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Current "So curious, Draugr! To make me monologue about my evil plan, that is your strategy?"
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Dawn pursed her lips at him, squinting for a long moment before folding her arms and looking generally disgruntled. What could be more interesting than the magical girl right in his living room? Wait, right. His brain was filled with static. She quietly wondered if there was a vein of magic that could help him with that... would it be Restoration or Fortification? Would he even want it if she could help?

"It's fine," she huffed, looking away. "I'm creating... important... things too," she muttered, flicking her fingers haphazardly at the ceiling. Luminous golden dust shot from her fingertips, speckling the network of glowing arrays with stars. She weaved threads of [Light], dotting the arrays with stars and galaxies until she got to one corner of the ceiling where the whole network was exploding out of a sketch of Felix's head.

"So... does that mean I'm waiting for your medication?? Or...?" Her eyes flicked up towards him, and he was suddenly gazing intensely into them. She flinched, unable to look away. The image on the ceiling shattered, showering them with motes of glowing golden dust, she coughed uncomfortably.

"Right. Coffee. Y-yeah, I'm still up... down... for it... all," she stammered, as she struggled to right herself. He wasn't supposed to find out about her affiliation, but the Enchanter was annoyingly persistent and had blown her cover. Felix was surprisingly chill about her working with Ares, particularly after she explained it wasn't entirely voluntary.

"Let's go," she answered, doing her best to smooth out the hoodie she'd changed into and fix her hair before they left.
Raudd broke the following silence with a sigh. "I think you just put your finger on a sore spot. A lot of things magic can do can be explained away as superpowers, but we've got a few things that might be distinct enough." He said before looking over to Zolya who procured the bottle of contained crimson from her cloak. "I think you recognize this." She said sliding the bottle over the coffee table to Yue. "I'm assuming you haven't seen much interact with that crimson of yours? Give it a shake if you want, the crimson can't escape as long as the bottle remains corked, and even if it escapes it'll quickly get pulled into the runestones in the area and cleaned up." She said fully expecting this to be insufficient for Yue. There were other things they could do, but almost all of them required getting off the couch and some were a little less pleasant to the eyes.

"I haven't... but," Yue hesitated, taking up the bottle and examining it closely. She ran her fingers along the glass, watching the bottled coil writhe inside as it struggled to make contact with her skin. "OK," she sighed.

"Arcanist has explained to me that... my body generates a field of energy that envelopes the things that I touch, and that... the fact that it doesn't register on his instruments and that he can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I'm tuned in to a spectrum of energy that is, how did he put it... 'Fucky and beyond his comprehension to perceive,'" she recalled with a bit of a snort.

"Also goes to reason, that if this spectrum of energy exists, and I can perceive and interact with it, that others may be able to as well so, while I appreciate the validation that what I'm seeing is indeed real... I'm going to need something more concrete than this," she explained. Everyone else in the room shared a knowing glance. Archer just smiled and tried not to laugh.

"Fucky and beyond comprehension to perceive... Sounds about right." Raudd said with a lighthearted tone giving both Archer and Zolya a glance. "Well that's largely within expectations. How about I get you a research paper on this form of energy?" Zolya asked Yue with a bit of a smile.

"Research?" Yue perked up with a bit of inquisitive wonder.

"Magic is as much of a natural science as Physics is, hon. People dedicate their lives to studying it and, to this day, are finding new theories."

Hardly a second after the question Zolya spoke up again. "[Rappel de Livre.]" Her words carrying a strange echo. She held up an open hand as if expecting something to come flying into it and not more than a few seconds after a book came flying into the living room from an open window elsewhere in the building.

"Ooh, I haven't seen one of these in a while," Archer chirped. "The way each organization and tradition stores and distributes knowledge is as unique as the culture itself," he explained.

"H-how does yours do it?"

"Oral tradition held strong in Greece for a very long time, so we kept knowledge in stories and myth. My twin and I developed a method for storing information in enchantments, so Olympia has a vast library that is... actually very portable. You may want to have a conversation with your mother too. She's a Sword Song Mystic like you are, and probably has some family resources tucked away someplace."

"Yes...," Yue muttered, with a note of suppressed ire. "I think I will..."

