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Date: Halloween, 2015
Location: Faretti Mansion, North Bay

Halloween was a busy time of year for Huang's parents and he'd been able to plan on them being out of the house as soon as the sun went down. Arrangements had been made for his younger self to stay at Sanctuary for an overnight long in advance and JJ would no doubt be having a fabulous Halloween with Ammy and her mother on the verdant world. Huang had been warned no less than three times by his mother as she walked through the manor, putting things in her cloak for an evening of chasing down cultists, monsters and probably making out with his dad (ick!). He'd been told to stay behind the wards as there was no shortage of people who'd like the potent blood of a dhampir to fuel their fell rituals - and not to expect them back before dawn. So, technically, there hadn't been any specific rules about not having people over. Technically. At least nothing beyond the usually secretive bent of his family in general.

When his father came downstairs in his Avenger costume, Taylor kissed Huang's cheek with one last reminder to stay safe before his parents vanished. Really, they should have been suspicious at the lack of requests to come along but Huang had his own plans for Halloween. Namely, an illicit holiday party!

Earlier in the week, elaborate scrolls had appeared in the rooms of certain classmates of his - those that might be receptive to such endeavors. Without fail, a sealed scroll had popped showily into existence in front of them at some point earlier in the week. In contrast with the fancy appearance, the wording itself was utterly contemporary:

You know who's got a mansion and a guarantee of absent parents? This guy! Party at my place on Halloween. Folks will be gone at sunset so party starts after. Oh, bring the scroll or you won't be able to find it. Magic.
J.H.F.

Also, goes without saying but, no racist costumes welcome, obv. Especially ghosts. They're really sensitive this time of year.

For those who followed the very brief instructions, they ended up at an over grown driveway in a ritzy North Bay neighborhood where all the houses seemed to have expansive grounds. Which, of course, left them standing at the bottom of a winding driveway, heavily overgrown and oddly foreboding. There was no mailbox or sign to mark the place but for some discolored brickwork that marked the start of the driveway. Outside it, it didn't even seem like there was a house at the end of the drive but once they crossed the line, the cracked driveway and overgrown trees parted enough to reveal a dark mansion at the top of a hill through the overgrowth. It was spooky and foreboding, with thick cobwebs knotting the branches of the trees that obscured much of their view. Apparently Huang's family went all out for the holiday spirit?

 

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Riley had tried to approach the run-up to the party like any other tactical scenario. He'd been making fermented fruit juice in small batches with Fred's help, supplying them to Huang so he could stash it at his house in advance of the party. That way, Riley himself never had more than a small amount around at any one moment, and the party would have enough good stuff for everybody to enjoy themselves. As far as he knew, that had all gone smoothly - certainly no one had burst into his and Matt's dorm room to demand to know what those bottles under his bed were, and Huang's famously overprotective parents hadn't shown up on campus either. If it all goes well, we switch to the hard stuff. 

He and Robin had discussed costumes before deciding they lacked the resources to customize their outfits, a problem made worse by Riley's unique build. He'd been promised a special outfit from Robin, though, so he'd done his best to match her - ultimately winding up in a storebought fedora, black striped vest and black pants, and red tie that made him look like a 1920s gangster. It seemed appropriate - even though no such gangster would have gone outside with a hatchet on his hip. Riley had not brought his bow tonight. Not when he was trying to be a normal boy for his normal girl, even when he didn't feel anything like that. 

The night, with its costumed monsters and its light-cut darkness, had been unsettling for him - he'd wound up making his own way here, with promises of meeting Robin at the gate and going inside together. As he waited, lurking in the darkness by the front door, he kept looking back doubtfully at the house. He knew this part of North Bay as well as he knew his own hand - there was no house and there were no ruins here! He decided that perhaps Huang's parents had built the estate sometime after 1999 and simply gone for an old-fashioned aesthetic. 

