A Selkie's Tale

Part 3

GM: Kira breaks the surface. Air she’s not tasted in years burns like fire in her lungs. Something hard and table- or wall-shaped rams against her pelvis. Her vision swings madly downwards before another hard surface slams against her face. It hurts. Her ankles ache too.

She blinks, clearing her eyes of water. Her surroundings materialize.

Her bare feet dangle off the edges of an overturned tank. Rocks and algae lie strewn across the now-wet PVC floor. The formerly sterile-smelling room is utterly silent save for the hum-hum-hum of lab equipment. Kira’s also soaked to the bone and naked as the day she was born. A drenched seal pelt lies squished under her elbow.

Kira: “What the fuck?”

GM: Hum-hum-hum responds the lab equipment.

Kira: She struggles to sit up, and it seems almost like she doesn’t remember how to use her hands, her elbows, like… she looks underneath her. “Oh my god, what…?!” Empty eye-sockets gaze back up at her.

GM: Tiny little dots are spotted across her bare flesh. Goosebumps? It’s… rather cold, being naked and drenched in a sterile lab room.

Kira: “Shit…” She looks up her arm… and down at her chest. Her naked chest. Awkwardly, she scrambles to her feet, looking around for something to wear. Anything will do, even one of those stupid… a lab coat? Is there a wetsuit around?

GM: No clothes to speak of whatsoever. Just a bunch of machinery and tanks full of plants and rocks. Sans the overturned one. Someone wouldn’t be happy to find that.

A noise sounds outside the lab door.

Tap.

Tap.

Louder.

Tap. Tap.

Kira: “Fuck!” she hisses, looking around with wild eyes. She looks now for a place to hide. Is that someone else coming in? Her labmates? Did she have labmates?

GM: There are, for what small comfort it may be, numerous tables, tanks, and articles of maintenance equipment present. The sound continues to grow in volume.

Tap. Tap.

Closer.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

A tall, shadowy form materializes against the door’s fogged glass.

Kira: “Shit, shit, shit…” She runs behind a shelf of maintenance equipment, trying not to knock anything over. Okay, trying not to knock anything else over.

GM: The door swings open. A roll-roll-roll noise sounds. And something that smells vaguely of… lemon.

splorsh sh-shk sh-shk sh-shk

Kira: “What the fuck is that sme… the janitor?” She’s whispering to herself now, talking out loud, like it’s difficult for her to tell when she’s actualy speaking and when she’s not.

GM: Tap. Tap. Tap.

An old man with a bushy drooping moustache stares down at Kira. He wears a blue-gray jumpsuit and carries a mop and wheeled water bucket. The smell of disinfectant soap follows in his wake. He looks her over blandly. “Naked students I find on campus usually come in twos. Sometimes threes, depending on how daring.”

Kira: “Shit, I’m sorry…” She hangs on to the rungs of the shelving like she might fall down… or maybe float away. “I just… I…” Yeah, there was really no explaining this. Especially the dumped-over-fishtank-and-I’m-soaking-wet.

GM: The janitor unzips and steps out of his coveralls, extending them towards Kira. He wears a black polo shirt and gray slacks underneath.

Kira: “Th… thanks,” she stutters, taking them and slipping them on. They’re baggy, and they do smell a bit… disinfectanty. But it’s better than wandering around naked.

GM: “Phone’s in the left pocket if you need to call anyone.”

Kira: She reaches into the left pocket of the coveralls for the phone, thinking to call her parents. That’ll work right? They can come and pick her up.

GM: The ‘phone’ is a palm-sized flat screen without any numbers pad to dial from, and Kira has to ask the janitor how to use it. The line rings several times. “We’re sorry; you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service,” comes an automated female voice. “If you feel you have reached this recording in error, please check the number and try your call again.”

Kira: “What the… dammit, I know that was right…” Why was the number wrong? It doesn’t add up.

GM: “Things don’t seem to be going your way,” the janitor remarks. His mouth hardly seems to move under that thick moustache.

Kira: “No shit,” she says, looking up at him. She sighs and reaches out to hand the phone back to him. She sighs, wrapping her arms ar ound her own waist which is mostly obscured by the coveralls. “There a bus running near here?”

GM: “Something like that.” He sticks the phone in his pocket. “Follow me.” He turns and pushes open the lab door, not looking back.

Kira: She follows along, across the lab with a few light quick steps so that she doesn’t get left behind. God knows, this was the only human being she knew for sure still existed aside from herself right now. She wasn’t going to get left behind.

