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Enter the Dragon (Harry Potter/Shadowrun)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Dunkelzahn, Jul 10, 2018.

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  1. Zyvorg

    Zyvorg Possibly a Squid

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    Sweet, new update. Glad to see a new chapter.
     
  2. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Versed in the lewd.

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    Did you mean Harry had Hermionie and Abigail squeezed against one another while held in one of his hands? There doesn't seem any way that could be anything but very uncomfortable for both of them. The difference in age (and thus presumably height) between the two girls would only make it worse. I could see harry holding one in each hand, or cradling both in the crook of an arm but unless he's large enough that anything that was too big for him to lift was too large to transport normally that line doesn't work.

    Very nice explanation, and I like the look inside Abigail's head as well.

    This is not belivable, not for a 17 y/o Slytherin. Even if she was so involved with Harry over the summer she was completely oblivious to everything else(which seems unlikely, and she's not one of his fans (which makes sense and fits her character), she'd still have known about Lockhart since unlike canon Harry she lives in the Wizarding world and has plenty of social contact with other members of the wizarding world. There's no way she wouldn't have known about the guy who won Witch Weekly's "most charming ass" (or whatever the contest was) and goes out of his way to stage publicity stunts that interfere with people shopping or going about their business.

    I liked the rest of the scene, especially the camera, but providing this sort of information to everyone in the great hall seems a bit odd. I can see him providing the information that Harry owns the train since that's public information, but the staffing information is not.

    Nice description of the Wards, and it's great that you got a reasonable explanation for the car suddenly going wild (although I would have liked it even better if you hadn't shoehorned that bit of canon into the story).
    I think having Harry that oblivious is pushing things a bit too much.

    I like that you're depicting the Weasly twins as competent but very irresponsible, however I have a couple of issues with the specifics of this explanation.
    First, given that the Twins apparently managed to pull it off successfully with no negative side effects in spite of all the handicaps they were working with would, if taken together with this explanation, suggest direct divine intervention. I'd suggest tweaking it a bit so instead of saying most potion masters "go far out of their way to avoid ever even peripherally touching on the subject", make it something you're only supposed to use under very precisely controlled conditions (or for curse breaking of course, which is probably where the twins picked it up).
    Second, This explanation doesn't actually explain why Dumbledore and Snape were talking about Quarantine.

    Very nice scene.
     
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  3. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    I had actually intended it to read more as them sitting on a couple of his fingers like they're side by side on a park bench with his thumb coming across their fronts to hold them in place, sort of like the restraint bar on a roller coaster. I can try to rework it to make that more clear if it's too immersion-breaking, or I suppose they can be carried in different hands --- he's walking on his wing knuckles, so the other hand is free anyway. The current scenario was mostly intended to be a bit of flavor about Harry's size.

    Harry is still young, to be sure, but he's growing fast --- since he has unlimited access to food and a massive pool of available magic absorbed from Avebury to fuel that growth, he's growing as fast as his biology can support. At this point in the story, I've pictured him as about as long as a bus. The difficulties in lifting the crates in 3.6.6 mainly arose from the one crate being big enough that he had to use both hands at a fair extension to get a firm grip, and the cargo itself is fairly delicate with respect to hard shocks and being dropped. Between the awkwardness of takeoff and landing and the potential of accidentally fouling his wings with the box while in flight, he was having trouble figuring the procedure out.

    glad you liked it
    Point, I suppose, though I really did want her forming an entirely fresh opinion here.

    How about I throw in a bit of Slytherin House fluff to explain her ignorance?
    It's not really intended to be a public announcement, he was just answering the client's questions. Steelhammer's still speaking quietly, it's just that the rest of the hall went silent, and the stonework echoes.
    glad you liked it. I tried to put some effort into making it believable.

    The spontaneously-awakened car is actually there for a reason. One of the themes Harry is going to be running into on and off through the story is an ongoing exploration of the relationship between magic, sentience, sapience, and the soul --- as well as the distinctions among them. The car is there to provide an example of a primitive, obviously artificial, magical intelligence for Harry to run across later when he's out in the forest and ask questions about.

    I'm still torn on whether he's going to eat it or not.
    Huh, I guess it didn't come off as intended then. I had intended it to read as the prank triggering right as the professors walked by the door to the Great Hall, so the tableau with Harry still reading his portfolio is just a few seconds after the change hit everyone else. Harry just hasn't looked up yet to see what the ruckus is.

    Still not really happy with it, but is this clearer?
    Huh, I suppose it does bear further elaboration.
    So, the idea is that contagion works by essentially infecting a piece of magic with a still-volatile unfinished potion, often to unpredictable effect. However, it doesn't stop there. The infected magic is also volatile, and it spreads in a like manner to everything it comes in contact with, hence the name 'contagion'. Sometimes it does what you intend it to do, sometimes it doesn't, but it almost always does more than you expect. Guess I kept reading that in without it actually being written explicitly.

    The twins' saving grace was actually their lack of budget, which I realize now I didn't emphasize nearly enough for the reader to reliably pick up on. They substituted cheaper, less magical ingredients in their modified polyjuice potion, leaving it far less effective than a viable potion should have been, this meant that the unpredictable and dangerous side effects were also of lesser magnitude.

    Try this one.
    I'm glad it came off well.
     
  4. Mr. Cloak

    Mr. Cloak Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    That reminds me- what sort of dragon is Harry? I am familiar with most of the dnd dragons, but not Shadowrun Dragons.
     
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  5. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    Harry is a western dracoform (6 limbs, two of which are wings) who happens to have a biochemistry based on molten iron rather than water.

    In this story, I've taken some liberties with the dragons species, partially because the internal mechanics of dragons are not really deeply explored in any of the Shadowrun literature I have access too, and partially because the whole iron dragon thing seems to be a conceit the original author came up with himself. So basically, I took the facts I found, the facts Doghead13 included in the initial version, and then tried to run with it.

    I'll post my internal dragon crib sheet later after I clean it up a little.
     
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  6. Extras: World-Building: But what about dragons!
    Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    Okay, so here's my massively over-detailed dragon crib sheet. I've tried to remove any hints about future story events, but in case I missed something, there might be some very minor spoilers included. Hence the tags.

    This is not canon information for Shadowrun dragons, rather it is a combination of elements from Shadowrun and Earthdawn, combined with my own ideas and what I took from Doghead13's original then melted down and refined into what I hope is a cohesive and self-consistent whole.

    As a note, various elements of this may well change as the story progresses, and none of this is required reading to understand the rest of the story --- at least it shouldn't be if I do my job properly.

    Dragons
    Dragons are large, vaguely reptilian, creatures, though they are ‘reptilian’ in the sense of not fitting in any other category rather than being similar to other reptiles — as is the case for most of the members of the reptilian class.

    Dragons are generally more intelligent than humans, are functionally ageless after they reach their prime, can usually fly, can breathe fire, and are physically and magically powerful. There is only a single sapient dragon species, but there are several wildly disparate body types or dracoforms. There also exist a variety of physiologically-similar but non-sapient species who may or may not be the results of various magical experiments on the part of the sapient dragon species over the year (Hint: they probably are).

    Dragons are a major feature of the sixth world’s political and economic landscapes. They live a long time and are generally quite happy to make their influence felt. Many dragons are among the wealthiest individuals in the world, and they all wield a great deal of very personal physical and magical power. Great Dragons, in particular, are almost uniformly major players on the world stage.

    As a note, the dragons of Shadowrun canon are somewhat altered in this iteration. Some social taboos are altered, and there is significantly more variety in basic physiology. These changes are made both for plot reasons and for reasons of internal consistency.

    Draconic Biology

    Dragons are highly magical beings. Much of their physiology runs on magic or is only able to run because of magic. While dragons do produce a tremendous amount of magic on their own, it is not enough to maintain their physiology in anything other than a torpid state. Because of this, dragons are only active when the magical background levels are high enough to support their activity, hibernating through low-magic ages.

    Also because of this basic integration of magic into their physiology, dragons exhibit much more variety, even in basic biochemistry, than is seen in any other single species. Most dragons have a physiology reminiscent of most other life on earth, carbon-based with aqueous biochemistry, but some are wildly different while still somehow remaining genetically compatible with their fellows. Some, like iron dragons, have non-carbon-based biochemistry, and some are even able to exist as an undifferentiated classical element given form.

    Dracoforms

    Despite being a single species, Dragons come in several wildly different general phenotypes called dracoforms. These forms sometimes have additional sub-variations as well. There are four such general types.

