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The Dirty Part of Physics [ClockworkCadence ║ Ryees]
05-18-2018, 04:41 AM (This post was last modified: 05-18-2018 07:00 AM by Ryees.)
Post: #1
The Dirty Part of Physics [ClockworkCadence ║ Ryees]
Taptap, taptaptap, tap, taptaptaptaptap.

The Ministry building contained many rooms. Offices, libraries, archives, bathrooms—if one could think of a kind of room, it was likely to be found within. Of all these rooms, one kind numbered fewer than most of the others on the list, its count barely reaching double digits, disappointingly unable to be described as "a dozen or so." Classrooms were of little need to the majority of those within the Ministry, but a small number of lecture halls were still present within. One such hall was, this day, taken by a thin trickle of witches and wizards filtering into the room. The door would open and close on its own accord, opening to those who had a particular parchment presented and laughing animatedly at those who did not. Even through the cackling, frosted glass door to the classroom, the sound of chalk rapping on the blackboard was audible. Otherwise plain save for the occasional fit of laughter, the door was the only one in the hall that had a permanent placard riveted just under the window.

M. SHERLIN: ADVANCED DEFENSE

The door had complained profusely when that placard was installed, but the occupant in question had insisted. The two did not have a good relationship.

Upon entering the room, a small number of things would beset one's senses. The lecture hall-style room extended to the left, six raised steps containing dozens of desks, separated into thirds by two stairways. Each of those desks alternated facing towards the blackboard on the right wall of the room and facing backwards, in such a way that sitting in the chair would put one dangerously close to tumbling backwards into the row below. On the far end of the room, mirrored to where the door was, a grandfather clock stood dutifully ticking away right on time.

Three strides from the blackboard and aligned to the exact atomic center of the room sat a hardwood desk that seemed too wide for one person, ten feet in length and with two chairs in front of it; one a standard classroom chair, black plastic with black-anodized metal legs, and one a leather-seated office chair on rolling wheels. The desk itself was neatly organized, prominently bearing four stacks of paper in the center of the writing surface, each very obviously exactly ten sheets high. The right-most stack was topped with six blank pieces of white paper—there were only to be thirty-four students to this class, but there was clearly no reason for that stack to be left lower than the others. Around those papers sat a myriad of things: Two clocks, one digital and one analog, set eleven minutes and nineteen seconds apart, and neither showing the correct time; a Remembrall on a folding wooden stand, a myriad of volatile curse words scribbled over its glassy surface in long since dried out dry-erase marker; three plastic racks for folders and such, bearing manila folders that were completely empty; and a bronze armadillo with a constantly irritated expression that sullenly glowered at each student as they passed by the desk.

Chalk rapped against chalkboard in brisk strokes, a visible urgency in the neatly-manicured hand that held the chalk. Tall and thin, he was well-dressed in a proper business suit, complete with an eerily burgundy tie that cinched his collar up tight. His hair was curly and short enough that it was likely able to be tamed by a quick finger-combing every morning—and it certainly looked as though a proper comb had not touched it in days, though it did not shine of grease. A Probity Probe mounted on each side of the chalk board glowed suspiciously as he walked back and forth to write, clearly reacting to something on his person even though he wore no visible jewelry or trinkets. It was nearly the entire length of the board that he walked, as if he was intent on filling the whole thing with dusty scribbles of only-mostly-neat handwriting.

The professor did not pay any attention to the students as they came in, especially the ones that tried to introduce themselves. He somehow seemed to play even less attention to them, as if their introductions made him somehow more focused on his writing. To those students, the armadillo glowered extra sullenly.

Finally, his writing subsided. He turned to his class, putting palms together and somehow affixing the entire classroom at once with a gray-green stare that felt invasive and derisive in equal amounts. Many moments passed in silence. Someone coughed.

A gentle sequence of steps too quiet for his polished leather black brought him to the plastic chair at his desk, which he noisily scraped over to align with the stacks of papers. Fishing in a drawer, he pulled out a notebook that clearly had nothing to do with class material and produced a quill and ink from the same drawer. He set the lot of it on the desk and looked up again, casting his gaze around the room.

"I am Professor Sherlin, Auror combat trainer." His voice was clear and only mildly deep, with no real accent, indicative of his American roots. It did, however, hold a powerfully keen edge of flatness that left an oily feeling in the ears for its deadpan seriousness. "Please follow the directions on the blackboard. Thank you." The room descended into near-silence as he began to scratch away at the notebook, engrossed in his writing almost immediately. The students would not have seen his eyes flick to the only accurate clock in the room, and they could certainly not hear the mental timer ticking down to the point in time where he fired them all if no one spoke up.

The direction on the blackboard seemed perfectly clear. Clear, in this case, denoting the fact that the chalk he was writing with for all those many minutes as the classroom filled must have been clear, because the chalk board was blank.
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05-19-2018, 12:32 AM
Post: #2
RE: The Dirty Part of Physics [ClockworkCadence ║ Ryees]
“Department of Magical Law Enforcement.”

A female voice with a thick British accent pleasantly assaulted the senses after the crude clank of the lift jolting to a halt graced the ears and body both with a jarringly uncomfortable feeling. It had only been a few seconds, but it became blaringly obvious that the daily trip on this wonderful steel deathtrap was going to be absolutely thrilling. What a great way to start the day.

