Jun 19, 2019 8:56 PM
Margaret in Medallion
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"- Bailiff," says a different councilmember, after a brief silence.

Bella takes a deep breath and vanishes from sight again.

"- is there a bugbear in the room -"

"She went that way," says a bugbear, "- through the wall -"

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Margaret starts casually walking towards the exit while everyone is hopefully distracted. She has a bunch of emails to delete. 

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"- Miss Peregrine!" shouts someone.

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"Did you still need me for something? Because I have no idea where she went."

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"Please stay behind until this is all sorted out."

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"Okay." She will stand in a corner and try to look uninteresting and wish she had one of her invisibility rings except not actually, because turning invisible would be very attention-grabbing. And she promises herself that they are not getting anything about Bella out of her.

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Eventually someone calms down and asks her her friend's name.

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She has a fair bit of time to think while everyone is running around, and the question she thinks about is: lie, and risk getting caught, or refuse to answer, and make it clear she knows something?

Fact: unless the Council has hacked her email, they don't know she even had a collaborator.

Fact: all they know about Bella is her appearance, which isn't tied to anything in the emails.

Fact: it is a matter of public record that Margaret has tried and failed to cure ailments milder than cancer.

Fact: the longer she goes without them being able to infer anything, the more time Bella has to get somewhere safe, and she owes her that.

So when they ask, she answers, "I don't know her. I don't think she even stole my spell, mine isn't powerful enough for things like cancer. I don't even know what happened, did somebody get hurt or find out about critters or something?"

The last two sentences aren't even lies.

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"No adverse effects have been reported yet except for a suspicious number of miraculous recoveries," someone else says distractedly.

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"Well, thank goodness for that. I don't think I'm going to be any use here; can I go home and make extra sure that none of my notes have been stolen? This whole thing has me pretty rattled."

That might actually have been 100% true; Margaret is much too unsettled to be sure. Not that it really matters; deceit is deceit.

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"You said your spell can't do cancer?"

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What gives them the least information, what gives them the least information, "I haven't tried on a cancer patient specifically but if I did I'd be very surprised if it worked."

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"But you don't know."

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"I don't know." Maybe they'll tell her to try to heal a cancer patient and find out, har har.

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"Just - put all your experiment stuff on hold till further notice. You can go."

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"Okay," she says, not bothering to figure out if that's a lie or not, and then she is extremely gone. 

Once she's home, she turns all her email exchanges with Bella into shorthand paper notes and deletes them, then writes down Bella's emsil address and deletes it from her contacts. Then she puts those, and all of her runecasting notebooks, in a lockable box with the correspondence near the bottom, and locks it. It won't stop a magical or governmental or especially determined thief, but she wants to look concerned about security to anybody who comes by. 

Her immediate real and fake paranoia somewhat appeased, she looks through the dining room table's accumulation of old newspapers, checking the human interest sections for stories of medical miracles. It won't be a complete survey, since not every cancer remission makes the news and some of them might have been mundane good luck.

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There's two that have made it into the news. There's a one-liner in one of the stories about how there's been a lot of spontaneous remission lately and they're considering the possibility that there's a helpful bacterium in the area.

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Woah. She's friends (acquaintances? research collaborators?) with an actual superhero. One who should probably range over a wider area, since they aren't actually ready to try bringing down the masquerade yet. Maybe Margaret could come up with something to help with that, but it's not clear how she'd deliver it or even discuss it. Even if Bella is still living where she was living last week, most ways of making contact would risk leading the Council right to her.

For that matter, there are a number of questions Margaret wants to ask in person. Questions like, did making the healing diagram bigger work on its own, or did you make some other advance, and if so can I copy it? How does your spell to walk through walls work, that sounds insanely difficult?

(Unspoken even to herself are questions like, are you okay? And, do you believe that I wasn't going to name you to the Council?)

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It seems like a lot of their problems can be solved by teleportation. Margaret looks in her rune dictionary. Space and control, that seems good, she can take that bag of holding diagram she was worried would act up inside Avalons and make it huge.

It's going to need to end up in artifact form eventually, so Bella can make easy use of it, but the interface for that will be tricky. Maybe something that stores locations under keywords and can also take a latitude and longitude? She'll want two versions, probably, one where the incantation does most of the work that she can use to find Bella at all, and one artifact version optimized for general getting around. But as always, she's going to start simple and get a handle on the principles. Or as simple as a teleport can be, anyway. 

Once the diagram is done (and the rune spreadsheet is moved to a new file in an out-of-the-way corner of her filesystem), she starts in on the incantation. It ends up shorter than the medallion incantations, but longer than any other she's worked with. It has clauses to prevent her from overlapping with any other substance, for moving the air out of her way silently, for bringing her clothes and anything she's holding, and for putting her on a sufficiently large flat surface with the same velocity as that surface. If all of the conditions cannot be satisfied simultaneously, the spell is explicitly to do nothing.

If the Council doesn't reach out to her again, she'll have the whole thing done and ready to test in two weeks. Her first test is done with her healing rock in her hand. Her first destination is the latitude and longitude of the far side of the garage, to the nearest hundredth of an arc-second. 

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The council doesn't bother her again.

The teleportation spell works.

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She tries it outside on her lawn (invisibly, at night, and speaking just above a whisper) and determines that grass does not count as a sufficiently flat surface and that putting her on the ground under the grass would violate the no-overlap rule. She switches to trying to put herself a few inches above the flat surface.

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This works in sufficiently mown and undivoted lawn sections.

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Fortunately, she can adjust the height with a single number, and make it as high as she's willing to drop. Testing determines that this is about two feet; beyond that she can't reliably time her reaction so as to land in a way that doesn't hurt her ankles.

Ow. Yeah, no, landing correctly after teleporting into the air is hard. If she does the next round of incantation design (making an artifact that teleports when she speaks a keyword followed by coordinates) with dragon legs, does that get around her sore ankles?

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Her ankle is still sore if it is a dragon ankle, alas.

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That's scientifically interesting! And really annoying! Ah, well, it will have healed by the time she gets a keyword-based artifact working.

(She still works on the medallion translation occasionally, in school and on the bus, when all her homework is done and the next step on teleportation is a live test. If anybody asks, she's trying to write a fantasy story in French.)

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