Dance Magic Dance

8.5: Maggie's Awakening

Maggie was lying in bed, Athos was sitting next to her

Daniel
RIght—and Athos was asking Maggie to repeat all the things Athos had told her!

Me!
Yes! “There…may come a time where I’ll comfort,” the word bad because she can’t quite remember, “terrible things. Nightmares. They’ll be super scary. There’ll be a maze, and monsters. Fear — fear is like a test for your brain.” She hesitates. “And then you said to make my brain an impenetrable fortress and things could only hurt me if I let them. And um, to trust myself. And to always fight back. And – go to the tower.”

Daniel
“Mhm,” Athos says, gently. “But you forgot one thing, Maggie.”

Me!
“What’d I forget?” She asks.

Daniel
“To trust no one else.” Athos holds Maggie’s head down on the mattress, and in a flash she draws a wicked-looking knife from behind her, which she immediately plunges into Maggie’s stomach. The sharp bite of the knife is a shock beyond any pain Maggie’s innocent brain could have possibly comprehended before this moment. Athos shoves the knife in deep and begins raking it left to right, carving up her internal organs.

Me!
Maggie gasps at that immediately, her eyes widening – she writhes away from it, first thing, letting out a mewl of pain. Her hands wrap around the knife – it takes her a few moments of reaction. “Ow,” she says, twisting and shifting. “Ow ow ow ow!” Trust no one else. She tries to get away from it any way that she can – and in the moment, she only panics.
Fear, fear is like a test for your brain. You have to make it an impenetrable fortress. It can only hurt you if you let it. These run through her head, but they don’t take hold for a moment – because the moment is shock and fear sudden and overwhelming – “No,” she says as the knife digs into her organs, and then violently she tries to shove at Athos’s hand. “No!”

Daniel
Athos utterly overpowers her with raw physical strength as she rakes the knife around in Maggie’s insides. “Did you know,” she says coolly, “that it actually takes hours to die from disembowelment? It’s not like in the movies. The feudal Samurai used to commit suicide in this way, but because the death took so long, a second man, an attendant, would stand behind the person killing himself, standing ready to cut off his head and make the death quicker.”

Me!
Maggie panics a bit more at this. And then suddenly the words Athos earlier said to her seem to settle in, digging into her brain. Only hurt you if you let it, impenetrable fortress: and she screws her eyes shut and focuses hard, throws her mind away from the pain like Wesley in the Princess Bride. “You can’t hurt me. You can’t hurt me.” Half of her saying the words aloud is to try and make herself more defiant, make herself feel it.

Daniel
And all of a sudden, Athos stops talking, stops cutting—Maggie no longer feels Athos present in the room at all, actually. And she feels…fine. No more pain.

Me!
She opens her eyes – first one, then the other. She stares where Athos was, and then lifts her head to look down at her stomach.

Daniel
Her stomach is unhurt, but when she opens her eyes Maggie finds herself in a very different place. The bed is still there, still the same, but everything else is different. The walls are now black stone, veined with gleaming bloody red. The glow of the ambiguous red substance is the only source of light. She seems to be situated in a cavern from which there are countless tunnel exits.

Me!
Uneasily, Maggie slips to the edge of the bed. All at once, she’s suddenly utterly grateful for her footie pajama pants and her baggy and draggy shirt, something old and familiar that can give her some soldering strength beyond what she can muster in her head. She slips out of bed – she recalls standing defiant before Bob and not fearing him hitting back. She thinks about wanting to run from the paint monster but knowing Vee and Pip were falling behind her and standing before it. she draws in a deep breath and channels some of that now. “Impenetrable fortress,” she says then, though a quiver at the end betrays her fear. She moves slowly for one of the tunnels.

Daniel
“Not that way,” says a dark voice through the walls. “Any way but that way.”

Me!
Maggie pauses as she peers down it. Now, she’s seen Labyrinth like 5 times in Theater, and asked for it on VHS for Christmas. Maggie KNOWS Labyrinth. And she pauses. And those words sound EXACTLY like the worms. Well, not exactly. He says Don’t go that way. NEVER go that way. But close enough. She draws in a breath, puffs out her cheeks. “My will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great. You have no power over me.” And she puffs her cheeks and steps down that hall.

