And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you are going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call- White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane.
After they had successfully saved the world from Croix's death missile of doom, the heroic girls of Luna Nova found themselves with a mini vacation brought on by the school. It was a week of celebrations, meant to celebrate the fact the world had been saved, that no one had lost a life, and it also gave the school staff time to clean up and fix the issue with the wane magical sources on campus. Thus classes were canceled and mini dances and buffets were organized for the students who congregated and congratulated all those involved in the saving of the world scheme.
With the exception of Diana, who of course offered to help the teachers in their arduous task, the rest of the girls were taking the chance to indulge in some down time. That became harder to do for Akko because of her sudden rise to stardom.
Akko wasn't used to all this attention- all this positive attention. Usually she was at the head of someone's scorn, or the target of much laughter and mocking. But now people, instead of pointing at her and mocking her, pointed at her and waved happily. It seemed everyone wanted to be her friend, since she was the one chiefly responsible for taking down the missile despite Diana also being there. Diana just brushed off the additional attention gracefully. She was no doubt used to being in the limelight and wasn't flattered by the praise and she was able to evade the crowds successfully. Akko was still learning how to manage all that and it was only thanks to Lotte either pulling her away, or Professor Ursula sending the crowds off, or Sucy scaring away the girls with some horrendous smelling potion, that she was able to escape.
The attention exhausted the normally super charged Akko and she found herself missing the calmer days. That was why she couldn't wait for classes to start again, especially now that she had gained some of her magic back. She had recently been able to pilot her broom around for long distances, albeit only a couple inches from the ground. But progress was progress and it helped that Diana was her tutor.
Amanda had offered initially but the girl flew like a maniac and she wasn't the safest of choices for a beginner like Akko. So Diana had offered to privately tutor Akko, which had shocked everyone when the blonde had come out and said it publicly. Akko had been overjoyed. This just meant that slowly she was becoming closer friends with Diana. The usually prickly and coldly composed Cavendish girl was becoming more open and receptive to others. Most importantly she had real respect for Akko now, following how Akko had helped Diana with her family situation and then with saving the world.
So the two girls worked together on Akko's skills all week long, late in the afternoon when the blonde had time. Even with the week of no classes, the prestigious girl still had a lot of work and responsibilities to tend to, so Akko didn't push her for other times, just gratefully took the time Diana offered her. Diana was a patient instructor, and she had a sharp eye. She would catch all of Akko's mistakes and point them out and explain how Akko could improve them. Not only was she helpful, but spending time alone with Diana made Akko happy and she might have once or twice purposefully messed up if only so that Diana would spend more time instructing her, moving Akko's hands into the correct position. Her touch made Akko feel warm for reasons she was yet unsure of. All Akko knew was that she liked it.
And it was because of Diana that Akko was able to make so much progress. She was able to fly for extended periods of time, albeit not at high heights. But there would always be time to fix that. At the end of the week, Akko did a little test show for her friends to show the extent of her progression. They had clapped in appreciation for her new skills, but then of course Amanda had to hop on her own broom and show off her skill set, blowing away almost all of the witches hats with her show stopping performance, advertising that Akko would have known how to do this already if she had only let the Irish girl teach the brunette this. Akko had merely laughed, because such things were still out of her grasp.
The week of relaxation had slowly drawn to an end and the girls decided they wanted to do something together for one last event of fun before it was time to go back to work. And since the weather was so fair, they had decided to set up a picnic. Everyone was responsible for bringing one thing or the other and even Diana manged to take some time off and join them along with her friends Hannah and Barbara. The three girls brought a trayful of sweets and some nice blankets to sit on. Almost too nice to sit on, but Diana had assured them all it was fine to sit on them since for her they were merely some old ratty blankets. Sucy brought some muffins, Lotte made some tea, Jasminka brought chips, Amanda some dip for the chips, Constantine made three different kinds of small sandwiches and Akko brought onigri. Together they set out under an overhanging willow tree by a small stream where they ate and talked to their hearts content.