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Robin had a ways to walk. The bus system was limited in North Bay but she was used to walking. She'd not swapped her footwear for something to better match the costume but at least then it was no harder to walk up the road to the overgrown gate that seemed to be the place in question. Robin had no money for costumes or such frivolities - hell, she didn't usually have money for necessities - but at least she was getting a second use out of the clubbing outfit that Raina had purchased using her money. The skintight leather pants weren't much barrier from the autumn chill but she'd thrown the same worn leather jacket that she was never far from and had her ubiquitous backpack slung over one shoulder. No one had yet broken Robin of the habit of keeping all she valued on her. 

Under the leather jacket, the shimmery halter top caught the light from the street lamps with each step and for once, her curls weren't stuffed up under a hat or handkerchief. No, Robin had spent the painstaking time to fix her hair up for once. It was an odd, almost distracting sensation to have the corkscrew curls loose around her face and shoulders but she had promised something special for the night and was really the extent of what she could do. 

When Riley appeared out of the shadows, she gave a little gesture with her hands, "Uhm, this is all I've got. So. S'okay?" Robin wanted to know and then grinned at his outfit. "You look good. Nice hat."

 

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A Halloween party sounded like a great idea in Jimmy's mind. He'd never been to one before, but he'd seen them on TV. Costumes, drama, dancing, candy. All usually interesting. Identity confusions always happened at Halloween parties too - understandable, with the costumes. So, when an invitation popped into being right in front of him, he was happy to mentally RSVP, even if he knew that the person at the other end probably didn't receive any sort of message.

Of course, then came costume selection. At first, Jimmy thought it would be easy, then he re-read the letter and saw the end of the bottom part. He'd thought Not Racist would be easy to work with, but then...ghosts? Why were ghosts racist? There was an obvious association, but everyone dressed up as ghosts and nobody got up in arms about it...as far as Jimmy knew. That threw a wrench into his plans, having to wonder what exactly the criteria for 'racist' was. Jimmy went through a half-dozen costumes at the store, finding tiny things that...could be offensive to someone. He even considered just going as Fallout - but that'd probably be a bad idea. It would mean no eating, probably no dancing, and he'd have to be careful who he touched.

Plus, the Entity probably wouldn't take kindly to being used as a party trick. Which would mean headaches, and bad dreams. Those were never fun.

It took a while, but Jimmy eventually settled on a costume that couldn't offend anyone. As he walked up to the others at the gate, he really wished he could fly, to complete the image. A quite land-locked Centurion made his way up to Riley and Robin, trying to gauge if he was interrupting something. "Hey! You two look, uhhh..." He paused for a moment. Words. Those were a thing. "...good." He cleared his throat and tried to stand up straight and adjust the breastplate. Thin as he was, he felt self-conscious in the outfit. He was fairly sure it was going to slip and fall off any second.

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Riley looked Robin up and down, putting his hands on her arms, his eyes wide. He'd always thought Robin was sexy - now she was like a gorgeous goddess. "Hot, uh, hot damn, you look good," he said, his voice a little weak. "Damn." He looked behind her - the pants were just as tight around the butt, too! He felt like he'd just been given a brand-new Holiday present in some very, very nice wrapping. "G-glad you like the hat." He took a moment to swallow, and try and force his voice out of the contralto. When he did, he sounded a little more sophisticated - at least to his own ears. "Boss gave it to me. Says she knows hats. You look like a piece of sugar candy. Hey, uh, Jimmy," he said with a little wave at his friend, the only boy his age shorter than he was. "Robin, this is Jimmy - he's the kid I told you about." His arm had settled around Robin's waist - and he liked it there. "We gonna do this thing?" 

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Robin's smile was a little shy but she laughed when he leaned around to check out the back side. "I'm glad you like 'em. It was this or a pillowcase with eye-holes cut out. Hey, Jimmy, nice to meetcha," Robin said as she turned slightly and offered one hand to the smaller kid. Her grip was firm but not overly-so. Robin had a prize-fighter's hands - with the knuckles ridged with scar tissue and flattened from numerous breaks. With how she was dressed today, it was a lot more incongruous than it normally was. "Nice Centurion costume!"

