The train station was mostly deserted save for a few railway personel and one unimpressive individual wearing what might roughly be considered a generic military uniform. The small figure had their arms crossed and tapped one foot impatiently, glaring at a much taller man operating a nearby telephone. This man seemed to be having an uncomfortable conversation with the person on the other end, and the mounting irritation of the one waiting on him only made things more unpleasant. With a 'yes sir' and an apology for the trouble the man on the phone finally hung up and turned to the person that had been waiting on that particular call. He opened his mouth and began to relay what he had been told, trying to work in an apology while he spoke.
"You're cleared to keep the rifle on your person as long as it remains unloaded at all times. I'm sorry for the delay, miss-" "Finally!"
The waiting Yrhen Oharra, a young woman who was not at all a soldier despite her choice of dress, interrupted the man before he could even finish speaking. She stepped forward and snatched up her prized 13mm anti armor rifle as the older man recoiled from her abrupt and aggressive approach. She slung the oversized gun over her shoulder and picked up her duffel bag with her free hand. With one last scathing look at the man she abruptly turned and set off at a very brisk walk. He watched her go and shook his head.
"When did kids get so scary? I hope my daughter doesn't turn out like that."
Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit- ow! DAMMIT!! I cannot be late for my first day, I just can't. First impressions! What kind of a mage shows up late to where they need to be?
Yrhen thought of numerous curses as she ran down the path towards Mordhaben's Institute for Aspiring Mages, most of them directed at the man that had held her up so long at the rails. She had already been dead last off the train in the first place; by the time approval to carry her rifle came, every other passenger was long gone to attend the opening ceremony. Besides not wanting to be late because it was a standard she held herself to, the ceremony itself was important. At least it was to her. Just as she intended to make a good impression on her soon to be mentors, she hoped the Institute would leave a good first impression on her, too.
Up ahead, at last, she could make out the intricate front gates and an open space just beyond. That's it! I made it!
With a burst of adrenaline fueled speed she quickly covered the remaining distance and ran past the open gates into the courtyard beyond. The empty courtyard.Too late.
She slowed to a stop, the only sound apart from the rain her own boots hitting the stonework. She stood there, alone, crestfallen. Looking around it was plain to see there was not so much as one person here, not even a staff member to wait for potential late arrivals. She was just that far behind. She had missed her chance. The best she could hope for was that missing the opening ceremony did not count as a negative mark on one's record. Yeah right. If I could be so lucky I would have made it here on time.
She sighed and felt the full effect of the chilly weather as the adrenaline seeped out of her. It was very uncomfortable actually. She guessed it was just above freezing out here and the rain made it feel even colder. Some of the raindrops were still frozen when they reached the ground, ticking against the stone and her hat. Even her heavy coat did little to protect her from the icy chill in the air. The fact that it was so cold in turn brought her attention to the flowers planted around the courtyard."In this? How?"
She walked towards the beautiful blossoms, setting her duffel bag down gently as she neared. There was an impressive array of flora present, most of it unfamiliar to her. Some were wildflowers she did recognize, however, and she knew most of those only bloomed this well in warmer months. She knew it had been closer to summer weather just a few days ago but even just one day of this temperature should see some of them wilting. That these were so vibrant and healthy could only mean magic was at work here. But how? Is the the air near them kept warmer? Or are they enhanced to handle the cold better?
She held a gloved hand just over the flowers, trying to feel any difference in temperature through the leather.
It wasn't the air at all but it did feel slightly warmer closer to the flowers. Resisting the urge to remove her glove altogether she touched a bright pink petal. Her eyes widened slightly when she did so. The flower itself was warm, notably so compared to the air. And yet the courtyard was not blanketed in a thick fog, either. The gardeners here are amazing. Such skill and attention to detail...
The slightest smile came to her face as she gently caressed the beautiful plants, and took in their sweet mixed scents. Oh well. I may have missed the ceremony, but as much as that sucks... I still have this moment all to myself. All in all? Good first impression, Mordhaben.
