Disclaimer: I own nothing of Sigma 6, which is owned by Hasbro. Only the plot is mine.
Scarlett pushed some hair out of her face and studied the...building?
At first, she'd thought it'd just been an oddly shaped bunch of tall bushes and small trees but once her guide had pointed out the door and windows, she could clearly see that it was actually a small house. Situated as it was is the most overgrown and flower-filled clearing she'd ever seen, Scarlett had nearly missed it.
Putting out a hand to keep her guide next to her, she dug out the papers from her pack and looked them over before calling out, "Miss Shelly? Are you home?"
There were various rustling sounds before the 'door' of the home opened and a very unusual head poked out to look at her, "Just a minute please."
The head pulled back in and the door closed. Scarlett raised an eyebrow and looked at her guide, who shrugged nonchalantly, "She likes looking nice for people, ma'am. Just give her a minute to finish arranging her flowers."
Something about the way he smiled as he said the last part told her it was a long-standing joke, but Shelly actually stepped out of the house before Scarlett could ask about it. A plant nymph, Shelly certainly looked plant-like.
She was a few inches shorter than Scarlett, with a pretty, smooth face that held a slight nose, a small mouth and large, solid green eyes. Her skin was various shades of dark brown and medium green, with the brown mostly on her main body while her limbs were mainly green. Her hair wasn't really hair but actually several rose blooms of various colors, their stems connected to her scalp and hidden behind the bloomed flowers. Her dress looked like she'd taken several various sized leaves and arranged them into a dress.
Holding up a hand to ask them to wait, Shelly carried something from her home to a sunny spot in the yard. Spending a couple minutes carefully arranging it, she was finally satisfied and stepped back to look at Scarlett, "Who do I have the pleasure of addressing? If you'd like some flowers, my going rate is three flowers for an apple or a bouquet of twelve for a small bag of good quality fertilizer."
Scarlett shook her head, her left eye catching the slightest bit of movement that told her where Snake Eyes had hidden himself in the nearby trees. Focusing on the plant girl, she explained, "I'm not here to shop. I'm with the Sigma 6 group and I'm here on official business."
For some reason, that made Shelly frown and she stepped closer to Scarlett, "And what business would that be?"
Meeting her narrowed gaze calmly, Scarlett told her, "We got reports about the oppression of rare magical creatures in the area and I've been sent to investigate it."
To her surprise, Shelly threw her hands into the air and let out a sharp cry of anger, "Those blabbering idiots!"
To her further surprise, the guide shook his head, commenting, "We did try to warn you that they'd go that far, Miss Shelly."
Shelly gave him a pout before returning her gaze to Scarlett, "What exactly are the claims?"
The red-haired woman told her, "Well, the first one details your forced removal from your home to one of a, I quote, 'lesser grade and standard than your original home'."
The plant-like female shook her head, though carefully in mind of her flowers, "That's a lie! My original home was in the local town's park, which unfortunately got destroyed from all the flooding from those nasty storms we had last year. I would have died if I stayed there! Tell her, Jason!"
The guide, Jason, nodded, "It's true, ma'am. Miss Shelly here got really sick from all the flood water and we threw together a shelter for her up here until the excess water went away."
Shelly took it up from there, moving her arms out wide to indicate the whole area, "But I found that I liked it better up here than down there in Bellton, so I asked the city council if I could move up here, since this is public property. They told me I could but I had to sign away my old home to them, so they could use it in the rebuilt park. I told them okay and signed the papers in the presence of no less than three lawyers, after they took great pains to explain it all to me!"
Scarlett nodded, "I'd like to see these papers myself."
Jason offered, "I can take you to the town hall myself, once we're done here."
Scarlett nodded her thanks and turned back to Shelly, "There's also a claim here of slave labor? That you're being exploited for the benefit of the town's beautification and tourist trade?"
Shelly nearly exploded at that, "EXPLOITED?! If anyone's being exploited it's the townsfolk! They all know I can't stand to see plants in poor health so many of the gardeners go out of their way to take extra good care of their plants and the public ones or else I'll do it and I won't be nice about it! Besides that, I still take care of the park, because I want to! I mean, it's where I grew up, why wouldn't I want to take care of it?"
She shook her head again, "As for the rest, yes I let people buy my flowers, but I barter. I've got no use for money, so people offer me things I can use for fertilizer or they bring me little pretties, like flower clippings and the like. Plus, I'm the biggest plant nymph most people will ever see, so of course the tourists want to see me!"
Jason cut in there, "We've got a strict system though. They're not allowed to come up to her actual home, so they can only see her when she comes to the park. We pay Miss Shelly in goods, fertilizer and the like."
Shelly gestured sharply to the side, "Besides, if I was being exploited, why in Pan's name would Bellton go through the trouble of doing a fundraiser to pay for the transport and care of my sister?"
Blinking in surprise, Scarlett looked where she indicated. Sure enough, there was a second plant nymph, though much smaller, about the size of a young child, and her hair blooms weren't open yet. She had her little face turned up to the sun, her pale green skin soaking in the warmth and light. Her fingers were dug into the dirt and it looked like her legs were stuck into a mound of dark, rich earth.
As she looked at the child, Jason explained, "See, there was some weirdo rich guy that kicked the bucket a few months back in the next state over and when his kids went through his things, they found poor little Maple there in a greenhouse, along with a few other magical creatures. They didn't want her and hunted around for someone to take her and the others off their hands. That's how the town mayor found out about her and did the fundraiser to buy Maple's transport here, as well as for supplies for her care on the way here."
Scarlett frowned, "Are there documents stating that?"
Jason nodded again, "At the town hall, ma'am."
She told him, "I'd like to see those too."
Turning back to Shelly, she said, "Well, everything looks in order here. I'm sorry to disturb you for this. Are there any concerns you'd like addressed?"
The nymph smiled, "Yes, actually. You see, there's this nasty group of so-called defenders of nature that keep trying to convince me to move out into some wild area, far away from my home here. They also harass the good citizens of Bellton for no actual reason besides the ones they've convinced themselves of. I'd like to take out a restraining order on that group, please."
Scarlett returned the smile, "We can certainly take care of that for you, Miss Shelly. Would you like to take care of that here or down in the town?"
"Here, please. Maple isn't strong enough to leave this area yet and I don't want to leave her alone," the nymph replied.
She nodded, "Of course. I'll see you first thing tomorrow with the papers. Thank you for your time."
Leaving the clearing with Jason, Scarlett glanced at the treeline to see Snake Eyes discreetly following them. He gave her the 'all clear' signal and slipped away, likely to scout ahead and ensure the way was clear.
She hid a sigh and rolled a shoulder to get a sudden sore spot out of it. If only all missions were this easy...