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Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Monday, June 24, 2019 (10:34 AM local time)

 

A white van made its way along curving roads that twisted and turned along the lush green hills along the southern coast of Tortola along the way to Road Town. In the back of the van sat Veronica Danger and four of her classmates from Claremont Academy, Adam Lanchester, Pan Barrie, Louise Beaumont, and Davyd Palahniuk. When Veronica had learned that she needed to come down to the Caribbean almost immediately after the school year ended to help a Danger International team that was investigating a recently discovered shipwreck, she had invited some of her classmates to come along.

 

The group had departed Freedom City early this morning aboard a Danger International private jet, landing a short while ago at Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island, where the van had picked them up. Now they were on their way to where they would be picked up by the Danger International research vessel.

 

The teenage Danger had been eagerly anticipating the trip. While she enjoyed being at Claremont, she also found the time there somewhat….constrictive, as she was not accustomed to being in one place for so long. If it had not been for trips to Africa over winter and spring breaks, Veronica would likely have gone stir crazy. But now it was summer vacation, and this was but the first of a number of locations she would be visiting before the fall. 

 

The teenager was pulled from her thoughts by a voice from the front passenger seat of the van. "A launch from the Horizon is already waiting at the docks for us. Several of the team went into Road Town to pick up supplies." Stated Prudence, the almost omnipresent twenty-something employee of Danger International that had been given the daunting task of trying to oversee the schedules for both Veronica and Janus Danger while the cousins were at Claremont. As was typically the case, Prudence had her tablet in hand, studying the screen, seemingly indifferent to the breathtaking view outside the van.

 

From the winding roadway, the van’s passengers had a mostly unobstructed view of the clear blue waters of the Sir Francis Drake channel to their left, along with several of the southern British Virgin Islands in the distance. Out on the water were a number of sailboats, catamarans and yachts of various sizes, either moving through the channel or moored in one of the many bays along Tortola or the other islands.

 

"Thank you Prudence." Veronica replied with a small grin, shaking her head slightly before looking back out the window at the water beyond.

 

Then the van turned a corner to the right, and the teens in the van caught sight of Road Town and its harbor below. The clear blue waters of the bay were filled with boats, from small single person sailing ships to a large cruise ship pulled up to the main pier. 

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Davyd had rarely left New Jersey, and his few trips out of the country were to visit relatives in Ukraine, so the Caribbean was a wholly new thing for him.  Which excited him to no end, and that was before talk of possibly exploring a shipwreck!  Ever since Veronica asked him along, he'd been studying marine animals, to help with the exploration; he could manage most molluscs and crustaceans well enough, but vertebrate fish still gave him some problems.

 

Of course, there was also the elephant in the room: his growing fondness for Lulu, who was on this trip, along with her boyfriend Adam.  But "communicating with people" and "expressing his authentic self" were still things he was struggling with, so he'd spend much of the trip over chatting with Pan, or more accurately listening to his tales of high adventures, in both his home of Neverworld and his new home of Freedom.

 

He wore sandals, navy blue shorts, and a rainbow tie-dyed tee shirt.

Edited by Dr Archeville

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Lulu was delighted when Veronica invited her and Adam to accompany her to the Caribbean. If this had been a year ago, she'd have been overwhelmed by the experince, but living with the Harrows was almost as jet set-y as being a Danger, for she'd visited both the UK and Fiji over the winter break. Still, the trip was still thrilling, made even moreso by the presence of her boyfriend.

 

The pale redhead had learned her lesson during the 'Great Burning' on Fiji, and this trip she was much better prepared for the UV rays. Today she wore wearing a green diaphanous beach shrug with floral designs over her blue tank top, loose white beach pants and a pair of Top Siders. She also wore a wide straw sunhat and big round sunglasses whenever she was outside. Finally, every day she liberally slathered herself with a high-SPF sunscreen that left her smelling like some sort of delicious tropical dessert.

