allthingshyper:

gehayi:

hiddlesbatchlove:

 

 

 

mannysiege:

Progress




sources:
Engagdget
DailyTech
CBS

They turned RNA into an anti-virus program. That is amazing.

Let me restate this in case it didn’t sink in the first time
Researchers physically DELETED ALL TRACES of the HIV virus from a human cell.
ALL OF IT.
IF YOU ARE NOT EXCITED ABOUT THAT I DON’T THINK YOU KNOW WHAT HIV IS

allthingshyper:

gehayi:

hiddlesbatchlove:

 

 

 

mannysiege:

Progress

sources:

Engagdget

DailyTech

CBS

They turned RNA into an anti-virus program. That is amazing.

Let me restate this in case it didn’t sink in the first time

Researchers physically DELETED ALL TRACES of the HIV virus from a human cell.

ALL OF IT.

IF YOU ARE NOT EXCITED ABOUT THAT I DON’T THINK YOU KNOW WHAT HIV IS

gristol:

quick concepts for some ideas of spirits i had. from left to right:

  1. the keeper: guardian of cemeteries - makes sure graves remain clean and never without flowers.
  2. crywolf: once thought to be a trickster spirit that led travelers to their doom, this spirit’s actual intent is to help travelers discover unmarked graves of murder victims.
  3. the cacophony: will appear to some individuals - serves the same purpose as a banshee.
  4. the rat king: a spirit of vengeance, unleashed upon those who hurt others.
  5. the lure: an otherworldly being that feeds on lost souls - will lure them close and devour them whole.
  6. the guardian: a watchful sloth spirit that comforts the spirit of dead children, allowing them to paint his fur.

tamorapierce:

actuallyclintbarton:

vixyish:

im-the-asshole-that:

invisiblespork:

Why yes, you are correct im-the-asshole-that. I really really hate boomers constantly shitting on my generation.

At my job, I once had to take a training course called “Dealing with…

socialjusticekoolaid:

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop (9.28.14): One of the largest protest in Ferguson this month is going down tonight, proving once again that the residents of Ferguson and STL County are some of the most resilient and inspiring in all the land. No justice, no peace! #staywoke #farfromover

LIVESTREAM

zohbugg:

justamerplwithabox:

vivelafat:

prokopetz:

officialdeadparrot:

grellholmes:

elsajeni:

gunslingerannie:

justtkeepcalmm:

dean-and-his-pie:

fororchestra:

musicalmelody:

Fun Story: My director kept telling me and my tenor sax buddy to play softer. No matter what we did, it wasn’t soft enough for him. So getting frustrated, I told my buddy “Dont play this time. Just fake it” 
Our Band Director then informed us we sounded perfect. 

To my readers: “p” means quiet, “pp” means really quiet. I’ve never seen “pppp” before haha.
On the contrast, “f” means loud, and “ffff” probably means so loud you go unconscious.

I had ffff in a piece once and my conductor told me to play as loudly as physically possible without falling off my chair…

Me and my trombone buddies had “ffff” and he sat next to me and played so hard that he fell out of his chair.
The lengths we go for music.

Okay yeah so I play the bass clarinet and the amount of air you have to move and the stiffness of the reed means it only has two settings and that is loud and louder, with an optional LOUDEST that includes a 50% probability of HORRIBLE CROAKING NOISE which is the bass equivalent of the ubiquitous clarinet shriek.

One day, when I was in concert band in high school, we got a new piece handed out for the first time, and there was a strange little commotion back in the tuba section — whispering, and pointing at something in the music, and swatting at each other’s hands all shhh don’t call attention to it. And although they did attract the attention of basically everyone else in the band, they managed to avoid being noticed by the band director, who gave us a few minutes to look over our parts and then said, “All right, let’s run through it up to section A.”
And here we are, cheerfully playing along, sounding reasonably competent — but everyone, when they have the attention to spare, is keeping an eye on the tuba players. They don’t come in for the first eight measures or so, and then when they do come in, what we see is:
[stifled giggling]
[reeeeeeally deep breath]
[COLOSSAL FOGHORN NOISE]
The entire band stops dead, in the cacophonous kind of way that a band stops when it hasn’t actually been cued to stop. The band director doesn’t even say anything, just looks straight back at the tubas and makes a helpless sort of why gesture.
In unison, the tuba players defend themselves: “THERE WERE FOUR F’S.”
FFFF is not really a rational dynamic marking for any instrument, but for the love of all that is holy why would you put it in a tuba part.

This is the best band post 
Everyone else go home

Oh man, so I play trombone, and we got this piece called Florentiner Marsch by Julius Fucik, and we saw this

which is 8 fortes. We were shocked until,

that is 24 fortes who the fuck does that

Who does that?

This guy. Take a good look - that is the moustache of a man with nothing to lose.

Julius IdontgivaFucik

More like Julius Fuckit

this post just kept getting better and better

zohbugg:

justamerplwithabox:

vivelafat:

prokopetz:

officialdeadparrot:

grellholmes:

elsajeni:

gunslingerannie:

justtkeepcalmm:

dean-and-his-pie:

fororchestra:

musicalmelody:

Fun Story: My director kept telling me and my tenor sax buddy to play softer. No matter what we did, it wasn’t soft enough for him. So getting frustrated, I told my buddy “Dont play this time. Just fake it” 

Our Band Director then informed us we sounded perfect. 

To my readers: “p” means quiet, “pp” means really quiet. I’ve never seen “pppp” before haha.

On the contrast, “f” means loud, and “ffff” probably means so loud you go unconscious.

I had ffff in a piece once and my conductor told me to play as loudly as physically possible without falling off my chair…

Me and my trombone buddies had “ffff” and he sat next to me and played so hard that he fell out of his chair.

The lengths we go for music.

Okay yeah so I play the bass clarinet and the amount of air you have to move and the stiffness of the reed means it only has two settings and that is loud and louder, with an optional LOUDEST that includes a 50% probability of HORRIBLE CROAKING NOISE which is the bass equivalent of the ubiquitous clarinet shriek.

One day, when I was in concert band in high school, we got a new piece handed out for the first time, and there was a strange little commotion back in the tuba section — whispering, and pointing at something in the music, and swatting at each other’s hands all shhh don’t call attention to it. And although they did attract the attention of basically everyone else in the band, they managed to avoid being noticed by the band director, who gave us a few minutes to look over our parts and then said, “All right, let’s run through it up to section A.”