Leaning back against Riley's arm, she glanced over towards him. She was about Riley's height, especially with the additional volume from her hair so it was easy to look him in the eye, "So has our host shown himself yet or are we the first ones here? I thought I was going to be late - never know what sort of weirdness is going to happen on the buses this time of year."

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"Heya Riley. How'sit?" The second he compacted those words together, he regretted it. It sounded stupid. "I mean, uh, how are you?"

In contrast to Robin's, Jimmy's hand was bony and fairly weak. He didn't squeeze very hard, and he shook and flexed his hand afterwards, like he'd lost feeling in it. "Nice to, uh, meet you too...Robin." He mumbled the words out, and kept right on mumbling quickly afterwards. "Ah, thanks, I just, uh, found it at the store." His hands hurried to fix the bracers, and he nodded to himself. "Your costume looks, uh, nice too. I, I haven't seen our host yet, no, but I just got here, as you, well, like you saw."

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"Anyone tried knocking?"

The figure that walked up out of the darkness wore an outfit that was as simple as it was economical: his black robe was long and billowing, tattered at the hem and the ends of the voluminous sleeves, held at the waist by frayed rope and topped by a deep hood and a rather effective glowing eye effect, the mechanism for which wasn't immediately clear but seemed to fade way as he got closer. It was a little bare-bones, as grim reaper costumes went - he had no scythe to wield, nor had he managed any kind of skeletal pieces for his hands and face - but it had been cheap...an old outfit he'd started to put together before wiser minds had talked him out of it. Cheap was good, and he was secretly glad he hadn't kept it around for nothing.

Hooded or not, if his voice hadn't betrayed the holiday specter's identity the dog certainly did: only one today, a great big hound with scruffy fur as black as Matt's cloak, following at its master's heel. "Hey, Tin Man. Helluva house for a party, huh? Wonder if it always looks like this."

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The assembled heard the sound of Phaedra's heels on pavement before the redhead stepped into the light and company of her peers.  Her costume was that of an angel, of sorts, but it was one that leaned a lot closer toward the adult side of things with a skirt that was just long enough.  Curiously, instead of the typical halo that accompanies this sort of costume, Phae went with cute pair of devil horns.

"Hello," the redhead said with a smile.  "Oh, I love your costume Matt.  It was Matt, right?"

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"Oh, uh."

If one listened especially closely one could hear Matt's brain shifting gears without a clutch. One well-dressed, attractive girl his age had been just barely manageable for the teenager when he'd seen it coming and had a chance to approach on his own terms; turning from one to be visually jumped by the other turned out to be a bit much for the unprepared, and it took him a beat to recover. "Y-yeah, sorry. That's me. You're, uh..."

He hesitated, but only for a second; the dog sneezed and seemed to shake the name off his tongue. "Phaedra, right? Don't think we've met. This's Moon," he gestured at the dog, "and if you haven't met 'em, that's Riley, that must be Robin, and he's Jimmy," he pointed in turn. Not that he'd met the latter two, but he'd heard enough from Riley on the former and sharper ears than most had caught the name of the latter on his way up. May as well exploit the knowledge. "Your costume's not, uh, bad itself. Horns are a nice touch. Mine's...yeah, well. Had the robe, found the rope. Ain't much, but it's something."

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"Okay, hang on, we're coming in for a landing!" Raina laughed as she tilted the broom downward and made wide, sweeping circles around North Bay, her blond hair flowing behind her beneath a pointed witch's hat. On an ordinary night, she'd have used her invisbility spell to avoid notice, but tonight she courted it, sweeping a handful of yards above the rooftops and drawing stares and shouts from the trick-or-treaters braving North Bay's massive lawns for the promise of full-size candy bars. "Where the hell is this place anyway?" she demanded of her passenger. "Get out that invite scroll, maybe there's an enchantment or something, cause I don't see it anywhere." 