    • Western Dracoform
      • Western Dragons are six-limbed with two hind legs, two forelimbs and two central wings. Their builds vary from scaly-lion-with-wings to four-legged-snake-with-wings. Adult western dragons are generally about 20 meters long when full-grown, with a wingspan up to 30 meters. Standard forms have highly-variable scale colorations but are otherwise similar to most other magical reptiles in biochemistry.
        • Iron Dragon
          • One narratively-significant subtype of the western form are the iron dragons. Iron dragons have a biochemistry based on metallic phase iron and copper rather than carbon, and the majority of the iron dragon’s body is iron rather than water. Iron dragons are about seven to ten times denser than other dragons, and they tend to have a much more widely variable diet, getting most nutrition from mineral sources rather than animal.
          • While some other magical creatures — notably drake-dogs — have similar biochemistries, iron dragons are likely the result of a long-forgotten magical accident with the others resulting from subsequent experimentation. Harry is the only member of the subspecies currently known to be living. There have been such in the past, but they have died or otherwise dropped out of circulation.
    • Eastern Dracoform
      • Eastern Dragons are four-limbed and generally range from serpentine to crocodilian in shape. Adults can reach nearly 35 meters in length, of which more than half is tail. Even though they lack wings, Eastern Dragons can fly just as well as their western counterparts. Standard forms also have a widely-varying range of scale colorations, and some may have fur.
        • Sirrush
          • The sirrush variant has proportions similar to a whippet, much longer legs than usual and a more compact body with almost no tail.
        • Elemental
          • Elemental dragons are a class of eastern dragon variants whose physiology is made entirely of an undifferentiated classical element. These characteristics never breed true, so such dragons only show up by random chance. Often, these are water-based. Earth-based ones tend to have similar habits as iron dragons. Fire and air dragons are unfortunately incapable of hibernating through the non-magical ages, so they have only rarely reached adulthood.
        • Aquatic
          • Normal eastern dragons are terrestrial, but there are some aquatic variants. Aquatic variants often have a dorsal ridge of long fur, much like leviathans, and they may be the result of interbreeding between eastern dragons and leviathans. It is often very difficult to see the line between aquatic eastern dragons and their more specialized leviathan brethren.
    • Feathered Serpents
      • Feathered serpents are serpentine in shape, with body proportions similar to a very slim eastern dracoform but feathered. They possess two pairs of limbs, one of which is a pair of brightly-colored feathered wings, and one pair of relatively short rear legs. Both sets are used for ground locomotion (like a bat rather than a bird), and the rear legs have an opposable thumb and are sufficiently dexterous to be used for fine manipulation. This tends to lead to some rather interesting resting postures for feathered serpents — think reading a book while holding the book with your feet.
      • These dragons are generally under 20 meters long and have a disproportionately short wingspan of 15 meters. Because of their proportions, feathered serpents tend to have a subtle oblong cross section, biased towards the vertical, in order to increase their stiffness during flight. This is in contrast to the western dragon tendency towards horizontal bias.
      • Feathered serpents tend to have the shortest tempers of any of the Dragons, and they also tend towards violent solutions more easily. This is not a universal tendency, but it is fairly common, and has been attributed to several factors, ranging from the rainforest areas they live in and the thoroughly vicious food web there (which is a silly distinction because everywhere else is just as nasty) to some sort of association with the classical element of fire. It seems more likely that it is a draconic variant of ‘short man’s syndrome’ considering that the feathered serpents never reach sizes even close to those of the other variants.
      • Some feathered serpents have a toothed beak, and some may have a feathered body as well as wings.
    • Leviathans
      • Leviathans are sea-dwelling dragons. They have a heavier build than eastern dragons but are similarly wingless. It is not known whether they can fly in the manner of eastern dragons, but they never seem to do so where anyone can see them. Leviathans are capable of walking on land, but they do so infrequently.
      • Given the body sizes involved and their relatively delicate limbs, this is one of the best arguments for leviathans being able to fly as if they did not have the capability to float most of their weight, their limbs would certainly not be up to the task.
      • Leviathans are quite large, upwards of 60 meters counting the tail. They are quadrupedal, but have poor manual dexterity, favoring webbed flippers for better swimming rather than talons for grasping.
      • Most of the variation in leviathans comes in their build and color. Some are heavyset with proportions like an unnaturally wide crocodile crossed with a manatee, and some are thin, looking more like oversized sea snakes. Heavy builds are more common among ocean dwellers, and the lighter builds tend to live in large rivers and lakes.
    Great Dragons

    While not actually a distinct dracoform, some individual dragons exhibit an indeterminate growth habit — that is, they continue growing after they reach what would normally be the maximum size of their particular subspecies[1]. These individuals are called Great Dragons, and they can get quite large indeed. There are physical markers which indicate whether a dragon will exhibit such growth, but no one other than dragons know what those markers are.

    For example, Dunkelzahn is a Great Western Dragon with blue scales. At the beginning of the story, he’s about 15,000 years old and is nearly 200 meters long, ten times the length and a thousand times the weight of a normal adult western dragon. He’s still quite youthful by the standards of Great Dragons, roughly equivalent to the early-thirties for a human, and he is thus not terribly large by those same standards. He has an unusual charisma to him, however.

    Others are similarly ridiculously huge, though their size varies wildly with age and subspecies. The indeterminate growth pattern seen in Great Dragons generally averages out periods of time larger than a century to a constant rate of increase in volume per unit time; thus, the length of a Great Dragon will be proportional to the cubed root of its age for sufficiently large units of time.

    Great Dragons never stop growing, and they never stop getting stronger. This has some interesting effects on population dynamics. Most of the population gets killed off by infighting and accidents, sometimes even by a particularly determined non-dragon opponent, but a small number survive long enough to become effectively invulnerable. Examples of these are never really seen in-story, nor are they known in-universe, but they should exist, simply going by the population dynamics argument.

    Then again, some of the oldest dragons may have simply gone to sleep and not woken up on time after a low-magic age. Given the growth rate seen in Dunkelzahn, even the oldest possible ones (65-70 My) would only be about 5 km long, barring odd circumstances. This is definitely small enough to curl up comfortably under a good-sized mountain, if you allow for magical construction methods.

    Great Dragons only get more powerful with age, but power and sanity are independent variables. The older a dragon gets, the more likely it is to exhibit odd personality traits. These do not necessarily interfere with the dragon’s ability to interact with the world as it actually is (i.e. their sanity), but they do tend to make for odd behaviors. Strange obsessions with seemingly inconsequential minutiae, withdrawal from society at large, and paranoia are some of the more common traits. These tend to combine to make meeting a very old dragon an interesting experience on the rare occasion that you can actually find one.

    Reproduction

    Like many other highly-magical creatures, magic plays a critical role in draconic reproduction. It facilitates the physical act of mating in the case of very large dracoforms, sometimes taking the place of external genitalia entirely and sometimes modifying the form of such to be more effective. It also makes dragons reproductively compatible with just about anything else with sufficient magical potential.

    The offspring of such unions will vary in nature, depending on the actions of the parents. Most asymmetric breeding in the past was intended to produce servitor races for the dragons involved, most notoriously the elves, and the involved dragons guided conception and development to bring this about. Left alone, the resultant offspring will be a mix of traits between the parents weighted by the relative amounts of magic used.

    Most dragons choose not to acknowledge this fact, but past interbreeding with metahumanity is the ultimate source of wizards, though none of the dragons involved were Great Dragons. Given that the predecessors of humans in their modern form were an old genetic engineering project of dragon kind from before written draconic history, many dragons feel that interbreeding with them is distasteful, similar to bestiality in human societies, though not nearly so severe a taboo given that humans are sapient beings. Perhaps the more accurate comparison would be to an interracial union in the immediately post-Jim Crow south, but with less risk of violence.

    Drakes are dragon-metahuman hybrids made in a less traditional, but ironically more traditionally acceptable, manner.

    Diet

    Dragons are consummate omnivores; if a human can eat it, a dragon can eat it; if a human can’t eat it, a dragon can probably still eat it. Dragon nutrition requires high magic levels in the environment to support most digestion, thus environmental magic can be considered a required macronutrient for the draconic diet. Without it, dragons go into hibernation (hence the Awakening). Growth also requires magic in addition to food.

    Dragons produce some of their own magic, but not enough to maintain high activity levels in a low-magic environment.

    Modification/Tinkering

    Dragons change the life around them, and those changes extend to themselves. This is in part due to their metaphysical significance; dragons are a major force in the world, and therefore will have major effects. More directly, though, magic allows dragons to change themselves and others, and over the course of the last seventy-thousand-odd millennia a lot of stuff has gone down.

    Dragons originally evolved as a quadruped species with an elongated body, shaped very similarly to a very large lizard, or, more accurately, a crocodile. The various dracoforms resulted from enterprising dragons trying different changes out on themselves and their offspring. Some traits were invented out of whole cloth, like the spinal-mounted reactionless drives and the fire breath. Others were copied from successful designs in other animals.

    If a dracoform seems to be a collection of different traits from different creatures that were stitched together into a single body… well, there’s a very good reason for that. The wings of the western dracoform were cribbed from bats (about 50 Ma back). The muscular structures supporting the wings were stolen from birds (within the last 40 million years, previously the design was different). The extra set of limbs was added because no one wanted to lose relatively dexterous hands.

    Feathered serpents cribbed their feathers from certain bird species as well as their wing designs. A design with wings like those of a pterosaur was popular for a time about 50 Ma before the present time, but the tight restrictions on associated body shape due to the nature of the wing membrane anchorage saw the population transitioning to the bat design.

    Leviathans patterned themselves after some of the great sea creatures that existed in the late cretaceous period. The body shape is taken from mosasaurus. The dorsal hair was actually inspired by a variety of different critters and serves a variety of purposes from camouflage to luring and capturing prey. Bioluminescence is another common trait which is not widely known to the world at large. Teeth shapes are cribbed too. Often individual leviathans will slightly change their own forms depending on what they choose to eat, though the one that made baleen for filter feeding was mercilessly ridiculed by her peers until she changed back to more respectable teeth[2].

    The impressive abilities seen in all dracoforms: regeneration; the flight organs; the spectacularly effective brains; the uniform magical ability; the effective immortality; even the wildly improbable size; were all specifically engineered into the species by dragons themselves. The massive variation seen in a single species is due to this tendency. Dragons decided early on to take a personal hand in evolution.

