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Take Me to the Savannah

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Leaves crunched beneath my feet as I walked down the cobblestone sidewalk with Grim curled up around my shoulders. A simple cottage with dark brown siding was nestled in the middle of a grassy meadow surrounded by trees with yellow and orange leaves laid just up ahead. A purple sign, with “Mr. S’s Mystery Shop” printed in large, golden letters, was pinned beside the door. Purple lacities accented the windows. White candles in dark holders lined the premise. Several oddities like miniature tiki statues in hula skirts and old knight shields dotted the grounds.

God, this place is like if the Mystery Shack from Gravity Falls got a Princess and the Frog overlay along with a well needed upgrade. Or that Trader Sam’s restaurant in Disney World. Well… from what little I remember of any of those things outside of Gravity Falls, anyways. The overcast sky even adds even more to the effect.

Still the place is kinda out of the way. The student store back at UBC was smack dab in the middle of the campus just beside the Biological Sciences Building. Here it’s tucked away on the opposite side of the trees like one of those hidden speciality shops in a video game.

This place really contrasts a lot of Canadian universities like that when I think about it...Well… from what I heard for the ones outside of UBC, anyway. Student shops are usually smack dab in the campus to allow easy access.

Then again, the same could be said about this university in general, including the fact it’s an all-boys one.

“So this is it?” Grim asked, leaning forward from his Lazy Perch on my shoulders.

One side of my mouth curved up. “By the look of the name of the sign matching the name of the Student Store on the map in the main building and all of the random assorted items, I wonder if it’s enough of a sign.” I tapped my chin with my free hand. “Maybe the cafeteria has a secret entrance to one.”

Grim growled. “Quit being a smartass!”

My shoulders slumped when I sighed, and the cat monster never loosened his grip. “Fine.”

“You’re gonna get a ton of tuna cans with that new paycheck of yours, right?”

“Really?” I questioned, rubbing a tiny corner of a piece of paper between my pointer finger and thumb.

Grim leaned forward on my shoulders and deadpanned. “Well, you promised me you’d get me some a few times. And you spent a lot of the last paycheck on that stupid mobile.”

That I did. Grim’s grip tightened as I groaned, pinching the bridge of my nose. “Fine. I’ll get you a few cans of tuna. That’s it.”

“Why?”

“Because I need to buy other shit besides that? Like something to sleep on?”

“Why is that important?”

Right. Grim has amnesia. He just knows hardly anything about himself other than basic tidbits of info, like what type of faes he is, and instinctual things like how to talk. While he seemed to possibly have a previous owner given the lavender gem around his neck, if he did―that was obliterated from his memory. He could be used to sleeping on a traditional Japanese futon on the floor, depending on who his owner was before coming to Rose Kingdom. And he’s half Kasha as well. And a cat monster either way, if I take his cat-sìth heritage into account. Who knows what his backstory or knowledge base is when it comes to this.

“Well…” I said, trying to think of the best way to explain this, “while some mortals do sleep on the floor in other parts of the world like the Isles of the Far East and I don’t mind doing that, I still want some sort of foam pad and new blankets when I do. Even then, I prefer sleeping on a bed with a mattress… but that’s not happening for a long time with the amount of money I made.”

“Fine,” Grim groaned, his tail almost slapping me in the side. “Just make sure to get the tuna.”

“I will, ‘kay?” I scratched behind his ears, and Grim purred.

Might as well get this over with.

Spinning the rolled up paper some more, I walked down the walkway until I came up to the building. The wood stairs creaked as I walked up them. The front door pushed open followed by a small bell dinging.

Plum coloured walls surrounded us when we entered the store. Crystals, grimoires for famous dead witches, a taxidermy pixie in a glass ball and plenty more magical items littered the place. Colourful bottles of various shapes and sizes filled with various different potions lined one of the bookshelves. A large piano sat in one corner. A huge grandfather clock was stuffed into another.

Wow. This place is so cool. It’s like one of those item shops in a fantasy video game. Or even the Mystery Shack without the museum part. Unlike those places, this one is very real.

