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Sep 20, 2021 4:58 AM
thistle and dermot brave the trials
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It’s not the weirdest Lori has seen, but she is still surprised to see him do...that.

While Mal does an excellent impression of a bloodhound, Lori stretches her telepathy as far as it can go, trying to hear anyone else nearby.

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Mal detects the poor sadsack stumbling through the woods first, and hares off in an unsteady, shambling gait.

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Lori hears his thoughts next- the usual bunch of self-recrimination mixed with bitter invective vaguely hurled at the second-years, the professors, the headmaster, and the world in general.

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God, she has never been so happy to hear Quentin's thoughts. "QUENTIN!" She yells.

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Oh, huh. Lori's here. So I haven't been unceremoniously discarded, consigned to purgatory, forcibly ejected from Heaven like yesterday's garbage- um, hey, maybe I can just form sentences augh stupid branch which way was that yell anyway

-Flo would be so much better- no, maybe worse, but he'd make everything better-

Quentin continues trying to steer his thoughts down more productive avenues, like giving Lori a sense of landmarks. Thoughts about how awful Brakebills is and how awful the real world is are interspersed with references to 'Flo', 'Eddie', and 'Thistle', which mostly trend more positive than Quentin's thoughts about himself. He does spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about how hot Thistle is, which is often accompanied by apologetic embarrassment directed Lori's way. His rainbow bridge doesn't come up, since his thoughts are actually a useful navigational aid; Quentin's memory is astounding, and he's already built a mental map of everything he's seen so far.

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Lori is able to lead the way towards Quentin, helping Mal adjust his course, and every single slip of Quentin’s thoughts towards his friends just makes Lori giddy. She blames that mostly on the weirdness of the whole night, and her relief that he’s okay.

Once she finds him, she tugs him into a huge hug. 

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Hug.

"Any idea where we are?"

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"Near Brakebills. They didn't send us far. Weak."

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"Okay, so we can probably just walk back. Easy. We call that a win, right?"

He's mostly not feeling as confident as he sounds, but he's better at shielding than Quentin, so Lori can't pick up more than that.

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“There’s no way it’s gonna be that simple. There’s a catch. There’s always a catch.”

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"I know that. We should pick a direction and start walking before we fall behind everyone else. I'm not ending up last and getting kicked out of this place."

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Mal ignores this in favor of trying to get his bearings. The second years are nearby, he can smell them- watching them flounder around like scared little mice. He wants to bite them.

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“You think the magic school is testing us on our ability to walk? Really, Dermot?”

She sees Mal, and can feel some kind of agitation coming off him. “Mal? What’s- You okay?”

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"They want to make us feel stupid and they're right here, laughing at us. Don't know where."

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"Maybe we're supposed to track them down? It's a forest, it could be kind of a hunting thing? See if we can catch up to them before- I wonder if we're being chased?"

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Lori stretches out her mind as far as she can, trying to sense anything hidden. 

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It takes a moment to find them, but-

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-there they are.

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...and then, about thirty seconds later, they're not.

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Meanwhile, Dermot and Quentin are having a conversation which mostly consists of Dermot saying things and Quentin thinking they're incredibly stupid things to say.

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Before she knew she could do it, she would claim that teleportation was not a thing. Either way, they’re gone.

She butts into Dermot and Quentin’s argument. “So they disappeared as soon as I could sense them. I think Quentin’s got a point.”

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"They're here? Let's go. Which one of you can cast a locator spell?"

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"Not here. They left."

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"They will have some way to nullify a locator spell. But I can catch wind of them long enough to find out where they are, and Mal can smell them-"

She's missing something. What is she missing?

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Dermot...waits. He waits for someone to figure it out, waits for some solution to present itself. The annoying kid- Coldwater- is still talking and it's not helping, he's just talking and talking and talking and looking at Dermot like he's annoyed that he's not responding like he could even get a word in edgewise and they're all just standing around here waiting for psychic chick and scratch and sniff to find the second years- Dermot paces.

Lori could feel the rising anger from a mile away.

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