Daniel
The voice through the walls laughs slowly as Maggie moves forward. “That’s just adorable,” it says. “You think some little VHS tape your mommy bought you is going to save you here. In the Nightmare. But here’s the thing, little Margaret. I know you. I know you because I’ve seen your mind. And so if you’ve seen Labyrinth, I’ve seen it too. So maybe I said what the worms said, on purpose, knowing how you’d react—knowing that you’d go right where I wanted you to. Where all the monsters are waiting, and where you’ll be lost forever.”

Me!
She hesitates at that, for a moment, uncertainly. “Well,” she says then. “Well, then – then let them come,” she says. There’s that false bravado again – her heart hammers in her chest, even as she lifts her chin. She tries to recall the real Athos’s words – or was that the real Athos? She doesn’t know – where nothing can hurt her unless she makes it. “Because – nothing can hurt me. Nope.” Probably? Right? The knot of doubt curls in her stomach, making her feel a little sick and uneasy, but – she tries to keep the words settled in her head. And she steps forward and starts walking down that path.

Daniel
“You don’t sound so sure, little Margaret,” says the voice disparagingly. “Are you doubting Athos’s advice? Or…no. You’re doubting your own strength, aren’t you? Yes…you’re not sure you’re cut out for this, are you? You think you might end up worthless and alone, aren’t you?”

Me!
“I’m not listening to you,” she says then, and begins to walk down that long and twisty path. She lifts her fingers to plug her ears, trying to ignore the voice – that’s what Vee and Epiphany say when she starts getting mad at Bob. Ignore it Maggie. Drop it Maggie.

Daniel
“Do you think covering your ears will do anything? I’m INSIDE YOUR MIND!”

Me!
She pulls her hands out of her ears and shakes her hands then. “No. But – but Athos says I can do it, so I can do it. And – I can do it. You’re just – you’re just the goetic demon, and you’re angry and you’re mean." She keeps marching down the path she’s on, studying the veiny walls – and putting her hand against the wall as she walks.

Daniel
The wall is unsettlingly warm, and rough and rocky. “How do you know Athos wasn’t lying to you? How do you know she wasn’t trying to lure you into the Nightmare, so that she could harvest your soul for herself? Or—even better—how do you know Athos isn’t just ME?! Wasn’t it a little CONVENIENT, after all, that Athos seemed to shut me up so easily? And where is she now?”

Me!
“She’s a girl and you’re a boy,” Maggie says then, as if this should be obvious. “And – and you’ve been in my head before she knew me, and – and Ms. Mendeleeva went and got her and Ms. Mendeleeva did something to help Rick after he got eaten and so she wouldn’t go and get someone to help us who’d hurt us.” LOGIC! She looks around a little bit. “Where are you?” And then: “Oh — you’re – everywhere, right? You’re – everywhere here? Come out."

Daniel
“But there’s one thing you didn’t think of,” says the voice, as a figure appears at the far end of the tunnel. The figure comes nearer and nearer, until finally Xyza appears there with her paintbrush. “You never tried your paint-thinner on Athos, did you?” she says.

Me!
She stares quietly at Xyza for a long moment. She stares for a moment, and then, uneasily: “No, I didn’t. But I didn’t have to.” She looks to the paintbrush, and then she straightens up. “You’re dead. I watched you get – get shot in the head, even though I didn’t want you to get shot in the head. You didn’t turn to paint or anything, so it was you. And — and then – and then – “ she stares past Xyza, and then looks at her again. “Um – let me passed.”

Daniel
“Was that really me? Are you SURE I didn’t turn to paint? Are you sure that shooting a paint-creature in the head even turns them into paint?” Xyza rolls her eyes to the cavern ceiling contemplatively, as she starts to paint an Athos into existence.

Me!
“That’s not going to be Athos. And you can’t hurt me. And – and of course they’d turn to paint. Colby turned to paint.” She shifts and tries to slide past Xyza then. “And – and so it’d have to. You can’t paint BLOOD. You don’t paint all their INSIDES."

Daniel
“No?” Xyza finishes painting Athos, who immediately comes to life. She has just enough time to say, “Maggie, you have to get out of here, I was wrong, I’m sorry—” before Xyza pulls out a gun and shoots Athos in the head. Blood and brains splatter all over the cavern walls. She falls to the ground quite realistically—despite having been painted.