Still I should be careful in here. Who knows what types of cursed items are in this shop. Unlike my world, they could do actual damage instead of claiming that it could. As long as me and Grim stay in line, we should be cool. Hopefully…

“Hello there,” a man greeted me in a fantasy New Orleans accent. Grim jolted, nearly whacking me in the boob with his tail. His claws dug into my shoulders.

I turned my head in that direction. A handsome man around my sister’s age, who was dressed in his best Dr. Facilier cosplay, stood behind the counter. White paint in the shape of bones dotted his face and neck, standing out against his dark-brown complexion. A purple top hat adorned with a purple ribbon and a red skull sat on top of his head, black locs swept to the right side. A dark purple blazer covered up a hot pink shirt with that same skull and bone pattern.

I whirled around to face him. “Hi.”

“Ah,” the man mused. “A fellow Westernlander, by the sounds of it?”

“Yeah,” I said.

After spending the past few weeks only surrounded by people with various fantasy European, Middle Eastern and various African accents, with Grim and UTube videos I’ve watched made by Westernlanders being the only exceptions, even hearing just one from another part of fantasy North America from a human right in front of me is music to my ears. Brings me a little closer to home in some sense.

The man stood up, doing a little bow. “Welcome to the shop. What can I get for you two little imps today? A charm for traversing uncharted lands? Or maybe the mummy of an ancient king? What about some cursed tarot cards? You name it, we got it!”

Continuing to rub the paper between my pointer finger and thumb, I walked up to the counter. “Actually, do you have any cheap pair of wireless headphones?”

A grin started to curl onto the man’s lips. “In stock now!”

Okay…?

“What about a small foldable keyboard?”

“In stock now!”

Huh? What?

Grim kicked off of my shoulder and hovered near my eye level. He grinned. “What about three cans of tuna?”

“In stock now!”

Okay, time out. “How are you able to do that? How can thi―?”

“Trade secret, little miss.” The man winked. “What I can tell you is that some little helpers here are able to obtain a wide array of items. Anything you can possibly think of, really.”

Little helpers? Like the “Friends on the Other Side” from Princess and the Frog? Does this guy have the supplies to turn people into frogs!?

… Okay, most likely not. This guy may resemble Dr. Facilier appearance wise, but that doesn’t mean that he is him. He’s a completely different person. He might not have those just because the other guy does. My stepdad looks like a live action version of Roy Mustang and shares a fair amount of traits with him personality wise, but he doesn’t have fire powers or goes around saying that he wants to be the Chief Legal Officer with an army of women in tiny mini skirts serving him. Even if this guy does have an army of shadow creatures, they probably work differently than the ones in the movie due to them stemming from his Unique Magic in that case. Hell, the supplies to do that seem commonplace in this universe, given all of Crewel’s “you could turn into a snake” remarks during the last few lectures. Being able to do that wouldn’t make him a special snowflake.

But still… Anything that I can possibly think of? Does that mean he can create something to allow me to go home or talk with my family? It’s definitely worth a shot. I already tried out plenty of things. Searching online to see if there is a Rick Sanchez in this dimension who might have a device that could take me home (despite hating that show) to figure out that… Yes, that character is indeed fictional in any dimension. Putting a banana with the peel still on into a microwave. (Despite that it was used to test out time travel and not dimension hopping in that anime. I probably missed a lot of key details with that one due to the last time I watched that was when I was twelve. Still earned a lot of weird stares in the cafeteria, though). Even simply asking the Dark Mirror if they had the ability to take me home again never worked either. Might as well be blunt about this.

“Say… um…” I stammered. “Do you have something to create portals or scissors that can cut holes into other dimensions?”

The man gawked at me. “What?”

“Or even talk with others in other dimensions? Or see into them? I’m not that picky.”

The man chuckled. “Little miss, this shop can only create things within reason, and I can’t create portals to other dimensions, even if I wanted to. I’m a mortal, not a fae from many centuries ago or a god.”

My cheeks heated up, flicking the paper into my nail bed and rubbing my jean pocket. “Just kidding,” I said, giving him a strained smile and turning my face away. “Only trying to mess with you.”

Just kill me now. Really slowly and painfully. Anything’s better than… this.

The man stifle his laughter, and shot me a playful smirk back at me. “Good one.”

