« Back
Generated: Aug 07, 2022 11:12 PM
Post last updated: Aug 07, 2022 11:28 PM
First afternoon of the rest of your life
More getting to know Arcadia
Permalink Mark Unread

Lenora replies back to the Sending asking about lunch pretty quickly.

Sure! I passed a place called Mama Grendel's that looks good. Eastern European I think?

[aroma.mem]

My treat (work opportunity went well!!)

Permalink Mark Unread

Ooh. That does smell good. Where is it?

Permalink Mark Unread

[sense-of-place.mem]

Permalink Mark Unread

She frowns and flinches slightly at each Sending. "I'm not going to get used to that for a while... I wonder if I can put it on silent for later or something..."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Ooh, good question. That would be helpful."

She starts skipping toward the restaurant, tails wagging.

Permalink Mark Unread

Abyssia follows, pensive.

The restaurant isn't far. It's on its own lot, with a cozy cottage feel thanks to a building that looks almost like a house more than a restaurant, and a nice garden. A handpainted wooden sign says 'Mama Grendel's - No Taste Like Home'.

Permalink Mark Unread

Lenora waves at them exuberantly, hand over her head, then rushes over. "How was the library?"

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable waves and bounds over, then scoops Lenora into a hug. "It was really great! But the the librarian we met is really strict. Really helpful though. Gave perfect directions to a particular book from memory."

Permalink Mark Unread

Yay hug! She lifts and spins Sable once before setting her down.

...She does an exaggerated shocked gasp. "Library magic."

Permalink Mark Unread

Heh. They're kind of cute like that. She chuckles and shakes her head slightly.

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable grins and giggles in response to the twirl, and gives Lenora a little kiss once she's been set down.

"It probably is! Now I wanna learn that too, oh no!"

Permalink Mark Unread

"There's plenty to learn. I still have to try some potion instructions... But for now, lunch awaits."

She heads for the entrance.

Permalink Mark Unread

She takes Lenora's hand and follows.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Eating food counts as destroying something, right? I will try to think of it that way, at least..."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Oh, that remiiiinds me. I need more mana, I used a lot of it at work just now actually." She gives Sable an expectant look.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Worth a try," she says to Bys.

And she meets Lenora's expectant look with a blushy grin, then pulls her closer, wrapping two tails around her, and burying a hand in her hair at the back of her head. Scritch, scritch, scritch.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Murrrrrthankyou."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Cuddlebugs," she says without heat. A bit longingly even.

 

Permalink Mark Unread

Lenora blushes but doesnt move away.

"'M kinda tired now, work, it turns out, is hard. But very well paying. I'm not complaining. I think I'll go back to the, um, the house after this."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Valid. Me too, for potions and... Let's go get seats."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Same," Sable says as she keeps cuddling her girlfriend. She looks around for reasonably private seating options, maybe a booth or something.

Permalink Mark Unread

There's booths and freestanding tables. The decor is kind of busy. Wood paneling, rugs and photographs all over the walls. A sign says to seat yourself. There's three other occupied tables, it's not so busy.

A middle aged looking woman approaches them. "Welcome, welcome! New faces I think! Glad to see you here. What can Mama Grendel get you all to eat, ah?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Um, is there a menu or..."

"Oh of course!" She answers, pulling three copies out from the inside of her robe. "Just give me a wave when you're ready. Drinks? We have very good lemonade!"

"I dunno." Bys looks at the prices on the menu and frowns. 5K, 8K, 6K, 12K...

Permalink Mark Unread

"Don't worry about the price. Seriously. My treat! I'll try your lemonade... Mama Grendel, right?"

She practically glows with the smile she gives in response. "Yes, I love talking to the customers. I have maid hand and some little helpers to help with the cooking. It's very nice."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Me too. Lemonade I mean."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Me three!"

She leans over and gives Lenora a kiss. "Thanks~"

Now what's on this menu?

Permalink Mark Unread

Steak dishes with tomato, cheese, egg, and ham, chicken dishes with butter and savory sauce and greens, "broomstick" dishes with a long loaf of rich-looking bread and a pile of sides at the base and dipping sauces, savory stews that sound mouthwatering, fish dishes with mushrooms and roasted onions and rye bread, Baklava and European style dumplings and other desserts. It all seems very homey, the portions look big from the menu's pictures, and almost everything has at least two kinds of meat in it.

Permalink Mark Unread

Oh this looks delicious. "I'll get the fish. This looks lovely! How long have you been doing this? You clearly have a passion for it."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Oh, ever since the war, dear. I do try my best, thank you. Fish it is! Need anything special with it? I don't think I've seen many like you, and you're not digicasted..."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Awww, thank you. Yeah, I'm Inkborn, and while I'm not sure if this is all of us or just me, I do need to have some ink with meals. Was planning on just having some when I got home, so no need to go out of your way if nothing's handy."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Hmph! And not serve a guest what they need? Nonsense, dearie. What makes good tasty ink?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"I'll have the steak and ham dish here. And maybe these pork dumplings. Cooked medium."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I'm feeling like soup. Chicken noodle? Classic and simple, you know. And some bread."

