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Sep 26, 2023 8:15 AM
marina lands on rescue

Marina Hiupio Inse Suimche used to be a researcher and teacher at White Lake Academy. She doesn't anymore, but she still visits the campus once a season to talk to her former colleagues and borrow books and read papers. And to get educational materials for her foster children, but not for this visit – her most recent, Teacai, passed her adulthood examination at 15 years old, and took on the name Temo. She's apprenticed to a builder now. 

Her Flowers practice gives her forewarning of the Open ritual gone wrong in the floor beneath her, but it doesn't do anything to protect her. She feels the ritual's energy pulling her towards it, and pushing her through the other side. 

She wraps her arms around herself and braces.

Where is she now?

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She finds herself in a short alley between two long, low buildings: from the signage and miscellaneous tools and furniture stacked and piled behind them, she may be able to gather that they're stores, and from the smell in the air, at least one must be a restaurant. It's early evening, dark enough that the lights dotting the backs of the buildings are lit and useful, but there's still some light in the sky as well; the air is just beginning to chill, suggesting that it's late spring or early summer in a temperate climate.


She has absolutely no idea where she is! And she has no idea what kind of place has enough wealth to afford all that lighting. Are they Fire artifacts? She can't tell, and she's too apprehensive to try and examine any of them more closely. She does gather that they're stores, even though she doesn't understand any of the signage or words.

She ought to find shelter or warmer clothes. It's the middle of summer where she came from, and she's wearing a loose long-sleeved seersucker shirt tucked into pants – full coverage so that mosquitoes can't get to her. It saves her from having to use Telepathy to tell them to go away. She also had a wide-brimmed hat to go along with it, but it got left behind.

She'll keep walking, hoping to find someone who's speaking Towan so they can translate for her, or find some sort of map or city office to orient herself with.


Heading to the nearer end of the alley takes her past the dumpster where the stores bring their trash.

There appears to be someone lying on the ground next to it, tucked halfway behind it in a way that makes them easy to overlook; from the way they're lying it seems unlikely that they're conscious.


She does a double take at them, but she does notice them.

Are they asleep? Are they intoxicated? Are they dead she will go over to them to check. Are they breathing?

"Hello? Are you okay?" she asks in Towan. It's a tonal language with lots of vowel clusters – the Earth language it's phonetically closest to is Vietnamese.



The person turns out to be a teenage girl with light skin and dark brown hair, looking very underweight; she's breathing, but doesn't wake when approached or spoken to, and something about the way she looks suggests that she's really not in very good shape even beyond the apparent malnutrition.


Oh dear. This very much does not look like someone who's intoxicated and passed out. She can't see any external injuries. There might be internal ones. 

She has no idea if there's a hospital nearby, or even if there is one in this village. She has no idea how big it is, even though it seems rich, and apparently she doesn't know the language here. 

Trying to do a major healing ritual on her, alone, is doable, but it will absolutely give her backlash. It will be embarrassing and humiliating. But she can deal with embarrassing and humiliating – this girl clearly needs help, and here she is, able to help her. 

She'll clear away the trash and other detritus around her body to try to make some semblance of a proper ritual space. This is a terribly dissonant space for Flowers workings, but she doesn't want to risk moving her, in case it jostles something inside her that makes her situation worse. 


Marina will take a few deep breaths before starting. She's done this ritual many times before, and she has very good Control. She turns her mind away from the repulsive smell of garbage and starts dancing. It's a very strenuous dance with lots of jumping and hopping – a mix between ballet and step dancing. It's good that the Way of Flowers is the Way of vigor, because there is no way she would be able to do this at 42 years old without physical enhancement. She doesn't keep any sort of fitness routine.

She thinks about the girl – she doesn't know her name, but she's around the age to be taking the adulthood examination. She thinks about her, well-fed, dancing with her, running, jumping, and she wills it. She feels the energy pour out from her, more, more, until her personal energy reserves are exhausted and she's channeling energy.

It's exhilarating. She feels the joy of Flowers as she channels: the Way of ecstasy, the Way of abundance, the Way of beauty. Yes, truly, beauty and goodness may arise even in this fetid, forgotten place. It's terrible. She knows that she's going to go into backlash the moment the ritual ends, and she is dreading it. But Marina is a disciplined and experienced ritualist, and she tucks that thought away into the back of her mind to be dealt with by her future self.

She dances, occasionally lifting the girl's hand up and holding it, as though they were a pair dancing during the Spring Festival. 


The girl stirs, and twitches away in startlement even before her eyes are open. She's soon looking at her newly-functional limbs in clear surprise and wonderment, though.


