Part 25: Fuses litChapter 20: Fuses lit
All good things must come to an end, though, and we came out for air a few minutes later. Damien seems to have taken it a lot calmer than I did, but then again, it was my first kiss after all.
Way to state the obvious, I laugh. Wow- nice to see you put all your experience to good use, I grin at him.
I try, he says with the most faux modesty Ive ever seen outside a political convention.
Im sure you do, I laugh. Wait, sorry, that wasnt too much, was it?
Now, now, Mary, he says, leaning over and wagging a finger at me. Dont you get soft on me now!
I shake my head- that had to have been intentional. Dont worry, Damien- Ill leave that to you. Im sure youve had a lot of experience going soft.
Oooh, ouch, good one! Damien laughs. Now thats the Mary I know and love! Well, know, anyway. And, well he trails off, suddenly a lot more bashful. I suppose I should return the favour- I havent told you a lot about myself, havent I?
Havent you? I ask. I mean, I know just about everything about your family, your childhood- if anything, you dont know about me!
Well then, Damien says, spreading his arms. Might as well get started then, right?
The two of us then spend the next hour or so sitting on the beach and talking about ourselves, how things were like back home, that kind of thing. Damien seemed particularly enthralled by my stories about going home, even when I talked about how lonely it felt. It wasnt very hard to see why- Damien never had that option ever since he left home, while I guess I did kind of take it for granted.
True, I would never be able to talk to my family about my magical life (literally or otherwise), but at least I had one. It wasnt something I could give up on, and if for nothing else, Im grateful to Damien for reminding me of that.
Speaking of Damien, reminders and the giving up of relationships
Mind you, I couldnt just ask him about Angela or Musette; Ill need to open with something small, something minor. Something that I could use to ease him into-
NOT WHAT I MEANT, MOUTH
-Sincerely, the brain
Pretty much, yes, Damien admitted with ease.
Wow, that was quick, I said, eyebrow raised.
Im not embarrassed about it, Damien replied. You know Ive been with a lot of people, Ive never hid that.
Well, uhm I say, trying to find some way to segue this into what I really want to talk about, and then- You know what? Im not any good at hiding things, I sigh, shaking my head. I actually wanted to know about, you know, Musette and Angela.
Really? Damien laughs. THAT was what you were trying to get to? Come now, Mary, I did say I didnt want any secrets between us, right? he says, taking my shoulder. Although I think I did tell you about Musette, at least.
Only that she was expelled, I pout. Not what she was like, how you two were like- a girl gets curious, you know!
Damien laughs again. Well then, this might prove to be a long story, so I hope you dont mind me getting comfortable, he says, and decides to rest his head in my lap. Lets see, Musette
Fun note: I actually tried to make Mary look like this when I got the idea for my LP, but couldnt get the dress dark enough. Oh well.
She might have been a Snake, he goes on, but she was as bold as a Horse. She wanted to try everything, learn everything, know all about everyone. It was very hard to find peace around her, let me tell you! To tell the truth, he says, tweaking my nose a bit, youre a bit like her in that respect, but you at least give me some space.
Greaaat, I say dryly. Im your girlfriend only because youve dated psychos. Gee, thanks, Damien.
Youre welcome, he grins, and I fail to suppress a giggle as he continues. Anyway, Musette was exhausting, both physically and mentally- it was like she was trying to cram entire lifetimes into a few months. Again, I wont deny I was trying to be as Casanova as possible, but outside the dating scene, I wasnt much. She had life enough for both of us, I guess. Heck, I didnt really have much going for me back then- I think the main reason we hooked up was because she was fascinated by a nonhuman, and I was fascinated by, well- her.
Angela said that Damien didnt care when Musette was expelled, and picked up someone new right away. But it sounds like he did, or maybe even still does. A small part of me feels a little insulted at that, and who wouldnt be? And yet I cant bring myself to be really indignant about it. From what I hear, Musette was just like me, and Damien thought she was amazing- wonder if he thinks of me in that same way too?