The dazed woman on the inside promptly stumbled out, heaving a breath to collect herself and ignoring the perplexed stares of those still in the lift that quickly shifted out of sight as she stood for a moment next to the dark wall, taking in her surroundings. The hallways seemed to extend and branch out like a tree from this central point—it wasn’t particularly difficult to navigate for those familiar with the layout, but for a newcomer such as her, this place was practically labyrinthine. The Ministry really should have had a tourist center, or at the very least, a map—but instead, they preferred to torture their foreigners in this bizarre hazing ritual. They must have atrociously slow work days to come up with this dastardly plan.

Low-heeled boots tapped dully against the sleek tile as wide sapphire eyes scanned every door that passed by, trying and miserably failing to find their destination. She hoped at least one person would get a chuckle out of finding her pathetically lost corpse steps away from where she was supposed to be. Her ghost would certainly be laughing.

Everything was labeled with names, far less easy to track than the numbers she’d seen in organizations she was used to working in—what was she looking for again? Professor Sherlin? A tan hand reached to fiddle with the straps on her leather bag, its gaping maw opening for her as she pulled out a crisp piece of parchment, scanning its contents for any indication as to what she was getting herself into. Ah—Advanced Defense. Right there near the top of the page.

There was an odd twist in her stomach as she considered what that might mean for her. Would this be actual defense, or offense hiding under the guise of self-defense? Olivia Hudson was many things, but an impressive combatant was not one of them. She could certainly hold her own—there was no way she could have become an Auror otherwise—but that was all that could be said about the subject. The rest of her seemed to scream pacifism—her international liaising, her specialty in healing and protective spells, even her bright and gentle face. Her presence in these halls wouldn’t have happened if not for her cooperation with the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and the Department of International Magical Cooperation here.

Halls that had been for the most part quiet, but now were echoing with…laughter? Unsettling laughter? Dark brown hair whirled gently in the air as her head turned towards the sound, spying a rather frustrated man stalking away from a shaking door, its hinges creaking as its cackling threatened to shake it from its frame. For a moment, the dumbstruck woman just stood there, processing just what in the word happened. This door was enchanted to just laugh at people who tried to enter? What kind of three ring circus from hell was this place? First the Lift of Doom, then the Labyrinth of No Return, and now the Door of Humiliation? How’d she manage to get a ticket to this shit-show for free?

Regardless, it was at least relieving to know she wouldn't have the privilege of meeting the friendly neighborhood sentient slab of wood. All she was looking for was a simple classroom. Her search resumed in that direction, a bit apprehensive of approaching in case it just laughed at any passerby. She tried to put it out of her mind, instead focusing on the names floating by—D. Ardent, E. Midwell, A. Caldwell, M. Sherlin…

Sherlin—ah, she’d finally found it. With a triumphant grin, she turned towards the entrance.

...If the door could see her face in that surprised moment of realization, it’d surely have laughed itself off its hinges.

Professor Sherlin was the mastermind behind this unsettling entity? Of all things he could have done, he chose to ward off people with this?

Yet the door didn’t start laughing—instead, its attention seemed to lean its inflexible body towards the parchment in her hands. Did…did it want to see it? A curious hand offered the paper, opened so the door could read, if that was a thing it could do. Within a few awkward seconds, the door seemed to be satisfied, a loud click cutting through the silence as it creaked open to let her enter.

As Olivia stepped through the doorframe with a bit of fascination, she came face-to-face with a classroom that generally seemed normal at first glance—a blackboard, some desks, chairs, and most other things that could be found in a typical classroom. Her gaze locked onto a tall figure writing dutifully with chalk, his demeanor oddly disconcerting as his focus was a laser pointed onto the task before him, not even seeming to notice that anyone else was in the room with him. It was an intriguing sort of concentration that was intense enough to burn holes in the board, if it were given a physical form. Out of curiosity, she glanced at the contents of his large desk at the middle of the classroom, noting the peculiarly precise stacks of papers, the clocks with what seemed to be purposely different times, and—was that an armadillo?

Sure enough, as she passed, the statue-like stillness of the bronze animal was only betrayed by its beady eyes that followed her, its intense and disapproving expression scorching her back as she walked up towards a seat in the back of the class, preferring to sit quietly and observe in new areas until she learned the culture of the people and the classroom. As other people began to take seats around her, she took note of subtle behaviors she might need to display to better relate to these people, a habit of her ambassador-like career. Seemingly satisfied with the information she’d gathered after a few minutes of people-watching, a soft hand reached down to pull out her notebook and a regular pen, ready for the lesson to begin—she wasn’t too fond of the tendency to use quills here.

The scraping of the chalk on the board was quiet, yet it was very apparent when it stopped—Olivia’s attention flickered to the man at the front of the class as he turned, gaze calculating and almost as cold as the chills that ran down her spine from the sound of the chair scraping on the floor. Her attention vaguely noticed the precision in his placement of the chair, right before he began to speak. His voice held an even tone that seemed unsettlingly devoid of emotion and almost robotic, oddly no accent present to flavor his words despite living in this area.

Yet what was even more peculiar was his instruction to follow the directions he'd written—directions that weren't even there. Wasn't he just writing moments ago?

"Um, Professor? There isn't anything on the board." Some brave soul decided to speak up, a young man eager to learn.

Eager, that is, until a horrifyingly loud creak came from the entrance, the door bulging as it seemed to inhale, a strong gust whipping around the classroom as the man was promptly picked up by the wind and sucked into a gaping mouth that opened on the door. The sound of his body landing with a dull thump was heard muffled through the walls, barely audible over the shocked silence stretching across the classroom.