“Yeah,” I said, cheeks still on fire. I turned my gaze in his general direction. Flicking the piece of paper from my nail bed, I went back to fiddling with it again. “Anyways, do you have a phone screen protector?"

“Come on up!”

The shop worker did the same song and dance a bunch of more times. I decided to buy a bunch more items. Few bottles of Pink Elephant Cure Potion, a Heartslabyul hoodie (mainly due to it being the cutest out of all of them), a baggy t-shirt to sleep in, a couple extra pairs of panties, the works. I decided to hold off on some things. Mainly to buy some other things in town this weekend and to save my money. Don’t want a repeat of last time.

“Is that everything?” he asked, placing a tiny box containing a sleeping pad in it that resembled the ones for the pillow and blanket I bought into one of the cloth bags.

“Think so,” I said.

“If you order right now, you can get a few floating platters to carry your purchases for thirty percent off!”

“What’s that!?” Grim exclaimed, climbing onto my shoulder and leaning over excitedly. “It sounds so cool!”

Yeah, no. I may be shit with money, but even I know that would be a rather pointless purchase. What other use would that even have? Use them for ultimate frisbee? Putting Grim on it and having him hover around on that instead of my shoulders with the others underneath it? Do a round of frisbee with Grim on it? Carrying Grim around on my shoulders is a pain, but it’s no different than what I did back home with Morgana, and it’s good exercise. I doubt that “Cat Frisbee” would go over well.

“Sorry,” I cut in before Grim had the chance to say anything. “I’m afraid we have to decline.”

The guy chuckled. “Quite alright. That’ll be twenty-five hundred madol.”

Think that’s just around three hundred dollars in Canadian money, if I’m doing my math right. Huh. Not quite as bad as I thought it would be price wise, considering I bought a fair bit. I still have around half of my paycheck left to boot.

Reaching inside of my old makeshift handbag, I fished around for some madol bills. I counted the money. The bills slapped down on the countertop once I was done. He counted them. The cash register dinged before the bottom drawer opened up and he stuffed them inside.

“Be sure to come by again another time. Take care now, little lady.”

Grabbing all of the bag handles, I gave him a polite smile. “Thanks, you too.”

My eyes landed on the grandfather clock again. The hands on the clock read “12:40.” Shit! It’s just twenty minutes until the lab. I rushed out the door without a second thought. Grim hopped off of my shoulders, flying straight on ahead with a trail of blue flames behind him.

―0―

The door to the lecture hall snapped shut behind me when I barrelled through it. Work boots slammed against the ground when I stood beside Grim, who hovered near eye level, before he curled up around my shoulders again. Rigid breaths left me. Yes, I made it in time.

Still don’t know why Professor Crewel wanted us to meet him in the lecture hall instead of just telling us what room number the lab is. Seems like just heading to the lab first would be easier.

My eyes scanned the descending seats to find a place to sit. Ace waved at us, who sat behind a long table a couple ones down in a row near the middle. I rushed down the stairs with my bags in tow. Grim’s grip tightened. I sat down on the open seat next to him. My multitude of cloth bags dropped, sprawling out around my legs. Grim pounced into my lap.

“Went on a little shopping spree before you came here?” Ace mused, eyeing my bulging bags on the ground next to my seat.

“Yeah,” I said. The red pebble, my new and improved stim… because I wanted to make extra sure to get a pebble that wasn’t cursed… knowing this dimension and my luck, rubbed between my fingers. “Got my latest paycheck, so I figured that I should buy a few essentials at that store on campus.”

“I finally got my tuna that she owed me.” Grim titled his head up, and he scowled. “Even though, I still don’t get why she bought some new ointment for her face.”

“Hey!” I snapped back. “I need that cheapass skin care set. Looking good and taking care of my skin is important, too.”

Ace chortled. “Gods, you really are a long lost female Pomefiore student.”

“Not really,” I said. I went back to fiddling with the pebble. “I may take care of my appearance, but have you seen those guys? I look like the shit emoji next to them.”

“Well, you got the rest down pat.”

“I guess,” I said. “Though, you could work on that aspect a lot more.”

Ace bristled. “Are you calling me ugly?”