You though, Mary, he adds. Youre different.
Question answered, I suppose.
What we have between us is different, he goes on. I trust you more than I trusted Musette, for example.
Aw, thats sweet! I tell him.
Yeah, Damien smiles. It was exciting to be around her, of course- but God, she was intense. It was kind of intimidating, really.
Even so I know its a long shot, I say. But have you talked to her outside of school? I mean, not as a student, I add, remembering what Virginia told me about the magical amnesia students underwent. You know- as a friend? An acquaintance from way back?
He shakes his head. When a student leaves, their memories are altered to have absolutely no memories of their old school. They might have vague memories of a school, and maybe some composite ones of friends and teachers, but even if I put on a glamour and tracked her down, odds are she wouldnt remember anyone named Damien Ramsey. I know its egotistic, he says wistfully, but I prefer it that way. I hope she doesnt miss me.
Do you miss her? I ask.
And no, he adds, grinning as he looks me in the eye. Youre not her clone, if thats what youre asking.
Just very, very similar, I pout.
Hey, he shrugs, smiling. Its perfectly natural for a guy to have preferences in the people he dates.
So how did you end up with Angela? I ask. Id like to think I dont have anything in common with her besides having an X chromosome.
The challenge, I say flatly. And you didnt think of something safer? Like volcano surfing?
I can tell were going to be a great team, Mary, Damien laughs. With my looks and your brains, well go places! But anyway- yeah, Angela was a challenge, he exhales. Angela Kirsch is the perfect example of a driven woman. She wants power, and will stop at nothing to get it. Well, not power, he says, after a moments thought. She wants status, which isnt quite the same thing if you ask me.
And, he says with the air of a lecturing professor, complete with upraised finger, when you know for absolutely sure that someones a scorpion, it makes them rather cute, wouldnt you think?
Im in love with a psycho, I sigh theatrically. Where has my life gone wrong?
Dont knock it til youve tried it, Damien smirks. And in my defence, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
So you like girls that are bad for you? I smirk. Funny, I cant seem to find any sympathy for you. I mean Im trying, but
Oh yes, Mary, hurt me moooore, he says in a husky voice and exaggerated leer. Anyway, Angela was a fling, nothing more. I never expected it to last, and though Im a psycho, Im not crazy enough to try get her back, thats for sure. You, on the other hand he says, cupping my cheek.
Damien, I swear if you make me blush any harder, I giggle. Im going to thump you.
Oho, he grins, sitting back up. Now whos the psycho, hmmm? However, in the interests of not being thumped, he adds, walking over to the picnic basket and bringing it back. Might I be able to bribe you with sandwiches? I wanted something a bit classier, more cuisine-er, but Im not a cook, as I just discovered. Incidentally, I do hope you dont mind me leaving you outside the school gates when we get back- I think the chefs would have come back by now.
And so we sit and share sandwiches for a little longer, only returning when the skies began to darken, and the sun began its descent. All in all, I cant think of a better weekend than that.
Astute readers, or at ones whove played through this whole sequence, might notice that the Valentines Day date might not match up with how the game actually goes. This sequence actually takes place in the space of a month or so, but I thought itd be nice if it was all on or around Valentines Day, considering how lovey-dovey it gets.
The next few weeks went along swimmingly, interspersed with a short date with Damien now and then. He seems genuinely surprised and impressed when we discuss my magical training, and what happened on Tuesday.
* * *
Professor? I asked in Red Magic class that day. Is it just me, or is there something wrong with these gloves? I certainly think I had a reason to ask- little red sparks of lightning were jumping all over them, and as Professor Grabiner approached, they began trembling slightly.
It would appear, he said, upon seeing my protective gear, that our star student has neglected to maintain her own equipment. He mustve seen the look on my face, because he went on with, Oh, dont worry, they wont explode- except from the indignity and embarrassment of having you for an owner.
