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Joseph Umland, Teppenpaw a galaxy far, far away.
Sat Oct 21, 2017 21:56

Joe didn’t think Ben Pierce was dumb, but he didn’t think Ben Pierce was exactly a scholar, either. Therefore, Joe was slightly surprised when Ben described the theory of evolution about as well as Joe himself could have. Nevertheless, he put his own hand up to add the one more specific word he knew to Ben’s description once the Pecari finished it in order to get his own academic year started on a high, positive-attention-from-teachers note.

“They change through genetic mutation,” he offered. “Which can happen spontaneously – just a copying error in DNA, or RNA, or, er, one of those – “ his semi-recitational tone faltered for a moment, as he had never paid enough attention to John’s rants to distinguish between DNA and RNA in any substantial way, before picking back up – “or which can happen because of something that gets added to the environment – pollution, concentrated magic, whatever.”

This last word also lacked the semi-recitational tone of the rest, and the two which preceded it had an additional note of something akin to weariness. John had an interest in the impact of concentrated magic on birds, an interest he had been pursuing at Sonora for years, and Joe had found himself treated to lectures on said work on an extremely regular basis over the summer. He suspected there were literally hundreds of pages of…stuff…on the topic; at the very least, John’s handwriting had visibly changed between writing the earliest scribbles and writing the later ones, and the early pages were also showing age visibly. He suspected that under the circumstances, and how complicated things still kind of were under the surface even with the family externally re-approaching something resembling homeostasis, John simply hadn’t known what else to say and so had hidden behind facts and the social mask based on a liking for them which John had so painstakingly crafted over the years. Joe could respect that, and so he now knew more than he thought he had ever wanted to about magic and genetics and John’s thoughts on same.

He was suddenly a bit gladder to know it, though, when he got the handout, because he was not sure how his reputation would have looked at the end of class if he had not established that he knew something that only a smart person should know before they got their actual assignment for the day. Orchids. From cloth. The only thing orchids and cloth had in common was that they could be the same colors, as far as he knew – that and cloth that was not wool was generally made from plant fibers, but still. When he retrieved a book, he found some information about orchids, and then his eyes promptly crossed at the sight of all the technical words related to the flowers in question. The only thing that stuck out clearly was that apparently, there were twice as many kinds of orchid in the world as there were birds, and nearly as many orchids as there were bony fish.

Something about this last tidbit struck him as absurd. He couldn’t put his finger on what it was – maybe just the sound of the phrase ‘bony fish.’ He had to admit, when he thought of fish, he tended to sort of take the bones for granted – he didn’t think of eels and sea snakes and whatnot as fish, assuming sea snakes even lacked bones. Didn’t regular snakes have some? He wasn’t sure; herpetology had never really been an interest of his. The lessons Mom called Magical Civilizations when he was at home had involved some really brain-bendy poetry about runespoors and archetypes, but he only remembered that as weird and impractical; poetry wasn’t really thing, and archetypes made him uncomfortable.

Okay. Okay. Breathe. Think. This stuff isn’t relevant – at least not right now. The complexity of the orchid was part of what made it a difficult transfiguration, and eventually he suspected he’d need to understand some of it because of the relation between this and inanimate-to-animate transfiguration, but if he could produce something that looked like an orchid today, he’d be all right. Learning was important, but – well, management was, too, and the best way to manage this situation, with Professor Skies, was to set a smaller goal he could actually reach and then get to the point later. If he could even make it partially organic, or texturally correct…it if it looked right on the surface, but he didn’t really bother with more than that, it might last longer, but that came with its own problems. If it lasted long enough to be inspected, for instance, then any credit that might accrue to him for making something that lasted a bit would vanish. Better, he thought, to aim for the middle, maybe….

Now just to figure out which orchid he should focus on. Picking a specific one would, he thought, make his task somewhat simpler, because he’d know the full Latin name and would be able to work that into the spell. Vanilla, he decided, would be good; he thought he knew what that smelled like, so that would be one more detail he could add – maybe. He didn’t know much about the chemistry of smells, but they had worked on them in charms before, a little, so maybe….

He looked through books until he found the plant in question. The flowers had, it turned out, the additional advantage of being fairly simple-looking by orchid standards, if rather large and, unfortunately, yellow when his bit of cloth was red. He was mildly interested by the fact that apparently, in the wild, they lasted only one day. That probably, he thought, explained something of why vanilla pods were kind of expensive, and real vanilla flavoring. As it wasn’t relevant to the transfiguration, though, he put it aside in favor of rolling the cloth up into a cylinder, propping it up against his textbook, and, with a flowing motion of his wand, incanting “Orchidea planifolia” while looking at the image of the vanilla orchid in the book and trying to keep that in his head above all else – an exercise which ended when someone beside him spoke.

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    • a galaxy far, far away. — Joseph Umland, Teppenpaw, Sat Oct 21 21:56
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