 

During the flight over, the telepath naturally spent a lot of time cuddling with Adam, but also eagerly chatted with everyone else. At a few points she provided riveting play-by-play retellings from Adam's tabletop game, using her mental projections to supplement her storytelling. 

 

Currently she was glued to the window, eagerly pointing out various points of interest to Adam as they approached the harbor.

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Adam was almost overwhelmed by the whole thing, but he kept a level head. His parents were excited for him, and promised that they'd keep tabs on him. More or less, at least. They respected his privacy, but there were dangerous people out there. So he spent his time cuddled up with Lulu and enjoying the ride.

 

He was wearing a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. He hated stares. Luckily they were very light, airy cloth, so he wasn't quite as overheated as he looked. It was either the scarring, or unusual clothes. 

 

Not that he was focused on any of that with the pretty redhead by his side. Lulu made a lot of things that much easier. 

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"... And that is when the island turned out to be a giant turtle, and it really did not like that we had set off the bomb to drive the Whale Hunter away!" Pan was in the middle of a riveting tale of adventure at Neverworld. Davyd had so far been a captive audience, and Pan was only more than happy to play the role of storyteller. The tale had involved him and a few others being chased by a Sky-Pirate ship, ending up on a huge unknown island and generally fighting a small war against the pirates among the mountains and jungles, until, finally, Pan had managed to set off a bomb that the pirates had been pulling around, awakening the giant turtle that was the island.

 

Still, Pan gave pause and whistled at the view of Road Town and the harbor. He had been more than happy to accept Veronica's proposal for a new adventure, one that would take him to, to him, unknown lands! And a shipwreck! Maybe it was even haunted, not that Veronica had mentioned that, but Pan had seen enough shipwrecks to know that many were haunted. He had been excited, and he still was, leaning over to get as good a view of the many ships as he could. He had never seen ships as large as the cruise ships before. "What are those huge ships for? How can they even make them that big and still float?"

 

For his part, Pan was dressed in a all green. dark green shorts that ended just above his knees and a slightly lighter green Hawaii style shirt with a pattern of stylized white feathers split somewhat randomly on it. He wore a pair of loose sandals.

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Veronica

 

Veronica smiled slightly as Pan marveled at the sight of the cruise ships docked at the main pier in Road Town. "Those are cruise ships, they are designed to carry thousands of passengers on recreational cruises. As for how they get so big and still float, well steel or aluminum hulls and wide and even displacement of their weight to keep them balanced." The teen responded. Veronica was pretty much dressed as she normally did, with brown khaki cargo shorts, a light grey T-shirt and her well-worn hiking boots. To this she had added a pair of women’s aviator Ray-Bans.

 

The van continued along the winding road, and it was not too long before it was down at the outskirts of Road Town, making its way toward the harbor. All around the teens were brightly colored buildings and narrow side streets. As they got closer to the piers, the area became full of craft stores and gift shops.

 

But it was not long before the van had made its way up to the edge of the inner harbor of the town, which was filled with dozens of sail and power boats of various sizes. Prudence directed the driver to a point further ahead, where a trio of men were standing, dressed in khaki shorts and white polo shirts. As the van drew closer, the “DI” logo of Danger International could be seen on the left breast of the men’s polo shirts.

 

The van then came to a stop and the passengers were able to start disembarking. As they had experienced at the airport, the air was very warm and humid, with a steady breeze coming in off the bay.

 

One of the men moved forward, a tall man in his mid-thirties with an athletic build. He focused on Veronica, moving toward the teenager. "Good morning Miss Danger, I am Arthur Coburn, the first mate of the Horizon, I would like to welcome you and your guests to the BVI." The man stated with a distinct British accent, glancing at the other teens with a small smile as well before focusing back on Veronica.

 

"Thank you Mr. Coburn." Veronica replied as the two shook hands. "Allow me to introduce my classmates, Adam Lanchester, Pan Barrie, Louise Beaumont, and Davyd Palahniuk." She added, indicating her friends in turn.

