AN: Oops, I wrote this two years ago and forgot about it. It doesn't take place at any specific time besides the third chapter or so of the game.
Tensions and annoyance were running high. She felt like she was stagnating, like a wound coil that could not release its energy. The worst part was that it didn't look like it was going to end anytime soon. With a sigh, Judith addressed her friend. "Estelle, perhaps you should consider changing back into your traveling outfit."
However, dressed in the bright yellow and white masseuse uniform from Yumanju, Estelle wasn't deterred at all. "Don't worry! If we have to fight any monsters, this is quite easy to move in!"
"Can you even see the monsters through that visor?" Yuri asked, genuinely curious about the answer.
"Yes, it's not a problem."
"Whether or not you can move and see isn't really the issue," Judith responded calmly, but with a slightly disappointed pout, "because we aren't running into any enemies lately."
It suddenly dawned on Yuri that his friend was right, and he glanced at the surrounding dense forest-not a monster in sight, which was highly unusual. He'd noticed the lack of action, of course, but the cause had been a mystery—until now. "Huh, now that you mention it..."
"Estelle, I think your outfit might be scaring them off."
"W-what? But...how could that be?"
After a pause to consider, Judith explained. "I suppose if I were a monster and suddenly ran into you, I might mistake you for a poisonous animal. It's usually the brightly-coloured ones the predators stay away from, after all."
Estelle cocked her head to the side curiously, not yet ready to be discouraged. "Even if that's true...wouldn't it be a good thing? It means we don't have to worry about fighting off the monsters."
"That's exactly the problem."
"Wouldn't you say this is terribly boring?"
"You're...bored? But..." The princess sighed. Of course Judith would prefer to take on the enemies, but she liked these clothes so much! They were such a nice change from the gowns in the palace and were a lovely unique style. With a pleading look, she turned to her other friend for support. "Yuri-!"
He held up his hand in a placating gesture with a slight grin. "Sorry, Estelle. I gotta go with Judy on this one. It's no fun if we're not getting a good workout."
"But Yuri, you were playing with Repede just a little while ago."
"That's not the same thing. Just takes the edge off."
"Oh. Like having a small snack even when you're really hungry?
"Yeah, something like that."
A sudden cacophony of shouting reached their ears, and the trio all glanced to the centre of the campsite they had been busy setting up. There, the two youngest members of the party were sitting and glowering at each other, one furious and the other horrified.
"Why the heck would you serve something like this?" Karol demanded incredulously. "I almost ate it!"
Rita put her hands on her hips and snarled right back at him. "Stop whining, idiot! It's no different than the ones Yuri makes, so what the hell's your problem?"
"It's raw!" he shrieked.
"So what? It's not gonna kill you!"
An interjection was attempted by Yuri-he couldn't deny that seeing Karol squirm could be funny now and then, but nobody wanted the poor kid to get food poisoning. "Actually, Rita-"
"Stop being such a coward and just eat it!"
"No way! You can't expect me to eat something you didn't even cook properly!"
Irate, she jabbed a finger in his face, fed up with the lack of gratitude. "Then cook it yourself, stupid! You should be grateful I made something for you at all."
"You're just doing this on purpose! You never cook properly when it's your turn!"
Estelle was about to dash over and rescue Karol when Judith spoke to her again. "It looks like everyone else is being affected by this too."
"What do you mean?" she asked in confusion.
"No one's been able to fight today, so we're all filled with pent-up energy. If we continue like this, it could get dangerous."
"So you're saying we all need to relieve some stress, right?"
"Exactly," Yuri agreed, glad Estelle finally understood. He was looking forward to a little monster beatdown anytime. "So put on something el-hey!" He was too unprepared to stop the princess from running over to the other two, where she stretched out her hands towards Rita. Damn, he thought, Hope Rita looks before she hits. Although he worried for good reason, Estelle fearlessly touched her friend's shoulder.
"I'm gonna shove that sandwich down your throat if you don't-hey! Hands off!" Rita reflexively readied a fireball, figuring it was the old man getting too close.
Luckily, Estelle was quick to reply before they started a forest fire. "It's okay, Rita! It's me."
"Huh? Estelle, what are you doing?"
"I'm going to help you relieve your stress! Don't worry, I've gotten lots of experience lately!"
A few moments of sputtering were all Rita could manage before she finally squeaked, "experience? W-what are you...oh..." She trailed off as Estelle began massaging her shoulders. Rita's eyes unfocused, the fireball in her hands dissipated, and she nearly melted into the ground while her friend worked.
Karol's jaw dropped in awe at what he was witnessing. Never once had he believed anything would get Rita to calm down like that. "Estelle," he whispered dramatically, afraid of breaking whatever spell she had over the mage, "how'd you do that?"
"My boy, fer bein' a monster expert, ya've got a lot ta learn about tamin' a savage beast," Raven spoke up from behind him, not so much surprised as intrigued. In fact, it only took a moment for Raven to decide that this was one secret weapon he absolutely must add to his talented arsenal. "Hey, kiddo, ya mind teachin' that trick to Ol' Raven?" he moved towards the girls and leaned down to inspect the mage's half-asleep face. "If it can do this to our genius mage, then it'll work wonders on winnin' over some lovely ladies."
Despite her apparent relaxed state, Rita promptly swung a fist into his face.
Karol sighed and backed away, though he felt the old man's pain. "I wouldn't push your luck with her, Raven, even when she's like this."
Off to the side, Yuri and Judith observed with a mix of curiosity, amusement, and relief. "Well, guess that outfit had a good use after all."
"She doesn't actually need the outfit itself to be a masseuse, though," Judith pointed out to him, though he simply shrugged.
"Maybe it helps her get into character. Anyway, that's one monster I wouldn't want to fight."
"Oh? I bet it'd be fun to run circles around her and watch her try to cast a spell."
"If you're seriously thinking that, then you must be more bored than I am."
With a smirk, Judith retrieved her spear from their belongings and began to stroll away from the campsite. She glanced over her shoulder to look at Yuri. "Then I should go relieve some stress myself."
"I'm in. Let's find us some monsters to smack around."
Repede gave an enthusiastic bark and bounded after them. A massage wouldn't be enough to tame those three just yet.