Chapter 60: A Short Walk Down A Long Hall

on January 16, 2012 in Volume 2 Book 3: Figments & Fragments, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which The Author Hopes You Appreciate The Fact That She Is Bleeding On The Keyboard To Type This

Fortunately, my classmate didn’t require anything in the way of explanation to change his feedback. He ended up suggesting I make some small decorative flourishes to the boxthat would tie into the interior design, which wasn’t a terrible idea.

I didn’t want to go to the extremes of the old timey TV boxes that had indirectly inspired my aquarium theme because that would not tastefully blend in to a modern living room, but I thought maybe adding some kind of trim around the edge of the box wouldn’t necessarily go amiss.

After class, Nicki and I walked out together, since neither of us had anywhere to hurry off to.

“Oh, you want to take the scenic route?” Nicki said as I headed down the long irregular curving hallway that seemed to be the only way out of the Emily Center.

“Funny,” I said.

“Ooh!” Nicki said.

“What?” I said.

“I just had an idea for how to salvage the drawing of you,” she said. “You could make it into a feature of the fish tank.”

“But I don’t want a naked image of me to be a feature of the fish tank,” I said.

“No, I mean, you could say that it will display the owner’s face,” Nicki said. “Then yours is just like a placeholder to demonstrate the concept?”

“So, the idea is that everybody who buys it would have a tiny naked picture of themselves hidden inside their living room whenever they aren’t using the TV?” I asked.

“…it’s possible I didn’t think that one all the way through,” she said.

“Making the entire image customizable makes a lot of sense in the long run,” I said. “If I were making an actual product, I’d be focusing on that as the actual goal and then have a few pre-made ones to choose from. But we’re going to be graded on our design skills, and for the aesthetic effect I’m going for there’s a lot more to work with inside the box than outside it.”

“I guess that makes sense,” NIcki said.

“Speaking of aesthetic effects… I guess you decided to keep your hair orange?” I asked.

She’d glamoured it up for the dance, but while she’d relaxed the shaping and given herself a little trim it was still the same vivid color it had been on Thursday. She’d told me the spell didn’t cost much to maintain, but it did have to be maintained.

“Well, I think it’s more interesting this way,” she said. “I mean, you seemed to like it, so…”

It was weird to think that she was doing things to impress me… it might have been flattering, but I hated to think that she was altering her appearance to suit what she imagined my tastes to be. Okay, as a glamourist, that wasn’t really as drastic as it might have sounded, but I still felt it would be better if she would relax and just do what she wanted.

“Well, it is cool,” I said. “It’s more that I didn’t really notice it before you glammed it.”

“Well, yeah, exactly,” she said.

“I mean, you’re a creative person,” I said. “You can probably do lots of things that are cool with your hair… and you don’t have to all the time. You’re not going to like fade into the background if your head’s not on fire. I noticed you because you talked to me and we got along.”

“Sorry,” she said. “But I do fade into the background? You know a gnome ran into me one time?”

“That’s… kind of impressive, in a way,” I said.

“I mean, she seemed distracted,” Nicki said. “But still…”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Anyway… if it makes you feel any better about the mermaid, I don’t think most would recognize at a glance that the body is yours. I mainly recognized it because I’ve seen you drawn in that style.”

“I didn’t,” I said. “Though I don’t spend a lot of time looking at my body… but, yeah, that’s why I think I’ll be okay if I just alter the face. Even if I make it less distinct… but how many people do you think have seen Steff’s sketches, though?”

“I don’t know,” Nicki said. “She let me flip through it at a rainbow meeting… I said I was looking for tattoo ideas, and I kind of was, but it was really more of a conversational gambit? Like, I’d dared myself to talk to three new people that week, I mean really talk and not just say hi or something, and so I had to find something to talk to them about. I thought being interested in her sketches might break the ice, but it kind of backfired… she handed it to me and said I could look through it if I wanted to and walked away to talk to someone else.”

“She wasn’t trying to blow you off, I’m sure,” I said. “She probably felt embarrassed and didn’t want to show it.”

“Oh, I figured that out, eventually,” Nicki said. “I mean, from what I could tell, it seems like she’s more likely to show off with her knives than with her drawing, which is nuts because she’s crazy good with a pencil.”