"Of course, of course!"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Well," she muses, scritching Lenora some more, "I've only tried two so far. Only awakened a few days ago. Cheap pens you get by the carton from the dimestore taste like cardboard, while high quality Japanese calligraphy ink tastes better than fine sake. Trying to generalize from that, I'd say the pigment makes the biggest difference — especially the... I guess the richness, if that makes sense? The solvents and binders probably matter too, but I'm gonna have to experiment to see how it all fits together."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Well don't you worry, Grendel will find something. Any requests, you two?" She smiles brightly at Lenora and Abyssia. The pair shake their heads.

"Okay then! It shouldn't be too long, I'll have your food out in a jiffy, dears. You want some bread or salad to share in the meantime?"

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable shrugs cheerfully. "I'm fine either way. Up to y'all."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yeah, let's have a salad."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yes, very good! And I throw in a small bonus for new students, some cookies. Lemonade and salad and cookies will come out soon!"

And Mama Grendel waves and turns to trot back into the kitchen.

Permalink Mark Unread

 

"This place is kinda... Something. It's nice, but I can see wanting to just eat something sometimes instead, I mean."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yeah, sometimes you wanna do something low-effort, where it's okay not to interact as much."

She giggles. "Yes, even me, there are times when I don't want to interact as much. Not many, though."

Permalink Mark Unread

"That's just life. Ups and downs..." She sighs happily, taking in the smells. She could tell just passing by, but this close its amazing. "Have a good library run?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Um." Glance at Sable. "Yeah. Did some research on consortation. Seems likely to be useful with care and moderation."

Permalink Mark Unread

"It does seem like we've got some safe angles on it. Also, Hell is even worse than I expected, and seemingly even for the demons."

Permalink Mark Unread

"...This isn't really lunch conversation." Sigh. "Can I talk about my job instead? And you should tell us more about sparring, Bys!"

Permalink Mark Unread

It is at this point that a heavily pixelated, stylized waitress zips past their table at high speed, perfectly depositing a large salad bowl, three individual plates and cutlery sets, and several bottles of dressing - all without slowing down in the slightest.

A bare moment later, she zips back with three glasses of lemonade.

Permalink Mark Unread

Bys double-takes.

"I thought that was you for a second!" She exclaims at Sable.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Oh wow, that's really cool! Is that what Digicasting can do?" She boggles a bit at the waitress.

Then to Lenora, "Sure, either or both of those!"

She scoops some salad onto her plate and pours a bit of a comparatively light dressing over it — a vinaigrette or something — then digs in.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yeah, it has to be digicasting. That's, um. I don't know her name, but she's from this mobile game, Diner Dash."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I guess digicasting is strong enough to create strong minions. I wonder what rank that is. Cool!"

She starts serving herself salad. "I wanna learn that. But I want to learn everything, so... What I did today was pretty cool actually, though. Apparently I'm good enough with rocks to like physically meld them. This company's now paying me to turn a bunch of gravel into pretty paving stones. They mixed something silvery and I think fool's gold in too, it's actually very pretty-"

shiny.png

"Isn't it?"

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable bounces in her seat and wags delightedly. After she (hurriedly) swallows her current bite, she gushes, "Oooh, that is so pretty! Now I'm wondering about eventually prettying up the house—damn it, Lenora, you're giving me ideas~!"

Permalink Mark Unread

"If it involves doing creatively difficult things to rocks, I'll totally help! It was a workout. Not, like, a real one, but a magic workout. I was doing Earthbending stances, but I need to watch it all again some time, get a better feel for it. Maybe I can digicast into Ba Sing Se."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I've got to watch this show some time if you gush so much."

Permalink Mark Unread

"You haven't watched Avatar?? What about Legend of Korra?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Nope. Just memes and clips."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I'm gonna correct that some day. It's a great show."

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable nods sagely. "'Sharing tea with a fascinating stranger is one of life's true pleasures.'"

Permalink Mark Unread

"What was that about martial arts having to do with this show?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"So the idea is that some people can bend the classical elements - manipulate them like witches can, I guess. One each. Except for the Avatar, who can do all four. But to do it they have to move their bodies and focus, and the styles are based on traditional martial arts..."

Lenora happily infodumps about Avatar: The Last Airbender and chats about martial arts, munching on salad, until the food comes out, delivered by Mama Grendel, about ten minutes later.

Permalink Mark Unread

A plate of exquisitely baked salmon is set before Sable, drizzled with a savory sauce, and topped with roasted onion and mushrooms, and a fresh-baked rye bun. On the side is a little dish of home-churned herb butter and a small bowl of rich-smelling ink.

Sable's jaw drops.

"This looks and smells delicious. The ink looks just lovely, too." She smiles gratefully at Mama Grendel. "Thank you!"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Of course! I didn't know how to best serve you, though. For this I apologize. You should come back some time so I can fix that."

Permalink Mark Unread

"That's so kind of you! I'd be glad to. That'll help me, too, 'cause I don't have the first clue how to start adapting my recipes to include ink either. No idea what kinds of ink go with what dishes at all." She gets out a pen and a scrap of paper to write down her email address. "Send me an email when you wanna try things?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Very well, very well. What about you two, what do you think?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Chicken noodle soup tastes like home. It's great, light but savory."