"Professor!" A timid girl squeaked in horror, standing up apprehensively. "What's going on?"

Standing seemed to only give the wind an easier time with picking her up, eaten by the door only to be promptly deposited on the other side. More indignant and shocked protests rose, all quickly silenced as they fell on top of each other outside. Within a couple minutes, only a few students remained sitting in the classroom, some too terrified to speak, others trying to process what just happened.

Olivia was one of the latter, bewilderment clear in the blue sea of her gaze as she shifted her attention to Professor Sherlin, his nose buried in his writing. For a moment, he glanced up, a bizarre expression on his face as if he was surprised by something, but this barely lasted a few seconds before he focused back down on his notebook as if nothing had happened.

Did he not even have any control over what was happening? Were they all slaves to the demented door?

His plain words ghosted back to her, bringing her attention to the fact that he seemed to be waiting for them to follow the directions he'd written. Maybe it was time to figure all this out. A hand flipped her notebook open, her swift but neat handwriting taking note of the facts:
~Writing, but no words.
~Directions are said to be present.
~Questions are met with a terrifying elimination procedure.
~Door may or may not have taken over control of the classroom.
~Professor Sherlin may or may not be merely a puppet.


That was about all she could gather—now came the fun part of piecing it all together.
~Door has unknown ulterior motives.
~ Professor Sherlin may be under mind control.


No, none of these thoughts were very useful. The man seemed very capable—very focused on anything but teaching, but still intelligent. There wasn’t any way he would be sitting in front of them if he didn’t have a lesson to teach. So if this was a lesson…

~Writing. No words. Chalk enchanted to be invisible?
~A lesson in using wit and innovation?
~Mention this and risk angering the door?
~Revelio?


Her pen paused on the dot of the question mark, gears in her mind turning as she considered her options. He didn’t say “solve the riddle”, he’d just said “follow the directions” as if he expected them to not verbally address this conundrum. That meant…

“Revelio?” A bewildered voice whispered next to her, sapphire eyes shifting to find a chocolate gaze downcast at her writing before flickering to the board in sudden realization. The small woman’s wand quickly found her hand as she repeated the phrase more confidently now, the board suddenly coming to life with stark white writing.

Olivia’s attention shifted to the board too, a bit of satisfaction from finding that she was right bubbling to her chest. Though most would expect that airiness to be weighed down by jealousy at not having been the one to provide the answer, her heart was only a bit uncomfortable with the idea that someone had stolen away her idea. In all honesty, she was just grateful that the door hadn’t reacted to this and that they could finally progress and read the directions.

They were all in this together—surely this was a good development no matter who brought it.
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05-19-2018, 02:31 AM (This post was last modified: 05-19-2018 07:12 PM by Ryees.)
Post: #3
RE: The Dirty Part of Physics [ClockworkCadence ║ Ryees]
Welcome to Advanced Defense. This is not Defense Against the Dark Arts, like you were taught in your primary schools. The Dark Arts are not as common as those headmasters seem to think. More often, you will be assailed by your neighbor's wife, or your bus driver, or the man who made your sandwich last Tuesday. I am not going to teach you a Patronus charm, or reteach you a Boggart defense. I am going to teach you how to defend yourself.

By reaching this point, you have demonstrated one of a few possible character traits:
1: You are daft, and seeing your would-be classmates get vacuumed out by Theodoor Roosevelt stunned you to silence.
2: You are patient, enough so that you were willing to simply sit and wait to see what would happen.
-2b: You are hesitant, and were simple unwilling to speak up, and I suspect this is more likely than the root option for most of you.
3: You solved this riddle. Only one of you may do that, so well done to that person for being either the smartest, or the most reckless.

On the desk at the front of the room, you will each find a paper with your name at the top. This page contains your syllabus, required materials for class, expectations, and how to manage the Armadillo of Honor. He is an important part of our classroom procedure, so do be sure to read and understand that section thoroughly. Whosoever cast the Revelio charm, please bring the Armadillo of Honor back to your desk with you when you retrieve your syllabus. You may get up from your seats when I raise my hand.

8


Professor Sherlin stood, walked one step to his left, and sat down in the leather rolling chair. He spun to face the board, then spun back, his eyes touching each of the students left in the room, eight separate looks meeting each of them in the eye as he perused. His mouth split into a pleased grin, his fingers flattening to let his chin rest atop them. "Always pleased to see that I am not going to be disappointed by anyone."

With that, he leaned back in his chair. One hand took his notebook from the table, held open with a thumb as he idly scanned the pages, and the other perched on the armrest, hand raised in the air with one finger pointing upwards. That appeared to be as clear a signal as he was to give.

As the students funneled in front of his desk, he looked each one up and down thoughtfully, carefully taking in as much detail as he could before turning his eyes back to his notes between each visitor.

A tall blonde boy, clearly a fresh graduate of Hogwarts by his young-looking face and gold-and-crimson striped scarf. Hitchens, Alfred; pureblood, old family, Gryfiindor of Hogwarts; idiot. Alfred smiled at Sherlin as he passed, and Sherlin smiled back, friendly and welcoming and as fake as could be. Alfred did not seem to notice.

Two more students passed, both boring half-blood witches of no note or consequence that would never make a mark upon the world or achieve any relevance. His attention perked back up again, though, as a hand settled atop the Armadillo of Honor. The professor's eyes followed that olive-skinned hand up to meet dark eyes set into a small, rounded face atop a short stalk of a body. "Your class is interesting," she offered, clearly pleased with herself and trying to make a good impression. "We've all been challenged before, but always by the learning itself, never by the obstacle to that learning. Already trying to get us to think differently, I see."

