[The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Kokuten
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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A grave silence followed the story, holding the air in place while the children all stared up at Willow. There seemed to be a mixed reception among the crowd. Aurelia and the canidaer were largely disinterested until the mentions of redemption came into play. The odinkine were rapt listeners, though seemed to be gauging Willow as she told the story. Unlike the others, the constructs and golems were hardly emotive as most were faceless, especially the constructs, but some of the golems clapped at the end.

The only children completely unsatisfied were the spriggans.

“You didn’t transform at all!” rattled one of the shrub children, his tongue sounding like a ball bouncing in his skull, “I was waiting that whole time and you didn’t turn into a monster once.”

A gnarled fist struck the nay-sayer. It belonged to a willowy looking spriggan with eyes that pierced the heavy head of leaves. Wisely, she explained through her rattling talk, “Aren’t you paying attention? That is the monster. That’s why Master Creative looks like that.”

“Oh,” said the other spriggan, looking a little embarrassed, “I couldn’t tell. He doesn’t look like one.”

“Maybe that’s what makes the form so monstrous,” posited the willowy Spriggan.

“That’s dumb.”

The odinkine cawed at this, and suddenly, an argument broke out among the children. When the canidaer tried to calm everyone down, the altercation became physical. It was like a blur; hands, paws and roots flung in every direction before a shrill voice called out over the din.

“Children!” it called, high and feminine, “cease your uncouth behavior!”

“It’s Baba! Scatter!”

Over the hill, trailed by a few more children was a dark-haired woman, adorned in blue robes. One of the few adults Willow had seen so far besides the Man of Many Names. A fist shook over her head, “Confound you all! You wish to run!? So be it! I will feed your lunches to the worgs!”

The mention of food united the disparate hellions, and they united in one heading from many places towards a distant pavilion. With a thin, bitter sigh, the woman turned to Willow. Three, pristine, sapphire eyes regarded her and blinked in unison. She was like Drysi, but her eyes were oriented in a different way, but more than that, her face had an uncanny familiarity.

Willow had met her at the front gate the night Drysi disappeared into the woods.

“You are not a smallkin,” realized the woman, recognition slowly creeping on her face.
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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“Little trots…” Willow cursed as she watched the kids flee. “Missed the point that anyone can be a monster, but they can still try and be better than they were.”

Turning to look at Baba, the Brit tensed visibly for a moment as she was caught off guard by another triclops; though her eye was wrong. Well, different, not wrong. Wrong was probably insensitive. Collecting herself after the performance and being caught off guard, Willow straightened her hair and adjusted her torn robe.

“Thank you ma'am, I am quite adulty,” chimed Willow in an rather whimsical tone. “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to be a Maelgwyn, would you?”
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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The dark-haired triclops crossed her arms, staring evenly at the Allomancer. Her manner was as posh could be, and her clothes were a cross between Critical Role and Pride and Prejudice. Those eyes of hers scanned Willow up and down with a sense of severe, undeserved discernment.

"Baba!" squeaked a construct, floating up to the triclops. It was a ball of light wrapped in studded bands. A pair of stubby, stone arms waves, "Paris took my sandwich."

"TRAITOR! BRUTUS! JUDAS!" cried an odinkine.

The triclops' severe look hardened further, and a wand appeared in her hand. With a sharp, fierce whip, a sandwich came flying from the pavilion. She caught it in her hand and turned to regard the construct with a degree of softness, giving the morsel back to its owner.

"Thank you, Baba," bounced the construct, puttering away and dipping the sandwich into its glowing body.

"I cannot begin to express how I tire of children, their rudeness, and their antics," muttered the woman, looking back at Willow, "I am Eryl Maelgwyn; I do believe I remember you. I recall providing abjuration, at Mr. Caxton's behest, for you and your compatriots the night we met."

Eryl relaxed a degree, and tucked her wand away, "If you are here, Mr. Caxton has approved of your presence, so I will not pry as to your purpose here. Good day."

