Nikki was technically a witch, but so weak she might as well not have been. Her twin sister had always lorded her powers over her as they'd come of age, making her whatever she needed or wanted as whim struck her. Their parents had made sure Nikki had been present for lectures and ambulatory for exams, but beyond that not interfered, thinking it good for the twins to hone their skills and defenses. She'd grown out of it, but far, far too late to undo what she'd done to poor Nikki, who had grown unused to being anything other than her sister's plaything.
And so, the mark Nikki came to make on the world was wild, wild parties, where every two months or so she would rent out a bar, gather up a bunch of witches and mundanes, and have them all drink their humanity away. She wanted to make a place where the question, at least for mundanes (a category in which, for most purposes, she counted herself), was not whether they would be transformed, but into what, and by whom. Her sister, her guilt-ridden enabler, now making a mint in magical medicine, would bankroll these parties and help her clean up after.
There were a number of wards on the bar to prevent spells irreversible per se, spells cast at the bartender, misrepresenting oneself, and a number of other things, but between the haphazard flinging of various subtly different magics, the rather laissez-faire invites, and especially the free-flowing alcohol, all but inevitably a few guests would fall off the face of the earth, not even their owners certain where or what they were. The sisters made sure that everyone who attended, witch or mundane, knew this; what had begun as a warning had become a slogan, to such an extent that they now felt the need to stress it wasn't in fact guaranteed. Still, a guest list was kept so they could make a token effort to track everyone down after.
All this was in the back of Kiva's mind as she walked in, but at the forefront were the two words "open bar." Her eyes were dark and baggy - the deepest hell, Aisling, the very deepest - and a drink or two would perk her right up. She started over to the bar, eyes darting around the room for a suitable glass. A few guests from past parties were now bar property, but only mundanes were allowed to request them, and of course, the bar had its usual inert glassware, but that felt like sacrilege.
Kiva's eyes landed a girl not speaking to anyone, glancing around in a strange way, off whom Kiva could sense no power. A mundane, unaccompanied, and a woman - a rare prize. Boys would be boys; she'd call it a sausagefest but for the fact few of these boys would walk out, and likely all those who did would have forgotten their sausage. Couples, too, often liked the idea of becoming a matched set, but mundane girls who came here on their own were something special. Most of them blended in until they didn't, and she always liked to be that "didn't." She walked up to her.
"Witch?" she shouted in the girl's ear.
"No!" the girl shouted back.
"Glass?" Kiva shouted, nodding to the bar and holding up her hand, pinching as if gripping stemware.
The girl perked up. "Sure!"
Kiva took one of the girl's wrists in each hand, lifting them as high as she could, above both their heads, sliding her hands down to the taller girl's triceps as they got too high for her. "Here - about thirty degrees, palms up." The giggling girl complied. As Kiva willed it, the girl's clothes and exposed skin came to take on a glossy sheen; once the changes began, the girl closed her eyes with a huge smile on her face.
"You should open your mouth while you still can," said Kiva. "Trust me, you'll enjoy it more." The girl popped her mouth open in her final willful act as her body began to compress - not shrink, although it did come to weigh less - into translucent crystal. Kiva continued to hold her by her arms until she was about half her original height and had gone from translucent to transparent, almost all color gone; at that point Kiva slid her hands down to the girl's waist.
The compression stopped when the girl's head was a little over half the height of one of her fingers. Now she was light enough that the witch could hold her just by pinching her waist with her nondominant left hand, and so she did, grabbing her "victim" by the shoulders with her dominant right hand. Despite the girl's uniform crystal texture to the eye, Kiva rotated her shoulders and arms like a row of a puzzle box, free of her neck and chest; as she did, they decompressed into a cone, a funnel straight to her ever open mouth.
One finishing touch. She pressed the girl's feet against her palm, and they melted, flattening against the surface of her hand into a base. She moved her hand away about halfway to the knee, and all that was left of the girl to the eye was a novelty cocktail glass, the stem in the shape of a woman, the cone a bit irregular, a happy perpetual drinker at the center. The stem was far more modest than most such glasses; although Kiva probably would have done so anyway, the bar had insisted on modesty to such an extent that it was in the wards. As Nikki'd put it to Kiva, "they know what sluts witches are."
That being settled, now Kiva could get a drink. She brought the girl-glass to the bar and set her down; the bartender smiled at the thirsty face at the bottom of the cone, then looked up at her owner and balked at the sight of her dark eyes.
"Uh... wow," he said.
Kiva nodded. "Do you have any idea the sort of looks a witch gets when she walks into a laundromat at midnight with two hampers full of soaking wet clothes?"
"Can't say I do."