"Ahh! This is great," Akko said as she kicked back, patting her full stomach. She had just devoured a substantial portion of the food around her and was now feeling the first vestiges of a food coma hitting her. Laughter floated from by the river where Amanda was flying her broom over the water, letting her feet run through the gentle waves as she circled around Hannah and Barbara who were wading ankle deep and trying to splash in unison the Irish girl, only to get splashed themselves. Sucy was off somewhere collecting mushrooms, Lotte was reading her Nightfall book up in the trees branches, Constantine was tinkering with some metal pieces she had brought with herself, and Jasminka was chomping down on the last of the food. She, along with Akko and Diana, were still on the blankets.
Diana was sipping from a chilling cup of tea, glancing over Akko who plopped down on the blanket, loosening her neck tie a bit to release the congestion she felt from eating so much. "Everyone together, having so much fun. It's a shame Andrew couldn't be here as well. Then everyone we knew would be here."
Diana down turned her lips slightly. "Why Andrew? He has nothing to do with this. And Luna Nova is a magic school, for girls. Andrew is most certainly not a girl."
Akko was a bit confused by this. "I know he's not a girl...still it would be nice to have him around. He's a pretty funny guy. And reliable too." Andrew and Akko had met up this past week in order for him to give her her hat back, the one she had gotten back only to forget it once more. The simple exchange had turned into a downtown adventure, one in which they had both laughed so hard and long that Akko came back with sore abs. He was really funny when he didn't have to act uptight around his father. It seemed to help that he loosened up around Akko. She seemed to have that effect on others, even Diana, who was becoming more trusting of her.
"Isn't he your long time friend? Wouldn't you want him to also hang out with you? He kind of had a part in the end of the world saving thing. I think..." Akko scrunched up her nose thoughtfully.
"I see you've gotten very close to him," Diana said evenly, almost too evenly, like she was trying to hide some emotion that shouldn't be leaking out into her voice.
Akko's ears perked up at this. Being around Diana more recently, she had become more attuned to how the girl expressed emotion even without expressing it. So she knew something about Andrew was bothering the blonde. Did she perhaps have...feelings for him? That was the first thought that flew into Akko's mind. It wouldn't be odd if that was the case. He was quite a handsome boy. But the thought made Akko sad for some reason.
Akko sat up, mouth open to ask when Sucy strode up to her cackling evilly. "Akko, look what I found."
Akko turned to see that Sucy had lowered herself to Akko's eye level and was waving another one of her distorted fungal obsessions around. The product smelled terribly from this close up and Akko's hair stood straight up at the smell as her hands clamped over her mouth. "What is that?" she asked in a muffled voice as Jasminka shuffled away to prevent the smell from spoiling her appetite not that it would have affected it much. Diana's nose wrinkled up from the scent and she coughed to cover up her momentary show of disdain before taking out a handkerchief and placing it over her nose. Sucy didn't mind the smell. Instead she was delighted by it.
"I've finally managed to discover a really rare mushroom. They are really hard to find but apparently one can find them if having a picnic where muffins are served, with more than two other people present under a willow tree by a stream." The conditions were oddly specific, as usual.
Akko was glad to see her friend happy, even if Sucy's sharktoothed smile was forming, which meant she had an evil idea coming together. "That's great!" she enthused. "What does it do?"
"Well, it's great for luring small wildlife, which is why it's so rare in the first place as they all eat it. But the really good use it has is getting rid of unwanted (or wanted) hair growth. The bad smell helps to scare away hair. I was going to use it to see if I could get rid of all your hair while you slept," Sucy added with a mischievous smirk, watching in amusement as Akko's hair was already waving around wildly as if it could leap off of Akko's head at any moment and run for the hills so as to avoid the horrid fate awaiting it.
Before Akko could retort, Diana did it for her.
"Sucy, unregistered use of such illegal fungi is-" but Diana's lecture was cut off when out of nowhere, a snow white bunny jumped out of the bushes by the blanket, leapt up, stole the mushroom from Sucy's outstretched hand, and ran off.
