What was it? The sparkle in her eye? Her musical giggle? The way she wore a large-brimmed pink hat, dipped at a rakish angle? Something about her was immediately likeble. Only 10 minutes into Lady Jane Iffington's party, a crowd of guests had gathered around the mystery woman. Lady Jane crossed the crowded room to try to suss out her allure, but just as she reached her, the woman twirled and waved at the throng, spinning her way across the crowded floor.
A social butterfly, the dark-haired woman flitted from group to group. No matter where she alit, her presence seemed to lighten the mood. The Goths smiled unreservedly for the first time all night, and when she stepped into the middle of a vicious political argument, within seconds the stranger got both sides singing "Don't Stop Believing"... in harmony.
It was subtle at first, but Lady Jane began to notice something else about the woman. She seemed to take on qualities of the people with whom she interacted. To the science-fiction crowd, she rattled off "Firefly" and "Star Trek" references. But it was more than that -- had her ears always been that pointy? "You must be part Vulcan," a guy who looked a lot like William Shatner remarked.
She replied only, "Yes, but which part? It's logical, if you think about it." And giving the Vulcan salute, she moved on.
At the chocolate fountain, she got into a long conversation with one of the caterers, and got her to smile by not only raving about the cake but also expressing interest in exactly how it was made. Lady Jane could have been imagining, but she was sure she wasn't. The pink broad-brimmed hat had been replaced with a pink chef's cap. When had she had time to change?
Next, the mystery woman joined a group of people sharing pet stories, regaling them with tales (or tails?) of her beloved kitty-boys. Each of the party guests pulled out a phone to show off their latest shots of their favorite felines and furry babies. And maybe Lady Jane was imagining it, but the woman seemed to be... growing long whiskers?
As Lady Jane followed her, the woman morphed for every situation: she regaled the comedians with witty repartee, and she swapped literary talk and constructive criticism with the writers and poets. She seemed comfortable with every topic, and as she socialized, her look morphed to suit her audience: elfin green and gossamer for the faerie fans; a tie-dyed peasant skirt for the hippies. How did she do it?
It may have been minutes, or it could have been hours later, but Lady Jane found herself following the woman outside. Once enveloped in darkness, the stranger took a few steps, then a leaping jump. Sailing into the starry darkness, the woman turned into a glittering carnation-colored dragon, with eyes as deep gold as honey.
"Wait, don't go," Lady Jane called. "I haven't even learned your name."
As she flew away, the dragon's sonorous voice rumbled to Lady Jane, an ancient song that filled her very bones. "My name is roina_arwen, but you can call me Ro."
I met roina_arwen in Season 5 of LJ Idol and liked her immediately. Like the mysterious character in this story, she has dozens of icons suitable for all occasions. Funny, fearlessly creative and full of knowledge on everything from cooking to cats to mythology, as long as I've known her she's been a popular Green Room regular and an unpredictable, entertaining writer. I'm honored to have learned a lot from her, especially from all the times she's served as a "beta reader" for my writings, or helped me refine ideas. Hopefully, I've done her justice.