6: Introductions

on June 10, 2007 in 01: Welcome Weekend

In Which Minor Characters Get Names

The animal brigade came in and walked to the back of the room without even giving me a glance. Two more girls came in after that. One was a mermaid, walking on legs covered with iridescent green scales and naked as the nymphs but with a lot more ornamentation… she looked like she was wearing an entire hoard of pirate treasure at once: gold and silver bracelets on her arms, bejeweled rings on her fingers, and enough ropes of pearls around her neck to hang an entire crew of outlaws in style. Her earrings were each made of two gold coins sandwiched around something that looked suspiciously like platinum. She looked around the room with an odd half-smile, and then sat down on the edge of the TV cabinet. The last student to enter was a kobold, who scurried in and sat down on the floor near the goblin.I’d been counting, and the kobold made twenty four… at two students per room, that had to be a full house. Sure enough, a few minutes later a very human-looking woman with a clipboard came in. She did a quick head-count before she started talking.

“Hi!” she said. “I’m Kiersta, your resident advisor, and I want to welcome you all to Harlowe Hall and to Magisterius University. I know we’re all going to have a lot of fun together this year, but we’ve got some stuff to go over, so let’s get started, okay?”

“Why do we have a human R.A.?” the hairless, snake-like girl asked.

“Well, I don’t see why that matters,” Kiersta said. “Now, we’re going to go around the room and introduce ourselves. Just say your name, what, uh, species you are,and what your major is, if you’ve decided… and one fun or interesting thing about yourself. Okay? So, like, I would say that my name is Kiersta, and I’m a full-blooded human, and I’m majoring in communication. And then if anybody has any questions, they can ask, so we can all get to know each other. Okay? Why don’t you start,” she said to the haughty, silver-feathered girl.

“I am called Leda,” she said. “I am a swan maiden. I major in glamour and design. My mother is heiress to kingdom of Mariinsky Lake. She send me here for improve my human speech.”

“Cool,” Kiersta said. “Does anybody have any questions for Leda?”

“Yeah, I’ve got a question. If you’re a swan maiden now, what will you be after you lose your cherry?” Puddy asked.

Leda appeared not to hear.

“Let’s not make any questions personal,” Kiersta said.

“It’s not personal, it applies to the species as a whole,” Puddy said. Kiersta simply told the treasure-laden mermaid that she was next.

“My name is Feejee, and I’m a mermaid,” she said. “I’m a music major, and when I graduate I want to travel around the world.”

“If you’re a mermaid now…” Puddy began, but Kiersta pointed to the goblin and said, “How about you now?”

Her name was Oru, and she was an armoury major who liked to sing. The kobold, Shiel, was undeclared, but wanted to do something to help the plight of her people. The sylph was named Mariel, she was also majoring in glamour, and her fun fact was that she was “a super-fun person who always has something positive to say about everybody.” Puddy introduced herself as a “dwarfo-dracono-giganto-nympho hybrid with a little bit of human blood”, who was “majoring in life”, and invited anybody to come to room 417 if they wanted to find out what was fun about her.

That made it my turn. Fun.

“My name is Mackenzie,” I said. “Mackenzie Blaise.” Nobody else had given a last name… that’s kind of a human thing… but I was trying to stall. Most peoples’ parentage was fairly obvious, so the whole “say your species” thing felt like it was singling me out. I know that’s not probably how it was meant, but that’s how it felt. I wondered if anybody would say anything if I just skipped it. “I’m majoring in applied enchantment, and… I like to write.”

“You didn’t say what you were,” the snake-eyed girl in the chair said.

“That’s okay,” Kiersta said. “I don’t want to put anybody on the spot…”

“If everybody else is going to say it, I think she should,” the girl insisted, staring at me with her lidless yellow eyes. “She doesn’t look like anything at all. She looks… human.”

“I’m half-human,” I said

“That doesn’t tell us what you are,” the same girl said. “You’re not pretty enough to be a half-elf. You’re awfully short for a half-ogre.”

“If somebody can be a half-elf or a half-ogre, I can be a half-human,” I said. “Next?”

“I’m, uh, Trina,” the girl beside me said. “Well, my father was a cyclops, so…” She pointed up at her extra eye. “There you go. I’m majoring in music, with a minor in the subtle arts, and an interesting thing about me is that I can read a book and watch TV at the same time.”

The burrow gnomes were a pair of cousins named Hazel and Honey, from the shire of Logfallen. Hazel was majoring in domestic arts. Honey was undeclared. It was, as I’d guessed, the first time they’d been out of their homeland.

“Is it true that shire women keep their holes extra tidy?” Puddy asked. Honey giggled and blushed. Hazel glared. Kiersta repeated her injunction about personal questions, to which Puddy professed her innocence.

