Aug 21, 2019 3:42 AM
Margaret in Neuroi World
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The ship docks at a small coastal town and they need to fly a bit inland to get to Flight School. Mala flies herself and Freya flies her brother and Margaretta again. The countryside is flat and closely packed with fields, farms, and orchards.

Flight School is a large country manor, old-looking stone, three stories high with lots of small windows. It's shaped like a giant 'U' built around a grassy courtyard. There are a few short stone spires and a flattened platform built onto the roof in the center section. There's ivy growing up one of the walls.

It's twice as big as the abbey, and there are a few smaller buildings surrounding the place. There's other girls in the courtyard, all in the same grey uniform, playing and watched over by two adult minders. A lot of them look like Freya, pale and blonde, but there are those who look more like Margaretta or Mala, too. Most of them seem a bit older.

A short ways beyond is a dense town, and what might be a city in the far distance - it's a little hard to make out but the town seems to never quite end.

Freya lands them at the end of the courtyard and has a short conversation with one of the minders.

"Alright, you two," Freya smiles at them. "We're going to go speak to the headmistress to welcome you here, and then get you settled into rooms. Tomorrow they'll see what you know and what you need to learn to be caught up with everyone else. I'll be here for a few days to help you settle in but then I'll have to go again. We can have a few minutes to socialize with the other young witches now if you'd like."

Mala looks suddenly hesitant, glancing over at the other children (most of which have stopped their games and look interested in the new arrivals).

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"Yes, please." Margaret smiles and waves at the other girls, ready to make friends to the limit of her English ability.

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A couple of them start running over, apparently chosen by the others.

"Hello! I am Sarah Vauners I can do things with fire."

"I'm Leah."

"Go on, say it."

"...I can do geases."

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"My name is Margaretta! I do metal! My English is very small, what is geases?"

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"A geas is... You make a promise... And magic makes you have to keep it... They're scary..."

Vauners pats Leah on the shoulder. "But the teachers say they can be good if you are responsible with them. And you're really careful so it's good you have that power and not someone else!"

Leah shrugs. (Mala is hiding behind Freya a bit.)

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"Can you make anybody keep promises, or just you? What if a person doesn't want to promise, can you make them?"

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"...They have to say it... Anybody but they have to say it. I can take them away again too."

"Evil witches can threaten people into saying things that can make a geas, and the noble and good witches have to stop them!"

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"There are evil witches?!" She had not previously realized there was such a thing! She's not super clear on the concept of evil people in general, really, unless the Neuroi count. 

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"Evil witches who the UDF has to stop for the good of all!"

"They're... Criminals. Bad people."

"Evil witches turn people into foxes or steal things or make them do stuff!"

"There are witches who do very bad things," Freya interrupts. "Criminals who break the law or hurt others on purpose quite a lot. Sometimes we call people like that evil. Witches who do bad things ought to be stopped even if they are not really evil, exactly."

"...Am I evil?" Mala asks, quietly.

"No, dearie. You understand why it might be wrong to make people do things, and so you don't, mostly. That's being responsible with your magic. You've been very good about that."

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"You're not evil, Mala, you're nice. Are evil witches," she switches back to her native language for "allowed", "in Flight School?"

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"'Allowed'. Flight school is for young witches like yourselves who haven't had much time to do bad things yet. And sometimes you do bad things for reasons that can stop. If you steal because you're hungry and scared a lot, why, you can usually learn to stop doing that once you're fed and safe."

"Some witches are mean anyway. Nia always interrupts people!"

"That's just a little mean not evil..."

"Yeah but she should stop why don't the teachers make her stop."

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Margaretta has to answer to why the teachers don't make Nia stop. Maybe the teachers think making people do things is mean. Anyway, she wants a nicer subject. "What class do you like best?"

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"FLYING!!"

"...I dunno? Maybe math?"

"Flying is the best!"

