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We Three: Hebi No Onna

by Eyeswirl the Weirded

Chapter 1: Chapter 1: Spellbooks and Snake-arms!

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Things weren't going very well.

That was Aria's chief thought as she slammed the door to the group's new apartment again. She didn't care what Adagio said, doors were made for slamming, especially after another long, stupid, boring day at work. Somehow, she had picked up a job in retail, which SUCKED, but at least it brought in some money. That made her the only one of them to earn any consistent income after they fled to the inner city following the Battle of the Bands, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Probably.

Kicking her shoes off, peeling her usual hoodie away, and slinging it at the nearest wall, Aria walked into the living room clad only in jeans and a tight tank top. She found Sonata, similarly garbed, lying on the couch and watching TV. Again. "Thought you had an interview today."

"I did," she replied without looking up, "totally bombed it! And the one after it!"

Ordinarily, there'd have been snark for Sonata failing to make herself useful for umpteenth time, but now Aria was curious. "One after? You managed to get a whole two interviews in one day?" All things considered, maybe that was progress.

Giggling, Sonata sat up to make room for Aria on the couch, as per tradition of the last couple of... weeks? Months? She wasn't sure anymore. "Well, the first one went like usual; some jerk in a tie telling me I'm not fit to blah-blah-I'm-bitter-'cause-my-wife-only-married-me-for-what-little-financial-security-I-can-provide-blah-blah. But then on the way home, I met this guy in a coat and a big hat with a feather in it! He said he had just the job for me, so we went to his office through some dirty old back alley that smelled like pee."

Taking a seat, Aria raised a cautious eyebrow. "Uh-huh...?"

"A few minutes after we got there, we heard sirens, but not like the three of us, just the 'WEE-WOO, WEE-WOO' kind, and he told me to wait for a bit, but I was sitting there for like twenty minutes and he never even came back! Jerk. Then some cops showed up (Officer Booker says hi, by the way!) and asked me what I was doing there, so I told 'em the guy in the coat was gonna give me a job and they got all quiet, looked at each other for a sec, smiled, and told me to go home, so here I am!"

Not a word was said over the next few minutes, but the television got Sonata's attention before Aria needed to verbalize a reply. As usual. That was probably for the best, because that had to be the third time Sonata had told her about a 'job offer' like that, and Aria wasn't sure if it made her want to laugh or cry. New subject.

"So, what's Adagio up to?"

Pointing in the direction of the hall leading to their leader's room, Sonata sighed. "Same old, same old."

Aria sighed too. She'd been sure the gem fragments would be completely useless after the Rainbow Bullshit 9000 hit, but after a couple weeks of daily tinkering, Adagio had managed to restore their singing voices through some arcane mumbo-jumbo Aria still didn't understand. That was a great day and all, but all three of them agreed that they wanted everything back, including the magic they'd had all their lives.

Yea, yea, letting go and moving on were all well and good if there was nothing you could do, but just dropping a piece of your identity isn't that easy. Unfortunately, while all three of them could use those powers, Adagio was the only one who knew how they really worked, which was why she now spent every day in her room with what was left of the gems, just trying to get more out of them than little specks and sparks of negative energy.

Aria flicked Sonata's ear to get her attention. "You get the mail?"

"The what?"

"Uggh," groaned Aria as she stood up, thwapping the back of Sonata's head, "freakin' lazy dumbass."

She didn't bother listening for a whiny retort as she set off for the cluster of built-into-the-wall mailboxes herself, the one a whole fifteen steps from their front door. There was a time (about a month ago, actually) that Aria would have been madder about being the only one of the three to be doing anything useful, but she'd mellowed to the fact that Sonata was at least trying and that if Adagio pulled off what she was hoping to, none of them would ever need to work again.

Still, that didn't leave the situation completely in her yellow, increasingly-scratched-up (the gem fragments could be pretty sharp) hands, at least not as far as Aria was concerned. In her time surfing the internet when not at work, she'd come across some interesting sites, some that, despite what that big encyclopedia site she kept getting lost in would say, seemed to think they had magic in this world too.

Aria had ordered a book, and opening the mailbox, she recognized the shape of the package. It was here. Her mouth splitting in an Adagio-worthy grin, she tore the paper and stamps and whatever else right off, beholding her secret back-up plan in the light of day.

It was old, a little tattered, and judging by the art style, apparently made on the other side of the world, but mostly still legible. This book, Aria was almost sure, had some kind of magic to it, magic they'd probably be able to use even without their own! Best of all, it had been for sale almost dirt-cheap, so Adagio couldn't even complain that she'd wasted much money if this didn't work.

She practically sprinted back into the apartment with it, shouting with such delight that she forgot to even slam the door. "GUYS, C'MERE!!" It tickled something in the back of her mind that Sonata obeyed that order, though even she looked confused about it as she eyed the book.

"What? Story time?"

They heard Adagio shout from her room. "What is it, Aria?"

"OUTTA THE BAT-CAVE, DAGI, I GOT SOMETHING FOR YOU!!" She and Sonata both giggled. Inside joke.

It was funny because Adagio had spent so long in her room that it almost reminded them of some cave-dwelling monster and they were pretty sure that spending day after day on the gems was driving her 'batty,' so-

It didn't matter. Adagio shuffled into view, her hair down and her bloodshot eyes half open in a tired glare. "Alright," she muttered, "what is it?"

Woah, thought Aria, the scratches on her face are new... did she fall asleep on her desk again? Looks like she's not even getting band-aids for her hands anymore. Didn't matter, she had their attention now, and brought it to the tome in her hands.

"Found this online, they said it's magic." Before objections or doubts could be raised, she flipped it open, revealing the depiction of a black, hissing serpent. "Dark magic." She took it as a good sign that Adagio's expression was more curious than skeptical.