As Zolya put the book on her lap everyone could clearly see the book as a large leatherbound hardcover adorned with various patterns in gold leaf the header reading 'le monde réveillé expliqué' written in an older cursive font and below it in a smaller but similarly cursive font 'Savante'. "[Reproduire, apprenti.]" She said holding her hand slightly above the book as a significantly thinner copy of which the cover was a near perfect copy, aside from the fact that instead of 'Savante' it read 'Apprenti'.

"Normally these are only given to members of our organization, but I have some liberties to make exceptions." She says as she held the thinner book out for Yue to grab. "As you can see, to someone 'mundane' the book is not only invisible... We can't even touch it." Raudd said as he stretched out his arm and let it intersect with where he assumed the book should be.

"You have a very unique opportunity to learn from multiple traditions," Archer noted as Yue took the book. Raudd groped awkwardly in front of her, and she attempted to thump him in the chest with the book experimentally, raising an eyebrow as it passed through him. She looked at the cover intently as threads of [Silver] weaved out of her fingertips and throughout the pages of the book, converting the text to Kanji.

"You like to read in Japanese?" Archer asked with interest, peering over her shoulder.

"Y-yeah. More information conveyed in fewer characters. All of my displays are in Kanji... I mean it may seem silly since I can stretch precious seconds out so far, but when fractions of a fraction of a second are involved, reducing the amount of time I spend reading means I can spend more focus on the things around me... is it supposed to vibrate?" She asked, with a note of concern.

"Hmmm, now that would be a nice feature." Zolya joked as she watched with some surprise at what was happening to the book. "Deja vu, ain't it?" Raudd asked his sister with some glee.
ID let out the other half of the breath she was holding, fanning it away to prevent it from accumulating. Last thing she needed right now was an accidental detonation. ShieldTown was near guaranteed to be a safe locale, and to boot it was protected by a Hedge Mage of some skill, at least judging by the quality of the charms and wards scattered throughout the settlement. When she chose this location as her rest point she had no idea the magician in question was from the prestigious Locklear family... a tidbit of information Mother would definitely be interested in.

She spent most of her time there recuperating after operations, so not having to burn this bridge was definitely preferable. As for the Templar he mentioned... they could be housing her sister. They bore a strong resemblance, but Dean didn't need to know that.

Wait... what was he doing? He crushed something in his hand and she squinted against the golden light... what a peculiar signature: she'd never seen one that arranged itself naturally into patterns before. What kind of magic was that? A detection spell?

"I have modest skill with [Illusion] magic, can turn myself invisible from mundane eyes, and make minor alterations to my appearance," she admitted before snapping her hands over her mouth with a surprised expression. A simple "no" would have sufficed. "I like to have done up eyes, but I'm terrible at makeup!" she blurted out, after stammering for a long minute.

"My eye-shadow, liner, and mascara are all illusions! Aaaah! What have you done?!"

[Stoneworks - Interior]

[A Chaotix14 / XianaEvermor Collaboration]



"Either way you'll be in good hands with Archer. Having a major player in Olympia looking out for you is nothing to scoff at. And don't take him keeping his silent about all this the wrong way, Olympia would've had no problem replacing him with an agent that aligns with their views of hiding the truth had he said or shown anything." Raudd said putting in a little good word for Archer, last thing he wanted was for Yue to lose a good friend and ally over something neither of them had a choice in.

"She can't hear you," Archer chuckled. "But I appreciate it, handsome," he grinned at Raudd with a sultry note.

Noticing that Yue had made little to no attempt at reacting to Raudd's words Zolya looked over to Archer. "On an entirely different note, it seems we've gotten ourselves entangled with your phantom murderer case. The both of us have had an encounter with her and might have some useful information on the tragedy killer."

"Oh?" That news wiped the grin clean off Archer's face. "I hadn't realized 'Tragedy' was lurking around down here. I'd have come much quicker," he replied with a note of concern. His eyes flicked to Yue, who was examining individual ripples in the surface of her coffee. "I think she has enough on her plate currently, but please tell me what you've learned," he requested.

"My thoughts exactly." Zolya replied to Archers statement "Well for better or worse she's taken a liking to Raudd, and she seems to understand that harming me isn't to her benefit. So I'd estimate I'm in a little less danger than Yue, and Raudd obviously isn't in danger at all." She started explaining and hopefully take some of Archers concerns away.

