170: Textbook Cases

on March 5, 2008 in 06: A Period of Conflict

In Which Mackenzie Has Problems


Had I actually done that? Had I put my grandmother down for my emergency contact? I must have. I could see myself doing that automatically… after all, I’d been putting her name on forms for as long as I’d been old enough to do things for myself.

I’d have to get that fixed, but I also needed to make sure she knew I was alright

“You do it,” I said. “Tell her I’m fine. And bring me whatever I need to fill out to change my contact.”

He gave me an odd look.

“What?” I said. “I can have whoever I want for my emergency contact, can’t I? I am an adult.”

“Yeah,” he said. “I suppose you are.” He raised the mirror to his face as he headed for the door. “Martha Blaise, 823 Hawthorne, Little Turning, Treholme. Hello, Mrs. Blaise. This is Roger Corvin, from the Gygax Memorial Healing Center, and I’ve got an update on…”

Who would I put as my new contact? I could leave it blank, but that might look weird. Though, there had to have been somebody in the history of emergency contact information who hadn’t had anybody to put down.

I could always put down Amaranth or Two. Or Ian. He had a mirror in his room, though maybe it was early in our relationship. Though, when I thought about it, I’d only met Amaranth and Two a few days before him.

When I thought about it, it seemed weird to be putting down anybody I’d just met a few weeks ago as my “in case of emergency” name.

Call me crazy… I’d sleep with somebody and declare a relationship with them, but putting their name down on a form somewhere seemed like a huge step, somehow.

Roger came back with a couple forms and a small glass vial of blue liquid. He had a somewhat grim expression on his face.

“What did you tell her?” I asked.

“That I couldn’t tell her anything except that you’re fine,” he said. “She made me promise I’d tell you to get in touch with her.”

“Well, you told me,” I said.

“She wanted me to swear to Lord Khersis I’d give you that message,” Roger said. “When I told her I don’t follow Khersis, she blanked out on me.”

“Sorry,” I said.

“You’re willing to apologize for her intolerance?”

“Somebody has to,” I said. “It’s not like she’s ever going to.”

“It’s hard for me to believe somebody could be so obtuse,” Roger said. He handed me the contact form and held up the vial and the other piece of paper. “This is a sleeping potion. Eight hour dose. I’ll leave it for you if you think you might want it, but I need you to…”

“Sign for it,” I said. “I know the drill.”

“Actually, I need you to sign a kissing consent form in case we need to wake you up in a hurry.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I am not,” Roger said. “Look, conditional termination potions are cheaper and easier to make than full power ones, and it gives us a handy failsafe in case there’s an emergency and nobody’s around who can counter mystical sleep.”

“But kissing?”

“If you figure out how to make a sleeping potion that can be negated by a handshake, let me know,” he said. “But take it or don’t… it’s your sleep schedule.”

“It wouldn’t be you kissing me awake, would it?”

“Not likely. My shift ends in a bit.”

I signed the consent form and he set the stoppered vial down.

“I’m going to need some time to think about this other one,” I said, holding up the contact form.

“That’s fine,” he said. “Just give it to anybody tomorrow, or leave it at the desk when you leave.”

“I am leaving tomorrow, right?” I asked.

“Unless something unexpected happens,” he said.

“Like what?”

“Like you’re beset by a mysterious illness that causes you to forget the definition of the word ‘unexpected’.”

I stuck out my tongue.

“I always wondered if all Harlowites were as sophisticated as Steff,” he said.

When I was alone, I turned my mind back to the problem of my emergency contact. I wanted to put Amaranth’s name down. She was my owner. Ours was the most intimate relationship I had. If there was any personal connection I wanted to immortalize in bureaucracy, it was this one.

The problem was, there was no easy way to get in touch with her. She was in a different place every night, and didn’t have a mirror.

Two didn’t have a mirror, either, but she would be a lot easier to find, and would be able to find Amaranth and anybody else I cared about and let them know what was happening.