Lying, simpering thief, thought Sherlin with a gracious smile, nodding his head and leaning back in his chair. "You did well," he assured her, intensely annoyed by the way her smile widened at his praise, "a few more seconds and you'd all have been out the door." She blinked at that, and his smile vanished, an expectant look raising his brows as his head tilted. "Oh, my, yes. Should you all have taken any longer, you would have been fired immediately." As if it were the most obvious thing in the world, his brow furrowed. "Do you think I would spend the time to teach a group of hopeless idiots?" He laughed from his belly, leaning forward on the desk and lacing his fingers. The laugh did not reach his eyes. "I am not so altruistic as that."

Bailey, Helen; Muggle-born, valedictorian aspirant, shameless thief, possibly cutthroat; further observation needed to assess potential. Helen's smile had faded and she had frozen in place, hand on the Armadillo of Honor. Sherlin's brows twitched up, and he shooed his fingers at her. That was enough to unfreeze her, and she retrieved her syllabus and returned to her seat, Armadillo of Honor in hand. When she made it to her seat, she uncertainly set it down stop her book bag, next to her chair. It shot her an indignant look and leapt up on top of her desk, nestling down comfortably on her textbook and promptly falling asleep. She stared at it for a moment, then tried to move the book out from under it, only to have its head snap up and a sullen hiss whisper out from... somewhere. Its mouth did not open. Helen did not try to touch her book after that.

The student that immediately followed Helen was the other human in the room that Sherlin did not suppose ran on energy drinks and disappointment. Hudson, Olivia; half-blood, ambassador, coward; she said nothing and allowed her work to be stolen; further observation needed to assess suitability to the field. Sherlin smiled at her, but his eyes locked with hers with a powerful flare of "I know what you did" suddenly blazing to life. As fast as it ignited, it flickered out, a plastic smile tugging his lips into place. "Welcome to class, Miss Hudson," he said, drawing a look from the previous students who had clearly not been important enough to receive a greeting of their own. "We look forward to working with you." Who his royal "we" included was unclear, but that strangeness was overtaken by a second novel gesture as he reached a hand out to her in a peculiarly everyman offering of a handshake.
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05-19-2018, 08:30 PM
Post: #4
RE: The Dirty Part of Physics [ClockworkCadence ║ Ryees]
Sapphire rolled across pearl letters, taking in the meaning of the words with a bit of intrigue and excitement—Professor Sherlin was different. That much was obvious before she even walked in the door, but reading his introductory directions made it clear that he was going to be an interesting man to learn from. A few things were apparent just from these initial moments in his room—he took a practical perspective on defending against every day problems, a stark contrast from the Defense Against the Dark Arts classes that seemed to be emphasized over everything else. He was very perceptive, already categorizing the students left in the classroom based on their reaction to his puzzle before they even walked in the door—and even more impressing, he actually ended up being right. On top of that, his directions seemed clear, concise, and hiding behind a thin veil of high and inflexible expectations. It was the kind of expectation that told you that you weren't good enough now, but if you were truly dedicated, you could become greater than you could ever imagine.

The only thing she couldn’t wrap her head around was the fact that the crazed door was actually named Theodoor and that Professor Sherlin legitimately referred to the animal sulking on his desk as the Armadillo of Honor. He was eccentric, to say the least. Brilliant, but very eccentric. She wasn’t sure whether to categorize that fact as a good or a bad thing.

Her gaze followed him as he moved, somewhat seeming a bit casual despite his stiff appearance as he sat and met each students’ eyes pensively. The room was uncomfortably tense and quiet, unsure what to expect from the man until a pleasant grin radiated from his face, relaxing the students, but only a little. This man seemed too unpredictable to let their guard down entirely. Tension threatened to build again as he fell into silence, looking back at the notebook that had taken all of his interest these past few minutes, but the feeling ebbed once his hand raised, a finger pointing to the blank white ceiling above.

The cue took a moment to sink in, hesitation finally giving way into action as the students began to stand, making their way up towards his desk with a bit of apprehension apparent in their eyes. Olivia was one of the exceptions—not quite anxious, but just curious as to what would happen next. Surprisingly, things seemed to be progressing rather normally, with each student neatly filing across the desk as they retrieved their syllabus and found their way back to their seats. Olivia stood behind the brown-eyed girl she’d sat next to, her high-pitched voice piercing the silence as she addressed Professor Sherlin. It was a little annoying to watch her whole face light up at the undeserved praise, but the moment was short-lived as soon her gaze shifted from the girl to lock onto the man, a bit of surprise evident in her expression.

They would have legitimately been fired had they not solved the puzzle? Did he really have the authority to do that? She’d assumed his expectations were high and that those people were sucked out of—she internally sighed—Theodoor as a lesson, but only a temporary one. So that was it? That was the last, embarrassing moment of their careers? Landing on their ass in the hallway as if they’d been booted out of some wacky game show? She didn’t know whether it was respectable or unsettling that he so easily disposed of those that he didn’t feel were worth teaching. Probably both. Respectable in the fact that he wasn’t going to tolerate students that would only waste his time, yet unsettling because one mistake could mean she ended up getting blown out of the classroom, too.