"And where did you find-"

"Internet."

"Fair enough, but it must have cost-"

"Thirteen bucks!"

Sonata scratched her head. "Hang on, if it's really magic, why would it be that cheap?"

"I thought about that; the people in this world don't think magic even exists, right? I remember Adagio rambling about how magical objects usually can't be triggered at all without the presence of some kind of magic in the first place to work like a jump-start, and since they've got so little power in this world, maybe it just hasn't been activated in forever?"

Adagio would have offered corrections about it not being 'rambling,' but she wanted to get this over with and go lie down. "Alright, but how do you know it's actual magic and not another manual?" She cast a tired glance over her shoulder to the small stack of books on a nearby shelf. "The game is interesting, of course, but not quite the kind of magic we're looking for." She did like being the DM, though, and not just for the ability to keep the others on their toes by making them roll various kinds of 'save.'

At this, Aria gave them a slightly sheepish smile. "Well, I kinda don't know it's the real deal, but-"

Sonata cut her off with a scoff. "You blew money on something that might be totally bogus? Wow, and you were the one telling me that gambling was stupid, stupid!"

Adagio watched as Aria, brows furrowed, took a challenging (if meaningless) step forward and the usual thing began. She didn't even care enough to hear the specifics of their argument this time. Aria usually won, for whatever that was worth, but part of her wondered why she'd ever bothered keeping score. While Aria and Sonata were lost in each other's (angry) eyes, Adagio tip-toed around, pinched the book out of Aria's hand, took a few steps back, and started leafing through it.

It was old, definitely, the text and embellishments resembling what she'd seen of this world's far-eastern cultures. Snakes and serpents were a running theme, several pages marked with little depictions of black snake heads like the one on the first page. She didn't know what that meant and the translated annotations weren't making a lot of sense. She was almost ready to call this one a bust when she came to a page with inscriptions that reminded her of the Leviathan-class incantation matrices she'd studied back in Coltlantis.

In hindsight, choosing to let her sisters remain ignorant of how their own magic worked in favor of being able to control them that much easier felt like a mistake. Her information monopoly had worked out great while they still had their power, but now it just left her to do all the technical work herself if they were ever going to get their birthright back. She might have tried teaching them, but even if both had the focus for it, broken gems weren't the best means of demonstration. The page she was on now had very little she could read, but a few words appeared more than once.

"Hebi No Onna," she whispered under her breath while tracing her fingers over the page, finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate over the sounds of bickering and hair-pulling. She looked up with a scowl. "Will you two just shut-" she slapped a hand onto the book, the sudden sting telling her she'd agitated one of her tiny, but numerous wounds again. She looked down at her hand with a wince, eyes widening both at the faint trickle of blood and the sight of an ethereal, red mist floating up from the page.

Instinctively, she looked at the others, both of whom were now frozen in place even as they held one another by the bangs, staring at her in surprise. Looking back to the book, she found it glowing a little brighter. She tried to pull her hand away, but found it stuck to the page, and trying to push it away with her other hand only got both of her hands trapped, like that time with Sonata and the fly paper.

She was starting to panic. "I, I-I can't-" Aria and Sonata were already on her, each tugging on a different arm as though hoping to pull her out of a hole together. This might have been appropriate, because her fingers began to sink into the book. As the red light grew brighter and brighter, tendrils of twisting, scarlet aurora drifted up from the hissing tome, wrapped around her, and quickly spread to the others.

They screamed.

Artist's depiction

~~~

When she awoke, Adagio found herself lying on the carpet by the front door. Sitting up and looking around, she didn't see Aria or Sonata... but she did see their clothes, lying in heaps nearby. Were they running around naked again?

I thought they already resolved that bet, what could-

"Uuugh," groaned Sonata from Adagio's immediate left, "whatever that was, I don't want any more."

Adagio's jaw dropped.

"Yea," concurred Aria from Adagio's immediate right, "gonna second that. Stupid oriental snake-magic."

Sonata's jaw dropped, as did Aria's when she caught sight of Sonata. The three of them slooowly looked over themselves, finding that Aria and Sonata had been morphed into large serpents that resembled their hippocampus forms, both of them fused to Adagio's shoulders in place of her arms.

This time, only Aria and Sonata screamed, Adagio remaining in a stunned, silent state until the freak-out phase had died down to just frantic questioning, the two of them reducing it to incoherent cacophony by talking over each other. Then she started to smile.

"W-what," Sonata almost pleaded, "do you know something about this? 'Cuz if you're gonna do your magical-brainiac thing, now'd be great!"

"You two," Adagio breathed, "you're, you're both..."

Aria glanced around to see the book not far away, making the mental note that picking it up was probably going to leave a bad taste in someone's mouth. "Yeeeaaaa...?"

Their eldest sister (not by much, but still), their leader, and now their host grinned brightly as she went starry-eyed. "You're beautiful!"

Sharing a quick look, Aria and Sonata could see that their new faces were still expressive enough to convey their mutual thought:

Wat.

Author's Notes:

Yes, for once, I'm outright stating the sirens to be sisters. In this version. So that makes at least one time from me!

I usually use some other explanation or leave it ambiguous, not because I'm remotely opposed to the idea, but because I like to be able to explore other options, though I do seem to use Coltlantis a lot. That, and part of me likes to keep the option of AriaNata open, even when I solidly know that I'm not going to ship them in that story.
Or, from the looks of things? Ever.

This story will be a bit more nonsensical than my usual thing, but I hope you enjoy! Also hoping to update weekly (it's not due to be a super-long story, maybe six or so chapters)

Next Chapter: Chapter 2: Living with Snake-arms! Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 58 Minutes
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