Me!
She stares at the fallen Athos for a moment, and then: “Y-you’re just trying to scare me. You said you’re in my head, so you’re just – you’re just making me – you’re TRYING to make me scared. That’s what you’re trying to do.” She remember what Athos said – that she’d see all sorts of terrible things. Was that the real Athos though? She’s unsure. But that’s what Athos said. “You’re trying to make me scared and – and so I need to keep moving. And – anyway that was paint-Athos, so she wasn’t even the REAL fake Athos.”

Daniel
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Xyza says. “You don’t know anything. You think you’re so smart, don’t you? But you’re just a stupid little fifth grader who reads books and watches movies and thinks she knows everything. What an arrogant little piece of crap you are. No wonder everyone hates you.”

Me!
“I’m not – I’m not ARROGANT and NOT EVERYONE HATES ME!” She says then, stomping her foot. “Sure, not everyone LIKES me but I know not everyone hates me. Rick doesn’t hate me. And — and Laverne doesn’t hate me, and Petra, and Epiphany, and Vee. They like me. Maybe I’m not their FAVORITE but they LIKE me. I – I don’t like YOU! No one likes YOU! You’re just mean!” And Maggie stomps her foot again, her face screws up – and then she stomps forward and shoves Xyza with all her strength.

Daniel
Each time Maggie names someone, that person appears from one of the tunnel exits to the room—the cavern walls part to reveal each of them standing there.
“You’re the worst cousin anyone could ask for,” Rick says. “You just stood there and watched me die.”
Laverne: “Did you forget that time you snapped at me? Because I didn’t.”

Me!
“I told you to run,” she says to Rick. “And — and you’re alive. You even said to me – you whispered and you said not to believe the voice in my head ‘cause it told lies and you’re just – you’re from my head.”

Daniel
Petra: “What about when you left me all alone to fight against the paint-monster? What about when you forced everyone to kill that poor, defenseless dog? I didn’t help, because I knew how wrong it was. You were stupid, and you were wrong.”

Me!
“AND — And you CAN’T ACT LIKE YOU KNOW EVERYTHING and then just – and then not say anything and then act like – act like it’s our fault we can’t read your mind! That’s why I snapped, and I said sorry because I could have said it in a nicer way,” she says then to Laverne.

Daniel
Laverne: “Oh, so I KNOW EVERYTHING now? I’m so arrogant? LOOK IN THE MIRROR!”

Me!
And then she whirls on Petra. “I didn’t force ANYONE to kill the paintmonster dog. I was gonna do it by myself, and then everyone just followed me, and so it was everyone ’s choice, and the fact that you sat out is fine. And – and I am sorry about leaving you alone. I was scared. I’m sorry.” Her shoulders sink a little bit and she glances away from Petra to focus back on Laverne. “You ACT like you do! And — and YOU look in the mirror!"

Daniel
Petra: “You keep telling yourself that. But the kids are your friends. WERE your friends. They followed you. And you led them to murder an innocent dog! You’re a terrible person!”
Laverne: “Oh, that was SUCH a witty retort, Maggie. That was just SO very clever. How will I ever recover from such a horrible insult as ‘no, YOU’? You’re pathetic.”

Me!
“They ARE my friends.” She says then. “And – it wasn’t an innocent dog! Even that Remainder lady said. She said it was good that we did it. And she has no reason to be nice to me ‘cause I don’t even know her. He was a paint monster, and Ethan would’ve been way more hurt. I don’t regret k-killing that dog! And—and if they thought I was their leader, they’d have listened when I told ‘em not to go.” She draws in a deep breath. “I’m not good at insults. And that’s okay.” She draws in a shaky breath, shaking and unnerved, and then starts stepping forward as quickly as she can – trying to head deeper into the tunnels, not looking at Laverne. Am I arrogant? I don’t think I’m arrogant. I talk to everyone. If I’m arrogant, I’d be like – - I’d be like Emily, right?

Daniel
Petra, Laverne, and Rick all turn into horrible painted monsters as Maggie turns her back on them. They charge after her, snarling, lashing their teeth and claws menacingly.