The simple callousness of his reply shocked the girl into silence, staring at his face and trying to figure out why he didn’t look like he was joking before taking her paper and the armadillo and uneasily walking back to her seat. Olivia hadn’t thought it was possible for the armadillo to look any more displeased than when it sat atop the desk, but the face she caught before it disappeared out of her field of vision behind her certainly proved her wrong.

She’d intended to just be like the students before the girl—just take their materials, acknowledge the professor, and move on. Yet when her eyes met the cold, steely gaze looking at her, it became blaringly obvious that this interaction was different. He seemed almost…knowing, at least until an oddly artificial sort of smile feigned ignorance as he greeted her, surprisingly the first he'd bothered to offer to anyone. Did he somehow know she was the one that the previous girl had gotten the answer from? Why was he bothering to greet her, yet fake a smile?

Regardless of how different his actions were compared to what he’d demonstrated just seconds ago to the other students, she wasn’t going to squander one of the only amicable interactions he might ever offer her. The smile that warmed her features was a subtle quirk of the corners of her rosy lips, soft and humble as her gaze leveled with his. “Thank you, professor. I’m looking forward to learning from you.” Her hand gently but firmly grasped his, two brief waves of rise and fall bobbing their cordial gesture in the waters of the calm atmosphere before they separated again. Her attention shifted to picking up her syllabus, promptly finding her way back to her seat without another word.

With a soft sigh, her body settled back into the plastic chair, ready to peruse the document in her hands, but not without glancing over at the sleeping armadillo for a moment with a smile of amusement. He was as brash as his owner was apathetic about his students.

Now…

Her gaze trailed along the words, the document’s contents at about the same level of oddity as the board had been. There were a few expected or relatively unsurprising aspects—pens and quills only, always armed in order to be better prepared for sudden simulated attacks, hands-on experience over homework, and a high expectation for grades. A few things like the specification that no pigtails were allowed or shoes during combat drills was a bit strange to see, but she could guess at their utility. The rest, though, only served to demonstrate even more peculiar aspects of Professor Sherlin’s mind and methods. Students would become practice targets if they were late? The Armadillo of Honor was a Horcrux?

A flash of light in the corner of her eye caused her hand to instinctively shoot up, a white, shield-like energy hovering inches from her palm as a red jet of magic sparked and disintegrated against the surface. Her attention shifted to a black-haired man to her left, his wand still pointing at her as a dumbfounded and disappointed expression darkened his face. Guess this guy was already getting a jump start on the “attack your own classmates at random” part of the syllabus. The utility was understandable, but the method was absolutely questionable. Of all the things she’d expected and hoped for from this class, a Battle Royale was not one of them. An unimpressed glare was shot his way as she resumed her reading, making a mental note of the materials she was to bring to class as she ignored the hard stares a few people gave her. Not only was she the only one to have been greeted, but she had just demonstrated her talent for wandless, non-verbal magic. She'd certainly just painted a giant target on her back.

At this point, Olivia wasn’t sure if Professor Sherlin had intentionally sabotaged her chances of keeping a peaceful relationship with her classmates or not, but one thing was for sure—she sure as hell would have to put in a lot of effort to fix this.
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05-20-2018, 01:15 AM
Post: #5
RE: The Dirty Part of Physics [ClockworkCadence ║ Ryees]
Watching the girl walk away, Sherlin's mind turned about. First it turned left, then left again, before making a non-Euclidean shift into the blackboard behind him and rubber-banding back to his head in a way that made his teeth ache. What are you, Miss Hudson? He put his hands together again in front of his face, thumbs under his chin, and leaned his elbows onto the desk, still watching Miss Hudson, who was now settling into her desk. Are you a tiger? Are you an eel? Are you cattle? Sherlin's eyes flicked to his left, her right, to a student—Mathers, Ryan; Frat boy, athlete, douchebag; useless—drawing his wand, n length of glossy black wood set into an ornate silver hilt. The motion of his stunner was fluid, but amateur, sluggish to Sherlin's eyes but likely enough to get him by in classes back at school—Ilvermorny, if the gold heart of Pukwudgie on his shirt collar was any indication.

Head to her paper, Sherlin waited for her to be knocked out of her chair. Instead, she almost casually raised a hand, a fully-cast shield from Protego manifesting in her hand. Sherlin's brows legitimately raised at that, an impressed smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Instinctual; fluid; practiced; well-practiced; Africa? Dumbledore?

Before the spell had ever contacted her shield, Sherlin's own wand was in his hand. It was unclear exactly when or how that had happened. A red-brown wood of smooth grain and just over 13 inches long, it began rounded but flared into a gentle three-faceted helix until it hit the throat of the shaft where the simple rounded handle began. Red sparks hit her shield, and as the airy concussion rippled through the air, he voiced his own spell. "Vestimenta revelio." Focused, concise, expert, as if spoken by a robot; exactly scripted wand movement, as if it were held by a machine; deadly accuracy, as if aimed by a marksman. The white-clear bolt tore from his wand with purpose, spreading as it traveled to take the shape of Ryan's body—specifically, the clothing on it. The boy barely had time to register that the spell had been cast before it hit him... with no visible effect. Not immediately, anyway. As if wet with paint, the color in his clothing started to drip away, the fabrics solid and strong as ever, but becoming ever more clear and transparent as they dripped off. With a panicked shout, he jerked his coat off the back of his chair and quickly wrapped it around his waist just as the color started to leak out of the waistline of his finely-tailored jeans. "You said classroom combat was encouraged!" he shouted in an indignantly British accent, pointing his want at Sherlin accusingly. "Why am I being punished for it!?"