And here we are, cheerfully playing along, sounding reasonably competent — but everyone, when they have the attention to spare, is keeping an eye on the tuba players. They don’t come in for the first eight measures or so, and then when they do come in, what we see is:

[stifled giggling]

[reeeeeeally deep breath]

[COLOSSAL FOGHORN NOISE]

The entire band stops dead, in the cacophonous kind of way that a band stops when it hasn’t actually been cued to stop. The band director doesn’t even say anything, just looks straight back at the tubas and makes a helpless sort of why gesture.

In unison, the tuba players defend themselves: “THERE WERE FOUR F’S.”

FFFF is not really a rational dynamic marking for any instrument, but for the love of all that is holy why would you put it in a tuba part.

This is the best band post 

Everyone else go home

Oh man, so I play trombone, and we got this piece called Florentiner Marsch by Julius Fucik, and we saw this

image

which is 8 fortes. We were shocked until,

image

that is 24 fortes who the fuck does that

Who does that?

This guy. Take a good look - that is the moustache of a man with nothing to lose.

Julius IdontgivaFucik

More like Julius Fuckit

this post just kept getting better and better

americanwizarding:

Hatsumi Crane sat at her kitchen table and nervously watched the minute hand on her family’s cuckoo clock as it made another minute click forward.  It was 3:42 at present.  At a quarter to four – she nervously checked the letter she had half-opened on her lap – yes, that was right – at a quarter to four, she would be on her way to her first year at Black Gate Academy.
Hatsumi was quite sure that at 3:45, all that would be happening would be her positively swooning into a nervous fit. 
Black Gate.  She turned the words over nervously in her mind.  She had never thought – her mother and father had both gone to Salem Institute, she had never in a hundred years –
Black Gate.  The Bastion of the North, the School of Wind and Ice.  Run by a giantess, site of one of the most famous dark wizard duels in recent history, rumored to be beset by sea serpents and wendigos… Hatsumi looked nervously around her mother’s frightfully tidy kitchen, noted the puffapods sitting on the window sill, the crisp white curtains, the neatly ordered stacks of Witch Weekly and Monthly Maladies.  Outside, the rain was falling mistily, and she could see the Muggle buildings of Seattle through the mist and rain.  Home had never seemed more cozy and safe than at that moment, when she was facing…
Black Gate.  Even the name sounded somehow – improper.  Wild.  Maybe even dangerous.
Her hands were damp, and she squeezed them convulsively, then nearly jumped when she felt something twitch in her right palm.  Hatsumi opened her hand hurriedly and let out a shaky breath.  Of course – she had forgotten she was holding it…
The rune stone lay perfectly innocently in her palm.  Hatsumi idly traced fingers over it, tracing out the odd sigils deeply etched into the dark gray rock, words spelled in a language she had no way of knowing, before running her thumb over the small amber topaz embedded in what seemed like the rune stone’s top edge.  (She thought perhaps that she had felt the stone move in her hand, ever so slightly, when she had squeezed it – )
The rune stone had arrived with her letter from Black Gate, some four months or so earlier, on the evening of her 11th birthday. Her eyes went from the stone to that letter now, where it lay innocently on her lap, and she gave it a perplexed scowl.   She had been instructed to keep track of the stone, as it would be the ‘first part of her conveyance to Black Gate’.  The letter had also informed her to pack heavy robes, as winters on the Great Lakes apparently often took several students by surprise and last year they had nearly run out of Fire-Belly Elixir to cure frostbite and she wouldn’t want to go through life with a bit of ear missing, would she?
The summons had been signed, Warmly, Professor Mariame Odinson, Headmistress.
Hatsumi was not sure if the warning about frost bite had been serious or no. 
 With a sigh, she glanced again at the cuckoo clock.  Her parents both worked at Tempest Hospital for the Sorcerous Ill on the far side of Seattle, close to Olympic Park.  They had wanted to see her off, but then her father had had an emergency meeting come up about the fate of one of his patients (apparently regaining his memory and casting jinxes on everything in sight) and her mother had a Venomous Tentacula serum extraction go wrong – two ravens bringing apology missives had arrived after the other, and so now Hatsumi was alone in the kitchen, her trunk at her feet (not one but two heavy cloaks tossed over it), her letter in hand, and lower lib wobbling tremulously. 
The clock was now at 3:44 and exactly 36 seconds.  Hatsumi felt the hot prickle of tears at the back of her eyes and sniffled them back resolutely.  She would just wait, that was all.  She would just wait until either her parents came home or that Headmistress came to collect her herself –
Clutched in her palm, she felt again – definite this time – her rune stone give a mighty twitch, and suddenly warmed in her palm.  With a yelp, Hatsumi opened her hand, to find that the etchings on the stone seemed illuminated with clear gray light, and the topaz at the top had caught fire with a brilliant yellow flame.  The clock now stood at 3:44 and 47 seconds and all Hatsumi could do was stare as the stone pulsed in her hand and the gray light began to grow until it practically filled the kitchen with its radiance.  As the rays brushed against her skin, an incredible rush of warmth blossomed in her limbs – the weight of the last few days of worry was lifting off her shoulders, she was feeling positively light –
Hatsumi looked down to find that not only was she feeling light, but that her entire body was floating a good six inches off her chair and was beginning to grow transparent.  She could see the hardwood floor through her feet, and as she raised one hand, the window to the kitchen gleamed blearily through her palm – distorted, as if she was looking at it through a pane of ice.  The rune stone was still clutched in her other fist, its light growing and growing until she could see nothing but the brightness of it.
Tally-ho, she thought for no reason at all.
With a whoosh, Hatsumi found herself suddenly flying right straight through her kitchen window – which gave her no more resistance than a sigh – then rocketing through mist and rain before rising and sailing blindingly fast across the sky, higher than any broomstick could ever hope to take her.  Her left hand, which held the rune stone in it, was outstretched in front of her, the stone itself pulling her with a gentle but irresistible force in her flight.  Craning her head back, she could just see her bags, as if tied to her ankles by invisible thread, thumping along behind her. 
Thank heavens I’m not afraid of heights, she thought to herself, her gaze sinking from her bags to the world below. 
Her breath caught.  Already the plains and mountains of Montana lay spread beneath her in a sea of gold and gray.  Snow caps flitted swiftly by, and streaks of clouds slipped across her vision as she blazed across the sky.  Mountains gave way to great green flatlands in the blink of an eye, and flatlands soon were eaten up with blue lakes and tiny rivers that wound away into the horizon, a horizon that kept coming and coming as Hatsumi flew onwards.  She soared, weightless and full of warmth, high and fast above the continent, the world spread out like an invitation below her, and did not realize until far later that despite her misgivings, she had not once looked back. 
Muggles have those – what do you call them – air-o-planes, she thought, her throat constricting oddly.  They must get to see this all the time…Wonder if they have any idea how lucky, how blessedly, blessedly lucky they are…
As the thought passed through her mind, as below the lakes grew more and more numerous, Hatsumi thought perhaps she heard a voice on the wind, ever so faintly, a woman’s voice, low and sweet and amused. 
There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.
And suddenly, looking forward, all that filled her vision was water, great wide expanses of water, as big as an ocean, as dark as the bellies of stormclouds in July.
