With Varos having left word for her at Gran’s, Snake Lady Elpida shows up at the clothiers, looking full of trepidation.
She is worried about what awaits her this time. What horrible news! What terrible clothes! AhhhH!
She is nervous. And it shows. Her snakes are grumpier too.
Varos and his associates would be rather insulted if they knew what sort of thoughts Elpida had. Clothier Z does not make terrible clothes, otherwise why try to dress a person at all?
Quite contrary to Elpida’s state of mind, the visored clothier is in good spirits, straightening the top on one of the wireframe mannequins. They tend to change out the outfits on display every two weeks or so, or depending on the season. He lifts his head as he ‘sees’ the Gorgon’s approach to the store, turning back to his work to wait for her to actually set foot inside.
“Ah, and there she is!” he greets cheerfully. “Good afternoon, Miss Elpida.”
Which she does!
“Yeah, hi,” says Elpida, taking off her hat. She has a nice cowboy-styled hat that she sometimes wears over her snakes. She sets it aside and then shakes her snakes out, getting them flowing and writhing in all directions.
“Sooo, I assume you’ve, you know, got something for me.”
“More or less. Second visits are usually just to touch base with you and see if there’s any adjustments or changes needed. I hope you’ll be pleased! Well, you and your little friends!”
Varos steeples his fingers, taking a step back to gesture towards the heavy curtain that separates the work room from the front. “Raksha, Miss Elpida is here!” he announces.
The curtain is swept aside, the dark-skinned, half quickflex woman smiling brightly. “Oh, excellent. I hope you’ll approve. We’ve got something for casual wear and worked a bit on putting together something for your alter-persona.”
“Casual, huh? All right.”
This may not be so bad! She can do casual. She then pauses a moment before waiting to be instructed on what to do next, once she’s passed through the curtains to the other side. “At least this isn’t the black lodge,” she mutters, checking the floor. Just in case.
Varos follows after her, Raksha looking politely clueless at whatever reference Elpida makes. She turns and waves a hand towards a hangar with a copper-colored garment. It’s a sleeveless v-necked jumpsuit, the pants loose-fitted with the material gathered at the cuffs for an elegantly baggy look. There’s a sash of the same color belted around the waist.
“To go over it we have a short cloak of sorts, or I suppose it’s more appropriately called a wrap that you can throw over the shoulders. And we have a matching wrap that you can use to bundle around your snakes- soft and very breathable material,” Raksha says, holding up another hangar with the black and copper-striped wraps. “Of course, we’ll leave the bundling to you. If you like, you can try them on in there.” She points to another curtained area.
Elpida looks… incredibly relieved, to say the least. She was worried she was going to be walking out of here in something with frills!
“Oooooh,” she says, after a moment. “Ooooh. That does look nice,” she says, mood brightened considerably.
The two clothiers smile, always pleased when their patron approves. Varos chuckles as Elpida speaks up. “So glad that you think so! We thought the contrasting color would go nicely with your skintone.” Scaletone? Well, whichever.
Raksha grins. “So that means you approve? You seemed so hesitant about coming back here to see.”
“Well yeah. I wasn’t sure what ya’ll had in mind, after all.” Elpida takes a long look at it, letting the fabric go between her fingers for a feel. “Huh,” she says.
“Wondering how it’ll hold up in the field. Here’s hoping to ‘well’.” She flashes a quick grin.
“I guess this is the part where I try the thing on, eh?”
Varos laughs. “Well, we don’t make things that fall apart after one wear, that’s for sure. We design for comfort, first, style, secondary, and durability, third,” he says, ticking off each point with a finger. “If you want something for more rugged activities, we can certainly do that.”
“Go ahead,” Raksha says, handing off the wraps and taking down the other hangar to give to Elpida before ushering her towards the dressing room. “No good if something doesn’t fit quite right, after all. And even if it does, the only real way to tell is to wear it and move around in it.”
There she goes! Into the fitting room with the outfit!
There is silence for a time, then some hissing from her snakes. Then some thumps as she wrestles them back under control enough to get into the damn thing. Perils of living hair is that it can make dressing awkward.
The two clothiers exchange bemused looks at the sounds issuing forth from the back. “…I hope she’s all right in there,” Varos murmurs.
“Probably good that we chose the reinforced material for the head wrap,” Raksha says. No point in having something that’ll get holes easily from snagging teeth and scales.
“Erf,” says Elpida.