    Dragons have done the same thing to one extent or another with a large variety of other critters over the history of their species, including proto-humans and the vast majority of sapient species. Most of these changes were made through what is essentially extremely advanced transfiguration[3]. Some were made through more… traditional methods; the most notable of these were wizards and elves. Wizards are the only other group to routinely do the same. Non-magical humans are perfectly willing to dabble though once they figure out how.

    Lifespan

    Dragons are ageless, after a fashion — that is, they do not die of ‘old age’. A dragon can die of injury, disease, poisoning, or any number of other causes, but dragons just don’t wear out over time.
    Normal dragons tend to die within the first few millennia after reaching adulthood due to random chance catching up to them. They grow to a certain adult size and power, and then they can only improve through practice and learning to better apply what they have. Thus, a normal dragon basically keeps rolling the dice until they get sufficiently unlucky — a recurrent gamble not helped by the average dragon’s tendency toward tender pride and aggressive defense thereof.

    Great Dragons, on the other hand, follow an indeterminate growth pattern, and they continue to grow physically and magically stronger with time even after reaching adulthood. They can — and do — improve with learning and practice, but their base form improves continuously too. Great Dragons can fairly easily reach a point where the number of things which can harm them is exceedingly small, and thus the likelihood of encountering a lethal situation tends toward zero as a Great Dragon ages.

    The average draconic lifespan is some few hundred-thousand years. For the population of normal dragons, this average looks more like 30-35 thousand years with a few particularly canny individuals stretching this up from the mode of about twenty-five thousand. There aren’t many Great Dragons, but they drive up the average lifespan considerably because they can reach some truly spectacular ages.

    Effects of Age

    Really old dragons tend to be a bit… strange. The oldest surviving dragons are a trio of clutch mates who hatched during the Eocene, about 37 My ago. They started playing a game of hide-and-seek 27 million years back in which everything else on the planet was ‘it’. None of them have lost yet, and none of these young whippersnappers are going to make one of them give up. These three are completely irrelevant to the story, just as they’ve been almost completely irrelevant to the entirety of human history.

    They do periodically orchestrate secret organizations searching for their clutch mates (if the other ones get found, they win!), but this is always done from the shadows. The most recent such was the Illuminati, engineered by the sibling lairing under the Antarctic ice sheet using astral projection and dream manipulation while the dragon in question was hibernating through the Fifth Age.

    This sort of situation is surprisingly common among older Great Dragons; for every Great Dragon that dies tragically or heroically, there is at least one more that retired quietly into what any other race would consider senility. Unlike other races, though, senility among Great Dragons makes them no less skilled or powerful; it just means that they direct that tremendous skill and power towards oftentimes just plain silly goals.

    Aside from the hide-and-seek triplets, there’s one slightly younger dragon that transfigured itself into a mountain in the Canadian Rockies four million years back and currently amuses itself by staring at hikers until they get uncomfortable. Another one just doesn’t bother to wake up any more. It lairs in a cave in Cherry Creek Lake, Colorado, specifically the same cave Dunkelzahn laired in during the Fifth Age. The cave is much larger than Dunkelzahn thought it was, the rest is just very well hidden.

    Another one decided to start hoarding socks when they were first invented, but only unmatched ones; it secretly steals them. That one hides because it is paranoid about other dragons stealing its precious treasure (secrecy is the first line of defense!). Still another one lairs in a giant faux-pineapple under the Arctic ice sheet and hasn’t left since the Pliocene. That one was actually responsible for engineering the human species, or at least their predecessors, and has recently begun ghostwriting a children’s television series in secret.

    The tendency towards isolation seen in most dragons only gets worse with age; during the Sixth Age, there are actually more ancient Great Dragons in hiding than there are publicly active ones, and not even the active Great Dragons know this.

    Language

    Dragons have the rather unusual problem of truly being too large to make effective use of a normal audible language. An adult dragon has vocal cords that are longer and heavier than an adult human’s entire body and a voice box approximately the size of a minivan, the resonant frequencies of such an organ are too low to carry any real amount of data in a reasonable amount of time.

    Thus, while dragons do have a spoken language — mostly invented just so they can say they have one — it is used only in the most tediously formal of situations. Like the ents of Tolkien’s work, saying anything in spoken draconic takes a very long time, so anything you want to say in it should be worth taking a very long time to say. Real vocalizations from dragons are normally used to convey very simple ideas, like challenge in combat, simple acknowledgement, or warning — dragons are very good growlers.

    Because of this, a different method of communication has been developed for use among dragons. The unimaginatively-named dragon-speech is a mixture of projective telepathy, psionic divination, empathy, body language and interpretive dance. Of all the languages used by the Named, it is perhaps the richest and most expressive, conveying thoughts in their entirety — complete with context and reasoning and emotion and imagery all in one go.

    Dragon-speech can be used to speak to non-dragons, though it is often an unsettling experience for non-dragons so addressed. The speech method is in fact universal enough and forceful enough that dragons can often control sub-sapient animals by commanding them through it — no magic, preparation, or domestication necessary. Even sapient creatures will perceive dragon-speech as tremendously forceful. Dragon-speech does, however, suffer from the limitation of being at least in-part mental, and thus entirely unsuitable to transmission through lower-dimensional communications media like video.

    Dragons are very proud of their language, and they often find other languages rather limited and awkward to use in comparison. Because of this, even though dragons can emulate other spoken languages through magic — and, in fact, find doing so to be very simple — most will use a metahuman interpreter when they need to translate for whatever reason, usually to use technological means of communication.

    Behavior

    Dragons are very strange critters. They are the oldest surviving intelligent species on the planet. They are universally magical, curious, long-lived, and inventive. This combination of traits has led dragons on a convoluted path as a species.

    Dragons are curious, and they tend to look into everything and anything that catches their interest, regardless of whether doing so is a good idea. They also have a massive helping of self-assurance which blurs the distinction between confidence and arrogance. Long life means that dragons have a lot of time to look at things, a lot of time to polish things, and a lot of time to go a bit off in the head.

    Dragons tend to be possessive and will hoard things. Many dragons focus on hoarding wealth and political power. Some hoard knowledge. Some have other habits.

    Dragons tend to be touchy about status and insults, which is a direct consequence of their social structure and individual strength. Draconic society, like many similar human societies, is a polite one by necessity. Everyone in it is perfectly capable of killing everyone else with little preparation or planning.

    Dragons tend towards grand plans and ambitions; those plans and ambitions are highly varied in nature, but the name of the game is always, “go big or go home.”

    Society

    Draconic society, to the extent that such a thing exists, is highly-formalized and ritualistic. Formal rites have been created and strictly followed for almost every aspect of life from mating and child rearing to greetings, apologies, farewells, and funerals. This was directed towards reducing the number of casualties resulting from interactions between dragons — both among the dragons themselves and those around them.

    Every dragon is a dangerous combatant, and worse, almost every dragon is absurdly touchy about personal respect and status. Because of this, while dragons are often quite brusque to the rest of the world, they are normally painfully polite to each other, because the slightest insult is very likely to draw a violent response — a violent response which, given the lifespans and memories involved, is often wildly disproportionate to the initial offense and which has been plotted out in exquisite detail for centuries in advance.

    Formal society essentially outlines a set of actions and responses which no one is allowed to take offense at because they are the ‘appropriate’ way to go about things. Dragons who behave informally might get away with it outright if they’re lucky and have a good relationship with those they interact with, but it is far more likely that someone or other will take offense at something and will then wreak bloody revenge for whatever they determined was a slight — possibly centuries down the road. Most will make some allowances for very young dragons who don’t know any better — though only if they are obviously trying to be polite and put the effort into learning the proper forms as quickly as they can manage.

    Aside from their prickly personalities, the other reason for such formal interactions is the draconic tendency to form magical connections with everything in the vicinity because of the nature of dragon speech. This means they can accidentally enter into rituals with alarming ease. The formal rites, and particularly the mating rites and the shift of child rearing to the respected elders rather than the actual parents, were established to cut down on accidental ritual formation by making such relationships more emotionally distant.

    Despite draconic claims to the contrary, this system of formal manners was only established relatively recently in draconic history — specifically during the Second Age — in response to the development of certain magics which greatly increased the lethality of interpersonal duels.

    The combat magic advances were later countered by further tinkering with draconic biology, but the forms were kept, and in fact tightened, in response to the creation of accidental rituals and their horrific consequences — one during the Second Age which triggered an ice age, and another during the Fourth which triggered the destruction of a continent.

    Towards the end of the Fourth Age, it was discovered that those supposedly accidental rituals were actually arranged clandestinely by a malicious actor — a dragon whose name has since been expunged from history as a punishment for those and other crimes, now known only as Outcast — and as a result, the restrictions on mating and child-rearing have since been lifted to an extent.

    Dragons tend to keep quiet about the reasons for their social conventions because it would reveal that they are just as silly as the other Name Givers, and they feel it would completely ruin their image.

    Draconic History

    Dragons have a recorded history going back to just before the First World. Recorded draconic history started with the invention of draconic memory crystals[4], which were the first storage medium reliable enough to last without maintenance during the five-odd millennia of a low-magic hibernation cycle and information-dense enough to fit in a reasonable hidden lair for those years while still holding a worthwhile amount of information.