“Well, she learned how to fight in a mostly-human class,” I said. “That makes it a little bit easier for her to see her natural grace than competing with a bunch of full-blooded elves. It’s funny, you don’t seem to have much trouble talking to me.”

“Don’t I? Well, I spent the whole first day trying to work up the courage,” she said. “I’m lucky Professor Stone encourages collaboration or else I’d probably still be doing it. Poor Professor… do you think he’s in trouble?”

“With the clan or the school?”

“The clan,” Nicki said. “I mean, that’s his mom’s clan, right?”

“I think so,” I said. “But I don’t think they’d hold an attempt against him, when it failed and the thieves were caught. Dwarves can be unforgiving of theft and people who fail to prevent it, but I think they accept the existence of thieves as a fact of life. He might have been in an uncomfortable position between the university or the imperium and the clan about how to deal with the thieves. The fact that they came to a private bond agreement means there was an agreement, but who knows how much negotiation and pressure it took to come to that point?”

“I guess,” Nicki said. “So… see you Thursday?”

“Definitely,” I said. “But, you know, you’re welcome to hang out with me outside of class. I mean, there doesn’t have to be a specific event or anything. We eat dinner at the Arch pretty much every day, for instance… I’ve got the last class of the day in our group, so it’s usually after I get back from my melee class.”

“And it’s okay if I come to?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Like… tonight.”

“Any night,” I said. “You don’t even have to check in or anything… you can just plop down at our table.”

“I might do that sometimes,” she said. “But I wouldn’t want to intrude…”

“I’m pretty sure everybody in the group likes you,” I said.

“Maybe I’ll come by tonight, then!” she said.

“Great!” I said.

At the front door, she kissed the tips of two of her fingers and touched them to the door frame as she went out. It was a weird kind of affectation, but a lot of the G&D majors seemed pretty fond of the unconventional building.

“See you tonight, then, I guess,” she said.

“Yeah,” I said.

It was only when she started heading off that I started to think about the downside to adding another person to our circle… like, we’d have a lot of backstory to explain if we wanted to talk about the owl-turtle thing or anything else that was going on.


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33 Responses to “Chapter 60: A Short Walk Down A Long Hall”

  1. nemka says:

    When is Mack going to figure out that the building is not just a building?
    I like the concept of the building, but I think its dragging with her just blindly not getting it while everyone else does.

    Current score: 1
    • zeel says:

      Agreed. Last time everyone assumed she knew something, one of her best friends had a very unexpected anatomical feature. And we all know how that went.

      Current score: 0
      • Kallio says:

        And a brain is a way more unexpected anatomical feature, for a building, than a penis is for a girl.

        Current score: 1
        • Bilbo says:

          Not really. About even up.

          And really, a brain in a building is more useful.

          Current score: 0
          • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

            You think so? I’d consider a girl with a penis way less unexpected in the MUniverse. There are- IDK how the population is, but if their population is anything like ours then easily millions of transwomen in their world, and on the order of a million in the Imperial Republic. How many sentient buildings do you think there are?

            I’d say Steph puts her penis to pretty good use. Well, when she’s not putting the romance in necromancer, anyways.

            Current score: 3
  2. Anne says:

    I quite agree, it really is time for Nicki to say something explicitly to Mac about it. Since she is so dense!

    Current score: 0
    • cnic says:

      It hasn’t occurred to Nicki that Mack doesn’t know. She just assumed she was taking the long way. If Nicki does go to dinner she might end up mentioning Mack taking the “scenic route” and then something finally clicking.

      Current score: 0
      • Christy says:

        Where was it stated that the building was sentient? And is there a short way that Mack doesn’t see or something? Even I’m confused…

        Current score: 0
        • Jennifer says:

          The fact the building of sentient is known more by “Word of God” than in story, though there have been some hints in world. It was stated outright in the blog post where the building name was auctioned off.

          Current score: 1
          • cnic says:

            I never saw any of the meta things. It is able to be inferred from various chapters where we see others interact with the building, Mack having such a hard time with it, and some things a few people said.

            Current score: 0
  3. Lunchbox says:

    Stunning, yet again.

    Current score: 0
  4. Anon says:

    “And it’s okay if I come to?”

    I’m pretty sure that’s a typo in that context.

    Current score: 0
  5. Iason says:

    Thanks for a nice chapter. Mack and Nicki’s friendship makes me smile.
    Bleeding on the keyboard does not, but the dedication is appreciated (as always).