Mama Grendel practically glows.

Permalink Mark Unread

Bys closes her eyes to focus. She's destroying this meal.

She takes a bite of the steak, chews and swallows.

"-Yes. It's delicious. I didn't know how much I needed something tough to chew on until right now."

She samples the ham and straightens up. "Mmm!"

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable's taking her time, savoring everything. "Mmmmmmm~"

She tries a bite dipped in the ink and sighs happily, some bit of tension in her shoulders unclenching. "Oh this is good. This hits the spot. You did a good job with this ink. Dunno if it's the right pairing for salmon, we're gonna have to science that sometime, but it's seriously solid start. And the salmon is so lovely."

She takes another bite and makes a positively indecent sound.

Permalink Mark Unread

Abyssia is eating like a barbarian, fork spearing the meat and gnawing chunks off it directly.

"What even is this sauce? It's sort of like mustard but definitely not mustard."

"Family recipe! It's always so nice to serve good food. Fill you up and make you whole. Can I get you three anything else? Oh, and how are you finding Arcadia so far?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"I'm good, thank you," Sable says between bites. "And it's only been a couple days, but I like it so far."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Arcadia is nice, but not everything has been. It's bittersweet, and been a long few days. You seem like someone who'd get that. You mentioned a war..."

(Bys nods along to this)

Permalink Mark Unread

"Ahhhh. Yes." Mama Grendel shakes her head slightly. "...All I can say to you is, that was long ago and far away, and I'm happy now. I was young and angry and lost, and a great many things happened. It will never not have happened. But I'm happy now."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yeah. We all had a rough road getting here, but there are things we can enjoy going forward. Just have to grab hold of those opportunities as best we can."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yes, well, go on and eat! I've spent enough time blathering on and bothering you, enjoy you three and leave me to my old lady ramblings!" She laughs - a proper witch cackle, before turning away to another table where the patrons seem about done.

Permalink Mark Unread

And Sable digs in, snuggling close to Lenora while she eats, stroking her back with her tails to further top off her mana (as well as just enjoy the closeness), and at one point offering a bite of her fish.

Permalink Mark Unread

Lenora leans into the contact. Her tail winds around Sable's leg lightly as she sips at soup and relaxes.

Permalink Mark Unread

Cute.

...Too bad she's not a mimi. No, none of that. ...Well, maybe. It'd be embarrassing, but Lenora's lucky and has a relaxing time of it. It's cutesy, saccharine even, but-

She's kind of staring at them with a slight, considering frown. She shakes her head and sighs slightly and continues munching on veggies (the steak is half gone, she's saving the rest for the last part of the meal).

"We'll get used to this place in time," she says, mostly to herself.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Mmmmhm! Just as soon as you get used to the idea that you could have this too."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Hmph." She crosses her arms defensively and levels a glare. It's a light glare, as glares go, though. "It's not that... Straightforward."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Am I missing some subtext here?" She asks, having finished the offered bite of fish.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Nothing important."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Mhm, nothing important," Sable says with a giggle, "just Bys repressing her loneliness and longing under the mononormativity and slut-shaming mortal society tried to teach us, that's all."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I don't want to butt in! It's just, seems nice, that you like each other. Cute, I guess."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Hmmmm. You need hugs."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I do not Need hugs."

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable focuses for a few moments and conjures a spare Hat in her hand, under the table, while she keeps talking.

"I could argue the question of 'need' with the consequences of touch starvation, or the fact that even if none of us are 'human' anymore we're all derived from them and need interpersonal connection just as much, but even if we set 'need' aside, you crave them."

She tosses a Sending to Lenora:

Duck across to the empty spot between her and the wall when I distract her, then wrap her in a hug at the same time I do.

She lifts up slightly and slides her hat underneath herself, masking the motion by leaning in to look intently at Bys.

"You're in a new world, you've been isolated from everything you knew, you've been dealt an isolating hand, and you're surrounded everywhere you look by pretty people sharing warmth and affection and companionship. It's okay to want to be a part of that."

She pulls her primary Hat off her head and tosses it lightly over the table, catching it in her TK to have it end up hovering over the empty bit of Bys's bench seat between her and the open end. At the same time, she sits back down and falls through one Hat and out the other, landing next to Bys with a soft whumpf.

"It's also okay not to know how to ask, at least when you're still starting out."

And then she wraps her arms around Bys in a warm hug.

Permalink Mark Unread

Well if Sable insists, she will help with the hug! It's surprisingly easy to duck under the table. Perk of being small, perhaps.

She joins the hug from the other side, capturing the dragon. Heheh.

Permalink Mark Unread

She opens her mouth and manages a 'tch' when she realizes in a moment of half-formed instinct what they're about to do, but it's already too late to do anything about it. She is promptly hugged. Quite thoroughly.

She tenses, sitting up straight, and holds her arms close.

...