When she finally emerges, she is in fact dressed in the flattering outfit. She’s holding the matching wrap in her hands. “So, it’s gonna be a little trickier to wrap this on myself than I thought, but I think I can get it with some time, practice.” The last thing the snakes want to do is be wrapped up. Hisssssss. She combs her fingers through her ‘hair’, gets bitten a few times for her trouble, and then sighs. “All right. So, it’s looking good. If you need to do anything…” She reaches her hands up wrestle the snakes enough to let them come close.
“Well, maybe they’ll change their mind if the weather’s cooler,” Varos suggests, grinning. “…you sure that doesn’t hurt?”
Raksha waves him off, stepping over to look at the outfit now that it’s on the person it’s made for. “Looks good,” she nods. “If it fits all right and you don’t have any problems moving in it, then I think you can just take it today.”
Varos watches through Raksha’s eyes as the snakes weave about while Elpida makes another attempt to round them up. “Thought it would be more comfortable and less stifling for them than being stuffed under a hat,” he says. “But yes, as Raksha says- if you’re good with that, then we can show you the other thing we’ve been working on for more fanciful an occasion.” His smile quirks up in an almost mischievous expression.
If Elpida could blanch when that’s said, she would. Fortunately, scales aren’t prone to revealing that. Still, she does nod. “Yeah. I’m good. And they probably will, it’s just… not exactly easy to hold onto them AND get it on enough, you know? I can see how it works, just need a bit of time. More than I wanna make you wait.” She flashes a quick grin.
Raksha nods. “Oh, no worries there. You can do that on your own time. The main part of the outfit is what we’d mostly be concerned about, but if everything’s good, then that’s all settled.”
Varos is already heading over to pull another hangar from behind an open side door. He gathers it in his arms so as not to let it drag, stepping onto a stool to hang it up from the same hook that Elpida’s other outfit had been.
It’s a shimmering mass of deep cerulean blue and darker blue-greens, the main body reminiscent of an evening gown in its slender shape, layered with sheer fabric with hints of sparkles and thin, curling trails of material that suggest the stinging tails of a jellyfish. There’s a fluffy boa of sorts, thick and a riot of colors that look like what one might catch of a blurred glimpse of colorful coral and its numerous and equally brightly colored fish, made up entirely of feathers and twisted material. Disappearing behind the door again, Varos emerges with a hat with a massive brim, decorated with swathes of tulle and assorted materials.
“You said something about an aquatic theme,” he says, beaming from ear to ear.
Elpida looks twitchy.
She really, really does. She looks….very twitchy. “I’ve… never worn anything like that,” she manages to say. “I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
She’s just staring at it. Twitch. Twitch. OH GODS IT’S SO FLATTERING AHHHHH.
That’s…an interesting reaction. Varos looks like he’s trying very hard not to laugh, his lips clamped together to forestall the bubbling urge to do so.
“It’s a lot simpler than it looks,” Raksha reassures, elbowing Varos in the side before she steps over. “It’s only two pieces and the hat. You only have to slip into the dress and fasten it up in the back, then throw this right over your shoulders, same as you would that wrap. It’s just…puffier.” She points at the hat Varos still has in his hand, his other rubbing at his side where she’d elbowed him as he winces.
“And that is pretty impractical as a hat, I’ll admit, but you can tie it around your chin and angle it to hide your little friends there,” she continues.
Elpida is still staring at it as if it were some kind of bizarrely foreign thing to her. In some ways it probably is. Given what she normally wears, it’s clear that she is just sort of… lost when staring at it. “Welp… here I go.” She reaches for it.
“Just let me know if you need any help,” Raksha says, waving Elpida on. She glances at the hat in Varos’ hands. “I think we can hold onto that for now. Just let us know when you’re ready for it.”
Varos smiles encouragingly at the Gorgon. “Just have fun with it. It’s easier that way.”
Elpida disappears into the changing room. There is more hissing. A few grunts and grumbles.
She is managing!
Raksha shoves Varos as the visored one stifles a snicker. “You all right in there?” she asks, taking the hat from him as she peers anxiously towards the dressing room curtain.
“Well, usually we don’t have more than one in there,” Varos points out, noting the hisses. “Maybe they want their own outfits… Do they feel left out? Do you communicate with them, Miss Elpida?”
Elpida grumbles from inside. More hisses. Trying to get the fabric slipped on over the snakes is proving harder than she thought. More hisses.
