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World of Darkness: The Academy - Chapter 8a: Ryan's Derring-Do

Dawn OOC

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It really sucked that no one wanted to come with him, Ryan reflected as he eased around the corner of the Admin Building. He really could have used some backup or a lookout guy; maybe put Ravi's eyes to good use for something other than getting into trouble with the girls.

Outside the building, Ryan paused to consider his options. There were four entrances, three of which were on the 'ground' level and one on the first floor. The Admin building had been built on a slope, like most of the buildings in this region, and it's lowest level was accessible only from the sides and the back.

The ground level held the small game room - a pool table and a couple of ancient video games - as well as a tiny snack bar. The school sold candy and pre-packaged snacks there as well as fountain sodas - just a place to grab a bit between meals and give the school a little more of Mom and Dad's money. A small TV lounge and quiet room completed the 'rec area' with the rest of the floor being taken up with a larger classroom and the Student Services Center. SSC was the place to find information about extra-curricular activities as well as the student counselors. Most of the students were familiar with the ground floor.

The first floor was largely administrative offices – the places where the secretaries did their work. Some of the faculty had offices here as well – mostly those who weren’t dorm mothers or fathers and lived off-campus. There was also the teacher’s lounge on this floor.

Second floor was where he wanted to be. All of the high-ranking administrative staff were up there. He hadn’t been up there before; few students saw those hallowed halls unless in serious trouble. Ryan’s antics hadn’t garnered him that kind of attention yet; that was reserved for fighting between students or dealing with ‘nine-month problems’. He grinned as he wondered if Ravi would get called up there for eating a security guard or knocking a girl up – at this point, either was possible.

Getting up there wouldn’t be an issue; there were elevators and stairs in the building. He could probably scale the outside, but he wasn’t sure which was hers, either. He needed a plan.

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I hate plans, thought Ryan rather insularly to himself, all that thinking and ... and planning, and in the end some jackass on a nature walk fucks it up anyways. Ryan was thinking of a particularly disastrous adventure involving a mountain bike. He shuddered at the thought of it and decided to just go for broke, at least initially. He had every right to be in the building. Perhaps not ever right to go where he was going to go, but that was half the fun, and Ryan was always on the lookout for fun.

The "ground level", which was little more than a basement that wasn't buried on one side, had a few students hanging out, playing pool or with the Mrs. Pac-Man game that was no doubt older than he was. A few nodded to him as he wandered through to the stairs at the far end of the building but nobody took any notice beyond that, it was Saturday for one, and Ryan was ... well, Ryan was Ryan. Only the Freshmen who had yet to experience a full on Ryan stunt would be naive of his reputation. He pushed the door open and moved up the stairs swiftly, his feet making only hushed impacts. At the second floor he stopped and scanned for people working on Saturday, which was easy to do with his new ability.

A couple of janitor's were moving around on the floor and a spare handful of the office's were occupied. Ryan counted four people apparently working and a fifth in the men's room "reading a magazine". Ryan's face scrunched up and he stuck his tongue out, Never going to scrub that out of my memory, he lamented. The office's all had little placards at the door that had the name of the occupant(s) in both white lettering and braille. If I could fucking read blind I'd be good to go. Damnit. Maybe I should call Sean, get a little knowledge download from the li-bary, he pondered. The idea was quickly dismissed as the janitor in the hall went into one of the office's and the hall was suddenly left empty.

Pushing the door open quietly Ryan moved into the hall and scanned the door placards in the vicinity. All he needed was to locate Pritchard's office and he could start figuring out how to get into it next, but first he had to locate it among the many on this floor. As he padded down the hall checking the name plates he kept a mental eye out for movement from the seven figures on the floor. If any of them moved for the hall he'd have to find a place to hide.

Click to reveal..


Dex 4 + Stealth 3 = 7



Wits 3 + Composure 2 = 5


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  • 2 weeks later...

It was the fourth door down on the left; a bold brass placard announced that it was Pritchard's office. It was empty, thankfully, of both owners or janitors. But before he could do more than glance at the lock, he saw one of the janitors shuffle toward the door. He had only a few moments before the man would be in the hall with him.

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Crapsauce! Ryan checked the door, and unsurprisingly found it locked. Given limited time and options he knew he needed to get out of the hall and wait until the coast was once more clear. Unfortunately he didn't see much in the way of options, the only open office's were occupied and the remaining may or may not have locked doors. That left the bathrooms.

Damnit! Ryan was on the wrong end of the hall for the men's room. Thankfully he knew that the woman's restroom was at least empty at that moment. Crouching low and doing his best to move quietly he dashed diagonally to the woman's lavatory and pushed the door open sliding past as soon as it was open enough for his lanky frame and them grabbing the inside handle and easing the door closed quietly. He moved to a stall and got in closing the door and hoping that the situation wouldn't degrade further.

Click to reveal.. (Ninja mode)
Stealth 3 + Dex 4 = 7 dice


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Ryan waited tersely in the bathroom, watching the janitor walk up the hall, open the small closet and take out several supplies. The man took his sweet time – no doubt an hourly employee – as he puttered back and forth. Ryan was about ready to start beating his head against the wall when the janitor finally got back to whatever it was that he was doing.

“Thank god,” Ryan whispered, slipping back out of the bathroom. Though as a bonus, I now know what an up-scale girl’s bathroom looks like. He gave the hallway one more check before he knelt before the lock and peered at it. He studied it for a long second, trying to see what he needed to do to pop it. He kinda knew what he was doing when it came to being where he shouldn’t, but he wasn’t sure that he’d ever tried to best a lock that was this complicated.

Of course, lifting the keys off one of the janitors might be a little easier…

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This isn't going to be easy, Ryan thought as he pulled the picks and torsion bar from his pocket. Actually they were something between improvised and professional tools. All one really needed was something to push the cylinders up and something else to rotate the lock's core once the cylinders were up. Picking a basic tumbler lock was actually pretty easy like that. Ryan's tools had started life as common items that he'd slowly modded to do the job he impressed them to do. As a result they were functional, but entirely unique and, well, kinda ugly.