GM: It’s evidently late afternoon or early evening out, as the school’s hallways stand wide and largely deserted. A few clusters of students talk quietly among themselves, dressed in the oddest clothes.

That’s what makes it all the more surprising to spot a short boy with dark gray skin and wide, pitch-black eyes that lack any whites or irises. He wears a cardigan, scarf, tight jeans, and thick 50s-ish glasses. His fingers end in dull yellow talons about the length of someone’s nails. The hallway’s other occupants don’t appear overly concerned by his appearance.

Kira: Sweet Jesus, those were horrible pants. What the… she pauses, turning to gawp at those… leggings? Ew. And then she sees him. She gasps audibly, her own eyes going wide. “You…” Her voice trails off, any other words choked out before they can form.

GM: “Hey, Amy! There you are!” the black-eyed boy exclaims.

Kira: “Amy?! I’m not her…” Who the hell was Amy?

GM: The boy laughs nervously, his pitch-black eyes bobbing. “Haha—oh man, she’s, uh, really tripped out. Thanks so much for finding her when you did, ah…”

“Al,” the janitor supplies.

“Al. Thank you so much for finding her, I’ll, ah, get her back to her dorm. Okay, Amy?”

Kira: She shakes her head vehemently. “My name is not fucking Amy!” Water droplets splash on the floor. Something trips off an alarm, and a frisson of fear runs through her.

GM: “Ah—uh—like I said, Mister, ah, Al, she’s really messed up!” the boy explains unconvincingly. “I’ll-I’ll take care of her, really. You won’t say anything about this?”

Kira: “Don’t go, please! I don’t know this guy!” Her eyes are wide now. If she’s making a scene, she doesn’t care.

GM: Other students begin staring and murmuring. The gray-skinned boy takes a step closer to Kira, nervously reaches out a hand, pauses, and retracts it. “Uh, look, Amy. I know you’re… uh… confused right now. Really confused. But I promise I can make things better.”

Al the janitor’s face is a mask of… blandness? Blaseness? The cleaning man at least seems to be keeping calm.

Kira: “How can you make things better if you don’t even know who I am?” she hisses under her breath. Now she’s aware of the eyes. All those eyes watching.

GM: “I’m like you, Amy,” the boy pleads. “I got just as, uh… tripped out once, and some friends… helped me out. Really. Just let me help you. Please?”

Kira: Like her, those eyes… the seal pelt… something inside of her twists and aches. She closes her eyes. “I… I… okay, fine!” He was like her… the rest of them weren’t. She knew that now.

GM: The boy breathes a sigh of relief. “Thanks, Amy. Things’ll all, uh make sense once we get you sobered up.” He turns to look at all the staring faces. A frat boy and his sorority girlfriend. Two Asian girls yammering in their own language and taking pictures. A few hispters in flannel shirts trying to look too cool to care.

“There’s, uh. Um. Nothing to see here. She gets like this all the time. Don’t do drugs! Stay in school and don’t do drugs!” He laughs weakly.

The crowd just stares.

Kira: “Are we going or not?” All those stares. All those eyes watching, reminding her of eyes watching her every move. It feels as though the wind is in her feet, urging her to go. Go. Run.

GM: “Show’s over, folks,” the janitor speaks up. “You’ve taken your pictures and have a funny story to tell your friends. Move along. Two until one if you don’t want to be late for class.”

He meets with a few stares, but the crowd slowly disperses, loudly gossiping among themselves. “Oh my god, did you see that…” “What’s she doing in a janitor suit?” “I bet she’s…”

Kira: Red burns in her cheeks. She doesn’t have to see it, she can feel it. Shame. Her mother and father would never forgive her if she embarrassed them… she looks at the seal boy’s eyes. Is he a seal boy? Maybe. It’s easy enough to call him that, and calling him that makes her feel marginally more comfortable going… wherever it is they’re going.

GM: The janitor looks Kira steadily in the eye. “Good luck, ‘Amy.’”

Kira: She looks up at the janitor again, her eyes wide. “Thanks…” she answers weakly.

GM: Al turns and walks back the way they came, presumably to clean up the mess Kira made. The boy takes her by the arm and briskly walks off with her. “Thank god for that guy,” he mutters, “I don’t DO public speaking! Little more subtlety, maybe, next time? You make too big a scene and one of them might notice you.”