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Huang swung the big oak doors of the manse open to greet his guests aimlessly milling on the mansions front stoop.  They of course creaked ominously as they rotated to reveal an interior that matched all expectations of the exterior full of dark woods and creepy ancient portraits and strange curios.  Thier host himself stood arms wide in greeting draped in a pristine white toga probably not cut from his parents sheets only because those were all red black and purple satin.  Perched atop his brow a filigreed crown of laurels, "Hey party people!"  he greeted warmly and swept an arm towards the interior where faint strains of music only about a year out of date.  Their host was fairly certain it was current it certainly sounded like what his parents young friends listened to when he was growing up.  

He peered up at the trail of magic let by Rainas circling broom and nodded to the assembled guests, "Looking good."  he praised easily to the group, "Drinks and food in the sitting room just past the foyer."  he instructed and paused with the door open to await the young witches grand entrance.

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Understandably reluctant to remove either of her arms from around Raina's waist while they were still airborne, Winifred stopped herself in the middle of a rough estimate of their distance from the street and yards below and instead aimed her gaze straight ahead, swallowing slowly. "I suppose if I were going to complain about magic and enchantment it would have had to have been before getting on the flying broomstick," she sighed, raising her voice enough to be heard over the rush of wind. Tightening one arm she reached into the pocket of her lab coat she produced her copy of the invitation, scrunching up her nose to prevent the costume spectacles the blonde witch had picked out for her from sliding downward. Those and the tight bun that kept her dark hair off of her neck had seemed reasonable enough suggestions when she'd gone to Raina for advice but she'd had considerably stronger reservations about the tightly fitted outfit beneath the labcoat, at least until she'd conferred with Robin to find out what her roommate was planning to wear to the masquerade party. If Robin was going to wear those trousers then the time-displaced Victorian decided she'd need to take her cue accordingly. It did raise a new set of questions about just what sort of party the Faretti boy was planning.

"How is it supposed to work?" she asked Raina, trying to unfurl the scroll with one hand. "Should I hold it aloft or wave it about?" There seemed to be a distressing lack of logic to the 'magic' that she'd witnessed so far from her friend and other practitioners at the Academy but then that was why it was magic rather than science.

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"Nah, this house has to be new," Riley opined to Matt as they waited at the door, "they're probably new rich types. Prolly got it all fancy just for us." Which described Peyton Quinn pretty well, come to think of it, a thought that made Riley suddenly wonder if the duplicate of his mother knew the Farettis. "Been on this hill at home and there's nothin' like this, I tell you what." He made sure to introduce Jimmy to the others, wanting to make sure the smaller boy fit in with the crowd. 

Riley's eyes followed Huang's and narrowed, catching sight of Raina and Fred on the broom. Raina had been...pretty cool to him since the incident during training some weeks earlier. But hopefully things would be all right at the party, especially once he and Fred rolled out their masterwork. He shot a quick wave to the fliers, but was more concerned with Robin; and the arrival of their friends. He'd been a little distracted by Phaedra's arrival too, but as smokin' hot as the girl was, he had a smokin' hot girl on his arm already. "Hey man, nice place," he commented to Huang. "You gotta a pretty good spread." He was moderately interested in the decor, and the admittedly spooky ambiance, but the lack of ruin in the old house made it feel almost comforting. 

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"Nope, what you're doing is just fine, I see it now." Raina tipped the broom even more sharply yet, and let out a sound that was almost definitely a cackle as they swooped towards the ground. "Looks like people are just arriving, good timing for us!" 

She brought the broom to a halt three feet above the ground and hopped off as easily as getting out of a car, then took a moment to arrange her outfit. She'd chosen to go as a witch, obviously, but her little black witch's dress was tight enough and short enough that Fred could be sure Raina hadn't been leading her down any path she wasn't willing to walk herself when she'd helped pick out the costume. Striking black icepick heels had her standing well over six foot, even more with the height of her hat, and glamour or makeup had put just the faintest shimmer of green in her skin. She looked very pretty, and maybe a little dangerous as well. "You ready?" she asked Fred brightly. "Our public awaits." 

