Kiik’s ship left Ploosnar before anyone awoke. Zri was on his way but he would not arrive until late this evening or early tomorrow. That meant the group had a free day. They had gathered for breakfast in the great dining hall.

“Lelelu, I know you’ve been to Ploosnar before, is there anything you’d like to do today?” Empress Nalau asked her.

“Yes Empress. You may not remember this but many years ago when I was here, we visited your personal tailors. They made me the most amazing jackets. If it is possible, I would like to visit the tailors again.” she answered.

“Absolutely. That sounds wonderful. I am always up for a visit to the tailors. M will you be joining us?”

“New clothes?  Hell yeah, count me in.  What about shoes?”

“Uh-oh, next they are going to be deciding what color to paint their toenails for the reception.” Brzko said to Bartala.

Lelelu spoke before Bartala could respond, she cleared her throat, “For your information I don’t have toenails.”

They all laughed.

“Touché!” Brzko said.

“We cannot win with three of them Brzko.”

“Let’s go to Smd and get some fresh niptdyn for dinner.” he said.

“That sounds much better than a visit to the tailors.” Bartala and Brzko stood to leave the room. Bartala kissed Nalau’s cheek, “Have a wonderful day my love. I will see you for refreshments this afternoon.”

Brzko reached for M’s hand and pulled her up to standing. He literally swept her off her feet as he leaned her back giving her his best Hollywood movie star kiss. As he righted her, he said, “Until later my darling Muse of Mischief.”

She was a bit dazed as he turned and left the room with Bartala. Nalau and Lelelu were laughing as M plopped back down in her chair. “OK are you two readies then?”

“Yes, I’d like to walk. It’s not very far and the weather is perfect right now.” Nalau said.

As the trio walked through the foyer to exit the palace, M caught a glimpse of them in the mirrors that line the wall. “Wait, look.” she said.

The other two turned toward the mirrors, confused. “We look good!” she said.

And they did. Empress Nalau was dressed in her usual fashion, a royal blue ankle length dress. The skirt had a slit up the left side and both it and the short jacket were lined with black. The jacket had tabs and black buttons on the back. Lelelu was wearing a short grey skirt with a short, cropped shirt of the same fabric. She also had short boots and a fantastic hat that M had never seen before. The Muse of Mischief was wearing a short red and black dress, the bodice was tight, resembling a corset, the skirt was short and ruffled. She also had a matching jacket. It was black lined with red and black heels. The stockings she wore today were not striped.

It was indeed short walk. The ladies arrived at Nalau’s favorite tailor, Schatorren after a quick walk through the streets near the palace. Everyone they encountered recognized the Empress and gave right of way to the group. It was difficult to blend in when you were followed by palace guards. The shop is a huge unattached structure. The entrance is grand with two large arched doors, a butler stood in attendance to greet shoppers. As the trio approached, the doors swung wide and the butler welcomed them.

“Your Majesty! We are honored to have you visit Schatorren Designs today. Please enter.” He bowed deeply as he gestured for the group to enter the doorway.

They had barely stepped over the threshold when they were greeted by Schatorren himself. “Empress Nalau. To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit today? It must be clothing for your friends, as you already look so divine today that I cannot suggest a single improvement.” At this the Ploosnarian sporting a Londo hairstyle bowed deeply and kissed Nalau’s hand. M was impressed to see that Bartala’s new hairstyle was catching on.

“Schatorren, surely you are not suggesting that my wardrobe is too large? It would upset me deeply if I were not able to add to it,” she teased.

Her sarcasm caught him off guard, for a moment he thought he was in trouble, “I apologize Empress.  I did not mean…”

She interrupted him, “Relax Schatorren, I was being humorous. A day out with the ladies makes me a bit playful. May I present the Muse of Mischief and Lelelu.” she said gesturing toward her friends.

Schatorren approached M first, he bowed, “Ahhhh the Muse of Mischief! You are famous throughout the Universe. You honor me with your visit today. And you are the most fascinating creature I have ever seen.” He said turning to Lelelu, reaching for her hand. “What are you? Other than absolutely divine?”

“I am a Trelod.” Lelelu said, enjoying the attention.

“Are all Trelods as blue as you are? You look like you were meant to be on Ploosnar where everything is blue. Where are you from?” Schatorren asked.

“Trelods are indigenous to the Planet of Portals, but most of us live in many places throughout our lives.” Lelelu explained.

Schatorren, seeming a little out of sorts due to his infatuation with Lelelu, stepped back to address them as a group, “What can I do for you ladies today? Are you looking for something specific?”

“I am in the mood for new shoes.” Nalau said. “I would like something purple.” M said.

“I would like new jumpsuits for traveling. With matching hats in a style no one else has ever seen.” Lelelu said, clearly having fun with Schatorren.

He clapped his hands and instantly he was surrounded by a small crowd; two designers and three design assistants. “For you, the very best shoe designer we have.” he said motioning toward one design team. “For you, my superhero team.” he said to M. “And you, I will design for you myself” he said to Lelelu as he grasped her arm and escorted her off to a design center with an assistant following close behind.

M and Nalau followed their designers to the appropriate design center.

Each designer has a small sitting area in an absolutely grand room. The ceiling so high you can hardly see it. The room

is large and open, but each designer’s area is clearly defined by their style. A variety of chairs, sofas, and stools placed around each design table. The design tables were tall, with a slanted top.