"This is not a punishment," Sherlin replied simply, spreading his hands amicably. "You attacked a student. I attacked you. She defended properly. You..." He let a sardonic smirk pull his mouth as his eyes flicked down to the puddle of color dripping down the steps. "..did not." Defeat blossomed in Mathers's cheeks, and he plopped into his chair. He seemed to have accepted that his clothes were ruined, so it was with another surprised cry that he noticed something crawling up his leg; after a minute or so, he was able to remove his coat.

"Let this be a lesson to you all," he called out, his voice surprisingly strong and authoritative, demanding attention. "You are in an environment of learning, not of beer pong. You are not using spells to prank your classmates, nor are you using them to dethrone your classmates. If you cast a spell on a classmate while they are answering a question, considering the answer to a question, or reading material specifically handed to them by me, you will not be punished for it; however, you will immediately have declared yourself"—he raised his fingers in quotation marks—"'fair game.' The first student to tag you with a successful spell, if you cause such an interruption, will earn themselves one Sherlin point—no, I will not tell you what they do, or how to earn them otherwise." His grin was self-satisfied. "If I am the first to tag you with a successful spell, you will lose one Sherlin point. We are not here to troll each other. Learning is one thing; this is not a battleground. You should be firing spells off to test your classmates, in a constructive way."

His wand tapped the board; the text changed. Each of their names was written, underlined, and an owl, drawn in chalk, flew from the edge of the board and perched at the bottom, similar in function to a living portrait it seemed. It watched them, its head twisting, apparently waiting for something. Sherlin waved his wand to one side, and his chairs slunk back against the blackboard. Deskster yawned, shuffling his legs to move him against the wall as well. Another flick of Sherlin's wand, and two white circles appeared on the ground, equidistant from the outside walls and about three feet in diameter. Spaced twenty feet from each other, their intention was clear.

"Step up, now, volunteers first. And if there are none, you'll be picked by me. Let's see what you all have." Sherlin walked to the desk and hopped up on it, hands folded in his lap and wand braced between his laced fingers.
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05-20-2018, 03:08 PM (This post was last modified: 05-20-2018 03:10 PM by ClockworkCadence.)
Post: #6
RE: The Dirty Part of Physics [ClockworkCadence ║ Ryees]
Olivia had hoped to just brush the incident off as if nothing happened—this was going to be normal class protocol, after all, wasn’t it? There was no reason for anything else to happen in response. Her mind settled into a firm stance of resignation at that fact, glad that at least she wasn’t expected to retaliate, since nothing good would come of it. Thus, she had no reason to expect anything would follow her defensive actions, save for her peers being alienated even further from her.

Yet something did happen—Professor Sherlin’s expertly executed spell enveloped her assailant, the effect seemingly lost on him until suddenly drops of red and black began to drip from his shirt like paint. The surprise on her face shifted to amusement as her gaze flickered over to the odd spell’s caster, trying to read his expression until a terrified sound demanded her attention to be turned elsewhere. That elsewhere was apparently at the coat covering the exposed man, the faded blue of his jeans puddling at his shoes and the absolute horror and embarrassment in his eyes eliciting a laugh from his previous target. Karma was a lovely bitch.

However, once again she found the unfriendly glares of her classmates honing in on her, the indignant protest of the man that looked like he had clear plastic clothing hanging uncomfortably in the air. He had a point—there was never any mention of punishment, yet here he was, standing in a swirling puddle of color that had relinquished their duty of shielding his body from the world. It seemed in everyone’s eyes that she had been designated the position of teacher’s pet, which unsettled her—not because she didn't want to be a good student, but because she was an ambassador. She wasn’t used to people holding any animosity towards her that she just seemed to have no control over.

Professor Sherlin began to explain his actions, and though it seemed to smooth over everyone’s impression of her, she still felt the prickling doubt that everything was entirely fixed. Still, it was impressive that he somehow managed to teach a lesson, terrify his students, and make a game out of something that definitely should not be treated as such, all at the same time. At least he made it clear that actual instructional time was safe from these sudden attacks, but just what was the purpose of Sherlin points? It was going to take a bit of time to get used to puzzling together the reasons behind his wacky methods. Brilliant methods, but wacky all the same.

Yet his next challenge was sadly much more expected—unfortunate not because she would rather he be like every other professor, but because of the implications they held. Quickly the room began to take the form of an impromptu dueling ground, Olivia's heart dropping a bit at the prospect of combat. Of course she should have been prepared for this sort of thing to happen sooner or later, and she was, but that didn't make its arrival any less unwanted.

The entire room settled with an awkward air as everyone pretended to have not heard him, all eyes wandering the room or focusing downwards in an attempt to not draw attention to themselves. And who could blame them? With how unorthodox his teaching was, nobody wanted to be the guinea pig for his next round of unpredictable lessons. Even Olivia buried her nose in her notebook, suddenly interested in tracing the shape of the words she’d written earlier with a finger. She’d drawn enough unwanted attention to herself today. If she just laid low the rest of class, maybe this could all blow over in—

Or maybe not. Before she’d even finished her thought, she heard her name through the noise of her mind, snapping back to reality with a look of disbelief shot towards her professor. He really wanted her social life to have a slow and painful demise in this classroom. For a moment, she considered just staying put, refusing to partake in this game, but the goody-two-shoes student in her convinced her to stand, apprehensively approaching a circle on the floor. Her stance turned defensive, the gentle spiral of pale wood at the handle of her wand slowly and seamlessly fading into a smooth tip that pointed at her familiar opponent. It was the girl that sat beside her—Helen, she vaguely remembered hearing—her expression hardened yet showing a small bit of satisfaction at getting a chance to take on the woman that had stolen her thunder.