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"For certain narrow definitions of 'ready', certainly," Winifred replied dryly as she slid off of the hovering broomstick with considerably more trepidation then proceeded to adjust her outfit in a markedly different manner than the leggy pyromancer. The dark greet turtleneck sweater had seemed innocuous enough compared to the first array of options presented to her until she'd actually put it on. Had the sleeves not been the correct length she would have assumed it was entirely the wrong size. Her black and white checkered skirt stopped a hand's breadth below her knee and while she'd have been lying if she'd said she was entirely comfortable with it she was at least able to assume that no one was likely to be looking at her so long as she stayed nearby her fashion adviser. "After you, then."

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Jimmy was caught up in the confusion of the many people arriving. First the Grim Reaper - would that be racist, if ghosts were racist - and then...another beautiful girl dressed up as per normal for Halloween. Jimmy was stunned for a bit, left with his mind mentally reeling, before he caught up and blinked at Phaedra, then lowered his eyes to the ground and started mumbling. "Uh, hi...your costume looks, uh..." Nice seemed too little, but other words might be too much. He spent a moment picking one, then his brain got fed up and jumped in with one for him, "wrong..." No wait, bad word. Fix it, quickly! "I mean, uh, aren't you supposed to have, you know, a halo?" Whoops, not fixing it, making it worse. Focus on something else, quick!

Huang's arrival was a lifesaver, and Centurion-Jimmy scampered into the house immediately, making for the snacks that apparently were present. Maybe if he stuffed himself with food he'd be able to think straight-er. He barely spared a look and a wave back at the witch and her companion.

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"Oh, hey, there's Fred and Raina," Robin said as the fliers descended. She waved one hand and offered the pair a smile as they arrived. As they headed inside, Robin reached up to take off the jacket she'd worn along with her backpack but kept them both close at hand. Without the jacket, her bare back and arms had the sort of chiseled musculature of the gymnast but also showed the lighter lines of healed scars from bullet holes and lacerations, long healed. Tucking her jacket under one arm, she turned to take in the place, "Wow, Huang, do your folks always go this all out for Halloween. I saw the gravestones on the way up the drive. How long did it take to cobweb the trees?"

Robin was duly impressed as she turned towards their host, letting her free hand fall on Riley's hip. To the new arrivals, she offered a grin, "Is that everyone that's coming? Nice entrance," the last she added to Raina as she came in to the room, having to tip her chin up to do so.

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"Well, you probably didn't have an invite," Matt pointed out, digging the scroll out of his robe and waving it at Riley. "Assuming it means what it says, y'wouldn't have seen it without one, or something similar. Still, though. Wish I'd known it was serious. Didn't know it was a-"

He turned around just in time to see Robin & Fred dismount the broom, and his dog mimicked the glance before looking up in what, for a brief second, read an awful lot like disappointment. "....uh. Didn't know this was an openly-magical sort of thing, if that's the case. ....maybe it's for the best."

He shrugged, and went to put his hands in his pockets only to be foiled by the robe. That earned a scowl, if only at himself, and he offered the last arrivals a friendly nod before making his way to the food. Food he almost lost, as he assembled a small selection of edibles, when his companion not-so-subtly bumped his leg with a truly piteous look in its eyes. "Wha-- hey, hey. Only if you're good. Be nice."

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"Hey Fred," said Riley with a smile his friend's way. He gave Raina a more cautious look, one that practically required him to crane his neck up at the tall girl. "Nice outfit, Sanderson." Full of nervous energy, he wanted to keep moving - but sticking close to Robin seemed pretty good. "Place does look nice," he said to Huang, not really understanding what most of the decor meant except that it was supposed to be spooky. The place was dark and sealed off - that was all he really needed to get the hair on the back of his neck standing up. "Point me to your fridge when you need me to go start the party," he added to Huang, shooting a significant glance at Fred. Both their work was tied up here, after all. "Hey, give the dog a break, Toto! You gotta feed them some more meat, maybe they'll stop beggin' ya so much." 