The old, red-haired gardener stepped outside into the rain. A new student had entered the school grounds and after the staff were given an alert by the railroad platform, he was found to be the closest person. Some sort of mixup regarding weaponry had happened - most likely a new employee at the railroad station who wasn't yet informed that Institute applicants and students were permitted to carry weapons on the train. With a wave of his hand, the rain stopped - or rather, it started striking an invisible dome over the courtyard again.
The new student was fairly small and gave off an odd scent that nobody but a trained outdoorsman like himself would have caught. She was admiring his handiwork, sending a surge of personal pride through him. Not many people noticed the different breeds of flower and tree he had planted about the campus, and the tropical plants surviving in the courtyard were one of his greatest works."I see you like my work,"
he said to the new girl as he walked over, his back creaking with strain with each step. Despite the arthritis, he was lithe and fit and forced his way through the pain. "Arthesian Corpseflowers. Morbid name for a beautiful plant - you wouldn't believe the lengths I went to to get them to stop eating every squirrel that hops the fence. The skeletons were getting hard to clean up. 'Course, I still let them eat the moles and rats, heh!"
Yrhen noticed a distinct lack of icy rain hitting her head and back as it was quite sudden and not gradual. Curious, she looked up, only to see the rivulets starting to form thin waterfalls in midair. What is that? A solid magical dome or water flow control magic?
She neither saw nor heard the groundskeeper approach, such was her fascination and certainty that she was alone.
Hearing the voice Yrhen let out a short gasp and shot to her feet. She turned to the speaker and delivered a sharp salute, just as her grandparents, retired military themselves, had taught her. Her reflexive reaction did not seem misplaced when she saw the man that had addressed her. Older, but still with brightly colored red hair. Hunched and using a cane, but towering and fit and undoubtedly an experienced mage. A mage with a sharp eye, assessing her as she assessed him. He seemed to be the groundskeeper from what he said, but from what she saw such a title seemed too simplistic, she would have guessed him to be one of the professors.
Billy gave the girl a careful lookover. Her scent suggested she wasn't quite what she seemed and his sharp eyes caught glimpses of tiny details that others would never notice. But he opted to say nothing."I was trying to analyze the magic behind the flora's preservation, sir. I mean, I think they are very aesthetically pleasing, and I think student's morale will be higher overall for the work you've done here. Yuck. I sound like one of those snotty elitists. Is it ok to say what I really think? If I don't behave or give the answers expected of me... But this is one of the staff here. He may already know about me. And besides, what artist doesn't want to know their work is appreciated? If we're alone it should be OK, just this once.
She looked all around, making sure no one else was in earshot or even within sight, then made her decision. She moved closer to the man so he could better hear her as she whispered."They're... abolutely gorgeous. Sir.""Hah, thanks. Not every day a student pays attention to my handiwork. If you're that interested, I'll give you a hint - I use a magical construct to remotely feed a constant stream of heat into the plants here. Oh! You're new here, right?"
He checked his watch. The watch was frozen."Bah, forgot to wind it again... Here, take these."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of small bars of fruity gelatin with a thick, chewy texture. The wrappers read, 'Quickmag, the breakfast for mages on the go!', and were packed with protein, vitamins, and carbs. Nothing about the wrappers suggested they tasted good in any way whatsoever."I think there's supposed to be a tour today. How about we try to find where they are?"
Assuming the tour of the school would be starting soon she gratefully accepted the offered nutrition bars, and reverted back to her usual serious demeanor."Yes sir!"
She snapped another salute at the groundskeeper before picking up her bag and following his lead. She was glad he had been here, she had no idea where she was supposed to be.A real breakfast would have been nice. Oh well, I should be grateful I got anything at all with how things turned out. I wonder what kinds of things they serve at a prestigious school like this? Must be nutritious at least, military soldiers and magic users alike use a lot of energy, right? I just hope it's nothing too bland or artificial tasting. I wonder if they'll have-
Her train of thought was completely derailed as she unwrapped and bit into the allegedly fruit flavored bar. Her stern expression soured notably as the flavor assaulted her unprepared taste buds. In the end, she was happy to not immediately choke or spit it out. A look of grim determination settled on her face as she chewed, forced herself to swallow, and took another bite. I swear to all that is worth a damn in this world, I will never let myself be late for a meal again.