The switch to descent occurred abruptly – her trajectory went from horizontal to practically vertical within a span of seconds.  The moment her hurtle started to aim towards the earth again, before she could panic, Hatsumi found her flight slowing and slowing.  She took the last quarter mile to the ground floating as gently as a dandelion seed on the wind, drifting from over the water back towards the green countryside, and landed on a long white beach in front of that magnificent gray-black sea.
 She had tears in her eyes that she swiftly wiped away.  “From the wind,” she told herself firmly.  Her trunk and cloaks landed beside her with a thump on the sand.
“Hello!”
Startled, Hatsumi looked around.  Not five paces away, sitting on what appeared to be a chest-shaped refrigerator, was a tall, chestnut-haired boy with a grin on his face.
“First year, are you?”  He said knowingly.  Hatsumi felt the prick of tears again and felt quite sure he could see the sheen on them in her eyes.  “Don’t worry, the Flight hits most of us the same way the first time we take it.”
His voice was kind, but had a note of playfulness in it she instinctively wanted to respond to.  As this was the case, she flushed and looked away from him, digging her toes into the sand.  “Where’s the castle?”  She murmured, not sure what else to say.
“The Castle?”  The boy blinked, then smiled in understanding.  “Ah, no, love!  We’re not at Black Gate yet.  Second leg of the journey to go still.”
Hatsumi raised her head to stare at him.  “There are two legs?  Do we – do we fly again to get there?” 
The boy shook his head.  “Too many wards on Black Gate – and it’s Unplottable.   The rune stones will get you as far as they can, but even they get a bit knackered crossing the border between the outside world and Black Gate’s grounds.  Work perfectly well within them, though!”
It was Hatsumi’s turn to blink.  “I beg your pardon?”
The boy stepped forward and dug into the front of his shirt, pulling a pendant out from beneath the fabric.  With a start, she realized he had a stone the same rough size as hers – though the markings on his seemed to spell out something different, and the stone at the top of his appeared to be a garnet.
The boy glanced at his, then at Hatsumi.  He pulled his lower lip between his teeth and began to gnaw on it slightly, looking a little perplexed.  “Never had to give the talk before,” He muttered by way of explanation.  “Er, let’s see – these.  The rune stones.  You can’t lose them.”
Hatsumi brindled slightly.  “I wasn’t planning on doing so.”
“No, I mean, you can’t.”  The boy said earnestly.  “They’re called Touchstones – that’s your personal one.  It’s an Ever Present – you literally can’t lose it.  I thought I had misplaced mine last winter break – worried I wouldn’t get back to school – and then day of my depature, boom!  Turned up right in my jeans pocket.  After I got them out of the wash, I might add.  It’s even more powerful on school grounds – you can leave it by your bedside and it’ll be back in your hand by breakfast.  I recommend putting yours on a necklace, much easier to keep track of that way, Professor Erilingr will fix you up right quick – “
Hatsumi held up a hand.  Her head was spinning slightly.  “Who?”
“Professor Erilingr – Professor of Enchantment.  He makes them all, he and Professor Odinson, over the summer.  One for each incoming student.”  The boy grinned and let his Touchstone fall back inside his shirt.  “Erilingr’s amazing – best Enchanter in a hundred years, he was trained by Sorenson himself they say – “
“Who?”  Hatsumi asked again.  The spinning was even more pronounced now.
“Sorenson – the first Headmaster?”  The boy looked at her, his eyebrows raising slightly.  “Don’t know much about the Academy, do you?”
“Apparently not,” Hatsumi murmured.
“Ryan!”  A voice called out.  Hatsumi looked around.  Two girls – one with tightly braided black hair and flashing dark eyes, the other with red ringlets bouncing around her chin – landed neatly on the beach a few paces away from them.
“Ruby, Blythe,” The boy – Ryan –said with what Hatsumi was sure was a deliberately charming smile.  “Have a nice break?”
The dark-haired one snorted.  “My grandfather made me a set of flashcards of different runes,” She said bitterly.  “Made me drill all summer, when I wasn’t busy weeding his corn fields for gnomes…” 
“Went and did an internship at the American Quodpot Confederation!” The red-haired girl chirped merrily.  “Our team’s pretty awful, don’t even know how I got in – “
 “Because you’re the best damn Keeper this side of the Mississippi,” The black-eyed girl said, lightly punching the other one on her arm.  The red-haired girl grinned and swatted back, giggling, then her bright blue eyes turned to Hatsumi.
“New girl!”  She said excitedly, smiling broadly.  “What’s your name, then?”
“Hatsumi Crane.”
“Blythe Annasdottir!” The red-haired girl dropped a curtsy; Hatsumi wondered if she should have done the same. “I’m a fourth year myself – and this is Ruby, she’s a fourth year too – you and Ryan have met, he’s a year above you – Sorenson house, aren’t you, darling? – of course you’re Sorenson, you like to play flirtatious, but you’re the strong silent type at heart, I know –and I’m Nyland, as is Ruby – she’s a fabulous Transfigurer, that’s what we think brought her into our midst, they’re still not quite sure how I slipped in – “
“Boat’s coming,” Ryan interrupted, pointing at a dot far out on the great gray waters before them.  “Best get our bags ready, you know they don’t wait more than a moment – “
“Right, of course!”  Blythe turned and breezed over to where her trunks had landed, dragging the heavy burden back over the sand with surprising ease.  Hatsumi was quite relieved for the break in the stream from Blythe’s mouth – she had been feeling a little bit winded herself by the girl’s apparent lack of need of oxygen.  She turned her eyes out to the horizon, catching them on the rapidly approaching spot.
The vessel that landed at last on the shores of the lake was – a boat wasn’t the term, Hatsumi decided, staring at the wind-warped mast, the hull beaten smooth by countless waves, the mast that arced above them towards the late afternoon sky.  Oars the size of small trees stuck out on either side of the ship’s main deck, which itself sat firmly in the water like a horse at the gate ready to break free at the sound of the gun.  Above her head, the prow of the ship curved upwards, ending at last in a hollow eyed carved head of a creature that looked like a dragon and a snake had had a monstrous child.  This was a ship, this was, she decided, running her fingers gingerly across the grain.
“All right, then!”  Ryan called down to her, and she remembered herself and raced to where the gangplank had already folded itself down onto the sand for them to climb abroad.  Ryan and Ruby had just secured her trunk to the center mast of the ship, along with all the other luggage.
“How do you always manage to pack enough for three?”  Ruby asked Ryan with a scowl, eyeing his massive trunk with dislike and flexing her muscles.
“Because I refuse to get by on three pairs of pants for the year,” He returned amiably, settling himself near the back of the boat. 
Hatsumi heard the gangplank pull itself up behind her  and turned in time to see the push off from the white shores.  The vessel seemed to spin itself in the water, until the dragon’s head was facing off into the horizon.
“Do we – er – have to row?”  She asked, eyeing the oars with some distaste.
Ruby snorted.  “Nothing doing.  Watch.”
Sure enough, as the ship began to drift aimlessly out into open waters, the oars themselves began to move, as one.  Slowly and powerfully at first, then with more and more gusto as the ship picked up speed, until they fairly shot across the water.
Hatsumi found herself tearing to the front of the boat and half-scrabbling up the prow.  “Watch it!” Ryan called after her with a yelp, but she was already wrapping her arms around what would have been the dragon’s neck of the stem and leaning out.  The spray of the water caught her in the face – it was shockingly cold, even in the late August warmth.  Behind them, the sun was crawling down the horizon to nestle in the west rim of the world – here, facing forward, Hatsumi could see nothing but dark, wild water, and the slowly approaching evening on the horizon.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”  Hatsumi turned to see Blythe’s brilliant smile.  The redhead leaned to the opposite side of the prow of where Hatsumi stood, gazing ahead, the wind pulling her hair back like a length of flame.  
