OT: Tales of AU – Introductions and InversionsAlexandraErin on July 15, 2013 in Other Tales, Tales of AU
In Which Aliases Are Abandoned
It doesn’t take me long to figure out that our resident adviser… one of the only humans on the floor, even if you do count Wyne… is going to be pretty useless. She seems to be afraid of us… that could be inexperience if this is her first semester as an RA, but I have a feeling that there’s more to it than that. This feeling firms up quite a bit when she asks everyone to introduce themselves and uses the term “species” to refer to intelligent races… I’ve seen human supremacists refer to other races that way, but she seems to just genuinely not know better, which is surprising. That’s the kind of thing you learn in elementary school.
Animals have species… even though they’re all a single order of creation, they can’t interbreed outside of their own lines. People don’t work like that. To call goblins or gnomes or whatever “species” is to compare them to animals. I’d guess that there’s no malice in the girl’s heart, but I think the selective apathy it takes to get to the age of nineteen or twenty and manage to avoid picking up even that much of a clue on certain topics can be as bad as malice… maybe worse.
As astounding as it is that she got that wrong, it does help me put into context just how young she is… she’s probably not more than a year ahead of me, which means she’s less than two years older than I am. I remember the warning I gave Alea about taking anything I said with a confusingly proverbial grain of salt… Kiersta the RA has been put into a position of responsibility, but she’s just another student like me, and only an adult under the same bare technicality that declares I’m one.
No one calls Kiersta on her flub, though some people are noticeably uncomfortable, but we just move on and the introductions go pretty quickly. The actual instructions Kiersta gave were to say our name, our “species”, our major, and something interesting about her.
There’s a woman named Lidiya. She has a Khazarusian accent and describes herself as the princess of the rat kingdom of Mariinsky, which I guess qualifies as interesting if anything does. She looks more or less human with some rodent overtones, but that’s probably not the only form she can wear.
The same may be true of the mermaid Feejee, a music major who wants to travel… either every picture I’ve seen of a mermaid is wrong, or she’s able to split her tail into scaly legs. I’ve heard of mermaids coming ashore and walking around, but they’re usually depicted with smooth skin on their lower bodies… I wonder if that’s artistic license, or if this is an intermediate form. If she can choose how to present when she’s wearing legs, then I have to wonder exactly how flexible it is… like, if her legs can be scaly or smooth, is the same true of her upper body?
There’s Oru, a goblin who’s also majoring in the music specialization of bardic arts but who confesses to an interest in metal crafting as her interesting tidbit. I have to wonder if she’s taking any armoury classes, but I’d prefer to catch her alone to ask. She’s paired off with Shiel, a kobold who’s undeclared and says she mainly wants to learn something she can use to get out of the warren for good.
Wyne makes a big deal out of spelling her nickname and saying that everyone calls her it. I wonder if anybody ever called her Wyne who wasn’t told that, but I don’t say anything… if you can’t reinvent yourself in college, then what’s the point of leaving home for it?
Wyne showed up on the arm of an undine, whose name is apparently Celine. I’ve only ever seen a picture of a water sprite before, and that was a drawing on the cover of one of my mother’s romance novels. The figure in the picture was taller and her body was translucent, like she was made out of living water. Celine’s body is the color of sea foam, but it looks like flesh and blood… except when she’s in motion. Solid flesh with the usual earth-heavy elemental balance of most mortal races doesn’t ripple and flow like that. At one point I see Wyne touch her arm to get her attention, and it makes a series of concentric rings, like a raindrop hitting the surface of a pond.
Also, at one point, a third hand smoothly breaks the surface of Celine’s side to brush a strand of hair out of her face. I didn’t read Tides of Love, but I’m pretty sure its protagonist couldn’t do that.
Celine’s appearance is so fascinating I don’t catch her major or what fact she shares… I barely come to in time to learn that Trina is a triclops subtle artist whose human mother was a bit on the nose when it came to naming. There are a couple of burrow gnomes from the shire of Logfallen, named Heather and Hazel, and a belligerent nagakin named Celia. Then Brianna the half-ogre and Clicky the insect woman introduce themselves… Brianna gives her race as human and no one is rude enough to challenge this characterization. Clicky says that the common name for her people is “myrmidon”, from the elvish. She rattles off her actual name in her own language, or at least what she calls “the auditory component” of it. Kiersta asks her if it means anything.
“It’s the time and location where I was born,” Clicky says.
Then there’s a half-elven woman named Demeter, who describes herself as the “guide” for a pair of domesticated field nymphs who are apparently called Field and Flower… they’re attending AU as part of what Demeter calls a “pilot program” being done by a farm collective.
Field looks attentive, though she says little… Flower seems to be pouting about something. They’re both very attractive, obviously… shapely, blonde, and without a stitch of clothing. Flower is… for lack of a less ridiculous-sounding word… the more buxom of the two. She’s also taller. I would probably think her the prettier of the two, but it seems like she has a permanent scowl and that kind of ruins it… I notice her glaring at Demeter through narrowed eyes while she’s introducing the three of them.
Demeter’s also a student. She’s a druid, majoring in herbalism.
There’s a girl named Twyla who looks for all the world like an ordinary human except for the pair of short, slightly curved horns jutting out of her head. She’s apparently studying divination to try to research her own ancestry.
Alea introduces herself as Alea of Durakesh, major undeclared. It’s weird to think of someone making what was no doubt a long and dangerous journey from an underground city to the surface without some specific goal, but she’s already told me she wasn’t the first choice.
Since I’m sitting next to her, that makes me next.
“I’m Kegan Blaise,” I say. “And… I’m a half-demon.”
There are more human-blood or human-ish people in Harlowe than I’d counted on, so I’m expecting a strong reaction, possibly even a negative one, but I’d rather have it out in the open and since everyone I’ll be living with for the next year is in the room, it seems like there’s no time like the present. Unless the whole room goes all-out angry mob on me, telling everyone at once seems safer than letting people find out one at a time, especially in situations where they might be feeling cornered.
And there is… well, there are reactions. Celine seems to collapse in on herself a little bit, if briefly… it’s like watching a humanoid wave cresting and breaking. Kiersta goes pale and freezes. Demeter looks a little alarmed. Flower just glares at me, but I’m not sure there’s anything personal there because she seems to favor everyone with the same squinty-eyed stare.
And beside me, Alea says in a voice that carries softly, “Are you really?”
“Yeah,” I say. “Yes, I am.”
“Interesting,” she says… and I both want and don’t want to pull her out of the room and find out exactly what she means by that, what she thinks of this.
“And I’m an armoury major, and something interesting about me so that’s me,” I say. I turn to the person next to me, another human-appearing person who I haven’t taken much notice of, and try to move things along. “So I guess it’s you now.”
“My name is Two,” she recites. “I am a golem. I am majoring in domestic arts. There is nothing interesting about me.”
My first inclination is to say that her voice is a monotone, but that would be a lot less affecting. A monotone is what you’d expect from something inanimate or totally not human… okay, so maybe Kiersta’s not the only one with a touch of unaddressed racial chauvinism… you know what I mean, though. Two’s voice sounds… empty, like it’s been drained of all… or never contained any… emotion.
It’s a hopeless voice.
It makes me angry… furious.
Who the hell would make someone like that?