Not that any of that mattered to Ryan, except the functional bit, as he stared at the lock and wondered if it would be easier to just get a proper key from one of the janitor's somehow. The other people on the floor were doing there thing, going about their own business. Ryan could tell that the janitor's were doing the extra slow water based redistribution of dirt on the office floors. That would occupy them some and also gave him further pause at trying to lift a key ring. With a shrug he slid the torsion bar and the pick into the lock and started to work on the tumblers. After a few moments he turned the bar but the lock held firm. Damn!

Click to reveal..
Dex 4 + Larceny 1 = 5 dice


that's just about the most mediocre roll ever...

Stealth 3 + Dex 4 = 7 dice


... but at least he was quiet about it.

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The lock stared at him as if mocking him and Ryan rested his head against the door. This wasn't the way it happened in the movies; they never had trouble opening a door unless it was to forward dramatic tension.

"What are you doing, Ryan?"

The whispered voice came from right behind him; Ryan jumped and spun, nearly crapping himself and barely biting back the girly scream bubbling up in his throat. Brahn smiled and waved at him, as if they'd just run into each other on a sunny day in the park. The strange man looked completely out of place in these richly-appointed walls, driving home his alien gray skin and 'backwards' eyes. "It looks interesting but difficult, and I thought I'd offer to help. Especially since you are entering the witch's lair."

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"Yiiieeeaaahhh!" Ryan whirled, brandishing his lock picks as weapons only to see Brahn standing behind him, smiling and waving. Ryan paused for a moment to verify that nobody on the floor, or the adjacent floors, had reacted to the undignified sound he'd made. The two janitors were still mucking about slowly, wasting time on their hourly jobs. Within the offices the four people were still typing away at computers, or grading papers, or whatever adult people with boring jobs did on days when people ought to be outside and playing. In the men's room the fifth person was no longer "reading a magazine" but instead was rather vigorously doing something that Ryan was pretty certain he'd rather had not seen. "Gah!" he choked out, Never gonna scrub that outta my memory either. What the fuck guy, seriously? Irritated ever further now Ryan glared at Brahn, "What gives? You don't go sneakin' up on people!" he spat after confirming that the normals were all clueless.

Brahn tilted his head and looked at Ryan with an expression that was a cross between one a confused dog gives its master and one an adult gives before trying to explain something to a stupid child. "As I just said, that looks interes-"

"And you though you'd help. Great, fantastic way to help. You wanna help?" Brahn nodded, again looking confused and overly patient. "Then keep an eye out while I try to pop ... this ... lock ... Did you say 'witch'?"

Brahn nodded.

"And you mean Pritchard?"

Brahn nodded again, equally patient and yet somehow more condescending for it.

"You know about Pritchard?"

Another nod, "Of course."

Ryan's eyes bulged, "And you knew she was a witch?"

"Obviously." Ryan didn't see Brahn's all black eyes move but that didn't mean that they hadn't just rolled.

"You knew Pritchard was a witch?"

"Clearly, as I have already indi-"

"And you didn't think to warn us?" Ryan asked, spitting out the whisper in the most incredulous tone he could manage. Brahn rolled his shoulder in a lazy shrug and opened his mouth to reply but was cut off by Ryan, "Don't you dare say that we didn't ask."

Brahn considered the young man for a moment, "I was unaware that the witch was still here at Dalton, though in hindsight it seems obvious that she would remain. Further I was unaware that she was aware of yourself and your companions. Further there were no inquiries of such disposition as to cause me to realize either of the aforementioned facts on my own until now, and, as such, I was unable to proactively alert you to the situation."

Ryan blinked.

Brahn blinked back.

"Huh?" Ryan asked with all the eloquence of youth.

"You didn't ask," Brahn replied.

Ryan's head thunked back into the door jamb as he rolled his eyes. "Fine," he replied finally, quietly, "I have an idea how to pop the lock. Keep and eye out for anybody who might see us." Brahn nodded but Ryan only saw it in his mind for a moment as he turned back to the lock.

Watching for people coming moving within the offices on the floor had given Ryan an idea, if he could see their movements why couldn't he do the same for the pins within the tumblers? Focusing on the lock he slipped the pick and the tension bar back into the slot and started to manipulate the pins, forcing each one up until it engaged its tumbler and stayed put such that the cylinder would rotate freely. Being able to image the lock this way, being able to see its structure and operation made the task simple. In moments the last of the tumblers was cleared and with a twist Ryan opened the door.

Ryan moved into the office quietly and beckoned Brahn to follow him. "I'm looking for anything that might help us figure out what is going on. Anything at all." Ryan started first with the desk, checking the surface and then its drawers before moving on to the cabinets and shelves.

Click to reveal..
Dex 4 + Larceny 1 + Spatial Awareness Bonus 2 = 7 dice


Stealth 3 + Dex 4 = 7 dice


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Brahn tilted his head. “Anything that will help you figure what out?” Though Ryan was already going through the drawers, Brahn made no move to help him.

“Figure out what is going on,” Ryan replied impatiently.

“What is going on that you don’t understand?” Brahn asked, his voice calm and reasonable.

Ryan stopped and stared at him. “Everything!” he barked. “The Caramels-”


“The Doors and how come I can see through doors which is TMI-”

“Teemii? What is that?”

Ryan rolled his eyes. “It means this ‘gift’ isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Seeing through clothes is a great idea, right until you remember that thirty percent of America is fat and fifty percent of them are dudes.”

“What do you want us to find, Ryan?” Brahn asked after a moment of quiet. “Tell me what you seek and I will find it for you.” Ryan had a sudden, uncomfortable feeling that Brahn was offering far more than he seemed to be.

