|The Rise of Creamy Juan|
The redhead has spent quite some time experimenting with her newest magic circle formula. She's been creating long-term observational sensors linked up to several spots in Mabase, not to spy on the city itself, but on the varying dimensions connected to it. She's been busy.
With noone really able to offer her any way of speeding up her already dramatically-hastened magic circle process, the dragon woman has been taking a couple of days between each circle, which themselves each take basically an entire day. Most people wouldn't be willing to put in the time and effort to spend an entire day creating basically a magical camera. But then, most people don't have the patience of dragons.
"...Alright... this should be the last one." The woman strides towards the fountain, looking around to make sure she's not going to be disturbing too many people. After all, while she's going to do what she has to one way or the other, it'd be best to do it when noone got upset. Or hurt, she supposes. That matters, on some distant, difficult-to-measure scale. But it does matter.
Once she's somewhat sure the coast is clear, Liyara will set up and get to work, crouching down by the fountain and beginning her circle. It's not a huge affair, but for a magical circle, it's bigger than most. And substantially more intricate, of course, than human scrawlings. This could take a while. She pulls out one of a small collection of books she got from the library, and begins reading to herself. One of the benefits of having a near-perfect memory and exceptionally compartmentalized mind is that Liyara can multi-task very well. Especially when this is her ninth such circle this month.
As always, the circle is seared into the very top layer of the ground. It will be cleared away not too long after she's done; vandalism is not her gig. Once the spell is complete, there'd be no use for the circle, after all. Plus, who leaves evidence? Amateurs. That's who.
For the purposes of a visual, the woman's finger appears to be scorching red and orange runes and inlays into the slightest layer of ground, just enough for a visual representation, but a stark and vividly magic one. Just because it will be easily cleared away doesn't mean it's not fancy and pretty. It even has a faint glow for a few moments after her finger passes each stroke, but that fades, because, well, magic may be being used to make it, but the circle itself isn't magic. Not technically, anyway.
In Liyara's defense, noone's been stopping her up until now; why should she think today will be any different? Especially when she hasn't turned to see who's behind her. She really should probably do that at some point.
Noone's actually told her what Jack is or does. She's just had to infer from the handful of interactions she's had with him. So, the redhead just smiles, waiting for a moment. Since she's stopped, might as well take the time to get any inteference out of the way all at once.
"Well, it needn't be. I'm not doing anything that'll have any lasting effect." For what it's worth, she's made eight others without breaking anything. Sure, there was some localized quaking for around six to ten seconds. But nothing fell down or cracked or was damaged. Nothing she knows about, anyway.
"Just spying on the neighbors, to borrow your delightful human phrase."
"...Complicated. The implications are complicated." She turns back to her spell circle, and crouches down. Before continuing, she asks of the man. "...Does it hurt?" Oh good, she does have empathy.
"I could very well have been working something truly monstrous, like, oh... what do your books say magic users do?" She looks thoughtful, but doesn't slow down. "A human sacrifice spell or somesuch." Yes, that would be monstrous. Good call.
"But alas, I'm only taking a recording of the dimensions directly adjoining this one, more specifically the ones most strongly connected here." Liyara takes a deep breath, and then pulls her book back up to continue reading. "...It's long, boring, and entirely uneventful even when the spell completes. But you're welcome to stay and watch." Her lips twitch slightly, almost but-not-quite smirking. It's a good thing she's NOT doing anything bad; he'd have no way of knowing. Idly, the dragoness wonders if the police force hires outside consultants.
Most people would be somewhat averse to repeating themselves, to specifically dispelling concerns and misunderstandings about their powerset to someone different every day of the week. But not Liyara. In fact, Liyara seems to rather enjoy talking about herself. Consistently. Hmm.
"In fact, I can only 'hard-cast' fire spells at all. Which are very useful for protecting my school, discouraging attackers, and..." Don't say destroying the evidence. "...baking a lovely crumblecake." Good save. "...But for anything not specifically incendiary? Circles like this are my only option. Slow and tedious. Fueled with my blood of course." Of course. That makes sense. Why is it fueled with her blood?
"...So it acts as an excellent fuel. If I know the PRECISE workings of the spell, I can imitate it as a ritual." ...Actually, even not knowing much about magic, that's a pretty clear explanation for what she's doing. "...Make sense?" Well, she is a teacher. Maybe she isn't entirely terrible at her job.