Me!
‘I’m not like Emily. I’m not like Emily at all. I – I try to be nice to people who are nice. I don’t just try to hurt people because I think they’re uncool. As soon as those three turn into paintmonsters, she screams and whirls around again, diving back against the nearest wall. “Stay back!"

Daniel
The foremost of them steps forward and gashes Maggie across the face with its horrible claws.

Me!
“No,” she says then, flailing and scrabbling back – paintmonsters are terrifying. Paintmonsters make her think of the one that drove her mindless with terror – the one of many hooves and heads and lashing tongue and biting teeth, and she scrabbles back further, holding up her hands. “No.” TRY TO KEEP BRAVE MAGGIE. “YOU—YOU CAN’T HURT ME,” she says loudly. Make your mind an impenetrable fortress. Make your mind an impenetrable fortress. What does that mean? Try to be stronger? Fear is just — fear is just a test. Fear is just a test. A test of what?

Daniel
As Maggie steps backward, the paintmonsters step forward, with their horrible faces, horrible claws and teeth. One of them grabs her with its foul arms, and begins scratching her open, making her bleed all over. Another sinks its teeth into her shoulder, chomping and ripping her apart.

Me!
A test of strength for your mind. She straightens up – she tries to stop backing up. Her arms quake, her legs jostle a bit, becoming weaker. Each bite and all the blood loss seems to hurt her more. “You can’t hurt me. You can’t hurt me. You can’t hurt me.” She holds her hands out in front of her, palms out. She starts struggling and fighting – never stop fighting, Athos said. Never stop fighting. “You can’t hurt me.” Her arms burn. She claws and snaps and smacks. “YOU CAN’T HURT ME,” she says then – apparently shouting it loud seems to make it more real, she sounds stronger then. “YOU CAN’T HURT ME."

Daniel
The final scream, of utter defiance, made just as her throat is being ripped out of her neck, makes the whole labyrinth quake powerfully. Everything shatters all at once, somehow—and Maggie finds herself standing on her own two feet, on a floor of black bedrock. This rock forms a sort of natural bridge, over a chasm which seems bottomless and horrible. The bridge begins quite wide, but as it moves forward, it narrows until it’s barely a foot across. But at the other side, there’s a tall black obelisk, the top of which is shaped like a clenched fist.

Me!
She heaves for breath then – taking a few moments to gather herself. Her legs continue to quake, her arms shaking. Her face feels ashy, and her lions mane of hair is now smashed against her. Her limbs quake and then she straightens up. “You can’t hurt me,” she says again, quietly, filled with spite. She looks around at the crumbled ground, and then looks at the bridge. She looks up at the obelisk, with the fist. “…Is that the tower?” She asks herself, uncertainly. She hesitates, and then she steps forward on to it – and then sinks to her knees to slowly crawl across it. “I always wondered in movies,” she says to herself -s peaking to herself to stay focused, “why people don’t just crawl. It seems silly to walk across.” She peeks down into the abyss below and then looks back up to the obelisk.

Daniel
As she gets about halfway across the crawling part of the bridge, the ground quakes—collapses—and Maggie finds herself plummeting into a bottomless pit.

Me!
Maggie panics as she topples head over heels toward this bottomless pit. Things that stand before her that hurt her – that makes sense. “Can’t hurt me,” she says, an echo of what she’d just screamed – but as she tumbles into the darkness, she focuses. No – nothing can hurt her here, certainly, right? Only if she lets it. It’s silly. Athos – Athos in the closet, Athos stepping around the corner – can Athos appear anywhere? And Athos said she’d learn magic like her. Can Maggie appear anywhere? Is that silly? It’s – it’s HER brain, she can go ANYWHERE in HER brain, right? Epiphany had that book about dreams too, where you astral project in your dream and you can make your dream do stuff and – and so she topples, panicked, and works this out – and then focuses – the ground by that tower thing. The ground by that tower thing. “Please work,” she says into the darkness. “I want to – I WANT TO BE ON THAT GROUND UP THERE. I WANT TO BE BACK UP THERE. I CAN BE. YOU CAN’T HURT ME WITH FALLING."

