Part 11: Mudslinging PreparationsChapter 9: Mudslinging Preparations
"Virginia doesn't deserve any ordinary prank," I add, to Donald's sudden bewilderment, "she needs something special. You know Balthasar Brundrick?"
"Toad Hall guy, covers his face all the time?" Donald asks. "Yeah, I know him."
"Right!" I reply. "Well, he was Virginia's Initiation senior, and he's kind of weird."
"So?" Donald asks again. "He's a Toad, they're all weird."
"Oho, that does sound good, but what about this stuff?" Donald says, holding up his 'present'. "It's too good to waste, and once she opens it, she'll know it's from me- it's hardly the kind of thing you give as a present."
I give Donald the most twisted grin I can manage. "Oho, but it will!"
Donald looks at me, surprised, then breaks into a wide grin. "Mary, you're a genius!"
"Well, I try," I say with perfect modesty as I fetch a pen. "Might want to customize it a little more though," I tell him, and he nods.
"Excellent!" I say. "Now, leave it outside the door and I can claim I didn't know anything about it."
"Cool," Donald replies, grinning at me.
I open the door, and see Virginia looking down at the box in front of the door. "Don't open it! Don't even touch it, really!" I tell her. When she looks at me quizzically, I add, "Donald left you something really gross as a gag gift."
"Sneaky!" Virginia laughs. "So what's in the box? Catfood? Smelly socks?"
"...you don't want to know. Seriously," I reply.
"Worse than Donald's socks?" Virginia asks incredulously. "Wow, that is bad."
"I know," I reply. "Anyway, don't tell him I told you. Heck, don't say anything at all- pretend you never saw it and play dumb. It'll drive him crazy."
"I like the way you think, Mary!" Virginia replies- then suddenly narrows her eyes.
I can't have been the only one thrown for a loop here, could I?
Wait, what? "Why would I want to trick you?" I ask. "You're my friend- who are you going to trust? Donald or me?"
"The box says it's from Balthasar," Virginia points out. "Donald doesn't know Balthasar- not personally, at least."
"That's because I told him," I say. "To help set up the prank."
"Wait, this was YOUR prank?" Virginia asks, eyebrows raised.
"...seems a little complicated," Virginia says, and I nod.
"Exactly!" I reply exultantly. "It was just complicated enough to make him believe I wouldn't go through all that trouble just to betray him, and not complicated enough that I couldn't explain everything to you like I'm doing now!"
Virginia's look of bewilderment only grows deeper as she replies, "But it wasn't complicated at all- he wanted to play a prank, and you double crossed him."
"See?" I point out. "Complicated in its complex simplicity!"
"So really, what is it?" Virginia asks, apparently eager to change the subject.
"Poo," I reply.
"...I'll just throw this stuff out then," she replies.
"Please and thank you!" I say.
The entire outcome of this section (which you get by staying indoors on the 30th) depends on your relationship with Virginia- she'll only believe you if your relationship was a positive one, based on any gains made from previous decisions. Also, the reason for Mary's slight loopiness here is A) because she gains 5 weird, and B) because I had a weird dream about it last night after I went to bed post screenshot collection. I hope you lot are happy.
The next day, I walk into Professor Potsdam's Black Magic class, the second time I did so since coming to Iris. Some of the students look a little surprised to see me there; Raven in particular thought it odd to start studying different magic after a test- maybe she thought I'd failed something? Whatever, it didn't really matter. Professor Potsdam seems pleased though, especially since I managed to pick up the basics on what they were doing so quickly.
It's nothing more than an extension of my magical senses, but attuned to nonliving material; apparently their static nature made them far easier to to analyze than living beings- vitality messes magical inspections up something awful. Things get interesting after class though, when Donald catches up with me in the hall.
"Hey, I never did anything to you!" I tell him.
"Wha- no, I'm serious! No pranks this time, especially since I think I'm losing my touch," he grumbles. "I saw Urchin walking about like I never even pranked her!"
"Maybe she's just trying to get you uncomfortable?" I suggest. "You know, pretend that the prank never happened so it gets under your skin?"
