Jan 27, 2022 6:58 PM
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Everyone seems to find that very comforting.

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Maybe it's even true. 

 

 

But she rips the protective enchantment on her dagger, the one that keeps it from accidentally chopping off her own fingers, out by the seams, while they eat. 

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Aadhya is near her in their artificing seminar, later, sanding down a bit of ebony. "If there was a mal masquerading as people's worst fears," she remarks, "wouldn't more people have seen that, too?"

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"Could be one of the reportedly many that Orion blasted in the library last night. 

 

And El saw -

 

- something."

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"- yeah, she must've. I heard someone say Orion carried her out of the library, I guess it could've spooked her on the way to the mal party in the reading room?"

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"Could've.

 

 

 

You don't think that's it?"

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"She always sits in front in maleficaria studies. I don't know what'd scare her that bad."

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"She was freaking out today, too. When we were talking about-  what must've happened."

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"I guess a maw-mouth would scare her, so a fear-manifestation could have looked like one to her..."

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"It doesn't quite fit, but I don't see what else fits. Because if there's a maw-mouth, people would've seen a maw-mouth. People would have heard the screams. So, reasoning backwards, there's not a maw-mouth, Todd saw something else. And El saw something else. Something Orion didn't see."

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"El's really strong," Aadhya blurts, after a silence. "We were making a magic mirror for her project - I don't know why she gets assignments like that, she's not artifice track, she should be making, like, anti-skid shoes - and she used an incantation to flatten the silver after we poured it. And I was curious about that, it sounded useful, but the books say don't bother, hardly anyone is powerful enough for that."

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There's only one direction Aadhya could be going with this but it's insane so Annisa pretends to be dense, which is arguably the same thing as actually being dense. "Huh. Do you know her affinity, she's never told me."

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"I don't know either. I know she hates it."

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The other way El and Todd could have seen a maw-mouth is if there was a maw-mouth, but someone killed it. 

 

El looked like death warmed over. El panicked when they started talking about maw-mouths. But -

- 'absurdly powerful' doesn't get you there, absurdly powerful people can't fight maw-mouths and survive. 


"Maybe it was a baby," Annisa says, absurdly. "A baby maw-mouth."

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"It can't have been Patience or Fortitude, they wouldn't fit, so - a smaller one, at least -"

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"If she's that powerful why not show everybody. Why not show everybody first day of freshman year, get New York to adopt you -"

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"I don't know. If her affinity is that horrible maybe she couldn't think of a good demo?"

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The answer to 'why not tell us now' is obvious. Who would believe her. "I killed a maw-mouth" is about as believable as "I found a way out of the school and went to the theatre and came back just in time for curfew". 

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"She found the sutras in the library that day. I've never found anything that good, I've never heard of anybody finding anything that good."

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The library isn't particularly cooperative, even if you are a good student and always treat your books well and reshelve them. Good books have a mind of their own, and don't stay on shelves if they don't care to.

"The sutras book looked brand new. Wouldn't be a surprise if no one'd found them before her. Wouldn't be surprised if they slipped out a week after the scribe finished."

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"And she picked up the first spell in it fast."

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"You could ask her. Hey, El, did you kill a maw-mouth. I don't think she's a very good liar."

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"I guess I could ask. Yeah."

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"Todd's right, you know. That the mals are worse this year because - Orion's been starving them. That the school can't feed this many students. That there was a balance and he's - they're - breaking it."

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"There was supposed to be mortal flame in the graduation hall. It can't need that many -

I guess they doubled the number of rooms, later -"

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