Kira: She yelps and tags along—she has to. She looks at the boy, shaking her head and starting to shake. “Them? What do you mean ‘them’, aren’t you…?”

GM:Huntsmen,” he breathes. “They do what the name fucking sounds like… hunt down escapees like us and drag us back.”

Kira: “Oh fuck…” She says, her eyes widening. Something about that name brings a fear ringing through her. “I remember him…” That thing. That thing that had brought Velvet…

GM: “So keep a lid on things around the norms. Yeah, the Mask keeps them from staring at you ‘cuz you’ve got horns or flaming hair, but what comes out of your mouth is all you. God, Lady Blacksmile’s gonna chew me out… I just hope those Asian girls don’t post it on their fucking Facebooks.”

Kira: She bites down on her bottom lip, taking in what he’s just said. Mask… norms… horns. Gods, what did she actually look like to other people? What had she looked like before? What the fuck was Facebook? “What’s a fucking Facebook?”

GM: “Oh who am I kidding, Asian girls spend half their waking lives on Faceb-” He blinks at Kira’s question. “Have you been living under a rock, or – ah, wait, you’re one of those ones. What year was it when you got nabbed?”

Kira: She blinks. “199… 8? Why are you asking me that?”

GM: “Right, as of three months ago it’s 2015. Welcome to the 21st century, sorry you missed the ’99 party. Not that I went, I was in grade school when that happened…”

Kira: “The fu-…” She pauses. “But I’m…” She remembers being 18, 19, maybe not much more than that. “When were you born?!”

GM: “1996.” He pauses. “Actually, no, I wasn’t even in kindergarten then. Anyway, highlights thus far include us invading a bunch of countries for oil, fat cats getting paid to crash the global economy, and a black President. Oh, and the internet’s gotten really big.”

Kira: “Internet? Like the computer nerd… thing?” Her dad had played with it occasionally. She’d never been terribly interested in it aside from making a Backstreet Boys-themed e-mail account once.

GM: The boy snorts laughter. “Haha, oh my god! Was the internet really just for nerds back then?”

Kira: “Back then…” She rolls her eyes. “Christ. How is it even possible that… I mean, why am I here at the U-dub if I’m so… old?”

GM: “Time passes, uh. Let’s just say differently in Arcadia. Like the story of Rip van Winkle, but for real.”

Kira: “Shit… so it’s really 2015…” She tries the year out. It feels weird even coming out of her mouth.

GM: “Boggles the mind, right? You’re like… as old as me biologically, but an old fart chronologically. Anyways, uh. So you know, we’re all naked when we fall out of the Hedge ‘cuz the Thorns tear apart anything you’re wearing. You can borrow clothes from another spook if your nemo’s stolen yours, they’re bastards that way. We’ve been talking about creating a hedgefresh clothing bank for years now, but fat chance of that happening with the courts all giving each other the cold shoulder.”

Kira: She glances to the side, her expression slowly growing less and less pleased. “Spook? Nemo? …Hedgefresh?! Slow down, dude, what are you talking about?”

GM: “Ugh, right, you’re new at this. Spook. Member of the Autumn Court. We’re…” he takes a breath. “Look, uh. I’m not really the guy to explain all this stuff. Lady Blacksmile can clear things up for you. She’s right here on campus.”

Kira: “Lady Blacksmile… really?” What in the hell was she getting into? This whole thing sounds like some weird cult initiation.

GM: The boy shrugs his hands. “She’s one of the older ones. She escaped in, like, the ’40s. They tend to go for the weirder names. Barely anyone left to remember their original ones.”

Kira: “That’s not very inconspicuous,” she mutters. “So… how were you in just the right place at just the right time?”

GM: “Hey, I was going to class, which I’ll add I’m now MISSING thanks to you, and the professor’s already given me shit for being absent too many days. Who was the janitor that found you and brought you right to me instead of, I don’t know, calling the cops on a probably schizophrenic nutjob who’d just fallen out of the Hedge?”

Kira: “The fuck do you mean who was he?” she asks, running her fingers through her damp hair. “I don’t know him, he just showed up and handed me his coveralls.”

GM: “Oh, and didn’t say anything about my lameass ‘I know this girl!’ act. Couldn’t you have at least played along there? Well, whatever. The Wyrd works in mysterious ways. Or just plain weird ones.”

Kira: “Played along,” she hmphs. “If I HAD just fallen out of the Hedg-” She stops, closes her eyes, and takes a deep breath. She wasn’t going to continue this conversation. She falls silent, walking alongside the boy.