"We confirmed that she is a dimension slip teleporter (non-magical), as I've managed to use my banish ring on her as she tried to teleport around me. And I have no clue where on Ygdrasill's branches her 'home' realm is, with how much mana it drained it's either very far away or really doesn't want her back. " She continued recalling the exhausted state the banishment had left her in.

"And I have strong suspicions that she has a similar degree of immortality as me, however not nearly as convenient as she actively avoided harm. Oh, I also have one of her drones in pieces in my workshop, doubt it'll help much, but it's not doing me any good either." Raudd explained pointing in the direction of his workshop off to the far side of the building.

Then showing a cheeky smile Zolya brought what to her was the biggest gain from the experience. "Finally we managed to finagle two names from her. You know I'm a stickler for names, now don't you Art?" She paused for a moment before the big reveal. "Níðhöggr and Ouroboros, the second one she confided to me in a moment of overconfidence it felt to me. Though I can't say for sure how strong her ties are to these names, these aren't exactly names I'd want to performs those tests with." She finished assuming Archer would know how one would 'test the waters' with names in normal situations.

"Ouroboros?" Archer's eyes narrowed in thought. "That's the name of locked folder in the Director's files. I'm pretty sure it's a project name," he muttered. "I...," Archer faltered, looking concerned. "I hesitate to suspect her, but this does warrant looking in to. As far as tracing Tragedy's origin, Hermes or Thanatos are the ones to ask, they're the most familiar with other realms."

Archer spun Freyja's card between two fingers idly in thought, his eyes flicking back and forth between the siblings and Yue.

"Immortal killer from another realm sounds incredibly far-fetched but... so does Greek Gods living mortal lives in modern times," he quipped, raising an eyebrow. "I'll run this information up the chain and see what we can find out. If she really is an alternate realm immortal, I doubt she kills people just to suit her whimsy... she has an agenda... and there's no telling how long she's been working towards it," he sighed. "It can never be easy, can it?"

"Well, since it sounds like you already have a first suspect that's something we could make real easy. Everyone's signature is slightly different, kinda like DNA, and with supers and mages the variation is much wilder, but I can't tell if it's an exact match so I can only say for certain when it's not a match. And I made sure to get a good feel for her signature, so if you can arrange for me to meet this 'director' in passing we can either write her off as a suspect or move her up in the list, Anyway that banishment bought us time, we just don't know how much." Raudd explained before taking another big gulp of his coffee and grabbing himself another cookie.

"Well. One thing at a time," he quipped, turning his gaze towards Yue, who was now watching the plate of cookies very intently. She exhaled and relaxed after seeing that Raudd wasn't taking the last one, reaching and plucking one off the plate as she slipped back into Real-time. She dipped the head in her coffee before munching it.

"Okay... This uh. This is still a big pill to swallow but," she trailed off, locking eyes with Archer for a long moment. "I trust you. No more evading the topic though. No more tricks or games. I need... I need something tangible that I can confirm with my own senses. Is that something you guys can do?" Yue nibbled the supposed hoof of the Unicorn cookie with a note of apprehension.
ID exhaled the longest sigh, dropping to Terra-Firma as she seemed to deflate and relax her shoulders. She had been standing just an inch above the ground by concentrating Mana beneath her feet. She fanned the air to disperse her breath.

"It's Ash," she answered in a more relaxed tone, allowing a smile to twist the corners of her mouth. She came up with the name on the spot, pulling from one of the nicknames she'd heard her associates whisper behind her back. "Mrs. Ashlands."

"Listen, it's not because you're not intimidating, or because I don't respect the things you could do to me, or the dire situation I appear to be in. I have to be very careful to keep a lid on my emotional state. If I give in to fear, or anger, or even love I could hurt people unintentionally," she admitted, letting her Domain of [Fire/Light] get reclaimed by [Earth]. The temperature dropped noticeably.

"Besides... have you seen their face?" She asked, pointing up at Golem. "Look at how fucking cute they are!" She exclaimed, disarmingly. "You're very lucky to have a partner that cares about you. Golem may not have a pact, but your bond is evident," she punctuated the statement with another sigh, crisis seemingly averted for the time being, though she didn't lower her guard completely, she was still observing him very intently.

"As for the Templar thing...," ID paused, unable to completely hide the note of disdain at the mention of that villainous organization. "I can't really do anything about that, what you see is what you get," she concluded, gesturing vaguely to... herself.