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"I dunno. Fuck it. It wasn't like I wanted to come here alone, but I didn't exactly have much choice. Apparently 'bros before hos' hasn't crossed the fuckin' ocean yet." Ryan rolled his eyes. Ravi had asked him to agree, in words if not in deed, to Mari's request that he not come here. Now Ryan was here by himself, unless one counted Captain Shadowpants, and he had no idea what he should be looking for. "Stupid horny friends," he muttered. "Just help me toss the place. I guess we're looking for, like, a book, or, I dunno, anything from not here, or about not here."

"Not here?"

"Yeah, not Dalton, not Earth. I dunno, maybe Bitchard has something about the Land of Caramel, or Lessk, or that freaky desert world with the giant fucking bat's and the ... whatever they fucking weres. Information, items, artifacts, whatever man. None of us know shit about what's going on, and now apparently we're neck deep in it." Ryan turned from the desk where he'd been searching a drawer, "You ever been neck deep in shit Bran?"

"Brahn, and no," the other replied, "Have you?"

"Yes." Ryan saw the look on Brahn's face, "Not literally. Shit, I mean like as a figger of speech, it's like. Deep Doo-doo. It's ... I haven't be up to my neck in actual shit, man, it just means you're in a heap o' trouble."

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"Ah. Dalton idioms. I remember," Brahn said, his lips curling in a hint of a smile. "Can you dig it, man?"

Ryan, who had started to riffle through another drawer, stopped to stare again. “What?” he asked.

Brahn looked confused. “Can you dig it? Put it to the Man! I am sure those are right.”

“And ancient,” Ryan snorted. “Dude, my father talked like that. When he thought he was cool.”

“Idioms have changed?” Brahn asked.

“Uh, yeah, just a lot,” Ryan said, shaking his head and turning back to his work.

“What are some current idioms?”

Ryan opened his mouth to speak, then stopped himself. “What’s an idiom?” When Brahn didn’t answer, Ryan looked at him. “What is an… hey, what did you find?”

Brahn held up a small figurine; it appeared to have been made out of clay and shaped like a person. It was a general, feminine form. It was impossible to tell who it was, save for a few strands of dark thread or hair. Disturbingly, the head had a hole gouged in it, as if someone had pried something out. “I have, but beyond saying it is a magical focus, I do not know its intentions.”

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"Magical focus? Like a voodoo doll or something? It looks like a voodoo doll. Looks like Bitchard intended some mental harm to whomever it was. I wonder who's hair this is? If we knew that we could maybe figure out what Bitchard did?"

"I believe her name is pronounced Pritchard, Ryan," Brahn stated.

"Yeah, well, she's a bitch, so Bitchard."

"You do that a great deal," the other observed, "Though I do not see how the Caramine are sticky or sweet like your Dalton caramel treats. It is most confusing."

"Huh? Oh, umm ... well, I guess it just sounds like caramel so that's what I call 'em," Ryan replied as he nipped the doll from Brahn's fingers and slipped it into a pocket.

"But why? Surely you know the correct way to say Caramine, I do not-"

Ryan sighed and rolled his eyes, turning to continue searching the last few drawers of the desk and the remainder of the room, quickly but as thoroughly as could be managed. "Yeah. I do. thing is people don't think I'm all that bright. Maybe I'm not, I dunno, I don't do well in school but that's cause I'm not interested either. So maybe I just let people keep second guessing me, let them think I'm dumb so they underestimate me."

"Perhaps," Brahn said slowly, as though pondering the statement, "or perhaps you choose to ridicule that which you fear, yes? To reduce it in your own eyes and allow your mind to overcome them?"

"Are you trying to say that I say Caramel and Bitchard because I'm scared of them?" Brahn nodded silently, returning to the task of looking for items that may have fit Ryan's less than detailed requirements. "Well, you're right. This whole thing is ... well, it's scary. People from another world want to come and take us away in some kind of harvest? To do what? I don't know but it can't be good. Inhuman creatures. My friends turning into were- ... umm, cats? I've got this whole, radar thing going on.

"Yeah, I'm terrified, and I'd bet the others would say the same. Well, maybe not Ravi, but he's too British to admit it. Everything I thought was just stories is starting to come out and prove itself otherwise. What next? A monster under my bed? In my closet? Hell, you scare me too, with all your disappearing and reappearing in shadows and sneaking up on me. What the hell is with you anyway?"

Click to reveal..
Perception search the rest of the office:

Wits 3 + Composure 2 = 5

spending a willpower for +3 dice

8d10.hitsopen(8,10)=2 = 2 sux

Yeesh ... that is one fugly roll.

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  • 2 weeks later...

“With me?” Brahn asked as he knelt and shuffled through a pile of books. “I do not understand.”

Ryan took a moment to sort through some slang and figure out a way to say it clearly. “Why are you the way you are? How can you jump through shadows and shit like that?”

“All Lhesk high-born can do that,” Brahn said, as if he was talking about someone being able to drive a car. “Stepping through shadows is a sign of pure blood.”

Ryan stopped and stared at him. “Are you really that arrogant?”

Brahn looked at him, a book hanging loosely in his hand. “That is not arrogance, it is truth. Just as selective breeding has amplified some of your royal families’ traits, so has ours.”

“Dude! Don’t marry your cousin!” Ryan said, shaking his head as he returned to the file cabinet he was poking through. “Everyone knows that’s a rule. Except in Arkansas where its law.”

“We are aware of the shortcomings of inbreeding, which is why non-nobles who are found to possess power are adopted into a noble family and their blood is brought into our own,” Brahn explained. “I have been told that there are cultures on your world that married siblings.”

“Yeah, and they’re all gone now,” Ryan pointed out. “There’s a reason we don’t do that anymore.”

“Very well,” Brahn said. “I was merely noting that it wasn’t unusual even on your world.”

“So jumping shadows is normal for you?” Ryan asked, glancing at the other man. Because Ryan was watching him, he saw the strange man pause and take a second look at one of them. Without saying anything, the Lhesk tucked it into his shirt.

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"Hey, I may not be the sharpest spoon in the drawer, but I did just see that. What book was that?"

Brahn protested, "Book?"

