They finally entered the building in the center of Florence.
It reminded Maggie of a fancy hotel, the type that has bellhops and free breakfasts. There was red velvet carpeting everywhere, and a gold-painted information desk, and big beautiful windows everywhere, and a lot of faeries in uniforms rushing about muttering darkly.
Iz strode up grandly to the information desk, nodding at the faeries she passed. All the faeries would immediately give a deep bow to Iz, who was apparently very important.
Maggie was more interested in the architecture, though. The room was in the shape of a circle, with lots of doors and presumably elevators around the edges, and a great big golden staircase spiraling up in the center. Maggie couldn't even see the top.
Between the doors were murals. Some of them showed maps of the stars, some of them showed little baby cherubim, some of them showed grand battles- it looked, honestly, like a not-terribly-well-done-renaissance-art exhibit.
Everyone was sort of standing awkwardly, hoping that none of the faeries would notice them and glare at them. Iz was speaking with a solemn looking faerie at the information in hushed voices. The solemn faerie had just gotten out a lot of papers that Iz was now reading and signing progressively, but there was quite a stack and looked like they would be there a while.
For the first few minutes they were silent, but somehow a wild rock-paper-scissors tournament arose. No-one knew how it quite began-perhaps someone unintentionally made a fist and someone else reponded as a joke- but it rose quietly, one person at a time noticing and joining the ranks until everyone was excitedly chanting and everyone was teamed up and organized, and the play-offs began, and then the next set of play-offs, and so on, until there were two left- a boy whose name Maggie couldn't recall, and Maureen, who was fiercely competitive.
They were being noisy by now and received some disgruntled looks from the faeries,but everyone was to intent on the tournament to notice. Iz was almost through the forms by now.
Everyone was yelling without realizing it, and everyone was backing someone and cheering wildly. It is an interesting quality of the human race that if we are thrown together with a group of people by chance, we will likely become friends with them and all of a sudden are loyal and patriotic even if we have just met our team-mates a moment before.
There was a great cheer on the last "Shoot!" and the boy threw a rock, as did Maureen. The tension was high, and they were even noisier this time.
"Shoot!" Suddenly a great groan came from the boy's side, he had cast a scissors while Maureen struck a rock again. Maggie was disappointed; she had been rooting against Maureen ever since Maureen beat her in the play-offs, which was odd because Maggie was very good at rock-paper-scissors since she was a bit of a genius. But being a bit of a genius, she had noticed Maureen's and the boy's styles and predicted this would happen, so it wasn't terribly disappointing after all. At least she had been right.
Another interesting quality of the human race (And I know I said humans are hard to generalize, but certain things hold true) is that they do not mind something bad so terribly much if they predicted it beforehand.
As they were organizing the second tournament (with Maureen as ruling champion and judge since there was an odd number), Iz came back, looking very sick of paperwork, and told them that the ACF would see them now.