[Safeholme] The Tanuki

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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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[Safeholme] The Tanuki

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Issei Tanuki believed the world was her oyster. She didn’t believe this in the vague metaphorical sense most people did, where anything is possible and hard work will get you there. She believed in a very direct metaphorical sense, where anything she could lay her hands on was hers. Period. Finders keepers, and all that. For a girl like that, the idea of robbing rich snobs was not only frequent, but enacted with regularity. So it wasn’t much of a stretch that when she first laid her dark brown eyes on Safeholme that she was filled with fantasies of expensive laptops, old trinkets, artwork, and vending machines (it’s the little things).

The intricate web of Safeholme’s wards were an incredible feat of wizardry, worthy of high praise, but wards were little more than a chill down Tanuki’s spine as she approached. The hairs rising on the nape of her neck was a familiar feeling that told her she had to quiet herself- silence her footsteps, her very being. It was like a trance, she figured, a state of mind. She had no idea as she crept across the grounds and through the wards of dissuasion that this was magic- that she was magical.

What she did know was that this feeling had always led her to the best stuff. People always hid the best stuff in the quiet places. Her excitement doubled, and she bottled it up, in case she would have to run. Steady, small hands easily picked the lock on a side door, and as the handle slowly spun the wards gave way like ancient cobwebs. As the door closed quietly behind her, they wound back into place as if nothing had ever happened.

Tanuki stopped, dumbfounded. It’s a school!? The intermittent doors lining the wide halls told her as much. She’d never spent much time in one herself, but the patterns were familiar from TV and comics. Her face scrunched and she stamped a soft-soled tabi on the floor in irritation. Schools didn’t have anything good! Well, they’d have vending machines, but those were just okay stuff. The mage-thief needed the best stuff! She deserved it!

With a huff, she pressed on. If she was already in, the one-and-only Tanuki Issei might as well press on. It couldn’t hurt right? So she pressed on, prowling the hallways in search of something worth stealing.

After four separate classrooms of nothing- NOTHING! - Tanuki skipped the remainder on sight. She grumbled silently to herself, but pressed on. Her senses had never led her astray.

Eventually, she reached a small office. When she touched the door and felt that quiet tingling, she knew this was it. The room had familiar markings of a rich person's office: comfy couches, a dark, expensive desk, and a shelf full of books no one could ever- or would ever- read. The piece de resistance, however, stood on the central shelf. There were three treasures for the taking: a metallic, silver globe a little larger than her two fists; a silver-framed, oval mirror about the size of her face; and a gilded knife in a sheath smothered in dazzling jewels and perched upon a rich people's wood display stand.

Tanuki crept around the room to the shelf and tenderly plucked all three from the shelf. They were stuffed into pockets in her baggy pants which showed no signs of bulging despite the objects' size. A sigh of relief escaped her. Her instincts had been right, her fears had been alleviated. After all, if she couldn't count on herself, who could she count on?

No one. Which was exactly how many people she liked, and conveniently the number of people who knew who she was.

There was one person, however, that knew where she was. Dr. Lady Sumedha was at home, reading, when something fuzzed in her mind. It was distant, and by instinct she flickered her attention to Safeholme. Though she could not directly sense or test the wards, she has established some psychic wards to augment. They were perfect and undisturbed. Curious, her mind reached into her office. As she did, the fuzzing sensation repeated itself. It came, she realized, from the psychic ward on her door. It wasn't activating, but warping, she noticed. Only by luck had she been able to witness it. Whoever was maneuvering through the school's wards was clearly a master artisan in their craft.

Gently she probed for the mind that must be there, and felt her touch slide off, as if the intruder's mind was lubed with butter. Irritated by the casual dismissal, Dr. Sumedha made a focused scan of the mind. It protested just as fiercely, but she was able to glean a few key details that startled her. A young girl, perhaps 12 or 13, had infiltrated Safeholme without breaking a sweat. She dressed herself to leave.
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