I put Two down, then after some deliberation I added Ian in the alternate spot. His room had a mirror. I’d have to make sure it was okay with him before I turned in the form, but maybe he’d be pleased that I’d thought of him. I’d have to explain my decision to Amaranth, but I felt that she’d approve. She needed to be free to take care of her work, and she’d already recognized Two’s judgment in trying to send me to the healing center.

It still seemed fairly early to me, so I did my logic homework, copying the problems down onto another sheet of paper so the whole thing would be in my handwriting.

I wondered whose handwriting the original was in. Who had gone and got it for me? If there had been notes from my republican history class, I wouldn’t have been surprised… well, I’d have been a little surprised. Steff didn’t seem like a note taker, especially where history was concerned. I think she’d only taken elven history because it would be an easy grade, and she was only in republican history to be with me.

But in any event, it seemed odd that somebody would have gone to one of my afternoon classes to get the assignment, but not to the other. Maybe somebody had realized Sooni was in the same class with me and demanded a copy of the problems? I could almost see Two doing that, with her growing assertiveness. She might have given Sooni some pointed lessons about fairness, backed up by Hazel and her rolling pin. The image made me giggle a bit.

It would be nice to see Sooni on the receiving end of some humiliation for once, as hard as that scenario was to imagine. It was far easier to imagine her giving it. This was probably because I had so much evidence of her doing that… I knew she administered or at least oversaw fierce beatings, and she wasn’t shy about verbal put downs.

Add that to the way she’d kicked and stomped me when I was down and it didn’t seem odd that my mental image of Sooni was so domineering, so commanding, so powerful.

I just hated her so much.

What had she been thinking, attacking me like that? And blaming me for her wild shot that broke the TV? I wondered if Kiersta had made her clean up the whole mess by herself. That would have served her right. The mighty Sooni, reduced to performing menial “servants’ work.”

That would just eat her up… I could only imagine the sort of revenge she’d want to take on me for leaving her in that position. She’d probably want to dress me up in some kind of ridiculous frilly maid’s outfit with the sort of absurdly revealing skirt that she favored and force me to do a bunch of demeaning tasks, like licking the floor of her room clean.

With some difficulty, I pushed the thoughts of Sooni away from my mind and focused on the logic problems. I had to refer to the textbook once or twice, since I’d missed the lesson.

We were working on spell ordering… each problem was a list of enhancements and spell effects to be placed on a person or object, and the goal was to determine the optimal order in which to place them.

Some of them were obvious: magic resistance almost always went on last, for obvious reasons. Some of them took some thinking. You didn’t want to make something resistant to an element before you tried to endow it with some attribute of that element, and the order in which you layered defensive spells could have odd effects. For the best results, spells that repelled attacks needed to be outside of spells which merely deflected them, which needed to be outside of spells that absorbed damage, which needed to be outside of spells that negated injuries.

Most problems which had any defensive elements had at least two of them, which made me wonder if getting the order wrong was a common problem. It seemed pretty basic to me. I didn’t care for combat enchantments and I’d known how it went since middle school.

For some problems, there was more than one solution, and more than one way the intended effect could be achieved. The “right” answer was the one that would take the least effort and energy, but the professor gave partial credit for any solution that would work and extra credit for any extraordinary solution.

The answers we gave had to include our reasoning, and that was the main thing that determined our grades. The object of the exercises was not to teach us how to order enchantments but to teach us the right mindset for doing so. No amount of thinking or planning would provide a guaranteed solution. You had to be flexible and willing to improvise when what “should” work on paper didn’t work in real life. Preconceived notions could be killer to an enchanter.

A wild thought occurred to me as I worked. What if Sooni herself had dropped the homework off while I was asleep? Maybe she’d had a pang of remorse… or more likely, of panic that she might be held responsible for my condition. Since she had the homework anyway, it would have been almost nothing for her to scribe off a copy and leave it for me… and almost nothing seemed like about her speed.

A lame little peace offering. “Sorry for almost killing you, here’s some class work for you to do.”