The process at Schatorren Designs starts with an interview. The designer enjoys refreshments with the client, getting to know them and “breaking the ice.” As the client describes what they want, the designer begins to sketch ideas. With the client able to see the designs develop, and offer input prior to completion, they are assured of getting something they love that is uniquely tailored to their desires.

“My name is Kilome. It is an honor to have been selected to design for the Muse of Mischief.” Kilome said as he gestured toward a small sofa in his design area.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Kilome. How long have you been with Schartorren?” M asked taking a seat.

“I have been at Schartorren Designs for many cycles, close to twenty, ever since this new location was opened. Before that, I was designing on Drolla O0. I find Ploosnar more to my liking.”

“Drolla O0, are you Sarfet?” M asked.

“Yes, partially.” he answered. “My mother is from Ploosnar and my father from Drolla O0. As far as I know I am the only being that is Ploosnarian and Sarfet.”

“I guess that would explain why your eyes are not blue.

At first I thought you might be wearing contact lenses.”

Kilome is an intriguing being, tall and thin with dark hair. He wears his hair all one length but slicked back, away from his face. As M took a closer look, she could see that his nose is at a slight angle and the nostrils are slightly flared – both traits of the Sarfet.

“Well then I guess I will have designs like no one else has even imagined!” M said.

“Oh yes! Of that I can assure you Muse of Mischief. Are you looking for a certain type of garment? Where will it be worn? What type of activities will be performed in the garment?”

“I was thinking of something new for the reception on Myaad when the Rogsaars arrive home. You are aware of the Rogsaars I presume?” she asked.

“Yes, several of the Rogsaars had new garments designed during their stay on Ploosnar. A few of them are even employed here. So, you are thinking of something formal?”

“Hmmmmm I do like formal clothing, very much. But… sometimes I am called upon to deal with situations at a moment’s notice. I don’t have time to change out of restrictive clothing.”

“I have an idea…” Kilome took a seat on the high stool at his design table and began sketching. It only took a few moments before he had enough of a design to show M. “What do you think?” he asked as he tilted the sketch toward her.

“Wow! I think you nailed it!” She said as she stood to take a closer look.

“Nailed? Is that a positive reaction?” he asked with slight apprehension.

M laughed, “Yes, it’s slang from the planet Earth. To nail something is to get right, exactly right.”

He looked relieved.

The design sketch was of M, she even had her hands on her hips with one foot extended making her look like the sassy time traveling, aperture jumping being she was. The skirt was a little longer than she usually wore, it was hard to run in long restrictive skirts, but the bottom half of this one was designed to be fringe, so it moved.

“What do you think?” Kilome asked.

“I’m impressed Kilome. It looks like I will have complete mobility even though this is a little longer. And this…” she traced her finger over what looked like a train.

“Is a short train to more formalize the garment. But it will

be removable in case you need more mobility.”

The top part of the garment looked like a corset with bows made of ribbon running in a line down the back. The same ribbon would be run in three straight lengths down the front of the corset.

“You will of course need a matching jacket or wrap, shoes and stockings.” Kilome quickly sketched those things. The shoes were amazing – pointed toe high heels with several shades of purple.

“Kilome, this is magnificent! How did you manage to create designs that are so perfect for me after only speaking for a few moments?” M asked.

“Ahh, you haven’t spent much time with Sarfets have you?”

“No, not really.  Just a little trading on Smd, I love niptdyn.”

“Some of us are empaths. In fact all Sarfets used to be empaths but the skill has been waning with the last few generations. For a race that functions primarily as traders, it is a valuable skill – and for me as a designer as well.”

“You can design for me anytime Kilome!”

“It is my honor Muse of Mischief. If you will excuse me, I will begin the creation process. The garments will be delivered to the palace later today.” Kilome said as he stood.

“Of course Kilome, thank you.” M said as she stood, planning to go look for her friends. But as Kilome walked away, Lelelu approached.

“Hi Lelelu, how did your designs turnout?” M asked.

“I think they will be the best garments I’ve ever worn. I went all out, seven new sets!” Lelelu said, sounding exhausted. “But it will be money well spent.”

“Money  well  spent?”  inquired  Empress  Nalau  from behind them, “Oh no Lelelu, today’s outing is at the courtesy of the Palace. It is truly a pleasure for Bartala and me to be able to provide you two with these gifts. You do so much for the Universe, and you never ask for a thing in return.”

“But Empress….” M attempted to object.

Empress Nalau dismissed her objection with a wave of her hand, “I’m pulling rank here M. As Empress of this planet I insist. Now let’s go down the street a few doors and have some tea before we return to the palace.” She began heading toward the entrance of Schatorren Designs.

“Wait tea?” Lelelu asked a little confused. “Isn’t that an Earth beverage?”

“Originally  yes,  but  Ploosnarians  know  a  good  thing when they find it. Some of our early explorers brought back samples from our first Earth missions. We’ve been cultivating it ever since.” Nalau answered as the trio stepped out on the sidewalk.

“Well,  not  just  cultivating,”  M  interjected.  “I’d  say they’ve been improving it. They’ve enhanced the flavors.”

Once out on the sidewalk a pair of palace guards fell in step behind them. The trio returned to the palace after enjoying their tea, they returned in plenty of time to enjoy the niptdyn with Brzko and Bartala.

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