(Ed. Note – so… there was a backlog, and yet one more log to post. Please let us know what ya think – and, again, forgive the roughness; this is, as usual, a converted RP log.)
The meeting was at a little camp called Chillwind Point, just north of Taran Mill, where a nice man in blue-purple robes who identified himself as “Marcus Darkhand” met the pair and, after a very nice cup of tea and some solicitous conversation, offered to open a portal for the Pandaren …
“… You really will learn so much. I have.” A strange sort of light touched Marcus’s eyes, as he offered a somewhat too-friendly smile. “The Path to Power is never easy, but the headmaster knows how to get the best out of every student, no matter their capabilities. The Scholomance is well-known for producing some of the greatest magi that Azeroth has ever seen. You’ll see! Even if you’re not among the most talented, we’ll find a way to put your talents to good use.”
Nightpetal flashed teeth in a smile. “You see, Kunyi? I /told/ you. And he said the library is massive – /and/ that you could come.”
“Of course she can!” Marcus is quick to interject – “All of the students bring – or make – assistants. She’ll fit right in… in a week or two.”
Kun Yi crossed her arms, eyeballing the man. Her sister was too innocent, she thought, too accepting and trusting of outsiders. Kun Yi wasn’t pretending she hadn’t been sheltered, but even in the village beyond the gates there were the liars, the cheats, the drunks. The occasional unscrupulous merchant passing through. Humans who were just strange and mostly friendly but sometimes… She nodded, slowly. It had been enough to give her a wariness of outsiders. Strangers. “Ya know I ain’t gotta drop of magical blood in me, yeah?” A second glance back to her sister, a few soft words in Pandaren. Petal was trusting, but not stupid. <Are you sure about this, Petal? You’ve looked up this place in your books, and looked at other schools too? Just because it’s a free ride…>
<And I mean, “make” assistants? He better be talking about summoning elemental spirits>
<“The books don’t mention it. He said it was new – just within the last twenty years or so.. and it’s hidden. Very exclusive, not everybody knows about it – and they don’t ask for just everybody to join.”> Petal manages to look a little embarrassed, <“I’m sure he is, right? Like the Qui-lin! That’d be good, wouldn’t it? No more washing clothes or sweeping floors – I bet I can even teach it to do the mending.”>
Marcus sips his tea, half-smiling. “It isn’t all about magic. The Scholomance is unique – the opportunities there are truly endless, for all of us.”
<Hrrrrrrrm.> Kun Yi hesitated. Her gut was telling her, no, no, but the look on her sister’s face. The eagerness. She hated when Petal felt poorly, or bad about herself, or…well, with this whole trip Petal had been hesitant. She paused, and patted her sister’s paw. <Maybe. But we’re going to be very careful, okay? We’re outsiders. So you have fun learning, and I’ll keep watch. If something goes wrong it’s on me.>
<“Like peach jam.”> Petal squeezed her sister’s paw, with a laugh – “Alright, Master Darkhand – we’ll try.” Marcus brightens noticeably – something about his smile growing… a /little/ feral, maybe a little too-wide. “Wonderful! Let’s get you to your new school, Mistress Nightpetal – ” Yup. Not at /all/ focused on Kun. “There’s much to do before you can begin attending classes.” With that, the human mage stood – setting aside the rough tea service – and began the motions of casting a spell, that crazy tingling arcane fur-on-end feeling of portal-magic.
Petal leeeaned then, into her sister. <“Look at it this way. What’s the worst that can happen?”>
Kun Yi got very still as she watched the mage, the portal. She didn’t look at her sister, worried she’d see the fear. But silence spoke. She took a soft breath. <Let’s just go. I’ll keep an eye out. You do too.>
(After the portal, in the small room assigned to the pair .. after a group dinner with the magi of Scholomance, introductions to the… exceptionally creepy headmaster, and then installation into that room. So far it’s.. old. And dank. And there are more than a few spiders… and, sure, the mages seem a little off.)
“Okay. So it smells a little like dead people – dinner was good, right?” Petal rummages through her bag – “Hey, did you see where I put my ink and brushes? I can’t find the set anywhere.”
Kun Yi flops on the bed, eyes darting around the room. Wrinkling her nose. “Well, I like the decor, but I’m weird like that. But it does stink. Ugh. ” She rolled over and watched her sister. “I dunno where the inks are. Are you okay, though? You’re not…well, worried, about anything? I don’t think mage schools are supposed to be like this.”
