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Chapter 28: Timora

12

March 20, 2013 by Lyn

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Timora had spent a week and a half sitting by Arundel’s bedside, ever since Porter had half-dragged, half-carried her from her room without a coherent word of explanation.

The Doctor had her hands full.  Around Timora, people moved in and out, cut up, ripped up, bleeding, or sometimes just turned to stone.

Not as much, now.  The first few days had been horrible.  The doctor had spent most of her time — every healer in the place had — just trying to keep behind the flood of wounded.  Timora hadn’t blamed her for not doing anything for Arundel and Ilian.  As they were, they were stable and hard to damage.

As Timora understood it, they’d spent three hours just getting Arundel and Lee’s hearts, brains, and lungs moving naturally, and then left them in a forced coma-like state while they tried to heal the rest of the school — and some strangers from the basement.

The strangers had been harder to accept.  Timora had done what she could to help the healers — she couldn’t do Flesh but she could calm people down, wash them off, and do endless loads of laundry.  (If she stopped in to see Arundel every half hour, she could reassure herself that he hadn’t had a miraculous recovery while she wasn’t looking, or fallen off his bed, or something.) She wanted to help — but she didn’t like that these people who had attacked her Arundel were being cared for before him.  She bit her lip, and tried not to say anything at all.

Today, she was doing laundry, again.  She had used so much bleach in the last nine days, she was pretty sure the smell was never going to come out of her hair and skin.  There were three strangers in Exam Room One, who had been put through triage and given enough healing to keep them from leaking all over the place.  One of them, though, had horrid weeping sores that nobody seemed to have healed yet.

“We’re going to have to do something.”

Timora wasn’t sure if Dr. Caitrin had slept since the raid began.  She was leaning against the wall, just at the corner of Timora’s vision, talking to someone.

“I know, Cait.  I’m working on it — we all are — as fast as we can.”  Luke.  Sounding just as tired.

“These children — some of them, at least — they were sequestered for a reason, Luca.”

The strangers?  Timora kept tossing sheets in the washer, hoping they didn’t notice her presence.

“I know, Cait. But we can’t very well leave them down there.”

“Once we clear out the monsters…”

“It’s going to take us weeks, if not years, to make sure we’ve gotten everything out of there, to see what else the bastards left waiting for us.  We’re going to have to come up with a solution up here.”

“What? Private padded cells?”

“It’s better than what would have been done, in an earlier time.  Than what would happen to them, if we let the Council discover them.”

Padded cells. What would happen to them… Timora’s fists clenched on the sheets.  She’d seen a few of these kids.  They were kids, barely older than she was.  How could they talk about them like this?

“Luca.”  Dr. Caitrin’s voice sounded both tired and pleading.

“I know, Cait.”  Luke’s didn’t sound much better.  “They can’t be in general population.  We can’t do that to the other students, and we can’t do it to them.”

“I know that, Luke.  And they can’t stay locked in here, either.  I need the bed space.”

“Then what would you have me do?  Build them their own school?  It’s that or the cells, Cait.  And who do we sentence to death to teach them?  Someone like Eris?  She’d survive — but would she come out sane?”

Timora didn’t quite stifle the noise that came out of her, hearing that.  The conversation stilled, and Dr. Caitrin stuck her head around the corner. “Timora!”  She avoided saying obvious things like “I didn’t know you were there,” at least.  “You should get some rest.”

She held up a well-used card. [Arundel isn’t better yet.]

“It’s going to take us weeks to get Arundel back in shape, dear.  You don’t need to spend every minute here.”

Another well-used card. [I want to.]

The doctor sighed.  “All right. I won’t send you home but — oh. Are those Malka’s sheets?”

Timora nodded.  The pus was nasty, and it took a lot of bleach to clean the stains out.

“That poor child.  You don’t need to change their sheets, Timora.”

At least when she repeated herself, she didn’t need new cards. [I want to help.]

Dr. Caitrin sighed.  “All right.  I won’t argue with that.”  She glanced back at Luke, and then back to Timora.  “About what you overheard…?”

She scribbled out a card quickly.  [Why can’t they go to school with us?]