 

"A great pleasure." Mr. Coburn said with a warm smile as he shook each hand in turn.

 

"And I believe you have been communicating with my assistance, Prudence, for the logistics of this trip." Veronica then added, indicating the other woman as she moved over toward them.

 

"Ah yes, a pleasure to meet you in person finally." He started as he turned to Prudence to shake her hand as well. 

 

"And for me as well Mr. Coburn." Prudence replied. "Is everything ready to go?" She then asked.

 

"Yes, the supplies are all loaded aboard the main tender." The first mate replied, indicating a nearly thirty foot long boat tied up to the pier nearby. The boat had a number of boxes and crates stacked up in the front, as well as over a dozen air tanks, more than half of which had a bright green and yellow band across them. "We also brought along the smaller tender to make sure everyone would have a comfortable ride out to the Horizon. So we are ready to get underway." He added, indicating a smaller boat, about half the size of the first.

 

"Actually Mr. Coburn, after the long flight, my friends and I would like to stretch our legs a bit ashore and perhaps have lunch in town before making our way out." Veronica stated as the two other crew members began gathering the group's luggage out of the back of the van.

 

If the change in plan bothered Mr. Coburn he showed no sign of it, giving a small nod even as Prudence had the slightest trace of a frown. "Understandable Miss Danger. We will leave the keys for the smaller tender with you then so you can depart when you are ready." He added, gesturing to one of the other crew members who was passing by and stopped to fish a pair of keys out of his pocket to hand over to Veronica.

 

"Thank you, and where is the Horizon anchored Mr. Coburn?" The teenage Danger asked as she put the keys into one of the pockets of her cargo shorts.

 

"Dr. Durant and her team have been making use of the time since we arrived yesterday afternoon to study the marine life around the Indians. So once you exit the harbor, just head south by southwest across the channel, you cannot miss us."

 

"Wonderful, we will see you in a couple hours." Veronica replied as she gave a nod to Coburn and then exchanged a few words with Prudence before the other climbed aboard the larger tender, on which the group's luggage had already been placed.

 

As the crew undid the lines for the larger boat and started to pull away from the pier, Veronica turned to her friends with a wide smile. "So, anywhere in particular you might be interested in starting?"

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"Ah could definitely eat," Lulu admitted as she scrolled through her phone. "Somethin' spicy, with lots of fresh fruit! And can we drink here?" 

 

It was all still a bit overwhelming; her current life bore almost no relation to her old one, and if she stopped to think about it too much, it made her head spin. "Also shoppin' might be fun; I'm sure there's local markets and stuff." She tucked her phone back in her purse, then sidled up next to Adam, her fingers intertwining with his. She peered up it him from under the brim of her hat and smiled, so happy to be sharing all this with him. "How 'bout you, darlin'; what do you want to do?" 

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"I don't think we can drink here," Davyd said, glancing over at Lulu, "I saw that the minimum age for that is 18.  But if our trip takes us out to international waters," he trailed off while looking towards Pan and Veronica.

 

Davyd tried not to gawk at the girl he'd so quickly developed a crush on -- especially not when her boyfriend was right there beside her, holding her hand -- but his body had other ideas.  A third eye sprouted on the side of his head, peeking out from behind his hair, letting him see her while facing Pan and Veronica.  "I'm with Lulu- er, I mean, I agree with her, we should get something to eat.  I'd love to try some fresh seafood!"

 

Unfortunately, it all fed into his same field of vision, so she and they were all superimposed over one another, which quickly gave him a headache.  He closed his (forward) eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, which meant his only visual input was coming from the side-eye peeking out at Lulu.  Realizing what was going on, he moved his hand from his nose to that side of his head, pretending to scratch an itch there while covering that eye with his palm.

Edited by Dr Archeville

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Pan had fallen silent, practically glued to the window as Veronica explained the huge ship, and how it carried thousands of passengers! It was simply amazing! This world held so many wonders that were never even dreamed possible back on Neverworld! The opposite might be true as well, but this? This was not home! This was the adventure for Pan!

