Oct 28, 2021 9:56 AM
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Who to sit with.

 

One obvious answer is the New York kids, of whom there are three, in maths; Annisa's good at maths and needs to start making an impression on the New York kids now, if she's going to try to get in there. Downside is that they're near the ventilation grates, presumably because Orion Lake fears nothing and probably actually gets off on blasting mals in the face when they drop through the ventilation grates, which means it's arguably not even that dangerous but Annisa is still not going to be able to concentrate on maths with a grate right there. 

Another option is Pyotr Tallis, whose girlfriend is recently dead and who is thus available, but on the other hand, his girlfriend is dead, default assumption there ought to be that it's unusually dangerous to be his girlfriend. Big upside is that he could spot her the mana for a dozen divining rods this month; big downside, setting aside the death thing, is that he's got nothing that casts in less than ten minutes and if she's starting to think about graduation, the last thing she needs is someone else who is all prep and no day-of. Also he might be erratic, if he's broken up about the dead girlfriend. 

Katie's at Toronto but Annie's impression is that she's barely worth impressing, they're tolerantly lugging her along but she's not that bright and her vouching for Annie wouldn't mean anything. 

On the other hand she'll be politer than the other option, which is El. Annie's honestly getting used to the aura of evil and she's already placed her bets on whether El wants to kill her right now, so spending more time sitting next to her isn't really additional risk, but it'll probably suck. On the other hand, being friendly with El in artificing and then cheerfully ignoring her literally the moment any other option arises is the kind of move that probably makes El more likely to kill her should the opportunity arise.

She makes eye contact with El to feel out how much rudeness to expect.

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This takes a moment because El is scrubbing away a suspicious beginning of an ooze with the bottom of her shoe, but when she notices Annie looking she makes a sarcastic gesture in the direction of the next chair.

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Sure, why not. Her assignment is already on the desk next to El when she is done checking under it and removing a couple of mana leeches. She taps herself with her divining rod as she starts, just in case El has subtle mind-control. Her divining rod thinks she's fine. 

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"What's it do?" El wonders.

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"Sticks if it hits magic that's not mine. Yes, I can do it tuned to other people, yes, it's for sale." 

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"Huh. Whaddaya want for it?"

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"I sold the last one to a graduating senior for all his honors English composition homework, a book of utility spells, four yards of sirenspider silk and his shirt." He wanted to give it to his soon-to-arrive little sister, which was sweet; Annisa's sister will be here next year but she can't imagine thinking at all about another person with graduation looming.

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"...expected to have trouble telling if Fortitude was his left leg?"

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Divining rods are indeed not really the thing you need to fight your way across the graduation hall. "Had a kid sister arriving. If I'd been his teammates I'd have been pissed he was thinking about it but I'm not his teammates and the silk's going to be incredibly useful."

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"If looking out for siblings got you kicked out of alliances more kids'd arrive with instructions not to make theirs with anyone outside their enclave."

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"Do you have siblings?"

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"Nah."

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"I've got three more on the way. And had two older brothers."

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"Isn't that ducky." This is starting to distract overmuch from math. El does not really want to find out what it's like to be eaten by a math assignment.

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Yeah, that's like a solid month of bonding right there, they are exempted from further conversation. Math it is.

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It is presently known throughout the English-speaking juniors that Orion Lake is taking a very distinct interest in El. He accompanied her to the supply room for free. He's saved her life more times than he has most people's. He keeps sitting with her at lunch and she snags him extra food so he has something to eat when he's distracted in the lunch line by killing mals.

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This is, obviously, a huge ridiculous advantage, the sort of thing you can ride right into an alliance if you handle it halfway deftly, though Annie's...not sure El is capable of handling anything at all halfway deftly? Maybe the rudeness is all an elaborate act, except what would be the aim. She's almost certainly not mind-controlling him, New York would love that to be the case and they'd notice. 

"Does Lake have more of a personality than heroic savior in private?" she asks while they're in line for supplies in alchemy class, one day.

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"Well, if you're going to have one trait..."

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"Many people, though, manage to have two. Is he into the aura of evil or is he oblivious to it."

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"Funnily enough I haven't asked him."

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There's a blood clinger in the supply cabinet; it gets one of the Manchester kids on the cheek, but probably not bad enough to kill him, not with his friends slapping some kind of fancy healing bandage over it immediately. You don't have very long with clingers; they make the blood coagulate, and no antidote works after that. It was sitting atop a really nice shelf full of wool and copper wire, and the Manchester kids' buddies blasted the thing back into the corner, so she leaves with her arms full; she doesn't actually need either wool or copper wire, but she can trade them. "Are you going for New York?"

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"Is it that obvious?"

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"Well, you could also be going for 'voted most likely to bite someone's face off', I hear that gets posted alongside valedictorian and is nearly as useful for alliances. Wool?"

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"What do you want for it?"

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"How good is that measuring tape?" A good one usually returns the same measurement twice, but that's expecting a lot, from a measuring tape.

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