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I'm Not That Scary! I Promise! (Open to however many feel like joining.)

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The sun was high, the sky was clear, and the usual hustle and bustle of the academy was present, giving off a happy yet busy mood to the scene.  However, in the middle of the courtyard, there was a mostly empty space where no student walked, as if avoiding something.  There stood Thomas, giddily looking around at the buildings before him, holding his pink plaid suitcase.  Of course, that was the only safe looking thing about him, as he was wearing his usual attire today.  His father's old butcher uniform, "The Cleaver" at his side, what looked like debris stuck in his shoulders, and a haunting mask that concealed his face.

After looking around for a solid three minutes, Tom would begin walking around the campus, on the hunt for somebody to show him around.  He could hardly contain his excitement and couldn't wait to meet the people here.  "I bet they're all so nice!  I wonder if they'll want to hang out later?  Maybe they'll ask me to knit them something!"  These thoughts kept running through his head as he walked, but not for long.  He soon began to notice how people were avoiding him.  The nearest person was always about fifteen feet away, and he was getting all sorts of weird looks from the students around him.  Is it because he's older?  Is it the weapon at his side?  Is it the suitcase?

Thomas would start to walk towards one student in particular, who ran away as if she'd seen a ghost.  Another student pretended he didn't exist until Thomas figured he was deaf and yelled at himself in his head for bothering someone that couldn't speak to him.  Finally, one student had the guts to tell Thomas to "go away."  That was when it hit him.  People really were trying to avoid him! Why? Was he not friendly enough?  Maybe he should've brought a plate of cupcakes like his youngest daughter said to...  "Did I ruin everything?  But I just got here..."

Thomas lowered his head, held in his breath, and made his way to a bench further away from most of the students.  Sure, some people were nearby, but it wasn't as busy here.  The pain of being ignored began to build in the gentle giant, and he turned his head up, trying his best to hold his tears in.  Just before he gave in and let his tears flow, his scroll made a noise.  It was a text message from his kids!  Thomas read the message intently, sniffled once, and pulled himself together.  "I've got to do this.  They know I can do this."  Heading back towards the crowded courtyard, Thomas began asking more students for assistance, hoping to find the one that would help him.

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Nephritic syndrome. Glomerular permeability to albumin causing...Nephritic syndrome. Glomerular permeability...Nephritic syndrome. For close to 10 minutes, Zaffre sat on that secluded bench, cycling through that line of his physiology book. For considerably longer, a large group of students -mostly new but at least 2 older- had occupied his favorite reading spot, prattling on about extracurricular activities, pedestrian superstitions, and...social circles; the last one evoking a visible cringe from Zaffre. Twice, he nearly worked up the courage to walk up and ask them to quiet down, but when their eyes turned to him, he immediately shrank down and returned to his spot, sweating profusely.

Utterly defeated by his own ineptitude, Zaffre was about ready to close his book and go home; try again tomorrow, he thought to himself. The noise ended abruptly, starting up again with a more cautious tone before walking off into the nearby training room. Relieved, he glanced around looking for whatever he owed his silence to; and there, just a few benches over was what could've been a titan or some semblance of nightmare fuel from a child's dream. In his mind, he thanked him a thousand times for ridding him of his nuisance before he returned to his book, eager to get some work done today. Nephritic syndrome. Glomerular permeability to albumin causing widespread edema, hypertension, and... The noise came back, now more lively than before. What had happened to his masked savior? Looking again, he had walked off, a determination in his step, silence walking with him.

Refusing to let the opportunity pass him by, Zaffre shut his book and trailed on after him, now examining him closer. Masked. Why masked? Cosmetic disfigurement? Structural weakness?
Weapon? Jaws look immobile. Unlikely. Full coverage, No distinguishable features. Disguise? Assailant? Unlikely, broad daylight. Not dressed for occasion either. That means...
Having lost himself in thought, he didn't even realize he had bumped into the large man and thudded back into the ground.  

"Ow."
Immediately picking himself up, he looked up at him, a blank expression on his face. "Hi, I'm Zaffre. It's quiet here; do you mind if I read next to you?" As Zaffre gestured to his book, he realized that he forgot to place a bookmark and would now have to search for the page again.



Last edited by Ricard Blumentritt on Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:51 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Colors!)

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Tom's movements ceased the moment he felt somebody collide with him, not causing him any trouble, but knocking an unknown person to the ground.  For a few seconds, he would be too surprised to do anything about the fallen person, only able to look them in the face out of confusion.  This look would probably be perceived as a haunting, lifeless gaze, filled with malevolence, although this was hardly the intent.  Behind the mask, Tom's face was one of shock, and he would prove he wasn't there to cause any harm with his actions.  While stranger brought himself to his feet, Tom would attempt to assist while saying "I'm so sorry.  Are you alright?"