Luke coughed, his wings making a stiff breeze through the room.  “Some of the students who were down in the fourth-floor level were down there for health reasons.”

“Don’t mince words, Luca.  It doesn’t suit the situation. They were down there because their powers are not entirely in their control.”

[Like mine?]

“Yes.”

“No.”

She looked between the two of them.  Luke finally answered.  “Yes.  Powers like yours, but worse.  Powers that can accidentally kill someone — or turn them to stone.  Tempers that are barely — or not at all — under control.”

[Tempers?]

“I’m not talking about being a little angry, Timora.  I’m talking about flying into a rage and trying to destroy everything in your sight.”

People really did that?  She looked doubtfully between them.  [So… they could hurt other students?  Like they hurt Arundel?]  She looked thoughtfully down at her paper, and then wrote “Lee,” with little circles around it, and added, in the corner, “Nilam.”  Hopefully, she wouldn’t have to come out and say it.

“More than Lee or Nilam’s Keepers hurt them.  And yes — like they hurt Arundel, but more so.  At least one of them is deadly to come in contact with.”

She flipped through her cards.  [That has to suck.]

Luke made a sound like a choked laugh.  “Yeah.  It really does.”

The more she thought about it, the more it seemed horrible.  She pulled out some clean notecards.  [How long have they been down there?]

Luke made a strained noise.  She wasn’t sure what it was, but he coughed it away and tried to answer her.  “Since we started the school, we’ve been sending students down there.”

[Because they’d hurt other people?]

“Yeah.”  Now his voice had gotten soft and gentle. “I’m sorry, kiddo.  I know it’s horrid.  But some people just really lose the Change lotto.”  He tousled her hair.  “Worse than you.”

She tilted her head.  Having the gym teacher play with her hair was a bit weird.  [You said, what would have happened before…?]

Luke coughed, and made another wind storm in the hall.  “Yeah.”  He pulled up a chair and sat down. “I should be getting out there again, soon.  But.” He looked down at his knees.  “You know full-bloods, Mara, Daeva, Grigori, and half-breeds?”

Timora nodded.  That was easy enough.  Luke was a Mara.  Professor VanderLinden was a Daeva.  Dr. Regine was a Grigori.  Everyone else was a halfbreed.

“Halfbreeds are a new thing for the Ellehemaei.  New being centuries, almost half a thousand years.  But the full-bloods didn’t know what to do with it when their kids first started Changing… different.”

Timora tugged on one of her horse-like ears.  Different.

“Yeah.  Different.  All Mara look more or less like me.  All Daeva have the same Changes as Mike.  Not like you guys.”  He patted her shoulder again.  “And there were people who couldn’t cope with it at all.”

With…  Timora tilted her head, not quite following

Luke smiled dryly.  “Ellehemaei don’t deal well with Change.  They start thinking the world is ending.  And they start lashing out.”

Lashing out…  She frowned tightly.  [Killing.]

“For a while, yeah.  It didn’t last long — every half-breed child was the daughter or son of another Ellehemaei, at least back then, the way I was told it.  But they tried.”

“And when they couldn’t kill all of them,” Dr. Caitrin stepped in, looking over Luke’s head, “they found reason to kill any that they could.  Dangerous powers.  Those that couldn’t Mask.  Unstable personalities — all of the full-bloods have personality Changes, of course, and none of them ever admit it.”

Luke coughed. “Thank you, Doctor.”

“No problem, Luca.” She turned her attention back to Timora.  “This pogrom of theirs went on for centuries.  But as more and more Ellehemaei had half-blooded children, it got harder and harder for those in charge to justify it.  If an upstanding citizen like Luca here can have a…”

“Doctor.”

“Luca.”

“Doctor, there’s a line too far.”

“We’re talking about the girl’s heritage.  And mine.”

“You do not need to talk about my children to do that.”

Timora wrote hastily.  [People want to kill me?  For being a half-breed?  Whatever that is?]

“Some people may want to.  But they are no longer allowed to.”  She was pretty sure Dr. Caitrin was trying to be comforting.  “Half-bloods have been accepted as part of the Council for over two centuries.  You. Me.  Almost every teacher in the school.”

