Suggested by: Olivia C.
-a train station in London, England
-a parasol that conceals a short blade
"The Things Within"
"London station!" Called the conductor as the engine puffed its way under the massive steel canopy. "London station, right on time!"
A mother and her young son glanced warily toward the window, where a young woman in a green dress and a funny hat pressed her face against the glass.
"Oh, Laws, it's so big!" She murmured. "An' lookit all the people!"
The mother pulled her son just that much closer. Their seat mate prattled on as if speaking to someone who cared what she thought.
"I ain't never been to London afore, y'know; but when Old Mister Glory gave me this chance, I knew I was set! I only hope I can find him in all this muddle. Where I come from, they's hills and trees and whatnot, perfectly all over the place; I ain't much used to the big city with it's tall buildings 'n' hard streets. Well! I could probably holler as loud as I please in that station out there, and no one would hear me over the noise!"
By the time she finished, the young lady was quite alone in her portion of the carriage. The conductor ambled his way over to her.
"Beg pardon, miss—"
"Oh!" The lady bounded to her feet, grinning at him. "Miss Avelyn Rose, and I am here to find Mr. Abraham Glory and spend the summer at his house out in the country, although I am not at all sure I will find any kind of country around here, it's all just so big and wonderful and crowds and smelly and noisy—"
The conductor practically had to tug her by the arm while she talked. "That's all very well, Miss—"
"Oh, do call me Ava! Everybody does!"
"But you really need to get off this train; we have a schedule to keep, and we would not want you to miss your friend!"
Avelyn blinked as she now stood at the top of the steps. Just as many people still milled about the platform as before. She descended into the waiting hand of the porter who had long since unloaded her luggage. She accepted the two carpetbags and nodded to him. With her purse dangling off one shoulder and a little green parasol tucked under the other arm, she picked up her bags and headed for the bench under the great clock in the middle of the center platform, to wait for Old Glory.
Trains coasted through, taking on passengers and unleashing fresh faces into the crowd. One woman in particular caught Ava's eye, singular in her plainness amid all the flounces and feathers. A simple blue dress, exquisitely stitched and mended, adorned her far more richly than the flounces and fussery of the Victorian peacocks about her. A small smile played about her lips as Ava reached into a pocket in her bodice and pulled out a crystalline monocle. She placed it against her eye and gazed again at the crowd. The details of the crowd sharpened, but not in the typical manner of a seeing-glass. A particularly stuffy woman covered from chin to toe in fine fabrics might have been scandalized to discover that, through the young girl's monocle, she wore little more than underthings, flaunting her sanctimonious self before any and all who would answer her calls for attention. Still another, who contrived to spend all she had on the latest fashions on the surface, wore only tattered rags on her inner character.
Even so, the sight of the milling, unsuspecting crowd was not all ugliness and depravity; a young man in a bespoke tweed suit transformed into a noble adorned with fine fabrics and a gold crown on his head. The girl in the simple blue dress became a queen in glittering robes. Ava smiled and sat back to watch her while she waited.
The clock struck four in the afternoon, and few people remained. There were no trains chugging by at the moment, so Avelyn's ears could catch the low rumbling of a roar, even as people in the crowd cried out at someone making their way through. With her naked eye, Ava saw a big brute of a man shoving his way through the public. Through her monocle, though...
She gasped, tensed, and shifted her grip on the parasol. Through her monocle, the slithering, smoking form of a dragon advanced upon the innocent princess.
The young woman in the blue dress had the same response to the oncoming threat, no matter what her eyes saw: she feared him, and drew back, cowering and hiding to escape capture.
"Here now, Lou!" He growled. "Where do you think you're going? I told you not to leave; don't be foolish, come back with me, girl!"
"No!" The girl cried. "Don't touch me! Stay away! Oh, somebody help!" She turned and pulled down a pile of crates behind her and tried to run, but the press of the crowd was too thick.
The man was bigger, stronger than she; he pushed aside the broken crates and kept coming, heedless of the people as he focused on his prize. "I can touch you all I like, fool woman! Don't you see that I can't stay away from you? I want you back, precious!"
The spunky traveler leaped into action, dashing between the two of them and raising her parasol, pointing it at the man.
"I believe the lady said no," Ava warned him.
The man glared, as the dragon within prepared his fire. "Well now, what have we here? A little champion?" He scowled when Ava didn't move. "Out of my way, meddler!"
"Who are you?" Gasped the trembling young woman.
"I'll explain in a moment," whispered the girl in the green dress, watching the fire build in the dragon's throat; any second now... "But for now, you'll want to stay behind me." Ava pressed the lever on her parasol and it flew open just as the dragon spewed his fire at them. The parasol flew open, creating a shield in front of the two women that protected them both. Carefully, Ava drew the short blade from the shaft of the shield-parasol and gripped it firmly with her free hand.
"Right then," she murmured. "I have a dragon to kill."
Previously In This Series:
Crossover Parts: (Soul Mates Part 6/Serenity's Light Part 2)
#26 "The Tides of Battle"
#1 "Red of Morning"