"If it makes you feel more secure, I'll skip town early. I can't sleep anyway. Bad dream."

[ShieldTown - Interior - Markets District]



"Our Rep-U-Tations!"

"Abhorrent! Despicabable!"

"Siding with Templar! Crusades upon us!"

"Upon us!"

"Nononono! Knife-Lady and Cat-Kitty, Rat guides them! Rat is their Guide!" Rat shook his fist defiantly. "When the Grabby-Chomps came, saved Rat they did! Rat has prowess over the blade!" Rat clumsily pointed the sword that he refused to let go of.

"The blade!" Echoed the others in hushed tones.

"Rat must DELIVER!"

"For Fred!"

"Yesyes, for Fred. Rat will Deliver (For Fred). Rat will also PROTECT! (For Fred) Rat has prowess over the blade!"

"But... what about... The Rain??"

"The Rain, the Rain!"

"Rat's blade will protect, (For Fred)!" He held up the sword. "Rat! We must deliver (For Fred)! Not Rain, nor Sleet, nor Darkest Night..."

"Not Deepest Fear," piped up someone with renewed confidence.

"Not Death!" Called a voice from the rear.

"Not Threat of Death," continued Rat, holding the sword out clumsily... it was getting heavy. "Not Perceived Threat of Death, Temporary Death..."

"Creature Bringing Death."

"Mmm hmm! Suffocation Resulting in Death, not Death by Starvation."

"N-no... but," Rat stammered, dropping the point of the sword to the ground and trying to catch his breath.

"Not Long Sleep Resembling Death but Not Actually Death!" Someone from the front called.

"Shushush!! Shushush! Someone Comes!"

"She comes!" They echoed. The market alley filled with the sounds of scurrying and scampering, some hushed tones and whispers as Rat collected himself. He turned towards the alley mouth as Doll and Maire came into view.

"Knife-Lady! Lady-Knife! Deliveries completed, yesyesyes," he chattered, as he struggled to drag the sword towards her. "(For Fred)" echoed in hushed whispers in the darkness behind him. "Rat guides you. Rat is your guide! Yesyes, Rat's... responsibility," he emphasized, casting a pointed look into the alley behind him. Rat shoved his free arm to the elbow into his pouch and dug around noisily. A plate crashed in the distance, and the darkness broke out into gasps and whispers before being loudly shushed by someone around a corner.

"Doll-Boy. Rat thanks," he intoned imperiously, withdrawing a single Clat from the bag and placing it in the boy's hand.
Bored.

Bored bored bored.

If there was one thing Dawn never liked doing, it was waiting around. She laid on the lobby sofa with her feet hooked over the back, her platinum waves dangling towards the floor. She stared up at her Slatephone at one of the dozens of unanswered messages she'd received an automated reply to: "This message was unable to be delivered."

Dawn chewed on her lower lip apprehensively. Archer was out of contact, and for some reason, Gemini was being INCREDIBLY evasive about it. She huffed, blowing a lock of hair out of her eyes. It landed in her mouth as she drew a deep breath to sign and she spluttered ungracefully.

Nobody saw that.

Why did they leave her out of all the important things? She could be trusted to DO... STUFF too! Maybe it was because she'd built a reputation for being somewhat of an irresponsible fuckboi... Shut up, ME! Ever since she had that spat with her twin, everyone was treating her like she was made of glass. Dawn rested an arm over her forehead dramatically. Being the favorite was so hard sometimes.

Then there was Felix. She gazed at her palm for a long time. She wasn't sure how she felt about him yet, but he was interesting... and perplexing. Archer and Dawn were both unique in that they were quite sensitive to the emotional imprints of the Astral Sea. Seeing that knot of trauma twisted around Felix had broken her a little, and she felt awful for coming on to him so strongly now. Intimacy was clearly an area of sensitivity for him.

For him to have such a visceral interaction with her aura as well... spoke to just how connected those luminous body constructs were to the core of his being. They weren't just... replacement limbs, that WAS him. An edge case she couldn't have predicted, but maybe should have been more careful of.