    Previously, the low dragon population combined with their prodigious memories and very long lifespans made creation of a physical historical record a low priority. Dragons have a reliable oral history going back to the latter part of the Mesozoic Era. This is less than a thousand times the average draconic life-span, but still quite impressive since it is proportionally (lifespan-normalized) almost ten times longer than human recorded history.

    Evolution

    The species originally evolved from one of the large crocodile species that flourished during the Mesozoic era. The critical change between the previous species and the first dragons was the simultaneous development of sapience and magic. Thus, dragons originated as sapient magical super-crocodiles. One of the first magics the species developed was the ability to change themselves, and every member of the species made extensive use of this magic.

    Unlike humans, who are a social species, crocodiles are generally not social, and thus their early magics focused on self-improvement with no regard for societal body-norms, which would have been an alien concept to the early dragons. Within the first five thousand years or so, individual dragons had managed to increase their size and healing abilities to utterly absurd levels — in response to the dinosaurs inhabiting the same time period — and customization continued from there.

    The magical cycles and the accompanying Scourges have been a part of world history since before the first dragons evolved, and even at this point in their self-evolution, Horrors remain a very real danger to dragons. The early improvement of their self-healing mechanisms produced dragons with effectively indefinite lifespans. Thus, the long gaps between Scourges did not leave dragons forgetful and unprepared as it would later do for humans. This spurred on development in the individuals of the species and even the creation of a very loose social structure. Dragons are not naturally social, but they learned to cooperate when faced with a sufficiently dangerous common enemy.

    Over time, the process of draconic self-guided evolution continued, eventually producing the present-day physical, magical, and intellectual juggernauts that make up the species. Dragons are perfectly willing to beg, borrow, or steal — mostly steal — advances from other races in addition to creating their own. The draconic willingness to tinker with the stuff of life also extends well outside their own species. The evolution of meta-humanity is rife with such meddling, and it is debatable whether humans would have evolved as they did without it.

    Creation Mythology

    The draconic creation myth begins with a dark time in the beginning, when Horrors ravished the earth, fighting among themselves for the amusement of the Great Dark One, a supremely powerful Horror which created the others to fight to the death for its own bloody amusement. None of these Horrors had names, for none were able to understand the value of such.

    According to the myth, eventually one of the creations of this Great Dark One was different, containing within it some spark of life and individuality. This one did not wish to fight for its creator’s amusement, and it fled into the distance. There it chose for itself a name, Nightslayer, and became the First Named.

    After some time, Nightslayer looked over the world, and wept with joy at its beauty. From these tears, came nine creatures. The first, Dayheart, proudly proclaimed her name as the first dragon, and the others, unable to name themselves, were given names by Nightslayer. These were the progenitors of the Name Giving races.

    Soon after this, the Dark One discovered Nightslayer’s actions and tried to destroy him and his children, but the Dark One was unsuccessful, unable to stand against the power given by Naming. After vowing to hunt Nightslayer’s children for all eternity, particularly the dragons who would be corrupted rather than killed as an extra affront, the Dark One fled. In its flight, though, the Dark One sent a parting shot in the form of a giant fireball from the sky. Nightslayer shielded his children, but died in the process and was honored by all his children. The Dragons, in particular, burn their dead in memory of this sacrifice.

    After this, the children of Dayheart, the first dragon, became numerous and grew in skill and power. They prepare for the return of the Dark One, the Great Hunter who now bears the name Verjigorm.

    This creation myth carefully sidesteps any explanation of the presence of the Horrors, and it is conspicuously slanted in its treatment of several facets of reality. No attention is paid to the origin of the Dark One or the world itself, just that before the origin of Naming it was formless. The progenitor figure, Verjigorm, is also the ultimate evil being, and all that is good springs from it in defiance of its nature, through that progeny’s own strength. Also, the act of Naming is given pride of place in the myth, granting the Named power sufficient to overthrow the great Dark One.

    The importance of Naming likely derives from the development of thread magics which are tied up in identity. These seem to be an intrinsic and essential part of the draconic worldview — and that of all the name giving races, for that matter.

    Draconic culture seems to accept the world as they find it, something hinted at in the origin story. No thought is given as to the ultimate origin of the world, the why or the how of things, only a blanket exposition. There isn’t even an attempt to hint at how the world came to be, no primordial sea of chaos from which order was wrested or creation, just an already existing beautiful world which was horribly marred by an already existing Dark One.
    Finally, the myth is significant in that it attributes all that is good in the world, the wresting of control of the world from evil, to Nightslayer, the proto-dragon, and his children, but mostly his favorite child who was made in his image, the Dragon.

    If there was ever a sure indication of hubris, setting yourselves as the heroes in your own creation myth has to be it.

    Revisionism

    Dragons may maintain an accurate history of their own race privately, but if they do so, it is very private indeed. Those few dragons willing to speak to other races about draconic history and culture tend to be very sparse with any details which might be embarrassing or indicate past mistakes and they tend to be quite willing to take credit for the good things produced by other races if they think they can get away with it.

    To hear most dragons tell the tale, dragons have always been impeccably wise and all-knowing, and they have never ever done anything morally wrong with their magic. True, there have been unspecified mistakes made in the past, but they have always been tightly controlled, and they never impacted anyone else.

    Point in fact, it is certain that dragons have manipulated others using magic in the past; even their own forms are the result of it. This is despite vociferous denials of ever doing such things from Vasdenjas in his interviews with the scribes of Throal in the Fourth Age. Dragons tend to maintain a public party line, and they will almost always stick to it, even to the point of telling bald-faced lies about their history.

    Some of the topics covered up in this way include the origins of wyverns and hydras[5], the question of whether dragons have ever reproduced with non-dragons (they have, extensively), draconic involvement in other forms of experimental breeding and experimentation on other creatures (there was lots of it, accounting for almost three quarters of the magical species on the planet), sapient or non, just how far back the current dragon civilization extends (not nearly as far as they’d like you to believe), why dragons decided to eschew long-term meaningful relationships in favor of ritualistic and highly-impersonal one-off matings (despite their claims to the contrary, dragons and rational behavior have only a passing acquaintance with each other, particularly in emotionally charged situations), the reasons behind draconic misgivings about ritual magic and blood magic (as recently as the Third Age there were eight continents), past usage of such, the mysterious relationship between dragons and the very strongest of Horrors (avoiding another incident of this is the reason dragons have put so much effort into rendering themselves corruption-resistant over the last few tens of millions of years), and anything else that might be construed as embarrassing or demeaning. In this way, the dragons are just as bad as the elves (who are another embarrassing issue for the dragons, as the previous servitor race which turned on them).

    Magic

    Physically, dragons are built like tanks wish that they were built. This is nothing compared to their magical structure.

    Dragons have been altering themselves to be better equipped to survive and thrive almost since their beginning as a species. Many of their physiological characteristics were chosen to deal with relatively transient issues. For instance, a dragon’s massive size was once an effective advantage against the contemporary dinosaurs and to a lesser extent, the lesser Horrors, but it now largely superfluous; the same relative advantage would be just as well-served by a body less than half the size. Dragons tend not to get rid of excessive adaptations, but they do stop improving them.

    One constant in draconic history, though, are the Horrors. They have been a serious threat to dragons since the beginning, and they remain one today. The little Horrors that attack physically are no threat because of the draconic physique, but the Greater Horrors that rely on mystical effects and mental corruption are much more problematic. For this reason, dragons have focused their mystical alterations mostly defensively. The prodigious mental capabilities of dragons are used to actively counter threats, with the spectacular intellect being a happy side effect. The astral sight allows dragons to actively find and counter the Horrors that don’t take physical form. Even the astral topology of a dragon’s soul is made to be self-contained and as utterly inviolable as possible. This continues to be a work in progress, but the species has already come a long way.

    As a consequence of this, mystically speaking, dragons are built like bunkers — not just little tornado shelter bunkers, either; they’re more like full-on, NORAD strategic command bunkers. They are almost impossible to affect with purely mystical means without their active consent and participation. Other creatures might pack more of an offensive magical punch than a dragon --- a pseudo-divine spirit, for instance, might be able to cause far more damage using magic than a dragon of similar power --- but the dragon could weather that strike mostly undamaged.

    Dragons obtain this durability through a variety of means. The simplest is their magical capacity; dragons are massive reservoirs of magical energy, and their sheer metaphysical inertia goes a long way toward keeping them safe. In addition to this magical mass, dragons are built with layered defenses both on the material and astral planes, and a spiritual topology which minimizes their effective metaphysical surface area. This optimization makes external dragon magics significantly less effective than their raw power levels would imply, which is why many dragons seem disproportionately fond of physical confrontation despite their obvious mystical clout.

    To revisit the earlier example, a pseudo-divine spirit is a magical construct which forms around the idea of a domain --- that is, the idea of having certain capabilities --- and like most spontaneous natural constructions, it automatically forms in a minimal-energy structure which is still satisfies those restraints of capability. Such a spirit is thus optimized for effecting change on the world, a state which necessarily leaves it greatly open to outside influence. This is why pseudo-divine spirits are so very vulnerable to Horrors.

    Dragons, on the other hand, are optimized to resist changes from the world, which has the necessary consequence of making them less able to effect changes on the world. They can make such things simpler by temporarily changing themselves, essentially flexing their metaphysical topology into a different configuration, and they call the act of doing so ‘using raw magic’. As might be expected, use of this raw magic makes dragons themselves greatly vulnerable to Horrors, and thus they tend to do so only in safe locations, usually their lairs.