The journey last only an hour or so, and Hatsumi spent the whole time at the boat’s prow, staring straight ahead as evening took over the sky and began to slowly steal into night.  Behind her, she heard Ruby and Ryan arguing over a game of Gobstones, and at times Blythe’s laughter rang out before the wind could catch it back.  She watched as sea and sky began to merge in to one another where they met at the horizon, and saw the first star glimmer awake in the still glowing sky above.
The ship seemed, she realized, to be taking them towards a small rock still some measures off in the great dark waters.  As the minutes trailed by and that rock began to loom larger and larger while still seeming no closer, Hatsumi felt the prickle of realization shiver down the nape of her neck.
Black Gate.
And all at once it was there, three midnight islands in the blue-black sea, the stars now glimmering brightly overheard.  The second and third islands, some ways off still, glimmered faintly with torchlights in the thick night, but before her on the first island, vast and terrible, soaring high into the heavens, crammed with what seemed like dozens of different towers and spinets  winding everywhere out of vast, great black walls – the castle of Black Gate itself.  Shadows seemed to dance across the dark stones of Black Gate, cast by a thousand twinkling fairy lights that were now slowly rising up into the sky from behind the walls as their boat approached.  The wind blew across the prow, coming from straight before them, and Hatsumi wondered why, ever so faintly, she caught the scent of blood and copper on the breeze.
“Excellent,” Blythe said cheerily, coming up behind Hatsumi as she stared, her mouth dry.  “I’m starving, can’t wait to get to the feast – oh look, over there, there’s Indigo!  Hello, Indigo!”
Hatsumi suddenly realized that they were not alone on the water.  As Black Gate loomed above them, dozens of other ships, of similar size and build, came out of the darkness, bearing towards the great castle and the long dock that she could now see stretched out before it.  Ahead of them, some of the other ships had already in fact reached the dock, and the people within were climbing out and tossing long ropes to the others still on board for them to tie the vessels securely. 
Their craft was pulling up to the marina now swiftly, matching pace with another, somewhat squatter ship, where a person with bright blue hair was waving back merrily at Blythe.  Blythe waved back merrily – and accidentally caught Hatsumi on the shoulder as her arm lifted. 
Had Hatsumi not been perched on the vessel’s prow, the knock would merely have tipped her forward slightly.  As it was, though, the blow caught her offguard and precariously balanced, and so with a shriek, she tipped forward and fell into the waters of the Great Lake.
Dark.  Cold.  A stream of bubbles released themselves from Hatsumi’s mouth as she attempted another shriek and instead merely choked.  She peered frantically around in the gloom, unsure of how far she had fallen in.  Quickly collecting herself, she released a few more precious bubbles, felt them drift up past her left cheek, and began to swiftly swim in that direction –
Out of the darkness, she felt something – something vast – something powerful – reach out and wrap around her waist.
This time she did scream, not caring that her throat immediately burned and lungs began to fill with water.  Something was wrapping around her now, a vast and terribly strong coil, something was dragging her through the water, something was going to pull her down to the depths and smother her, eat her alive, something with teeth that she thought she could perhaps see gleam before her –
And suddenly she was breaking free of the water, sputtering and coughed, hauled dizzyingly high above the surface, into the flickers of warm torchlight.  Below her – she was slowly descending – the dock, not ten feet below her – there were other students there, staring up at her –someone help – but there was no need, she was being gently lowered –
Hatsumi found herself gently deposited onto the dock to the sound of cheers.  She parted her dripping hair back and stared around at everyone balefully as they whooped and applauded.
“Hell of an entrance!”  A short, portly boy near her was saying with awe. 
“Sorry!”  Blythe wailed from near the back of the group.  “I am so sorry, darling –“
“Nonsense, Blythe, she had to meet the school mascot sometime,” A slim girl with vivid violet eyes was saying with a grin.
“Mascot?”  Hatsumi murmured, the shock of the last few moments still settling.  She turned around, and looked – up.  And up.  And up.
A good fifteen feet above her, a pair of intelligent golden eyes was glimmering down at her out of a serpentine, iridescent face.  The whole of the creature’s body was a gleaming blue-black, a single long winding coil that was so thick Hatsumi’s arms could barely have met around it; it stretched back into the water beyond what the torchlights could catch.  Gleaming white teeth shone as the vast serpent above her gave what appeared to be a reptilian grin.
“I see you’ve met Charlie, then,” A low, sweet voice boomed behind her.
Hatsumi turned – and found herself having to crane her neck again.  The woman before her was the tallest she’d ever seen – well over six feet, built on slender but powerful lines.  Her tawny blonde hair pulled back in a long low braid, her gleaming gray eyes crinkled with amusement.  A scar was etched on her full, crimson lips, spread wide by the woman’s grin.  Her hands were at her hips, and clutched in one was what appeared to be a very, very large silver hammer, etched with runes that looked very similar to the ones on her stone.  There was a wild feel to the woman as she stood there on the dock, the students parted around her, her gaze on the enormous beast behind Hatsumi, and eyes filled with what was unmistakably affection.
Professor Mariame Odinson turned her sight down and beamed now at Hatsumi.  “You’ve made a good first impression.  He likes that you didn’t faint.”  She informed Hatusmi.  Her voice was surprisingly gentle for her vast frame, but it still boomed out clearly for all to hear.
Hatsumi was shivering in her wet clothes and the chilly air.  “Well, that’s a relief,” she found herself snipping, and cringed at her own rudeness.  But Mariame Odinson only gave a great chortling laugh.
She felt a powerful whuff of air behind her, and turned to find the sea serpent had lowered its head to her level and was gazing at her with – yes, that was definitely amusement.  It nosed its vast head forward at her – she tried to back up hastily and ran into Professor Odinson’s vast frame.
“What does it want?”  She asked fearfully.
“He,” the word was used with soft but deliberate precision, “wants to make sure you’re all right.  I’d advise you let him check – he gets so nervous about the first years, poor darling, I’d hate to see him fret all night, he’ll be howling at the windows.”
Hatsumi met the sea serpent’s eyes again.  It – he – was looking at her inquisitively.  When he nudged forward again, Hatsumi held her breath, and let him nuzzle his vast head around her midsection.  The sea serpent gave another vast whuff of approval, then let out a noise that sounded like the largest cow that had ever lived mooing.
“You’ve passed,” Professor Odinson said gaily.  “Now then – it’s Hatsumi Crane, is it not?– let’s get you inside and out of those wet things, eh?  You’ve still got to get selected into your House, and then a hot meal – you’ll be right as rain again in no time.” 
Hatsumi tore her gaze away from the sea serpent and looked up into the woman’s face.  Professor Odinson’s smile was bright, and kind, and she looked at Hatsumi with such warmth that Hatsumi felt already the chill of the lake leaving her.
“I’ve been rescued by a sea serpent,” She found herself saying aloud.  It was not a question, but Professor Odinson nodded.
 “A sea serpent.”  She looked at the crowd of students still gaggled behind their Headmistress.  “Sea serpent.”
Charlie whuffled as the students all eyed her, clearly uncertain where she was going with this.
Hatsumi felt a smile to match Professor Odinson’s breaking out over her face.  “This – this is going to be a very interesting few years, isn’t it?”
Professor Odinson laughed.
~*~