"...And in this case, the spell is simply an interdimensional scrying sensor. It's created in the dimension next door, and I can view what it's seen here in this one." So she literally meant it when she said she was spying on the neighbors. Ok.
"For the record, I'm not sure what I will use this for; portals are particularly finicky here. I created one once, and it led to the wrong time, the wrong space, possibly the wrong universe, and it closed without asking." That doesn't sound very useful. "...In the interest of full disclosure." Sure.
The girl is clothed in practical attire for her role, a gaudy apron slung over a light, white smock and cheap dress pants. On her feet she wears a pair of thoroughly sensible, well-worn flats. Despite her predicament, for the most part she maintains a warm, customer-facing smile that smoulders with genuine passion for her work. There's an intellectual fire in her peculiarly-amber eyes, however. To those with the wherewithal to notice, she has the promise of a firecracker.
As she pushes her cart up beside the fountain, she puffs her cheeks out with a gentle 'whew' and leans upon it, flipping open the reflective trays bearing her product. "Ice cream sandwiches!" She calls clearly, and with happy fatigue, "For a limited time, get your Intergalactic Space Goop Special; even we don't know what it is! Remember, it's not a good day until you've had a.. Creamy Juan."
The pause is honestly imperceptible to most, but a natural smartass will spot the faint wrinkling of her nose, the ghost of a cringe, as she finishes.
She's not exactly... mobbed by customers.
The redhead is about continue with her circle, when she notices a young ice cream vendor pull up. It's probably nothing important, but when she hears the sales pitch, she furrows her brow a bit. She pauses, then glances to Jack. She's not exactly up on her local slang and vernacular, but... "...Detective Hawksmoor." Yes, that is his last name. "...Is it just me, or is that very..." Disconcerting? Poorly phrased? Flat-out awful naming? "...unappealing?"
It's not just you, Liyara. It's not just you.
Having done so, the little food service operative (FSO) immediately, but very calmly and methodically, begins to pack away her stand, keeping a diligent eye out for any resilient heroes who might still be considering an approach. A small child across the streets hides in his mother's skirt.
Once she's done, Emi doffs her apron, leaving it slung over the cart's over-long handles, and retrieves a vibrating cheap white flip-phone from her pants pocket, leaning up against the wall a short way from the meeting of magical minds. "Hello Chaz," she greets, relaxed and happy, "How's my favorite jerk?"
She pauses, and frowns, shaking her head and rolling her eyes.
"What do you mean, who is it? You... you called me! It's Emi. Emi Goodman. Your surrogate mother?"
As the woman continues tracing her circle, she tries pointedly not to acknowledge the poor girl with her dysfunctional phone call - or is it the person on the other end that's dysfunctional? Regardless her magic circle's starting to make progress; it actually looks like maybe, just maybe, it might one day become a geometric symbol that most people would call round. Maybe. Really, the way she's drawing it makes it hard to figure out what the end-stage will be. Twenty hours. To make. A circle. It's going to be a long day.
"...So. You just. Talk to cities?" Look at Liyara, showing interest in someone other than herself. This city is a bad influence on her.
Emi is growing a little exasperated with her conversation, which honestly sounds pretty banal and silly. Stuff for young humans to fuss about, and literally nobody else. Pushing off from the wall with a dainty flick of her free hand, she takes exaggerated, playful steps back out toward her cart, rolling her eyes once more at the boy on the other end.
"You want me to come all the way back there? I can skip my break, I suppose. It's okay. I've just got one more street to hit and I'll be done. Nobody wants these anyway, I don't know what it is Ipsum dug up but you probably shouldn't have sold it to--"
She pulls the phone away from her ear, and sets it down for a moment while she re-establishes her grip on the card, using a tiny hip to keep it in place while she retrieves her phone.
"I see your point," she offers diplomatically to the now-silence on the other side, "I'll be no more than an hour, okay? Please stop panicking. We're going to do this."
Of course, if Jack is paying attention to Emi, there's not much Liyara is going to do about it without disrupting her circle. But in his defense, Emi's conversation is certainly unusual, and nigh infinitely more interesting than watching Liyara draw on the ground.
"Ahem," she begins, very quietly and rather adorably, flipping up one of the cart's panels, "Good afternoon! We've got two flavors today, classic vanilla and absinthe, or the Intergalactic Space Goop Special. Both are terrible and may give you cancer, or cirrhosis of the liver." She pauses, and then shuts the lid, leaning conspiratorially toward the man. "Honestly, I think I'm going to quit this job, please don't buy anything." Her eyes try not to flicker down as she adds, kindly, "You seem... fairly normal."