    It should be noted that the Horrors have not remained idle over time. Despite draconic efforts to make themselves less mystically vulnerable, every advance is eventually met by a corresponding increase in capability from the Horrors, leaving the two groups fairly evenly matched on balance in their eon-long mystical arms race. Dragons traditionally have the edge in remaining alive and increasing their numbers, while Horrors typically have an edge in sheer mystical lethality and refusing to stay dead.

    Given the relative strength of draconic defenses from an outside perspective[6], Horrors truly live up to the name at this point. Greater Horrors have become the sorts of things that hunt pseudo-divine spirits the same way a human might hunt a rabbit.

    [1] This is contrary to my understanding of the Earthdawn/Shadowrun continuity in which all dragons grow indefinitely and have the potential to eventually become Great Dragons, with the Great indicating a social status rather than a biological one. Here, only a few dragons have the ability to become Great Dragons, and they are correspondingly greater than their canon counterparts.
    [2] Teeth which she then used to good effect on her detractors, leaving herself as the only surviving Great Leviathan. Afterwards, no one was stupid enough to question her dietary preferences, though she still switches back to real teeth before meeting anyone.
    [3] An existing creature was changed with enough detail to be fertile, then bred to make the new species before the transfiguration reversed itself. Thus, the temporary transfiguration produced a new real species.
    [4] These crystals were invented by Dunkelzahn’s predecessor as Loremaster, whose chosen name became the title for the position as a form of recognition.
    [5] The origin of hydras was eventually revealed too publicly to be covered up during the Fourth Age, and dragons of the time reluctantly owned up to the story. After that bit of history was lost during the Fifth Age, specifically during the accidental misplacement of the Library of Alexandria, the dragons are now back to denial, and the story will likely never see the light of day again since the last of the original hydras (thus the last evidence) was killed off during the waning days of the Fourth Age.
    [6] This is doubly true for real “outside perspectives” like crossovers. I have some vague ideas for side stories and such which involve temporarily dropping Harry and his core family into other settings from other works mediated through [REDACTED FOR MAJOR SPOILERS]. This will inform the relationship between Harry’s magic and those other settings.
     
  7. Raimunda042

    Raimunda042 Getting sticky.

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    Holy wall of text and exposition dump Batman! That said, this was super interesting, and more interesting biology than the biology lecture class I’m currently attending.

    Im also curious is Harry has the potential to become a Great Dragon, and whether or not he had that potential before he ate Nicholas’s Stone.

    Any chance on any more information Dunkelzahn?
     
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  8. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Versed in the lewd.

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    That would make Harry big enough he'd have no difficulty lifting the CNC machine's chassis and flying around with it. All he'd need would be some straps because the lifting rings would be too small for him to get a grip on.

    That was not clear, and now that it's clear does not make much sense, however it seems to be significant for the plot, and isn't that big a deal.

    That works. It does make the students in Slytherin seem like despite priding themselves on being crafty and manipulative they are overly focused on their own likes, and very ignorant of how to "make friends and influence people" who aren't very similar to themselves...almost like they're teenagers :)


    My point was harry might be oblivious to where they're talking or how public the discussion is, the Goblin Courier won't be, especially not after the reaction to the first announcement. If it's important to include the information like that you might consider adding a couple of lines with the goblin suggesting that sort of information could wait till they were private and Harry telling him it's okay there's nothing secret about the staffing or something of the sort.

    Looking forward to reading it.
    If the transformation occured just at the moment they stepped in I'd suggest having people just starting to notice and exclaim, with the commotion spreading, not having there already be a commotion that Harry is oblivious to. Also "...though none but the originals themselves could tell the difference between the two variants."is a sudden shift to an omniscient POV which doesn't seem to fit the rest of the paragraph.

    I figured it was something like that, my point was it's something the characters would consider the important part of the explanation.
    The revised explanation is much better but has some new issuesstill has a couple of issues:
    Filtwick's reaction doesn't seem to fit - he's ignoring the description of the description of letting loose a magical plague and focusing on it being difficult to accomplish.

    The only irreversible transformations I am willing to believe exist in Harry Potter are the sort the Killing curse produces, i.e ones that destroy something. Might be better if you called the transformation "effectively permanent" or "the transformations would have never faded naturally" or "the transformations would have been quite difficult and dangerous to reverse" etc.

    Nah, that was clear. I just thought the characters would have demanded Snape and/or Dumbledore explain what quarantine and what the danger is.
     
  9. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    It's just one chunk out of about 200k words I had written before I even started the draft, so yeah, I get it.

    Harry is, for reference, a very young great western dragon of the iron variant.

    The philosopher's stone had some effects on Harry's metabolism, which now includes a much more developed alchemical transmutation pathway than it did previously, mostly so his diet can support his level of activity without requiring him to eat enough coal to light up Europe; his composition, which has been incrementally optimized in terms of functionality, but mostly involved changing color from gunmetal gray to a few dozen shades lighter; and a third effect on his [REDACTED] which would be way too much of a spoiler for long distant plot lines to reveal at this point. It did not, however, affect his status as a potential great dragon --- he's still set to keep growing right up until he kicks it, just like a Galapagos tortoise, or a grouper, or any number of other critters that share the same growth habit.

    That said, before anyone starts growling about an overpowered protagonist (like they did on SB *mumble, mumble*), Harry's peers will have tens of thousands of years worth of growth on him (even the youngest have seven or eight thousand). Harry is growing as fast as his biology allows since he faces none of the nutritional bottlenecks dragons have faced historically --- he is growing up in an industrialized setting where he can buy his preferred foods by the trainload, and he has an excess of magic available as a result of the nexus plot line (Avebury, etc.) --- but he's still very much the scrawny new kid on the block compared to his elder peers.

    Harry's still going to be barely thirty one at the time of the Awakening, after all. For example, Dunkelzahn and Ghostwalker are both a bit more than 15,000 (hatched during the Second Age); I'm writing Lofwyr and Alamais as nearly twice that (hatched before the beginning of the First Age); and I'm placing Rhonabwy somewhere between the two.

    Harry's elders will remain his betters for the foreseeable future.
     
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  10. EternitynChaos

    EternitynChaos Once there was a Maiden...

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    Err... as far as I'm aware Earthdawn and Shadowrun are the same world, just Ages apart, I mean Big D is explicitly Mountainshadow, while his Brother Ghostwalker is Icewing, Harlequin is from the Earthdawn Age, and shows spells used back then in at least one of the novels
     
  11. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    I'll probably leave it for now, then. The scene is in there for Harry learning how to fly without his wings, and the reason for the lesson is kind of immaterial for the development of the plot as a whole. If it works well enough not to be too jarring, then it's good enough for now.

    My thoughts on the wings were that, particularly during takeoff and landing, they may be coming very tight in to Harry's body, and so would risk knocking into a crate which was wider than his body (he's as long as a bus, not quite as bulky, though much heavier). Though come to think of it, I probably should have written the train scene as carrying the large crate on its own flatbed coach then to get the scale right. Might be worth going back for.

    Then I have achieved what I intended.
    It's a bit of minor exposition for the timing and a bit of real world flavor. The one working in the PRC is actually a real guy, David Wardale, a steam engineer from Scotland who worked on various steam modernization projects including one China which was cancelled in 1989. In-setting, some stuff is happening in the oil industry --- specifically some problematic issues with what will later be determined to be magical bacteria and bio-films which the industry is being very quiet about --- which meant that the Chinese project wasn't cancelled in favor of diesel-electric. You do have a point, though.
    Attempt #2
     
  12. Syqadelic

    Syqadelic Not too sore, are you?

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    I see someone’s a fan of Shadiversity
     
  13. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    My understanding is that they were until they got bought by different companies, so now they just fit together suspiciously well --- because copyrights. I'm treating them roughly equally as source material, but I mentioned both for completeness' sake.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
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  14. Rathmun

    Rathmun Experienced.

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    My players are currently trying to figure out how to get some information from Harlequin without him realizing why they want it. I'm having fun watching them scramble around someone they can't meaningfully confront in any real way. They're getting pretty scary themselves (initiation 6+ and magic 7+ for the awakened party members, submersion 5 resonance 8 for the technomancer.), but they're still five thousand years too young to tangle with any of the Fourth Age relics.
     
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  15. EternitynChaos

    EternitynChaos Once there was a Maiden...

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    ...Well that groups fucked if he has no desire for them to have the information, because I honestly can't see anyone born in the current Age pulling that trick /laugh

    Just because copyright is a thing doesn't mean past truths become false, it just means they can't go into greater detail, though, if it's not connected to Earthdawn I'd love to know why and how there are still Horrors and pre-Horrors floating about /laugh
     
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  16. Rathmun

    Rathmun Experienced.

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    They know exactly who he is, and exactly how screwed they are if they piss him off, but they don't really have a choice. He's the last person alive who knows how to get into the cairn they found, but they have explicit instructions to keep the thing secret. They made a few mistakes with information security early on in the main plot, and it resulted in Ryumyo taking a personal interest in their investigations.

    "Never ever cut a deal with a dragon." Remember, it's not cutting a deal if the dragon's just dictating terms.;)
     
  17. EternitynChaos

    EternitynChaos Once there was a Maiden...