Petal snorts. “Like /I/ know. Uncle taught me everything I know – and the chi manuals. Maybe humans are like this.” Rummage. Rummage. “Huh. Hey, the headmaster’s interesting, isn’t he? He must have talked about your ‘bone structure’ for half of dinner. I think he likes you.”
Kun Yi grunts. “Guys who talk about stuff like that are either super nerds and into science, or are creepy. He seemed creepy.” She flexes her fist. Wondered. There were poisons about, and more in her pack, and more on the various needles and daggers she had hidden about her person. And stomach was uneasy, literally and figuratively. This wasn’t right. Not at all. She looked at Petal again. “Sis, I’m worried. I don’t want to make you afraid or anything, and I know you wanna learn, but I’m honestly worried.”
Petal doesn’t really look over at Kun – fixated on her bags… but her ears are flat, “I’m not good enough, Kun. If these humans can make me stronger? I can put up with a little bit of smell and the wierd … taste… on their magic. That Yaogui was .. you didn’t see his /teeth/.”
“You’re strong enough, Petal.” Kun Yi sighs. “Good enough. You just need more training, and there’s a great big world out there. Remember Stormwind? They have a whole city district for mages! And it’s green and pretty. I’d rather…I’d rather you take a little longer, or have to work a little harder, then pick the first offer and get into trouble.”
The girls’ room door is open – … and, with a shuffle and a groan, a rotting.. well. Ghoul. Makes its way past the door, bearing a tray.
Petal pauses. “Kun? Was that your stomach?”
Kun Yi freezes as she eyes the ghoul. A squeak. “No.”
…. it doesn’t stay in the doorway. Nope. Ghoul on a mission… with.. what looks like crepes and… uh. A flower. In a vase. And a letter.
The ghoul has a little hat on.
It moves on by.
“….. uh. Kun? Maybe.. we should go exploring tonight? Go.. peek in rooms?” Petal stares at the empty doorway. “… sounds like fun, right?”
“…no.” Kun Yi gulps. “I…um. I think we should rest. You should rest. Yes. We’ll stay right here.” She carefully closes the door. Frowns to herself. Petal could sleep, yes, but she could sneak around a little…
Petal looks – a little wild. The whites of her eyes are showing – and she’s a little more.. uh. Fangy.. than usual. “Yeah. Right here. Rest. Get some sleep.” Swallow. “Was… that a /hat/? Why would it have a hat?”
“Sis. Are you okay?” Kun hops over and gives her sister a hug, holding her close for the moment in her worry. “Take a deep breath. We’re okay. I’ve got some tea left in my flask, okay? How about you have a sip?”
“…. hangon. Wait. I… hmm. ROBES!” Petal heads for the little pile of necessities the school passed out, yanking out the two (still a little small) robes that were supplied… and tossing one to her sister. “Hereputthaton.” … she’s already working on putting on hers. “… okay. Okay. Yeah. Quick! On. Put it on.” … nope. ‘tight’ implies there’s room to move; but, hey, it’s purple? Kinda matches Petal’s hair.
“You look nice.” Kun Yi smiles hesitantly, letting her go. “Hey. Hey, Petal. Lookit me, okay? Right here.”
Kun carefully places her robes aside.
Petal actually /swats/ at Kun’s ear. “No, fluffhead – they’re /enchanted/. Put it on. It’s like… like… you know how the guards in Stormwind all wear those blue tabard things? Kind of like that, except it’s more like… a magic smell.” She wrinkles her nose. “Just.. trust me, okay? On.”
“Enchanted how?” Kun Yi easily ducks, still unsettled.
“AAargh. IF I tell you, will you put it on? Please?”
Kun Yi folds her arms, worried. Clearly so, and giving her sister a soft, almost sad look. “Yes, sister.”
“OKay. So that thing was dead, right? And it was walking – sort of like the dead humans in Taran Mill, except not exactly.” She gestures, sort of indicating the space outside the room. “Magic kind of has a smell – it’s hard to explain. It’s not /really/ a smell, it’s more like a resonance and a … well, you know how you can look at the sky and tell if it’s going to rain even when the sky’s mostly clear? It’s like that – a feeling that comes from what you /want/ when you touch Chi. It colors it.. like how you mix paint to make new colors.” Petal points – “The robe … ‘smells’ like /them/. The dead thing. The magic around it. If you’re wearing it, it’ll… sort of mask /you/. Like.. rolling in the mud to sneak past the village guards.”
