Conventional Adventures

Isabelle and Jason adjusted their costumes as they walked into the building for the local comic book and fantasy convention downtown. Isabelle had on a blond wig, a white button-down shirt with a blue and silver tie, and a shin-length black skirt. Jason had on a black trench coat with a dark blue scarf-ish thing tied around his neck, and a black wig he was trying to make curlier. He watched Nesrin checking her appearance in the glass door. She was wearing a frilly grey blouse and a messy, faded blue skirt that poofed out around her legs, with some kind of black garment tied around her waist. She’d opted out of a wig. Some of her hair was down, but most of it was bunched up in an absolute rat’s nest on top of her head.

He said “I still don’t see why you didn’t come in your hidden one body and call that your costume. You’d’ve cleaned up in all the competitions.”

Nesrin adjusted her skirt. “I couldn’t call that a costume because costumes are for pretending to be something you’re not, and I didn’t wear it because today I want to be something I’m not.”

Additional comments were lost until they adjusted to the sounds of over a thousand people calling out catchphrases and flipping out over booths.

Jason looked around. “I wonder if we’ll get to see any of the celebs we’re dressed as.”

Nesrin shook her head. “Not likely. They mostly only get smaller names here.”

Isabelle gasped. “How can you say that when Aravis Quarterfire has a table here? Jolín, I should have dressed as a character from her web comic. Oh bien, at least I remembered my copy of her book to get signed. And remember, you promised we could visit her table first.”

Nesrin laughed. “I guess we did. Alright, lead the way, Fangirl.”

They didn’t get far before a random person grabbed Jason’s arm and pulled him back. “Hey, listen. I’s supposed to give this folder to somebody at the Chimera Comics booth for a panel, but I can’t leave this table ‘cause my relief ain’t here it. Can you take this? Ask for Sparks. Thanks.” He thrust the folder into Jason’s hands and left.

The trio stared at it.

Isabelle said “We can’t deliver this and see Aravis Quarterfire.”

Nesrin rubbed her chin. “We probably can’t find any one else to take it either. Chimera Comics is on our way, though. We’ll be fine.”

They noticed people staring at them. When they moved forward, so did the people around them. They quickened their pace and the crowd quickened to match.

A voice said “I bet that’s the list of new comics that are comming out this season.”

Another voice said “If we beg enough I bet they’ll tell us.”

Jason felt a hand reach around him and try to grab the folder.

Nesrin snatched the folder before the hand could, then she darted into a tent with Jason and Isabelle following. The tent was a costume vender. The trio found themselves divided by the lines of racks, stumbling around trying to find each other. Nesrin created an illusion of blinking lights over all their heads to lead them to the same exit. When they looked back in the tent people were pushing shirts around a crawling under racks to find them. It was long enough for someone to look up and see them. They darted for Chimera Comics as the crowd started to pour out of the tent.

Nesrin didn’t even stop moving as she dropped the folder on the table. “Give this to Sparks.” She and Jason tried to stop for breath, but Isabelle grabbed their arms.

“Come on. We wasted enough time on that. I just hope the line isn’t too long yet.”

They turned a corner and Isabelle shrieked. The line to see Aravis Quarterfire already stretched past five other tables.

Nesrin nudged her forward. “At least we can get in line now before it gets any longer.”

Isabelle let them take her to the back of the line, sulking all the way. “I guess we can talk to people and pass the time.”

Jason pulled up his coat collar. “I don’t know. Now I’m a little paranoid about gettin’ in a fight with somebody.”

The next thing he heard was Nesrin yelling “The Fellowship should have ridden the eagles to Mordor.”

There was instant silence.

Nesrin counted off on her fingers. “It would have saved a ton of walking, not to mention waaayyy less people would have been tempted by the ring’s power, plus it would have prevented untold bloodshed, and it…”

Someone dressed as an elf said “How would they have hidden from the Eye of Sauron?”

Nesrin shrugged. “Surely the eagles could have outflown any of Sauron’s attacks.”

A crowd member wearing a black monk’s habit lifted a foam sword. “She’s right. Everyone knows that’s a major plot hole. At least they could’ve acknowledged it on screen.”

The one in the elf suit put his hand on the hilt of his own foam sword. “It’s not a plot hole because Tolkien thought of it and explained his reasoning. Read the letter he wrote about the 1958 movie!”

Nesrin waved a hand. “At least they cut out the dead-weight poetry and the descriptions of trees.”

Jason and Isabelle took a step away.

The elf held up his sword. “The descriptions are an integral part of the text, and I challenge anyone who says otherwise to a role-play battle.”

Most of the people in line before them took a battle stance as the crowd around the line grew.

Nesrin leaned close to her roommates and whispered. “Just stand still.”

A voice called “Standard LARP rules apply. 3… 2… 1… Lay-On!”

The line broke in different directions and a flurry of foam swords started to wave around them. Slowly the fighters created a space around the line to avoid the non-fighters. Now there were only four people between them and Isabelle’s author. Nesrin, Isabelle, and Jason hurried past the fighters, watching rows of people crouch on the ground to show they’d been hit.

After they’d gotten back in line, Jason felt a giant cardboard key bounce of his head. Looking around, he couldn’t see an obvious owner, but he heard a bad fake New York accent say “Sorry.”

Finally the last person before them finished talking to Aravis and walked away.

Nesrin moved to Isabelle’s side, apparently to let her friend have her moment.

At first Aravis thought of them as she did any other admiring strangers. Then she looked to Isabelle’s side and gazed intently at Nesrin. Finally she stood up and ran around the table to hug her. “Aunt Nesrin! Did you really think that outfit would fool me?”

“Qué susto!” Isabelle clutched her chest. “Aravis Quarterfire es tu sobrina?”

Nesrin looked up from hugging Aravis. “She’s Ceylan’s daughter. Small world, right?”

“Ostras! Why didn’t you tell me this?”

Aravis detached from Nesrin and held out a hand. “You must be Isabelle. Aunt Nesrin tells me about you all the time. I was really impressed with those ceramic houses you painted, by the way. I almost didn’t believe Aunt Nesrin when she showed me the picture.”

Both Isabelle’s hands flew to her head. “I, it, I, I, she, hos, ella, me…”

“Hold it.”

They all turned to Jason, who had his hands on his hips and was tapping his foot.

“Do you seriously mean all that was so we could meet somebody you could’ve introduced us to whenever you wanted?”

Nesrin laughed. “Nice deduction, Sherlock. I thought it’d be more fun this way.”

Aravis giggled. “Typical Nesrin. Must be a real blast living with her.”

Jason and Isabelle’s mouths both hung open.

“Bless your hearts,” Aravis said. “How ’bout I give you both free signed copies of my next book to make up for it.”

They both responded “That works” without missing a beat.