ten?” he replied.
Violet grunted and handed him two tens.
“And with that, I’m out!” he said, putting down his cards and raising his hands.
Violet tossed her cards on the table and stretched. “Well that was a good few rounds.”
“How you doing down there, Babe?” Violet asked the round blue oxen as it sat on the ground between her and Bunyan. She gave the beast a rub and it lowed appreciatively.
Violet felt something land lightly on her head. She looked up, Robin’s bluebird peered down at her from its place in her hair.
“What? You want some attention too?”
The bird hopped onto the table and Violet gave its belly a rub with her forefinger. The bird puffed itself up in pleasure.
Mash smiled at the happy bird as she collected the cards. However, as she did so, she felt eyes on her. She looked around to see a small herd of barefoot white ghosts peering up at her.
“Er, hello…” Mash said hesitantly.
“What are Nitocris’s Medjeds doing here?” asked Bunyan, patting the head of a nearby one.
The Medjeds swarmed around Mash and Violet’s feet, brushing against their legs and staring at them insistently.
“I think...they want us to go with them,” Mash said.
“Okay then- Whoa!” Violet got up only to be knocked over by the herd of Medjeds. She landed on their waiting heads and was moved towards the exit.
“Senpai?!” Mash got up, only to be knocked down and carried to the door like her friend. “Ah! I guess we’ll see you guys later!”
Bunyan and Robin waved as the two were carried out of the room and into the hallway.
Moving in a hurricane of white sheets, the Medjed speedily transported the two girls down several hallways and up several flights of steps, deftly avoiding servants and staff members. They entered the dormitory area and turned into an open doorway, flooding the room.
“Thank you Lord Medjed,” said Nitocris as she stood up to greet her guests. “Allies, I’ve recently obtained some cosmetics that I would like to share with you.”
The Medjeds set the two girls on their feet.
“Hey, Nito. Hey Eresh, Ishtar,” Violet greeted.
“Hello!” The two “sisters” replied. Ishtar was already busy applying eye makeup to Ereshkigal.
Nitocris guided Mash over to the vanity and had her take a seat. She began pinning her bangs back as she began talking about the wide array of cosmetics she had on the table.
“Smell this oil, it’s sandalwood!” Nitocris said eagerly, giving the small bottle to Mash.
Mash sniffed it before passing on to Violet.
“Ooh! This is nice!” Violet commented.
“I know! And look at this lipstick! A support Cleopatra gave it to me, it’s made out of flowers, red ochre, fish scales, crushed ants, carmine, and beeswax. I think it would stand out really well against your skin tone!”
Violet sat on the side and looked at the cosmetics on the table as Nitocris began to work on Mash. She was testing some blush on her hand when she felt something against her leg. She looked down to see an antelope chewing on her sock.
“Oh!” Violet exclaimed in surprise.
Ereshkigal glanced over. “Nidintu, no!” she exclaimed. She got up and hurriedly pulled the antelope away.
Violet laughed. “It’s okay,” she said.
“No it’s not! For some reason she always goes for people’s clothes! Last time she tried to eat Leonidas’s cape! I give her plenty of greens but she still goes for any cloth she sees! Medea almost got on my case when she went after one of her dresses!” Ereshkigal picked up the naughty deer. “Why can’t you behave?!”
“Well, maybe you can train it not to?” suggested Mash.
“Yeah. If you start putting bitter stuff on clothes and feeding it to it. Maybe if you do it enough, it’ll start to think clothes are gross,” suggested Violet.
“What if it starts to only associate clothes that Eresh gives her with the bad taste?” asked Mash.
“She could be sneaky with it ‘accidentally’ leave the clothes within the antelope’s reach. Even if it doesn’t work, at least it’s trying something .”
“I think I might try what you suggested,” Ereshkigal said. “Though I don’t really like the idea of clothes lying around,” she added.
“What about you, Ishtar?” asked Nitocris. “Do you ever have problems with Gugalanna?”
“Not really,” Ishtar replied, leaning down to pet the small Bull of Heaven as it slumbered on top of a cushion. “He sometimes wanders off during the day but he’s usually back by dinnertime. I don’t know what exactly he does. He might be hanging out with the other familiars for all I know. Eresh, sit back down. I only did one of your cheeks.”
Eresh put down her deer and got back to getting her makeup done, occasionally glancing at the meandering beast.
“Maybe you should get Nidintu a leash and collar,” Violet suggested as she clumsily attempted to line her eyes with black kohl while holding a mirror really close to her face. “Tie her down so she doesn’t get into trouble.”
“Wow, you’re really not that good at that,” commented Ishtar.
Violet frowned. “Give me a break. How often do you see me wearing makeup? I’m trying.”