Olivia gave a proper bow to her adversary out of habit, not one to forego the respect that should be afforded to the skills of her opponent despite the bad first impression she’d managed to gather from the entire room. The gesture was returned half-heartedly, eagerness burning in those chocolate eyes as a hand reached to fix her hair—something Olivia took note of with mild interest. The moment quickly passed, however, as Helen wasted no time in kicking things off with a quick flick of her wand and a sharp shout of “Stupefy!”

"Protego.” Came the soft response, sparks of light cascading down to the floor. The blonde shifted her weight, ready to defend against the half-hearted retaliation of the same spell that came her way. The spell wasn’t meant to be an actual attack, rather, just a distraction—a tan hand had waved up towards the chandelier above her opponent quickly after the magic of her defense faded but before the red flash of light came from her own wand, a jet of water extending from her fingertips and settling into the half-domes around the lightbulbs shining above.

Another burst of dazzling red sizzled against a milky white shield. This time, Olivia’s defensive stance dropped to something casual, her wand’s tip pointed towards the ceiling as the simple spell left her lips: “Evanesco.”

Her opponent’s brows furrowed, taken off-guard by the non-offensive retaliation and trying to puzzle together the effect of this spell, gaze still burning on the small figure before her as she seemed to make the decision to go back on the offense. All the while, she was completely unaware of the room suddenly dimming a bit, not noticing the rush of water above her cascading down as the chandelier disappeared. The wand began to move, but came to a jarring halt as the water crashed down atop her head, eliciting a sharp gasp of surprise. Blonde hair instantly flattened from its previous bouncy vigor, shielding her eyes from the light that sent her flying backwards out of the circle.

With a carefully neutral look, Olivia repeated her respectful bow from earlier to her opponent still on the floor, relieved that the duel was over as her gaze fell expectantly yet warily upon Professor Sherlin.
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05-21-2018, 04:01 PM
Post: #7
RE: The Dirty Part of Physics [ClockworkCadence ║ Ryees]
A carefully neutralized expression overtook Sherlin as he leaned forward, elbows on his knees. His eyes flitted back and forth between the two girls like a bee, as busy as they appeared. Minutiae of stances, wand grip, eyes, chin tilt, hip leveling, foot placement, height, balance, confidence, and heart rates all flickered through the professor's mind like a data stream as soon as the pair stepped into the circles. More than simple enchanted lines, the dueling circles were an invention of a previous instructor of his, and something Sherlin had taken with him upon finishing out that course, along with the instructor's shoes.

First strike: Bailey, Helen. First blood: Hudson, Olivia. Retort: None. Victor: Hudson, Olivia.

The women squared up, wands at the ready. Sherlin gave no inclination of when to begin, nor did he intend to. A very short silence picked up as all eyes centered on the duelists. Helen's eyes flicked to him, and, seeing his clear intent take up living statue work as a hobby, jumped right in with a fully-worded stunner jinx. Check.

Olivia's shield came up smoothly—Check—and she shot back what Sherlin thought to be the weakest stunner he had seen in all his life. That... was not a real retort. Check. Helen's own shield came up and pounded it easily into non-existence; Sherlin barely noticed it out of the corner of his eye, his attention much more intent on the area above. Aguamenti, wandless; covered by the smokescreen of Stupefy's residue. Opponent unaware? His eyes flicked to Helen, who was already gearing up for her next spell. Opponent unaware.

Another respectable Stupefy bolted across the room, dissipating against a shield that Sherlin was not quite sure even he could get through without resorting to a punchier spell. Sherlin expected just that from Olivia: A change of pace, a more aggressive and more targeted spell. He certainly did not expect her to raise her wand skyward and cast a vanishing—Oh. Tricky minx.

Sherlin curled his knees up to his chest, sidelong disappointed at Helen for the very stupid look she gave Olivia as the chandelier vanished. A torrent of water splashed down atop Helen's head, taping her blonde locks to her cheeks and chin and glued her white blouse to her skin, bright green underneath showing through like emerald cups. She sputtered, shaking the icy water off her arms and looking down, throwing her other arm over her chest when she did. The water began to ripple off of her as she darkly muttered, "Tergeo." It was the bitterest spell Sherlin had heard in quite a while, and it was not only him that cracked a half-laughing grin at the girl, though he suspected the frat boys were grinning at her for a different reason. On the board, the chalky owl had drifted over to the zero under Olivia's name, viciously pecked it to death, and scrawled a "1" from the zero's blood.

Helen moved to step out of the circle and squeaked as she seemed to run into a glass cylinder. Olivia would find herself similarly trapped.

"What did you learn, Miss Bailey?" he asked, stepping in between the two circles. Helen looked at him, confused, and he leaned forward a bit, as if he had not heard her. "That was not a rhetorical question, Miss Bailey." He stood straight, not moving his feet but taking them all in with the parrot-twisting of his neck. "This will be one of your primary learning mechanisms for this class," he explained, gesturing with his wand to the circles. "You will not always be physically enclosed, but you will always be asked what you learned. And you will not leave that spot until you have given me something, even if it is trivial and obvious." He smiled, a real smile, and for the first time, it appeared that he actually cared about them, and about his job. "If you are not learning anything, what good am I to you?"

