Elsewhere University: changelings? Like, fairies who get swapped for humans? Just wondering if there might be anything on that?
OK LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT CHANGELINGS
I’ve been thinking about this all day actually, your timing is A+
A changeling, although you know they’re fake and they know they’re fake and all your classmates know they’re fake, will keep on living in your dorm until you directly call them out on it. If you’re polite about it they’ll leave; usually they drift around campus for a while, attending classes at random and sleeping in the gardens. There’s a whole meal plan set up for them, which the Courts pay for yearly in…things. Odds and ends. Trinkets. On the whole best not to ask. What it comes down to is that any changeling lacking a dining hall card can pick one up on the third floor of the Languages building, and your dining halls have more fresh produce than anyone others that you know of.
And sure, sometimes there’s times where your roommate and best friend is gone and in their place is this monster-thing that looks just like them but isn’t, and you’re angry and scared and you just want them out of there and maybe could they give you a tip on who to talk to to get Serafina back?
But there’s got to be others (especially for freshmen) where your roommate was that guy who left half eaten tins of tuna fish all over the place and vapes incessantly and you had ants by October and he won’t stop making off-color jokes to any girls you bring over - and then suddenly he’s replaced by this thing that, ok, sometimes puts thumbtacks in your bed and laughs about it, and eats literal sticks of butter as snacks, but also is very quiet and fastidiously clean. They jam the fuck out to all your music and they’re a riot at parties and they’re teaching you how to climb trees better and they always repay favors - if you clean the shared bathroom they’ll bring you a very fancy coffee the next morning in a flavor you’re pretty sure the school cafeteria doesn’t have. Or you buy them a bottle of sweet wine while you’re at the store and the next week they help with your essay about 12th century poetry. You’re buddies. You’re teaching them a secret handshake. Maybe you can hold off on reporting your official roommate’s disappearance for another week or so. And this goes on until school gets out and the RAs have to do the yearly troll the the Elsewhere for anyone who hasn’t come home yet.
And on the flip side of the coin: RAs. RAs and changelings are in some ways each others mirrors. They’re both in-between things - student/authority, human/fae, etc. - and in-between things, things that are in balance, merit some respect. A pact was made several decades ago that allows each safe passage up to a point in the others’ world, as ambassadors of a sort. Accidents can happen - you can still be careless, still be rude, still make enemies. But unprovoked violence towards either is very strictly prohibited by both sides. So changelings can replace students with relative safety and in turn RAs can, at the end of the year, go hunt down any students from their floor that still haven’t come back one way or another and either do their best to ransom them or at least get the necessary forms signed.
On the note of RAs - Elsewhere U has a special fund for end-of-year bargains. This has been used, in past years, to purchase a deck of illustrated tarot cards and a book of 1001 Card Games To Play Alone, sixteen pounds of durian fruit, a very soft fleece blanket, a lot of movie posters with Harrison Ford on them, bodice rippers involving dinosaurs, and $800 of random shit from the dollar store.
The RAs, once they’ve found the students, will try to buy them back if they can (the success rate is not 100%). But once in a while students refuse to come back - they’re in love with a person or in love with the whole world; they’ve found a purpose here or they refuse to return for other, darker reasons. At this point the RA will do what they can to ensure they’re staying of their own free will. If this in in fact the case they get signatures on the form and leave empty handed.