Daniel
“Hurt you? Oh, Margaret, you don’t understand. You’re not going to fall to your death—you’re not going to GET hurt. You’re just going to fall forever. Welcome to the rest of your life. And do you know why? Because you FAILED. You’re a FAILURE.” The dark voice echoes off the nothingness around her, powerfully blasting her ears.

Me!
“I – I am NOT! And stop calling me MARGARET! You’re – you’re not my MOM. Eeee,” and she lifts her hands to try and cover her ears, and then remembers how useless that was.

Daniel
“You had the Tower staring you in the face, and all you had to do was be brave one last time. But no. You decided to be CAUTIOUS. You decided to CRAWL. Like a little weakling. And now the Tower doesn’t want you anymore. Now this Realm is done testing you. It doesn’t care about you anymore. You’re discarded. You’re worthless. You’ll never Awaken. You’ll never leave this place. You’ll fall forever, until everyone in the world has forgotten you, and your body back home has shriveled and died.”
“And all because you couldn’t just follow Athos’s advice and be brave. All because you gave in to FEAR.”

Me!
“I – I DIDN’T GIVE IN TO FEAR,” she says then. “I was being SMART! There’s – there’s a difference between being – being BRAVE AND FACING YOUR FEAR and being – being the – the – FOOLHARDY.” She’d read that in some of her books. “Y-you can’t always just charge in and kick someone in between the legs, but just cause you don’t do that doesn’t mean you’re scared!” She inhales deep and lets it out. “And—“ And tears perk at the corner of her eyes. “And I’m not – I’m not a failure. And the – and I’m not worthless! And no—no one will just f-forget me! There’s a — there’s a difference, and sometimes I f-forget it, but there’s a DIFFERENCE!"

Daniel
“There is no difference,” says the voice. “You crawled because you were scared to fall. And now the Tower sees that you’re just a stupid little coward that will never succeed. You FAILED, Margaret. You FAILED. And now you have ALL ETERNITY to fall into nothingness—the Realm doesn’t even care enough to kill you—and think about what a WORTHLESS FAILURE you are.”

Me!
“THERE’S A DIFFERENCE!” She shouts back – and as the tears start running, she’s more defiant. “I AM NOT A FAILURE! I’M DUMB SOMETIMES, AND I JUST DASH INTO THINGS WHEN I SHOULDN’T, AND PEOPLE GET MAD AT ME! BUT IT’S NOT DUMB TO THINK A LITTLE. THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE SCARED. IT MEANS YOU’RE SMART. IT MEANS YOU’RE THINKING AND PLANNING. THAT’S WHAT THAT MEANS. I DID NOT FAIL!"
She draws in a deep breath, she lets it out.

Daniel
“But it’s perfectly logical, Maggie,” says the voice—it almost sounds like it’s taking pity. “If you try not to die, then you fear death. If you’re afraid of something, you’re not brave.”

Me!
Focus Maggie. Focus. She focuses as hard as she can, focuses on what she knows – it is a labyrinth, and she keeps arguing with – with what’s in her head, like Jareth, and – and she’s ahd to go through hardships, she had to watch Rick get eaten and come back alive. Even as she’s falling, even as the cold wind buffets her, even then her arms quake, and her tears still fall – she still manages to quote and shout: “Th—THROUGH DANGERS UNTOLD, and HARDSHIPS OUTNUMBERED I have—I have FOUGHT my way here to the castle BEYOND the — BEYOND THE PAINTMONSTER CITY TO TAKE BACK THE CHILD THAT YOU HAVE STOLEN which is — which is ME. My WILL is as STRONG as YOURS and my KINGDOM AS GREAT. No, that’s NOT logical!” She says then, snapping out of the quote. “It’s not!”

Daniel
“Oh, but it is. And it means you’re a FAILURE.”

Me!
“NO,” she says then. “Brave is — brave is even when you’re scared, even when you’re afraid — even when you’re scared, you do it anyway. You do it however you do it! That’s what brave means. B—Brave was when – was when I was scared, and wanted to run, but I knew I’d hurt Epiphany and Vee and instead stood in front of the paintmonster knowing it’d eat me. B-brave isn’t about being not scared. It’s about being scared, and knowing you’re scared, and – doing whatever it was anyway, however it is you do it.”