"Don't con me," Ryan replied pointing directly to the book despite being obscured by Brahn's shirt. "Radar vision man, fess up, I saw it and you know it. What's in the book and why is it important, and why are you hiding it from me?"

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Brahn stared at him for a moment; with a rueful smile he muttered something in a strange, grating language and pulled out the book. "It is a book on our magics," Brahn told him, those strange eyes meeting Ryan's without hesitation. "I didn't want to leave it here were it could serve her purposes."

The book was bound in dark gray leather which looked soft and fine. The pages were yellow with age and appeared to be thicker than normal paper. There were no markings or images on the front, but Ryan could see that a symbol of a raven was tooled into the spine.

"I hid it because I did not want to discuss whether we were taking it. I am removing it from here so that she no longer can use it."

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"Uh huh. 'Cause I strike you as the type to quibble over theft of a book from that withered old hag? Yeah, sure." Ryan shook his head and held his hand out folding and unfolding the fingers.

Brahn looked at Ryan quizzically, "Why do you wish to have the book?"

"'Cause I do. You said you were here to help us. That book'll help. If it doesn't I'll give it back to you, but I did the work to get in here so it's mine for now." Ryan's hand stayed outstretched, his fingers grasping, waiting to be filled. "Come on, we don't have all day, an' I can be be way more stubborn than you know."

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Brahn stared at him and Ryan thought he might fight about it. Instead, the strange man smirked and tossed him the book. "Anything I can do to help our cause," he said.

Grinning, Ryan flipped open the cover - and his smile disappeared. It was written in a strange, wiggly script that went down, not across the page. "Well?" Brahn asked, his smile smuggly annoying. "Anything of value to you?"

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Ryan looked up, "Yeah, it is." He stuffed the book into one of his voluminous pockets and then bent to the task again. After a few more minutes the boy started to wonder if there was anything more to find or if further time spent would simply be wasted. He paused a moment to double check the location of the janitors and faculty, mentally blocking out the bathrooms entirely, Just to be safe, as he tried to decide if he needed to leave or not.

Click to reveal..

Composure 2 + Persuation 2 (Fast Talking) = 5 dice


Dawn, not sure if there is anything left to do here or not, could I get a little direction in your next post please?

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"We are going?" Brahn asked, rising to his feet from his crouch next to the books.

"Unless you have anything else to find," Ryan said, looking at the strange man.

"I don't know that I'd have anything else to find unless I found it," Brahn said simply. "However, I'm not sure I can think of anywhere else to look in this room. I'm sure this isn't her Sanctum."

"Her what?"

"Her Sanctum. She might call it otherwise, but all practitioners of the Arts need a place to study and expand their Art,” Brahn said quickly. “It will not be somewhere near public areas; it will be well away from anyone who could overhear or see something they shouldn’t.” He tilted his head at Ryan. “Do you know where that could be?”

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"If it were up your ass you'd know," Ryan muttered caustically as he finished one last glance around the office to make sure he hadn't missed anything and that nothing looked especially out of place.

"What?" Brahn asked, looking at Ryan with his head cocked to an angle.

"Nothing. No, I can't think of where her sanctuary thing would be, probably at home. Unless you think it wouldn't be at home. If it's here at school it'd be too easy for people to stumble on it. Unless it was in the observatory I guess." Ryan rolled his shoulder and checked that the office door was locked and then moved to the window, sliding it open and checking the outer wall for hand holds. "Not a lot of people have access to that but still more than just her so, I dunno"

He glanced behind him, "You gonna go all shadowy walk and meet me outside?" Brahn nodded. "Ok." Ryan slipped effortlessly out the window and spared a hand to slide the window shut again from the outside before scrabbling down the side of the building as easy as a spider. Once on the ground Ryan made for a small stand of trees nearby and looked around for Brahn.

"What now?" came Brahn's voice from behind Ryan where only moments before there had been naught but shadow and pine needles.

"Fuck! Dude, didn't somebody ever tell you not to sneak up on people?"


Ryan rolled his eyes in the most dramatic manner he could muster. "No shit. Hold on, I'm gonna call Sean and see if they found anything or just wasted their time with boring old books." Ryan retrieved a battered cellphone from a pocket and stabbed his finger down on the number 8 key holding it there while it protested with a lengthy tone before it clued in that he wanted to speed dial the eighth entry. "Sean. Ryan. Bitchard's was less than astounding, I, we ... whatever, found a voodoo doll and a book written in scary dude scribbles. You find anything at quiet time?"

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"Yeah, we found something alright, Ryan," Sean told him with quiet intensity. "In the early seventies, Dalton had a fuckin' club for those who went explorin' through the damned Door. The Young Adventurers Club. They even wrote a newsletter about their 'adventures', but I guess people just thought the club wrote imaginary stories or somethin'. And the newsletters are still in the Library. We've checked some out - Mr. Arnold wouldn't let us take them all - and are lookin' through them here at the Mars House Cafeteria. Come join us, they're certainly... somethin' alright..."

Ryan could hear Sean breathing as he trailed off, the silence stretching before Sean spoke again, his voice odd, subdued. "There's more. The members of the Adventurers Club... Wilbur Dalton was the faculty adviser, he actually led the kids through the Door, and the kids... several of them are some of our parents. Dad really did meet Vanessa on the Otherside... Anyway, we're here at Mars. I'll leaf through the stories, see if there's any mention of the things you found. Who knows, right? Seeya soon."

Sean closed his phone with a sharp snap and rejoined the group at the table...

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  • 2 months later...

Ryan had a plan. He knew what he wanted to do. Getting it done was another matter. Everyone else thought that it was cool to sit on their asses and read about ancient history, but Ryan knew that they needed more than just information. They needed the effigies, too. Pritchard had them – more importantly, she had his. Ryan wasn’t sure what she could do to him through it, but he didn’t want to find out through experience.

Dorn had said that she and Frida had met Pritchard at the Observatory. The bitch had more than enough time to get back to campus, but where from there? Probably her office, Ryan decided. Since he’d already violated her inner sanctum – and not in the gross way which would require therapy later – he was feeling pretty good about his chances to get close enough to her to figure out if that was where she’d laired up.

