March 28, 2013 by Lyn
Saturday, February 21, 2004 – after Chapter 29
They were carrying this “magic and monsters” thing a little too far.
Okay, the “oh, there’s trouble, be safe” thing was kind of good. And the Luke stomping around being tense and angry thing was pretty wild.
The girl stumbling through the hall with a hole through her stomach had either been some pretty awesome stage makeup, or there were actually psychopaths in the school.
Shang wasn’t sure what to think of the dead rat-things at all. They were just out here. Messy half-corpses everywhere, and one girl even pretending to <i>eat</i> them. Shang vowed to stick to tofu and vegetables in the dining hall for a while.
And now. Now he was just trying to get to the Library. Classes had been cancelled for weeks, and he was getting really bored sitting around his room. He’d actually listened to every CD he’d brought.
And there was some sort of crocodile animatronic thing in the hall, staring at him.
Shang backed up. He didn’t want to tangle with the thing. He didn’t want to find out if there really was a nut job wandering around, waiting to hurt him.
“Easy. What are you doing out in the halls?”
Without thinking, Shang flung his arm out, like he would in a car accident, stopping the girl from passing him. “Careful! There’s a… thing.”
“A thing.” The girl – Damaris, that was her name – moved Shang’s arm gently like a toll gate. Her fingers lingered on his wrist as she passed, “closing” his arm just behind her. “Ooh, a thing.”
“Are you worried about me?” She glanced at him, although most of her attention seemed to be on the crocodile thing. “I thought you didn’t like non-humans.”
“I don’t date non-humans. That doesn’t mean I want you to get hurt. Come on, we can go another way.”
“Tch, we should probably tell someone about them.”
“Don’t you think they know? I mean this whole freak show has to be their doing.”
“You think so?” She was backing up; somewhere in the procedure, she’d gotten ahold of Shang’s arm again. “This seems a little extreme. I mean, yeah, this place is nuts, but I can’t imagine they’d go quite that far.”
“Seriously? This is a bit much for upperclassmen, I think, even after that freak show the second weekend here.”
“Hell Night? Yeah, I don’t think anyone’s every pulled out crocodiles for Hell Night before. Demons, yeah. Monsters, yeah.”
“But not crocodiles? Seriously. The aesthetic here is over the top. The effects budget for that centaur has to be ridiculous.”
“Effects budget… you really are adorable, you know that? Come this way.”
“Adorable?” Shang wasn’t sure that was a good thing. “Come on, you can’t tell me you buy this whole mess. Really?”
She paused, looked at the crocodile, which was following them, very, very slowly, and started moving again, backing up down the hall, still holding Shang’s arm and still looking at him. “Buy into… being Ellehemaei? Magic? Or the whole boarding school of doom thing? Because I can tell you, we’re definitely in a boarding school of doom.”
“Yeah, I got that much. I mean, I don’t know what they’re trying to do to us, but it’s kind of freaky sometimes. All the weird effects, the people with all the fake blood…”
“Like Niassa?” The girl was frowning at him now. Shang did not want to be frowned at by pretty girls, even if it happened a lot here in Addergoole.
“Um… Is she the dark-haired girl who doesn’t bother with the fae prosthetics?” Shang was not all that good at names.
“Yeah. The big hole through her, you mean?”
“Yeah, or the crazy guy missing a arm.” That had been really, really creepy.
“I wouldn’t talk shit about them, if I were you. Those were real.” She was still frowning. Damnit.
“And that doesn’t freak you out?” It freaked Shang out. “People are getting fatally maimed…”
“Well, not fatally. We’re fae, after all.”
“So everyone keeps telling me. But, seriously, the school is allowing people to get really badly hurt, and you’re not freaked out?”
“Oh, I’m freaked out. This is my bothered face.” She glanced between Shang and the crocodile-thing. “You don’t happen to have the Word for animals, do you? I’m lousy at it.”
“What, Panida?” The two weeks of bothering sheep with Professor Fridmar had been interesting. Shang still wasn’t sure how they’d managed those effects. “You can’t… what, say it?”
“Can you say Yaku?”