Then the warmth was gone, his face once more focused on Helen. "So, I ask you again, Miss Bailey. What did you learn?"

The girl considered for a moment, her eyes briefly traveling to her toes, where she examined the puddle of water she was standing in. Then, her eyes cast back up to where the chandelier had been.

"Ah, yes. Finite." His wand flicked casually, and the light returned to the room along with the very expensive chandelier that even Sherlin's intellect could not understand why was placed in a combat classroom.

Helen's eyes lingered on the chandelier for another moment, and as they came down, Sherlin was pleased to see the light of recognition dawning in them. "My wand... is not my only weapon," she began slowly, gaining more confidence as Sherlin did not interrupt her. "My environment is important, and I lost because I was only paying attention to my opponent, and not my environment."

Sherlin clapped, a quiet affair where his palms stayed together and his fingers flapped back and forth against each other and his wand still clenched in the hooks of his thumbs. It was somehow less enthusiastic than a golf clap. "Exactly correct. A Sherlin point to you." He waved his wand and the circle around her feet dissipated. The one around Olivia, though, did not, and Sherlin soon turned to her. "Winning does not excuse you from learning, though your victory was well-deserved. Same question to you, Miss Hudson: What have you learned?"
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05-22-2018, 11:10 PM
Post: #8
RE: The Dirty Part of Physics [ClockworkCadence ║ Ryees]
It was hard to ignore the death glare Helen had shot her way after realizing a certain color of green was shining through a translucent white. Olivia mentally smacked herself for not taking into account the fact that the woman had on white clothing before she resorted to using water—if there was a good way to make friends with someone, dousing them in liquid and exposing their bra to the world was not one of them. Instead, she focused her attention on the owl on the board, the violent display of the number zero being shredded into white bits by the owl a fine, but horrifying distraction. The crumpled remains of zero lay in unrecognizable chunks, white lines of blood trickling down the board as the owl’s talon crudely sliced a ‘one’ atop the carcass of zero, standing like a triumphant victor. It made her a bit afraid of how far Professor Sherlin’s mind may be gone.

Yet the one also caused her a bit of apprehension, considering all of the rest of the names on the board. This was certainly not the last time she’d step into this circle today. One was just the beginning—two may be even harder, considering the fact that the entire class had been watching with great interest to figure out just how she dueled. They knew at least one of her tricks, and who knows what else they may have noticed on their own—her strong defense, her relatively weak offense, the fact that she could only focus on one spell at a time even if she was able to use her wand and her free hand for magic, even the fact that she leaned her weight a bit forward in her stance. She didn’t know what other people saw when they watched her, but she knew that they were all looking for a weakness, for information—what she was capable of, what she wasn’t, how to throw her off. The next duel may very well be the last one of the day for her.

A tiny squeak of surprise caused her attention to fall back on her not-quite companion, her hand pressed against a nearly-transparent barrier that seemed to span the perimeter of the circle with a confused and slightly indignant expression. With a bit of interest, a curious gaze observed her own surroundings, finding the same barely-there glass. When did that get there? Of all the things Professor Sherlin could have done, sticking them in a fishbowl was definitely not expected. Of course, by this point, Olivia should have realized it was unsettlingly futile to ever try to predict the man’s actions.

His voice sounded clear despite the glass surrounding her, his intentions once again filled with nothing but the oddest ways to teach them that somehow ended up effective along the way. He seemed to enjoy his job in this moment, giving what was probably the first glance into just how he ended up in this teaching position here in the first place. Maybe he really had a passion for this—and that would make sense, considering how hard he seemed to want to push them and how challenging and surprising his methods were. Preparing them for anything and everything—perhaps he really did want to make sure everyone had the ability to survive, despite his apparent lack of care for their wellbeing he’d demonstrated thus far.

Helen’s response to the question he'd posed was impressively thoughtful—it looked like she genuinely learned something and took the lesson to heart. It wouldn’t be surprising if her next duel saw a noticeable shift in how she performed. Maybe Olivia underestimated her—she appeared be rather bright, and dedicated to bettering herself. Maybe that’s how she didn’t end up sucked out the door at the beginning of the class.

Olivia had expected the question to be directed over to her, the slightly amused expression on her face from actually hearing the phrase “Sherlin point” being utilized falling as his words sank in. An introspective look dawned on her visage as her gaze wandered to nowhere in particular, her words careful and thoughtful. “My reliance on my environment is risky, at best. I can’t focus on two spells at once, which would leave me open to attacks if I’m in the middle of casting something environment-based. Even then, Helen very well could have noticed my intentions or still fought through the distraction, which means I would have accomplished nothing in terms of gaining the upper hand. I got lucky. In a duel where I can’t use strategy, however…”

Sapphires landed on the woman retreating to her seat, hoping her words might smooth over some of the unintended animosity sparking between them. “I’m pretty certain she would have won. Her spells are strong—much more than mine are. She has good offense, and I have good defense. It’s the kind of match that would drag on until my stamina gave in, because I don’t have enough offensive capabilities to really turn the tide. It’s a weakness I’m going to need to focus on as time progresses.”

The glass’s slight shine dissipated, indicating satisfaction with her answer—footsteps began a calm retreat to her desk, a soft sigh of relief ghosting out of her lungs as everyone's attention was finally off of her.
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