Shit! Might’ve came off as monotone that time. “No. I’m just messing with you,” I said, giving them a small smile. He seemed to relax. “But seriously, even something like putting on sunscreen could be beneficial in the long run. Just to prevent skin damage.”

“Sure,” Ace said, rolling his eyes, “whatever you say mum.”

I rolled my eyes at his remark in return. Though, I have to ask. “Why are you so opposed to that? Don’t you wear eyeliner and eyeshadow sometimes?”

“Yes,” Ace simpered. “I don’t need to take care of that shit, because I have skin blessed by the gods themselves. I can leave it unchecked for months and still look absolutely flawless.” He did a hair flip. “Because I’m the most worth it.”

I chortled. Almost quoted L’Oréal and doesn’t even know it.

His brows bumped together. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing, I’ll tell you later.”

Ace relented, probably knowing it’s yet another “Something resembling a thing from my own dimension” situation. A strangely common occurrence now that I told him along with Grim and Deuce about that bombshell while purposefully neglecting the other―that a lot of things here remind me of Disney.

“So what are your two doing for the Bank Holiday Weekend?” Ace said. His face dropped. “I mean, because…”

“Oh,” I said calmly. The pebble turned in my hand. “Grim and I are spending it at another friend’s place for the weekend.”

Ace blinked, picking himself back up again. “Another friend?”

“Yeah,” I said, “a girl our age from Port Lillian.”

His face scrunched up. “When did that happen? You’ve only been here for just over a fortnight.”

“Met her when we were at that Scarabia party the night before your duel.” Okay, that’s a lie. I actually met her the day before when I jumped into a situation that Malika could’ve handled by herself and Deuce bailed both of us out, beating up his former gang mates with his Unique Magic. But there’s no way in hell I’m telling him about that. One where I jumped into a situation where I wasn’t needed like a dumbass, no less! “We even spent most of the night with her, right Grim?”

“Yup!” Grim nodded eagerly. “Malika gives the best scratches, even better than her.”

“Hey!” I snapped.

“What?” Grim said nonchalantly. “She does.”

“Why didn’t I see her there?” Ace questioned.

“You went off to talk with Abhit most of the night. Remember?”

“Right,” Ace remarked. A expression I couldn't quite place tugged on his features as he stared off to the side. What got into him? Maybe I should change the subject. 

The pebble turned over in my hand again. “What about you? What are you doing for the Long―I mean, Bank Holiday Weekend?” God, saying that is gonna take a lot of getting used to. Hell, having a Labour Day-like holiday almost smack dab in the middle of the month on the twentieth is strange, since usually these happen during the first weekend of the month.

“I’m going back home to visit my family and some mates back in Lesdium.”

After the insanity that happened over the past couple weeks, good for him. God knows I wish I could do the same. But still…

“Sounds like fun,” I said. “What about Abhit?” I smirked, nudging him in the shoulder playfully. “Are you inviting him over, too?”

An expression I couldn’t quite place tugged along his features. “Abhit and I broke up this morning.”

Shit! I really shouldn’t have said that. The pebble slammed down against the wooden surface, and I rubbed my jean pocket. “Sorry, I didn’t―”

Ace put up his open palm, cutting me off. “Relax, really. It's nothing super dramatic. Abhit just seemed too chatty for my tastes, and he kept on blasting my phone with messages during the middle of the night. He just thought I was too thoughtless and harsh. So we just broke up.”

Red eyes flicked back in my general direction.

“I’m not too heartbroken about it. We just weren’t right for one another, you know?” Ace shrugged. “It’s a lot better to do it now than have those issues boil over down the line.”

That’s one good way of looking at it. Hell, I think Ace told me about Abhit texting him at four in the morning a couple days ago. I know I would’ve broken up with someone pronto over just that if that were me.

Even then, I wish I heeded his advice with some of my exes. Especially my last ex boyfriend.

Silence broke out between the three of us. Awkward silence strikes again. Fantastic.

“Here,” I said, fishing out a flask filled with purple liquid from one of the bags and handing it to him. “Because I owe you.”

“Thanks,” Ace said. A hint of mirth sparked in his red eyes. “Gonna need all of the Pink Elephant potions I can get for Freshers Week.”

“Honestly, same.”

Normally I’m not a super hard drinker and only got super drunk a handful of times. Better safe than sorry when it comes to this.