[But not people who have dangerous powers.  Not people who will hurt other people, who can’t cover up their powers.] Her handwriting was getting messier and messier.  [Why aren’t I down there?]

The two of them shared a look.  And then another look.  and then another one.  The room was thick with looks.

“Tell me!”  Timora’s voice ripped out of her, and even the gym teacher flinched.

It was the doctor who talked first, however.  “If we — Shira — had foreseen your power, you may have ended up down there.  There are some that we see.  But the fact that that you have Arundel balances it out.”

“Arundel?”  She puts her hands over her mouth as they both flinched.

“Arundel.”  Luke nodded.  “Because he can be there for you, while you learn to control your power.

[What if I don’t?] She had a card for that.  It came up a lot when she was talking to Dr. Mendosa.

“We’ll help you come up with a way to deal with it, then.”  Luke patted her shoulder again, and, again, she didn’t flinch away.  “Timora.  You are our student.  We’ll teach you.”

It wasn’t enough.  It wasn’t enough, when she knew she could have been locked in a basement.  “I’ve got to go see Arundel.”  If she whispered quietly enough, her voice didn’t hurt people.

Later that day

Aundel’s hand was stone.  His everything was still stone.  Timora held his hand anyway.

Idu wasn’t one of her good words, but she’d done a Working or two anyway, while she sat vigil.  If she talked to Arundel, his sleeping mind seemed to get happier — but, on the other bed, Lee’s got twitchy or flat-out panicked.  Since Lee had a hard time getting calm anyway, she settled for holding both their hands and murmuring Jasfe Hugr Workings to both of them.

She barely knew Lee.  Before he’d gotten Kept, he’d spent most of his time with a bunch of guys who seemed to think girls had cooties.  After he’d gotten Kept… he’d been different.  Still happy go-lucky, but it had seemed like it had this desperate, panicked edge to it.  Encased in stone, stuck in a bed, he still had nightmares.

Timora didn’t know him, not much at all, but she didn’t see any reason she shouldn’t do what she could to help him.  His Keepers had only been in, once, to ask when they’d have use of him back.  Dr. Caitrin had, Timora thought, only not chased them out because she was too tired to waste energy on them.

“Jasfe Hugr.”  Her Workings didn’t sound much better than anything else she said, but they seemed to upset people less.  “Jasfe Hugr Arundel cy’Luca.  Jasfe Hugr Ilian oro’Thessaly Kai Lucian.”

“Hugr?”

She knew Abaddon from sight — and from Calvin’s warnings.  Everyone’s warnings, really, except Arundel’s, which might be telling.   He was thin, handsome, and pierced all over with bone spurs.  Since the mess had begun, he’d traded in silk shirts and dress pants for stained workout pants and an equally stained T-shirt; he looked tired today, as everyone did, bags under his eyes and an ashen hue to his skin.

“Hugr.”  She nodded, and then dug through her cards for the right one.  Her filing system was getting all messed up, living out of her purse this way.

[Being rock seems to stress them out, even in a coma.]

“Get asked that a lot, do you?”  He took a seat next to Timora — fell into it, more than anything.

[Yes.]

“Ha.  Somehow not surprised.  About any of it. I’m Abaddon.”  He offered her a hand, first checking to make sure it was clean.

“Timora.”  She shook his hand, noting his spikes grew longer when she spoke, and then slowly shrank again.

“You’re Arundel’s, right?”

She nodded; that didn’t require any real explanation.

“I thought so.  You’ve been around a lot lately.  What about his Crew?”

[They visit a lot.]

“Good.  And his?”

She shook her head, and pulled a frown.  Horrid people.

“Thessaly and Lucian, right?  Yeah, that makes sense.  They’re pretty shitty people on a good day, and ‘Kept turned into a statue’ isn’t a good day.  How’s his Hugr doing?”

She made the so-so hand gesture.

“Even with your Jasfe?”

Nod.  He was really good at holding up his end of the conversation with very little from her — sort of a good bedside manner, really.  She wondered if he planned on being the world’s handsomest doctor when he left Addergoole.