 

Getting off with the rest, Pan happily shook Coburn's hand, before his attention started to wander again, looking all around them at all the wonders of this new place. In some ways, it was like home, or at least like places back home. In others, so so different. This was exciting, and he could barely decide where to look first, before Veronica's question brought him back down to Earth, litterally and figuratively, his feet having started to lift off the ground already.

 

"Yes! Yes, let us eat! Anything new, anything exciting! What kind of food do they eat here? What kind of drinks?" He paused a bit, after realizing Lulu's question, leaning in a bit closer to her with a sly smile. "I could probably get us something, if everyone agrees, of course." Some illusions, some charm, what more could it take?

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"I'm not drinking, regardless." Adam said. "Food, though. You know me, I can always eat. Almost literally. I really hope I've stopped growing. I don't wanna have to special order everything." He looked down and smiled at Lulu. He was gobsmacked that she was into him, and he was just fine with that.

 

"As for what to eat, how about something we can't really get at home? Something fun and exotic? That's what my vote is." 

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Veronica

 

Veronica listened as her friends made suggestions on what they would like for some lunch. "Okay, fresh seafood will be easy enough." She replied, addressing Davyd's request first. "And if we want to experience some local style food, the research I did back before we left Freedom City suggests that one of the best places for that in Road Town is only a few blocks away." The teenage Danger added as she turned away from the harbor and started walking toward the center of town.

 

The group of teenagers started their way through the streets of Road Town, passing various shops, restaurants and other business along the way. Veronica paused briefly only a few times along the way, studying the streets as she appeared to match them up to a map in her head. Soon enough they arrived at Main Street, a narrow single lane street that wound through a residential area lined with a number of shops.

 

Veronica brought them to a halt in front of some stairs that led up to the first floor of a four-story building. At the top of the archway over the stairwell was a sign that read "Midtown Restaurant."

 

"Not at all fancy," Veronica stated with a smile, "but I understand this is a place the locals go and it is the best place in Road Town to find local cuisine, including fresh seafood."

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Go down go down go down Davyd thought, holding his hand to the side of his head as they walked, passing it off as a persistent scalp itch.  His wandering eye tried poking through his fingers a few times to get a look at all the sights around them -- and also at Lulu -- but he was eventually able to get a grip and will the errant sensor back into his skull.

 

He was also now a few inches shorter, and eye-level with Veronica.

 

"Yes, yes," he replied, nodding along and gesturing with both hands towards the doorway, acting as if nothing were amiss, "these small, unassuming often have the best food -- certainly better than any big corporate-owned chain.  Can't wait to try it!," he said through an uneasy smile.

Edited by Dr Archeville

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Pan drifted along as they went through the streets, flitting back and forth between various sights and shops that caught his attention as they went along, pointing out anything he found particularly interesting to the others. So much to see, and they hadn't even started the actual adventure yet. 

 

"What a wonderful place," Pan mused, looking up towards the top of the restaurant. There was just something cozy about it, despite the size, and if it promised great food, different from back in Freedom? Even better. It seemed that Veronica had studied up before their trip, if she already knew about a place like this. Honestly, preparation was not quite Pan's way of doing things, but he could still appreciate his friend's work. 

 

"Yes, the food just seem to have so much more soul in places like these, do they not?" he agreed with Davyd. And wasn't Davyd a bit taller before? Curious, but oh well!

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Lulu shook her head and stuck out her tongue at Pan. "Ah'm just joshin'; 'sides, if ah really wanted to get drunk, it'd be as easy as shootin' fish in a barrel." She held up what looked like a completely legitimate-looking Alabama driver's license, featuring her beaming face, that claimed she was twenty-two. Then she snapped her fingers, and it was gone.