Was the unfamiliar, neat but slightly loopy, undeniably feminine writing Sooni’s? It was certainly way different from my own messy writing. Child-like, but with hints (or pretensions) of refinement… that could definitely be Sooni’s.

Pretty, in a way.

Though, it seemed less likely that she’d do me a favor out of a sense of obligation than she would so she had one to hold over me. What kind of unreasonable demands would she try to extort in exchange for the simple matter of scribing off the homework assignment for me? Sooni’s cruel imagination would probably come up with something…

It was no use. I couldn’t finish the problems with Sooni on my mind. It was amazing how she managed to wreck everything even when she wasn’t there. I’d just get a good night’s sleep and tackle the rest of the assignment in the morning.

I hoped the sleeping potion was of the dreamless variety… Roger hadn’t said. The last thing I wanted was another night of Sooni butting into my dreams, especially since she always seemed to find her way into the sexual ones. Considering the only person I was less interested in having sex with would be Two, that was just plain frustrating.

I uncorked the small bottle and drank the blue liquid, putting the container back down quickly before the potion could take hold.

My sleep wasn’t dreamless, but it wasn’t Sooni I dreamed about, to my surprise. Though, by the time I woke up, I was wishing it had been.

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21 Responses to “170: Textbook Cases”

  1. BMeph says:

    Aww, Mack’s so (Foe Yay/Suspiciously Specific Denial) “cute” about her feelings of Sooni… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Current score: 0
    • karasu says:

      Ohoo, I do believe we have ourselves a Troper!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Current score: 1
  2. tu minh says:

    XD Make that three Tropers.

    Current score: 0
  3. baywoof says:

    Five ๐Ÿ™‚

    Current score: 0
  4. Hiinst says:

    I am number six (couldn’t resist)

    Current score: 0
  5. Maesenko says:


    Current score: 0
  6. TesseractTea says:

    Eight! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Current score: 0
  7. MackSffrs says:

    Meh… Nine.

    Current score: 0
  8. Erm says:

    โ€œSorry,โ€ I said.

    โ€œYouโ€™re willing to apologize for her intolerance?โ€

    โ€œSomebody has to,โ€ I said. โ€œItโ€™s not like sheโ€™s ever going to.โ€

    โ€œItโ€™s hard for me to believe somebody could be so obtuse,โ€

    OOH, I GET IT! Finally.

    Current score: 5
    • Hoopla says:

      I JUST GOT IT! Thank you for posting this, I felt so clueless.

      Current score: 0
  9. Athena says:

    I’d say MU has enough of a presence on TV Tropes that we can just safely assume a fair amount of troper traffic ๐Ÿ˜›

    Current score: 1
  10. anonymus says:

    10 (or 11 if Athena is 10 even without claiming the number)

    Current score: 0
  11. Leila says:

    Twelve (official member of tropaholics anonymous)

    Current score: 0
  12. zeel says:

    I might as well claim spot 13 then.

    Though we are all off by one (unless we are also all programers) AE is also a known troper, and thus she is 1 (or 0).

    Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      It’s weird to scroll down to post a comment, only to see I already posted it over a year ago.

      Current score: 2
  13. Matt says:

    It hit me 3rd read thru:
    “Hello, Mrs. Blaise. This is Roger Corvin, from the Gygax Memorial Healing Center, and Iโ€™ve got an update onโ€ฆโ€ lol

    oh yeah troper 14

    Current score: 1
  14. nobody says:

    My first time reading Tales of MU.
    Troper 15, give or take.

    Current score: 0
  15. Anon says:

    Mackenzie really needs to read those manga before she talks to Sooni again. Unless there’s a tvTropes in-universe for her to learn what to expect from?

    Current score: 0
  16. Jechtael says:

    All of the tropers!

    Gygax Memorial Hospital? Aw ๐Ÿ™‚ …Aw ๐Ÿ™

    I’m DEFINITELY starting to like Roger.

    Current score: 1