Daniel
Maggie seems to be slowing down in her fall. And below her, she can see the Tower coming into view, can see the chasm again, and a bridge—this time a longer bridge, a wider one. She coasts down toward it, turning end over end until her feet face downward, and slowly, almost gracefully, touch down upon the rock. Once again she finds herself facing the Tower.

Me!
“Brave is – is about knowing you’re scared and doing it anyway,” she repeats as she lands then. She’s harried, her eyes wide. Her hair is everywhere, wild about her head like a great big frizzy mess. She draws in a breath. “You have no power over me,” she says then, quietly finishing Sarah’s line. She shakes a little bit, her limbs quivering, and then she steps forward slowly, stumbling toward the tower.

Daniel
As she approaches the Tower’s black steps, the double doors at the entrance unclench and slowly creak open, revealing a fiery-looking interior.

Me!
She hesitates on the steps, staring into the interior. She looks in there for a long moment, and then slowly mounts the steps. She’s encountered paintmonsters. She had someone she – liked rip her open and gut her. She had her friends yell at her for things she’d thought was her fault and – in a way – still did. She fell. She’d seen a paintmonster eat her cousin. She’d seen a friend who she maybe had a kid crush on captured in a giant science place. She could – she could see whatever this was.

Daniel
Inside the tower, she finds a forge. The heat of it blasts her face harshly. But she finds that she has tools there, waiting for her. There’s a huge metal gauntlet—it looks like it weighs about a thousand pounds, and is meant for the hand of someone far, far bigger than her. Bigger than Athos, even. Then there’s a hammer and a chisel that look like they’re about a billion years old. They look so heavy. So impossible to lift. The rest of the Tower’s interior has a spiral staircase going all the way up—and the walls of the inside are covered, floor to ceiling, everywhere, with names that have been etched in.
Give me a Wits+Comp -3 roll.

Me!
That would be… Wits 3 + Comp 2 – 3 = 2
1s

Daniel
At just a foot or two above eye level, near the forge’s hottest fires, Maggie can see one name that stands out to her, with the sheer power and audacity with which it was chiseled into the stone. Seeing the lettering, she can almost feel the defiance, the cold, hard bravery that matches her own feelings as she marched across the bridge and into this tower: LISA REYNOLDS.
There’s an empty spot pretty much right below it.

Me!
“Athos,” she says then, recognizing that name. “Okay, in – in stories, you gotta,” she moves to the gauntlets then. Athos said to put on the iron gauntlets. They’re too big – but – if Athos could do it, and Athos said she was about her age – so – she tries (her arms hurt SO MUCH, they feel like JELLO) to shove her hands into the gauntlet and lift them, gritting her teeth to do it. Those first.

Daniel
She finds that the gauntlet, which looks intimidating and let’s face it metal as hell, which fits up and past her elbow, weighs practically nothing.

Me!
“Oh,” she says then, lifts it. She pauses, and then turns and slowly picks up the hammer and chisel. Does she have to heat the chisel? Probably, that’s what the gauntlets are for, right? She pauses, and then moves to put the tip of the chisel in the fire for a moment.

Daniel
The chisel, which also weighs pretty much nothing, grows hot and turns red in the fire.

Me!
She moves over toward LISA REYNOLDS. She stares at it for a moment, and then starts writing. MARGARET STARK. All capitals. She wants everyone to know this name – she wants it to be obvious.

Daniel
The carving is slow, methodical, laborious. Maggie is sweating bullets by the end of it, despite the weightlessness of her tools. But after what feels like hours, it’s finally done.

Me!
She heaves out a breath at that and steps back, staring at her name then. She steps back, wearing the gauntlets and clutching her tools. She feels sweaty – she feels it pouring down her cheeks and into her pajamas. She feels her pajamas covered in dust and ash, her hair clinging to her face and slightly singed.

Daniel
She has just enough time to admire her name, there, to feel the rightness of it—to feel her sense of belonging cement itself—before the scene of the Tower fades away, and Maggie finds herself standing in a…library. A huge library. The biggest library she’s EVER seen.

Me!
Is this another test? I pause and look around then, spinning in a wide circle. I clutch the hammer in my right hand, the chisel in my left – and then I drop them. Probably some sort of test to read and puzzle out the books. I pause to study the nearest books.

Daniel
The hammer, chisel, and gauntlet are all GONE!