The snake girl was named Celia, and she said that she was a nagakin who was majoring in illusion. Her fun fact was that she had a paralytic poison that could arrest breathing and she slept with her eyes opened so all we fuckers had better not get any ideas.

Belinda, who I’d identified as a half-ogre introduced herself as an ogress… evidently she took pride in that side of her heritage… and was, surprise surprise, a martial combat major, and she was here on a skirmish scholarship. The reptile woman gave a name for herself and her species that I can’t write or pronounce, and she was majoring in the subtle arts but had also got a place on the skirmish team. Yay, go team.

The nymph who had all the gay pride decals was named Barley. She was a cereal nymph, majoring in agronomy, and she explained that while she wasn’t herself gay, she supported the prism pride coalition one hundred percent. “After all,” she said. “They’re grown that way.”

Next to her was the horned girl, Twyla, who admitted without any self-consciousness that she had no idea who or what her parents were, and she was studying divination because she hoped to find out. She had a minor in music, and played the harpsichord. The two-headed girl on her right introduced themselves as Sara and Tara Leighton, and said they were “technically human” but declined to elaborate. They said they were still deciding on majors, in part because they both wanted to study different things but had to take the same classes.

Across from them was the dark elf, who introduced herself by declaring: “I am Delia Daella d’Wyr, daughter of Daella Degra d’Wyr, daughter of Degra Daura d’Wyr…” and on, through a whole score of generations of matriarchs. She concluded with, “Those who style themselves as my friends call me Dee.” Breaking absolutely no stereotypes, she was a double major in martial combat and divine magic with a minor in the subtle arts.

As soon as she had finished, the golem girl recited, “My name is Two. I am a golem. I am majoring in domestic arts. There is nothing interesting about me.”

My first inclination was to say that her voice was a monotone, but that would have been a lot less affecting. A monotone is what you’d expect from something inanimate or totally not human (again, there goes my racial chauvinism… you know what I mean, though)… but her voice sounded empty, like it had been drained of all (or never contained any) emotion. It was a hopeless voice. It made me angry. Who the hell gives a golem self-awareness? What’s the point?

But the other nymph was already talking. Her name was Amaranth, and she was, naturally, also a cereal nymph, and she was majoring in life magic. Much as Barley had done with her prism tattoos, Amaranth explained that the badge pinned to her flesh didn’t signify that she was a member of the Temple of Khersis, or that she even agreed with all their doctrines, but she believed that Khersians did a lot of good in the world, anyway.

“Doesn’t that thing fucking hurt?” Belinda asked, wide-eyed.

“Oh, yes,” Amaranth said, with a smile. “Quite a bit. That’s the other reason I’m wearing it.”

Some people looked confused at this, but Puddy gave a wolf whistle.

“What did I tell you, Mack?” she said to me. “This is where the freaky people come.”

“Please don’t call me that,” I asked again.

“I am Sooni,” the fox girl said. “I am a kitsuyokai. I’m majoring in applied enchantments with minors in transportation and in communication. These are my nekoyokai friends, Suzi, Maliko, and Kai.”

“And what are you majoring in?” Kiersta asked the nekoyokai.

“Um… we don’t know yet,” the one called Maliko said, and all three giggled.

That left the stone skinned girl.

“My name is Raquel,” she said. “I’m… well, I’m actually fully human. I’m majoring in martial combat. An interesting fact about me? You know how oil of stoneskin has a warning label that says it’s not a contraceptive? My parents are the reason.”

“Fabulous,” Kiersta said. “It’s so great to meet all of you. I know we’re going to have a blast. But you know? This is my third year that I’ve been an R.A., and this is the first floor I’ve been on in any hall that didn’t have even one delving and discovery major. That’s a pretty common major. I wonder why that is?”

“Were the other floors you’ve been on in Harlowe?” Shiel, the kobold, asked.

“Uh, no,” Kiersta said. “Why?”

“Oh, no real reason,” Shiel said in a mock-disinterested tone. “It’s just… some races don’t find the idea of leading a team of armed bandits into some poor creatures’ homes and slaughtering them for their gold and magical treasures as appealing as humans do, you know?”

“I didn’t mean any offense…”

“Oh, I’m not offended,” Shiel said unconvincingly.

“Oh, well, anyway,” Kiersta said. “Just to go over a few rules… you should already have read these in your student handbook and the safety guide, but… students are not allowed to visit in the opposite sex dorms between full dark and sunrise. Noisy activities should be confined to the daylight hours, and remember to just be considerate of your neighbors. If you have to go outdoors after full dark, stay on the lighted paths, or within the pent. The library, student union, and temple are open all night, if you have your key card. Uh… students are reminded to carry certified magical weapons with them at all times when leaving their dormitories. We need to appoint a student senator for our floor within two weeks, so… bring your nominations to me by next Friday, and we’ll have ballots on the Friday after that. Um… let’s see… a reminder that this is a dry campus, so alcohol of any kind is not… yes, um… Puddy?”