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    Oh wow, they are so fucked it's honestly amusing, it's nice to see a group that strong finding out they are still little fish in a deep dark sea however /laugh sometimes you need to slap your players in the face with that fact when they get to sure of themselves
     
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  18. Rathmun

    Rathmun Experienced.

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    :D yeah. They handed a Mac Guffin over to the Spirit of IzumoTaisha to identify it. (One of the PCs is a Fox-shifter and a Miko, so she can get away with just waltzing in to the non-public areas of the shrine like that. She ended up being a shadowrunner after a run-in with an Azcorp wetworks team on the way to University.) The spirit looked at it and went "This thing predates me. I will return momentarily, don't go anywhere" and ran off to go ask someone else about it. She brought it to Ryumyo, and he kicked everyone out of the room before asking where the hell she got that.

    The lesson of the story? Don't hand over the Mac Guffin before making sure the other person can't just run off with it.
     
  19. EternitynChaos

    EternitynChaos Once there was a Maiden...

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    Oh wow, what a naive little cinnamon bun, I didn't think anyone in the shadows would do something like that, that's honestly adorable in a facepalm inducing way /laugh still as a Shifter it's a little forgivable as they are not exactly the most street savie of characters at least before the innocent gets filed off them in the shadows /laugh

    I do have to admit it's nice to see someone else playing one, it tends to be my go to race of choice when the options open, and ever since I played the old SNES game I've liked shifters a lot in shadowrun
     
  20. Rathmun

    Rathmun Experienced.

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    Originally she was a human with no magical potential (no "Latent Awakening"). She grew up in a shrine, and on the way to university she was kidnapped by an Azcorp squad to participate in a black research project focused on creating artificial mages. It worked, turning her into a shifter in the process, and in the grand tradition of mad science everywhere the experiments broke free and killed everyone in the facility. It's a good In Media Res start to the campaign, and instantly produces party cohesion because they have to work together to escape, or they die.

    First session.
    No Ammo.
    No Clothes.
    Minimal known spells.
    On the bottom level of a black site.
    In a Z-Zone.
    And the alarms are already going off.

    Good luck!
     
  21. EternitynChaos

    EternitynChaos Once there was a Maiden...

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    oh wow, that would have been a ride and a half
     
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  22. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Versed in the lewd.

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    That works. Interesting hints about magical microscopic biota in this setting.
     
  23. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Versed in the lewd.

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    I don't suppose any of your group wrote up a game transcript?
     
  24. Rathmun

    Rathmun Experienced.

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    No, sorry.
    I have creative players, and they did start in a very well stocked medical research lab. Longshot(Edge) called shots to ignore armor while still having a dicepool were used to take out the first few guards with thrown scalpels. Then they had guns. They also had a significant supply of O2 bottles and hand sanitizer, which between them make rocket fuel.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
  25. Raimunda042

    Raimunda042 Getting sticky.

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    Impressive resource management, much more resourceful than I’ve ever been in the few games I’ve ever played, though I’ve never played Shadowrun.
     
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  26. Threadmarks: Section 3.7 - An unpleasant morning
    Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    3.7.0 An unpleasant morning

    The first rays of morning light filtered through a window of leaded glass, casting a distorted network of shadows across the eclectic contents the Hogwarts Headmaster’s private suite, the dappled light rousing said Headmaster gently to wakefulness. As was his custom, Albus Dumbledore immediately set about preparing for the day — a custom he had followed for the better part of a century, nearly half of it while occupying the very same suite.

    It was not the first time the old man had had cause to regret the habit, but this morning was a paragon of the breed, for the previous night had been truly unpleasant.

    His new Defense professor stealing the spotlight during the opening feast — and more importantly, delaying the food for the hungry children after their long day traveling — had been just the tip of an iceburg of irritation. The Weasley twins triggering the castle siege wards had easily topped that, and then before the staff could handle that bit of mischief, their transformation prank had come to light in spectacular fashion.

    The means the boys employed had necessitated immediate contact with law enforcement — as well as the Department of Mysteries of all the bloody irritations — to contain the problem before it could cause greater troubles for the wizarding public. At least Minerva had been able to handle contacting the boys’ parents in his stead — that had been a relief.

    Then had come the blasted staff meeting.

    With the investigation into Mr. Potter’s transformation mostly suspended until the winter break, the core classes had reverted to the traditionally divided scheduling, and with that shift had come increased scheduling pressure. In a sharp contrast to the previous year, fights among the staff over class scheduling had been vicious, yet Gilderoy Lockhart had somehow managed to eke out an open schedule on Monday and Friday and restrict all his classes to either late morning or early afternoon on the other three days.

    How the man managed to finagle a four-day weekend and a half-day schedule for the rest was beyond the aging headmaster’s understanding — even he hadn’t managed that back when he was in the scrum — particularly not as a new-hire!

    In any event, the scheduling meeting had run long and hard, and Albus had only managed to put his elderly bones down to rest two short hours before the sun had prodded him back into wakefulness. He therefore found it thoroughly unpleasant to be greeted immediately by an unexpected and irritable voice as soon as he entered his office.

    “Headmaster, we need to have a bit of a conversation about keeping promises,” the Sorting Hat’s gravelly voice ground out.

    Oh, botheration!

    3.7.1 Parent-teacher conference – redux

    It had been barely seven months, yet a familiar scene was once again playing out bright and early in the morning. Once again, Arthur Weasley found himself walking along the path to the main gates of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It seemed the boys hadn’t even had the decency to give him a full year before raising enough of a ruckus to drag him in to the school for another parent-teacher conference.

    Not that he had expected anything else after the twins had stolen the family car.

    In all honesty, the late-night floo call had come as a relief to both Arthur and his wife, informing them as it did that their troublesome boys had made it to school at least mostly safe, despite apparently being in quite the knotty predicament as a result. Between the timing and the tone Minerva had taken during the floo call, Arthur wasn’t holding out much hope that the reasons would be even half as benign as those which had brought him to the school on Ronald’s behalf the previous school year.

    The Weasley patriarch was met at the castle door by an unusually stern-looking Minerva McGonagall. There was nothing of the subtle amusement and pride that had been lurking around the edges of her expression when he had last seen her — no, this time, Arthur saw traces of barely-suppressed irritation and even hints of outright anger, which was a first for his interactions with the Scotswoman. Even though she hid it well in the interest of maintaining discipline among the students, Minerva was usually at least a little amused at the boys’ antics.

    Arthur sighed, anticipating that this would be an unpleasant ordeal.

    When the transfiguration mistress led him to a conference room where they were met by both the Headmaster and a seething Severus Snape, that anticipation worsened.

    By the time the potions master explained just what sort of trouble the boys had managed to get themselves into, that anticipation crystallized into certainty.

    This was not going to be a conversation Arthur would enjoy.

    3.7.2 Buyer’s remorse

    Two identical pairs of brown eyes locked on the retreating back of Arthur Weasley as he left the Hogwarts infirmary. Those twin sets of eyes remained locked on the door long after it had closed behind the man, their owners frozen in mortification. That had been an outcome they had never anticipated — though to be fair, the twin brothers hadn’t realized just how risky their actions during the prank had been.

    Over the years, the twin pranksters had seen enough examples to fancy themselves connosieurs of angry parental expressions, and they had developed a finely-tuned ability to judge just how far they could push things while still remaining in general good graces.

    This time, however, they might just have pushed too far.

    It was one thing to face a disappointed and angry father who was manfully suppressing his amusement at his sons’ antics. It was quite another to face a disappointed and angry father who was manfully suppressing his worry that his sons might well have gotten into trouble too deep for him to pull them out.

    That was something neither of the twins ever wanted to see on their father’s face again.

    “George,” Fred eventually began, “you know when you said you weren’t sure about going out behind our parents’ backs to do the prank?”

    “Yeah, Fred,” George replied. “I remember.”

    “Next time I try to brush off that objection, hit me,” Fred requested. “Really hard.”

    “You got it, brother,” his twin agreed. “Might kick you too, just to be sure.”

    “Good idea, brother,” Fred acknowledged. “I never want to see Dad looking like that again — though, on the bright side, I do believe we have regained our title as the chief troublemakers in the family.”

    “No contest there,” George acknowledged with a wince. “Might have graduated to ‘black sheep’, though. Bit of a step too far, I’d say.”

    “No question of that,” Fred acknowledged, thinking back on his father’s words and, more importantly, his expression. “Definitely a step too far. Though, when Snape was talking about teaching us until he was sure we knew enough not to cause that much trouble again… didn’t that sound kind of like an apprenticeship to you?” As his twin nodded, Fred continued, “Seems like it wasn’t all bad.”

    “It does seem that that is the case, brother,” George acknowledged slowly. “Though I’d point out, if anyone would know how to turn an apparent reward into a punishment straight out of the depths of Hell, it’d probably be Snape.”

    Both brothers shuddered at the idea — it seemed all too likely.

    3.7.3 Changes

    It had been a decidedly odd morning for Hermione.

    She had awoken in her bedroom bright-eyed and eager for the start of classes, gotten ready, and then gone to check on Harry only to find the big lug passed out in his draconic shape surrounded by packing crates, weird mechanical bits, and a massive stack of three-ring binders, one of which was draped over his muzzle.

    After scolding her friend for pulling an all-nighter — right before the first day of classes of all times — Hermione had rushed him through getting ready and they had set off for the school with Suze in tow. They had made their way along the same familiar paths to which she had become accustomed the previous year, and they arrived at the Great Hall for breakfast only a tad later than normal.