Apart from the whole magic circle, dragon lady thing. That's probably fine.
The redhead raises her book and continues reading while she draws her circle with the other hand. She seems occupied. What's she reading? 'A Brief History of Time'. It's only taking her roughly six seconds a page; but that's pretty slow for Liyara. Maybe she's actually reading it and processing it in real time, like a normal person. Astonishing.
One of the figures stands way taller than the other: A seven foot-three, fuzzy, fully bipedal ursine wearing a dapper hat walks side-by-side with what looks to be a young girl the age of six or so. Furthermore, the two walk hand in hand; well, the girl's arm is extended high and her fingers wrap around a single large bear digit, but they stroll along together this way nonetheless.
The girl looks sad, though, and may have recently been crying. Her face is slightly damp and her cheeks are red. Her clothing is clean, though, so she's not some urchin off the street. It's a striking image, perhaps, that hints at something being not quite right. The bear seems to speak, but offers these words of consolation quietly with as reassuring a warm smile as can be given.
Her gaze flickers briefly to the approaching ursine, and she holds up a finger, shooing Jack aside so they can clearly see the ice cream cart, and its awful legend, 'Creamy Juan's Special Ice Cream Sandwiches'. Never mind the glowing green stains, they're probably normal.
"Sorry," she says distractedly, "But if it's about any of that, would you mind leaving? Technically I'm working."
It's really insightful to see how humans approach problems like time and space without magic to fall back on, and helpful to envision a universe without the phlogiston separating spheres. She's got a pretty good idea of how interstellar travel could be accomplished in such universes now, and is more than a little amused.
If she was to travel to those worlds, she might be the only being with magic. And so, Liyara is mentally inserting herself into these 'fictional' worlds as she reads about them. That's right - Liyara has discovered the amusement of self-insertion.
It's not recursive.
Now, a trained eye would definitely notice that the bear's gaze falls squarely on each face present and in turn. No pedestrian is safe. Still, despite this cautious observation, his focus is confined to the little one at his side. The girl, however, pulls her hand away from the bear's for a moment and begins to rub her eyes. Remnants of tears and sadness make them itchy, rubbing doesn't help, and this just makes her sniffle a bit.
Paused for the moment, the bear says, "Now, don't you worry. We're almost there. There's nothing to fear. Ol' Freddy will keep you safe." This reassurance doesn't fully work and so the ursine kneels to be a little more direct. His...face shows concern. A very fatherly concern. "I know what will help. We just need to find and push your happiness button." The bear beams a smile and the girl looks to Freddy's face just as the big fuzzy guy lifts a hand, one large finger extended, and gives it a wiggle. "And I~ happen to know where yours is." The girl is confused, but Freddy reaches over to give the girl's nose a boop. He even makes a 'mwerp!' sound to go along with it. "Ha ha ha, now you try!"
The girl hesitates, shocked out of feeling sobby, which is entirely the point. Emulating the bear, she reaches up to return the gesture. Her finger touches Freddy's nose -- and the most candy-coated cute little honk of a big bear nose ever heard startles a laugh out of her!
"I'm... fine," she says cautiously, and then catches herself with a gentle sigh, a smile, and a shake of her head, "No, I'm not fine. But I will be. I've been here as long as I can remember, making my way quietly, and then there's danger I never asked for. It's new, and strange, that's all. Thank you for asking." Beat. "Are you okay?"
And a million more questions besides, but priorities.
Caught in sympathetic reverie as the confused FSO is, she starts briskly as the bear's nose positively explodes with joy. Emi grins sweetly at the girl's playful innocence.
Sometimes, people are alright.
The dragoness lowers her book for a moment with a smirk, and then notices a bear-construct with a child. Hmm. She's seen those constructs before. They seemed nice enough; very unlikely they'd do anything to hurt children. In fact, she's recently come to learn that constructs like that were created to entertain children in several universes. She has done much book learning while making these circles.
Liyara just smiles in the bear's direction at the sound of the honk and returns her attention to her book. If they need anything they'll come over. Priorities! Humans are no good at them, but Liyara is.
If she doesn't get her reply, she'll shrug and start to turn her cart around once more, looking with wistful bliss at the heartwarming sight nearby. Yes, she should stop working as soon as possible and ensure no more delightful children consume any of her erstwhile master's vile concoctions. Do her bit for the day.
Slow steps. Steady steps. The Precinct is right there.