She sighs and slumps back, looking up at the ceiling. "That's the kind of roomies I picked, huh? Not everyone's so touchy-feely. Well, whatever." She pushes against Sable a bit, the hug-engulfed equivalent of a friendly shove. Her hands fall to the tail that's across her lap and she breathes deeply. "I'm fine, you know. Really am. You can stop hugging me now."

Permalink Mark Unread

She loosens the hug a little, but doesn't let go, and throws another quick Sending to Lenora.

Mind if I explain the nonexclusivity thing to her?

Permalink Mark Unread

Don't push too hard? I don't want to actually make her hate us.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Bys, I've seen the way you resist eying the hot springs. I've seen those occasional longing looks. You're used to resisting, used to holding yourself back because maybe your advances will be rejected and you'll lose a friend, used to a world that usually told you no."

She looks up into Bys's eyes. "Lenora and I had a talk about not being exclusive. She's already used to the possibility of sex being casual, while I'm polyamorous and full of more love than I know what to do with. Witch culture seems to be more sexual than the mundane world, too. So the barriers you're used to facing aren't there. And honestly? You're a good friend, I like you a lot, and I think dragons are hot."

And on "hot" she bounces up to kiss Bys on the cheek.

"You don't have to do anything you don't want to, or anything you're not ready for, but I don't want you holding back from a sense of not being allowed, either, okay?"

Permalink Mark Unread

She blushes deeply.

...Sigh. "It's not even about sex. Not entirely right at this moment anyway. Or if it is, only because everything is a tangled mess. Because I'm a teenager. And kind of a bitch. And how are we good friends? We've known each other for all of a day, you two seem sensible and fun, but a day."

She starts tugging away from the double-sided hug.

She blurts out the next part before she can think better of it, "Anyway, a threehug is way too lewd for my first time."

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable giggles happily and lets go. "Valid as fuck. You set the pace you want."

Permalink Mark Unread

She hums thoughtfully as she scoots back. "I make friends quick. I get attached easy. And you seem pretty great, after I account for the lies the stupid aura is trying to tell my brain. Take all the time you need, but don't let the mortal world's bullshit hold you back from something you want, okay?"

Permalink Mark Unread

Lenora un-hugs as well. And then clambers under the table again when it's still kind of crowded.

"I see both of y'alls points here. Cautious and not wanting to jump into things and screw up or get hurt... Taking things moment by moment and just having fun. Honestly... I really feel both sides here. I'm coming down closer to Sable's side than you, but yeah. Valid as fuck."

Permalink Mark Unread

 

"Yeah, well."

 

"Let's just finish eating for now. I'll think about this stuff."

 

"...You were a waitress, Lenora? I was just a high school girl. Senior year, the scary loner stalker, or the trashy country girl, set to go to a community college. General studies. Maybe business, maybe some sort of science. I guess I wasn't really any less lost a month ago, than I am now."

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable walks back around to her seat. "Yeah, I get that feeling. I hated high school. Trans girl with basically no friends in person, not until college, and even then only the other creative writing nerds. So it's okay to be lost, and it's okay to ask for help, and it's okay to take your time."

She spears a bite of fish. "And It's okay to enjoy the hell out of this delicious food." And digs in again.

Permalink Mark Unread

"We're swearing a fucking lot today aren't we."

Permalink Mark Unread

"-Pffft! Hell yeah we are. It's our right to free speech. Also yes, high school was hell."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Maybe point one, point two Hells. It's pretty bad."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Hah. Fitting metric, and fuck yes we are. I am not a Saturday morning cartoon. More Adult Swim at the minimum, or maybe something you had to order online."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I'd order you online! Wait no, that came out creepy..."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Because of being in Japanese and using foreign tropes, or because of questionable rating standards made up by conservatives or both?"

Permalink Mark Unread

She cackles delightedly at Lenora's comment, "no, please do," and grins at Bys and just says "Yes."

Permalink Mark Unread

She smiles and hums the Pokemon theme song under her breath, and also resumes digging in.

Permalink Mark Unread

"I don't want to take away peoples' choices. I guess sometimes it's for their own good - or for others, like criminals, but it just sounds creepy, you know?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yeah, I get that. Choice matters. It's important. At the same time, I'd rather be tangled up in someone I can help than have 'completely free choice' with no one around. All my choices come back to getting involved with people, at the end of the day."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Mom told me, whatever life throws at you, you can always choose to be nice. It's not like anyone's ever completely free, anyway. Bound to the almighty dollar - or Kisses, I guess. Or, you know, kisses, if you care a lot about that, or any number of other drives... Oi, enough depressing stuff. Let's talk about something fun. Like... Music!"

Permalink Mark Unread

The-Very-Best.wav

She transmits, smirking as her clear memories of the vocals come through.

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable nods at Lenora, then giggles at the fond memories. "Okay, what was your favorite game of the series?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"I played a lot of them. Ruby, I guess, but that might be mostly nostalgia."

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable bounces and grins. "Sapphire, for me. Hoenn was my favorite region in any case, but I had to have Latias."

Permalink Mark Unread

"We couldn't really afford to get lots of new ones. I've played Yellow and Ruby through like ten times, though."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Understandable. I wouldn't have been able to play as many as I did without rampant piracy."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Oh, Nintendo absolutely hates that. Heh. I do download old abandoned games sometimes. Ones you literally can't buy."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yeah, I have no pity for Nintendo. It's even worse, now, because my Inkborn nature seems to explicitly prioritize cultural reach over sales, so piracy is literally just as good for me."