Deuce walked down the steps, backpack slung over one shoulder. Blue eyes scanned the crowd until they landed on me. He rushed down the last couple steps, turning on a dime and heading into our row.

“Hey Deuce,” I greeted, picking up the pebble and playing around with it again.

Ace didn’t look nearly as enthused as he pulled up the free seat beside me and sat down. Despite how it seems, deep down I know they are friends. Why else would they still hang around each other in their free time? But they pretend to not to because the two of them seem to have this tsundere-like “I want to seem cool by pretending to be better than him and hate his guts!” sorta attitude about each other. Seems kinda like a super childish mindset for two university students. But, then again, as someone who doesn’t have any male siblings, grew up without a father figure for over half my life and never had any close male friends in over a few years now, getting a strong grasp on why cisgender guy friends do what they do almost impossible.

“Hey,” Deuce replied. Blue eyes scanned around my feet before they widened. “Wow. You sure bought a fair amount of things.”

“Latest paycheck,” I said. “Just decided to get a few essentials.”

“Yeah,” Ace simpered. “Like a skin care set.”

Placing the pebble down on the table, I reached into one of the cloth bags and fished around for one item. “Just a cheap one to tide me over for a while.”

“Lost Pomefiore student,” Ace said, flourishing his hands.

Nope. So not worth it.

“Here,” I said, grabbing onto a business card sized paper and passing it to Deuce.

He blinked owlishly. “What’s this?”

“A thousand madol gift card to some coffee place in town,” I said. “I just got it because to pay you back all you did to me, especially that night the four of us ate out. Consider my debit owed.”

“Pay him back?” Ace parroted, brows scrunched up.

My lips pressed into a thin line. Still nope. Not telling him about that night.

An expression I couldn’t quite place tugged on Deuce’s features. “You really don’t have to do that. Really.”

“Well, if you don’t want it...” Ace said, reaching over and swiping it from his grasp.

“Actually,” Deuce said, reaching behind him and yanking it out of his grasp. He tossed it into his backpack.

“Fuck you!”

Deuce flashed him a smug smile. “Well, it’s mine originally, cunt.”

I giggled a little. And Deuce’s “Bad Boy Mood” strikes again.

“Good afternoon class!” Professor Crewel said, strolling through the door at the bottom of the lecture hall. Some of the other people around me settled down into their seats. “Today we’ll be studying the Tears of the Moon Flower and how to use its effects to create a healing potion. Grab your laptops or any other things you may need and head on into the lab! Look over your PDF on the way there. The eyes will look after your things while you’re gone.”

The…Eyes?

Curved compartments, like the ones on those old rolltop desks, with round glass balls inside slowly rose out of tables facing each one of us students. The image of a large blue eye reflected on the glass surface. It stared directly at me. Like it was staring right at my soul.

I yelped. Catching onto the desk and steadying my feet kept me from falling over in my chair. Grim’s claws dug into my thighs.

Okay…that answers that. What the fuck? What the actual fuck!? That seems like something ripped straight out of a horror movie. Why have something like that here? What the fuck?

Ace laughed his ass off at my expense while Grim simply stared up at me in confusion and Deuce tittered. My phone buzzed in my Dollarstore Tier Handbag. I fished around inside of it, pulling out my phone and unlocking it. A message displayed on the screen.

Ace: Seriously you never seen an Invigilator Eye before? 💀

Me: 😒 No. Usually invigilators watch over exams from a desk at the front of the room in my own dimension.

Ace: Oh

My eyes flicked to the side. Ace pursed his lips with an unreadable expression on his face. My fingers clacked against the glass surface, hestitaly typing out another message.

Me: Still what’s the deal with those? We aren’t taking an exam already? Right?

Ace: Relax. Those things are just crystal balls, which are installed into school desks or tables, even during primary and secondary school, that pop out at certain times with a spell. They show a magnified version of the invigilator’s eye while they sit in another room. Like a magical live stream camera for just their eye. They’re not always used for exams. Just whenever a professor wants someone else to watch over people or things. x

Me: Makes sense. 💙

Some people continued to gather what they needed. Others chatted as they got out of their seats, heading up the stairs.