Wait, I had to maintain this stuff? I wasnt told that! Okay, sure, so maybe I kinda sorta maaaaybe ripped apart the instruction manual in the process of opening the package this came in, but that isnt really my fault, is it?
Perhaps, in the future, Grabiner went on, totally ignoring the excusable circumstances I would have presented if he only gave me a chance and the time to make them up, you would do well to remember that you can only build castles in the air if you have your feet on the ground. Professor Yoda von Fortune Cookie Monster then gave me the smuggest grin Ive ever seen him give- and believe you me, that takes talent. Please dispose of your faulty equipment in a timely fashion, Miss Sue. There is a small dustbin down the hall that has been prepared for magical waste. In a completely unrelated matter- have you considered a diet?
Man, when I finally become the Dragon Empress, hes so getting his butt kicked. But that could wait- I had gloves to dispose of. Not that it was easy, mind you. As I tried to take them off, I found that they were linked to my hands by those tiny little sparks of red lightning, drawing them back to my hands- not right back onto my hands, even , but simply smacking onto them, like my hands were magnets. I tried again- with the same results. I tried prying them off with my feet, but the gloves then stuck to them instead.
Okay, things were turning into a bad comedy skit. Time to blow this joint.
Mental note: Dont take my own advice literally.
Wait, let me rephrase that: Dont take my own advice literally, moron.
When I opened my eyes, having had a far gentler landing than I thought Id have, the first thing I saw was Professor Grabiner peering over me, his tired grimace saying it all. Grabby being Grabby, of course, he decided to rub it in. And just when I was starting to respect you, Miss Sue, he sighed, before raising an eyebrow at what was behind me. Interesting
What is it? I asked as I turned around, only to gasp softly when I saw what was there: a magical, almost-transparent wall that shimmered behind me with a soft blue light. I did that ?
There was a sharp intake of breath from Grabiner, and I turned back to see the rest of the class gathering in front of the door curiously. I stood up hastily, and plastered a mad grin in front of my face. Thats right! I announced. I did that all that prepared it before I took one step down the hall thats right HA HA HA in your face Grabbo!
Another sharp intake of breath. It was a miracle Grabiner didnt pop right there and then. Mind you, he did look like he was going to explode.
He raised one hand, and waved (well, twitched-with-barely-controlled-furied, to be more precise) the class back in. At the moment, I really wish Id spent my allowance on some shades instead, so intense was the glare. Miss Sue, he hissed, I will let the Grabbo slide, if you would be so kind as to tell me whether or not you really planned to cast that force field.
I shook my head. I didnt, sir, I said, before glancing aside. After glaring at Manuel, who had poked his head back out the door, and causing the little guy to run back inside, Grabiner bade me go on. I dont really know what happened, sir, I said. I- I just didnt want to land on something hard, thats all.
Reflexive spellcasting, Grabby grimaced, rubbing his eyes. Why did you have to be so full of surprises, Miss Sue?
Its one of my worse habits, I quipped. Uhm, Im not going to get detention for this, am I?
Grabiner shook his head. You havent done anything wrong, Miss Sue- technically, at least, he said, before lowering his voice. And Ill have my hands far too busy with Miss Dansons brother to pay much attention to you, which would only raise suspicions. Right now, and I know I shall regret this decision, but my penalty will simply be for you to cease your Blue Magic classes for now, in favour of getting yourself acquainted with using Red Magic without those gloves. Can you do that, at least?
ARGH, I hated this bit. Dont get me wrong, the LPs been fun, but trying to fit in this bit properly led to goddamn WEEKS of rewriting and rethinking the scene. Ill never knock TV, movie etc. writers anymore- this shit was HARD. THIS bit being so hard to write was what kept this update so long in coming. And even now Im not really satisfied with it, but if I kept this on hold any longer, I might as well have closed the thread for how long you guys would have had to wait.
