Dec 09, 2018 7:50 PM
Annaveth enjoys the tender ministrations of time loop powers in Imbria
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A young woman leans against a windowpane and looks out over a city. She's very high up; it's quite a nice view. Even though it's been available to her all her life, every now and then she likes looking at it some more. She should probably go find one of her tutors soon, but for now, she's enjoying her break away from people.

Then the windowpane disappears and she yelps in fear and pitches forward to what will certainly be her untimely demise, and thinks, What, no, I'm not allowed to die, I'm the only heir—

—and instead of a long drop followed by a very sudden stop, she experiences a very short drop followed by a very grassy(?) stop. She blinks and stares at the grass, uncomprehending. It's not like she's never seen grass before, or anything, she's not that sheltered, but... what?

She pushes herself up, and looks around.

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She has for some reason landed in an insultingly picturesque forest clearing. Late afternoon sunlight slants through the trees, illuminating moss, leaves, scattered twigs, stunningly beautiful wildflowers, and a hoppable little stream that sparkles its way through the whole scene like a dropped ribbon snaking across the sewing table.

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Annaveth honestly doesn't even know how to react to this. Is this witchcraft? Has she been drugged and kidnapped and transported to the most bizarre hideaway of all time? What kind of political motivations would lead to that? Is the Outsider screwing with her?

She stands and peers confusedly at the picturesque forest clearing. It's all real, right, she's not hallucinating?

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Completely real! The flowers have appropriate flower smells; there are occasional miscellaneous forest noises from beyond the edge of the clearing. Things that she touches have substance. Things that she looks away from are still there when she looks back. Nothing looks suspiciously magical.

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She considers the wisdom of being the kind of person to call out a 'Hello,' to an empty forest. Then she decides that as a princess, she should probably try to find people as quickly as possible. Her father's reign has been one of change, but he's well liked. Probably no one will want to ransom her if they just randomly trip over her in the woods. Right? ... She hopes so, anyway.

"Hello?" she calls out, to an empty forest, feeling like a very boring protagonist in a very boring story.

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Nothing... nothing... a sound from over thataway that might be a human, or might be a deer...

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Please don't be a bear, or a wolf, or a, a—what do forests have, anyway? She doesn't know, she is a little bit out of her comfort zone. Please don't be dangerous, anyway.

She cautiously heads towards the sound.

"Hello?" she calls again, nervously. Hoping it's not a bear.

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Turns out it's a unicorn!

His fur is dark, black or nearly so; his hooves and mane and tail are all white-gold, shining brilliantly in the sunlight. He blinks at her and says something in a language she doesn't speak - but definitely in a language.

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???????

"I don't. What. What?!" Is the strangely shiny horned horse talking like people??? Horses don't talk like people, horned or no! She admittedly hasn't seen all that many (or any) horses, she didn't get out much, but she's pretty sure she would know if they talked! What kind of bizarre drug trip did her hypothetical kidnappers put her on?!

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The unicorn backs up slightly, startled by her emphatic confusion, and asks her something in a worried tone.

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"You are a talking horned horse! I think! Actually you might resemble other animals more closely than horses, but specifics of animal species were not among the subjects I thought it important to have a dedicated tutor for! So I really don't know! Either way you are talking and animal shaped! I am alarmed, are you the Outsider, why are you shaped like this, can I go home, I would like to go home, I have a father and an empire that will probably not handle my disappearance super well!"

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He shakes his head slightly, then attempts to beckon her to follow him, a gesture that is surprisingly legible coming from someone with no arms.

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"Yes okay sure I can come with you and also while I'm doing that I will try not to hyperventilate about the state of my empire without me. Okay? Okay."

She follows!

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Worried unicorn leads her to...

...a path between rows of evenly spaced trees, where a soft green glow envelops the ground and everything within a few inches of it. The unicorn demonstrates walking very slowly along the glowing part: he seems to sort of - slide along the glow, so that he covers more ground than his steps should strictly have accounted for.

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....

So. Yeah. This is definitely either 'drug fueled fantasy' or 'Outsider nonsense.' If it's the latter she doesn't give a damn if he's all powerful or not, she is punching him in the nose.

She takes a few seconds to stare in baffled bewilderment at the green slidey glow thing, then... tries... it...?

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It's pretty easy to use! You have to make sure to keep yourself aligned with the path, because you lose speed very rapidly if you start drifting toward the edge, but once you've got the hang of that it's pretty much just Walking, But Faster. The unicorn keeps an eye on her to make sure she's doing all right.

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This is weird, this is so weird, she is alarmed and frightened. She's holding it together and successfully stays on the path, but. She's alarmed and frightened while doing it.

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The unicorn continues to lead her down the road. A few minutes go by. He's clearly still worried about her, but apparently this is the best he can do.

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And then, up ahead, a small girl with wings comes zooming around a bend.

The girl is mostly pretty ordinary - she'd look sixteen if she were more than three feet tall - but the wings are really something. Big glittering leafy butterflyish things, resplendent in sunset shades from amber through indigo. They don't look like they should be able to bear her weight. They don't look like they should be able to exist. And yet there they are.

She pulls up a little when she sees them, slowing down to avoid a collision.

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The unicorn brightens right up when he sees her. He does a sort of excited little prance-hop and calls out to her in his unintelligible language.

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What? What?? Wings? Why wings! Why this! Why flying! Why this! Is she on Pandyssia? There are all sorts of strange things on Pandyssia! Except, she distinctly got the impression that Pandyssia is significantly less twee.

She doesn't interrupt, she'll let the talking horned maybe-horse do its thing. It's not like she has any idea what's going on.

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The winged girl nods acknowledgment to whatever the unicorn said, flutters to a stop in front of them, and pulls a small bit of glowing blue-green something-or-other out of a little pouch. It drifts and wobbles like a curl of smoke, eddying around her fingers, but somehow she's able to spin it like thread and weave it into a complicated little knot. This task accomplished, she looks up from her work and tosses the finished product at Annaveth. It floats lightly through the air toward her, trailing a long tail of soft blue mist.

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She squeaks a little fearful squeak and flinches, but decides not to dodge. The talking horned maybe-horse seems concerned for her welfare, and while she isn't particularly good at reading nonhuman faces, she does... mostly... trust what's happening. This is probably helpful. Right?

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"That should do it," she says as the little knot reaches Annaveth and curls up on her shoulder like a small insubstantial pet.

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The unicorn turns to Annaveth, almost speaking over the fairy in his haste to ask, "Are you all right?"

—and they haven't stopped speaking their unfamiliar language, but now she understands it as clearly as though she's known it all her life.

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She stares at the blue knot on her shoulder like it's a second head.

Then she looks at the talking not-horse. "... No! I'm not! What is going on? Where am I? I would very much like to be put back where I came from!"

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