 

When Adam mused about his height (and hopes that he'd stopped growing), Lulu swung her hand in his and smiled a dreamy yet playful smile. "Well, if you do keep on growin', ah could climb you like a beanstalk, up above the clouds..."

 

As the group walked the colorful streets of Road Town, the young telepath was uncharacteristically quiet, blissfully overwhelmed by all the sights, sounds and smells. Once they reached their destination, she noticibly perked up as she sniffed the air.

 

"Oh my Lord, that smells so goooooooood!"

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"My parents are pretty sure I won't grow too much taller." Adam admitted. "They don't know for sure." He sniffed the air and nodded.  "I'd rather have authentic local cuisine anyway. Seafood, though, hmm. I do like seafood. It smells absolutely delicious. As for climbing me, Lulu, well, it would give you a better view for one thing. I could carry you if I needed to."

 

This was turning out to be a great idea, at least so far. 

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Veronica

 

Veronica gave a small smile as everyone seemed in agreement with the choice in restaurant, preferring the opportunity for more authentic local food rather than a fancy setting. As someone who had grown up often eating food prepared by locals in remote parts of the world, Veronica generally preferred that to most restaurants herself. "Alright, so the more authentic local it is." She stated as she started up the stairs.

 

Soon the five teens were in the somewhat small main room that served as the seating area for the restaurant. Thankfully it was not presently too crowded, and they were able to get a table with enough space, although Adam made it feel a bit more cramped. As everyone was looking at the menus, a chime sounded from one of the pockets of Veronica's cargo shorts and she fished out her cellphone and glanced at the screen. Rolling her eyes slightly, she looked up at the others and gave a small grin. "Prudence, checking in on us." She stated with a shake of her head before typing a very quick reply.

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Pan greeted just about anyone that would look his way on the way in. Some times in English, some times, at least to the subject of his greeting, in their own language. He was all smiles still, as they reached the table and were seated. "Cosy," Pan commented, before turning to the menu. And Prudence was checking up on them? Of course she was. Pan had seen her more than a few times around Veronica, after all, and that woman did seem to have a stick stuck in a certain place. 

 

"Is she worried we will be late already?" His question was of course directed at Veronica, though his eyes were firmly on the menu, trying to figure out what he wanted. Maybe the chicken roti? It sounded delicious, at least.

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Lulu looked over the cheap laminated menu; she'd eaten at places like this before. The cups and utensils might not all match, but the food would be damn good. After consulting with the waitress, she ordered the conch soup with a side of fungi, and a homemade ginger beer. After she placed her order, she eagerly turned to Veronica.

 

"So what can you tell us 'bout the wreck? Is a pirate ship? And what kind of problems are the salvage crews havin' where they need help?"

Edited by Heritage

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Veronica

 

Veronica gave a small smile at Pan's question about whether Prudence was worried about whether they would be late or not. "Well, it is pretty much her job, though she can be a bit single-minded in it. But then, she has had both Janus and I to keep on track." She offered with a small shrug.

 

The teenage Danger ordered the Callaloo before setting the laminated menu back in the rack on the table it was stored in. She then turned to Lulu's question. "Well, based on the photos we have of it, it appears to be from the late Seventeenth or early Eighteenth centuries, so, it could be a number of things, a pirate ship among them." She began. "As for problems, there is no real problem, other than the team aboard the Horizon that discovered the wreck is not experienced in this sort of underwater investigation. They are a group of oceanographers and marine biologists that came across the wreck while working on several projects in the area funded by the Danger Institute."

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Davyd sat across from Lulu, squeezing himself in between Pan and Veronica.  "Oh, hold on, let me see what I can do about this."  With some conscious effort he made himself just a bit taller (now back to his original height) and skinnier, so the two on either side of him had more room.  "This is almost," he chuckled, "a bit like that time I wore a corset."