I stood up, and Grim pounced onto my shoulders, curling up around them. Sliding my phone and a hair tie into my pocket, my eyes glided over to my overstuffed bags on the ground. Really hope those guys are right about this, especially with all of my money in there.

Picking up the pebble from the table, I followed Ace and Deuce up the stairs. The door shut behind us. Boots clapped against the tiled floor as I walked beside them.

“Great,” Ace said, sarcasm dripping from his tone as he stared down at his phone screen, “assigned partners.”

My thoughts exactly. My sister told me about this from her university days. The partner you get can sometimes determine whether you pass or fail. Just fantastic. But that begs the question. “Who are your lab partners?”

Deuce walked beside us, staring down at his phone screen and scrolling until he came across his name. “Mine’s Ace.”

Ace groaned. “That makes it even more fucking wonderful.”

“Aw, but I thought you love him,” I cooed, batting my eyelashes for good measure.

“Sod off,” Ace said, playfully nudging me in the shoulder.

“Who’s ours?” Grim asked, leaning over my shoulders.

The pebble moved into my other hand. I plucked my phone from my jeans pocket, and unlocked it, pulling up the document that Professor Crewel sent and scrolling down until I came across my name and Grim’s on the list. “Some guy named Jack Howl,” I said, reading the other name out loud.

“Never heard of him,” Grim said.

“Me neither.” Kinda figured that would be the case. There’s thousands of people attending school here, so it’s impossible to know everyone. I never met the other head prefects outside of Kalim and Riddle, despite Crowbar tossing that responsibility on me.

“So what room is this place?” I asked, continuing to play around with the pebble between my fingertips.

“Room forty-nine,” Ace read, staring down at his phone screen.

As if on cue, we came right up to an unassuming set of double doors with a sign saying that exact number beside it.

“And x marks the spot,” I smiled, stopping in place.

“That was a super short journey,” Grim said, seeming as baffled about that as me.

“Tell me about it,” Deuce said. “Why wouldn’t he just tell us to go to the lab first?”

“Maybe he wanted us to get extra exercise in?” I teased with a half shrug.

“Gods know Ace needs it,” Deuce simpered.

“Hey!” Ace bristled. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

The simper remained. “Nothing.”

“I will!” Grim said. “Because you’re out of shape!”

Ace growled, eyebrow twitching. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s contemplating if turning them into tampons is worth the extra blot in his Soul Crystal.

“Whatever,” I said, trying to cut their spat short before we made a scene. “Let’s just get into the lab.”

The door pushed open, and I entered inside. Glass vials and beakers filled with various wild fantasy ingredients lined the shelves. Huge cauldrons rested on many long tables. Candles in black holders stood beside each of them.

My grip tightened, and my hands jolted for a moment. Holy shit! This is so fucking cool! This place is just like a witch’s laboratory… or whatever those things are called. Except instead of being in a video game or movie, this is very real.

Deuce stared at me in confusion, and Ace deadpanned. Ace spoke first. “Are you seriously fangirling over an alchemy lab?”

My fingers tapped against the phone screen as I typed out another message.

Me: I’m from a dimension where magic doesn’t exist and is only in fantasy fiction. Remember?

I jerked my head up. Ace pried his eyes from his phone screen and nodded, understanding where I was coming from more. Deuce stared down at his phone screen before doing the same. Though, I can’t exactly blame them. To them seeing that would be like if someone fangirled over entering a random classroom at UBC. Completely bizarre.

“Come on, Wannabe Shonen Protag!” Ace said. “Let's get this over with.”

Deuce merely groaned at that nickname, following Ace to another part of the room to get the rest of their stuff.

“What do we do now?” Grim asked.

“Probably get decked out in all of the lab safety equipment,” I said.

Grim continued to stare at me. Of course he still doesn’t get it.

My brows bumped together. “Before we get injured?”

“Not sure why that’s necessary for you mortals. Well most of them, anyways. You know? You’re a non-mage and all.”

I bristled. Don’t let him get to you. He’s just trying to get your goat or misunderstanding something due to his amnesia.

I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Look, just do as you’re told.”

“Fine,” Grim relented.

“Good,” I said, scratching behind his ear.