"Maybe," he admits. "But I can't really see her doing that- she's the kind of girl who'd look for revenge," he says, before shaking his head. "Anyway, about those easy merits...?"
"Yeah, sure," I say. "But if you prank me, I'm fighting back, just so you know."
"I won't expect anything else," he laughs, as he leads us outside.
"Oh, there you are~!" Professor Potsdam says as she walks up. "I see you've brought a friend, Donald! Oh, it does my heart good to see two students working together!"
It seems that when the time comes, I might not be able to overwhelm her at 2:1 odds- clearly I might need a bigger army in the future. In any case, I simply nod in acknowledgement; I cannot betray the Revolution just yet, not to mention start up said Revolution- after I get those merits. And maybe tomorrow.
"It's all right if you do a little damage; just keep them in one piece and they'll be fine! I'll be coaxing these new ones back to health once we get them to their new nests," she adds. What next? Have us dress up in green robes with skulls on them and start chanting to the Dei Lignis. "I'll be back in an hour to see how you've done~!" she tells us.
I originally wrote this out, but I thought that people would think it was an embellishment. It's not- Professor Potsdam really is some kind of fae princess.
I scowl. "So we're digging up plants and putting them into new pots," I say. "You dragged me all the way out there for this. Good prank."
"Thanks," Donald grins, "but I really can't take credit- I really didn't know what Potsdam was planning." Suddenly, he lifts his nose up in the air and begins speaking in the weirdest falsetto I have ever heard, and I listen to Lonely Island, so that's saying something.
I couldn't help it- I broke down in giggles. A moment later, so did Donald, and even as we began working, the guy kept on joking. Maybe Virginia had cause to dislike the guy- as far as I could see though, Donald wasn't all that bad.
As for the work itself- eh, digging up plants is messy stuff, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't all that different or difficult than the stuff I used to get up to as a kid; making mud pies in the garden, digging up creepy-crawlies and putting them near our plants so that they'd aerate the soil there, that kind of stuff.
"So, you do any gardening at home?" I ask, as we're finishing up.
"Mowed a few lawns, watered the plants once in a while, that's it," he shrugged. "I don't mind- I like outdoorsy stuff. Luke didn't want to get dirt under his nails, but I'm glad you were."
"Luke?" I say, with as much sincere hurt as I could manage. "So... I wasn't your first?"
"What? Of course not, Luke's my pal," he says, honestly bewildered.
"That's... that's all right," I say in a hurt whisper. "If you and Luke are... then I wish you two the best..."
"What? WHAT?!" He says, practically gagging. "No! We're not like that! What would make you think-" he begins, then he sees me look at him with sad eyes, struggling to keep my breath in check. "Wait, are you- you and me- you thought-" He gulps, and asks, "...are you coming on to me?"
I say nothing at first. Instead I walk over to him slowly. His breath seems to have caught in his throat, and even through his dusky skin I see the faint hint of a blush, a suspicion confirmed when I cup his cheek in my hand and draw my face close to his, so close I can feel the brush of his breath on my lips. I look deep into his gray eyes, and I say-
Then I give him the goofiest smile I have before wheeling away from him in uproarious laughter, slapping my knees. When I look back at him, his face is contorting into the most hilarious shapes as he's trying to formulate an answer.
"You- why- you- why-" he babbles incoherently for a few minutes, then bursts into laughter too. "Damn, Mary, that was awesome!" he says between gasps of breath. "You really had me going there!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I tell him, rubbing the tears from my eyes. "It just came over me, I'm sorry!"
"Don't be!" he says, waving my protests off. "That's how the best pranks happen anyway! You ought to be proud- you've got a natural touch!" he laughs.
"Did I hear someone say 'natural touch'?" we hear Potsdam call out. Then she takes a look at our work- if her smile grew any wider, the top of her head'd fall off. "Oh, that's wonderful~! Ten merits each for my little gnomes!"
Well, not bad for an hour's work, I thought.
The actual interlude between the work getting done and Potsdam arriving is a plain conversation about snails, believe it or not.