“We should have Dr. Mendosa in to look at him when he has time.  And how’s Arundel doing?”

Thumbs-up.  She thumped on her lover’s chest gently, to indicate that he was still stone, even if his Hugr was doing fine.

“Yeah.  I know.  We’ve gotten everybody stabilized — everyone right now, at least — and they’re down to the last clean-up on the monsters.  So I’m here to do a little bit of work on your statues, here.”

Timora reached over and touched the bags under Abaddon’s eyes gently.  He didn’t quite flinch away, but he did hold very, very still.

“I know.”  When her fingers moved, he rubbed his eyes.  “I know.  I’ve slept, actually, rather recently.  And I have the energy to spare right now.”  He gave her a reassuring, good-bedside-manner sort of smile.  “I’m quite good at this, I assure you.  I won’t hurt them.”

Timora nodded.  She could trust him.  Dr. Caitrin wouldn’t have let him come in if he couldn’t do it.

[Is there anything I can do?] That card was getting a lot of use, too.

“Just monitor his Hugr, okay? Let me know if he spikes anything at all.  And don’t be afraid to talk.  I can handle it.”

She gave him another thumbs-up, and took Arundel’s hand. “Idu Hugr Arundel cy’Luca.”

“Idu Tlacatl Arundel cy’Luca.”  Abaddon had a nice Working voice, low, almost a rumble.  “Aistrigh Tlacatl apó Eperu…”  Timora didn’t understand much of the string of Greek that came after that.  She stopped listening, and focused on Arundel’s emotional state.

Slumbering, her Keeper’s state didn’t shift much.  Sometimes there would be a burst of activity she assumed was a dream; sometimes a stab of fear she thought was a nightmare.

Right now, he was just-sleeping, nothing really going on at all.  Then Abaddon began his Working, and, after a moment, a pique of curiosity.  And then another, and then…

“Pain.”  Timora whispered it as softly as she could.

“If it doesn’t pass in sixty seconds, tell me again.”

She counted silently.  Thirty-three, thirty-four… at forty-seven, the pain subsided. “Relief.”

“Good.”  He kept Working, and Timora kept watching Arundel’s now-swirling emotions.

“Confusion?”

“Not surprised.  The optic nerves are hard, I’m not going to be able to do those.  But I can get him hearing, I think, and speech.”

“…happiness.”

“Good, the hearing is already starting to work.  And I’ve started waking him up — well, the pain did that.  Hold on.  Close to a stopping point.”

Arundel’s emotions were now a jumble of impatience.  Timora smiled down at her stony Keeper.  Let me out now seemed to be the gist of it, and that was entirely him.

“Hallelujah!”  Suddenly, Arundel’s shout shook the exam room.

“Easy, easy.” Abaddon laughed.  “Okay, you’re vocal.  Not mobile, yet, but that’ll come soon.  Can you feel your tongue?”

“Tastes like stone.”

“Somehow, I’m not surprised.  I’m going to go get a soda, and then I’ll be back to work on Ilian.”

Timora clung to Arundel’s hand.  He still was made of stone, everything but his jaw and ears, but at least he could hear her.  He could…

“Damnit.”

“Woah, language.  Hey, pretty lady.  How’re you doing?”

“Arundel…”  She kisses his jaw.  “I’ve missed you so much.  But my voice…”

“You know it doesn’t bother me.”

“No.  But it bothers Lee.”

“Lee… shit, that’s what he meant.  She got him, too?”

“Yeah.  Only the two of you, in the first run.  And I think they threw a bag over her head.”  She set her head against his chest. “I don’t want to bother him.  He has a hard enough life already.”

“Hard.   Ha.”  The joke fell a little flat.  “Where’s Porter? Sylvia?”

“They’ve been here a lot.  They went home to make dinner, that’s all.”  She really ought to stop talking.  She really ought to shut up.  But…

“Dinner.  Man, I could eat a horse.  Maybe the whole Budweiser team.  You know, the really big horses?”

“Clydesdales.”

“Those, yeah.  I have a stomach, I guess.”

“Yeah.” She lowered her voice to a whisper and focused on being as not-scary as possible.  “They made the organs go first.”