A strong wave of guilt fell over Tom after Zaffre spoke, but he felt that he had to answer before making sure everything was okay.  "Yeah, if you want.  Are you sure you're okay?  I'm sorry I bumped into you.  Oh, and I'm Thomas, it's great to meet you."  After introducing himself, Tom began to wonder why, out of all the people he's seen today, this was the only one that didn't run away.  Zaffre even spoke to him.  Normally, Tom wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, because asking questions about things that were already good usually made things awkward, but he felt that it was appropriate to do so just once.  "You're not afraid of me?"

Sure, Thomas was happy that at least somebody wasn't afraid of him, but he had to wonder what it was that made Zaffre different from the other students?  He isn't blind, he isn't under any type of influence, as far as he could tell... What was it?  Regardless of whether or not there was a good reason to why he wasn't scaring this one away, Tom spoke happily.  "I'm glad that at least one person isn't afraid to at least speak to me.  Are you a student here?"  Maybe he wouldn't have to be painfully lonely at this academy after all.

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Tom's fussing came off as strange. It had been Zaffre who'd done the bumping and, to the extent of his knowledge, he'd not been displaying any signs of pain or discomfort beyond the initial 'ow'. Had he started bleeding somewhere? Holding the book by his arm, he patted himself down, then looked over his reflection from his scroll;searching for the classic signs of injury; swelling, redness, pallor, and tenderness before placing two fingers by his radial artery, estimating his pulse rate and blood pressure, deeming them both in normal range. With no findings, he took the book back in his hand, and made a genuinely quizzical face.

"Thomas, right? In so far as my exam has gone, I can say with relative confidence that I am in fact, in working condition, so you shouldn't worry about it. Additionally, I'm the one who bumped into you and should be the one apologizing for it. "

The question confused him. Was Zaffre afraid of him? Had Thomas done something to warrant fear? Thinking back, he recalled that there was a brief moment just before he left when Thomas wasn't in view where any number of deviant acts could've transpired. Theft? Blackmail? Murder? The possibilities race through Zaffre's mind ultimately culminating in one final thought. No precedence. No evidence. Luggage? Recent arrival. Unlikely. Shrugging his shoulders faintly, his face contorted into something resembling a smile before he reopened his book and scanned for the page he'd lost, thinking that would suffice to answer. Tom had apparently started talking at again at some point, but Zaffre'd only managed to catch the end of it.

"Student? Yeah, but only recently. I take it you're the same?" Nearly dragging his eyes away from his book, he fixed them on Tom's luggage again then scanned around to ascertain himself of their location. . "I don’t imagine you intend to spend all your time in this spot of all places. Need help getting anywhere in particular? I could probably take you if you don't mind a slow pace."



Last edited by Ricard Blumentritt on Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:46 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Word count!)

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Relief flowed through Thomas after hearing that Zaffre wasn't hurt, even if it was his fault for bumping into him in the first place, although the way he went about checking all of his vitals was admittedly strange.  Even Tom wouldn't check that closely over a fall.  Was the pulse check really necessary?  "Oh, you don't need to apologize."  He knew it wasn't really his fault, but he couldn't help but feel uncomfortable whenever anybody apologized to him.  Usually, he's the one that causes a small amount of trouble, even if it was always on accident, so being apologized to felt backwards.

Tom's thoughts were pulled back towards Zaffre as he asked a question of him.  "Yep!  This is my first day here.  And since you offered, I do need help finding the dorms.  So far, nobody's offered to help me out with that, but I feel like with you here, people won't freak out at the sight of this handsome mug here."  He jokingly pointed at his mask, emphasizing the trouble it's caused him.  From underneath said mask, Tom smiled widely, an expression that would go unseen, but it made him feel better either way.  He always figured that it was good to laugh about some of your shortcomings, be it a skill you're lacking in, or a mask that scares people away from you.  Joking about it kept him from being depressed about it just this once.

"Oh, and I don't mind a slow pace.  I'm just glad to have somebody to talk to, you know?  Hey, what's your major, if you don't mind me asking?  We might have some classes together, if they're the same."

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Zaffre raised a single brow, tilting his head as he tried to determine the logistics of the equation. Known variables: people ‘freak out’ at his approach, I don’t attract crowds. Proposed hypothesis: Both of us being present at the same time will elicit further social contact. Conclusion: does not compute. Deciding to throw the idea aside, he returned to reality, plotting out the longest believable route to the dorms as Tom began to speak again.