Kiva sat down, setting her handbag, Ernie, whom she'd acquired at one of these parties about a year earlier, at her feet. "Manhattan. Stirred, not shaken."
The bartender soon came back with beautiful bourbon and vermouth, none of the chunks of ice so many bars couldn't help but leave in such drinks. Kiva's glass deserved better, after all. Scanning the mirror for anyone who might think her a sitting duck, she took a sip. In the mirror, Nikki, clothes and all, was turning to chocolate, surrounded by hungry boys (and one girl holding her wrist); Kiva could hear her squeal. Due to the partygoers' self-policing - lest there be no more parties - the boys would leave human, though likely not boys.
"Hey!" came a squeaky female voice; Kiva turned. The voice belonged to a girl peeking out from behind a tall and rather stout young man. She stood on tiptoes, lifting herself by his shoulders, her body pressed against him, her nose peeking over her hand. Even from the fraction of her girlish countenance visible, Kiva felt cause to question the soundness of Registry holography.
"I saw what you did to that girl," the girl said.
Kiva held up "that girl," swishing her contents around. "I wasn't exactly trying to hide it."
"I just wanted to know if you could turn my boyfriend into a new dress for me?"
Kiva looked into the boyfriend's listless eyes - he was clearly just humoring her. Still, if he was willing to humor her, who was she to argue? "Any special kind?"
"Totally your call!"
Kiva put a hand on the boy's unappealingly soft chest; almost immediately it flattened out into a cavity the same strawberry color as the witch's hair. The boy choked as he failed to draw a last breath, and continued to struggle. Kiva knew he was fine. The cavity split into two panels of fabric, one front and one back, as everything above fell in; his arms all but fell off, hollowing out into sleeves draped over his girlfriend's arms, connected to his chest by thin strips of fabric. Kiva could now see enough of her body to know how to condense the fabric to her size, and now she could see "neckline" was a strength of hers, despite her cute face - lucky that's what she'd started to go with anyway. As the boy's legs shriveled up, his wide frame made his girl a nice, flowing train, despite the tight cut above the waist.
"Thank you so much!" the girl shouted. She gave the dress a long kiss. "Oh, you know you love it..." Kiva knew most of her victims, mundanes especially, couldn't speak in formal language unassisted, only project concepts. Still, this left plenty of room to lie, or joke. The girl rubbed the dress against her cheek. "Mmm..."
Kiva heard a text alert from her handbag as the girl literally skipped off to the exit. Kiva was frankly surprised she made it; if she'd been in that crowd, and the girl had passed within arm's reach, she'd probably have TF'd her on general principle. She picked up her phone to read the text.
-"Kiva! Dennis is going to make me a cake for my 25th, on the day (♃) @ 18h - you coming?"
Kiva groaned out loud. Really, Dennis? Wizards.
Still, eating her up seemed like a lot of fun...
"If still human, will be there."-
-"Ye gods, Kiva, tell me you're not where I KNOW you are."
"If you KNOW I'm home, k, not."-
-"Ugh. Just let me know if you make it out, okay?"
"OK. If you haven't heard back 24h from midnight, count me out."-
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw locks of red hair, longer, wilder, but in color nearly identical to her own. It flew through the air as if suspended in water, writhing as in a heavy current. Aisling.
Aisling and Kiva had both been working for the dam. The previous day, Kiva had volunteered for enough work to make her quota, hoping to make sure she didn't leave too much orphaned if the party went that way. Aisling had offered to help her, apparently, Kiva saw now, for the same reason. They had settled on Kiva's apartment.
To make a long story short, haste makes waste, and in this case, "waste" was an interdimensional flood. To avoid a greater disaster, Kiva was forced to exploit the spatial distortion of her "special" armoire, despite the fact that two of its residents were gifts from a hydrocleist some months before. Granted, a "soft" hydrocleist, and neither had been planning on leaving anyway, so no real harm done, but still, rude!
Kiva knew Aisling's hair always did this floaty thing when she was casting, and a closer look told her this was no exception, some lucky boy, already barely recognizable as human, collapsing into a strip of gold before her. She picked him up and fastened him around her neck. Wahoo. Kiva prepared a spell; she was no good at spells at a distance, so this would have to be gathered into a beam.
Kiva was more than half through her drink at this point, plus she was a bit tired and hadn't really eaten, and her sparse single meal she'd had a little something with; in other words, the beam missed Aisling. It hit the mirror opposite the bar mirror, to assorted chatter by those who were used to more intimate, or at least more intentional transformations, and bounced right into the left buttock of a woman in a blue dress, whose conversation with some young man, thin, overdressed in a sport coat and tie, was interrupted by her yelp as it struck her. She and her clothes shrank away into a loose blouse, the same sky-blue color as her dress. Kiva dashed over, glass in hand (Manhattan partly on blouse from her haste), handbag on shoulder, and snapped her up, addressing the man she'd been talking to.