He’d just reached the Admin Building when Ryan saw a familiar shape leaving. Grinning at his own brilliance, he crept closer, only to pause when another form joined Pritchard. Ryan crouched, staring at Dr. Reaver. Regardless, Ryan remained hidden as the two talked briefly and then turned to move together, heading for the side gate. That path led outside the school to the faculty cottages, where most of the faculty and staff lived.

Continued from Books are for Nerds

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Ryan felt his skin crawl a little at the sight of Reaver. The guy was like a walking corpse. Like he'd died but nobody had bothered to let him know that meant he should stop moving. Ryan followed behind them, keeping his distance and utilizing his new sense to follow them when he had to hide or when they turned a corner. He shadowed them back to the cottages hoping that they would lead him to where Bitchard kept her sanctum, and the effigies of himself and the other students.

Click to reveal..
Ninja Mode! Dex 4 + Stealth 3


Shadowing! Wits 3 + Stealth 3 + Equipment 1 (sneakers)


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Ryan's practice at getting where he shouldn't was coming in handy. His new 'gift' was unquestionably an aid; it had made breaking into her office fairly easy and now it made trailing her simple. He didn't even have to keep them in line of sight to keep up.

Their conversation continued; Ryan caught only snatches of it as they walked. The two were talking about surprising outcomes and changes. Their conversation was bland enough that anyone listening would assume that they were talking about a project, but Ryan had the feeling that he and his friends were the actual topic.

They passed through the gardens, grown by the school's horticultural club. Ryan had to drop back over the open space, but he came back in a quick rush when they passed through the gate. Without slowing, he bounced off the wall, then a tree and finally caught his balance on the top of the stone wall. In the shade of the tree, he waited until they were down the path before he followed again.

Their path took him to one of the cottages. It was like a small village composed of nothing but bungalows, each with a tiny attached garage. Ryan had been here many times before, though not to Pritchard's in particular. This was one of the first places he'd come to test his skills in sneaking.

Another surprise was waiting; three other people were at Pritchard's door. She greeted them like she knew them and let them inside. All five disappeared into the cottage.

Click to reveal..
Reaver's Wits + Composure = 1 sux, Ryan wins

Pritchard's Wits + Composure = 2 sux, Ryan wins

They are unaware that they are being trailed so there's no counter to the Shadowing roll.

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Ryan cursed, with them inside he'd have to get right outside a window to be able to hear them all talking, and he definitely wanted to hear them all talking. Moving as quickly as he could he dashed from shadow to shadow, tree to bush to picket fence, and made his way to the bungalow belonging to the unrepentant bitch and currently occupied by the same in addition to a walking cadaver and three new potential monsters against all that was good and holy, or at least fun and exciting, which was actually more important to Ryan.

His sneakers whispered over the manicured grass like the hushed sounds of audience given a revelation. He scooted to a stop under the window that opened into Bitchard's living room where the five fiends no doubt plotted against Ryan and his fellow students. He shuffled under the nearby shrub, doing his best to make no noise, but to allow him closest possible access to the window for eavesdropping and also best camouflage his position.

Click to reveal..

Ninja Mode!


Eavesdropping mode!


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“... what they're doing.” Pritchard's pitched voice was the first he heard. “Stupid, careless!”

“As we were,” a man said. Someone said something too softly for Ryan to hear. “I remember,” the same man said. “We were young. Implusive. And now-”

“History repeating, blah blah,” a man with an English accent said. “I don’t recall any of you lot shape-shifting into a panther, last time.”

“I don’t like it when you get that look, Robin,” Pritchard snapped. “It always proceeds a very bad idea.”

“I do have an idea. Let the little buggers run about and do as they will,” the now-named Robin replied. “Let them skin their arses on the Caramine and come back begging to us. Children learn stoves are hot by touching them.”

Again that soft voice, too muted for Ryan to hear. Now Reaver spoke. “I would love to know why the children are manifesting powers.”

“Bah, FitzCoventry’s family is rife with bestial types,” Pritchard snarled. “It’s why I accepted his application. I had hoped that we might be able to study him.”

“So you knowingly brought a werepanther here, Constance? Fantastic idea, love,” Robin snapped. “When were you going to share that information?”

“I knew, and approved,” Reaver said his voice ghastly in the echo of the more robust throats. “He was to be my project.”

“And now your project is killing men and bringing the police around,” Robin said. The sound of slow, mocking clapping filled the room. “Brah-vo.”

“Come, we’ve all dabbled,” the first speaker said, his deep voice filling the room. “And we’ve all paid prices for that. Some more than others.”

“Racker has the police in line,” Pritchard replied.

“Good ole Roddy,” Robin replied. “I remember the days we wouldn’t trust him with a sword, now he’s the local law.”

“You talk like you were a part of it Robin, but you weren’t,” the unnamed man replied.

“You’ll always lord that over me, won’t you?” Robin asked, his voice sharp. “Always hold it over my head that I didn’t join the club. That my initiation was the Harvest. I’ll tell you this: I have as much right as you to be here as you, and more than Constance or Giles. I nearly died because this was mishandled last time, because you listened to Cassidy, of all people.”

“It wasn’t just Dean,” Unnamed sighed. “Even Dalton backed the attack on the Nine. Even the damned Amazons thought it was a good idea. No one knew how the Caramine would react. No one is to blame.”

Click to reveal..
Leaving it there because I want to give Ryan a chance to react; since the player said ‘eavesdrop’ I assumed only listening. Another stealth roll would be required to also peer into the window.
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Ryan could see inside perfectly, or almost perfectly. Instead of colors everything was the same, and textures were muted. The result was like watching a pre-rendering of a video game or a GCI movie without any of the textures mapped, just shapes. Ryan could recognize Bitchard and Corpse-boy easily enough just from that but he needed to see the others' faces, it sounded like four of them had been involved in that club Sean had been blathering on about. A third was apparently named Robin, which was totally a girls name, and yet he was clearly male, and clearly British. Figures. Silly pretty boys. The fourth he had no name for. He was male to be sure, with a deep voice. The fifth was quiet, sitting far across the room. A petite woman, Ryan had yet to hear her speak such that he could understand.

