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Welcome to Charming, the year is now 1891. It’s time to join us and immerse yourself in scandal and drama interlaced with magic both light and dark.

Where will you fall?

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As clocks and other timepieces were expensive, working class folk who could not afford to rise with the sun could employ a “knocker-upper” to tap on their windowpane at a scheduled time. Knocker-uppers would work through the night and into the early morning. — Kayte
But then Miss Dempsey paid her so great a compliment that she wanted to hurl herself over the edge of the theater balcony in delight.
sobing alone in front of a haunted piano


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First Contact
#1
July 12-18th, 1891 — Forbidden Forest

It had been obvious from the first that there was an outsider here today. Caiaphas could always tell the mood of the forest when he walked through it; on a cheerful day the wildlife was loud, the plants stood a little taller, and everything seemed harmonious and balanced. Having a stranger in their midst didn't necessarily make things imbalanced, at least not right away, but you could always tell. The natural world seemed more muted, as though it was shy and wanted to get to know its visitor a bit before showing its true self. So he knew someone was here who wasn't a part of this ecosystem, but even when he started hearing the interloper themselves he still wasn't sure what kind of someone it was. A living thing, certainly, and probably an animal based on the way that it seemed to be moving through the trees. Caiaphas retrieved his bow, even though he would prefer not to use it. Most things wouldn't attack a centaur, but some things would, so it was best to be prepared.

He watched the ground carefully as he moved closer to the source of the noise, trying to approach as quietly as possible. He didn't want them hearing him before he caught sight of them, just in case this was going to be a hostile encounter. When he finally did get close enough to see them, however, he felt a little foolish for his precaution. They were so small that they certainly couldn't have done much damage if they did hurl themselves at him. Perhaps they were a child, though it was hard to say for certain — they certainly were not a centaur, but he didn't immediately know what they were.

"Do you speak?" he asked, taking a step through the trees and towards the strange creature. It seemed like the sort of creature that ought to speak — often you could tell by their shapes — but even if it were capable of speech, it mightn't be intelligent.
*date is flexible based on your needs!
#2
Anne hadn't meant to go so far into the woods. She meant to go into the woods, but not far. She'd been out the door the second she was sure mum had left for the day, her satchel already packed for the day's adventure. A quick floo off to High Street, and a hike north and she was free. Before this summer, Anne's independence was centered on Ned, her courage dependant on him being close by for support. Maybe that was the part of her the Sorting Hat saw as lacking. Anne wanted to be brave like her father, but once daddy stopped being brave, Anne tried to be for Ned and mum. She wasn't brave enough on her own and it made her a dungeon snake. She had to get braver and she would do it by herself.

Anne was always careful about the forest. She wasn't technically breaking any rules - she wasn't a student in summer and it wasn't the forest that belonged to the school - as long as she returned home at a reasonable time, mum never had to know where she'd been and there wouldn't be an issue. Things went swimmingly until, some time after she got hungry, Anne realized she'd lost her way. She'd been so distracted with the trees and sketching them, wondering which might be the best sort for brooms and, if she drew them just right, maybe Mr. Grimstone could identify them for her, that Anne had left what little trail she'd found far behind. It was still day, there was some light drifting through the canopy, but nothing to indicate direction. The shady trees didn't seem so comforting now and the birds. How hadn't she noticed she couldn't hear the birds? It made her skin feel crawly, like spilling slugs in Potions class. If she waited until dark, she could use the stars to get home, but mum would worry by then and the trees looked too thick to see. She couldn't sit in the forest and wait for an idea, but if she started walking, she could go the wrong way. What if she got even more lost? There were vampires in the forests and other things she was nearly certain were real, too. Anne knew lots about creatures already, but she didn't have garlic and what if she met a vampire that didn't follow rules? She could feel the blood in her ears, which was ridiculous, because it all seemed to be down in her feet making it impossible to move. Someplace in her brain, she knew that vampires didn't come out in the day, but what about during the day in forest where it was shady? She couldn't feel the sun where she was standing, so how was it going to stop a vampire? Was there something worse than vampires in this part of the forest? Her fingers were shaking, but Anne dug into her bag for the little knife she sharpened her pencils with. It wasn't much, but if something was going to bite her, it would be close enough to stab. Self-defense seemed assured until Anne managed to slice a finger in the process. She let out a pathetic little whimper, 'vampire' and 'dying alone in the woods without anyone knowning where to find you' vying for panic points one and two in her head.