    Current score: 0
  6. Kallio says:

    Lovely chapter.

    I saw on Twitter about your finger; I hope it heals quickly.

    Current score: 0
  7. Greenwood Goat says:

    Typos:

    …small decorative flourishes to the boxthat would tie into the interior design…

    “I guess that makes sense,” NIcki said.

    …And it’s okay if I come to?..

    The last one is ambiguous. It could be a misspelling of “too” or it could be one of those colloquial contractions, i.e. “And it’s okay if I come to (eat at the same table with you)?”

    Current score: 0
  8. Tierhon says:

    Appreciated, but would rather you take care of yourself first.

    I think most of your fans have either the RSS feed or email notification set up (some both), so it is not as if we would ever miss an update.

    Current score: 0
  9. Ducky says:

    How many dollars would you like me to appreciate it with? 🙂 Usually I save for the big drives, when there’s something special to put more towards, but I’d be more than happy to pitch in early.

    Current score: 0
  10. Zathras IX says:

    Emily Center
    Is where everyone’s in
    It for the long hall

    Current score: 3
  11. Month says:

    Well, she could always sell her the first volume of her misadventures! More income for our hostess, and no exposition to disrupt the flow of the narrative.

    Do you accept their coins, madame?

    Current score: 0
  12. Drazaello says:

    As for Mack being unaware of the hall being sentient… Well… obliviousness on the par of a supernatural ability IS kind of her thing. I’m pretty sure she took levels in Solipsistic Adept. <__>

    Current score: 0
    • DarkSage says:

      One would think that Mack, may have “sensed” the sentience of her surroundings. Which,I think would make her more un-easy than normal.
      *ie: Normal for Mack, that is *

      Current score: 0
      • cnic says:

        When you said “sensed” I thought of Mack’s other abilities and disadvantages. I wonder if Emily counts as a virgin and what would count as her blood. Or did Mack have to have human blood? I can never remember the specifics of her feeding.

        Current score: 0
        • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

          She needs human blood.

          Current score: 0
          • Lunaroki says:

            Correct. Mack needs virgin human blood, however as a half-demon she can eat just about anything. At least anything that could be described even loosely as food, and perhaps simply anything she puts her mind to eating. If the Emily center has an equivalent of blood that isn’t simply a flow of mystical energy or something similarly intangible it is conceivable that Mack could eat it. She might even find it a novel dining experience, or it might just taste like sheetrock and concrete.

            Current score: 0
            • Greenwood Goat says:

              Getting into strange territory here. The simplest thing would be to take the chalk vs cheese line and say that it doesn’t work anything like that. I think we can assume that Emily was rather averse to the idea of mice nibbling holes in her – Seth and Lacey found it suspiciously easy to get out once they had been polymorphed – so what she would do about a half-demon chewing the carpet, I don’t know. As to whatever conceptual quality of virginity the Emily might possess, and whether or how she could lose it, the possible mechanics of it boggle even my mind. I do seem to recall that the Marquis de Sade once deflowered the cell he was imprisoned in when a certain crack in the wall caught his eye, but, well, all other things aside, Emily’s walls seem to be free of any such openings. Perhaps if somebody (a dwarf, perhaps) constructed a golemic version of Jacob Epstein’s Rock Drill (link)… If he planted the seed, she could give birth to a new postmodern school! >:=D>

              Current score: 0
            • blink says:

              well Mack is a bit of a carpet muncher 😉

              Current score: 0
  13. pedestrian says:

    i am hoping Our Mack can get it together with Nicki. frankly i would enjoy A.E.’s depiction of cunnilingus. that has always been a big turn on for me, the sight, the sounds, the smells and the tastes. I think that is why i a have remained such a plain vanilla heterosexual. Dull and boring is how people describe me. As long as i don’t drink and stay out of barfights.

    maybe Nicki would enjoy some B&D?
    Could Mack start Nicki as her sub and then gift her to her owner as a surprise?
    Amy might enjoy having a new toy?
    or how about a 3-way with Ian or Steff
    4-way but i’m guessing Ian would not appreciate having to watch Steff buggering Mackenzie.

    Current score: 0
  14. Eric M. says:

    In the words of HCBailly: Hooray. More party members!

    Current score: 0