“I’m kinda surprised you fold these yourself Osakabehime,” commented Mash.
“Yeah, I can generate the paper myself but to be able to summon specific animals I have to fold them by hand. And then they get damaged when I fight and I have to fold new ones,” Osakabehime replied.
“How am I supposed to fold this again?” Violet asked.
The three girls sat in the cafeteria in between meal times folding paper animals. Fou lay on the table watching them as they worked.
“Like this.” Osakabehime demonstrated how to fold the paper bat.
“Okay…” Violet mimicked her motions before lifting her finished product. “Er...hmm. It’s a bit rumpled.”
“It’s Daijobu. Definitely still usable,” Osakabehime replied, placing the origami in her finished box.
“Osakabehime, which is your favorite origami animal?” Mash asked, as she finished making an origami squirrel.
“Hmmm...The horses are always useful...the dragons are always impressive but too tedious to make often…”
Osakabehime felt something rub up against her leg. She looked down to see her orange fox origami staring up at her.
“-But I think my fox is my favorite,” she finished, petting the paper creature. “He also doesn’t get destroyed as often.”
“I see,” Mash said with a smile.
“Is it also because he also reminds you of your old fox aesthetic?” Violet asked.
The three continued folding until it was dinner time and servants and staff began pouring into the cafeteria. The three put aside their work and got their food. When they returned to their table, they were greeted by delighted barking.
“Why hello there!” Mash said as she set her tray down before crouching to greet the two white wolves that eagerly wound themselves around her legs.
One of the wolves turned Violet, tail wagging. Violet couldn’t resist giving the canine a hug and a kiss on the head.
“Hey, that’s enough playing with the missies it’s time to eat up!”
The wolves turned away from the two girls and went toward their approaching master, Caster Cu as he set down two bowls of food for his familiars. He sat down at a nearby table as the two wolves eagerly began to eat. Sitting with him at the table was the Queen of Sheba and her three djinn, the three bunny-like creatures eating from their own bowls on the floor.
“Hey, after dinner do you guys want to play outside for a bit? I was planning to let my wolves get some exercise. And I’ve got frisbees with their name on it…” CasCu said, waiving the disk in the air.
“Of course!” Violet and Mash replied eagerly.
“I’ll sit this one out,” Osakabehime replied, unenthused.
“Fou,” Fou agreed with a nod.
“You’re lost,” CasCu replied.
The girls eagerly ate their food and joined CasCu outside on the mountain plateau with his wolves. The sun had set and it was below freezing but the arctic wind was still. It was a rare night without a blizzard. The plateau was illuminated by the moon, stars, and the observatory’s bright lights. The girl were protected by thick winter clothes as they stepped out into the soft snow. CasCu remained in his usual druid wear.
“Fetch!” CasCu shouted as he threw the disk high into the air.
The wolves barked happily as they chased after the disk again and again as the three took turns throwing the frisbee each time they brought it back.
Violet once again took the frisbee from the wolf and with a flick of her wrist, she threw it far out into the distance. The wolves bolted through the white snow, staring up into the moonlight as the silhouette of the frisbee flew over the ground. One of them made a grand leap high into the air to catch the disk...Only for it to be snatched away when it was just within reach!
CasCu, Mash, and Violet watched in surprise as the frisbee suddenly changed direction as a large form materialized midair and landed in the snow with a heavy thud.
The wolf landed and skidded to a halt besides its companion on the opposite side of the figure.
Under the light of the observatory stood a wolf, many times larger than CasCu’s with the frisbee in his jaws.
“Lobo!” Violet exclaimed.
The wolf looked up at her in acknowledgement before turning his attention to the two smaller wolves that were already playfully trying to get at the frisbee he held.
From the entrance approach Hessian, Lobo’s headless rider in his usual black clothing. He waved at the group as he approached.
“Hey, Hessian! Do you guys want to play with us?” Violet asked.
Hessian gave a thumbs up.
“Lobo! Bring back the frisbee so we can throw it!” Violet called out.
And so the group played for a few hours more. Their game of frisbee eventually devolved into the canines playing a keep-away as their humans tried to coax them back inside. This resulted in a lot of running and tumbling the snow, but despite their runny noses by time they came back in, Mash and Violet were smiling.
They said goodbye to the servants and familiars and headed towards their dorms. Fou met them on the way. They said goodbye and retired for the night. After getting into her pjs, Mash cuddled up with Fou underneath her sheets. Violet said goodnight to Kermit and went to bed.
All through Chaldea, various creatures were put into their stables, pet beds, or their owner’s beds for the night, as much Chaldeans as their masters. That night the Chaldeans slept well.