"Perhaps it wasn't meant to be," she sighed melodramatically, adding more patterns to the empty array she'd been tracing in the Lobby's dimmed ceiling for the past hour. The ceiling was alight with brilliant golden thread forming a network of carefully aligned and connected concentric circles. Some overlapped eachother, others were connected by Rays or Arcs, surrounding the recessed ceiling lights like little solar systems. Designing arrays, particularly for unconventional purposes, was something of a passion hobby for her. She'd designed the network of arrays that had been tattooed onto Archer's body at his request.

Dawn held her phone up impatiently and checked her notifications. Nothing... she was about to sigh dramatically when her phone buzzed.

[Hey, sorry! I got SUPER distracted for… a lot longer than I meant. I’ll be right there! I’ll come get you? … Where are you?]


Distracted indeed. She huffed, and began tapping her reply with an air of irritation. The phone buzzed again, and she fumbled with it for a long moment before dropping it on her face with a disgruntled noise.

[Heyyyy never-mind, just, don't move. Be right there. Sorry.]


[Dummy.] She replied, before letting the phone flop to her abdomen and turning her inverted gaze towards the elevator.
"I don't see what my appearance has to do with your discourtesy, it's not like I can help what I look like," she quipped, remaining calm despite the spike of irritation. Who just attacks another persons appearance like that?

Rude.

"I felt some kind of seismic disturbance resonate through the exterior wall. With everything going on I thought to investigate and followed a trail back to your home thinking someone might be in trouble," she explained evenly... it wasn't entirely a lie. "I was shot at for my concern (without provocation I might add), and now you're here harassing me for resembling someone you know!" That mercenary actually hit her twice. A split second [Dragonscale] Fortification saved her, but he didn't need to know that.

"I've had about enough, and Golem does not intimidate me... no offense, Big Guy," she smiled up at the spirit before returning her gaze to Dean. "So, if you intend to kill the cat, then you better call that friend of yours. I have an early start and a long way to travel in the morning, so hurry it up," she ended dismissively, folding her arms.
"I'm headed back to the Hostel room that I paid for," she answered calmly. His name reveal and show of force did not change her stance or expression, though she did look up at Golem with a raised eyebrow. "Does he treat all of this settlement's guests this way?" She asked the creature, shaking her head.

She lowered her gaze back to Dean, tilting her head as she examined him... HIM, and though she seemed acutely aware of exactly where Golem was and what it was doing, it was Dean that her gaze pierced.

If this came to blows she was definitely the one at a disadvantage. He was clearly an Earth mage or Geomancer in his element, and she was underground at night time. Though it appeared he had an impressive reservoir of Mana to draw from, it was clear that he lacked advanced training. Once again, that didn't mean he wasn't dangerous, and without specific knowledge of the charms and vows he'd taken under Golem's stewardship, there wasn't any real way to gauge exactly HOW dangerous.

He HAD shown himself to be inattentive, however, which might be something she could take advantage of. Even after being warned that he was standing well within the perimeter of her [Fire/Light] Domain, he either didn't notice or didn't care. Information was the most powerful resource in a mage's duel, and she had reciprocated in kind (as is customary) when warned that she was violating his [Sanctum]. Her warning went disregarded, and even seemed to rumple his humors... Did... did he not know the custom? Or was he just dense?

"Listen, Mr. Locklear, I'm a regular visitor who has, so far, been very careful to be respectful of your [Sanctum] and not disturb any of your wards and charms. I don't generally practice any arts, or disturb the local Manascape while I'm here. I don't want to have this fight. However, I will defend myself if you continue to aggress me without cause," she answered without breaking eye contact.

ID felt her lungs reach capacity, and from Dean's perspective she stopped breathing.

[Stoneworks - Interior]

[A Chaotix14 / XianaEvermor Collaboration]



"You know that was never my intention. I hadn't thought about what would be visible from the awakened perspective, especially one time dilated and synergizing with items... And now that I think about it, that was real stupid of me." He looked at the cards on the table then back at Yue. "I'm... Sorry for having you experience that due to my lapse in judgement." he said slowly really thinking about his choice of words and his actions.

"It's... that was a thing... that happened," Yue muttered, sipping at her coffee while trying to parse what exactly she just experienced.

"That being said, it's also quite an accomplishment to make her keep playing a game that is absolutely unwinnable." Zolya piped up towards Archer. Which prompted an almost immediate response from Raudd. "No it's not. Because I know this one..." He said reaching towards the table and bringing down his fist on an empty area far away from the cards, causing them to jump up in the air slightly. "...Is a seven." He finished grabbing one of the cards in the moment they were airborne and revealing it to be in fact, 7 - The Archer. "I could see you switch this one up while she was grabbing for it."

