Oct 27, 2020 4:49 PM
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Avetlarinyarenesaar... Is currently trying to force herself to walk another few steps. She hasn't managed it, yet. Her reason for stopping was perfectly ordinary - check the address, make sure it was correct, be sure she was in the right place. She'd been quite sure, but there wasn't any downside to double checking, so she double checked. And triple checked. She stopped herself from quadruple checking, but she wanted to anyway. To - be sure that she was right. Yes. Not because she was procrastinating, or nervous, or thinking what am I going to say? She wanted to be sure that she was right.

Well. She's right. She checked three times, there's no doubt to it.

"Look," she mutters to herself, "I get it, it's scary, but deal. You are not allowed to - to -" To what? Go home? Maybe try to work up the courage later? Maybe try and avoid the shren house like so many other dragons?

It was a door. It's idiotic to be afraid of a door. Sure, there were shrens on the other side of it, but there could conceivably be shrens on the other side of lots of doors, some of them were in hiding, hair dye existed. Subtle colors existed. She could have been near shrens any number of times.

That - did not actually make her fear go away. Instead it makes her want to curl up in her little apartment and not go outside again.

Great. Okay. Stop that train of thought, it's not useful. If she stands here any longer, people are going to stare. (Is that person over there staring? Probably. Damn.) Just - door. Go. Walk.

She forces herself to walk to the door, somewhat stiffly. And then she is at the door. ... Does she knock? Does she just open it and go in? She has no idea. It's customary to knock, so... She takes a deep breath and does so. Resisting the urge to flee and teleport away (or scamper into the bushes) isn't easy, but she manages it.
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An empathic signature (blunted, businesslike curiosity over background self-assured dissatisfaction) approaches. The door opens.

A turquoise shren is there. She glances at Avet's hair. "Can I help you?"
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"Um," she says, because she didn't actually write out what she would say for fear of it being too impersonal and stilted. She fidgets a bit. "Maybe, I'm doing some research and I thought it would be a good idea to er. Look at shrens. For the research?"

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"Research," says the turquoise.
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"I," she says, in a rush, "am trying to figure out why baby dragons die. And stop it. And er, shrens always live."

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"So we do," says the turquoise, exasperated, inwardly eye-rolling. "I don't think you'll get many takers if you offer to let parents make the swap, and if you would, there's already a way to do that."

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"It doesn't work," she sighs. "Obviously. But there's - I want to understand why shrens always live, what factors are causing it, maybe whatever it is is involved with the death thing, maybe there's a - a - I don't know, a line-based -" She stops herself from saying disease, that is so hilariously rude, she is not going to say that. "- ... Something. I don't know. And no one knows because dragons don't look at shrens and shrens pretend they don't exist and damn it all if I am going to sit on my ass because you are scary psychologically when I could potentially fix it!"

... Pause.

"Um. Sorry. Shrens in general, you are - um, you seem very nice, you are not personally scary." Pause. "... Okay, maybe a little. I'm kind of nervous."
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"What do you want to do?" inquires the turquoise. "Look at us? Here I am. You're looking at me. When you aren't averting your eyes in dismay."

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"I am trying not to," defends Avet. "Really. I - sorry, I'm working on it. I - I have analysis spells, as many as I could find, I've read up on the subject. Nothing's - helpful. I don't plan on, on, doing horrible things or poking the babies while they're -" She looks away. "I just." Handwave. "Wizard spells, magic, maybe talk to a witch expert and see if they have thoughts on the matter besides painkillers."

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"I feel fully informed now," says Jensal dryly. "Certainly this suffices to convince me to hand you an infant for whom I'm responsible."

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"I don't actually want an infant," she says. "Or. Not at first, it's not like whatever it is shrens have that makes them shrens goes away. It's likely pointless to even touch the babies, unless they were very young. So, adults are fine as anything else."

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"In which case I might be able to find you a consenting volunteer, but this is obviously less likely if they'd be volunteering for a mystery experiment."

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"Right, yes." She takes a deep breath and begins going down the line of analyses she wants to do.

It is a long list, all of them wizard spells, and none of them actually harmful (or even uncomfortable). Many of them have been tried, but some of them haven't.
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"Are you actually a wizard?" wonders Jensal.

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She looks at Jensal like she's grown a second head.

"Yes," she says, blinking. "Why would I be offering to do those things if I wasn't?"
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"Just checking. Is this the first shren house you've tried?"

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"I can ask around. What's your name so I can send you a note if I find a volunteer?"

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"Avetlarin. Thank you," she says, sincerely.

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"Mm-hm. If you don't hear from me in a week, most likely the house has nobody who wants to be analyzed."

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"I understand." Avet smiles at her. It's kind of tentative, but genuine.

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Jensal doesn't smile. Jensal steps back and closes the door.

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Well. She made it to the door, at least. Avet: 1, World: Probably fifty billion or something.

She teleports home and curls up on her couch and thinks about shrens. Maybe she'll eventually be able to manage to talk to one without constantly flinching. Some day.
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Two days later she receives a letter in a sky-blue Esmaarlan-flagged envelope. The note says that Jensal's found her a volunteer from another house who will be around to meet her at Jensal's house anytime in the next few days.

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That's promising! That's really promising!

She schedules a time to meet, and then is there at that time. Looking nervous, vaguely excited, and hopeful. Progress!
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When she knocks, a short silver-haired woman answers the door.

"Hello."
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