americanwizarding:

Hatsumi Crane sat at her kitchen table and nervously watched the minute hand on her family’s cuckoo clock as it made another minute click forward.  It was 3:42 at present.  At a quarter to four – she nervously checked the letter she had half-opened on her lap – yes, that was right – at a quarter to four, she would be on her way to her first year at Black Gate Academy.

Hatsumi was quite sure that at 3:45, all that would be happening would be her positively swooning into a nervous fit. 

Black Gate.  She turned the words over nervously in her mind.  She had never thought – her mother and father had both gone to Salem Institute, she had never in a hundred years –

Black Gate.  The Bastion of the North, the School of Wind and Ice.  Run by a giantess, site of one of the most famous dark wizard duels in recent history, rumored to be beset by sea serpents and wendigos… Hatsumi looked nervously around her mother’s frightfully tidy kitchen, noted the puffapods sitting on the window sill, the crisp white curtains, the neatly ordered stacks of Witch Weekly and Monthly Maladies.  Outside, the rain was falling mistily, and she could see the Muggle buildings of Seattle through the mist and rain.  Home had never seemed more cozy and safe than at that moment, when she was facing…

Black Gate.  Even the name sounded somehow – improper.  Wild.  Maybe even dangerous.

Her hands were damp, and she squeezed them convulsively, then nearly jumped when she felt something twitch in her right palm.  Hatsumi opened her hand hurriedly and let out a shaky breath.  Of course – she had forgotten she was holding it…

The rune stone lay perfectly innocently in her palm.  Hatsumi idly traced fingers over it, tracing out the odd sigils deeply etched into the dark gray rock, words spelled in a language she had no way of knowing, before running her thumb over the small amber topaz embedded in what seemed like the rune stone’s top edge.  (She thought perhaps that she had felt the stone move in her hand, ever so slightly, when she had squeezed it – )

The rune stone had arrived with her letter from Black Gate, some four months or so earlier, on the evening of her 11th birthday. Her eyes went from the stone to that letter now, where it lay innocently on her lap, and she gave it a perplexed scowl.   She had been instructed to keep track of the stone, as it would be the ‘first part of her conveyance to Black Gate’.  The letter had also informed her to pack heavy robes, as winters on the Great Lakes apparently often took several students by surprise and last year they had nearly run out of Fire-Belly Elixir to cure frostbite and she wouldn’t want to go through life with a bit of ear missing, would she?

The summons had been signed, Warmly, Professor Mariame Odinson, Headmistress.

Hatsumi was not sure if the warning about frost bite had been serious or no. 