She'll continue the ritual for another minute more. Many Flowers rituals are open-ended, and you have to choose when to stop it. She doesn't want to end too early in case she didn't heal her enough – this space is very bad and she's definitely getting terrible efficiency ratios.





She stops the ritual and bursts into tears. Marina will kneel next to her, and very carefully place her head on her lap, and brush her hair with her hands. "It's okay. I'm here. Marina's here. I love you. You're not alone anymore," she says in Towan, in the same tones a mother would use to soothe a crying baby. She radiates relief and affection and concern, both figuratively and literally. Denice will be able to feel the emotions coming off of her.


The girl flinches and tenses when Marina touches her, but doesn't struggle, and physically relaxes after a moment, though she's still quite worried and confused at the situation and not really letting her guard down. After a few seconds it occurs to her to pat Marina's knee and murmur something comforting back.


Marina smiles when Denice pats her knee, but she doesn't stop crying. She's crying silently, with the tears just rolling off of her face. She continues brushing Denice's hair with her hands, and she starts humming. It's the melody to one of the slow dance folk songs played at the Spring Festival. 

She doesn't feel tired at all. In fact, she feels even more energized that when she started. She can still feel the Flowers energy flowing through her.

She will start babbling in Towan about being worried about her, and asking her why she was lying here, and how she feels, and what Marina can do for her, all in soft tones. She is, distantly, aware that she is acting very personal and friendly towards someone she met mere minutes ago, but that Marina is very far away and Flowers-energized Marina is in full control here.


It's pretty strange, but the woman just saved her life, so Denice isn't going to complain about a little strangeness. Maybe this is just what people outside of institutions are like, though if so it's odd that none of the TV she's seen has shown it. In any case, she'll stay still and quiet and be petted and keep watch for anyone headed toward the alley.

They get perhaps fifteen uninterrupted minutes, and then she hears one of the workers from one of the shops heading out for a smoke break, and pulls the strange woman behind the dumpster, gesturing for her to be quiet.


Marina is unfamiliar with the gesture, but the Way of Flowers is the Way of connection, and thus she successfully intuits what Denice is trying to say, though not why she needs to be quiet. Why should she be quiet about the affection and concern she has for her? The Way of Flowers is the Way of uninhibitedness – it demands to be able to ripen and flower into its full potential. But she does care about her, and so she'll be quiet. For now. And also let herself be tugged behind the dumpster.

Actually, there's a way for her to keep talking even though she has to be quiet! She's a Flowers Scholar after all. And they're touching, so it's cheaper.

She casts Telepathy. It's merely a mental action to cast it.

:Hello! I'm Marina. I was so worried about you.: And there is an accompanying rush of emotion – deep, deep, heartfelt worry, the same worry you'd feel about someone you love hurt, someone you love missing. It is genuine and intense.

Are you hurt? Are you still hurting?: And another wave of emotion, this time of empathy and sympathy and wanting to relieve pain, of not being able to bear seeing others suffer, because their suffering is your suffering. 

:Where are we? Why do we have to be quiet?:


...uh. Well, it's not like she didn't know that the woman was a cape or that capes sometimes have more than one power, she guesses. :Denice. I'm fine. Someone's coming.: Holding herself separate from the waves of emotion is hard, but obviously vitally important; it's not safe at all to trust a stranger like that, even a friendly one, and even if it was they can't afford to both be distracted. :Are you okay?:


:It is lovely to meet you, Denice.: She picks up on the undertones of danger behind Denice's mental thoughts, but Flowering Marina does not, on a deep level, understand why they have to keep quiet because someone is coming. Why can't they just say hello? But Flowering Marina also picks up on how important this is to Denice, and she wouldn't want to upset her.

Is she okay. Yes! She's better than okay. Wait. Actually she might not be okay? Her instincts from casting training tell her to separate herself and be alone so that backlash will resolve quicker, but that sounds terrible! And is it even true? What she's feeling now is real and true, and she thinks she trusts that more than something someone told her a while back.

She's very happy that Denice cares about her too!

:Yes! Better than okay.: Gratefulness over her reciprocating caring. :It took a lot of energy to heal you and this causes temporary mental changes in me. But that's okay, as long as you're safe.:


:I'm much better - I think you saved my life and I appreciate that - but it's not safe for anyone else to find me, they'll want to take me someplace bad. But they won't stay out here long if they don't notice us, and then we can leave. - I'm a cape too, super hearing, I can keep us away from people.:


Concern. :What is the bad place. Also, I don't know what a cape is: people can transmit more than words with Telepathy, and she's getting 'cloak, jacket' from that, but she can tell that that's clearly a metaphor and not the intended thing. Does it mean Practitioners? :and so I can't say whether I am one.:

:Super hearing! Are you a Flowers Practitioner like me too? Or Perfect? Or Open?: A jumble of concepts that she doesn't dwell on too much, but which Denice will get the gists of – connection, perfection, curiosity, respectively.