“And the eyes are last, I guess.”  His jaw twitched. “I don’t want to know about food and stuff, do I?”

“No.”  She shook her head.  “No.”

“I feel so helpless!

He was, functionally, helpless at the moment.  Made of stone, blind, stuck to the bed.  Timora had nothing she could say to that one.

She kissed his chin again, and the edges of his neck.  That got a little chuckle out of him.

“That tickles.  Eee… Timmy, that tickles a lot.  Hey, hey.  No fair when I can’t play back.”

Reluctantly, she stopped, settling for setting her head on his rocky shoulder. “Missed you.”

“I’m sorry, hon.  I didn’t mean to get turned into a rock.”

“I know.”  She stroked his neck with two fingers.  “I know.  You were being cy’Luca.”

“Ha, is that what Porter said?”

“Yeah.”  Porter had said a lot, and left a lot unsaid, but being cy’Luca had been on the list.

“Yeah, that makes sense.  I was being pretty cy’Luca.  Poor Lee.  He doesn’t even have that excuse.”

“He doesn’t have any excuse at all.”  Thessaly breezed in, Lucian directly behind her.  “He doesn’t need one, either.  This was all Luke’s stupid idea.”  She thumped on Lee’s chest.  “Is he useful yet?”

Timora shook her head, not that it wasn’t obvious from the stone state of her classmate.

“Of course, they’re taking care of the people first, love.”  Lucian rested a hand on Thessaly’s butt.  “They’ll get to Lee when they get to him.”

“I think they should give us a loaner in the meantime.”  Thessaly sulked it out.  “This one will do.  Her Keeper doesn’t need her right now.”

“Leave her alone.”  Arundel’s voice was getting louder.

“What are you going to do about it?  It’s not like you can challenge us.  It’s not like you can do anything right now.”

”While Arundel’s in our care, I think we can stand in loco parentis.” Zita, in the doorway, was smiling.

Timora had never been so happy to see the tiny nurse’s-aide.  The others, on the other hand…

“Loco’s right,” Thessaly sneered.

Zita grinned broadly. “Funny, isn’t it? I’m sorry about Lee.”

“You should be fixing him.  What are we supposed to do in the meantime?”  Thessaly thumped her fist down on Lee’s stone leg.

“Dunno, flirt with people who actually want it?”

Timora was not sure if Zita was, herself, flirting, or if she was being snarky with the intruder.  From the look on Lucian’s face, he wasn’t, either.  Thessaly was still looking at stone-Lee.

“We might be able to use him like this. I mean, as rock, it’s not like he can lose his erection…”

“He doesn’t have an erection right now,” Zita said blandly. “And if you try to give him one, you’ll break it.”

“Well, it serves him right.”  From her tone of voice, even Thessaly knew that didn’t make any sense.

”Say, what are you two going to do about graduation, anyway? Going to get knocked up, Thess?”

Thessaly made an incoherent noise.  Lucian laughed, not altogether kindly.  “She already did.  With his kid.  And Dr. Caitrin, of course, won’t let me say it’s mine.”

Timora looked between the three of them, wondering what the hell was going on.  Next to her, Arundel was making a quiet, choked noise.

Zita snickered. “If you touch Timora, I’ll take the offending limb off at the shoulder or hip and beat you with it,” she added.

Timora blinked.  Why did Zita care?

“Why do you care?”  Lucian glanced at Timora, then at Zita.  “And should you be getting your Keeper in fights without his permission?”

“’Hi, Leo, can I get you in fights with Team Rocket?’ ‘Sure, totally, I hate those guys and fighting is awesome. I love fighting so much that draining myself half-dead and going and fighting a fucking Medusa sounds awesome.'”

Thessaly snickered.  “You were expecting reason out of Boom, Lucian honey.   Face it, you might be stuck here another year if you can’t find someone Zita doesn’t care about.  Maybe that crab-girl.”

“Maybe we’ll deal,” Zita commented. “I can be reasonable, or hire someone to be reasonable for me, anyway. Your word about Timora?”

“What word do you want?”  Lucian was looking interested, but whether he was interested in Timora – who could have told him she couldn’t help him with the baby problem anyway, but of course he hadn’t asked – or interested in Zita’s offer, that was harder to determine.