Me!
!!!!

Daniel
ALso, Maggie isn’t all disheveled and burned-up.

Me!
Oh. Well then!

Daniel
Her pajamas are undamaged.

Me!
Her hair is still probably frizzy.

Daniel
A bit.

Me!
She moves over to the books to peek at them.

Daniel
The first book she opens is called A TREATISE ON THE ETHICAL VIABILITY OF THE PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF SYMPATHETIC MAGIC, VOLUME 7.

Me!
Maggie understands almost none of that. A treatise? She heard that in school. That’s…a treaty. Ethical means…moral. Viability is – um, she isn’t sure. Sympathetic magic though, probably means on making people sympathetic! She looks at the inside, and then like a kid who can’t decide in a book store, starts poking around at the next book over. This place is HUGE. And that one was on MAGIC. There’s probably SOMETHING here about GOETIC DEMONS.

Daniel
Wits+Comp.

Me!
2s

Daniel
Somewhere on the other side of the book stacks, Maggie hears the crisp flip of a page.

Me!
A…librarian? Or someone who shouldn’t find her here? She squints a little bit. If this is a test, she should face it. She moves quietly around the book stack to peek to see who flipped the page.

Daniel
Through the book stack, she can see a man standing on the other side. He’s holding a book in his hands, and is placidly flipping pages, one at a time, methodically.

Me!
She stares up at him then for a long quiet moment, pauses, and then: “Hi.” And she steps around the corner, hugging the TREATISE ON THE ETHICAL VIABILITY OF THE PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF SYMPATHETIC MAGIC, VOLUME 7. That’s about all that she says – until she decides that even if he ISN’T the library, he probably knows where something is, or can point her to the right person. “Do you know if there are any books about goetic demons?"

Daniel
The man tilts his head, looking at the spine of the book she’s carrying. “That seems a little beyond your reading level,” he says.

Me!
“I’m not a baby,” she says, and hugs it tighter to her chest. “I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” She’d gotten a near perfect on the Accelerated Reader quiz too which meant she’d gotten all the points, and that was in 4th grade, a full year before. “Do you?"

Daniel
“All right,” says the man, folding his arms, “What does that mean, then? The ethical viability of the practical applications of sympathetic magic.”

Me!
“I don’t think you know where the books on goetic demons are,” she says then, and folds her own arms then – over the book, mirroring his own arm folding, even on accident. “Can you point me to the librarian?” And then she pauses. “Um – well, ethical is – is like moral stuff, being good or bad. Practical applications is uses, like doing something rather than, um, just thinking of something, and – sympathetic magic is – is a kind of magic. So it’s discussing whether it’s good or bad to use sympathetic magic. And – viability, that’s the word I don’t know, but um – the ethical viability of the practical applications – um, “ context, her teachers talked about context. “But it probably talks about – how to be moral when using sympathetic magic over and over, and if you keep doing the same thing over and over is it still good if it’s good the first time?"

Daniel
The man slowly raises his eyebrows. “That’s pretty good,” he says. Then he points to his left. “Goetic demons that way.”

Me!
“Thank you,” she says then, bobbing her head – and still hugging the book that she got pretty good (she’s pretty proud of that, though she probably messed up on viability – what does that word mean, anyway?) she begins moving toward his left, peeking at the books as she passes. “Mr. Librarian?” She pauses as she looks over her shoulder, hesitating for a moment.

Daniel
“Yes?” he says, looking back at his book.

Me!
“Ummmmm,” she fidgets a bit. “do you know Ms. Athos or Ms. Zoia? And if you do do you know their phone numbers? And after I get my book can I use a phone to call them? And do I need a library card? And can you not tell them that I’m checking out a book on goetic demons?" The library at home always makes kids tell their parents if they check out books above their reading level, after all, and didn’t Athos say books on goetic demons weren’t gonna be shared yet with Maggie? So thus, obviously…

Daniel
“Athos is on her way to come get you,” he says, without looking up from his book.

Me!
“What!?” She says then, and then wild-hared, she turns and darts down the alley toward where he pointed the goetica out. She dashes hurriedly, looking for Goetica as fast as she can.

Daniel
The man spares Maggie a bewildered glance, but just shakes his head and goes back to reading. As she’s running toward the bookshelf containing books on goetic demons, Athos rounds a corner all of a sudden. “There you are,” she says.