Anyway, heres Mary without her gloves. Id hit both 100 Blue Magic naturally and in Red Magic thanks to the gloves, so I decided to take them off for now so that Mary can continue her studies properly.
Happily though, reducing magic skill (in this case, from 100 to 72) does not take away any spells you might have already learned, so I still have Shockwave
* * *
Yeah, not my finest moment. But on the whole, things proceed pretty smoothly and without other incident for quite a while- which was the first indication that something big was gonna happen.
I blink a few times and try to clear my head; thats odd, I could swear I heard something. Suddenly, I hear the door creak, and I turn to see someone come in. Virginia? I say, and she jumps with a short yelp.
Oh, youre awake, Virginia replies, one hand over her chest as she takes several sharp intakes of breath. Theres something going on out there.
Something? Ellen adds. Like what?
Virginia shrugs. I dont know, she admits. I got up to use the bathroom, but on my way back, I started hearing these noises coming from far off. Like someone playing hockey in the middle of the night, or maybe like a stack of dominoes falling over.
Thats strange, Ellen says. I wonder whats going on.
Virginia has a point- my own curiosity aside, who knows what might be out there in the dark? Im sure the teachers would come get us if anything was wrong, and I certainly dont want to interrupt any more spirits on their night out. Even so, its hard to get back to sleep, and its a while before I doze off, the last of our trio to do so.
Of course, my luck being what it is, of course Im the first one to wake up in the morning when I hear the knock on our door. mnyehComing, I say as I open the door, where I find Isobel? Good morning.
And good morning to you too, Mary, she says. Looks like you need it, if you dont mind me saying so, she grins, but her smile is strained, and a moment later, she turns serious.
What happened? I hear Ellen ask as she comes up behind me.
Isobel takes a deep breath and pauses for a minute before she responds. Now, I ask that you all remain calm when I tell you this- but it seems like someone tried to blow up the school.
WHAT?! I and Ellen exclaim in unison.
Or maybe it was a fire, were not sure, Isobel says.
Gee, thanks, Virginia adds from behind Ellen. Thats a real comfort.
Virginia! Ellen says chidingly, thats not very nice!
I motion for my friends to keep it down, so I could ask Isobel, Are we in any danger?
No, no, Isobel says. Theres nothing to worry about. From what I saw, the professors have things firmly in hand and under control. You can take the day off to relax, or study for Fridays exam.
Fridays who the what now? I blurt.
Didnt you see the academic calendar I gave you? Ellen huffs.
I raise a finger in protest. I lower a finger in resignation.
Dont worry, Mary, I think you can catch up quickly, Isobel laughs. In any case, Ive got a few more dorms to warn, so Ill see you later, then.
Thanks for letting us know, Ellen says. Isobel nods and walks off, while we go back to our room.
This is way creepy, Virginia says.
Did you see anyone last night? I ask.
Virginia shakes her head. No but I guess I didnt go very far. To tell the truth, I kinda regret not doing so.
It seems they have things under control now, Ellen adds. Maybe it was just some kind of accident? Perhaps someone left the cauldrons on- dont look at me like that! she frowns. Some kinds of magical potions need to be brewed overnight, you know. You two would know that if you paid more attention to your textbooks, she says primly. Speaking of which she adds, as she and Virginia gaze at me disapprovingly.
What? I ask. Of course Im going to study! Since you guys didnt inform me of the upcoming exam!
They dont respond, save by pointing silently to the large timetable hanging up to the right of Ellens desk, which somehow escaped my attention. Defeated, I resigned myself to a day of group study.
Or at least, I would have, if we werent called to the gym later that afternoon. Professor Potsdam stood on the stage, waiting for us to assemble before she began. Hello, students, she said. Im sure you all have many questions, and so do we. Well try to answer as many of those questions as we can.