With that, this elder Maelgwyn walked off to the pavilion to pacify what seemed to be another altercation.
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Willow was torn between wondering if her question was going to come across as insensitive and wondering where she could get a butty wand. Or rather she had been torn up until Baba here casually name dropped just enough to pull the rug out from under the Brit’s feet. Had she said she was…? Did she say Prick-in-the-High-Castle was…? Oh cats…

“Wait! Wait up!” Willow exclaimed as she rushed after Baba O’Maelgwyn. On deft feet Willow moved to walk alongside the other woman, eager to ask questions from someone who not only knew what was going on, but also seemed willing to give straight answers. “Ah’ve got, like, twenty questions I want slash need to ask you, please wait.”

Quickly working through the sudden jumble in her head, Willow tried to avoid her usual habit of asking too many questions all at once. Prioritize, Willow. Prioritize.

“You actually are a Maelgwyn? Do you know a Drysi Maelgwyn?” Willow started, her brain continuing to process as she spoke. The woman had said her name was Eryl, that sounded familiar, but from where… “And we’ve… Oh! Stranger Danger at Granola Gate! I do remember you! Although I still can’t place where I’ve heard your name before.”
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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The two women strode across the tall grass quickly, for different reasons. Willow needed information, and Eryl needed to pry two of the kids apart. She couldn't do it bodily, so with another quick draw and snap of her wand, a forceful space was put between them. The questions weren't helping the quality of her countenance, but suddenly everyone was paying attention when a particular phrase loosed from Willow's lips.

Eryl wordlessly stiffened, her fists clenched to her sides, but more than that, tears were forming in her eyes. With great restraint, the triclops bit her lip and began to shake.

"There is no creature in this world more cruel than a child," seethed Eryl, tugging out a small charm. She twisted it, and threw it at Willow, "Stranger Danger. Awful."

The charm erupted into a bright flash, and Willow was gone. All of the young smallkin gasped.

"She killed Creative!"

"Because Creative did not eat all of his lunch."



When the light faded, Willow found herself in a different part of the city. A busy street stretched from the center to the outer wall before her. On one side were tall buildings with another mural spanning it, on the other was a long length of green arrayed with several trees. On many of the branches were odinkine, talking and chattering.

The mural depicted a pair of four-armed children being offered up by a woman to what looked like druids. A separate scene adjacent showed the children being discarded to a different group of mages.

"Lost, Metal-Eater?"

It was Bjorn, clad in his helmet, and one of the few of his kind near-by that wasn't alarmed by Willow's sudden appearance in the street.
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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“Oi, now what was that for?!” Willow exclaimed after being flashbanged. “Tha’s jus’ downright ru… Oh for…”

Turning around multiple times with dawning realization, Willow ran through a range of emotions that culminated in her holding a finger up to Bjorn to request a moment. She then turned against a wall, buried her face in the crook of her elbow, and shouted; the muffled sound of curses and various bits of British slang drifting to those nearby. Once the shouting was done, she turned back as she rhythmically clenched and unclenched her fists while taking deep breaths.

“Yee,” Willow finally responded to the odinkine, her voice strained even from the brief syllable. “Turns out… it's easy to get lost… when ya keep gettin’ T-P-ed all across creation!”
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Kokuten
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Of all the creatures and people in the Elementia Magicus, Bjorn could have been thought the least equipped to receive Willow's turmoil. Yet, he only smiled, warmly receiving her in her wretchedness.

"I'm glad to see you well again," welcomed Bjorn, "I have heard you have met many people."

He to careful side-steps down the limb he perched on. Unlike the Bjorn of Creative's interpretation, this Bjorn still had his mangled wing. Even as he awkwardly practiced the reflex of flapping his wings, he still struggled. A couple of his kin flew down alongside him as he moved, concerned for him.

"Bjorn, you might fall," warned one of them.

"Then it is my time to fall," answered he, irritated, "but I have nothing to fear. Metal-eater is here. She carried me all the way from the Cairn Hills, she would not let me fall now."

Willow's name was traded back and forth in the mouths of many odinkine, who were now paying attention. They were not grim, like Bjorn, just the opposite. Each was lively and colorful in their regard of her. They were on the outside what was Bjorn on the inside, and many carried themselves loudly in this way.

