The ball was held in a large mansion formerly dusty and filled with ghouls. It was temporarily transformed into a dazzling and luxurious dwelling with a ballroom resembling a fairytale scene. A large crystal chandelier hung in the middle of the ballroom, illuminating every corner of the room. Over 450 dishes from all over the artificial world filled the buffet tables that were lined up near the tall glass windows. Non-player characters took care of serving the guests with refreshments and appetizers.
Anna pressed her hands against the windows to admire the view of the sea. "It's like we're in a movie!"
Gaylord was kneeling on the ground with his palms flat on the floor. He was admiring his reflection, doing poses as if he was taking a selfie. "They did a marvelous job with the floor! I can stare at my reflection forever." He was dressed in an eye-catching golden outfit that sparkled under the chandelier lights. He was like a walking disco ball.
"Why is Gaylord here too?" Jasmine's face turned sour. He was the first thing she and the Black Rose members saw upon entering the room.
"I am a facilitator now, so of course I would be invited!" Gaylord replied without taking his eyes away from his reflection.
"Whoever made this guy a facilitator seriously needs to recheck his standards."
"The buffet has spiced wine! This party is great." Yaya took a wineglass and filled it with wine. "Come have a drink, Sed."
Sed was vigilantly scanning the area for any signs of his muse.
"Are you deaf, Sed? I said come have a drink!" Yaya punched his side.
"Ouch! That hurt, Yaya!"
"Are you looking for someone?"
"Yes." He blushed a little.
Yaya smirked. "It's your little Cinderella isn't it?"
"What are you talking about!?"
From the corner of his eye, he saw Amelie in a stunning pink and white ball gown made of silk and light transparent cotton material for the ruffles at the hemline. Both her hair and dress were decorated with various flowers. She looked more like a princess than her usual princely aura. He found her absolutely gorgeous.
Anna shed tears at the sight of her masterpiece. "It's perfect!" She did a thumbs-up.
Sed mustered up the courage to approach her. "H-Hey."
Amelie was shocked to see Sed. "You're red! Do you have a fever?"
"No, I don't. It's—"
Amelie did a cool hair flip with her bangs. "Don't worry. Leave this to me." She did a thumbs-up and pulled out a portable tea flavored fever-away pack. She took the strip of moist and cold cotton material out of its packet. With a dramatic light slap, she pasted the strip on his forehead. "I saw them use this on TV. It's supposed to help with fever!"
Sed blushed. What an angel!
"Would you... want to... dance..." Sed struggled to get the words out.
Suddenly, Amelie remembered a very important thing that she forgot to do.
"I left the oven on!" Amelie shouted in horror and ran. She fell flat on the shiny floor. "Curses!"
"Are you ok!?" Sed tried to help her up, but she gave him her glass shoes instead.
"Here. Free shoes. I can't run while wearing heels. See you!" Amelie ran back to the guild headquarters to turn off the oven.
Sed's eyes sparkled. "This is like Cinderella! Is this fate?"
"How are you even supposed to find her if you have both pairs?" Sphinx suddenly appeared beside him. He had been using Invisibility to observe Sed. He had nothing better to do.
From across the ballroom, Lyria was standing alone. She lost sight of Luna who went to get some wine. Astrid was also busy checking out the buffet. She was a little uncomfortable being alone with a group of Jupiter mages nearby who were eyeing her in her plain off-shoulder black gown accented with little crystals on the bodice. She looked like a goddess in chiffon and satin, the cloth hugging her waist enough to pronounce her feminine curves.
"May I have this dance?" A masked gentleman blocked the mages' view and held out a hand. The Jupiter mages behind him frowned at the disruption of their group activity of long-distance admiration.
This scene was all too familiar to Lyria. She was quick to recognize his voice. "Lyngvi?"
He held up a finger in front of his mouth. "Shh. Don't tell anyone that you've seen me here."
"What are you doing here?" She lowered her voice into a whisper. "I thought the Knights Alliance wasn't invited to the ball."
"I came here because I wanted to see you."
It sounded too good to be true. Lyria was left speechless. He was taking a risk just to see her! If she had known this ahead, she would have put in more effort into her outfit.
"Shall we dance?" He smiled.
"I would love to." She returned his smile.
Astrid was standing by the punch bowl refilling her drink. She purposely dressed in a dark red off-shoulder gown in case she stained her outfit while attacking the buffet. She spotted Pio beside her picking out cakes. He added one to his plate of cake slices.
"That's a lot of sweets," she commented.
Pio laughed. "I'm not holding back on free food."
"Don't forget to watch your sugar intake."
"Yes, Ma'am." Suddenly, he paused for a moment, distracted by something behind Astrid.
"Is something the matter?" Astrid asked.
"Who is that guy Lyria is dancing with? He seems to be wearing a mask."
Astrid turned around to see her second-in-command dancing with a mysterious person. She couldn't recognize him from afar.
The masked Lyngvi drew curious stares from nearby dancers. He and Lyria were like something out of a fairytale. A beautiful girl and her secret prince. They were both the embodiment of grace and poise, moving to the rhythm of the orchestra's music in perfect harmony.
"I need to talk to you," Lyngvi whispered into her ear.
Lyria blinked twice. "About what?"
Is he confessing!? Lyria blushed from the thought.
"Follow me. There's a rose garden below the mansion where we can be alone."
Astrid and Pio watched as Lyria left the ballroom with the masked stranger. Astrid began to feel uneasy. Something about the guy felt oddly familiar.
"Let's follow them," said Astrid. "I have a bad feeling about this."
"Oh, ok." Pio left his plate of cake on one of the tables and followed behind her.
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