The next day was my second time in Red Magic class, and Grabby doesn't seem too pleased I am interrupting his class so late- mind you, he looks that way all the time. That being said though, he waits until the end of the class to offer his usual commentary. "Oh, and Miss Sue?" he says. "I see you have finally decided to grace us once more with your presence. And here I thought you were too good for the vagaries of Red Magic."
"What can I say, sir?" I respond as coolly as I can. "Someone has to become an example to the rest of the class."
"Oho, so you want me to make an example of you, hmm?" he says, taking the bait.
I grin. "But of course, sir," I reply, throwing him a little off-balance. "It's clear that your teaching hasn't," I reply, as I conjure up a simple Breeze spell I deduced from his teachings. Another student looks impressed.
"Wow!" he blurts out. "It took us three classes to learn that!" he adds, then shuts his mouth as Grabby gives him a quiet stare. For my part, I just look at the Professor sweetly.
"I thought I told you to stop experimenting with magic, Miss Sue," he says through gritted teeth.
"That's right, you did~!" I grin. "Don't worry, sir, I'll be attending your Red Magic classes much more attentively now! So say, another three? Four classes for you to teach me how to cast that breeze spell properly?"
"Don't push your luck, Miss Sue," he scowls.
"Sir, I'm in your class- if anything, you're the one who should stop buying lottery tickets," I quip, then flounce out the room to the sound of scattered applause.
When I wake up the next day though, my previous good mood is gone, replaced by quiet contemplation. The calendar on the wall says it all- October 4th. Student registrations for school elections. Running for class office could go along great, but that's assuming I win- I might not have a lot of enemies (that I know of), but I don't have many friends either. And even if I do, winning would mean I would have to work alongside the faculty- including Grabby. Furthermore, I have absolutely no idea what my duties would entail- oh sure, I might be able to guess at the general stuff, but the specifics? I've never even run for class monitor, what more class president or student treasurer!
Yet the fact remains- I'm a witch, and even Grabby thinks I have a talent for it. I have the power to change the world if I work hard enough- maybe I should give a little power a go, see where it takes me, or if I have the chops for it. Decisions, decisions...
Decisions... can wait.
At least until Ellen and Virginia stop bickering.
"I don't think-" Ellen begins, but Virginia cuts her off.
"Yes you do!" Virginia insists emphatically. "You do more thinking than the two of us combined!"
"It hurts because it's true," I say, pushing myself up. "A little early in the morning to be discussing politics, isn't it?" I ask.
"It's never too early to think about our futures," Virginia replies piously.
"Says the girl whose first response to a problem is to barrel through it," I say dryly.
"Hey, things exploding is what I think my future should be full of!" she laughs. "How about you, Mary? Thinking of running for treasurer? Or even president?"
"I thought you said Minnie had the whole elections sewn up," I tell her.
"You never know," Virginia replies. "You could be like, Seabiscuit or something. Anyway, I'm gonna go outside, scout out the competition for you guys! I'll be back soon!" she adds, then rushes out of the room before we could reply.
"Such a strange thing to get worked up over," Ellen frowns.
"She is very competitive," I sigh.
I shrug. "I suppose," I begin, then see Ellen blushing slightly. "Ellen, is something wrong?"
"What? No, no, nothing's wrong!" she says quickly. "But, uhm..."
"Probably, I guess," I shrug again. "He's her big brother, and from what I've seen, they do look out for each other a lot."
"Yeah, he does, doesn't he?" Ellen says, looking as red as a beetroot, though judging by her smile, I don't think she notices. "He's so sweet, isn't he?"
"...I guess he is," I reply, as it dawns on me. "Ellen, do you have a crush on William?"
What can I say? I think this whole sequence is
And there you have it, election fans! Elections are coming up- shall Mary join the race?
- We are the change Iris deserves! Run for President!
- Isn't the Golden Rule "The One With The Gold Makes The Rules"? Run for Treasurer!
- We're a pseudo-elf, not a fat cat! Don't run at all!
Also, what is our stance regarding the William issue?
- There's no problem with being a William lover in Mary-ca!
- William-loving is sick and wrong! It's in the Bible somewhere!
- William's the MAN in our Manifest Destiny!
Voting ends at 2345 GMT July 11, so fill up those ballot boxes!