 

After several moments looking over the menu (and peeking at Lulu), he ordered some conch fritters and jerk fish, and the same ginger beer.  "I'm guessing," he said as he returned the menu to its holder, "that they were not able to see the name of the ship?  No identifying marks, no way to easily tell where it was from?  Or what it might have been carrying?  Treasure would be nice, sure," he nodded to Pan, "though I'm unclear on the rules for salvage... but I'm more worried about something nasty on board, something that might have caused it to wreck."

Edited by Dr Archeville

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Lulu had been whispering silly things to Adam for a bit, but then something Davyd said made her prick up her ears. "Hold up, hold up; you can't just fly past that story and keep on goin' like it was nothin'. If there's a tale to tell, let's hear it!" Then she leaned across the table towards the young shapeshifter, one thin eyebrow raised, a look of mischief in her dark brown eyes. "What's this about you wearin' a corset?"

 

The telepathic redhead wasn't always super-forthcoming about her own life, but she loved a chance to hear about somebody else's, especially if it was funny, weird or embarrassing.

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Adam ordered the same ginger beer, along with some rice and beans and jerk chicken. He knew he wasn't being too daring, but he also wanted to make sure he'd like it. He listened to what Davyd might have to say. He rather enjoyed sitting next to Lulu, for a variety of reasons. He never imagined he would get a girlfriend in high school, let alone one as amazing as Lulu.

 

Other than that, though, he kept quiet. Mouth closed, ears open. 

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Hrn, of course that's the bit she focuses on... er, that you focused on... are you hearing me now?  Hello... hello... echo...

 

Davyd grinned, or maybe grimaced. "Oh, there's nothing much to it," he began, "it was when I was taking theatre arts class back at FDR High.  At the beginning of the semester, we were studying the history of theatre -- not just Shakespeare, but the Greek stuff, and even some on Japanese kabuki and noh.  And back in those olden days, women weren't allowed to perform -- in some cases, not even allowed to attend shows! -- so any female roles had to be performed by men."  He glanced around the table, uncomfortable with being the center of attention but striving to power through his story, "some of this stuff later came up when he -- that is, our teacher, Mister Jefferies -- talked about gender roles, and performative gender.  Anyway, he asks us if we're interested in doing some little skits in that manner, with guys doing all the acting, and gals as the audience.  Not many volunteered, but I did."  He glanced down at the tabletop, "I, uh, I was an okay Desdemona."

Edited by Dr Archeville

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The chicken roti it was, and ginger beer too! It it was good, Pan would taste it! He perked up at Davyd's mention of treasure, and potential trouble. Both could be good, and even more importantly, interesting! And adventure! Unlike Lulu, Pan almost missed the part about the corset, before joining in with her in demanding Davyd tell that particular story! After all, how could he not?

 

"An actor, then! Brilliant!" Pan raised a fist towards the ceiling in applause of Davyd. "Good work!" Yes, he deserved applause!

 

But, the idea of treasure and adventure stayed on Pan's mind, as he quickly turned to Veronica, looking past Davyd. "So... is there treasure to be found at the ship?" There was a gleam in his eyes at the thought. 

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-Hi, Davyd! I try not to pry, but if you're actually calling out to me, I will hear you, silly!-

 

Other than one arched eyebrow, Lulu in no way acknowledged the interaction out loud, instead focusing on the surface conversation. "Oh, like in that movie Shakespeare in Love? That was a good'n!" Then she smiled when a fun thought struck her. "But hey, you could prob'ly do a great Desdemona now! With your shapeshiftin'? You could a do a one man show, an' play all the parts! And I could do all the scenery!"

 

The more she thought about it, the cooler it seemed, and she sent another message Davyd's way in her excitement.

 

-Just imagine it!-

 

And with bit a thought, Lulu used her illusion powers to redecorate their table to look like something out of a renn faire: the wooden floor strewn with straw, the cheaper steel and Formica now thick timbers. All the students wore 'period' costumes: pretty peasant dresses for girls, and doublet and hose for the boys. No one else seemed to notice the change; it was for Davyd and Lulu alone.

Edited by Heritage

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