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Winifred had a polite nod and a slightly awkward wave for the guests she recognized as she followed Raina into the manor. She had a brief moment of consternation as she regarded everyone else's costumes; she still wasn't entirely comfortable with her own outfit but conversely she couldn't help but notice that it was apparently noticeably less outrageous than the short, tight skirts the other girls were wearing. Once again trying to follow the cues of her modern peers seemed to be in conflict with her own better judgement. The boy's costumes seemed much more reasonable but double-standards in dress were hardly anything new.

She hung back a little uncertainly before her eyes lit on the great scruffy dog following the young man in the robe. Walking over she clapped her hands in delight. "Goodness, what a fascinating hound! I've never seen one so large yet well behaved." Carefully crouching in the unfamiliar skirt, she offered her hand cautiously for the dog to sniff. [color#7F9A65]"What breed is he? One native to the area or a mix of some kind?"

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As the party moved inside Huang swung the doors shut with a murmured incantation and sweep of his hand turning to follow the rest of the teens into the house proper.  This had the benefit of giving him an excellent view of the many fine derrieres on display in one fashion or another and he was fairly certain no one would be turned into a goat over looking, probably, Set seemed a level headed sort, mostly.  He smiled to Robin and blinked in confusion, "Oh those?  I dunno they've always been there, We could wiki it or something I guess but they're usually fixed up within a day or two of any birds getting caught in them."  he noted with a shrug as they moved into the sitting room he'd had snacks laid out in.  "Kitchens through there when you think the time is right."  he told riley with a smile and a nod glancing back to Robin, "Oh yea the headstones are for the staff, they like to make sure they're kept nice."  he suggested as if this was unsurprising, after all if you were among the restless dead you'd want your resting place well maintained right?  Might as well have it close to where you worked.

He eyed Phaedra with an easy smile, "He does have a point."  he teased flirtily, "Then again there is something to be said for an angel with a little devil in her."  he added saucily and gestured to the spread, "Have at, Est domus mea, domus tua."  he invited warmly substituting Latin for the more traditional mi casa es su casa because he had yet to perfect his impression of humanity.  

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".....no, definitely not native to the area. Not really," Matt cagily replied, eyeing his dog; it, in turn, quickly finished the piece of sausage it had conned out of its keeper and gave Fred a polite sniff. It cocked its head, apparently not quite sure what to make of her. "Couldn't tell you, for the breed. They all pretty much look like that, but if there's a name for it I don't know it."

"As for well-behaved," he added, scowling; still, even scowling couldn't protect him from the puppy-dog eyes, and he surrendered another piece of meat. "I mean, I've never needed collars or leashes or anything, but I also don't think they'd be happy about using them without good reason, so...I guess that counts as trained."

He shrugged; the dog thumped its tail against the floor and licked its lips. "I'm Matt, by the way."

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"I have more than a little," Phae groused.  "The 'something to be said' is that it is a pain in..."  The redhead stopped mid sentence, suddenly aware of what she was saying and silently cursed herself.  It was Huang's fault, of course, she reasoned.  He was too damned easy to talk to at times.

"The costume wasn't wrong," she said to Jimmy with a sigh.  "It was accurate, to a certain degree."  Phae plucked the horns off her head and shrugged out of the fake wings that she was wearing; these she handed to Huang.  There was a spray of blood as a pair of large red-tipped black feathered wings erupted from the hybrid's back, stretching wide only to fold up neatly.

She cracked her neck, making a contented sound.  "Much better."

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"Well he's clearly an exceptionally clever fellow, yes he is," Winifred opined, giving the big black dog a scratch behind the ears as it ate the second piece of sausage. Remembering herself with a light cough the alchemist stood back up and offered her hand to Matt. "Ah, Winifred Wei. You must be boarding with our young Master Smith, then? We've managed to avoid crossing paths until now but your reputation proceeds you." She looked over as Huang spoke in Latin, likewise calling over in the same language, "<How unexpectedly scholarly of you.>"

Any conversation was effectively interrupted by Phaedra's unexpected growth of additional feathery limbs. "...well," the dark haired girl broke the ensuring moment of surprised silence, "that is just tremendous! Where does the extra mass come from? Are they actually functional for flight? They'd need to be fantastically strong--!"

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