“You smell like mud. Not like a crazy panda who’s going to break into the blacksmith’s house. So they don’t know you’re there, if you’re quiet, right? Same thing. Except.. with that dead thing.”
Kun Yi frowns. “Well…okay. If you’re sure. You’ll tell me if you feel anything bad, right?”
Petal, frustrated, actually … kinda curses. Kinda. “C’mon, Kun. Don’t be a yak’s butt. We /have/ to go see, and if you’re /not/ wearing it, you’ll stick out. Okay, fine, it’s like a dress. Wear it /anyway/.”
“Okay, fine.” Kun Yi’s voice is soft, unusually so, and she quietly changes. “There. Are you okay?”
Petal nods – eyes flickering. “No.” She moves to the door – cracking it /juuuuust/ a little, peering out as Kun changes. “THat thing is how this place smells to me. And… I have to know. You know?”
Kun Yi stiffens, and grabs her sister’s hand. “You stay behind me, ok? I’m…” She clenches her other fist. “If they’re hurting you I’m going to tear this place apart.”
“It’s not like that, Kun. It’s … like after -you- eat bad fish.” … yup. Teasing. Petal inches the door open with her free hand. “… let’s go see what they do.”
“FINE. But we’re leaving this place right after. I mean RIGHT after. Don’t let them know that, though.” Kun Yi grumbles and swear floridly under her breath in Pandaren. She edges ahead of Petal. “Follow me. We won’t go places we’re not supposed to, not directly. No “sneaking”. Don’t act suspicious, just act like we’re taking a casual tour and if we’re someplace we shouldn’t be, we say we’re lost, which is totally believeable. Okay?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Kun gets a quick hug from behind. “…. maybe that was just a … you know. One time thing.”
(A few hours later, in the stream in the woods near Chillwind point:)
“Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.. ” -breath- “Sorry. Sorry. Sorry… “
Petal scrubbed at her sister’s fur with a brush stolen from a nearby (ruined) farm, right in the middle of the stream, as the purple-and-black Scholomance robes burned merrily on the shore.
“… I didn’t know it .. uh. Did that. I mean. Why would a bunch of dead bodies sewn together /throw up/ on someone? ” Beat. “Please don’t stab me.”
Kun Yi has her eyes closed. Her mouth too. Firmly. She doesn’t want to get it in anything. She just nods, very calm, but trembling all over.
Petal continues that apology chant like a mantra, wincing with every word, even as she gathers up that battered old bucket, dips it in the stream… and pours it over Kun’s head, washing away most of the last of their herbal soap and, hopefully… at least some of the smell.
“So. You were right. I was totally not right. Totally. I was even /wrong/. And.. and.. Uh. It .. didn’t stain?”
“You were totally wrong, sis. I swear by all the ancestors I’m going to pick you up by your ears and drag you out next time. I should’ve trusted my gut sooner!” Kun Yi bites out. She’s still trembling, with anger, and with fear that still terrifies, fear for her sister and her own hide. “I don’t care about stupid clothes or staining or smell! That was stupid and dangerous!”
“Yes, Kun. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry… ” Petal dips that leaky bucket back in the stream. “On…. the plus side, your fur’s really shiny?” Pour. “We’re…. we’re okay, right?”
“Yeah. Sure.” Kun Yi grips her paws tightly and stares straight ahead. “Next time, for the love of all the gods, think before you insist on rushing into some stranger’s house!”
Petal sets the bucket aside (it sinks) … and just wraps wet arms around her sister, resting her forehead against Kunyi’s hair. “… I … yes, Kun Yi. Breathe, a little? I won’t do anything you don’t say is okay. Not anymore. I’m so sorry.”
Kun Yi finally sighs, deeply, and places her arms around her sister in turn. The fear ebbs, as does the anger, along with the smell, replaced by the clear, fresh water of the stream. “You need to think for yourself, too. I’m sorry I snapped, I was just…I was scared, Petal, for you. Normally you’re so sensible and reasonable and that…that was really, really bad.” The hug gets a little tighter. “You…you did well, though. You were pretty brave.”