"Hi, really sorry about that..."
The man began to laugh, but his laughter was soon cut short as he and his clothes began to shrivel into a compact.
"I'm sure he doesn't mind," said Aisling, picking him up and putting him in her purse.
"Right," said Kiva. "So... sorry I tried to turn you into a top?"
"Eh, don't sweat it," said Aisling. "Anyway, your first question was really if he'd
"Oh, I know this blouse," said Kiva. "Trust me, she doesn't mind." She then pointed to the new resident of Aisling's purse. "But where do you get off? At least I asked someone!
"Please," said Aisling. "Boys know they get no say at these things."
Kiva shrugged. "Fair enough." The two women looked each other in the eye. "So," said Kiva, "I guess we ought to end this, right?"
"Yep!" chirped Aisling.
"Seconds?" asked Kiva.
"Good idea," said Aisling. "Boys."
"Okay," said Kiva. She put her arm around the nearest boy, as did Aisling.
"So," said Aisling, "you two count together, to ten. Ten is the cue, there's no need for a cue after ten. If either of us jump the gun, both of you run to the nearest woman. Figure you've each got an 80/20 shot of her being a witch, so 96/4 between you. Probably, if one of us is willing to jump the gun, you won't make it, but never mind. We trust each other anyway, don't we?"
"Oh, sure," said Kiva. "But, ten, though? Are we pacing as we do this?" She gestured around the bar, and while it was less crowded than it had been an hour before, it wasn't nearly sparse enough for ten paces to be reasonable, especially since many of those who were still standing were in no position to get out of the way.
Kiva remembered the time, a few months before, she and others had turned at the sound of a stone girl crashing to the floor. Next to them was a skinny, bespectacled boy looking sheepish. He became a bookend, leaving an empty pile of clothing as he himself took on the brass form of the girl he'd knocked over, on a little plinth, with brass versions of her clothes (her own having still been fabric) and of his own empty rims, a transformation greeted with general applause. Kiva had been the one to take him home, after the caster had left him there an hour.
When Nikki had shown up the next day, he'd refused to turn back. Apparently he'd known the witch he'd knocked over and was embarrassed enough he'd rather spend the foreseeable future on Kiva's desk. The witch turned up, human, two days later and picked him up herself. Kiva hadn't heard from either since; in the present, she made a mental note to check up on them.
"You're right," said Aisling. "Five... no, three. But if it's going to be three, then there is a cue now: 'turn.' Anyway, got it?" The boys nodded. "Okay," said Aisling, "here goes."
Kiva and Aisling first stood back to back, then took their three paces as the boys counted. As one boy said "turn" and the other "now" (Kiva didn't know or care which was which), the witches turned. Kiva felt Aisling's magic come down on her from all directions, as she herself fired another beam directly at Aisling's chest. Drunk and hungry as she was, the beam hit home.
A look of horror came across Aisling's face, as Kiva smirked. Aisling seemed ready to panic, but it was the game she'd signed up for. She shriveled away, new choker and all, until there was nothing left of her but a tube of lip gloss beside her purse. Now, Kiva didn't normally wear lip gloss (she'd almost made her lipstick, in those three seconds she'd had to decide, but no), but makeup went with the compact.
She turned to her and Aisling's seconds. "Thanks, boys! So what'll ya be?" The two looked at each other. "Shoes?" asked Kiva's boy. "Shoes," replied the other.
Kiva winced. "I would... I will, if you want, but... verruca...." she gestured to her right foot, lifting it a bit. The boys winced. "Gloves?" she offered, holding her bare hands out.
"Gloves," said the boys in unison. Kiva again put her arm around her own boy, and beckoned Aisling's over to her. She put an arm around him as well, and their flesh and clothing quickly flowed together, becoming silk as they flowed around her arms. Soon there was nothing left of them but a sheer pair of gloves.
With her new gloves, she fished Aisling from the floor and dropped her into her own purse, next to the compact she'd made; she put it on her arm next to Ernie, in whom she tucked her new blouse, before returning to the bar. After all, her glass now empty, and the unchanging expression of the open-mouthed face coming from the stem looked quite thirsty. "Another Manhattan."
From that point on, she remained mainly at the bar, using the mirror to people-watch, to apply her new lip gloss, and to patrol her surroundings. She soon felt a spell upon her and reflected it onto its caster, and although she could sense the caster had succumbed to it, she didn't even bother to check who it had been or what she'd become. A power move, it let her finish her drink in peace.