Sucy didn't say anything, but the way she watched the rabbit disappear with her single visible eye wide open and brows slightly turned up belied her disappointment and upset that her prize had been stolen. While Akko was glad the smell was gone, she hated seeing her friend sad. "Don't worry, I'll get it back for you!" Akko jumped to her feet and pulling out her wand, yelled out, "Metamorphie Faciesse," before changing into a brown rabbit and pouncing off after the first one.
"Akko!" Diana cried out in concern before she rose to her feet to get the stubborn and impulsive girl back, wand in her hand.
But rabbits were tricky creatures and as Diana following the two bobbing blobs of white and brown across the brush, she got steadily further and further away from the blanket, entering a more condensed part of the woods.
"Akko?" she called out tentatively when she finally lost track of her. It was quiet here in the woods and the girl felt frustrated at Akko's actions. Did the girl really have to run off and do something silly right now? School was less than a day from starting and Akko was doing something that no doubt would get her in trouble. There wasn't a single adventure the brunette could go on that didn't end in some sort of trouble or chaos. And Diana was hoping to prevent that by finding Akko now. She was coming to view the girl closely and wanted to take care of her, to ensure she was safe. Facing down a malignant rocket together had frightened Diana more than she could admit out loud. There had been so much that could have gone wrong, that could have ended badly. And Diana had been scared, not only for herself- for her well being, while she did not put herself first or even second or third, always placing the care of others before her as was her family motto, was still of partial concern- but also for Akko. The girl faced such trials and tribulations almost weekly and surely it couldn't be healthy. So Diana was going to protect her from such things, or else she wasn't a true Cavendish.
With that determination in her veins, Diana continued on, her eyes flickering quickly to the right when she saw something brown flicker past. She quickly turned on her heel and ran after it, raising her wand to conduct a summoning spell, so concentrated on aiming it correctly on the fleeing animal that she completely missed the root in her way. It tripped her up and with an ungainly scream she tumbled down hard, rolling almost head over heels as she slid down some sort of hill, hitting her head hard on the way down. With a groan she stilled at the bottom, a torrent of fallen leaves covering her.
Raising a hand to her forehead, she felt for a bump. There seemed to be none but it hurt. She would have to cast a healing spell on it. Getting up, her muscles protested at her movements and she realized she would have to cast a more extensive spell than she originally thought. Luckily nothing seemed broken just bruised. She felt around the leaf pile for wand which she had dropped on her way down, only to see it wasn't there.
Frowning, she got up, hands on her hips. Had she dropped it somewhere higher up? Splendid. Now not only did she had to stop Akko but she also had to find her wand. Making her way up the steep incline, she kept an eye out for her wand, brushing some leaves out of her hair when she found some had taken unwelcome refuge there.
When at last, slightly out of breath, she had made it up, she still didn't see her wand anywhere on the floor. How frustrating and inconvenient. Of course, when she finally picked her gaze up from the forest floor, she found something more important and that was even more inconvenient than a missing wand.
"Mushrooms?" Several dozens of them, in fact, and all in varying sizes and colors. It was like being in a valley of rainbows. There were orange ones that roughly were level with her head, whereas others grew so big they were almost as tall as her mansion. Wide eyed, Diana cast a look all around her as if to double check that these were the same woods she had come from. But indeed the path behind her disappeared into a continuation of mushrooms. Where the familiar forest had been now was an entirely foreign world.
Diana was momentarily at a lack of words, and lack of action. What could she do? It seemed she had been thrust into a strange situation. Did Sucy have something to do with this? The witch was notorious for her fungi usage. And there had been that incident last time when mushrooms had nearly taken over Luna Nova, the core of the issue stemming from Sucy's body itself. But what would Sucy's motivation be for doing something like this? Sighing softly, Diana decided she wouldn't get any answers by standing around and so she decided to walk ahead, hoping she would find a way out. She didn't like the thought of going in wandless but she had no other option now. She would merely have to be on her toes and treat everything around her as if it could be dangerous.
