Rhone: Anything to protect this pure land.
Auvergne: Correct. We all need it.
They stand ready, smiling.
Alpes faces the opposite way, in front of the wall. They are excited.
Alpes: Let us begin! A new occurrence and a test for us all!
They get down on one knee, touching the ground with their solid fist.
Alpes: Sipre malkiriann olphus! … Sipre malkiriann olphus!
They sweat a little. The earth cracks open underneath their fingers.
The crack extends beneath the cocoon, shifting the glowing flowers apart. The cocoon does not budge.
Rhone: Ah! As I expected from them.
Alpes looks down, sweaty. Then they look up, towards the cocoon, one hand on their hip.
Alpes: Then, shall I go at it again?
Occitanie stands stiffly by the cocoon.
Occitanie: Well. I suppose. I do not see much change.
Calais frowns, thinking hard.
Calais, th: Should I warn them? Alpes could hurt the plants here. I could just clean up afterwards…
Alpes opens their mouth.
Alpes: Sipre malkiriann-
Calais steps up, between Alpes and the cocoon. Occitanie holds up a hand weakly, to stop them. Picardie looks on in mild surprise.
Calais: Be careful to not uproot the trees! We need them for our livings.
Alpes is mad.
Alpes: Tell me, young one, what can I do?
Calis grips the edge of their long shirt, silent.
Auvergne steps up, preparing their hand.
Auvergne: Then let me attempt to breach the cocoon.
Occitanie looks at the cocoon.
Occitanie: Yes. I do believe we can conclude that earth magic will not help us.
Alpes looks down, unhappy and sweaty.
Auvergne holds out their right hand. The thumb is to the side, and the pointer and pinky fingers are curled up. The middle and ring fingers stick out. Circular magic comes out of the hand.
Auvergne: Uiha-pa ranka!
Auvergne’s face twists in extreme spell-casting. The air around them twists.
Picardie unfolds her arms, leaning a little.
Picardie: Even an air sorcerer from Diora cannot best this cocoon.
Behind Occitanie and Auvergne, the cocoon has not budged.
Occitanie: My, my. That was disappointing.
Auvergne: It is much sturdier than I expected!
Rhone: I am left.
She steps up, dress flowing a little with her movements.
Picardie: Do not soak-
Across four triangular panels, Rhone casts her spell. On the top triangle, she opens her mouth, smiling. Her eyes close a little, and her perfectly curled hair frames her face.
On the two side panels, her hands reach out and down. Her right hand, in the left panel, is palm-up, with the thumb and pointer finger creating a circle. It is on a purple background, with magic symbols floating around it. The same symbols surround her left hand, in the right panel. It extends with the palm to the front, forming a looser version of scissors with the pointer and middle fingers extended and the thumb holding the ring and pinky fingers (although they do not have rock-paper-scissors in this world.)
The bottom panel shows a giant, yellow eye on Rhone’s forehead. It has a dark oval pupil and light blue eyelashes. It glows. The magic symbols are on either side.
Through the eye in two places, Rhone sees inside the cocoon. First, the webbing, the, a flaming core with small purple triangles sticking out one side.
Rhone: I can see inside. Within all of this webbing- more magic! A great core of magic!
Occitanie leans over Rhone. The eyelashes have extended above her hairline.
Occitanie: Can you share your sight?
Rhone: Come, hold my hand.
She extends a hand.
Occitanie takes it. In Occitanie’s sleeve, Calais blushes.
Picardie puts a hand by her face to call out to Occitanie.
Picardie: Occitanie! We will take our break now.
With Occitanie in the foreground, glowing eye on her forehead, Calais looks on as Picardie puts an arm on their shoulder.
They are now on the path into the forest. Their boots stamp down on the dirt.
Picardie: Can you feel the roots?
Calais’s eyes are closed, and they are happy.
Calais: The trees here go deep into the earth.
Picardie keeps her eyes open.
Picardie: Which way to the waterfall?
They reach the waterfall. Picardie stands in front of it, frowning.
Picardie: Did something happen?
Calais’s eye opens wide in shock.
Picardie: Well. You are not jumping to Occitanie as you did. Just now, I thought you would run off.
Picardie plays with one of her braids.
Calais walks past her, to the bank of the stream. They sit on their knees, reaching into the water.
Calais: She… she…
Calais’s relfection: I am not good enough for her.
Calais pouts their hand on the surface. The reflection is unhappy, long hair falling down around their face.
Picardie looks at the bent-over Calais.
Picardie: What? That is ridiculous.
There is a large panel in the water. A young Occitanie takes up most of the space, her red hair flowing in the wind behind her.
She looks to the right, back to a small, younger Calais who is in her shadow.
Calais: All this time, I have worked hard for the sake of this forest. But ever since I met her, she has towered over me, shining in the light. Growing past the canopy, while… I am just undergrowth.
Picardie looks on. Her reflection is the same as her current self. She can only see Calais’ current self in the reflection, as well. Calais’s fingers are now in the water.
Picardie thinks: Not a weed in my mind knew that.
Calais looks up at Picardie.
Calais: What’s that noise?
Picardie: Maybe it’s the cocoon!
Both have wide eyes, scared and hopeful.
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