"There's actually four ways to win, and only one of them involves collecting all the cards," grinned Archer. "The other three are: exposing my method of cheating (which has its own set of rules), learning the lesson the game is meant to teach, and outlasting my patience which... we've been at this for nearly eight years now, and its in my nature to be competitive, so..."

"So what you are saying realistically there is only one way to win this game for Yue. Exposing your method of cheating. Her not having learned the lesson after nearly eight years shows that it's too subtle for someone who has no context for what is happening." She said as she traced part of the array on the table with her finger. "Collecting all the cards is practically impossible without figuring out the cheats you use and outlasting your patience isn't going to happen within this lifetime with that attitude of yours."

"Anyways, we're getting a little off topic here." Raudd said to interrupt his sisters rant about the games generally poor ability to do what it's supposed to do. "And I do think it's a bit of a tall ask to just accept that all this magic bullshit is real."

"It's not a band-aid that you can just rip off, Freyja. Fang has been through a lot, and not just today. Undoing the damage caused by a careless diagnosis and irresponsible prescriptions takes time," he huffed, Zolya's response having clearly struck a nerve. "My methods may seem obtuse-"

"Wait...," Yue cut him off, his words seeming to snap her back to reality. "What do you know about my diagnosis?"

"Honey, please. I'm the Director's Executive Assistant, I have access to all of HR's records. We've all been fighting behind the scenes to get you proper care because we all have EYES and can see you getting worse under that hack. Even Arcanist has your back, and he doesn't stick his neck out for anyone but himself. The situation's delicate though," he explained, folding his legs and balancing the leaf-rimmed card by its corner on one finger. "Someone in the upper echelon has been working against specifically you, and until we find out who, we have to play by the rules. Those rules just happen to involve miles of red tape. I can speak candidly about it here because there's no risk of this conversation making it back to them."

"What...?"

"You're NOT sick," Archer stated, bluntly. "You never were; I just couldn’t ever come out and say that to you because I'm under constant scrutiny," Archer huffed. Yue flinched at having her inner voice echoed back to her, and couldn't hold back the stinging behind her eyes.

It too Raudd a little bit of effort when despite what Archer had just claimed, he just pulled off the band-aid. Using the momentary silence that followed from Archer’s statement Raudd spoke up. "Now, I know you're bound by all sorts of rules top-side, but that doesn't mean we can't scheme like the fey from down here." He said with an almost devious smile, this was more his element than the straight magic bullshit. "First things first, make sure you never take any of those crap medications you don't need." He said to Yue making a concerted effort to mellow out his smile.

"I'm betting they won't allow her to skip her medication, so I have a few suggestions of how to deal with that. If you could bring the pills she has to take down here, I'm betting Zafira can make sugar pills that look exactly like the prescription drugs. Otherwise we could employ one of the sylphs hanging around here as a guardian spirit for Yue, they'll be able to cast illusions on some harmless c vitamins to make them look like those prescription drugs to the human eye and those fancy camera's you guys have in the tower." He said nearly rattling off the thoughts as they moved through his head.

"Ehm, it wouldn't be a good idea to stick with the sylph plan for longer than a week though. They are quite reliant on the abundance of nature around them or they will grow weaker by the day and any air pollution is like poison to them." Zolya quickly mentioned to make clear that the sylph idea wasn't a long term solution.

Yue listened uncomfortably, and Archer's gaze flicked between her and the siblings. He sighed, deflating a little,

"Listen, before you go and make too many plans... Fang," he addressed, turning to Yue. "I wouldn't necessarily call them friends... but these people can be trusted. Their views have a tendency to clash with my station, but I don't disagree with them, and they're well-meaning in spite of how heavy handed they're being. You have to want this though, nobody can force you. If you decide you don't want to be here, I will take you away from this place," he stated, flicking his gaze towards the siblings for a moment.

"I... need a minute to think," muttered Yue, as she withdrew into her seat. She cradled her coffee gingerly as her shoulders relaxed. She took a soft breath through her nose, and tuned out the world, letting it stop around her as she sipped from her cup.
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