    Then the schedules had arrived.

    Upon receiving her class schedule for the year, Hermione had immediately rushed over to her friend at the Hufflepuff table to compare, only to learn a shocking truth.

    “What do you mean we don’t share any classes?” she yelped.

    “Sorry,” her friend said, visibly uncomfortable at her distress. “That’s what the schedule says.”

    “Usually, the Gryffies get paired with the Snakes, and we get put with the Ravens,” Cedric chimed in helpfully from across the table. “Not sure what was different last year, but the whole ‘put everyone together in one big class’ was really weird. Guess whatever it was is done with now, and they set the schedules back to normal.”

    “But… but,” the bushy-haired girl sputtered, mentally scrabbling for a way to put the reasons for her distress into words, “who am I going to sit with in class if Harry isn’t there?”

    “I’m sure you’ll figure something out,” Susan chimed in warmly, trying to reassure her troubled friend. “You can think of it as an opportunity to make new friends!”

    “Yeah! You can never have enough friends,” Susan’s constant companion, Hannah, chimed in as well. “Plus, you can always study with us outside of class, we still cover the same material, I think.”

    “Well, I guess,” Hermione said dubiously. “I still don’t like this, though.”

    “What’s not to like?” a familiar voice interjected.

    “Good morning, Abigail!” Hermione greeted her friend, momentarily cheered. “Um, I was just looking at Harry’s schedule, and…”

    “And you found out they moved back to the standard scheduling, right?” the older girl confirmed. At Hermione’s confirming nod, she continued, “Well, like Abbot there said, we’ll just have to get together outside class.” The seventh-year shrugged, “Not like you’re supposed to be socializing in class anyway.”

    “I suppose,” the bushy-haired girl grumbled, even as she reached for Harry’s schedule again to check for free time. “I still don’t like it, though.”

    3.7.4 Rumors

    While Hermione Granger was quietly panicking about not sharing any classes with her only friends, the rest of the student body went about their own business, some of which was rather out of the ordinary.

    “Professor McGonagall?”

    “Yes, Mr. Weasley?” the transfiguration mistress acknowledged.

    “Would you like me to deliver my brothers’ schedules to them in the infirmary?” the sixth-year prefect asked. Doing so was, while not exactly his personal duty, something that he thought it appropriate to offer. They were his brothers, and he was a prefect, after all.

    It certainly wasn’t an attempt to inquire after the truth of all those rumors about his little brothers being expelled. Not in the slightest.

    “That will not be necessary, Mr. Weasley,” the Scotswoman declined.

    Percy gulped in subdued apprehension. Had there had been more substance to those rumors than he had thought?

    “Professor Snape will be delivering their schedules personally,” McGonagall continued prompting Percy to sigh in relief. “He has graciously volunteered to oversee your brothers’ punishment for their recent misbehavior personally, and their schedules have been adjusted to properly allow for that.”

    “I see,” Percy said with a nod as he turned to head for the exit. “Thank you for your time, Professor.”

    The twins surely deserved whatever punishment they were going to get, he thought with a nod. Percy would have tried to do something if they were getting expelled — he wasn’t sure what, exactly, but he’d have thought of something. They weren’t, though, so there was no reason for him to get involved any further in their mess.

    Particularly not now — it was time for classes to start, after all.

    3.7.5 Punishment?

    “I suppose I should welcome you back for another year of instruction in the great and dangerous art of potions,” Professor Snape drawled as he came to a stop from his usual dramatic pacing before the class in the dungeons. “Ideally, we would pick up where we left at the end of the previous term, but long and bitter experience has made me abundantly aware that the indolence and irresponsibility of your summer repose will have pushed all thought of basic safety precautions and potions skill clear out of your vacant skulls. Thus, we will begin the term with a remedial lecture.”

    All told, it was a fairly normal beginning to any class with Professor Snape, Hermione thought even as she paid close attention to the review lest she be caught out on something she had by some chance forgotten to review beforehand. The gruff manner and liberal sprinkling of insults were almost reassuringly familiar — all except for one thing, a singular change that Hermione was just dying to ask about at the first opportunity.

    “In conclusion, for no reason whatsoever will I tolerate tomfoolery of any sort in this laboratory!” the potions master concluded. “Have I made myself exquisitely clear?”

    The bushy-haired second year raised her hand.

    “Yes, Miss Granger?” the sallow-faced man acknowledged with a raised eyebrow, clearly not expecting a question so early from one of his most attentive students.

    “Professor,” she greeted. “Why are the Weasley twins standing up there with you?”

    The man’s eyes widened in realization. “Yes, I suppose that would prompt a few questions, particularly with the accompanying injunction against tomfoolery on my part,” he nodded in acknowledgement. “Your elder colleagues, the Misters Weasley, engaged in some decidedly asinine behavior recently, the results of which you all saw yesterday evening.”

    This prompted a sussuration of low conversation throughout the room before Snape’s voice easily powered through the low murmur. “Careful consideration was given to their punishment for the various irresponsible stunts they pulled, and I am afraid that the administration of the sentence has fallen to me. Among other things, the two will be serving as my teaching assistants for the next several years, and their schedules have been rearranged to allow for such.” The man looked intently at the bushy-haired girl. “Does that satisfy your curiosity, Miss Granger?”

    “Yes, Professor Snape,” she replied dubiously, clearly still questioning the situation but unwilling to voice anything further.

    “Very well,” the potions master nodded in acknowledgement. “Now, direct your attention to the board at my left. Today we will be brewing the calming draught. Timing and stirring patterns are of particular importance in this brew as, aside from the usual collection of caustic and explosive failure modes, this particular potion can be completed to multiple end products depending entirely on preparation timing and stirring.”

    As his students diligently took notes, the sallow-faced man continued, “Completed as described in the instructions on the board, the potion will turn robin’s egg blue under torchlight — changing to orange-standard 14 under sunlight — and will produce a temporary state of calm in the recipient, the duration of which is determined by the size of the dose. Completed in a slightly different manner — namely, if you stir for slightly too long immediately after adding the chamomile extract — it will be the same color under torchlight but will turn orange-standard 11 under sunlight.”

    His face took on a pinched expression of distaste as he continued, “This product will induce a state of hyper-aggression in the recipient, rather than calm. The duration of the effect has never been measured, as it has so far proven impossible to restrain the subject safely long enough for them to recover. Such attempts generally end with the subject lethally injuring themselves in an attempt to kill everyone in the vicinity. The sunlight color test is the only known way to tell the potions apart prior to taking them. I have chosen this particular potion as an excellent example of the subtle complexities of the art as we continue into the higher echelons.”

    “You will note,” Snape shot the entire class a steady glower, “further research into the aggression draught has been forbidden for nearly a century, and intentionally brewing it without first obtaining special permission and oversight from the potions guild carries a hefty legal penalty, as does improper disposal of a batch brewed in error.”

    Maintaining the glower for a few more moments, Snape then went on. “Now, we begin with a myrtlesap base. Can anyone tell me why we have chosen myrtlesap rather than water?”

    From there the lesson continued, keeping Hermione far too busy to wonder further about the red-haired teaching assistants and their so-called punishment.

    3.7.6 A practical lesson?

    Currently in human-shape, Harry bounced through the door of the Defense classroom — literally, his control lessons continued apace, and Mrs. McGonagall had forbidden him from doing the arms-on-fire thing in class shortly after he figured out how to do it — eager to see what the new professor had to offer.

    Harry hadn’t been terribly impressed by the man during their encounter in the Alley, and his books seemed an odd choice for scholarly reading material — they actually worked fairly well as adventure novellas, solidly written and fairly engaging, but not particularly easy to teach from or go back and reference in Harry’s estimation — but the young dragon was willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt.

    Perhaps he was going to use some unusual teaching method? Maybe something based more on stories than lectures? Harry nodded to himself at that idea. It could work. He liked stories, so that might be fun —Magorian managed well using that medium, too, so it was certainly possible.

    In any case, as Harry bounced to a stop at his seat, eagerly looking forward to learning from yet another new person.

    The professor in question emerged from his private office at the top of a set of stairs to one side of the room and paused dramatically at the landing. “Let me introduce you to your new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher,” he intoned dramatically after a momentary pause to allow everyone time to notice him. “Me. Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin, third class, honorary member of the Dark Force Defense League, and five-times winner of Witch Weekly’s Most-Charming-Smile Award.”

    As said award-winning smile flashed, Harry sniffed in confusion as the scents of several of his female classmates changed subtly. A quick glance around the room showed many of them to have slightly flushed skin with a number sighing about something or other.

    What was that all about?

    Waiting just long enough for the fluttering sighs to begin to wind down, Lockhart continued. “But I don’t talk about that — I didn’t get rid of the Bandon banshee by smiling at her, after all!” There was an answering titter of high, girlish laughter when the handsome professor chuckled at his own joke.

    “Now then, we will begin. I do hope you have read the required reading list, because we will be leading off with a quiz!” The blond man began handing out parchments.

    Harry nodded amiably. That seemed like a reasonable way to start out the year, and he had certainly done the reading. On reading the questions, though, Harry’s eager enthusiasm began to wane.

    With questions ranging from Gilderoy Lockhart’s favorite color to what he wanted for his birthday, the quiz seemed to be something of a joke. Sure, Harry could see how they worked as reading-comprehension questions, a sort of spot-check on whether you’d read the books or not — Harry had, which was why he could answer the silly things — but it didn’t ask about relevant stuff, like what sorts of creatures he faced or where he encountered them.

