Mar 18, 2019 7:34 PM
Freya characters in Fabulous
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She can see herself in third person.

A slight lean of the eyes turns her against the starry background; focusing, or something like focusing, adjusts the lighting conditions from soft to stark to dim to blazing, warm to cool, dappled to spotlight-simple.

Does she like what she sees? If she doesn't, it's easy - tempting, like picking at a frayed fingernail - to change it. Clear skin? Nudge cheekbones? Color hair? Sharpen teeth? Lengthen legs? Dye eyes? Add fingers - change cup size - smooth cellulite - sprout feathers - flatten tummy - embed crystals - armor shoulders - manicure nails - illuminate bones - grow wings - incorporate tail -

The changes feel like nothing on their own. It's like adding drops to a glass in her hand: she can't feel the impact of water on water, but she can tell it's getting heavier, and can tell where the minimum fill line is - but not how heavy it can get before it will slip from her fingers.

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Alicia's body laughs, bounces, throws its arms back and howls at the sky.

This is it. Everything just like Atlanta'd said it'd be. An infinite canvas at her fingertips.

 

She knows she's not dreaming. She has a lot of experience with dreaming. Every night for the past thousand nights, she's been getting ready for this day to dawn.

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The levers of this place come to her even easier than do those behind a common dreamscape, yes. As easy as picking at fingernails. And Alicia? She has never had any particular talent for not picking at her fingernails.

Within her first second of empowered self-appraisal, acne becomes a distant memory. Then she gets taller--longer strides, better reach. Her body sways from side to side, adjusting to its new gait. She smiles, and her teeth whiten. Her flesh becomes leaner and her muscles better refined. Her cup size changes--just a little, slightly smaller, rewound back to before they started getting in the way during gym class. Hair lengthens. Long abused fingernails grow back in symmetrical and unblemished. 

Her face remains the same. She wants Atlanta to still recognize her when she wraps things up here.

 

How's the metaphorical cup doing? Still light in her palm?

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Oh, yes. That's not enough, not nearly enough.

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Some girls have trouble hitting the threshold, Alicia's been told. Too timid. Too indecisive. Too attached to what they used to be.

But she won't have that problem.

Alicia's body looks to her expectantly. She pans across the starscape, examining it with distant certainty. Her body is not what she is. It never has been. Her body is just a tool, a vessel, an interface between her selfhood and the world existing beyond it.

She throws a more drastic lever. Her body drops to its knees, arms wrapped tight around its chest, as bony protrusions erupt from its shoulderblades and unfold into a quartet of featherless wings.

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That's plenty. Before the wings are even all grown in, she's there.

The mental image of herself from the outside changes, like a lens has dropped into place between it and her virtual eye; at the original layer she can still adjust her body, if not back whence she came, and on this new level she can decorate it with impermanent flourishes. Clothes, approximately telekinetic hairstyling, accessories, makeup, she'll never need to visit another apparel or cosmetics store except for inspiration.

That's all she can do right now, because she looks ridiculous, with wings while not wearing something designed for wings and not having shopped in the right sizes for her current height and so on. She looks kind of stupid. All you can do when you look kind of stupid is arrange to look less stupid.

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Okay. This part will be a little trickier. Like most students at the highly selective School For The Gifted that she and Atlanta attend, she has a great many prodigal skills but does not count fashion sense among them.

She can get through this if she takes it one step at a time, though. First thing, she 'blinks' at the clothes her body's currently wearing and then makes a mental motion analogous to rolling her eyes. The ill-fitting attire gets torn loose and cast away into the void.

Yes. Better. The naked body sprouting naked wings looks decidedly nonstupid, if she can just manage to throw an outfit together on top of that without making things actively worse she figures she can call it a day.

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Looking naked is indeed objectively-according-to-the-character-generation-viewer and her internal magic sense decidedly nonstupid. It's not a lot of magic, she is still stark naked and not elaborately styled, but she's got a skosh, now, enough to do something other than immediately clothe herself if that happens to be her priority. Something with... light maybe?

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Power.

She doesn't know precisely where it is, or how to access it, but she knows it's there and it calls to her.

She spends a couple seconds grasping for it at random, but only manages to pull levers she already had access to--pans her viewport around, adjusts the illumination, makes her body's hair flutter in a nonexistent breeze and so on.

Inefficient. There's just one mote of magical power waiting out there, and probably not even a big one. Waste of time to search for it now.

She needs to stay focused on the aesthetic levers, pick enough of the low hanging fruit there that additional avenues of power become available, and then search for them all at once.

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Though alas, she still has no fashion sense. She stares at the unblemished body before her for a short spell, feeling the same apprehension that always tremors through her when she's staring at a blank page eight hours before an essay's due. So many directions to go. So many ways things could go wrong.

 

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What if she started out with a base layer that doesn't change the outline any?

That seems safe. (Alternately, she could just crib an aesthetic package off of one of the celebrity MGs she's seen on YouTube. That would also be safe. The magic has a plagiarism penalty, sure, but if you plagiarize something top-of-the-line it still works out to a net positive aesthetic balance doesn't it?)

But Alicia wants to see how she'll do on her own. She stretches a uniform pane of form-fitting material up from her body's toes, over its legs, all the way up to its neck and then down to its fingertips. She sets its base color to black. (Black goes with anything, right? Alicia thinks she heard a fashionable person say that once.) Then she adds contouring that matches the color of her wings.

 

There. Based on everything Alicia knows about aesthetics, there is literally no way that first move could have gone wrong.

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It helps, a little. It's not very centrally magical girl but it's slightly improved over Stark Naked.

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Okay. That's encouraging. She isn't completely lost here.