She sighs softly. "And yeah, I hate when games get completely lost. I'm glad piracy helps make up for some of that, but sometimes we don't get to 'em in time, and that sucks."

She shakes her head. "Bah, no point dwelling on that. What's your favorite piece of abandonware?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Oregon Trail."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Ooh, I know that one! They let us play it in computer lab if you typed fast enough."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Same! Favorite part of elementary school."

Permalink Mark Unread

They keep chatting about games and music as the food steadily disappears. The lemonade is very good.

Permalink Mark Unread

When it's all done, Lenora insists on paying up for everyone, and actually argues with Mama Grendel to be allowed to tip, from what can be overheard.

Permalink Mark Unread

This display of generosity earns Lenora a squeeze and a kiss on the cheek from Sable, and soon enough the group find themselves outside the restaurant once more.

Permalink Mark Unread

"We're all going back to the house, right? I want to make a potion, Lenora wants a break. I guess I don't know about you, Sable."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Hmm... Probably need at least a bit of a break myself, and at some point probably some studying of my own."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Housewards it is. I don't really feel like walking, but too bad. Still need to see about my Mothergifts too, come to think... I don't have the talent for it like you two. Yet, possibly."

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable nods. "It's probably a 'yet', nearly everybody has 'em, and most people can advance their skill with 'em at least a bit. After we get home, I could pull up the visualizations I looked at when I was learning how, found 'em on HexVPN."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Kind of pointless until I do what the boss man wants, as I understand it. But can't hurt, I guess."

Permalink Mark Unread

"If I remember it right, it said that nearly everyone should be able to at least summon 'em, though at absolute zero-rank it'll take ten minutes of focus. So it'll be informative, I think."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Sounds like a plan." She smiles.

Permalink Mark Unread

"I'm still feeling largesse-y. And kind of antsy but also tired. Might go shopping for stuff... After a nap. Maybe rune supplies or potion supplies."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Maybe you could rest your head in my lap while you nap, get all snugly wrapped up in my tails? I could study while you rest."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Oh, that sounds really comfy."

Permalink Mark Unread

It really does. ...Pillows will have to do.

Permalink Mark Unread

Was that another Look from Bys? Maybe? Hard to say. Probably not, she can overmatch these patterns sometimes. Maybe she'll widen the casual swish of her tails a bit wider, to a potentially teasing angle, but that's conveniently deniable too, and innocent enough in any case.

"That sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon then."

She reaches out and takes Lenora's hand with a smile.

Permalink Mark Unread

The rest of the walk home can be made in peace. It's pleasantly gloomy and drizzling lightly in Scotia, but she doesn't mind.

"I'm gonna use the computer room, see ya later."

Permalink Mark Unread

Lenora sighs in relief and stretches repeatedly, not intending to show off but trying to get all the major tendons.

Permalink Mark Unread

Certainly has the result of showing off. Sable makes sure to grab her books from Bys's bag before her roommate heads off, and adds "visualizations were linked from the Mothergifts article on Witchipedia," as she goes.

And then she wraps her girlfriend up in a snug, tail-wrapping hug. "Where d'you wanna snuggle up, hon?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Bed's softer, but couch is more convenient for you... Hmm..."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Bed lets me put the books I'm not studying at the moment on my desk, and couch isn't that much more convenient."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Oh right, Maid Hand. Bed it is."

She hugs Sable and nuzzles her neck.

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable savors the hug for a moment, nuzzling into Lenora as well, and then has an idea. Sure, she's shorter than last time, but so's Lenora, and she shouldn't be notably weaker than when the was full-size, and she could do this before — wait though, cartoon strength should Just Work™ as long it's something that makes narrative sense for her archetype? Fuck it, she's trying this.

She bends her knees, leans forward, and scoop! Up Lenora goes into a princess carry, while a Maid Hand takes the books and heads to her room ahead of them.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Eep!"

"...Onwards fair steed, to the place of repose and restoration!"

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable giggles and carries Lenora upstairs. When they get into Sable's bedroom, volume one of Wibbly Wobbly is on the bed, while the other two books are on the desk. A few decorations seem to have come with her from her old place: a fanmade poster of June Egbert and Vriska Serket back to back with mad grins on their faces, a Re:Creators poster featuring Setsuna and Altair, and a little fountain sitting on her desk.

She sets Lenora down gently on the bet and kisses her sweetly.

Permalink Mark Unread

She leans up into the kiss, then back down with a deep yawn. "Falling asleep with you rubbing my ears will be like... You falling asleep while I brush your tails." She squirms a bit happily and pats the bed for Sable to sit. "Just so cuddly and nice."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Then that sounds like exactly what I'm aiming for."

She hops onto the bed, all the way to one side, and pulls a bedside table a bit closer, then sets the book, a notebook, and a pen on it. Then she bunches some pillows up behind her back and leans back against the wall, her tails all stretched out toward the other side of the bed. She pats her lap invitingly.

