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John Umland
It's so shiny! (Emilia, Team Three)
Fri Feb 12, 2016 12:51

On a list of thoughts John had never thought he would have, hm, not bad, Park, was right up there with hm, think I’ll run naked through this tangled mass of briars and poison ivy in terms of improbability, but Jamie’s response to John volunteering for group three made hm, not bad, Park, a reality, though he was quick to qualify it with an ‘at least for you.’ He wouldn’t have thought Park was bright enough to go that underhanded. It was still childish and stupid, of course, but in an advanced enough way to surprise as well as annoy.

“I think that’s best,” said John gravely. “You’ll do a lot better with something we're pretty sure is lightweight and won't be able to move.”

He had a much more complex thought, complete with a snide reference to how well Park had managed to catch the smaller, fast-moving Snitch the time he’d gotten off the bench, but experience in the playgrounds and campgrounds of Calgary made John think he’d be pushing it if he tried to get that thought out in full. If Park had had a gang, it would have just been a matter of how much he had time to say before somebody kicked him, but under these circumstances, when John thought he might actually have a chance of winning a physical fight if it came to that, it was just a matter of speed. He could probably get the whole thought out before Emery told them to knock it off, but he’d have to talk so fast that it would lose all its punch even if, by some miracle, he didn’t trip over his own tongue and commit acts of wanton cruelty to English syntax. Long was accurate, but short was effective. That, Mom said, was politics in a nutshell.

The first two thoughts which occurred to him after Park’s jibe about Emmy-Lou both had the benefit of being short right away, but since one would lose him all the moral high ground and both had some chance of starting a duel right on the spot, he bit his tongue, settling for a glare before he started talking tactics. Hopefully, that would convey you’re pathetic as well as the actual words could have.

New hypothesis, he thought as they talked. Park is smarter than he looks. Evidence: tries to use enthusiasm and skill (which he lacks) against me, tries to make my partnership with Scott uncomfortable and further lower other opinions of me. Why?

That was the real question. John cursed the fact that even when he recognized those patterns, he could almost never understand the motives behind them. Was this really just about a Quidditch rivalry and a shock from a bag buckle? Park was arrogant, showy, and had all the maturity of a six-year-old who’d just found out the birthday pony was only a rental from the petting zoo, but that still seemed…small. It was indisputable, though, that he seemed to have a problem with John specifically, more than he did with the entire rest of the sane planet. He could have framed that last remark to imply that Scott had a hopeless crush just as easily if all he wanted was to make trouble. So what was his problem? What did he want?

He’d work on that one later. Right now, he had bigger problems, such as not allowing Park’s grudge to derail the competition.

I am not good enough to conjure plate armor from thin air, and even if I was, it would be a bad idea, John reminded himself when he and Emmy found themselves in the maze. He had known it was going to happen, but it was still disorienting to realize that they had just casually participated in what he thought was a fairly impressive distortion of space to get from There to Here in one move. I am not good enough – yet – to conjure armor from thin air, and even if I was, it would be a bad idea. It would be heavy and slow me down.

At least the first part of the task looked pretty straightforward. “Do you want it or do you want me to carry it?” he asked his partner.

Outside, he decided to risk hovering long enough to try the Point Me spell. He grinned when he found North, but then had another thought.

“If we accept that we know what direction the door out faces,” said John, who had figured that out which direction it normally pointed in the hallway, “then we know what direction to go, anyway. Except this is a magic maze. What do you think? Do we accept that we know which direction to go? I can’t think of anywhere else to start, anyway.”

When they rounded a corner, there was a blast of fire. John wheeled around sharply in the air, dodging it like a Bludger that would be even more fatal than usual for the twigs of his broom. He saw a bright glitter on the ground. “Fire crab. Stupefy!” He winced a little as he cast the spell, but assured himself that the member of an endangered species he’d just Stunned wasn’t real. This also helped him suppress the natural desire to get down and examine it more closely while it was out. Fire crabs were fascinating creatures, almost as good as his birds and more interesting than some of those. He’d give a pretty to analyze the stones in the shell and the digestive tract and the shell-body relationship….

“Fair warning,” he added to Emmy-Lou. “The obstacles might be designed…or designing themselves for us, what would distract us.”

  • Group Three (nm)Librarian Nicchi, Sat Jan 23 07:54
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    • It's so shiny! (Emilia, Team Three) — John Umland, Fri Feb 12 12:51
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