 With a sigh, she glanced again at the cuckoo clock.  Her parents both worked at Tempest Hospital for the Sorcerous Ill on the far side of Seattle, close to Olympic Park.  They had wanted to see her off, but then her father had had an emergency meeting come up about the fate of one of his patients (apparently regaining his memory and casting jinxes on everything in sight) and her mother had a Venomous Tentacula serum extraction go wrong – two ravens bringing apology missives had arrived after the other, and so now Hatsumi was alone in the kitchen, her trunk at her feet (not one but two heavy cloaks tossed over it), her letter in hand, and lower lib wobbling tremulously. 

The clock was now at 3:44 and exactly 36 seconds.  Hatsumi felt the hot prickle of tears at the back of her eyes and sniffled them back resolutely.  She would just wait, that was all.  She would just wait until either her parents came home or that Headmistress came to collect her herself –

Clutched in her palm, she felt again – definite this time – her rune stone give a mighty twitch, and suddenly warmed in her palm.  With a yelp, Hatsumi opened her hand, to find that the etchings on the stone seemed illuminated with clear gray light, and the topaz at the top had caught fire with a brilliant yellow flame.  The clock now stood at 3:44 and 47 seconds and all Hatsumi could do was stare as the stone pulsed in her hand and the gray light began to grow until it practically filled the kitchen with its radiance.  As the rays brushed against her skin, an incredible rush of warmth blossomed in her limbs – the weight of the last few days of worry was lifting off her shoulders, she was feeling positively light –

Hatsumi looked down to find that not only was she feeling light, but that her entire body was floating a good six inches off her chair and was beginning to grow transparent.  She could see the hardwood floor through her feet, and as she raised one hand, the window to the kitchen gleamed blearily through her palm – distorted, as if she was looking at it through a pane of ice.  The rune stone was still clutched in her other fist, its light growing and growing until she could see nothing but the brightness of it.

Tally-ho, she thought for no reason at all.

With a whoosh, Hatsumi found herself suddenly flying right straight through her kitchen window – which gave her no more resistance than a sigh – then rocketing through mist and rain before rising and sailing blindingly fast across the sky, higher than any broomstick could ever hope to take her.  Her left hand, which held the rune stone in it, was outstretched in front of her, the stone itself pulling her with a gentle but irresistible force in her flight.  Craning her head back, she could just see her bags, as if tied to her ankles by invisible thread, thumping along behind her. 

Thank heavens I’m not afraid of heights, she thought to herself, her gaze sinking from her bags to the world below. 

Her breath caught.  Already the plains and mountains of Montana lay spread beneath her in a sea of gold and gray.  Snow caps flitted swiftly by, and streaks of clouds slipped across her vision as she blazed across the sky.  Mountains gave way to great green flatlands in the blink of an eye, and flatlands soon were eaten up with blue lakes and tiny rivers that wound away into the horizon, a horizon that kept coming and coming as Hatsumi flew onwards.  She soared, weightless and full of warmth, high and fast above the continent, the world spread out like an invitation below her, and did not realize until far later that despite her misgivings, she had not once looked back. 

Muggles have those – what do you call them – air-o-planes, she thought, her throat constricting oddly.  They must get to see this all the time…Wonder if they have any idea how lucky, how blessedly, blessedly lucky they are…

As the thought passed through her mind, as below the lakes grew more and more numerous, Hatsumi thought perhaps she heard a voice on the wind, ever so faintly, a woman’s voice, low and sweet and amused. 

There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.

And suddenly, looking forward, all that filled her vision was water, great wide expanses of water, as big as an ocean, as dark as the bellies of stormclouds in July.

The switch to descent occurred abruptly – her trajectory went from horizontal to practically vertical within a span of seconds.  The moment her hurtle started to aim towards the earth again, before she could panic, Hatsumi found her flight slowing and slowing.  She took the last quarter mile to the ground floating as gently as a dandelion seed on the wind, drifting from over the water back towards the green countryside, and landed on a long white beach in front of that magnificent gray-black sea.

 She had tears in her eyes that she swiftly wiped away.  “From the wind,” she told herself firmly.  Her trunk and cloaks landed beside her with a thump on the sand.

“Hello!”

Startled, Hatsumi looked around.  Not five paces away, sitting on what appeared to be a chest-shaped refrigerator, was a tall, chestnut-haired boy with a grin on his face.

“First year, are you?”  He said knowingly.  Hatsumi felt the prick of tears again and felt quite sure he could see the sheen on them in her eyes.  “Don’t worry, the Flight hits most of us the same way the first time we take it.”

His voice was kind, but had a note of playfulness in it she instinctively wanted to respond to.  As this was the case, she flushed and looked away from him, digging her toes into the sand.  “Where’s the castle?”  She murmured, not sure what else to say.

“The Castle?”  The boy blinked, then smiled in understanding.  “Ah, no, love!  We’re not at Black Gate yet.  Second leg of the journey to go still.”

Hatsumi raised her head to stare at him.  “There are two legs?  Do we – do we fly again to get there?” 

The boy shook his head.  “Too many wards on Black Gate – and it’s Unplottable.   The rune stones will get you as far as they can, but even they get a bit knackered crossing the border between the outside world and Black Gate’s grounds.  Work perfectly well within them, though!”

It was Hatsumi’s turn to blink.  “I beg your pardon?”

The boy stepped forward and dug into the front of his shirt, pulling a pendant out from beneath the fabric.  With a start, she realized he had a stone the same rough size as hers – though the markings on his seemed to spell out something different, and the stone at the top of his appeared to be a garnet.

The boy glanced at his, then at Hatsumi.  He pulled his lower lip between his teeth and began to gnaw on it slightly, looking a little perplexed.  “Never had to give the talk before,” He muttered by way of explanation.  “Er, let’s see – these.  The rune stones.  You can’t lose them.”

Hatsumi brindled slightly.  “I wasn’t planning on doing so.”

“No, I mean, you can’t.”  The boy said earnestly.  “They’re called Touchstones – that’s your personal one.  It’s an Ever Present – you literally can’t lose it.  I thought I had misplaced mine last winter break – worried I wouldn’t get back to school – and then day of my depature, boom!  Turned up right in my jeans pocket.  After I got them out of the wash, I might add.  It’s even more powerful on school grounds – you can leave it by your bedside and it’ll be back in your hand by breakfast.  I recommend putting yours on a necklace, much easier to keep track of that way, Professor Erilingr will fix you up right quick – “

Hatsumi held up a hand.  Her head was spinning slightly.  “Who?”