She adds boots and gloves next. Long ones, past the knees and elbows respectively (she's pretty sure bigger items are worth more points). She gives them fancy lacing up their full length, because why wouldn't you add fancy lacing to items you'll never have to take on or off by hand? She agonizes over the color, though. Her instinct is to match them to her outfit's existing two-color palate (metallic black or chalky white) but she knows MGs are supposed to be vibrant and so has concerns about committing such an important pair of accessories to grayscale. She cycles between black and white a couple times, then tries out blue then green then pink then red, and in the end elects to go with whichever one the dreamscape likes best.

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Whether it's a matter of her own coloration, her exact chosen shade, or something else, the magic likes blue over pink over green over red.

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Blue it is, then.

Conveniently, blue is a very reasonable color for pleated skirts to come in, and pleated skirts routinely outperform all other lower body clothing options in all the online MG polls that she and Atlanta read in preparation for this. (Such polls are notoriously unreliable of course, but to acquire reliable MG aesthetic intel you need the sort of connections or security clearances that are pretty difficult to get as a sixteen-year-old.)

But now she comes to the dicey part. A skirt has to coordinate seamlessly with adjacent clothing items or it can ruin the whole ensemble.

And Alicia, if the point need needs further belaboring, still has no earthly idea what she's doing.

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She wants something billowy. Something dramatic and fun to move in.

She knows she would mess up billowy if she tried it though.

Would a classic, two-tone single-piece sailor-style short-hem work as the centerpiece to an outfit like this? (She'd better hope so, because it's on a very short list of classic MG attire that she has committed well enough to memory to recreate from scratch.)

Blue skirt, white top is the classic among classics. She starts there, borrowing the white from her wings and the blue from her shoes for the new item's palate. The result isn't exactly pleasing, her admittedly hazy color intuition tells her that the upper portion of her body is now way too white. White is boring. She adds more blue by enlarging the neckerchief, then adds some laces down the sides and around the openings on the back that accommodate the wings. (Still missing something?) Ribbons. MGs love ribbons. She adds a big black bow to the front, a couple smaller ones to her hips right above where the material changes from clinging blouse to bouncing pleats and then--in a reckless flourish--two fat floor-length ribbons that emerge from under the oversize neckerchief and cascade down her body's shoulders to (yes) billow out behind it.

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Okay. So. What's the damage?

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It's hard to compare with anyone else - she doesn't get feedback on how anybody else is doing, just on relative power with herself - but so far she hasn't added anything that outright detracts, and the magic seems to like the laces and the billowing ribbons in particular.

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Oh. That's interesting.

(Of course it liked the ribbons. Alicia excels at everything she puts her heart into, that's how it's always been before and so of course that's how it'll be here too.)

A thousand invisible fingers dance over a thousand invisible levers.

Yeah, she's been too cautious if anything. While there's no precise feedback on how others are doing with their magecraft, she has no doubt that Atlanta's made it up to the second or third aesthetic benchmark already. Atlanta never wastes time with things.

Alicia won't either.

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When she'd hit her first benchmark, the hint she'd gotten had been "light." 

Maybe it's time to stop polishing a safe base layer and reach for some elemental point multipliers.

What does she associate with light? (Fires, shadows, lasers, bulbs, the sun, stars in general, radiation, rainbows, photosynthesis, mirrors, flashlights, deep ocean bioluminescence...)

Okay which of those things are prettiest? (Bonfires and glowing jellyfish.) But which ones are prettiest in an MG sort of way? (Stars and rainbows.)

Great. And rainbows definitely require Level 99 color coordination skills to work into an outfit.

Stars it is.

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She gives her body dangly star earrings. She cinches the bows on its hips and chest with big star-shaped clasps. She adds black detail work to her gloves, particularly along the back of the hands, and then into that void adds glittering studs--a big star on the reverse of the palm, five little ones across the knuckles.

She does similar to the boots: colors its details black and then embeds lines of star-studs into the material.

(She doesn't bother conferring with dreamscape between additions. She knows she's on the right track now. It's like those moments in her Calculus class when a new concept finally clicks into place.)

Her foundation is strong. Her intuition is good. She will not trip.

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Her intuition tells her the aesthetic's unbalanced. That the head need more adornment. She gives it a star-encrusted headband, pushing its hair back into a tidier bundle, and then fills her body's dark hair with sparkles.

Yes. That's a good effect. Sort of evokes a twinkling expanse of night sky when her body swings its head back and forth.

Which draws her attention to the as-yet-unadorned shoulder ribbons. She'd been planning to cinch them with star clasps like she had the bows, but as she regards them now a new notion strikes her. The dreamscape likes billowing, seems to have given the ribbons a point multiplier for that. So it stands to reason...

She pulls the lever before even finishing the thought. Constellations erupt down the flowing lengths of void. Hundreds of individual star-studs, sketching out Orions and Big Dippers and Canis Majors and so on.

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The magic likes the stars a lot! It seems to like that she's matchy; she gets a bigger jump than anything she's done before for adding stars at all, and more for every additional star element, especially the sparkle hair.

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And how does the magic like it if she makes the stars glow?

 

She grips the luminosity lever and gradually eases it up through its full available range, testing how things look at different levels of radiance.

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The optimal level of glow is right about.... there. Shiny but not a Lite Brite. In her current real-life lighting conditions; her magic doesn't care about the lighting conditions in her mind's eye, that's just there for her aesthetic sense.

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Alicia lets her focus shift, releasing the various aesthetic levers and instead feeling out the eddies of untapped magical energy.

There's more now. A lot more. Not her full potential, nothing close to that, but a fair place to start. A target rich environment.

(Her body smiles, raises a gloved fist and hungrily scans the starscape surrounding it.)

 

She extends her mind. Twines her awareness out across the vast metaphysical scaffolding that now suspends her. Searches for her first supernatural boon like a vine searching for the sun.

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