Permalink Mark Unread

Head goes flop, with the rest of her laying on the bed perpendicular to Sable. She yawns again and looks up slightly with a frown. Kicks off her shoes and lifts her legs up to peel off socks as well. Then flop again, eyes drifting shut.

"Thanks for being..." Vague handwave.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Always. Like you a lot, Lenora."

Tails wrap snugly around the girlfriend, one in easy reach to be hugged. One of Sable's hands scritches tenderly along the back of Lenora's ear.

Permalink Mark Unread

Hug the tail: Yes. She sighs happily and her breathing slowly evens out and slows.

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable sighs warmly as well, her scritching slowing down a bit, but continuing as Lenora falls asleep. Yeah, she really likes this girl. She spends a few minutes just savoring the cuddle, the affectionate contact giving her a bit of a mana refill herself (she did spend a little on some silliness and drama earlier), and then starts studying, taking careful and thorough notes on the mechanics of Portals, from the fundamental spatial curvature involved to the shape of the mana when opening an aperture, happily spending her time like that until Lenora wakes up.

Permalink Mark Unread

She kicks in her sleep a few times, shifting afterwards.

...She'll sleep for a while if nothing particularly interrupts, even in day clothes, er, robes, this is an astoundingly comfy spot to be in for some reason.

Permalink Mark Unread

After about three hours of delightfully cuddly studying, Sable decides to stop before her brain turns as wibbly-wobbly as the spacetime she's studying. She closes her books, stretches a bit, and gazes down happily at her girlfriend. This is pretty damn great.

She leans forward and pecks a gentle kiss to Lenora's cheek.

Permalink Mark Unread

Yaaaaaawn. She lifts her head and blinks blearily, then slowly shifts, tail unwinding from where it wrapped around one of Sable's tails. She hugs her hugged tail tighter, making a tired but happy noise.

"A nice way to wake up, instead of a blaring alarm. Oof, how long was I out?"

Permalink Mark Unread

She has a tiny happy shiver at the tighter tail hug, then pokes her phone. "Looks like it was about three hours?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Oh wow, that's more than a little nap. Sorry, ehehe. I guess I was more tired than I thought."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Nothing to apologize for, sweetie. Was a really nice study sesh," she says with a smile.

Then she tilts her head thoughtfully and frowns a bit. "And you're probably still making up the sleep debt of service industry life."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I mean... It was a running joke that we had 'sleep' 'schedules'." She makes air quotes with a finger. "And needed coffee to be basically functional..."

Hrmm. She shifts her legs off the bed and slowly starts to sit up. "...You make a nice blanket."

Permalink Mark Unread

She nods at the service industry commentary and adds, "It was similar when I worked retail, before I started taking writing jobs. Schedule gets weird? Too bad." She shakes her head at that.

Permalink Mark Unread

And at the blanket comment she blushes and grins. "I'm glad. You're pretty delightful to cuddle with too."

Permalink Mark Unread

"What, you mean you didn't check the modified schedule the manager scrawled on the door at 11 PM Sunday night, and missed your Monday shift? Shame. On. You." She enters a period of frustrated, high pitched and surprisingly mouselike mutter-squeaking.

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable nods, then reaches in and cups Lenora's cheek. "You're really pretty when you're righteously angry at how awful capitalism is," she says when the interrupt lands, and then leans in and kisses her.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Um! That's not capitalism though, it's just a terrible manager."

She rocks from side to side sitting up on the bed.

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable leans back a bit and takes Lenora's hand. "I've seen an awful lot of terrible managers, but we can get into how much of an absurd leftist I am another time. Are you okay? I'm sorry if that was too far or something."

Permalink Mark Unread

"...Entering serious mode."

She takes a deep breath and un-hugs the tail. "Being pretty is supposed to be a good thing, but mostly it's just... A thing? Context matters a lot here. I like you, and you know that. But I also have a whole new body I'm not used to, and I can't get the old one back. Was the old one pretty? Yeah, kinda. Enough that people are casually sexist about it, at least. Anyway it's nice to be called pretty, it just also calls up lots of related stuff. You're pretty too, though the stylization is a little incongruous - aaaand I guess I might be bringing up the same stuff."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Okay. Serious time it is. First, I'm sorry for reminding you of that, that's definitely something that could be stressful. I forgot that the service industry would naturally be full of casual sexism like that, even more than just the world in general, so you've probably seen a lot of that. I was aiming to maybe pleasantly surprise you a bit and take your mind off the old stressors, but instead I reminded you of more of them. My bad, seriously.

"As for being called pretty myself, I have stuff about it too. Different stuff, though. I'm trans, Lenora. I grew up thinking 'pretty' was something i wasn't allowed to be, all on the basis of societal baggage about my assigned gender."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Everyone has hangups I guess. Different ones from each other, even. And I feel like I've said it a million times today but there's just so much going on now. New body. Magic. New house. Back to school. Wow you have The Strong Magic. New scary facts about the world and big questions. Fucking gods being real! How are you supposed to know what's the right thing to do with so many curveballs at once? And the new body and new life loom larger than all the rest of the huge stuff somehow..."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yeah. Curveballs a-plenty. Hit what we can, I guess, and for the rest? Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge. I have two days of wiki-diving's headstart in learning about this madhouse, and I still have no idea what I'm doing. I'm just running on 'find people I like, grab hold of 'em, and get us as much fun and level-grinding as I can' while I make the rest up as I go along. Frankly 'keep running and figure out the route as you go' has been my pattern for a long time."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I mean, that's called life." Hug. "You do what you can with what you have. You make friends. You try things and sometimes they work."