GM: The dimly lit room is abuzz with conversations and clinking glasses, though unlike the college bars Kira had frequented, no one is drunk enough to be, well, drunk. Youngest age in the crowd is old enough to wear a buttoned-up shirt outside of work; oldest is a full head of gray hair. How work is going and that recent trip to Europe are common topics of conversation. This isn’t the kind of place you go to get hammered.

Kira sits perched on a stool at the counter’s far edge, nursing a drink and surreptiously watching her target: a short, middle-aged woman with shoulder length reddish-brown hair, hazel eyes, and mixed Asian-Caucasian features. She laughs and sips from her margarita as a second woman who bears a noticeable familal resemblance continues,

“…so, I tell the kid’s dad, ’I’ve got your wife on the phone.’ And he goes, ‘which one?’ I ask, ‘Which one what?’ Then he says, get this, ‘which wife, I have two at the moment. She didn’t say her name?’”

The first woman laughs. “Wait, what? ‘Which wife?’ You’ve gotta be kidding.”

The second woman grins and shakes her head, continuing, “Now, I’m struggling to keep a straight face, and I tell him, ‘no, sir. She just said she was your wife.’ He gives me this flat look and just says ‘damn.’ In this totally monotone voice. You can hear the period.”

Kira: Kira narrows her eyes and watches like a hawk. This was… unbelievable. It was hard to put the pieces together. That other woman… she wasn’t right, though. How was she going to get her alone to confront her?

GM: She holds up her hands. “So, you know, I just tell him, straight as I can, ‘well, at least ONE of your wives is worried about you, sir.’ Not my place to judge!’”

The first woman laughs again for some time before managing, “Oh my god, polygamy… I know you get people from every walk of life in hospitals, but that’s gotta be a first.”

“You’ve had to’ve run into some weird ones yourself after ten years of teaching.”

“Oh lord. Well, there was this one time that…”

The evening rolls on. The two women laugh over anecdotes from their jobs at the U.W. and Children’s Hospital, reminisce over their time growing up together (“You wouldn’t believe how jealous I used to be of you…”), and regret how they don’t have time for these get-togethers more than once or twice a month (“Work just keeps me so busy…” “Don’t I know how that is…”).

Kira: Even thinking about what that OTHER woman does for work is stomach-churning, anxiety-inducing… Kira can’t help but feel angry. All this was supposed to be hers – the job, the happiness, the fucking reconciliation with her sister… she scowls into the drink she’s nursing.

GM: After some time, a middle-aged and bearded man dressed in business casual approaches the two ladies and exchanges hugs and warm greetings with each one. Minus that flop of brown hair which always fell into Jace’s eyes, the newcomer looks like he could be the father or uncle of Kira’s old boyfriend.

“Okay Jace, looks like time for everyone to head home if you’re off work. Early bedtime for me and the wee one.”

“Give June her uncle’s best.”

“Her aunt’s too. We should do this again, sis. How’s the 28th?”

“Ah, I’ll be out of town on a conference then. What about the 3rd?”

“I’ll be busy grading finals until at least the 5th… they don’t tell you how the professor gets as much homework as her students.”

The sisters eventually agree to call each other once they find an opening in their busy adult lives. The three exchange hugs again and head out the door. Gold glints off ring fingers.

Kira: Kira’s eyes widen. This… was Jace? Married. To her. To her fucking impostor. She downs the rest of the drink in a long gulp. Fuck this shit. How was she even going to explain? How was she going to fit into her old life when her old life had moved on without her? She leans over the bar and orders a double, curling one leg underneath her. The feeling of not belonging was starting to come on strong. This was going to be a long night.

GM: The bartender gives Kira brief skeptical look, but mixes and slides over the drink. “No, the lyrics go like this,” the woman next seat over corrects her friend. “All the love we made can never be erased… and I promise you that you’ll never be replaced…”

“You’re right, that’s it. ‘Never be placed.’”

Kira: “God,” Kira says, quite audibly, rolling her eyes. This was just her luck – to be around the sentimental drunks. She takes another huge sip of her drink.


GM: The woman’s face is white as milk save for midnight-black lips contorted into a permanent rictus grin. Her gown is woven from threads of darkness and strands of shadow, its edges fading into the surrounding gloom like a half-remembered nightmare. A hulking brute with bulging tusks and ham-sized fists quietly looms beside her.