"My master took shifts with me to watch over you; he has for you a great esteem," said Bjorn, before reaching a talon forth, "You look like you are ready to be finished of this place. Take me on your shoulder. I will guide you as best I can."
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Willow moved to collect her odinkine guide while seeming to have shifted from hand clenching to teeth clacking. She wasn’t angry at this point so much as she was annoyed. So when Bjorn stated his observation all the Brit could do was groan in agreement as she helped the harpy get situated.

“I’ve been teleported ‘bout thrice now in the span o’n hour’n’a half, an’ yet I had to walk here? tch,” Willow spat. “Jus’ insulting, ‘s’ what it is.”

She gave the other odinkine an amiable enough wave.

“Tha’ other Maelgwyn mus’ not of had as much luck with her hag; ain’t got n’thin’ on Drysi. Didn’t even tell me what she thought of my performance!” Willow’s tone was somewhat bitter, but began taking on its usual playful edge. “S’pose dealing with kids gets exhausting though. Goodness knows I don’t plan on wanting any. Anyway, good t’see ya real Bjorn. I got some gear I need to collect and some forge or whatever to find so I can’t get some more snacks. Good to head out?”
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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"We are close to the center of power in this world," explained Bjorn as he found his place on Willow's shoulder, aiming to answer the remark about teleporting, "The Builder, Noble, constructed that tower to house the Patron, and the Patron is said to hold the power of the whole world in his hand. He can erase with a thought, make with a blink, and reshape with a whim, or so the story that Creative tells us."

The grim-faced odinkine waved farewell solemnly to his companions in the tree with his good wing.

"He is frightening to me, and I wish to meet him never," confided Bjorn, "I would rather face Vengeance herself than a being who could unmake you by merely forgetting you."

Thinking on that, Bjorn's hair and feathers stood on end, before pointing on ahead, "I am ready. Whatever that may mean. Your things should still be at the home of Smart. I can direct you there. Or anywhere else. This city is my birthplace. It is larger than from my hatchling days, but the streets are the same."
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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“Pfft, he’s an over-starched boarding school dorm mother,” Willow said flippantly as she began walking with full expectation that Bjorn would begin directing her as she went. Despite her tone she was still processing the matter. That Eryl bint could have been lying, but it would just be such a bizarre out of nowhere lie. She already knew Mister Caxton was an odd duck, and seemed to have a thing for pocket dimensions. The main aspect of the revelation that gave her pause was that she’d apparently asked a demi-god to be her high school mentor; only to turn around and turn said demi-god down in favor of doing farm work. Who knows, if she’d stuck with the request to train with Mister Caxton, would she have been zipping around this realm as a knight? Or squire of some sort, at least? Regardless, her chance of knighthood was probably shot at this point, so she figured she’d at least have some fun.

“Worst he’ll do to me is make me write an essay… can teachers give detention over summer vacay? Yeah, scratch that, worst he can do is write my mother,” Willow continued her banter, the tension in her voice easing away. “Now Vengeance…”

Yeah, Vengeance was a little troubling. It was a matter she’d been thinking about for sometime, or at least since Hawaii; and a concern that was capitalized in the interaction with the first Wraith. Namely, her motivation when fighting. When the fighting became heated Willow felt she slipped from wanting to fight to do something good, to just wanting to fight for the sake of fighting. There was still some of the monster in her, and Mister Caxton had been right when he said Vengeance knew how to manipulate Willow. Oddly, maybe because of her youth, the risk of her own death didn’t actually phase her all that much; but what truly worried her was what if Vengeance made Willow into a monster again.

“I miss Drysi…” came a barely audible murmur. Drysi was what Willow wanted to be. Sure, at first she’d been a little monster herself, but after the hag incident the triclops had really turned over a new leaf and were flourishing. Now, Willow didn’t have a murder cult hag in her head, but it was more of a symbolic hag that the Brit wanted to dispel. Perhaps if she did that she could really find out how to fight.
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