    Maybe the professor was just bad at writing quizzes?

    Harry hoped that was the case, or this was going to be a long year.

    After collecting the completed quizzes, the man spent some time going over the answers for those who had missed questions — making a point to peddle several of his hygiene products along the way, from hair care to tooth whitening; after his lessons with Mr. Slackhammer, it was an attitude Harry could respect — until he finally came to another announcement that caught Harry’s attention.

    “Now be warned,” Lockhart intoned in a stentorian voice, “it is my job to arm you against the foulest of creatures known to wizardkind.” He turned to walk to a side table and retrieve a wooden crate with a solid-looking hinged door on the front and studded with iron reinforcements.

    If not for the wood, Harry would have thought it looked rather scrumptious. Maybe the contents would be tasty? Harry settled in to stare at the door with a hungry sort of light in his eyes.

    It had been almost three hours since breakfast.

    “You may find yourself facing your worst fears in this room,” Lockhart continued dramatically as he placed the box down on his desk at the front of the room. “Know only that no harm can befall you while I am here. I must ask you not to scream,” his voice dropped to a stage whisper. “It might provoke them.”

    Then he threw open the door on the crate, and a small blue figure stepped out to stand on the table.

    The tiny, blue, winged humanoid creature paused for a moment to look around the room.

    “Cornish pixies?” one of the Ravenclaws said in disbelief. “After all that build-up?”

    “Laugh if you will,” Lockhart scoffed, “but pixies can be devilishly tricky little…”

    The blond man trailed off as the pixie in question flinched. Its scanning gaze had finally encountered an answering one from Harry Potter. Showing uncommonly good sense for a pixie, the tiny blue man cautiously backed up a few steps before pulling a full about-face and half-sprinting, half-flying for the open door of the crate, shoving several of its compatriots back in the box on the way before grabbing the crate door from the inside and slamming it shut behind himself.

    “What in Merlin’s name was that about?” Lockhart wondered aloud.

    Harry could only look after the small creature with a forlorn expression on his currently-human face.

    It really had looked delicious. Not very filling, but delicious, nonetheless.

    How disappointing.

    3.7.7 Library meeting

    “Lockhart is so bloody useless!” Abigail vented as loudly as she dared while a guest in Madame Pince’s domain.

    The end of the first week of school had arrived, and the rainy Friday afternoon found Abigail meeting with Harry and his damsels for a study session — really an excuse for socialization, but to be fair, they did get a fair bit of work done in the process.

    “That hardly seems fair,” Hermione protested her senior’s assessment. “Sure, the books are kind of poorly chosen for teaching, and the quiz at the beginning was more for reading comprehension than defense,” she allowed. “But he led off the year with a practical demonstration with real, live creatures! For the first day of class, that’s pretty impressive.”

    “Were they pixies?” Abigail asked flatly.

    The bushy-haired second-year nodded in confirmation. “Yep! They got into everything, and I ended up having to hit the whole lot with a wide-area immobilization charm. How did you guess?”

    “Because he used exactly the same demonstration for us,” Abigail said flatly.

    “Really?” Hermione frowned. “But you’re in seventh year.”

    “Yes, yes I am,” the older girl ground out. “Every other class has been hammering through a review of all our old material so that we can get down to business and prepare for the NEWTs — every single one — except for Defense, where the professor has us on the same lesson plan as the second years!”

    “First years too,” Harry piped in. “Susan and Hannah were telling me about how they had to comfort some of the younger kids who were crying because they got tossed around in class.” His expression turned thoughtful. “Not sure why, the pixies went back into the box on their own in our class — heck, they refused to come out in the first place for some reason.” The currently human-shaped dragon shook his head dismissively, “Weird.”

    “Right! So, he’s got us on a first-year curriculum, and that’s supposed to prepare us for our NEWTs!” Abigail didn’t feel Harry’s lack of self awareness was really worthy of comment. She had more pressing concerns. “The man’s a menace to proper education; we’ll never pass the Defense NEWT at this rate.” She sighed, “Why did I get stuck with the useless fop on my NEWT year? It’s just not fair.”

    Hermione nodded sympathetically, “I know. Just look at what they did for the Weasley twins!”

    “What about them?” Abigail asked curiously. “I hadn’t heard anything on that front.”

    “They pulled off all those pranks and caused all that trouble at the opening feast, and then they got to be Professor Snape’s teaching assistants! Some of the older students even said he’s treating them a lot like apprentices,” Hermione huffed. “I mean, when you do bad things, you’re supposed to get punished, so why are they getting rewarded for it?”

    “That does sound kind of odd,” Abigail mused. “And it sounds really out of character for my Head of House. He’s not normally one to tolerate any foolishness, much less reward it.”

    The table fell silent for a time as they considered that for a time before the centaur in the room spoke up.

    “Mayhap it is intended to be a punishment disguised as a reward?” Suze ventured.

    “What do you mean?” Hermione asked, puzzled. “How would that work?”

    “Well, when Cousin Julius was young, he snuck out of camp to follow Father on a border patrol, and in his clumsiness, he managed to alert some of the spider plague to their presence. Several of our best warriors were gravely injured, and Father said that it was a close-fought battle to safely retreat. Grandfather was livid, but with so few able-bodied warriors, the Clan could not spare Julius, despite his recklessness, so Father took him on as a student with the intent of turning him into a competent warrior.”

    The centaur maiden shuddered. “Father is the premier warrior of the Clan, and his tutelage is much sought after by the young colts, but I am certain Cousin Julius did not see it as a privilege. Father was very strict, much more so than normal. Perhaps Mr. Snape is handling the situation similarly.”

    Hermione frowned. “It still seems unfair.”

    “Maybe you should ask Professor Snape,” the dragon in the room suggested. “I mean, that’s the only way you’re going to figure it out for sure.”

    “I already asked though, and he didn’t answer,” the bushy-haired girl most assuredly didn’t whine.

    “Um, did you actually ask him, or did you just hint at it?” Harry asked. “Mr. Snape doesn’t like to pussyfoot around things, so you need to just ask outright if you want to know.” Abigail nodded in agreement with the assessment of her Head of House as the currently human-shaped dragon continued. “He’ll keep things to himself on principle if you don’t. I mean, he might not answer you anyway if he doesn’t think he should, but hinting will just guarantee he never tells you anything.”

    With that nugget of Snapely wisdom dispensed, Harry turned back to his current work — appearing to involve a fair bit of geometry and planning the layout of an absurdly complicated runic array, alongside which sat a huge list of apparently-randomly chosen letters and numbers arranged in regular groups — an example followed shortly by his compatriots. For a long while, the only sounds to disturb the silence of the library were the pattering of rain on the outside of the stonework and the quiet scratching of quill on parchment until eventually, an outside interruption intruded itself.

    “Mr. Potter?” Madame Pince had approached in her usual near-silence.

    “Uh-huh?” the dragon in question acknowledged absently. He looked up from his work after he finished the current line. “What do you need?”

    Quirking an eyebrow at the informal address, the Hogwarts librarian decided not to make an issue of it. “The Headmaster has requested that you meet with him.”

    “Huh,” Harry scratched his head. “Do you know what he wants?”

    “I’m afraid not, Mr. Potter,” Madame Pince averred. “You will simply have to find out for yourself.”

    “Okay,” the young dragon said with aplomb, gathering his effects as he made to stand up, an action immediately echoed by Suze. “Um, Hermione, did you want to stay here, or…”

    “I’ll stay and try to finish my work for transfiguration,” came the bushy-haired girl’s reply.

    “Okay,” Harry said brightly. “I’ll see you after I talk with Mr. Dumbledore, then. Bye, Hermione! Abigail!”

    And with that, he and his centaur damsel were off to see the wizard.

    3.7.8 Scheduling

    “Ah, Mr. Potter, Miss Suze, welcome,” the Headmaster greeted warmly. “Do come in!”

    “Hi, Mr. Dumbledore!” Harry answered brightly, while his damsel gave a warm smile and nod but remained otherwise silent. “What did you need to see me for?”

    “I find myself in the position of delivering a request for your time on the behalf of a mutual acquaintance, Mr. Potter,” the elderly wizard began. “I’m afraid that the request has been much delayed due to my own negligence, but I was recently reminded rather forcefully.”

    “Oh?” Harry asked, puzzled. “Who is it?

    The Headmaster explained, and all was made clear.

    “Monday, then?”

    At Harry’s affirmative nod, the matter was settled.
     
    Shance, loatroll, buffog and 104 others like this.
  27. The Unicorn

    The Unicorn Versed in the lewd.

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    Nice chapter, it occurs to me that most of the punishments the twins might be receiving are going to seem like rewards to Hermione, even if the twins disagree.
     
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  28. Rathmun

    Rathmun Experienced.

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    Sounds like an excellent way to tempt her into pranking Snape.
     
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  29. Dunkelzahn

    Dunkelzahn No one of consequence

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    Stop reading ahead! :D
     
  30. bradford parkhurst

    bradford parkhurst Getting out there.

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    Well at least something good happened today. All I need is an earthquake to round this out as one of the days for this town in 30 years.

    Mass shooting, followed buy my house being in danger of burrnig down. So thank you for letting at least one thing going right.

    Sorry I live in Newbury Park CA and this has been just the worst day for us.
     
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