Then there is finally the sound of her zipping up before she staggers outside, snakes in disarray.
She looks down at herself.
“Maybe if we sewed a bunch of colored socks together–” Varos begins to suggest, Raksha reaching out to clap a hand over his mouth. “That’s enough helping. -ah!” She brightens as Elpida steps out, then blinks.
“Not bad! Here, let me…” She hold the hat out for Elpida to hold or wear as she moves to help straighten out the dress.
Varos smiles, stroking his chin before he turns and pulls over a full length mirror on wheels. “Here!”
Elpida braces herself as the dress is straightened. She looks at herself in the mirror. She thankfully does not turn to stone. She wrinkles her nose a bit. It’s not distaste. “It’s lovely,” she manages to say. “It’ll do the job it’s meant for, for the more… formal..occasion when the necessity arises.”: She glances over at Raksha, then at Varos, then back at the mirror. Her snakes drape around her shoulders, wrinkling the fabric here and there. “I feel pretty, oh so pretty,” she sing-songs under her breath.
“You look amazing,” Varos volunteers, resting a hand at his hip, the other tilting the mirror to the most appropriate angle. “Aww, I think your snakes approve too! If you tried the hat on would they protest?”
Raksha laughs, stepping to the side to glance at Elpida’s reflection. “Looks better than we expected, definitely. You look the part of a high-class artist.”
It’s right there in her expression. A sort of ‘FML’ as Elpida stares at the reflection in the mirror. She lets out a sigh. “Just… gonna have to be careful about who I let see me in this thing.” Some satyrs could get the wrong idea and she doesn’t even want to contemplate how many variations on ‘delicious’ Ingerhast might venture.
She rubs her eyes and says, “All right. Uhm… how much do I owe you, eh?” She glances over her shoulder at the pair.
At least Varos isn’t outright laughing. He’s enjoying this too much, the look on Elpida’s face priceless, and terribly at odds with the fine figure she cuts in that dress. “Afraid you’ll attract too much attention? I mean… To be fair, the dress is sort of meant to do that,” he grins.
Raksha can’t help but nod because it’s true enough. At Elpida’s question, she tilts her head. “The casual outfit is seventy-five, cash. This one, well… it would run up to the two hundreds easily…”
Despite her best efforts, Elpida has curves to spare in an outfit like this, yes. She looks down at it again, then back up.
“More than likely, yes. It’s a possibility. And I already GET a lot of the wrong attention.” She wrinkles her nose. “All right. I’ve got the credits for it.”
Varos waves a hand. “Well, let’s hope that you get the right attention with this, when the time comes for it. Now, I think we might be able to make some excellent use of this venture.” He smiles. “You’re practically forging the way to new business horizons in the art world. And this is just a temporary thing until you get your wine, yes? Or did you plan to make this an actual occupation?”
“Oh goodness, no,” says Elpida.
“I need them to believe I’m an artist. If they know the truth that I can just do it with a look, well, t hen it won’t work. So far, most people don’t know, but maybe the nobles of Dogwood are a bit more learned about mythology than most ’round here.” She bring her hand up to her chin.
“Do it right, and you’ll get yourself some interesting contacts,” Varos says. “Perhaps you might not be interested in doing this in the long run, but maybe other artists might be interested in following suit. Anyway, it was just a thought.” He smiles, nodding to Raksha.
“Here’s the total owed for the outfits,” the woman says, showing the Gorgon a slip. “I imagine you’d like to change back into something less flashy. If you like, we can store this dress here for you until you need it.”
“…well, good luck to me,’ snorts Elpida.
“Yeah. That’s fine, keeping the dress here. I’m not sure what the hell I’d do with it in the meantime anyway.”
She moves back to the changing room to put on her new jumpsuit.
There is obvious relief in her expression when she emerges.
“I think the snakes rather liked the boa of the other one,” Varos grins as Elpida step back out. Pun not intended. He’s about to move the mirror back, but hesitates, deciding to leave it a moment more should the Gorgon want to look at herself in her jumpsuit before he does so.
“We can handle payment in the storefront,” Raksha says, gathering up the clipboard with the commission notes to take with her. “If that’s all you need?”
“Yeah, I’d say so,” says Elpida.
And with that, she’ll get to paying. She seems less than sanguine about continuing to stare at herself in the mirror, honestly. She isn’t comfortable with her reflection. She probably never will be.