Aug 10, 2022 10:17 PM
bella, caio, and aadhya in the college arcadia
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This isn't New Orleans.

Aadhya is there and it isn't New Jersey. Caio is there and it isn't Brazil.

"Oh fuck, did I -" breathes Bella. She was holding a torus of antimagic, as they went through the hall, with the three of them huddled in the middle. Most mals couldn't cross it at all; some had enough mundane form to manage, or enough momentum to be unable to turn back once they entered, and Aadhya's pike covered in argonet teeth and the poison Caio brewed was meant to turn aside those if they got to the magical donut hole, and Caio was maintaining a shield and he'd run himself ragged transmuting exotics for Aadhya's pike and making potions for them all to take so they'd be able to cast and jog and breathe and see where they were going through the shimmer of the torus at the same time.

Bella was supposed to be keeping an eye on the leading edge of her torus, and reshape it when they got close to the gates. She is probably not strong enough to break the gates but if she did they'd all be dead and a bunch of other people besides, so. And she was pretty sure she had it - she was so sure -

"Fuck, I'm so, I'm so sorry," she says, and she bursts into tears.

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The kind of not New Orleans (or New Jersey, or Brazil) that they've landed in appears to be a lightly fogged meadow, right on the very edge of a natural and undeveloped hot spring. There are trees off in the distance, visible through the fog, but sparsely; not a forest. In almost but not quite the opposite direction there are vague outlines of what might be a skyline. 

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"There's no way you busted the gates - and besides I saw the shimmer change shape, like it was supposed to -"

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Caio hugs Bella. Squints at the skyline. "They have lots of - failsafes, if they could be nibbled away by agglos or by mals that adapted to suck mana out of artifice they'd be long gone. They're probably fine even if they were tripped up for a second. We're wherever the Scholomance is anchored, probably, we'll figure out a comm spell between us, we'll get picked up and helicoptered away with bags over our heads so we don't tell anyone where it is. If we can't just hike to the city."

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"The - city? - why would they have put the Scholomance near a city -"

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"Mundie meatshield?"

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"Or the city's new."

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"Well, it's probably a better bet than camping out working on a comm spell."

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Approximately orthogonal to the line between trees and skyline, an oddly-dressed girl walks out of the fog. She's wearing a pink sundress with yellow and blue flowers embroidered on the skirt, and a pink flat-topped broad-brim hat with a cream hatband, a blue fabric rose on the left side, and a pair of cream cat ears. 

"Hey, are you guys okay?"

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"- we're lost," Bella says. Most people wearing weird getups are just eccentric mundies.

Speaking of weird getups, they make a weird looking set themselves. Bella's wearing much-repaired tatter-hemmed olive green cargo pants, mesh pockets full of rolled and folded letters, a pen, a knife; a T-shirt that began its life navy blue but has since been patched in many colors; and sneakers, the overengineered kind that sometimes go for jawdropping amounts of money, in black with gold and coral red piping and accents and laces, none of which are a discernible logo. The shirt and pants have been embroidered to a degree of fine detail more appropriate to a wedding dress, over and around the repairs especially, though the thread colors are pretty eccentric. Her hair's in an amateur and rather aggressive pixie cut, clearly done with more of an eye to making sure her vision would never be impaired than anything else.

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"Yeah, can you tell us where we are?"

Aadhya's clothes are in much better condition - she's got on a kurta over pants, the fabric blue with white hexagons printed on it or maybe woven directly in, and while it has a few carefully mended spots of damage and looks worn a bit thin it's held up all right to whatever these kids have just gone through. Her shoes, ordinary Converses laced with braided kitchen twine, are a mess, though, the sole half off the left one and the right one looking kind of charred.

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Their companion has neither well-maintained shoes nor well-maintained clothes. His buttondown (black) has clearly been through the wars; three of the buttons don't match and one of them is actually a paperclip, and it's too small in the chest. It has some embroidery like Bella's, around the hem and repair marks. His pants, unremarkable khakis, have an incredible slew of stains on them on top of the holes in the knees and the six inches that look to have been burned off on the left cuff. His shoes appear to have once velcroed but have been adapted to some other closure method since then which is hidden under the upper.

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"--You're on the campus of the College at Arcadia, did you...botch a rift?"

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"Botch a rift?"

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"You look like you just escaped from something actively trying to eat and/or ignite you, I was assuming you were trying to get from point A, attack, to point B, not attack but also not C of A. --Or last time you were here wasn't this cycle and the springs are confusing, which would be reasonable, I'm told most of the layouts are less confusing than this one. I wouldn't know! Freshman."

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"I'm sorry, I have no idea what you're talking about."

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"If this is a masquerade breach it is objectively not my fault. Um. You...do not recognize the terms 'rift' or 'College of Arcadia,' am I correct."

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"I know the words..."

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"- did you say 'masquerade breach' -"

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"Yes. Humans not in the know are not supposed to be on campus, so it is not my fault if I said things I wasn't supposed to." 

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"- are you trying to figure out if we're magic, or something else?"

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Aadhya has been trying to hold the gigantic poison-tipped pike unobtrusively, insofar as this is possible, and isn't going to stop doing that yet, but it's nice to have a conversation topic about when she can put it down on the table.

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"That is absolutely what I am doing. Or, whether you knew about magic; if none of you were witches but you had cousins who were and knew that way it still wouldn't be a masquerade breach."

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"We're witches - or, well, wizards, but I guess some places they say witches -"

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"So you're patched into enough of a network for 'they say' but not so you've heard of the College of Arcadia--if I say Hawthorn Academia does that ring any bells--"

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"No - you guys? -"

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