“Professor Erilingr – Professor of Enchantment.  He makes them all, he and Professor Odinson, over the summer.  One for each incoming student.”  The boy grinned and let his Touchstone fall back inside his shirt.  “Erilingr’s amazing – best Enchanter in a hundred years, he was trained by Sorenson himself they say – “

“Who?”  Hatsumi asked again.  The spinning was even more pronounced now.

“Sorenson – the first Headmaster?”  The boy looked at her, his eyebrows raising slightly.  “Don’t know much about the Academy, do you?”

“Apparently not,” Hatsumi murmured.

“Ryan!”  A voice called out.  Hatsumi looked around.  Two girls – one with tightly braided black hair and flashing dark eyes, the other with red ringlets bouncing around her chin – landed neatly on the beach a few paces away from them.

“Ruby, Blythe,” The boy – Ryan –said with what Hatsumi was sure was a deliberately charming smile.  “Have a nice break?”

The dark-haired one snorted.  “My grandfather made me a set of flashcards of different runes,” She said bitterly.  “Made me drill all summer, when I wasn’t busy weeding his corn fields for gnomes…” 

“Went and did an internship at the American Quodpot Confederation!” The red-haired girl chirped merrily.  “Our team’s pretty awful, don’t even know how I got in – “

 “Because you’re the best damn Keeper this side of the Mississippi,” The black-eyed girl said, lightly punching the other one on her arm.  The red-haired girl grinned and swatted back, giggling, then her bright blue eyes turned to Hatsumi.

“New girl!”  She said excitedly, smiling broadly.  “What’s your name, then?”

“Hatsumi Crane.”

“Blythe Annasdottir!” The red-haired girl dropped a curtsy; Hatsumi wondered if she should have done the same. “I’m a fourth year myself – and this is Ruby, she’s a fourth year too – you and Ryan have met, he’s a year above you – Sorenson house, aren’t you, darling? – of course you’re Sorenson, you like to play flirtatious, but you’re the strong silent type at heart, I know –and I’m Nyland, as is Ruby – she’s a fabulous Transfigurer, that’s what we think brought her into our midst, they’re still not quite sure how I slipped in – “

“Boat’s coming,” Ryan interrupted, pointing at a dot far out on the great gray waters before them.  “Best get our bags ready, you know they don’t wait more than a moment – “

“Right, of course!”  Blythe turned and breezed over to where her trunks had landed, dragging the heavy burden back over the sand with surprising ease.  Hatsumi was quite relieved for the break in the stream from Blythe’s mouth – she had been feeling a little bit winded herself by the girl’s apparent lack of need of oxygen.  She turned her eyes out to the horizon, catching them on the rapidly approaching spot.

The vessel that landed at last on the shores of the lake was – a boat wasn’t the term, Hatsumi decided, staring at the wind-warped mast, the hull beaten smooth by countless waves, the mast that arced above them towards the late afternoon sky.  Oars the size of small trees stuck out on either side of the ship’s main deck, which itself sat firmly in the water like a horse at the gate ready to break free at the sound of the gun.  Above her head, the prow of the ship curved upwards, ending at last in a hollow eyed carved head of a creature that looked like a dragon and a snake had had a monstrous child.  This was a ship, this was, she decided, running her fingers gingerly across the grain.

“All right, then!”  Ryan called down to her, and she remembered herself and raced to where the gangplank had already folded itself down onto the sand for them to climb abroad.  Ryan and Ruby had just secured her trunk to the center mast of the ship, along with all the other luggage.

“How do you always manage to pack enough for three?”  Ruby asked Ryan with a scowl, eyeing his massive trunk with dislike and flexing her muscles.

“Because I refuse to get by on three pairs of pants for the year,” He returned amiably, settling himself near the back of the boat. 

Hatsumi heard the gangplank pull itself up behind her  and turned in time to see the push off from the white shores.  The vessel seemed to spin itself in the water, until the dragon’s head was facing off into the horizon.

“Do we – er – have to row?”  She asked, eyeing the oars with some distaste.

Ruby snorted.  “Nothing doing.  Watch.”

Sure enough, as the ship began to drift aimlessly out into open waters, the oars themselves began to move, as one.  Slowly and powerfully at first, then with more and more gusto as the ship picked up speed, until they fairly shot across the water.

Hatsumi found herself tearing to the front of the boat and half-scrabbling up the prow.  “Watch it!” Ryan called after her with a yelp, but she was already wrapping her arms around what would have been the dragon’s neck of the stem and leaning out.  The spray of the water caught her in the face – it was shockingly cold, even in the late August warmth.  Behind them, the sun was crawling down the horizon to nestle in the west rim of the world – here, facing forward, Hatsumi could see nothing but dark, wild water, and the slowly approaching evening on the horizon.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?”  Hatsumi turned to see Blythe’s brilliant smile.  The redhead leaned to the opposite side of the prow of where Hatsumi stood, gazing ahead, the wind pulling her hair back like a length of flame.  

The journey last only an hour or so, and Hatsumi spent the whole time at the boat’s prow, staring straight ahead as evening took over the sky and began to slowly steal into night.  Behind her, she heard Ruby and Ryan arguing over a game of Gobstones, and at times Blythe’s laughter rang out before the wind could catch it back.  She watched as sea and sky began to merge in to one another where they met at the horizon, and saw the first star glimmer awake in the still glowing sky above.

The ship seemed, she realized, to be taking them towards a small rock still some measures off in the great dark waters.  As the minutes trailed by and that rock began to loom larger and larger while still seeming no closer, Hatsumi felt the prickle of realization shiver down the nape of her neck.

Black Gate.

And all at once it was there, three midnight islands in the blue-black sea, the stars now glimmering brightly overheard.  The second and third islands, some ways off still, glimmered faintly with torchlights in the thick night, but before her on the first island, vast and terrible, soaring high into the heavens, crammed with what seemed like dozens of different towers and spinets  winding everywhere out of vast, great black walls – the castle of Black Gate itself.  Shadows seemed to dance across the dark stones of Black Gate, cast by a thousand twinkling fairy lights that were now slowly rising up into the sky from behind the walls as their boat approached.  The wind blew across the prow, coming from straight before them, and Hatsumi wondered why, ever so faintly, she caught the scent of blood and copper on the breeze.

