Chapter 2: Arachnia

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It was 7 AM. Karin awoke from her alarm feeling rather disoriented.
It was all fake, right...? There were no dragons, no fairies, and no talking butterflies. Why were her dreams even all about fairies and whatnot?
Honestly, Karin didn't really mind it too much at all, since she had always been interested in fairies and other mythical creatures. She even held a secret belief that they actually existed — part of her had always hoped that would be the case. However, at the same time she felt it'd be too good to be true...
She shrugged it off. People would probably think she'd be crazy for believing in fairies, which is why she only ever talked about it with Rashida who at the very least kept the possibilities open. Even her own parents thought it was too far-fetched.
"Get your head out of the clouds, Karin!" was what she usually heard coming her way. Her little brother Tim had also brought it up too many times to count — when he was still little, he'd sometimes even tell his friends from school that Karin "still" believed in fairies. As Karin got older, however, she'd start lying about it and say she no longer believed in them, which at the very least stopped the bullying from younger boys.
Still... what if all that had happened yesterday was real...
Karin walked towards the bathroom, still feeling rather sleepy. She washed herself, brushed her teeth as well as her hair and put her clothes on. As she walked back into her room to grab her school bag, she heard a familiar voice -
"Good morning! Rise and shine! A new day for new opportunities, oh yes!"
Karin couldn't immediately place whose voice it was. It wasn't Tim, because the voice sounded too feminine. It also wasn't her mother, because the voice sounded too high. Then who...?
Karin turned around. A pink butterfly had appeared in her room — it was Papiyon.
"Ahh!" Karin let out a scream. "Don't ever sneak up on me like that ever again, oh my gosh!"
"My apologies," Papiyon replied quickly. "I was just checking to see if you were already awake."
Papiyon appearing in her room like that was a sign that everything that happened was, in fact, real...
Suddenly, Karin remembered something — the gem.
She looked down, lifted her shirt up slightly, and saw that the flower-shaped gem was still right there. Its presence was ultimate confirmation for her that everything that had happened had been real.
"Yes, your powers are still contained right in there," Papiyon said. "You were skeptical about the events from yesterday, right?"
"Y-yeah...", Karin admitted.
"Well, don't be. You literally saved a poor dragon from evil powers. You should be proud of yourself, even if you still have a lot to learn."
"O-oh, thank you..." Karin could feel her face get slightly red. You know, Papiyon could sometimes be pretty nice when she wasn't being so strict.
Papiyon flew towards the open window again. "Well, I guess I'll be outside for a while again. I'll see you on your way to school."
And within a few seconds, she was gone.

🌸🌸🌸

Karin walked through the living room door. Her mom was sitting at the kitchen table, drinking tea while browsing on her phone.
"Good morning mom," Karin yawned. She still didn't feel entirely awake yet.
"Have you heard the news yet, honey? About yesterday? It sounds so unbelievable! And to think it happened only a few blocks from here! Too bad I was working, or maybe I could've witnessed it!" Ann sounded overly energetic this morning as she passed the phone towards her. She was visibly taken aback. "Here! Look!"
Not even a 'good morning' can suffice I see, Karin thought. But she quickly let that thought go when she saw the headline of the news website:

"REAL-LIFE DRAGON SPOTTED, SLAIN BY ACTUAL FAIRY"

Karin's heart sank into the ground. Crap, she hadn't thought about this...!
Frankly, she looked quite a bit different while transformed, but she was still rather scared that somehow, someone may have noticed it was her.
At the same time, though, Karin couldn't help but be curious. She wondered how many lies the article would contain...
"I heard it this morning on the news and I wanted to show you. It's crazy to think that maybe, well you know..." Ann said carefully.
"Maybe what?" Karin said mockingly while grabbing a box of cereal. She quietly hoped her mom hadn't recognized her, though she didn't think she would've.
"Well, you've always believed in fairies and all that stuff," Ann answered. "I've always dismissed it as rubbish, but if this article isn't some hack writing piece containing misinformation, then maybe—"
Karin poured milk into her bowl of cereal. "That was years ago, mom," she replied. "Kids often say the darnedest things, and I was no different. And you never know with news sites these days, they're full of lies just to bring sensationalism. And who knows, maybe it was some weird street art performance."
Karin could feel herself getting sweaty — maybe her lie was a bit too obvious? After all, sometimes when people lie about their involvement with something, they deny it so intensely to the point it becomes unbelievable.
"Maybe you're right... You never know what special effects they could've used to simulate real flying. There was probably a rope somewhere that we didn't see, you know, like in a circus?"
Karin pretended not to listen anymore as she ate her cereal. She suddenly realized that the people at school would probably bring it up as well... Oh joy, she couldn't wait.
Karin got up as she finished her cereal. "Alright, time to go." She grabbed her schoolbag and walked towards the garage. "Bye, mom!" she yelled while waving.
As Karin got her bicycle out of the garage onto the porch, she noticed a small pink creature flying towards her.
"Ah, there you are," Papiyon said with a smile on her face. "I guess I'll join you on your ride to school."
"Of course, how else will you be able to keep an eye on me?" Karin replied slightly mockingly while getting on her bicycle.
As she said that, they went off.

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