“Both of you to swear that you will not touch, harm or Work Timora, or have anyone do the same to her on your behalf, or try to wiggle out of the promise, until Arundel is released from the nursing staff’s care.”

“So you want us to leave the little Kepties alone until their Keepers can protect them again.”  Thessaly looked thoughtful.  It didn’t suit her.  “What’s in it for us?”

“Tess, it’s not that bad a request.”  Lucian stepped so that, Timora noted, he was between Thessaly and Timora.  “You know the school would come down like a ton of bricks if we did anything like that anyway, especially now.”

“Then the school shouldn’t have taken my toy away.”

“What’s in it for you is that me and my cy’ree don’t rip your limbs off and then practice reattaching them. I’m perfectly happy to go with that option; I need the practice.”

Timora wondered, for a moment, if the tiny woman was serious.  She actually let out a little noise, the beginning of a question she quickly stifled.

Zita tilted her head at Timora in silent question. Timora coughed, and wondered if she’d get her own arm ripped off for asking.  “Would you…?”  She tried to make her voice as non-threatening as possible.

“Oh, gosh yes,” Zita said, eyeing the wonder twins. “Never bluff, that’s the ticket. With my teeth, if I had the time.”

Arundel laughed, his voice sounding – oh, dear – gravelly.  “I told you Boom were tough, love.”

“She’s serious.” Lucian’s voice sounded thoughtful.  “Tess…”

“Right, right. We didn’t come here for her anyway.  We came here for this useless lump.”  She thumped her fist on Lee’s chest again. “You, Keptie, write it up. We’ll sign it.”

Well, that was promising enough.  “Be right back,” she whispered in Arundel’s ear.  The closest paper was her notecards; she wrote up the promise tidily across one card.  While Timora was writing, Zita murmured to Lucian in an undertone, “Talk to Cya about that deal. She’s the reasonable one.”

The deal?  Interesting.  She passed the card to Lucian, and, while he was reading it, tried to catch Zita’s eye.

Zita smiled at her.  “Are you intimidated by these lovely people, or am I being too fae again?”

That was a good question.  Timora made a so-so gesture with her hand: a little of A, a little of B.

Arundel laughed.  “I think Sylvia is rubbing off on her.  She probably doesn’t get why you’re helping her out.”

“There.” Thessaly shoved the signed promise at Zita.  “Anything else, your majesty?”

“I don’t want the nursing station becoming a war zone. I do my homework there,” Zita said, taking the card and folding it neatly. “Or, alternatively, for the cause of truth, justice, and freedom.”

Timora was startled into a laugh, which, as always, sounded something like a car crash.  Thessaly and Lucian both visible winced.  “Arundel, shut her up, would you?”

Arundel just laughed. “I don’t have a problem with it.”

Zita’s eye twitched in time with the flinches.  “We’re not as good as Crews like Richard the Lionheaded, but we’re far more active.”

Richard the…  Timora scribbled the question on a piece of paper. [Richard the Lion-Headed?]

“There was this guy named Richard in cy’Luca a few years before me,” Zita explained, eyeing Thessaly. “He had a lion Change and he was pretty much not a game changer, so lion headed, not lion hearted. He got me out of a tight spot once, though, so I can’t say I disapprove of cy’Luca entirely.”

“I’ve heard of him.”  Arundel made an amused noise.  “Glad you don’t entirely hate us.  That would make your Keeper sad.”

“I don’t make my Keeper sad. I occasionally make him grumpy, often amused, and sometimes inspired to homicide but usually not directed at me, but not sad.”

Thessaly and Lucian, Timora noted, were edging towards the door.

“Good.”  Arundel made another noise, which Timora thought might have been frustration.  ”Thanks, Zita.  Any idea when I’m getting out of this full-body cast?”

“Tomorrow at earliest, sorry. We can’t work ourselves into the ground for you in case there’s a mass outbreak of people dying.”

At that, the trouble twins made their escape, leaving Lee in peace.

