Believe it or not, there were some areas in her life in which Marie Mjolnir prided herself on being at least somewhat practical and level-headed. One of these areas was the fact that she was very much aware of her own limitations. For example, she knew that she was terrible at speaking French, worse at reading maps, and a horrendous failure when it came to taking care of a pet, even something as simple as a goldfish. Yet Marie accepted these flaws in herself, because she also knew that at the end of the day, she was good at the things that really mattered. Like being a teacher, and doing her duties as a Death Scythe, and preventing Stein from vivisecting any of his students. So what if she couldn't pronounce "côtelettes panées" in French? That had never actually caused her any significant problems in her life before, save for a few missed opportunities to impress some cute guys with a sexy French accent.
The whole not-being-able-to-read-a-map thing, though... That did sometimes cause her problems.
Like how she kept getting lost in the labyrinthine basement of the main Shibusen campus, even with a map of the school facilities clutched nervously in her sweaty hands. How did that keep happening?! And why did nothing drawn on the map ever look like any of the dark, dimly-lit hallways that she inevitably found herself wandering lost within for hours?
What Marie *really* didn't understand was why so many new students always requested Marie Mjolnir as their tour leader during Shibusen's twice-yearly new student orientations. Didn't they hear the rumors about how Marie-led tours of the school always ended in disaster?
The first year that Marie had led a group of new students on the campus tour, they had wandered around dark, damp hallways for an hour before Marie started to smell something sweet. She and the students followed the delicious scent down a narrow staircase until they suddenly found themselves stumbling into a room burning with the heat of several large ovens and saturated with the scent of butter and sugar baking. Also, there were elves. Dozens of elves. Elves everywhere.
"I didn't know that Shibusen had elves!" one of the students exclaimed.
"Shibusen doesn't have elves," one of the elves said quickly. "And you never saw anything."
The elves presented Marie and each of the students with baskets full of warm, fresh-baked cookies. "You. Never. Saw. Anything."
The students were smart enough to accept the bribe and never ask questions about the matter again.
The second time that Marie led a group of new students on a campus tour, she ended up lost somewhere beneath the western wing of the main campus building, following the useless map in her hands in circles for hours until she suddenly found herself standing in front of an enormous yet unfamiliar door that she had pushed open to reveal a large, echoing chamber in the middle of which floated---
"That was a weather balloon," Shinigami-sama told Marie later. "Nothing more than a weather balloon."
The third time that Marie was assigned the stressful duty of leading a campus tour, she tried to avoid the basement at all costs - she even refused to let her tour group venture below the second story of the main campus building - yet somehow she *still* managed to get lost, this time in a circular hallway somewhere between the girls' locker room and the boys' locker room, a circular hallway that Marie could *swear* was nowhere on any map of the school that she had ever seen. Marie and her group of students ended up walking around and around the circular hallway for what felt like hours before they finally noticed a doorway that certainly hadn't been there a moment before. On the other side of the doorway was a vast marble chamber of pools filled with every color of bubble bath that Marie had ever imagined, complete with a mermaid lounging in one of the pools overflowing with pink-colored bubbles.
The mermaid seemed startled to see them. "Students aren't normally allowed in here." She blinked at Marie. "How did you find this room?"
Marie felt ready to punch something. "I have no idea," she answered wearily. "Can you tell me how to get to the music room?"
The fourth time that Marie led a group of students through the Shibusen campus, she swore to avoid the locker room areas and the basement. Yet somehow she ended up in a greenhouse - she didn't even know that Shibusen *had* greenhouses - and had to listen to a gigantic talking plant try to impress the new students by singing a terrible attempt at some sort of jazzy musical number before it finally gave up and just started trying to eat the students. Marie gave her punching arm a good workout that day.
The next time that Marie led a campus tour, she somehow ended up getting lost AGAIN, and had to end the tour early when instead of leading the students to the Death Room like she had intended, Marie instead ended up leading them into a strange room full of staircases that seemed to take them in endless circles up, down, sideways, and even diagonally. The next time, it was a room full of squirrels sorting nuts. The next time, even though Marie was leading the students upstairs - she could have sworn she had been leading the students upstairs - somehow they ended up on the edge of an *underground* lake, mist floating everywhere, eerie candles all around, the sound of organ music playing in the distance. It had taken Marie forever to find her way out of that place.
By the time that the next fall semester rolled around and Shinigami-sama asked Marie to lead another group of new students on a tour again, Marie felt ready to cry.
"Why me?!" she asked Stein later that evening, over a beaker full of coffee boiling in the midst of his lab equipment. "I hate leading those tours! I always get lost and it's-- it's so embarrassing!"
"Embarrassing?" Stein titled his head in that way that he did when he didn't understand something, turning the screw in his head and frowning.
"No. Worse than embarrassing. It's humiliating," Marie said. "I haven't been able to lead a single tour without getting lost so far. I'm a failure of a tour leader"
"Hmmmm." Stein turned his screw thoughtfully. "If you're such a failure, then why did Maka tell all the new students to specifically ask for you to lead their tour?"
Marie stared at Stein. "She what?"
"All of the students do it. They all say the same thing to the new ones." He titled his head the other way. "The ones in my home room, they still talk about the tour that they took with you. They compare notes, even. The general consensus seems to be that the student body regards you as the best tour leader among all the faculty here. Of course, I have only anecdata and not a controlled study to base this conclusion upon."
Marie could smell the coffee burning and didn't care. She was too busy digesting this new information. "But why would they like my tours the best?"
"Likely because your tours always seem to end in an adventure," Stein said. "As far as the students here are concerned, your tours have become legend."
Marie wasn't sure how she felt about that.
Marie's next tour ended in yet another misty underground cavern with a lake. No candles and no organ music this time, though. Just a long-necked monster that seemed friendly enough until it sneezed all over one of the students.
"Marie-sensei," the student said, covered from head to toe in green snot and grinning from ear to ear, "this is the best tour of any school I've ever taken ever!"
When the rest of the group agreed - complete with applause and everything - Marie finally allowed herself to feel a small bit of relief.
Maybe she could add "being a tour guide" to the list of things that she was actually good at, rather than the list of things that she considered her weaknesses. After all, at a place like Shibusen, getting lost could be a kind of special talent in and of itself.