“I got a racial exemption for alcohol,” she said.

“Right… because you’re a dwarf,” Kiersta read off her clipboard, obviously skeptical. “But don’t let anybody else have it. Yes, you have a question, Amaranth?”

“We have a racial exemption for the visitation rule, right?” she asked.

“Uh, right,” Kiersta said, checking her clipboard again. “Nymphs may visit the men’s dormitory at any hour, so that covers you, Barley… and Cer… uh, Puddy. Apparently.” Again, she looked like she wasn’t sure she believed what her clipboard was telling her about Puddy, but didn’t say anything further.

“With respect to all my relations in the Lower Silver Beech Hamadryad Nation, I don’t think that’ll be necessary,” Puddy said, grinning wolfishly. She pinched Mariel’s ass, making her squeal.

“I think that’s about all,” Kiersta said. “Oh, except that there’ll be doughnuts and pastries in the basement lounge tomorrow, and the dean of non-human students will be there to welcome everybody and highlight some upcoming activities. We’ll be having floor meetings once a week, but they’ll be optional, except the one in two weeks where you’ll elect your senator. Um… and that’s it. Oh, and no lighting candles in your rooms or in the hall. If you’ve got spell work that requires an open flame… or anything messy, for that matter… there’s labs on the first floor for your use. You can put your name on the schedule outside the door if you want to reserve a time in a particular room, but there’s not usually any problem getting one.”

“Maybe we should get one of those schedules for our room,” Puddy said. I guess it was my turn to ignore her.

“So, that’s the meeting,” Kiersta said. “I’m on duty for the hall tonight, so I’ll actually be awake pretty much all night if anybody has any questions or problems or anything. Welcome to MU, everybody.”

“I think I’m going to go to bed,” I told Puddy. I wasn’t even remotely tired, but it was as good a reason as any to shut myself in my room and not have to socialize with anybody.

“Alright,” Puddy said. “I don’t think you should expect to see me before morning. Unless you want to do a three-way, then we can just go back to our room and push our beds together.”

“Oh, don’t joke like that!” Mariel said, giggling. I wasn’t sure Puddy was joking. “Anyway, since Barley’ll be sleeping with the boys, my room will be perfect.”

“Barley and Amaranth aren’t roommates?” I asked, surprised. I’m not sure why I assumed they would be, except that they’d come in together and seemed to know each other.

“What, you think we should all be separated out by race?” Celia asked venomously.

“Hey, Cele… I’ve got somewhere you can stick that tongue,” Puddy said, She held up two fingers and licked between it.

Celia held up her little finger… a gesture I didn’t understand… and then got up and stalked out of the room. Some of the others were trickling out, while a few were simply hanging around, forming conversations. The yokai squad had been among the first out.

I said goodnight to Puddy and Mariel… who I wasn’t very fond of, but it seemed like she’d be spending a lot of time with Puddy so I figured I should be nice… and headed for my room. Standing in the open door of 416 was Sooni, chewing out Kai in their native language. Kai was cringing and putting her hands over her head, as if she were being physically pummeled, and ran next door, darting into the room between a bemused Maliko and Suzi, who followed her in, shutting the door behind them. Without understanding the language, I could only guess, but it looked like Sooni didn’t plan on sharing her room. She saw me watching, and gave me the same gesture Celia had made before slamming her door.

I closed my own, locking it behind me. It had been a very long day. Thankfully, it was over… and tomorrow, doughnuts. I didn’t get hungry very often, but I liked doughuts. Doughnuts would be an auspicious start to my second day at college.

Which really, I thought, would be my first full day… so no matter how much this day had sucked, I couldn’t say that my first day at college had been terrible. I still had a chance to get it right tomorrow.

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2 Responses to “6: Introductions”

  1. pedestrian says:

    “It’s just… some races don’t find the idea of leading a team of armed bandits into some poor creatures’ homes and slaughtering them for their gold and magical treasures as appealing as humans do, you know?”

    Straight and to the point, Shiel is displaying an unfortunate bias against humans. Her prejudices are misplaced as she is lumping all humans into the bands of murderous thugs that wantonly kill and pillage.

    After all, the smarter humans do their pillaging with paper treaties and contracts. And hire mercenaries to do the actual killing and raping and arson. You know what a silk suit costs. Would you want to mess it up or dirty your lily-whites with actual violence?

    Current score: 4
  2. ElectricHarpsichord says:

    Typo report: “sat down on the floor near the goblin.I’d been…”
    There should be a space between “goblin.” and “I’d”.

    “the kobold made twenty four…”
    There should be a hyphen in “twenty four.”

    Current score: 0