Dec 15, 2018 5:36 PM
dragon may in nenassa
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May steps back onto the road and walks in the direction she was originally traveling, listening intently. She doesn't like the look of the unicorns enough to try stealing one.

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The driver's moans recede into the distance behind her.

There's not much else to hear, for a little while. Assorted wildlife sounds. Her own footsteps. The sun sets, and the moon rises, looking bigger and differently patterned than she's used to.

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She stops when she finds a nice rock or tree stump to sit on to go over the lines of her sleep spell in a fresh layer of pen, before the sun goes down. She inspects the moon with unsurprised concern.

When the sun gets low she keeps a lookout for places it might be safe to sleep, with "not visible from the road" a key criterion.

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If she heads deeper into the woods, up the hill to the southwest, she can find a reasonably comfortable grassy hollow with absolutely no line-of-sight from the road.

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That is suitable.

She hopes it doesn't get too cold at night; it would be counterproductive to start a fire.

She curls up in the hollow and sleeps.

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An hour or so before dawn, when the sky is beginning to lighten on the eastern horizon, she might be awoken by the sound of a small group of people moving briskly through the woods with only a halfhearted attempt at quiet. Or she might not.

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The hollow is not so comfortable and she was not so tired as to sleep through something threatening-sounding in this environment.

She rifles through her spellbook with more than a token effort at quiet.

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The search party approaches her hollow with a directness that implies they already know approximately where to look. She has about half a minute of spellbook time before the first stranger emerges into view, walking cautiously but fairly casually and scanning the ground for stray humans.

He doesn't look like the sort of person you'd send after someone you intended to kidnap and imprison. He's comfortably dressed, medium-tall, unarmed, and not particularly brawny. A string bag slung over his shoulder holds a round loaf of bread.

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Thirty seconds is long enough to hiss herself invisible, but it doesn't cover the backpack, since she isn't wearing it.

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He spots the backpack, frowns, and waits for his companions to catch up.

There's three of them in total, all human, all approximately the same degree of harmless-looking, all carrying easily identifiable food items; there's another loaf of bread, and then the third bag contains several oranges and a peach. The first one gestures to the backpack and says something; the three of them exchange looks very much in the vein of 'no, you go inspect the potentially magically hazardous foreign object', and then the fruit-bearer sighs and ties her bag of fruit to her belt to leave her hands free and comes forward to inspect the backpack.

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Mariko has a hand ready on a sleep spell and watches what the person does with the backpack.

The backpack contains an insulated lunchbox, several notebooks, spare pens, a map of southern British Columbia, and a water bottle. Her cellphone and wallet are in her pockets, so invisible.

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She inventories the backpack, commenting on each item aloud. She's confused by most of them. When she has double-checked that she found everything, she puts it all back, and after a few false starts manages to figure out how to close the zipper.

The three of them look at each other, and exchange the shrugs and short remarks of a group of people who aren't at all sure what to do next but don't feel in an especially big hurry to figure it out.

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...May waits till they're all glancing away, then throws a rock into the woods.

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They track the sound, look at each other, and then the one who was in the lead the first time starts off toward the source of the noise while the other two remain behind.

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An invisible person supervises this activity.

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The scout quietly calls back a report on the number of mysterious humans he has found in the vicinity, presumably none; and then the other two start to look nervous. The woman with fruit asks the man with no obvious distinguishing characteristics a question, half-whispered, and he returns an uncertain half-whispered reply, and they glance around as though perhaps afraid of an invisible person lurking in the vicinity. The man with no obvious distinguishing characteristics tentatively holds out his loaf of bread toward thin air and makes some sort of comment, also toward thin air; his fruit-carrying compatriot sighs.

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......

.........

She is not going to get far without any contact with civilization at all.

She takes the bread.

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The now breadless man jumps back slightly in startlement, but releases his string bag of bread into her invisible custody. He hesitantly remarks aloud on this development. The scout returns on hearing this news, and looks around as though trying to spot the invisible person, before catching himself and stopping with a slightly sheepish expression.

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...She puts the bread in her backpack. They'll be able to see that.

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They do indeed see that.

The breadless man inhales a steadying breath, looks at the backpack, and invites it to follow him out of the woods, with beckoning gestures and a bit of simple mime to aid communication with potentially non-local-language-fluent backpacks.

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The backpack will very cautiously follow him out of the woods but will not speed up to accommodate them if they do.

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They are entirely willing to let the backpack set the pace.

Out on the road, there is a much plainer carriage than the last one, its driver's perch occupied by a yawning teenager with pointed ear-tips peeking out of his untidy black hair. He is not nearly as well-dressed as the last elf, nor does he seem remotely as grumpy.

Also, instead of vaguely ominous unicorns, this carriage is attached to a pair of ordinary if unusually beautiful horses.

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The mysteriously hovering backpack pauses.

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The teenager sits up, stifling another yawn, and waves a cheerful greeting to the backpack. He says something in an inviting tone, asks one of the three humans to open the door so the backpack can see inside, and then points in turn to both the comfortable interior of the carriage and the ladder-accessible roof with its padded benches and sturdy railing.

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The backpack approaches the carriage, close enough that May can reach out and touch it and have in mind all the things she would strenuously object to if this carriage were magicked to do them.

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