“Excellent,” Blythe said cheerily, coming up behind Hatsumi as she stared, her mouth dry.  “I’m starving, can’t wait to get to the feast – oh look, over there, there’s Indigo!  Hello, Indigo!”

Hatsumi suddenly realized that they were not alone on the water.  As Black Gate loomed above them, dozens of other ships, of similar size and build, came out of the darkness, bearing towards the great castle and the long dock that she could now see stretched out before it.  Ahead of them, some of the other ships had already in fact reached the dock, and the people within were climbing out and tossing long ropes to the others still on board for them to tie the vessels securely. 

Their craft was pulling up to the marina now swiftly, matching pace with another, somewhat squatter ship, where a person with bright blue hair was waving back merrily at Blythe.  Blythe waved back merrily – and accidentally caught Hatsumi on the shoulder as her arm lifted. 

Had Hatsumi not been perched on the vessel’s prow, the knock would merely have tipped her forward slightly.  As it was, though, the blow caught her offguard and precariously balanced, and so with a shriek, she tipped forward and fell into the waters of the Great Lake.

Dark.  Cold.  A stream of bubbles released themselves from Hatsumi’s mouth as she attempted another shriek and instead merely choked.  She peered frantically around in the gloom, unsure of how far she had fallen in.  Quickly collecting herself, she released a few more precious bubbles, felt them drift up past her left cheek, and began to swiftly swim in that direction –

Out of the darkness, she felt something – something vast – something powerful – reach out and wrap around her waist.

This time she did scream, not caring that her throat immediately burned and lungs began to fill with water.  Something was wrapping around her now, a vast and terribly strong coil, something was dragging her through the water, something was going to pull her down to the depths and smother her, eat her alive, something with teeth that she thought she could perhaps see gleam before her –

And suddenly she was breaking free of the water, sputtering and coughed, hauled dizzyingly high above the surface, into the flickers of warm torchlight.  Below her – she was slowly descending – the dock, not ten feet below her – there were other students there, staring up at her –someone help – but there was no need, she was being gently lowered –

Hatsumi found herself gently deposited onto the dock to the sound of cheers.  She parted her dripping hair back and stared around at everyone balefully as they whooped and applauded.

“Hell of an entrance!”  A short, portly boy near her was saying with awe. 

“Sorry!”  Blythe wailed from near the back of the group.  “I am so sorry, darling –“

“Nonsense, Blythe, she had to meet the school mascot sometime,” A slim girl with vivid violet eyes was saying with a grin.

“Mascot?”  Hatsumi murmured, the shock of the last few moments still settling.  She turned around, and looked – up.  And up.  And up.

A good fifteen feet above her, a pair of intelligent golden eyes was glimmering down at her out of a serpentine, iridescent face.  The whole of the creature’s body was a gleaming blue-black, a single long winding coil that was so thick Hatsumi’s arms could barely have met around it; it stretched back into the water beyond what the torchlights could catch.  Gleaming white teeth shone as the vast serpent above her gave what appeared to be a reptilian grin.

“I see you’ve met Charlie, then,” A low, sweet voice boomed behind her.

Hatsumi turned – and found herself having to crane her neck again.  The woman before her was the tallest she’d ever seen – well over six feet, built on slender but powerful lines.  Her tawny blonde hair pulled back in a long low braid, her gleaming gray eyes crinkled with amusement.  A scar was etched on her full, crimson lips, spread wide by the woman’s grin.  Her hands were at her hips, and clutched in one was what appeared to be a very, very large silver hammer, etched with runes that looked very similar to the ones on her stone.  There was a wild feel to the woman as she stood there on the dock, the students parted around her, her gaze on the enormous beast behind Hatsumi, and eyes filled with what was unmistakably affection.

Professor Mariame Odinson turned her sight down and beamed now at Hatsumi.  “You’ve made a good first impression.  He likes that you didn’t faint.”  She informed Hatusmi.  Her voice was surprisingly gentle for her vast frame, but it still boomed out clearly for all to hear.

Hatsumi was shivering in her wet clothes and the chilly air.  “Well, that’s a relief,” she found herself snipping, and cringed at her own rudeness.  But Mariame Odinson only gave a great chortling laugh.

She felt a powerful whuff of air behind her, and turned to find the sea serpent had lowered its head to her level and was gazing at her with – yes, that was definitely amusement.  It nosed its vast head forward at her – she tried to back up hastily and ran into Professor Odinson’s vast frame.

“What does it want?”  She asked fearfully.

“He,” the word was used with soft but deliberate precision, “wants to make sure you’re all right.  I’d advise you let him check – he gets so nervous about the first years, poor darling, I’d hate to see him fret all night, he’ll be howling at the windows.”

Hatsumi met the sea serpent’s eyes again.  It – he – was looking at her inquisitively.  When he nudged forward again, Hatsumi held her breath, and let him nuzzle his vast head around her midsection.  The sea serpent gave another vast whuff of approval, then let out a noise that sounded like the largest cow that had ever lived mooing.

“You’ve passed,” Professor Odinson said gaily.  “Now then – it’s Hatsumi Crane, is it not?– let’s get you inside and out of those wet things, eh?  You’ve still got to get selected into your House, and then a hot meal – you’ll be right as rain again in no time.” 

Hatsumi tore her gaze away from the sea serpent and looked up into the woman’s face.  Professor Odinson’s smile was bright, and kind, and she looked at Hatsumi with such warmth that Hatsumi felt already the chill of the lake leaving her.

“I’ve been rescued by a sea serpent,” She found herself saying aloud.  It was not a question, but Professor Odinson nodded.

 “A sea serpent.”  She looked at the crowd of students still gaggled behind their Headmistress.  “Sea serpent.”

Charlie whuffled as the students all eyed her, clearly uncertain where she was going with this.

Hatsumi felt a smile to match Professor Odinson’s breaking out over her face.  “This – this is going to be a very interesting few years, isn’t it?”

Professor Odinson laughed.

~*~

dennys:

doxian:

I think dennys has had too much coffee today.

The saga of Greg. Read top-down.

dennys:

doxian:

I think dennys has had too much coffee today.

The saga of Greg. Read top-down.

itsstuckyinmyhead:

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