The sound that came out of her was shriek instead of speech as a voice had her whipping around to face her would-be-attacker. A part of her that felt like it was watching from outside her skin made note that her form wasn't awful, but maybe a bit too hunched. Were you supposed to maintain dueling form when fighting vampires or should she make herself look smaller? Or was it bigger? Did vampires bleed if you cut them and if so, was it technically their blood? Maybe she could talk to it first. If it thought she would stab it, really, really stab it, maybe it would show her the way out and she could promise to leave it something as a sign of good faith. Wizardkind were smarter than vampires, but vampires could still see reason. In the flurry of impending doom scenarios, it took Anne several full seconds to realize the creature that stepped through the trees wasn't anything she was expecting when she raised her tiny knife. It took a moment longer for her brain to make sense out of the sounds it heard. Instead of an obvious "yes, I speak the Queen and Minister's English, thank you," Anne just stared, her arms feeling awfully heavy now that she recognized what she was seeing. Dropping her knife arm with a full-body sigh, Anne could only stare in curious awe (and the exasperation of maybe not having cheated death despite the scare she had). "You're a real centaur." How was she not going to tell mum and Ned about this?

[Image: FisiMf.png]
MJ about made me cry with this one!
#3
For a moment, Caiaphas assumed the answer to his question was no as the tiny thing just stared at him with beady eyes. It had a claw out — except it wasn't a claw, he realized on second glance, because the little shiny bit of metal wasn't attached to its hand, only held. A knife, then. He might have been offended by the wild swiping gesture in the air, but that would have been a bit hypocritical of him since he had his bow out as well. The unknown being was putting the knife down, too, which meant it didn't want to attack him (probably a smart move, given how small it was). Caiaphas slung his bow over his shoulder again, returning the gesture of good will for what it was worth.

And it did speak, apparently, in such a small and high-pitched voice that Caiaphas was sure it had to be a child. "I am," he agreed. He was proud to be recognized (as a centaur and as real, although he had never heard of fake centaurs before) and held his head high while he surveyed the creature. It was pale and spindly... a mark of its species or something unique to this specimen? He couldn't have said for certain; it didn't look like anything he'd come across before, though its face and hands were similar to his own at least in form if not in color or size.

"Are you a human?" he asked curiously. He'd never seen a human, but had heard from other members of his herd that their top halves were normal. In this part of the world it seemed more likely that it had strayed from the human town than that it was some exotic magical beast or being come from afar.
#4
The man (stallion? gelding? man-stallion?) confirmed her theory. Anne was meeting a real centaur and he was much bigger than she'd reckoned. Anne had seen horses and had been on one before thanks to her creature-loving extended family, but it had happened years ago. She thought she'd be big enough to get on and off one by herself now, but the centaur had her reassessing. He lacked the best parts of a horse, Anne thought regretfully. Horses had kind, soft eyes, and squishy noses Anne remembered patting; the centaur looked more like he'd forgotten to finish dressing in the morning. He sounded rather grown up, so he surely knew better than to go without dressing. Anne wondered if he was cold, but his own question stopped her mid-thought.

Anne's face scrunched up in a frown. "Of course I am." She wasn't the one that looked like an unfinished transfiguration assignment. "I'm a witch." The question hadn't sounded rude. Maybe this was some centaur ritual greeting or perhaps the centaur wanted to make sure she wasn't some kind of shapeshifter playing tricks. Assuming shapeshifters didn't have the best of manners, Anne decided to be polite. Maybe getting rid of the knife would be a good start. Tucking it back in her bag, her attention went back to the thin line of blood beading at the surface of her finger. Awareness made it sting again and Anne scowled before rubbing the offending finger on the hem of her dress. With a moment of hesitation, she really wasn't supposed to talk to strangers, Anne gave a quick curtsey. That never seemed to be the wrong way to greet someone. "I'm Anne. What are you called?" She'd barely regained her full height before asking. It seemed a good plan to know his name if Anne was going to get help. Unfortunately, she hadn't read more on how to make friends with centaurs. She knew how to approach a horse and make it like her, but Anne wasn't sure how a centaur would react to petting and she would need him to bend down if she was to pat his neck or rub his nose, but petting the bit that looked like a person seemed rather rude.

[Image: FisiMf.png]
MJ about made me cry with this one!

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