Permalink Mark Unread

Hug. "Heh, yeah. It's a mess and becoming Witches doesn't seem to change that, just add new flavors for it to be complicated in. Oh well."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I'm honestly... Kind of mad about the Veil. There must be some trade between mundane and magic, but there's so much potential here... I guess there might not be that many witches, especially strong ones, in comparison..."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I know, right? We could do so much for the mundane world, alleviate so much human suffering! I think I read something about needing mundane consensus reality for some reason, but still."

Permalink Mark Unread

"What you can, with what you have."

"Kinda want to go back asleep - or something - but should we go see what Abyssia is up to?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Probably a good idea, but you've piqued my curiosity with that 'or something' now."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Like I said earlier, I'm just really antsy and also worried I'll be a mediocre witch."

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable hugs Lenora tighter, wrapping her tails around her. "Hey, that's a really relatable worry, and a really understandable one. But also I disagree completely. It's day two of witchdom for you, and you've already made some money, created extremely pretty paving stones, and discovered that you're basically the Avatar. You're starting at a level of capability that other witches feel accomplished to even reach. Give yourself some credit and some slack, sweetie."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Brain does what brain wants. Let's go see Bys."

Permalink Mark Unread

Abyssia is in the kitchen, fussing over a cauldron - well, a pot - and surrounded by a slight mess. In two bowls off to the side lie something white and green, and a bowl of pepto bismol pink liquid that is also glowing, with trails of light on nearby surfaces.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Valid," she says to Lenora, giving her one last squeeze as they get up,

Permalink Mark Unread

"Oooh," Sable exclaims to Bys with a delighted grin. "You've been busy!"

Permalink Mark Unread

She jumps slightly.

"-Oh hi. Yes. I trawled recipes until I found interesting looking ones that we had the stuff for. That's toothpaste, that... Glows, that's all it does. And I'm finishing this like, and soap slash antiseptic thing. I think there's an order to this and it's not just willpower and belief, but it kind of feels that way..."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Very cool. And I'm sure there is, but I can totally get how it would feel like that."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Is making your own toothpaste any easier than just going and buying some?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Not really? This stuff won't dry out or expire, apparently, and it's good toothpaste, but yeah it doesn't scream magic. But it's practice for more, bigger potions later."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Makes sense! You'll get there. And I'm sure there are things that are probably hard for us to go back to the mundane world to get that can be replaced with potions."

Permalink Mark Unread

"It's pretty relieving that I can actually do some productive magic, being honest.

I might try to summon an imp later, just to talk to one. See if it's - I don't know, but I feel like I should try it."

Permalink Mark Unread

"If you don't let them do anything evil and it doesn't, like, mark you as infernal or anything..."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Nothing I've read indicates that practicing consortation is harmful if you're careful about what deals you make. And anything summoned is bound here by my mana - I can send it away."

Permalink Mark Unread

"...Sloth? We can ask some questions about Hell and pay by letting them be not in Hell and do nothing for a while."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I was thinking Lust. Internet access. But that works too."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Either should be easy enough. Oh, did you get a chance to try summoning your mothergifts?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yeah, the magic internet told me how. They're the really basic kind. I can broom and wand my Rod. I don't see much point to wearing the robe and hat unless they can do things for me, though. Flew to the hot spring down the creek a bit and back, kind of slow but faster than walking."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Hey, that's a start. Room to grow. You'll get there. Want company for the summoning?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"I'm not even sure what questions to ask, so may as well." It'd feel oddly safer to have... Friends there. Friends, huh. Hopefully they are.

Permalink Mark Unread

Well, if the way Sable's tails have unconsciously curled affectionately around both Bys and Lenora is anything to go by, signs look pretty positive.

"Sounds good. Glad to help. Soon as you're done with this one, then?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yeah. It's, uh, combo disinfectant and soap, for scrapes and cuts. Gonna bottle it properly."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Hey, that one does sound very handy! If you feel potiony again later, some burn cream just in case might be nice before I start playing with fire. For practice, of course."

Permalink Mark Unread

"If you cover some ingredient shopping, sure. I don't have infinite mana. I think this is about done, anyway."

She sprinkles a bit of salt into the mixture and starts stirring.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Sounds fair."

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable nods and smiles.

Permalink Mark Unread

Lenora shrugs and goes about Maid Handing the kitchen clean, after confirming what Bys still needs and what can be put away.

Permalink Mark Unread

She decants the new potion into several mini-size Mason jars. And labels them with a Sharpie. The glowy potion gets put in jars too, "Might as well keep it as a decoration. Anyway, summoning... In the 'garage', I guess? We'll need some fire, but they said witchflame works fine," she nods at Lenora, "And getting thematic with the circle and decorations doesn't hurt."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Awesome. Which do you wanna go with? I'll see what I've got to help with theming."