She wondered, was Akko by any chance here too? Or was Diana the only one currently stuck in this predicament? As Dianna continued walking, she became aware that there was someone humming ahead. Curious, as to who this other person here was and if they could offer any help, she pushed aside some of the smaller mushrooms blocking her view and found in a small clearing a single large blue red mushroom whose sides kept alternating colors rhythmically. And on top of it, smoking out of a hookah pipe was a caterpillar. It's body was long and blue, wrapped neatly on top of the fungi. It was wearing little shoes on each of it's legs, but the strangest part of it wasn't the shoes and the fact that it was singing and smoking, but that Professor Ursula's face was on it.
"Professor?" Diana nearly gasped out but managed to compose herself, in shock at the sight before her. It didn't make any sense.
"Ah, yes, many call me a professor of many fine arts," the caterpillar replied with, stopping her singing as she took a long puff, blowing out strawberry scented smoke. "But then I also profess much so I am a professor of professing as it is."
Diana couldn't make much sense of what her professor was saying much less doing here and in such a state. "Professor, can you tell me what is going on? I chased Akko into the woods and suddenly I seem to have found myself in a strange forest of sorts and now here you are, dressed as a caterpillar-"
"Dressed as a caterpillar!" Ursula interrupted, sounding quite affronted. "Let me tell you young lady, I do not dress how I do not intend to be perceived. If you think that of me than be on your way. I do not entertain guests who do not think of me the way I want to be thought." Ursula turned her nose up at this, inhaling some hookah through her nostrils and angrily huffing it out.
Diana again found herself at a lack of words. This...being wasn't acting like Ursula was, for the blue haired woman would never sound this rude or angry, and Diana certainly wanted to leave if it was only going to get upset at her. Not to mention it disturbed her to see her familiar professor's head on such a grotesque body. But, the caterpillar was the only thing that Diana had seen around here yet, and she wasn't going to leave without receiving some sort of answer. "Professor, surely-"
"I do say, if you keep professing such a title, then I will be inclined to give it to you. For even I do not speak as much as you do, but when I do, it is on matters I know."
Diana swallowed down an irritated grumble at the caterpillar's interruption. She didn't want to get interrupted by more nonsense. Carefully avoiding calling the thing professor, she said, "I am in quite a situation. And I was wondering if you could tell me anything about it, since you seem to...know much." Diana wasn't sure about the knowledgeable part- the caterpillar claimed to be smart, but so far all it had done was speak useless words.
"Of course I can tell you many things. But is it the right thing you want to know? Or the left thing?"
This time Diana couldn't hold back a confused 'what?' from her lips.
"The right, or the left," the caterpillar inclined her head and pointed with one of her many hands at the left and right side of the mushroom she was sitting on.
Surely, Ursula wasn't indicating that Diana should...eat that. Eating random fungal growth was inadvisable. In the hope that her hunch was wrong, she said the first choice that came to her mind. "Right."
"Very well, you may eat some."
At this Diana paled a little. "Eat some?"
"Of course. How else will you understand what it is I am saying? Someone with such a simple mind as you could not hope to understand the wisdom that spouts from my mouth." The caterpillar plucked a chunk out and handed it over to Diana who took the slimy snack and tried not to wince in disgust. She really didn't want to do this. There was no telling what would happen. Could she trick the caterpillar into thinking she had eaten it?
But when she looked up she saw the caterpillar had rolled the upper half of it's body so that it was hovering over Diana, six pairs of arms crossed in front of it's chest as it arched a brow impatiently, other pair of hands directing the hookah into her mouth. "Well?" she asked not at all kindly. And under the uncomfortable scrutiny of the being, Diana swallowed nervously and took a bite, trying to tell herself it would all work out. Surprisingly it tasted really good. Like cherries. "Why does it taste like this?" she asked as she swallowed the food down.
"Obviously because that side happened to be red at the time I had plucked it. If it had been blue than it would have tasted differently."
"Like blueberries?" Diana ventured, slightly amazed by such a food. If this existed in the magical world and she had never heard of it before...how come she had never heard of it before?
"No, of course not," the caterpillar snorted derisively. "Like oranges."
"Oh," was all Diana chose to reply with for she realized she had gone on a momentary tangent and that there were more important things to do. Like figure what this place was. "Will you tell me what I need to know?"