The whole gym was silent, hanging onto her every word by now, so I heard she said next with crystal clarity. Last night, she said, there was a fire in Falcon Hall, which targeted a student bedroom while the occupants slept. We further believe that this fire was started intentionally.
Wait, Falcon Hall? Damien!
Thankfully, it was quickly detected, and nobody was hurt, Potsdam went on to say.
At the moment, she added, we dont know if this is a prank gone wrong, or if it was an intentional attempt to injure one or more students- or worse. So while were investigating, please stay safe, everyone.
It was a terrifying thought, setting a fire outside someones room. Smoke inhalation could kill anyone in their sleep- all your magical power would be useless if you didnt see someone coming. I wondered if there were any warding spells around, and I could hear whispers around me that proved I wasnt the only one thinking along those lines.
Mary? Is something wrong?
I spun around, where I saw Damien!
And then to everyones surprise (mine included, of course), I run up and throw my arms around him.
While Im certainly not complaining, he laughs while hugging me back, might I ask what brought this on?
I let out a sigh of relief. Well, when Professor Potsdam mentioned that the fire started in Falcon Hall, and I, well
Oh, that, he smiles- is he blushing? Dont worry, Im fine; it was one of the freshmen rooms. But if you like, he says mischievously, you can keep on hugging me. I know I do.
I hold a finger to my lips for a moment. So do I- but I like teasing you more, so no, I tell him as I let go. Seriously, Im just glad youre all right. Did you see anything happen?
He grins. Curiosity already kicking in, eh? he asks, before growing contemplative. Im not sure I could be of any help, though
And thats it, he shrugs. If anyones found out who did it, or why, or even if they got the right person, I havent been told.
Well, thing is, I say, one of the reasons I was so worried about you is that I thought, well, maybe you might have been the target. I mean, you told me yourself, you had a lot of girls and guys before me.
He nods. True- and might I say its good that youre okay with my past, it means a lot to me, lets get that out there, he says. But honestly, most of the people who would have a grudge against me- at least, those whom I can think of- would know where I sleep, and the Falcon Hall senior section is quite distinct from the freshman halls.
I sigh. Well, its good to be reasonably sure that youre not the target, I guess, I tell him.
He nods, before taking hold of my hand. Theres something else its good to be reasonably sure of, at least from where Im standing, he says.
Oh, and whats that? I ask.
This time its his turn to hug me, but its a tender one compared to my scared one earlier. That its good to know that no matter what happens, I can always count on you to be there.
Of course, I say, returning the embrace. Youd do the same for me, after all, right?
I was expecting a retort, to be sure, but perhaps a joke about how I was all business, or perhaps something a little more tender.
Damien? I ask. Whats the matter?
Its- its nothing, he replies. You just- just brought up some bad memories, thats all.
I sigh inwardly. I love him, I really do, but despite his promise to never have any secrets between us, I realize that some things will probably remain hidden forever.
To be honest though, I really dont mind, not anymore, and I tell him so. His lips narrow into a thin smile, but its a smile nonetheless. Thanks, Mary, he says quietly. Thank you for understanding. Its a lot more than what most people have been willing to do for me, to be honest, he adds, before looking at me with sad eyes. You know, Im not sure I deserve you, he whispers.
You dont, I grin, trying to lighten the situation. But Im here anyway, and you ought to be grateful.
Oh, I am, he smiles, before growing serious. You had best believe it, which is why you need to be careful.
I dont know if Damien was trying to calm me, or if he was simply concerned with my safety, but his warning keeps me jumping at shadows all the way back to my dorm and for a few more days- until I get the news.
I raise an eyebrow. Youre kidding me, I say flatly.
Ellen nods. Thats what I thought too- Donald is a prankster, but thats just it, she says.
Virginia shrugs. I hope you guys are right, she sighs.
Do you really think he did it? I ask Virginia.
I dont know, Virginia says. I mean, hes always causing trouble.