Others crowded around some drawers, pulling out lab coats and colour-coded goggles fitted to each dorm. Considering we aren’t a part of one of the official seven dorms of this place, I highly doubt there’s any lab coats for us at the ready.

I walked towards where the others stood. Grim kicked off of my shoulder, following after me. Once I got there, I pulled one of the drawers on the cabinet open, and a bunch of white Heartslabyul lab coats lay inside of it. Well, best we got at this point.

I snagged a lab coat and bunch of other protective equipment, walking near one of the counters at the side. I pulled out one of the lab coats, putting it on. The pebble and my phone slipped into the pocket. Not sure how wise it is to have my phone on me now. Considering I don’t have a laptop and I gave all of those textbooks to Professor Crewel on Monday, I’m really gonna need it in order to access my notes.

“Hey,” a gruff, fantasy German accent said from behind me.

A buff guy, who looked like he could snap me in half with his pinkie finger, stood behind me with his arms crossed. White wolf ears poked out of his white locks, which stood out against his tan skin. He was decked out in lab equipment. A magipen with a bright red Soul Crystal on it stuck out of the lab coat pocket and a Savannahclaw emblem on one sleeve.

“You’re Adriana, I take it?” the buff guy asked, staring down at the two of us.

“Yeah,” I said. I ripped the old ribbon out of my hair, dark brown locks pooling around my shoulders for a moment. I quickly redid my ponytail using a new, more proper hair tie. “Can’t really miss the only female identifying student and her familiar at a place like this.”

“I suppose.”

“And I’m Grim,” boasted the cat monster, bearing his teeth in a wide grin and floating around my eye level.

“Sure,” he said.

“And you’re Jack?” I asked, slipping the ribbon into my pocket.

“Correct.”

I nodded. Jack’s certainly a man of few words. And extremely hard to read. Well… harder than normal.

But, whatever. As long as he can carry his weight, I guess it doesn’t matter too much. I need all the help I can get with this, especially since I only know up till grade eleven math in a university level fantasy chemistry class and turning into a snake is a real possibility!

“So what do we have to do first?” I asked.

Jack’s brows pinched. “Didn’t you read the PDF yet?”

“Only read the one about who our lab partners were so far.”

He groaned. “Get some beakers containing mermaid scales and that flower at the back, and I’ll get the rest.”

Mermaid scales? Considering mermaids here are just humans that evolved in a different direction, the less questions I ask about that, the better. “Right on it.”

Just as I turned, a guy, with a Savannahclaw emblem on his lab coat and normal human ears poking out of his blond locks, jerked his hand back robotically into one of the jars on the shelves. A few vials crashed to the ground. The shelf nearly toppled over like in a comedy skit. He yelled, “Scheiße!”

The guy gritted his teeth in pain and clutched the wrist of his bleeding hand. Shards of broken glass poked out of it. Purple liquid dripped off of his hand, and I could tell from even here that parts of it even had first degree burns.

I winced. Ouch. That really looks like it really hurts.

Others gawked while Professor Crewel rushed beside the injured guy. The other guy stuck out that hand as the professor examined it from a far before he looked up at the injured guy again. “Go to the hospital on campus.”

The guy nodded, running out the double doors clad in all of his lab equipment. Chatter quickly filled the air.

“Wow,” Grim said. “That guy sure is super clumsy. I never thought that someone that clumsy could exist!”

Grim burst out laughing. A shiver went down my spine. Times like these Grim reminds me a lot what little I’ve seen of King from The Owl House and in return Bill Cipher. The fact that his voice and laugh sounds like the former doesn’t help matters! Or the fact he can wield blue flames like Bill Cipher. Or the universe I’ve been isekai’d too.

“Quit being an ass,” I scolded, folding my arms.

“Yeah,” Jack added. “That guy probably couldn’t help it.”

Grim ran over what we said before he grimaced. “Right,” Grim said. “My bad.”

“Good,” I said, scratching under his chin. But, at the end of the day, he’s just a mischievous little shit, who doesn’t know some social cues―just like King. Not like that sociopathic Doritos in the slightest.

But still…Something about this whole thing feels super off. Why would someone do that? There’s being clumsy and then there’s… that. Why did his movements seem controlled somehow?