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"Flying is fun! I want to learn math and history and how to make things and everything else there is to learn! I might be able to make things with my special."

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"Coool. I don't think I can make things with fire."

Mala has been lurking a bit, her brother and Freya trying their best to keep her up with the conversation.

"...I want to learn philosophy," she says after some consultation.

"That's not something one usually teaches children," Freya cautions Mala. "Once you know your arithmetic and a fair bit of English and possibly French, perhaps?"

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"I read some--how do you say 'theology'?--at home. That's a little like philosophy."

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"I guess for now I just want to learn English and French and then read a lot of books?" Mala sounds unsure. "We didn't have books. Nobody had books."

"Books are okay, I guess," one of the other girls allows. "You're supposed to be really careful with them though, it's annoying."

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"Books are very good! Are there many books here?"

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"There's a bunch of books. Mostly stuffy old ones. We got new weird books a while ago, with letters that are mostly the same but kind of messy."

"Ah, that'd be the printing press," Freya snaps her fingers. "I've heard of them. They're a way to make books more rapidly. It seems they're finding use for the things. And no," she says to Margaretta, "I'm afraid I don't really know how they work aside from stamps being involved somehow."

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She's about to say she hopes to find out eventually, but ends up yawning instead. "I was so excited last night I didn't sleep a lot", she says. "Can we see our rooms?"

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The school's head welcomes them and hopes they will learn well here. Their rooms are in the main building, and are well furnished but not particularly spacious or fancy. Mala gets a double room with her brother. Margaretta can have a double room to herself for now and get a roommate if any other new witch shows up, or a space in a communal dormitory with about ten other young witches which is closer to everything else. Her choice.

The next morning she and Mala are shuffled around on a quick tour and then sequestered with Freya and one of the teachers to learn as much English as possible, though the teacher will answer the curious little witches' questions patiently.

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She takes a space in the dormitory, and has just enough time to exchanges hellos with her roommates before falling asleep. The next day she has loads of questions, but mostly confines herself to the ones about English grammar and vocabulary.

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They have half a day of lessons with the teacher, who is at least generally patient and good at teaching. Mala gets bored quickly and wants to go flying or socializing or read something, and gets chastised when she leaves the classroom against the teacher's objection. They explain that they're trying to get her to learn as much English as possible so they can learn everything a new witch needs to know, and other things can wait a little bit.

There's some spare time still. Time to read haltingly from one of the library's children-approved books if she wants, and to socialize if she wants. Most of the other young witches are happy to chatter with Margaretta and Mala approximately to the extent of how well their English is going. Most of them have fair skin and hair, most of them come from poor backgrounds and small villages, a few others are also still learning English. There are opportunities to show off specials and get to know each other.

That one girl who has fire powers, Sarah Vauners, apparently has important parents. A lot of people defer to her and she's rather vain. She forms a clique of her friends, claims and decorates a special table in the dining hall, orders treats to be delivered to the school with her family money for her friends only, and shows off a much nicer broom than the other young witches will get to train on. The adults cluck disapprovingly at her a bit, but mostly leave this state of affairs be.

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Margaretta talks to the other girls as much as she can, in English that slowly increases in comprehensibility. When there's nobody around who wants to talk, she reads the books. If there are any on practical knowledge, or any really good fiction, she'll even read them sometimes when there are people around.

Sarah is rather annoying, but it's nice of her to share her treats with her friends. Margaretta isn't sure if training on a better broom will be any use for making Sarah a better flier, and asks one of the teachers this. She doesn't actively avoid Sarah, but the girls she naturally gravitates toward are more interested in their studies and in playing with magic.

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Just two days before the real start of classes, another little witch arrives with a woman who's probably her mother. Her hair is short and a little ragged. She seems uncomfortable in the uniform. Adults bustle about excitedly around her until she - somehow - escapes their supervision and wanders around the wooded parts of the campus, just wandering and looking morose, poking trees and dirt and things with a stick.

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