Margaret Peregrine is a high school sophomore. Most of the time, she's either at school, at the school robotics club, at the school chess club, or doing schoolwork. Today, she's cleaning out her late great-grandmother's attic.
"Maybe I should start with a species that doesn't have any. I'll be more likely to find someone willing to take the risk, that way. I could even recruit someone in advance."
"Yeah. Up to you if you wanna let the council vet your experimental process."
"Yeah. I've lost any faith I had in their ability to actually help; the question is what keeps them from getting in the way. If I ask for permission they might just say 'no, never' and then I'm worse off than if I'd ignored them--hey, wait, I can teleport! If they say no I can just try another Avalon and either fly under the radar or ask until I get a yes." Maybe Brenda would be willing to try a medallion she made.
"There's that! Though they could talk to each other."
"They could, yeah. Also they'll probably hear about it if I start recruiting volunteers without asking them, so unless I want to commit to getting approval for everything I should probably start outside Seattle." Yeah, this seems to be adding up to "ask Brenda".
"Do you need me for anything there?"
"If you happen to have met anyone who really wants a medallion, you can vouch for me and give them my contact info, otherwise I don't think so."
"I'll keep an ear out."
"Thanks. See you later, then."
"See you. - Thanks for telling me and not wanting to start a war."
"Thanks for the same thing."
She hangs up and emails Brenda. Their correspondence over the past months has been mostly jewelry logistics and occasional chit-chat. Now Margaret wants to know: she's been working on reverse-engineering medallions, and she's close to a working version. Does Brenda want to be the first person to try one? It would be super reasonable if the answer is no! Margaret will not mind in the least if Brenda would rather not risk it! She would test it on herself if she could, rather than expose anyone else to an untried magic thing, but she cannot. No pressure, take all the time you need to decide, etc.
Well, I've reverse-engineered all the spells on an existing medallion and I'm going to be replicating them exactly, but translated into French and with the species swapped out. I've had my incantations double-checked, but something could still go wrong if I've lost a subtlety in translation or if something about nagas is different in a way that interacts badly. The most likely case of something going wrong is that it doesn't let you shapeshift but counts as your medallion, so you wouldn't be able to try again unless I found a way to disconnect it.
Also I can give you a healing artifact (that one's been tested) to use while you try it, if you want.
And of course Margaret's going to be right there with her dragon-magic-detector, reducing all unwanted effects to nothing. If she finds herself suppressing anything, she'll find a reason to get Brenda to take the medallion off; it seems pretty unlikely that anything will happen while she isn't wearing it.
Well, they interact with your body, so theoretically you could end up with an unhealthy human form or something? I don't think it's at all likely; it's just a precaution it doesn't cost anything to take so I figured I'd mention it.
Let's say yes for now? I don't want too much attention or to get people's hopes up before I know it works.
Also she wants to check if it's technically illegal. She's doing it anyway, but if it's illegal it'll need to stay secret as long as possible. Her message continues:
Also, would you mind signing a thing that says you understand exactly what I am and am not promising? If and when it stops being secret I don't want anyone claiming that I lied to you about it.
I got one a lawyer wrote off the internet and changed some words. I don't know if it would actually work in a court or anything, though, so like, please don't sue me?
Thanks. I'll let you know when I have the thing enchanted.
And she starts in on enchanting it. Bella's already looked over her diagrams and the English version of her incantations; she examines the French a bunch more times and starts drawing out the diagrams at full scale. Now that she knows they're potentially reusable, durability of the paper for the big ones is a priority. She tests some logistics questions at smaller scale: does paper that's been enchanted for durability still take pencil acceptably? And if she puts clear tape over the runes to prevent smudging, does that cause any problems?
Then she uses thick but unenchanted paper, and covers her marks in tape so nothing can smear them. She works in socks without shoes, crawling all over giant rolls of art paper taped into massive squares.
Eventually, she enchants. The medallion itself is a blank metal disk with a hole for a necklace chain and "Naga 1" sharpied on one side. Margaret converts her dragon magic detector from a rock to a bracelet, and checks it after each incantation. Since she isn't expecting any visible effects from the spells, that's the only way to know whether a step worked, or if she needs to disenchant her disk and start over.
When she reaches the part that requires sphinx magic without incident, it's time to ask for help.
Hi Bella. I found a volunteer to try the first medallion, and got it up to the point where I need healing magic. Can you stop by my house sometime and help with that and fix the diagrams I've used so far? Pretty much any evening after school works.