Petal doesn’t move, eyes closed. Hug good. “Yeah? Well, you were there. S’how it works. I flounder around being an idiot until you show up and suddenly I”m not. I’m so sorry, Kun. I wanted so bad to be stronger – weird, huh? Out here, you’re the one that knows all the right things to do . I’m still just… floundering around. Like a flounder. A stupid, skinny, flopping flounder.” SHe pauses. “Don’t stop me. I deserve this. I almost got you killed.” Beat. “…. okay. More than killed. That was just… creepy.”
Kun Yi takes a deep breath, holds her sister by the shoulders, and looks her in the eye. “We’re all still learning, Petal. You’re not an idiot. You just don’t know some stuff. I don’t know a LOT more then you do. You can do magic, and read way more, and…and you’re smart and don’t usually get into trouble and people like you more. And you will get stronger. We’ll find a nice place to learn magic and you’ll kick butt, because you’re so much smarter then me.”
“Don’t worry about the undead stuff, it…well, it wasn’t nice, but it wasn’t your fault. It was theirs.”
“Nope. I”m not. /you/ tried to tell me it was a bad idea. I didn’t even /notice/.” Petal /finally/ opens her eyes, looking up. “Yeah. I’m not. I’m worried about you. What if Uncle was right and I”m just… not meant to be out here? What if I drag you down and something really hurts you, or you end up in trouble you can’t fix.” She sighs, “So I worry, fuzzbrain. I wish I was like you. You’d have stopped that Yaoguai. I just blew up the Chamber.” She wipes at her eyes.. and starts to pull away. “Right. I need to get you clothes. And then we can go back to the dwarf city. It’s warm, right?”
Kun Yi SIGHS at her, pulling her in for a hug again. “Ok. So. You won’t believe me when I say things awesome about you. So trust me, then. Trust me when I say I believe in you. I really do. You’re the best. You can be and do anything, and you’ll be a great mage. You’ll learn, right?”
Petal acks – and flails, the pulling very nearly knocking her over in the stream. “Okay! Okay! I trust you. Seriously, sis, I do.” She gets her balance, and laughs. “Look. You’re the one that’s going to be all famous and rich and have all the males. Let’s get this straight. If I get to be /half/ of what you already are? I’m good. … I bet the stupid box even /opens/ for you. You watch – I mean, if the world needed that stupid weapon, it needs it now, right? Demons and /those things/ and worse. “
“Well, ok, I’d LOVE to be rich and have all kinds of males BUT that doesn’t mean I’d be any better at it then you!” Kun smiles and pushes her sister into the stream, trying to get her to smile again. “Ha! I’d blow all my money. You’ll be smart and invest it and manage it and stuff! You’re probably worthy of that box BECAUSE you think you’re not.”
Petal comes up spluttering – and sends a wide splash of water back at Kun, laughing. “Ugh. NO. No unclespeak from /you/. ‘The sky rains when it must, and does not worry about the earth beneath’. ” Yup. Still a good Uncle impersonation. “BLargh. You start comparing me to snowflowers, and I swear, I will freeze you solid.”
“Nuh uh! Don’t say I talk like him!” She finally giggles back, splashing water in turn. “You’re more like, dunno. Moss or something. Tough and grows anywhere on anything and yet is super soft and pretty and green. Except you’re not green. Though you like to wear green.”
“…. I’m /moss/?” SPLASH. “Oh, that’s /it/.”
Y’know, the thing is… when you’re a mage? Water sort of… likes to be helpful. Really helpful. “Deluge”-level helpful.
And it comes with a great deal of laughter.
Kun Yi sputters and splashes and tries to dive through the waves to get at her sister, grabbing her wrist. “I’ll take you with meeeeee!”
“Noooooo! ” -splash- … that worked rather well. Petal comes up spluttering, giggling, and wiping water from her eyes, streaming water from her fur. “AUgh. I give. You win! It’s up my /nose/.”
Kun Yi giggles and hugs her. “C’mon, let’s get out of the water then and dry off. The sun’s nice and warm. And THEN we’re going to Stormwind, and get you enrolled in something there. I bet with all these demons they’re going to want good mages.”
“…. so. Uh. I’m forgiven, a little?”
“Of course. There’s no need to even ask.” Kun Yi smiles and moves to help up the bank. “But always. Always and forever.”