Aug 17, 2022 3:03 AM
Huang and Connie are going to get so much mana out of this
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There aren't so many freshmen girls with swords around, but even so there's enough people in the cafeteria it takes a while for Connie to spot the one she's looking for.   

 

"Hello, um, are you Huang Yushi?"  Her Mandarin is accented and a bit stilted but understandable.

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It's backwards, but Chinese people do it that way too, her name is weird. "I am, hello."

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"I'm Connie Donovan.  Elizabeth, the girl there with the notebook-" she drops into English cadences for the names rather than try to turn them into Mandarin syllables, "-she says that you are a good person to ask for help.  Are you busy soon?"

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"I don't have any commitments I can't move."

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Connie gives her a tentative smile.  "My-" oh heck what are they, 'friends' sounds naive, she's not sure how to render 'bathroom pack' into Mandarin without accidentally sounding dirty- "classmates want to bring wood from the shop to the dorms, but one hurt her foot and now we are too few.  We planned to split the wood, but if you don't want it we can trade with other things also?"

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"I don't think I need wood. I need mana and homework."

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"We will get so much mana from just the stairs, they thought two or three trips, but I can pay with mana also.  You maybe do not want me to do your homework, but the others might?"  She gestures toward a couple of freshman girls several tables over on the Mandarin side.

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"I'm not choosy about who does my homework, as I'm maintenance track, but perhaps they will spend less time on it."

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"Yes, Mandarin is my fourth language.  If we had class together you can copy mine.  New homework, I will take longer and get a worse grade."  If Huang seems interested, then, they can wander over to the indicated table; one girl is trying to keep pressure on a bleeding ankle, sniffling and carrying on a bit more than one might expect; the other is flipping hurriedly through her Mal Studies textbook with one hand and patting the bleeding girl's shoulder with the other. 

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"Perhaps she should go to the nurse. She is helpful and charges nothing."

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"Oh right-" Connie starts, at the same time as the girl with the book says, "Here, I thought so, they're not venomous, see-" and a third girl, a bit taller and more sturdily built than the other two, strides up to the table and starts, "No luck, they've all apparently got 'plans'- oh hey!  You up for something sucky and boring, then?"

 

"Right, um, I would like to introduce you to Li Jieqiong," the bleeding one, "Wu Huiwen," the one with the book, "and Zhou Liying," the taller one, "this is Huang Yushi- am I getting the tones right, sorry, I don't know who Elizabeth got your name from-?"

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"It's Yushi Huang," says Huang, as long as she's supposed to correct her anyway. "Yushi is the name of my village, and my family uses it as a family name. Pleased to meet you."

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"Oh!  Um.  Sorry about that."  And to the others (mostly Liying), "She needs mostly mana and homework, I can do mana?"

 

"Pleased to meet you as well,"  Huiwen says softly, closing her book.  "You're in History of Japanese Theater, yes?"

"Come on, a-Qiong, you're gonna be fine."  Liying pats her friend on the shoulder and gives Huang a slightly strained smile.  "Heya.  We're all from Harbin, city, not enclave.  Except Connie, obviously, who's from- which way round is it again-"

"Cambridge, Massachusetts not England,"  Connie supplies.

"That.  Anyway, yeah, we're gonna haul a bunch of boards up eight flights of stairs, if there's any still left, except we really need at least four people so we can take turns hauling and being lookout.  You interested?"

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"Yes," to Japanese Theater, and "yes," to hauling boards up eight flights of stairs. Most mana-building isn't nearly so productive.

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"I could trade you a couple essays for Japanese Theater, then, if you need them?"  Huiwen suggests.  "Want to compare schedules?"

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Huang pulls hers out and presents it.

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The girls take a look; none of the others turn out to share a class with her, but Liying says, "hey, wasn't your brother in Romance of the Three Kingdoms last year?" and dashes off to another table without waiting for an answer, hollering, "Hey Shang'er hold up!"

 

"How is your foot feeling?"  Connie asks after a moment.  "Huang says you can see the nurse?"

 

"I don't- think I need to,"  Jieqiong says, wincing as she lifts the wad of napkins to peek under it.  "I think the bleeding mostly stopped?"  She looks more embarrassed than upset, by now.

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"I had a cut the other day and she was very helpful and did not ask to be paid. But your injury seems smaller."

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"I heard Shanghai's doing her wards, it's probably the safest place you don't have to go up or down stairs to get to," Huiwen points out.  "...I guess that probably means you can't hang out there if you don't really need to, or everyone would."

"Could ask her anyway?"  Connie suggests.  "If she says no, dorms are not far."

Jieqiong gingerly tries putting weight on her foot and grimaces before she's more than halfway off the bench.  "Yyyyyep.  Stairs bad, let's go with plan nurse."

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If they are moving in a pack Huang can accompany them and then accompany the bulk of the pack towards wood-hauling.

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Liying returns and gets Jieqiong's arm over a shoulder, and confirms that her brother did save his essays from last year, and they can work out a mutually acceptable number on the way to the nurse?

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Sure. Huang would like to copy four of them, if that's okay.

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Sure, that should be fine.  (Liying and Jieqiong's brother will settle up between themselves later.)

And then Jieqiong can be safely deposited at the nurse's office, and the four of them can start down to the shop level. 

"So what's it like where you're from?"  Liying asks.  "I've never really been outside Harbin before we came here."

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"My father was one of those wizards who lives among mundanes openly, helping them with magic. He had several wives and many children but of course most of us did not get slots. He died recently but in the process of trying to get magical help for him I favorably impressed some Tianjin enclave wizards and they attached me to their cohort this year."

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"...can he then do magic when they see, if they believe him?"

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"We try to keep it to a minimum, because it does sometimes ruin a spell if someone's thinking about it the wrong way, and it's better if they don't see so much they become attractive to mals. But the mundanes in my village are much easier to cast around than most. I shared a room with my mother, and the ward we used turned on the lights so we could deal with anything that wanted me, and it worked well enough that here I am."

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