As he was about to speak, he could hear chatter and footsteps building around the periphery, making Zaffre’s eye twitch. Another batch of new arrivals must have just arrived, flooding towards them. Alternate route. Less people. Through the training room? Likely traffic point after a flight. School halls? Narrow, but west wing should be clear this time of day.

“Sorry, but do you mind if get out of here first? I can hear people coming and I don’t perform well in crowds.” With that, he gestures over to the main entrance similar to how he gestured to his book, before slowly walking off in that direction. “Oh, and I’m in Medicine.”, he said, gesturing to his book again in much the same way; only, this time being sure to place a bookmark first. “And you would be…combat, then? Or is there a culinary major I don't know about?”, glancing back at his cleaver.



Last edited by Ricard Blumentritt on Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:02 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : The colors!)

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Normally, Tom would encourage shy people to socialize with others, especially the new students that might not know anybody yet.  This time, however, he held his tongue, as he figured that pushing someone towards something they weren't comfortable with probably wasn't the most polite thing to do to somebody. "Sure thing!  Lead the way."  Thomas followed after Zaffre at his pace, intently listening to whatever he had to say.  At the mention of his major, Tom's face lit up underneath his mask, and a genuine happiness washed over him.

"Actually, I'm not in either of those, despite my appearance, I'm actually a medical major just like you!"  Tom caught Zaffre's glance at his cleaver and figured that it made him seem like he was going for a different major.  Although the thought of sharing some classes with this guy was a pretty exciting topic, Tom couldn't help but think about how Zaffre seemed to dislike crowds quite a bit.  He didn't seem like the self conscious type, and he didn't seem afraid either.  "Hey, do you mind if I ask you something?  Why is it that you don't like crowds?  Not a very social guy?"  Tom hesitated just barely when asking this, as he didn't want to make a potential friend uncomfortable by prying into his life or anything.  If Zaffre didn't take kindly to the question, he might have to try and find somebody else to talk to, and so far, it didn't seem like that was a possibility.  Going on the search for someone who wasn't afraid of him again was going to be much harder if he ended up alone again.

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Zaffre just barely resisted doing a double-take when he learned they were in the same Major. The thought piqued his curiosity, flooding him with an endless series of internal questions. How long has he been studying, has he done any field work, how does he perform surgery with those large hands? He briefly considered asking these before realizing that he'd find out for himself before long anyway if they were going to the same class, instead opting to nod back at Tom with something approaching an optimistic smile, keeping pace to the door even, the crowd now visible where last they stood.

He had just gotten inside the school when Tom asked about his distaste for crowds. Zaffre slowed his pace, then stopped, looking back at Tom, eyes calmly reassessing. Memories of the basement, the airship, and the grimm enveloped him, clutching his throat and twisting his limbs. His heart slammed against his chest, eager to break free of its murky bone prison. A second. A breath. Zaffre locked his eyes onto the bridge between the eyeholes of Tom’s mask, being literally incapable of meeting his eyes.

“When I was a kid, I was…jumped by a malicious masked man who always hid in crowds and dark corners.” Perhaps it was the lighting, but in just that instant, his face seemed to morph into something approaching a caricature of itself.

Not waiting for a response, Zaffre kept moving, burying himself in his book in an attempt to cast away the memories again. Hypovolemic shock. A potential sequelae to nephritic syndrome, the fluid elements of the blood are removed from circulation either by hemorrhage or edema, causing sluggish blood flow, compensatory tachycardia, and potentially heart failure...not working. Too similar.. Resigning his readings for a later date, Zaffre peers back, to query Tom.

"So, you know anyone else here? A professor or medical staff member? Medicine isn't really something a lot of people get into on the fly, after all."

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After receiving an answer much darker than he imagined it would be, Tom's happy attitude shifted towards a more serious one as he began to regret asking Zaffre a question that seemed to disturb him. Tom began to feel a bit bad for him, seeing how he was attacked by a masked man, and Tom was wearing a mask himself. "I'm sorry that happened to you. I'd try and make you more comfortable by taking off the mask, but it's not really a choice for me." Thomas spoke calmly, like he would to his daughters if they were upset about something, and followed Zaffre as he talked.

Although Tom was starting to feel bad, he got the feeling that it wasn't as big of a deal as he felt it was, since Zaffre began asking him a question again. Happy that he wasn't too distraught over recalling what he imagined to be a traumatic memory, Tom didn't pass up the change of subject. "Nope! So far, you're the only one that's voluntarily spoken to me here. Back home, I just read a lot. That, and I've had to deal with a few emergencies myself. Before I came here, I used to live in the middle of nowhere. Honestly, I'm pursuing a medical career for my kids. I don't want them to pass before me, now do I? So far, my studies only go as far as books and online lessons."

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