Permalink Mark Unread

"The options for 'relatively harmless' were sloth or lust and I know which of those two is less embarrassing," she says, shifting uneasily a bit.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Noooo, embrace the lewds~," she says with a giggle. "You know you want to~."

Permalink Mark Unread

But then she puts on a more serious smile and nods. "I'll go grab some blankets and snacks. Maybe some chips. That oughta make a nicely lazy vibe."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Pizza, or is that more a gluttony thing?" She wonders as she follows Sable to go help.

Permalink Mark Unread

She takes a deep breath and follows her reference material to create an R1 circle. Pentagram in salt, with sigils at the five points and open spots for witchfire.

Permalink Mark Unread

Blankets carefully wrapped around in an outer circle of snuggliness around the rest, snack foods at five opposing points outside the blankets.

Permalink Mark Unread

After soliciting a bit of Witchflame from Lenora, she sits crosslegged outside the circle, twists her magic and - connects, there, yes. She pulls, a line tossed out into the Hellish sea, a thin and weak one suitable for all the minnows, resting there waiting to be snapped up.

A few seconds pass.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Is it... Working?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yes. I thought it would be instant as well, but it is sloth imp, I'm trying for here."

Permalink Mark Unread

A few seconds after that, there's a swirl of black energy, and a short, grey-skinned creature appears. Naked save for a rough rag, looking clammy and pale and creepy. He looks around, shrugs, and flops back on one of the blankets.

"Hoo boy, at least you're rolling out the welcome wagon. New summoner? Feels like it. Hiya. Sure you were aiming for me? Not wrath, miss dragon, or gluttony for all the snacks? Anyway, what'cha want? I hope it doesn't involve too much work."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Just have some questions. General Hell knowledge type things."

Permalink Mark Unread

"I'll answer a buncha questions but you gotta pay up first, you know. Leave me summoned here with the snacks and the blankets for a couple hours, that's plenty of time for a nap and some lounging."

Permalink Mark Unread

"What's a lazy afternoon without snacks, right?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yeah, you got it! I get a break, you get some questions answered, everybody wins."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Makes sense. I'm gonna want some numbers on that, though. An hour and a half of downtime plus the snacks, and you spend, say, up to twenty minutes answering some questions and then help me brew a relatively complex potion, how's that sound?"

Permalink Mark Unread

The imp sighs dramatically. "Come on, you're killing me here. What's the harm in just letting me be a while longer?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"My mana's keeping you here. You obviously want to be here, lounging around, instead of back in Hell and I try for another imp, right? I know I'm not giving you a good deal, but I'm not giving you a bad one either. Oh, and I'll be reading off terms in a bit, all standard."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Ughhhh. Fine, fine. Up to twenty minutes of questions, helping you brew a potion for at most one hour. In exchange for at least an hour and a half free time, alone, in here. And only if you turn up the heat with a bit more witchfire so I can coze properly."

Permalink Mark Unread

She starts reading off the recommended terms for Sloth Imps from Modern Standards in Consortation

Permalink Mark Unread

She spreads out more witchfire - carefully intending for it not to consume and spread. It's practice, either way.

Permalink Mark Unread

She stretches and yawns dramatically, looking exceptionally cozy and snuggly with her tails wrapped around herself, just to tease the imp a little.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Those tails look awfully snuggly, miss. You want to literally and not metaphorically sleep together?"

Permalink Mark Unread

"-I was laying out terms." Bys says, annoyed.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Yeah, but you're stuffy and boring and gonna make me work."

Permalink Mark Unread

She giggles. "Thanks but no. You're annoying my friend here, and besides I'm going shopping with my girlfriend. You'll have to settle for the blankets and snacks and work."

Permalink Mark Unread

"Eh, fine. Continue." He waves negligently at Abyssia.

Permalink Mark Unread

She finishes laying out the terms - basically not to cause trouble or deliberately hurt anyone - and repeats her offer.

Permalink Mark Unread

"Deal. Now get outta here and turn the lights off when you go. Pleaaaase."

Permalink Mark Unread

She gets up and follows the girls out, tail flipping the lightswitch as she goes.

Permalink Mark Unread

She sets an alarm for ninety minutes. "I could use a nap myself, honestly. See you two later."

Permalink Mark Unread

She nods at Bys as she goes, then turns to Lenora. "Y'know, I could go for some quiet time myself. Y'wanna put shopping off until later?" She waggles her eyebrows playfully.

Permalink Mark Unread

She raises one eyebrow, and then smiles.

"You know what? It's the weekend. We can do whatever we want."

Like, for example, stepping closer and gently petting those fluffy tails.

Permalink Mark Unread

Sable blushes and smiles, a slight shiver whipping through her at the sensitive touch, wrapping her tails around Lenora and pulling her even closer.

"And do you know what you want?", she asks with a bit of a grin.

Permalink Mark Unread

She takes Sable by the hand, gives her a quick kiss, and then starts dragging her toward her bedroom.