Me!
She comes to a scrambling halt then, breathlessly – she’s still clutching that book to her chest as if it’s some sort of defense from the fact that she was in a castle bedroom, and then someone stabbed her, and then her friends said they hated her, and then she got attacked by paint monsters, and then she fell, and then she carved her name in a wall, and then she was in a library. She gasps for breath – and then huffs. “I was almost to the section on goetic demons!” She says then.

Daniel
“So you were,” Athos says, glancing around a bit. “My favorite section.”

Me!
“Oh.” She neglects to note the fact that she was pretty certain that Athos had said she couldn’t borrow any books on goetic demons. “Do I need a library card?” She moves up to one of the bookshelves then. “I went to the maze place."

Daniel
“I know you did. And now you’re back.” Athos holds out her hand out. “Let’s go somewhere else to talk. You can come back here later, if you want—and you can look at all the books you want.”

Me!
“Oh, okay.” She shifts the book she picked up to one arm and holds out her hand to take Athos’ with the other. “Should I put this one up?”

Daniel
“For now, yes.”
Athos walks Maggie back over to where she got it. The man with the book looks at Athos. “When I said ‘let your pupils explore’…”
“She just Awakened,” Athos says. “If you think—”
“Oh, relax,” says the man. “I know she’s just Awakened.”

Me!
“Who’s he?” She asks of Athos, and then she looks to the man. “How’d YOU know?”

Daniel
The man closes up his book, and looks down at Maggie. “I’m Misterio,” he says, with a wiggle of his fingers in Maggie’s direction, “And I’m very mysterious.”
Athos sighs. “Misterio is my teacher.”
Misterio: “So that means I’m sort of like your grand-teacher, huh?”
“You can call me Pappy. Pappy Misterio.”
Athos groans.

Me!
“Oh.” She says then. “You’re old,” Maggie says at the same time. And then she looks to Athos and then to Misterio, and then she giggles at that.

Daniel
“I’m ancient,” he says. “Grand Pappy Misterio?”
Athos sighs and rolls her eyes. “Please…”

Me!
“GREAT grand pappy Misterio,” she volunteers.

Daniel
Misterio: “Even better!”

Me!
“Gee-gee-pee for short,” she adds, “because that’s not very shoutable.”
“…Not that Gee-Gee-Pee is either.” she pauses and considers what is both short and shout-able.

Daniel
“Gee-gee-pee. Hear that?” Misterio taps Athos with his hand. “I’m a gee-gee-pee.”
Athos sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose. “Let’s go, Maggie.”

Me!
“Grandpa is shoutable but is too boring to shout,” she says then, thoughtfully, tilting her chin up as she things, and wiggles a little bit. “GEE GEE PEEEEEE!” She says then – suddenly, loudly, almost startling herself with how loud it is. She quiets immediately. “No, it’s shoutable. Okay!” She says then. “Do I get a nickname too since you have one and Zoia has one and Gee-gee-pee has one?” Because that’s apparently what he’s dubbed now. She pauses, beams, and waves to Misterio, even as she takes Athos’ hand again.

Daniel
Athos cringes at the shout; Misterio clicks his tongue. “Shouldn’t shout in a library,” he says. “At least not when there’s a librarian around to wag his finger at you disapprovingly.” Notably, he doesn’t wag any fingers.

Me!
“Oh,” she says then. She beams. “Bye, Gee-Gee-Pee,” she says then, and offers him her palm – for a high five, apparently.

Daniel
He absently high-fives her.

Me!
And then she looks up to Athos. “Where are we?” And she happily walks off with the woman.

Daniel
“We’re in the Mysterium’s Great Athenaeum in Paris, France.”

Me!
“What?” She says then. “How’d I get here? Did we fly here? Did you use your magic and I got here? Or – wait, you said if I Awaken I can do magic like you. Did I use magic and get here?”

Daniel
“Remember when I opened your closet door, but it didn’t lead to your closet?”

Me!
She nods her head. “Yeah."

Daniel
“That was my magic, bringing you here. But it was your magic that brought you from the bed I left you in to here.”

Me!
She bobs her head up and down. “Coooool."

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maquila

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