Next to him, a blonde, long-haired girl in a black leather jacket excitedly rubs together fingertips that end in gleaming knives. A stooped old man with sunken eyes and a cobwb beard (replete with at least one nesting spider), stands to her left, his skeletally thin frame making him resemble a scarecrow under that white lab coat.

Even the gray-skinned, black-eyed boy who awkwardly greeted Kira appears menacing in such company. He stands utterly motionless, yet his eyes loudly call and beckon to some subconscious part of her, great black pits of void ready to swallow someone whole.

All told, perhaps two dozen figures out of a child’s bad dream stand in a circle around the darkened grove. Blue-green ghostfire lamps cast long shadows over solemn faces. Dry, red-brown leaves rustle as they flit about about the forestscape, forming into arcane symbols and glyphs before sobbing winds blow them apart. Autumn’s dominion was unmistakable in this corner of the Hedge.

Lady Blacksmile leans back on a small throne of gnarled roots, twisting thorns, and impaled red fruits that resemble human hearts. A larger throne sits empty beside hers.

“…owing to our king’s present disposition, Kira O’Macey, I shall hear and accept your oath to the Leaden Mirror in his place… as well as your new name. If you intend to remain in close proximity to your fetch, so obvious a link to your old identity is unacceptable.”

The knife-fingered girl holds out a mostly-human skull for Kira to swear her oath upon. Human but for the pointed teeth and flowing mane of auburn hair somehow attached to solid bone.

Kira: “Of course,” Kira says, reaching her hand out to rest palm-down on the skull. “In mystic rite, I swear on this token to the Court of Autumn, the Leaden Mirror. My gifts are now Autumn’s gifts, my skills Autumn’s skills. Should I be called to fight for Autumn, I will fight without hesitation and without fear. Should I betray my words, let my blood water the wintering seeds, and the shadows of the lengthening days devour me whole.” Her voice is steady, even if a bit quiet.

GM: As Kira speaks her words, the skull twists in place and snaps its teeth down over her fingers. A slow trickle of red pat-pat-pats down onto the forest floor.

Lady Blacksmile continues to grin her ceaseless grin, though her voice is utterly solmen. “A fitting choice of words. I hear and accept your oath in Autumn’s name. May Autumn guard you from the terrors of worlds both waking and dreaming. May your knowledge and power grow under the auspice of your oath, and may you share the fate of the one you swore it upon should your loyalty prove false. By what name shall you be known to your brothers and sisters of the Leaden Mirror?”

Kira: Kira flinches slightly as the teeth snap into her skin, then nods as her oath is accepted. She quickly responds to the lady’s question. “Aislin Namara is my chosen name, Lady Blacksmile.”

GM: The elder changeling’s black grin continues to stare at Aislin unrelentingly. “Aislin Namara. So let it be known.”


GM: The woman that is and isn’t Kira pulls up her minivan outside the school’s playground. A small freckled boy with red hair and a Star Wars backpack jogs up to it as Aislin watches from the shadows.

“Hey, you! How was school today?”

“Hey mom, it was okay,” the kid answers as he climbs onto the passenger seat.

Aislin: Mom. The word hits Aislin like a hammer-blow. She hadn’t even been sure she loved Jace in college, OR that she wanted kids. And this… THING… had made those decisions for her.

GM: “Just okay? C’mon, tell me something new you learned.”

“Well, my science teacher said that seals give birth on land.”

“Oh, seals, they’re fun. You know that the northern elephant ones migrate over 13,000 miles each year? All the way from Mexico to Alaska.”

“Really? Why do they do that?”

“Well, seasons change and their food supply disappears. Their home isn’t right for them anymore, so they have to leave and find a new one.”

Aislin: Aislin clenches her teeth, hard, so hard they feel like they’re grinding into powder. Every word she can hear is like a knife. Every planned confrontation had seemed to start ending like this – with something that absolutely gutted her and forced her into inaction.

GM: “I wouldn’t wanna swim that far. I’d order pizza.”

Kira-not-Kira laughs. “If only they were as smart as you. Now c’mon and buckle up, grandma’s coming over today. You can impress her with all the science you’ve learned.”

“I’m glad you’ve had the chance to go on this trip, Kira. The ocean’s been your passion for as long as I can remember,” ‘grandma’ had said sixteen years ago.

A door slams shut and the minivan speeds off.

Aislin: Aislin doesn’t cry. What would be the point?