So? Ellen replies. I have a little sister too, she adds. She drives me crazy, but we wont ever try to hurt each other. Of all the people in the school, Donald should know just how far he can or cannot go. Hes a goofball, not an arsonist.
yeah, youre right, Virginia says. He is an obnoxious little twerp, but I dont want him
Her voice trails off, and I and Ellen share a Look that shows that we both knew why- of all the people in the school who would deserve a memory wipe and being shunted off to a foster family, Donald was definitely not one of them.
In the end, all we could do was wait. Had I known that our answer would come the next day with a knock on the door, Id have been a lot less worried.
Hey ladies, he says as suavely as he could (i.e. not very).
Virginia stood at the back of the room, arms crossed, but shes smiling as she greets Donald. So they let you out, huh?
Donalds equally at ease. Yeah, its all good. Youll never believe what actually happened!
Were in a magic school- try us, I say.
Dont say I didnt warn you, Donald laughs. Okay, so apparently Barbara likes to go around at night practicing ninja skills.
What, we three girls say in unison. To be fair though, Donald did warn us. Still- Barbara? Shes a Snake Hall girl, about as close to a frat bro as you can get while having two X chromosomes- shes the last person Id peg for being a ninja nut.
If you dont remember Barbara, dont worry- she hasnt shown up in the game at all, or if she did, I dont remember either. Shes just mentioned here, and I have to say, I like that this casual statement implies Marys been having a varied social life outside her classes. It also makes me realize I shouldve done more of this in the past
See, Donald went on, she likes to practice her throwing knife skills in the middle of the night when nobodys watching, or in the way.
Wait- we havent reached the weird part yet?
The door bursts into flame, Donald adds. FOOM! Goes up like a torch! Now, in case you havent noticed, our doors arent supposed to be that flammable, and thats why its weird!
Virginia shakes her head. That is just crazy, she sighs.
Hey, Im just the messenger, Donald says, holding up his hands in front of him. Ask the professors if you dont believe me- she let them search her memories and everything, full access. I know she acts tough, but one little surprise, and she runs off like a rabbit.
Maybe thats why she acts tough? Ellen ventures.
Maybe, Donald nods.
Yeah, lets not go there. Donald seems to think so too, moving on quickly.
And when she heard the rumour I might be expelled, he says, she came forward right away. That aint brave, I dont know what is.
What about her? I ask. Is Barbara going to be expelled?
Nope! Donald grins. It was an accident! She had no idea it was going to happen- there was something wrong with the door. Last I heard though, she was going to have to find somewhere else to practice her ninja stuff, so maybe its not all good for her.
What about the door? Ellen asks.
Nobody knows, Donald shrugs. Random magical fluctuation, leftover spells from some prank, who knows. THATs still being looked into.
Yeah, well, whatever, Virginia sighs. Look, Im only going to say this once, so you had better appreciate it when I say that Im glad youre all right.
So Donalds off the hook, but it is a very strange story- one that I realize might have a lot more to it than I thought. I mean, Barbara just happened to throw her knife, or maybe enchant it with the right spell at the right time, and the door just happened to catch fire? And practicing being a ninja? Thats just way too crazy for this place- and Im the one dating a blue demon/changeling. All that cloak-and-dagger stuff is putting me in mind of the Rose and Wasp, but who ordered it, and why? Was Barbara the target? Or maybe she was the operative, and Donald the target. If so, it failed spectacularly- or maybe Barbara had the same idea as I did- confess the crime but not the actual reasons.
It was a matter that needed investigation- and what better magic is there for investigation, than White Magic?
And the upcoming test would be the perfect place to, well, test these powers out, hopefully
Phew! No ingame choices for today, sports fans, since Ive played through the next test to speed things up from our already continental drift- pace (Im aiming for glacial). But you will have a choice as to what the next update will be! Would you guys want to see:
-More Magical Diary Fanfictions?
-More Loren the Amazon Princess?
Voting ends in 30 hours! See you when I see you!