:The bad place is where I was before, and if I think about it very much I'll get too upset to keep us safe. Capes are people with powers, like Scion or Alexandria. Normal people can't talk in peoples' heads, so you're a cape. I don't know what flowers have to do with it, or those other things, I haven't had a chance to learn much. - she isn't looking this way, we can probably go now if we're careful, but I'd rather stay here until she's gone if you're okay with that.:


She feels the suppressed upsettedness and will not pry.

:I can wait until she's gone.:

Flowers backlash affects emotions, but it doesn't affect epistemics. For a moment, her academic instincts take over.

:Wait. I'm being stupid. I need to restart from a lower context prior.: And she carefully packages up and sends a bundle of concepts, neatly laid out, rather than merely shoving it at her.

There are Six Ways that correspond to the six natures of the soul: the Way of Flowers, the Way I follow, but also the Way of Tranquility, the Way of the Open Door, the Way of Fire, the Way of the True Self, and the Way of the Perfect Self.

People who follow Ways are called Practitioners.

Flowers Practitioners can cast Telepathy, which is how I'm talking to you right now.

I was visiting my university when I was transported here. I think it was from an Open ritual gone wrong. Openeds can do portal effects.

And then, in another bundle,

I don't know what capes are. I don't know who Scion and Alexandria are. I don't know the language here or where I am or whether I'll be able to get to see my children again or my friends or my—

and the structured transmission abruptly terminates as Marina has to clamp her hand over her mouth to stop herself from screaming and sobbing in fear and grief, because what if she can't get back.


And there goes any chance Denice had of dispelling the panic attack that's been lurking around the edges of her mind. She's quiet about it, hugging Marina tight and trembling, long practice having eradicated every trace of impulse to make a sound.


And Marina will embrace her in turn, both to comfort herself and Denice, the lines between them blurring. It takes her a minute before she has the wherewithal to terminate Telepathy and prevent their panic attacks from feeding off each other and creating a vicious cycle.

Her hands feel clammy and she can feel her hair sticking to her cheeks from sweat.

Wherever she is, there she is. The Way of Flowers is the Way of connection, and it grieves every bond broken. But she can make new ones here. The Way of Flowers is the Way of growth, the Way of healing, the Way of the teenager leaving home and becoming an adult in their own right. She will be strong for Denice, and for herself, and they will strengthen each other.




You can make backlashes end quicker if you do something contrary to the Way you're suffering backlash from. With Marina, she always told people to lock her up in a room for several hours and isolate her until the backlash resolves – this being the opposite of connection. Paralyzing grief and terror also works, apparently.


Denice doesn't respond to the change immediately; not feeling Marina's emotions so directly helps, but she can still hear in her breath and heartbeat and the tension of her muscles how upset she is, on top of Denice's own panic. She does at least manage to loosen her grip on the woman a bit, when she notices her starting to calm down.


Now Sane Marina reviews her memories of the recent events.

Okay. It could have been worse. At least she didn't get arrested for chasing her coworker through the campus for half an hour like the first time she got backlash.

Her mind-voice seems much more composed now. There's this feeling like she's poised and ready for anything, as though she could walk across the wetlands in heels and come out without a speck on her pants.

:I deeply apologize for what just happened. If you feel like I am or have acted too personal with you and would like me to stop physically touching you or would prefer for me to leave, I can do that.: She clearly is still Very Concerned for her, but it's not visceral and overpowering like before. And she would prefer not to leave, but she will totally adhere to whatever Denice decides. 

:Healing someone with only one caster takes a lot of energy, and it caused me to go into backlash. Flowers backlash manifests as feelings of love and affection and a need to be with other people and be close to them. Which explains what I did before.: And a sensation of her dying of mortification and embarrassment but she clamps down on that. 

:The backlash has resolved itself now, and I'm back to my normal self.:


Oh, that's. That's worse. This is an adult and she's going to be an adult about things and everything will be awful forever. If Denice was smart she'd run but she can't seem to figure out how to move. She does at least manage to un-hug - it feels a little bit like throwing herself directly into a bonfire, giving up the physical contact, but the alternative is much worse.


She can pick up that that did not help things and it actually made things worse and that is bad.

She will not resist Denice shifting herself so that she's not touching her.

:Did I upset you? I'm sorry. A lot of people are put off by people being overly close to them, and I don't know if you feel similarly.: Embarrassment, and also grief. :I don't know how anything works here. It seems like I've been transported someplace very far away. I hope that you would be able to help me, but you have no obligations to me – you don't have to.:

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