Ryan's eyebrows crept up as they discussed Ravi, and how they had known about him being some kind of werecat. They rose even higher as the discussion turned from Ryan and his fellow students to the police chief who was under their thumb, or perhaps working with them freely, either way that did not sit well. The conversation switched to Sean's father, and apparently the events of so long ago. Sean's father had led an attack on the Caramels.

Frowning Ryan knew he'd have to risk an eyes-on look to identify the three newcomers. He shuffled carefully to the edge of the window and slowly rose until only a quarter of his head would peek through the glass. With one eye he looked into the room at the five conspirators. Ryan instantly recognized Pritchard and Reaver, the later making his skin crawl. The British man with a girl's name was young, maybe in his mid twenties, though by the sound of the conversation he had been there with the rest of them thirty-five years back, or whenever it all was. Light hair and blue eyes completed the picture that had Ryan wondering hold old the man had been during those times.

The third man was older, black, wearing tweed. Ryan thought he had seen the man before but couldn't place him. He felt certain he was a professor but Ryan hadn't had classes with him so knew little beyond that. The other woman was wearing black and her face was hidden behind a veil. Ryan frowned, Seriously? Like this isn't hard enough.

Ryan tallied up what he'd learned. At least two of these five had been students here, possibly four, he wasn't sure if Reaver or Pritchard had been but now he knew their names and finding out would be easy. The black man had been part of that club Sean had been on about, and Robin had not, but he'd been pulled in during the Harvest apparently. The creepy duo had known about Ravi, and even made a point to bring him here so that they could study him. The Sheriff was appeared to be another of the Dalton-ites, and was working with these five in some way. Sean's dad and Mr. Dalton himself had chosen to attack the Caramels and started this whole thing it seemed.

Click to reveal..
Ninja Mode! 8d10.hitsopen(8,10)=2

Peeping Tom Mode! 5d10.hitsopen(8,10)=2

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Ryan stared at the veiled woman, trying to see through the covering. The black material blocked his gaze, but he got a hazy impression of sharp features and high cheekbones. The veiled woman spoke again, her voice too soft for Ryan to hear. “There is?” the unnamed man said, his resonant voice showing surprise. The woman replied.

“Well then, what should we do about that?” Robin asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“I think we should talk to him,” Unnamed replied, nodding his salt and pepper hair.

“Please,” Pritchard sneered. “You’d drag them all into it, holding hands and singing Kumbaya.”

“I still say we can’t stop them.” Unnamed looked and sounded annoyed. “They’re going to go through the Door.”

Pritchard shook her head. “We can’t let them- Robin?”

The young man had risen from his chair and walked to the window. Ryan scuttled back to avoid being seen as Robin opened the window. Looking out, the man asked, “Whoever you are, do you want to come inside and chat like adults? Don’t mind Constance – she just needs her nap.”

Click to reveal..
Sorry, Veil-lady got 4 sux to see you.
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Ryan barely kept from running shrieking away. Which is to say that he did shriek, in a decidedly less than brave or manly way, but he did not flee. All things considered, Ryan realized all too late, he really would have been far better off doing the opposite and fleeing quietly into the night in terror. Instead he let out a cry that he was glad none of his peers were around to hear, and huddled in the bush below the window hoping to not be seen or heard.

He was.

The window above him slid open, haltingly, with some protest from the wooden frame. "Come on young miss, we won't harm you." There was a pause and Ryan knew the young Brit was leaning out the window. "Oh, hello young man. You and your lady friend are welcome to come inside and discuss this like adults." Ryan mumbled something in reply. "I'm sorry what was that lad?"

"I said, 'I'm alone.' There aren't any girls with me." Ryan was flushed a deep red, and hoped that Robin would let it drop.

"Ahem, right, well, come along, either flee into the night or come inside, I won't keep the window open all night it'll just let the bugs in." He looked down at Ryan and grinned, looking a little bit nutty in the head, "Your eavesdropping has been discovered though, so you'll have to choose now."

Ryan stood up and brushed the mulch from his shorts. "You all wont erase my brain, or make me follow your orders, or turn me into a newt?"

"Of course not," Robin replied trying not to laugh, "now get in here or be on your way."

"Swear it!" Ryan demanded leaning into the window and looking at all of them. "Swear that you won't do anything to me in any way." Robin and the older gentleman agreed quickly. Reaver and Pritchard following suit with looks of sour distaste on their faces, and the mystery woman nodded silently. Pritchard went so far as restate, "So long as you are our guest no harm will come to you, no action will be levied upon you." Nodding to himself Ryan snaked through the window with all the limberness and ease of youth. Pritchard grumbled about ill manners and dirt on her carpet.

Click to reveal..

Willpower to stay quiet 5d10.hitsopen(8,10)=0

Willpower to not flee 5d10.hitsopen(8,10)=1

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“Hullo, there,” Robin offered, extending his hand for Ryan to shake. “I’m Robin Spencer, and you are?”

Dorn had already blown this for him, so Ryan said, “Ryan Jackson.”

“Excellent, have a seat, Ryan.” Robin’s smile was friendly as he indicated an empty chaise. After a dubious moment, Ryan sat by planting his butt on the back of the small couch and his feet in the seat. He had to say, from this angle Pritchard’s scowl was even more awesome to see. “Have you met everyone?”

“Nope,” Ryan said, smirking. If he was in trouble, he might as well go all out.

“Mr. Boxter,” the black man said, and that name clicked with Ryan. He was one of the teachers; Ryan struggled to remember where he’d heard the name before. It was a subject that Ryan had thus far avoided, so one of the Classical Arts or the Shop teacher.

“We have met,” Reaver said. His attempt at a smile was not comforting.