“Yahch… That’s fucked up. “Scuse me. That’s messed up.”
“How have you managed to be here for half a year and still not know how things work? While you’re answering, try Tempero and then the word for animals, and pávoun, okay.”
“Tempero Panida pávoun. What am I doing?”
“Stopping the crocodile.”
“Oh. Tempero Panida pávoun!” He took a few more steps backwards. “Seriously, nobody tells me anything.”
“Grunts at me.”
“Can’t be Doug, you’re a guy. Luke?” She stepped backwards until she was just behind him, her fingers fluttering and landing on his arm again.
“Him. I don’t think he likes me.”
“He’s probably wondering the same thing I am.” She shook her head. “Try the stop again. I don’t think it’s quite stopped.”
“Tempero Panida pávoun crocodile.” He glared at the crocodile, feeling silly. This time, the monster slowed and actually stopped. “Hunh. Vocal responsive computer chip?”
The girl stared at him. “You really don’t believe any of this, do you? You really think it’s all – what, effects?”
“It’s the rational thing to think.” Staring in the face of a giant animatronic crocodile, he wasn’t completely sure of that anymore.
“Unh-hunh. Sweetie, someone has to show you what’s really going on.”
“Show me? You mean like what Naberius tried?”
“Nab? Did you tell his Keeper? His boyfriend, I mean? Cabal?”
“He came and got him.” He rolled his shoulders. “I shouldn’t have brought it up.”
“No, that’s fine. Good to know what you’ve gotten so far.” She frowned at her, looking, for a moment, a lot like Luke. “Okay.”
“Okay?” She’d clearly come to a decision. Shang wasn’t sure that was a good thing.
“I am going to make you a deal. Meentik Unutu.” A spear appeared in her hand. Shang rubbed his eyes, but he couldn’t see where it had dropped from, or a way it could have been collapsed. She wasn’t even really wearing sleeves.
She threw the spear, running it through the crocodile’s eye and into its circuit box. Red hydraulic fluid leaked out.
“A deal?” Shang backed up a few more steps.
“Meentik Unutu.” She repeated the poof-spear trick again. “Come with me, and I’ll show you what’s going on.”
“There’s got to be a catch.”
“Of course there’s a catch. Your immortal soul and your firstborn child.”
“Is that all?” She was crazier than most of them, but she was hot, and she was playing along. Shang was pretty sure she was playing along, at least.
“Your word on it, of course.” She made an elaborate bow that showed off her cleavage.
“Of course. So, I’ll promise you my soul and my firstborn, to get what… a little information? For that, I ought to at least get some of the kingdoms of the earth and a decent-sized molehill.”
“Educated. I like that in a man.” She threw the second spear, catching the injured crocodile as it lunged towards Shang. “Meentik Unutu.”
“It’s out of eyes.” He gestured at the croc, sporting leaking holes in both eye sockets. “Where are you keeping those spears?”
“I can show you that, too.” Her melodic voice had a certain mischief to it. Was flirting with him? The look she gave him seemed to be friendly.
“This still sounds a little one-sided.”
“You can promise me more, if you want.”
“I mean, my soul?”
“I really only want to rent it.”
“For a year or so.”
That poked something in Shang’s memory. “One year. Like Lee and Quintus?”
“More like Quintus than Lee. That I can guarantee.”
“You’re a girl.” He paused. “Right?”
She chuckled. She had a nice laugh. Melodic. Shang found it distractingly attractive. “I’m a girl all the way down. Want to see?” She reached for the buttons of her dress.
“No! I mean… I mean, yeah. Yes, please. Yeah. But, shit.” Shang felt his cheeks burning. “Sorry. Nobody’s ever offered that, like that…”
“Maybe not that directly. But even you can’t have gotten this far in Addergoole without a few offers.”
“Even me. What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Mr. ‘I only date humans?’ Come on, not many people will put up with that sort of racism.”
“…oh. That.” Shang couldn’t look her in the eyes. “It’s just…”
“It’s just that you want to deal with people you understand. I get that. But what you’ve got is me.”
“And you want a year of my soul and my first-born child.”
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