Business went down with the temperature. I came to learn, with the cooling days, that the green spots on my dress weren’t actually because of my sweat having a weird chemical reaction to the dye, but because the dye itself was a rare, earth magic dye that changed according to temperatures over an extended period of time. Aka, a ‘seasonal’ dress. It started out where it soaked up my sweat because those were the coolest parts of my dress that got the least amount of sunshine. Oh, apparently sunshine had something else to do with it too.
Kind of a bad idea for a working woman’s dress, if I do say so myself.
I learned this through one of the dressmaker ladies at my local clothing store while I was out getting the quick-growing Gus new clothes, and me an even lighter, summer-friendly dress to help prevent another blackout. She happened to be an earth magician and demonstrated my dresses qualities by very kindly turning the green spots on my dress back to blue.
“Though, whoever gave this to you didn’t realize how badly you take to heat,” she said kindly. “It’s…rather embarrassing that sweating so much is what changed the color.”
Tell me about it. I wasn’t going to wear that blue dress until autumn at this rate. Yet another reason to get a third set of clothes to wear.
I used my much-needed, one-day vacation from Hal to recover from festival season to visit the temple with Gus. There, my first question to Nehcor’s very unidentical statue was why the heck he felt the need to give me a peasant’s Belle dress with fancy-ass dye.
‘I thought it would be a nice introduction to the magical aspects of my world, jeeze. Forgive me for showing a little love and spoiling my sister a bit.’
You’ve already made it difficult for me to not stand out by not telling me that healing magic was super rare when I chose it. Why didn’t you tell me?
‘You already know why. And it being your choice made it all the better. And do you really want to use up your energy arguing over little stuff like this?’
I remembered being carried out of the temple last time and reluctantly took a bit longer to think about what I wanted to ask.
Is there anything I should ask?
‘Took you long enough to ask. There’s this godly rule that it’s a bad idea to info-dump people, so wait for them to ask as much as you can.’
That explained so much.
‘You going to do anything about all your, ahem, love-slaves?’
I shuddered at hearing that term. It was bad enough hearing it from Gus, but about a million times worse from a god.
No. Definitely not.
‘Pity. You’re going to find it hard to get your babies sooner rather than later. It takes two to tango, and two to, you know…exchange DNA and…swap saliva.’
You promised me my babies. You didn’t give me conditions, you just said to come here and raise Gus.
‘No, I did mention conditions. The word choice was ‘hoops to jump through,’ if you recall, but, since you have that holsey mortal memory, there you go. I’m by no means saying you have to get married in this world, but you’re going to have to eventually if you want your kids.’
I sighed against my folded hands on the back of the pew in front of me.
‘How so? Don’t kids deserve a dad? Even have a right to one?’
I hesitated, biting my lip as I thought. Besides me I could feel Gus shifting around in boredom, tapping his shoes against the floor and huffing through his nose.
I gave him a light tap on the head. “Pray.”
“You want help using your magic right, don’t you? What makes you think you’re experienced and wise enough to do it by yourself?”
“It’s not like I can hear him.”
“It’s not like you even tried. Besides, he’s given you a whole book to start off with. Literally.”
Gus groaned, folded his arms, and dropped his head onto them with a puff of silver locks. They’d grown long enough for more fondling than just a rub on the head, and I’d taken to playing with them whenever he was nearby.
I resisted the temptation to do it now and bowed my head back down, an idea of what to ask finally crossing my mind.
Just why do people here find me so attractive? Is having healthy skin really that big of a deal?
I thought I could feel a smile from him, which was odd given one couldn’t really hear facial expressions.
‘You weren’t all that bad looking in your own mortal sphere, you know. But yes, you are a good deal more attractive to the temporary eye than you use to be. It’s because, when I returned your spirit to your body, I did a partial transfiguration, which aligned your body more to your spirit. In short, more of your internal soul, your divine nature, is showing through your features. Your kindness, goodness, and honesty are showing through, which is interpreted through your physical features as beauty.’
I let out a weary puff of air, the exhaustion already beginning to hit me. Man, this guy talked a lot.
‘It was my wife’s idea, really. I wasn’t originally going to put you with just a Methusalah level lifespan, but when I asked her what might make you enjoy your time on my planet, she said ‘why not make it like a reverse harem! Girls always like it when a bunch of hot guys fall for them,’ and I was like, ‘I guess I can get that, okay!’ So now you get your pick of the bunch!’
I thumped my forehead against my folded palms. So his wife was one of those.
‘Hey, I heard that. My wife is your greatest advocate, I’ll have you know.’
It doesn’t matter how many guys like me if I suck at picking. And it’s the hot ones that are the most likely to cheat on you.
‘So why not just ask for my advice? Heavy hint hint right there.’
But I found my shoulders sinking towards my knees. This was about as much as I could do without making a repeat of last time.
One last question, I thought. And please make it brief, I’m wearing out here. How can I raise Gus right? You’ve given me two books so far, could you give me a manual on that?
‘Because you don’t need one.’
Bullshit. But he didn’t respond to that one. Probably for the best. I had already crossed the line too many times by swearing at a god and then pseudo insulting his wife. It wasn’t written down in stone anywhere, but I always figured that our father God never told us directly about our heavenly mother to protect us, because how could a good husband hold back when someone was bad-mouthing his wife?
So, after shooting up an apology to Nehcor about his wife and telling him to tell her thanks for me, that her suggestion was all that bad at all, I sat back, cracked my neck, and patted Gus on the shoulder.
“Okay, I’m done. Are you finished?”
“I was finished as soon as we came here.”
I looked to the ceiling for strength. I needed it. Though, in all reality, I should have started off my conversation with Nehcor on advice of how to curb this grouchy attitude of Gus’s. Were all heroes this way? I thought it was after the big, exhausting adventure that they came home to become the old men who barked kids off their lawn.