"And why should I?" the caterpillar asked, blowing out a mouthful of smoke right into Diana's face, making the girl cough as she tried to stop the sting making her throat ache and her eyes water.
"You told me you would tell me if I ate it-"
"People often say things they don't mean," Ursula said meanly, sneering down at Diana. "Stupid girl, you should know this."
Diana could feel her blood begin to boil. "I don't need to stand here and take this abuse from you, you impostor! You may have the face of a beloved professor of mine-"
"Impostor?!" The caterpillar reared back at this, her eyes flashing red and glasses falling off of her face as she moved quickly. Suddenly Diana was worried that it would attack her and she was completely defenseless. But the anger faded from it's face. "I once was a pastor, but I quit my job, so I suppose that is the opposite of being one and the reverse of what one is, is often in or im or un, so I am indeed an impostor."
Diana scrunched up her face in deep confusion. What was going on? This was confusing, not to mention irritating, and baffling and befuddling and just...she just wanted to find her friend, her wand, and her way back home. Perhaps she could ask the caterpillar if she had seen her wand or Akko? Maybe that would proffer up some answers.
"Have you by perchance seen a wand around?"
"A wand? And what is that?"
Figuring it would take too long to explain such a thing, Diana switched onto another topic. "What about Akko? She was last seen as a bunny."
"Oh, a bunny. Of course I know of that. I know many folks who are rabbits."
Diana's hope at the earlier part of the sentence was slightly dashed as the caterpillar continued talking. "Why, I see many run this way every day."
"Yes, but have you seen a brown rabbit-"
"What a rude little girl, interrupting me as I was speaking."
No she hadn't. She had waited for the being to finish before she had asked her own question. Maybe she had been a bit hasty in asking but it was only because she was really confused and irritated and feeling out of her depths. And her mannerisms could only carry perfectly so far in her levels of discomfort. "I'm sorry, but you had already finished and-"
"You are never to assume one is finished when they finish a sentence. Merely that they will start a new one since the old one has finished."
"Right, but could you tell me where the rabbit-"
"In fact, a period that ends a sentence can in fact be a sort of new beginning, for a period is also a time in which something happens."
You're the one who keeps interrupting me! Diana wanted to childishly pout out but she held herself in. She didn't want to offend this highly offendable character anymore than she had supposedly already did.
"And thus I must enter my new period," the caterpillar mussed, discarding it's hookah. A thin hard film began to quickly spread up from it's tail to it's head. "I must leave you while I change."
"But wait-!" Diana extended a hand as if that could do anything. "You still haven't told me anything!"
"Haven't I?" the caterpillar said coyly. "Change is the answer." Her hair began to fall out and from the bald spots that appeared, red fuzz began to grow anew.
"You may want to get a move on before the mushroom wears off, because only once you switch your perspective will you seek what you find."
"Wears off?" Diana asked a hint of fear in her voice just as her body began to feel a bit tingly.
"I must leave you now," the caterpillar said as she coiled in tightly on herself and Diana could see that a hard cocoon was forming over it. "But perhaps I will see you later, young Diana." And with that it had covered Ursula's face and she was quiet at last. But Diana was mildly panicking over her current situation to be too phased about the caterpillar starting the process of metamorphosis or of it knowing her name. For she was growing and at an alarmingly quick rate.
With a soft cry of horror she shot up twenty, then thirty than sixty feet, until she towered over the mushroom forests, her head nearly touching the clouds. She slowed down once she reached such a height, a flock of birds turning around and avoiding her when they saw her.
"What is going on?" she mumbled to herself, trying to logically organize everything. What was this magic? But with so little information to use, she had nothing to go on. Which meant she only had one option and that was to use her new found height to scope out the area. The caterpillar said it would eventually wear off so she had no need to be too concerned about this. That thought kept her panic edged off and as she viewed the area she saw that the mushrooms eventually ended into a forest of sorts. Thinking that would be her best bet to leaving this whole mess behind, she slowly and cautiously moved one of her legs forward and set out.