As the groundskeeper guided her through the main building Yrhen was awestruck by the architecture, both inside and out. As a country girl moving from one frontier town to the next she had never seen anything like this, certainly not in person anyway. For a moment, when she entered the grand circular room, she was stunned and her eyes widened in wonder at the sheer beauty of the room. She stopped where she was and slowly turned in place, taking in every detail she could see, right down to the subtle yet intricate carvings on the staircase railings.
Noticing her guide was patiently waiting for her she hurried over to where he was, ducking her head to hide her face. She followed him through the next set of doors outside to a street and a brick building which looked almost out of place considering the craftsmanship behind her. Immediately she noticed many different smells faintly drifting on the light breeze, all of them delicious. It seemed she might not have missed breakfast at all and she felt something akin to deep regret having suffered through that wretched QuikMag bar a moment ago."Huh. Cafeteria smells pretty good - guess breakfast is later than usual today... And to think you just ate one of those foul things. Heh."No kidding. I almost feel like throwing up, but that would still be a waste of what I assume are still good nutrients. Maybe there will be something good enough inside to help wipe away the memory.
Wishing her guide a good day Yrhen braced herself and pushed open the doors to the cafeteria. Once inside Yrhen had to take some time to collect herself, even though she had mentally prepared herself. There were more people than she had expected and the inside was terribly claustrophobic. It was like the train itself only she doubted she would be able to find a comfortable spot to sit by herself. Then there was the smell and sight of all that food, laid out like a festival by her standards and of such variety she had never known. She couldn't help but salivate upon setting foot inside, especially when a rare and very welcome scent caught her attention among the menagerie of other smells.Is that...?
She found herself moving towards the section of the cafeteria that had all of the Airelosian cuisine, following her nose. Once there she easily picked out what she was looking for among the various seafoods and noodle dishes of the neighboring nation. She quickly grabbed a tray and jabbed a finger at what she wanted, glad that most of the people here had already come through and gotten their food."The Coraque blue cheese, as much as I'm allowed to have."
As soon as the pungent cheese was piled on her tray Yrhen set off towards another section of the cafeteria, intending to see just how many rare samples from around the world were actually being served. The fact that Coraque, a rare cheese from an entirely different nation, was here had her excited about what else she could possibly find. Unfortunately that excitement died quite quickly as she overheard someone nearby.”Never in a thousand years, you worthless half breed.”
Yrhen stopped in midstride, her already unfriendly expression hardening into something closer to intense hatred. It wasn't unusual for her to overhear such things, nor was it unusual that it pissed her off every time. She looked over to get a look at the speaker, expecting to see the all too familiar scene of a human harassing a chimera. She was instead shocked to see a third or fourth generation chimera was the one calling another chimera half-breed. What the hell?! Is that piece of shit putting down his own kind?! Where the fuck does he get off?
She shook her head and turned away from the scene as the horned boy went to go sit at a table with people that looked completely human. Disgusting. Fucking disgusting. It's not like things aren't bad enough between humans, monsters, and chimeras. Now it's even so bad that chimera hate each other? Half the people in here are one generation or another. Fuck it, whatever! Not any of my business.
She took a few steps toward the next line before stopping again. I've lost my appetite...
Slamming her tray down on the nearest table Yrhen whipped around and stalked toward the horned boy who turned out to be shorter than she was. Grabbing him by the collar she hauled him to his feet and turned him to face her. Still holding him in place with one arm Yrhen drew back her other hand and slapped him as hard as she could across the face."What the fuck is wrong with you?! Have you even looked in a mirror lately?! You're just as much a 'half-breed' as he is! But as far as I'm concerned you're the only worthless one I see here."@ghastlyInc