“We have not,” Pritchard added crisply, “but I am quite familiar with Mr. Jackson and his file.”

“Come now, must we make this a fight?” Robin asked, that charming smile become rueful.

Pritchard said nothing, but her expression was clear. Ryan was not here at her invitation. Reaver seemed more neutral and Boxter was uncomfortable.

“So who’s the mystery woman?” Ryan asked, jerking a thumb at the veiled form.

“That is Owela,” Robin said. “She is our resident visitor from beyond the Door. Light of any kind bothers her, hence the covering.”

“Robin!” Pritchard snapped.

“What, they know,” Robin sighed. “They know and they’re going to keep finding out. Even if they don’t remember, you left Relena running about so it was inevitable that they find her.”

“Well, you-”

“Stop it!” Boxter snapped. The other two fell silent as the black man sighed and said, “Why are you spying on us, Mr. Jackson?”

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"Well," Ryan started and looked around. "Lemme ask you this; before my memories were taken how many of you had I met? How much of all of this was I aware of?" An uncomfortable silence followed as Ryan looked at the four teachers in turn and was met with glares or apologetic gazes. "See, that's it right there. All of this going on, people turnin' inta cats, doors to other worlds, and, if what R-, if what I was told is true, enchanted stick men, all this and you've decided to make it a 'you versus us' situation." Ryan's finger found Pritchard and he was gratified to see her scowl.

"I don't make much practice readin' but I know a school is for learnin' stuff not forgetting things, or bein' made to forget." Ryan looked back at Boxter, "So I figured if I wanted to know what I didn't, maybe I should go listen in on those who do. That bein' you all." He cracked his knuckles, "You said were we bound to go through again, and you couldn't stop us. That's probably right, but I figure ta find out as much as I can before I do, if I do, an' you all seem to know a whole lot about all of this." Ryan shrugged, "It seemed that what I should do was clear, no?"

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“Well, that is one way of interpreting your next move,” Robin said drily.

“One thing you children do not understand is how dangerous this is, how dangerous the Caramine are,” Pritchard said, her voice intense as she leaned forward.

“Constance, we’re past the point where they’re going to listen to us about this, thanks to what we have already done,” Robin said. “I think I have a better grip on that, better than the rest of you.”

“Leave the Dorian Gray schtick at home,” Pritchard sneered.

“Peter Pan would be more accurate,” Robin retorted with a smile.

“Mr. Jackson, Constance is right about this much,” Boxter said. “This is dangerous. Arrangements can be made to protect you, a long time in the making. This is a problem that we should have taken care of years ago, but we didn’t. That’s why we’re trying to fix this now. But forces from beyond the Door have acted and they are creating disharmony and upsetting our plans.”

“What Edwin is trying to say is that it’s great that you guys have stepped up,” Robin said, and his voice was serious. “You don’t have to, if you don’t want to. I know how this can mess up your life, to have to deal with this crap when the worst thing you should be worrying about is your next math test or what to say to the cute girl who sits next to you in history.”

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"Uh-huh, uh-huh. OR! I could, like, totally not trust any of you beyond what you're sworn to not do to me while I'm here. 'Cause, ya know, you're all not terribly trustworthy aye-tee-em. I mean, if I were the bank of trust ... you guys don't have good enough credit for a checking account."

"Now see here young man!" Pritchard interjected. Beside her Reaver scowled.

"Now, now, Constance," Robin said quickly, making placating gestures. "Mr. Jackson here does have a point which is no doubt accurate from his point of view."

Ryan just plowed forward with barely a pause to allow them to bicker, "So you can see why when you say, 'no really, we're trying to help,' you aren't exactly gettin' a mailbox full of thank you notes. MMM 'kay? Yeah great. See, if ya, oh, I dunno, hadn't erased our memories maybe you'd know more 'bout everythin'. Right? Right. See, 'cause like, Ravi ain't the only one will leet powers, but I'm not gonna narc on nobody to you all. 'Cause, ya' know, bad credit, an' all that."

Ryan shrugged and shifted in the chair throwing a leg over one of the arms casually. "An' sayin' that we don't hafta step up now is like sayin' we don't have to do the dishes once their in the soap and we're up to our elbows in it. Catch my drift? We're already doin' it man. This shit got real y'all. You done and shat on tha grass, an' we stepped in it. We got Caramels takin numbers and kids goin' freakshow, so the question you need to ask isn't 'how do we keep it from happenin',' but instead 'what do we do now to clean the shit off everyones' feet?"

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“Are you suggesting we work together?” Robin asked. “How scandalous!” Ryan started to say something but he caught the twinkle in Robin’s eye – and the scowl the Pritchard directed at the young man.

“I’d rather not involve the children at all,” Boxter said.

“They’re already involved,” Reaver said as Robin snapped, “Too late!” From the silence that followed, those two agreeing on anything was unusual.

“The moment that they manifested powers from beyond the Door, it was too late.” Owela broke her silence without warning. Ryan jumped, not because he was surprised she spoke but because there was a constant, unpleasant, almost painful whistle in her voice. The adults seemed used to it or perhaps they had reached the age where it wasn’t as painful for them. “Too late to return them to whence they came.”

“The question is where to go from here,” Reaver said.

“Mr. Jackson, this is your idea, perhaps you have some suggestions?” Pritchard’s question was designed to put him on the spot.

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"Yeah, well ... wait, what? No. No, no. What? No. No no no. Noooo. I didn' ... I mean ... no. What?" Ryan finally managed to shut his jaw.

"You said that the question should be, how did you put it? 'What do we do now to clean the shit off everyones' feet?' Ever so tactfully put as well Mr. Jackson. So, now that your question is put forth we ask you, 'what would you have us do then?'" Pritchard seemed to enjoy some small satisfaction from seeing Ryan squirm.

"But I ... I mean I didn't ... what I meant ... fuck." Ryan's curse was a statement, barely more than an admission that he'd misspoken and fallen into his own hole.

"Kindly watch your tongue Mr. Jackson."