GM: “Iz lucky you’z a student, z’all I’m sayin’,” grunts Max, the hulking ogre with tusks the size of Aislin fingers as he hauls the box into her new dorm room. “La’y Blacksmile didn’ hafta pull many strings to get youz someplace to stay. I hearz in th’ Spring Court they jus’ crash on each otha’s couches.”

Aislin: Aislin rolls her eyes. “Seriously, Max? Do I seem like the kind of person who would want a snuggle-buddy relationship with some random Jack I barely know? I don’t think Lady Blacksmile wants to have to try to cover up a murder the first time somebody tries to get huggy with me.”

GM: “That’s why he’s saying you’re lucky. We all know how smart Max is,” comments the black-eyed, gray-skinned, yellow-clawed boy whose name turned out to be Dexter. He pats the top of the box as Max sets it down on the bed. “Rule goes, everyone in the court buys or donates a piece of clothing for new members. Hope you like hipster fashion, ‘cuz there was no way of ensuring ANY of the stuff in there goes together. Or that it’s not from thrift stores.”

Aislin: Aislin raises an eyebrow. “I still don’t even get this whole hipster thing… the fuck does it MEAN?” She sighs. “I’m gonna look like an idiot. How the hell did you deal with this?” The question is almost rhetorical.

GM: “Shut up, Dexter. But Max is right, Aislin. Not all changelings have it as good as you,” remarks Kira’s roommate, a rail-thin girl with stick-like limbs, skin the texture and color of yellow parchment, and curly black hair. She wears an extremely thick pair of bug-eye black sunglasses that take up at least half her face. An ironic choice in eyewear for someone known as Seeing Sara.

Aislin: Aislin blinks. “Good… that’s a funny way to describe it. I mean, I’m grateful to be here, don’t get me wrong, but…” It felt like only yesterday that she’d fallen out of the Thorns, as she knew they were called now. “Fuck, I can hardly wrap my head around all this right now.” She shakes her head. “I remember starting here as a freshman before…”

GM: Seeing Sara flips up her glasses, revealing two gouged-out holes crisscrossed with purple-black scar tissue.

“Oh, GROSS! Sara, I HATE it when you do that!” Dexter protests, averting his gaze.

Aislin: Aislin rolls her eyes again. “Don’t flip out, Jesus.”

GM: “All you have to do is go through this part of your life again. At least you get to do it with all your parts.”

Aislin: Aislin flicks a strand of turquoise-and-white hair out of her eyes. “Have you ever tried showering with water-repellant skin?” She had at least gotten mostly used to looking in the mirror and seeing something that looked like some kind of weird Japanese cartoon character, luminous yellow eyes and all, but there were a few things that had rapidy become… annoyances… about her selkie side.

GM: “I think you’z da only one with ’at, Aislin,” the ogre grunts back. “It don’ feel good? Selkies from water, right?”

Aislin: Aislin nods. “Yeah. I mean, it’s not like I wouldn’t rather be swimming than just about anything. But by the time I actually get the water through my skin, and then get it… you know, nevermind, it’s really not that interesting.” She was really getting tired of having to explain to everyone why she ‘used up all the hot water’.

GM: Max gives another bovine grunt of agreement. “Lez getcha settled in. Where we gonna put…”


GM: Aislin sits in the lecture the hall, one student among a sea of faces. The hard plastic seat was, in some ways, probably going to be one of the less uncomfortable parts of the class.

“…and do we have an Aislin Namara?” calls out… her fetch, her double, her replacement… Kira… as she goes through the attendance sheet.

Aislin: Aislin raises her hand, her eyes pointedly watching the teacher. Make eye contact, I dare you bitch… “Here.”

GM: Kira smiles as she spots Aislin in the crowd. “Vision of the sea, isn’t that the meaning? Your parents had creative taste in names.”

Aislin: She reddens slightly in the cheeks. Dammit. “Yeah, I guess so,” she says. She wants to say more, but the words die before she can put them together.

GM: Kira smiles kindly in response to Aislin’s blushing, as if to say there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and continues down the attendance sheet. “Tiffany Matthews… Samuel Shepherd… Ran Jong Su…”

Aislin: Aislin opens her notebook and starts doodling on the first page. God, how was she going to make it through this?

GM: A weighty question indeed, and the scribblings of Aislin’s pencil do little to answer it. Still, however things turned out with her doppelganger, one point is undeniable. Marine Biology 101 is going to be an interesting course.

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