"Blah blah blah!" Ryan spat back, "Listen to yourself. I jus' got through tellin' ya I don' trust you lot an' here ya are tryin' to suggest some kinda Marvel team up?" Agitated and speaking quickly Ryan was clipping letters and slipping into an unidentifiable accent. "You wan' a suggestion? Esplain to me just why I would work with y'all? Spidey don't flip the Sinister Six jus' by pointin' out the Skrulls are comin' for a visit."

They all looked at him in silence, except Robin who was laughing. "I think you broke the old people Ryan. Owela gets a mulligan though, I doubt they get Marvel over there."

Ryan stared back at them for a moment, "Riiiight. Anyways. Ya can't expect us ta trust ya jus' like that." He sighed, "You want my suggestion? Start by tellin' us the truth, all of it."

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“We’ll need to discuss that amongst ourselves,” Pritchard said immediately. “Additionally, I’d suggest that we get everyone together to talk all at once.”

“That seems reasonable,” Boxter replied. Reaver and Owela nodded while Robin looked speculative. “We would, of course, appreciate any intel you may have gathered.”

“My other condition for this is that you cut off all ties with the Lhesk. We know that the royal twins are here,” Pritchard replied, her expression hard. “They are not to be trusted.”

“And you will be told why,” Robin added quickly.

“Tuesday evening, we will meet in the Music Room in the Art Building, all of us,” Boxter said, looking tired. “We’ll talk to everyone there. Is that agreeable?”

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"Umm, ok, sure, but you have to promise, swear, you have to swear, that you won't do anythin' to us in the meantime an' if I forget that you agreed to this I ... umm ... well, you know what mean. No whammies! Swear it!" One by one they swore not to interfere with the students and Ms Dorn. Ryan got up to go, still feeling like he was going to end up a newt as soon as he stepped out the door. "Oh! Umm ... one other, tiny, little minor detail. Ok, well two really. One's more a question really, an' the other is, kinda, just, like, a loan thingy, what's that called? Collateral, yeah the other is collateral!"

Pritchard frowned, "What are you talking about Mr. Jackson?"

"The voodoo dolls. Yeah, we know about the voodoo dolls an' we want 'em back so you can't make us do stuff. Ya know, all voodooy an stuff."

"And your question?"

"Huh? Oh! Yeah right. What's a Lesk? And why would I cut their ties off?"

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“Well, a Lhesk a gray-skinned son-of-a-snake who will sell you his mother if the price is right,” Robin said grimly. “The twins are trustworthy, insofar as your plans coincide with theirs. I speak of the royal twins, Brahn and Brihn. Ah, I see those names are familiar to you. They have their interests at heart, not yours. And they are vampires.”

Ryan’s eyes bugged as Pritchard corrected, “Psychic vampires is a better term. They will not necessarily drink blood, but they can use your energy to perform their tricks.”

“They’ll offer you some sweet deal – power, strength, immortality,” Robin said, his voice as hard as Ryan had heard it yet. “But there will be a catch.”

“But… they don’t wear ties,” Ryan said, looking confused.

“Oh, my god…” Pritchard put her face in her hand.

“Cutting off ties means,” Reaver said with the patience of the grave, “that you shouldn’t associate with them anymore. That they don’t have good intentions for you and that it would bring more harm than good for you to associate with them.”

“But more important than that,” Boxter asked, “what was that about voodoo dolls?”

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Ryan's jaw dropped. "Sonuvabitch! I knew that sneaky creep was up to no good!"

"Which sneaky creep?" Robin asked. "You don't mean Brahn do you?"

"Yes I mean Bran, that creepy fucker. He's always sneaking up on me and he .. umm ... he found this voodoo doll thing in your office Ms. Pritchard." Which was true, Brahn had been the one to find it. "An' he said that you were using it, maybe lots of 'em if there were others, to do that voodoo that you do on all us kids an' ... I dunno, mess with us? I kinda wasn't listening, but it wasn't good." Also true, especially the part about not paying attention. Ryan knew that the best lies were fabricated from truth edited for content, listener discretion was advised. Ryan cursed himself for not paying more attention to Brah.

"He said that you prolly had more of 'em. One for each of us an' ... well ... that's actually why I followed you tonight. I was hoping to find 'em and get 'em back, listening in on y'all was jus' a bonus." Also the truth. Ryan even smirked a little, he couldn't help it, sometimes it was just too easy. "So somebody is lyin', either you or Bran, an' either way I don' like it when people got voodoo dolls of me so lemme ask you. Was that your doll?" Ryan narrowed his eyes and watched Bitchard carefully, trying catch her in a lie, or confirm the truth.

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“That was not my doll,” Pritchard said. Her eyes didn't flicker; she didn't fidget as she spoke. She was absolutely calm and seemed to be telling the truth. To Ryan, she was utterly truthful.

“Yes, it wouldn’t be,” Robin said. Pritchard shot him a murderous glare as the British man asked, “But did you make the dolls?”

“No.” The word was bitten off sharply as Pritchard glared at her co-conspirator. “I do not practice Voodoo magic or any of its branches or cousins.”

Robin turned to Ryan, smiling a little as he explained, “Semantics are important in magic. A voodoo doll doesn’t belong to the creator, but to the person it simulates. A practitioner would be in possession of it, or would be the maker of it, not the rightful owner.”

“Are we giving them lessons now? Making them our students?” Pritchard said in her coldest tone.

“It might come to that,” Robin said, looking grim. “I won’t be teaching any of the Lhesen arts, but your arts have fewer side effects. If they won’t back down, and we can’t make them, then we should make sure they have all the tools to survive. Or so say I.”

“Wise,” Owela answered, her voice drawing another flinch from Ryan, especially when her whistle hit a hard note on the s-sound at the end of ‘wise’.

Pritchard didn’t look convinced. Reaver looked amused, while Boxter was clearly pensive. But no one argued against Robin.

“Well, then, with that being settled, do you still wish collateral, and if so, what?” Robin asked.

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