“No, no, that’s fine.”  He didn’t sound too fine.  Timora pressed her lips to his neck again.  “Thanks, Timora.  I just… I want to be out there fighting!”

“Leo would probably say that this is a good opportunity to meditate on the universe and level up. I’d say… take some time to spend with your Kept. You being out there fighting is a bit rough on the psyche, even when one’s well adjusted.”

“Thanks.”  His throat twitched.  ”Thanks for standing up for her, too.”

“You’re Leo’s cy’ree. And, um.” She laughed, embarrassed, fiddling with the end of her ponytail. “I was serious about the truth and justice thing. They’re creepy.”

Noam and Brenna

Friday, February 20, 2004

“You.  Are amazing.”

“You keep saying that.”

“Didn’t you expect her to be able to fight, hunh, smart-boy?”

“Where I come, the only warrior-princesses are either on TV or in roleplaying games.”

“I’m not that good.”

“Don’t do that to yourself, Bren!”

“Could we please go inside?”

“This is kind of fun.”

“I have to second the going inside thing.”

“I knew you were useless.”

“Yep.”  Noam swung his walking staff like a bat.  By this point, most of the really obnoxious monsters from the basement had been dealt with, but the school was still on high-alert, and they were still mopping up the oddest critters.

Today’s nuisance critter appeared to be Changed rodents. R.O.U.S’s, if you would.  They weren’t all that tough, but there were approximately a thousand million of them running through the halls (The theory was, the elephant-thing had accidentally let them out).

They went splat when you hit them, or crunch if you hit them just right.  Noam was getting a good feeling for exactly where to hit them; next to him, Jabez was relying on a spearing tactic that ended up running through a lot of spears.  He had Create Object, at least.

Noam was trying, and he had a feeling his fellow Kept was too, to mostly-ignore what their Keepers were doing to the rats.

Feeding.  That didn’t sound any better than any of the other words he’d come up with. “You’re amazing.”  That seemed to cover it, and covered the panicked looks Brenna kept shooting him, too.

It was something else to have someone shooting panicked looks at you when her mouth was covered in blood and she was devouring her seventeenth rat in as many minutes.

“You keep saying that.”



Art by Xrinettex


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12 comments »

  1. Wysteria says:

    Wheeee developments.

  2. capriox says:

    I was really enjoying the Plot! and the character interactions in this chapter, but then I got to the end and they are EATING the RATS, AUGH.

    AUGH

    All The Disturbing!

    (possibly because I’m a farmer and rats are one of teh evil ugly bastids on a farm)

  3. Rix says:

    Three cheers for Timora, Zita and Arundel! More healing and comfort for Lee!

    Can someone beat up Thessaly and Lucian?

    • Gudy says:

      You are way too kind, Rix. I think Zita’s idea goes kind of in the right direction, actually. I second the cheers for Timora, Zita and Arundel, though, with an extra nod to Leo. And not that I agree with Lucian who seems, for whatever that may be worth, the slightly less insane half of the duo, but I suspect that Lee may actually count it as a personal favor if he’s healed last – anything not to get back into the tender loving care of his Keepers…

      @capriox: look at it that way: when you’ve eaten them and chewed them carefully, like you always should, you can be reasonably certain they won’t come back. 😛

      Typos:
      “when their kids first starting Changing” starting -> started
      “We should have Dr. Mendosa into look at him” into -> in to
      “even if his Huger was doing fine” Huger -> Hugr
      “Timora whispered is as softly as she could” is -> it
      ““Hi, Leo, can I get you in fights with Team Rocket?” -> double quotes at the start
      fighting a fucking Medusa sounds awesome.”“ -> double quotes at the end
      “He had [Meentik Unutu], at least.” What’s with the square brackets?

      • Lyn says:

        Random square brackets! Will fix typos, thanks.

        Glad Lucian reads as the saner half of the pair. There’s a story there…

      • capriox says:

        augh, not helping Gudy!!!

        blrghbrrlllrlrgrgl = my brain & stomach rejecting that mental imagery

        • Gudy says:

          Man, you’re leaving yourself open to all kinds of replies that may or may not be considered funny (depending on your sense of humour) but are almost certainly in bad taste. But I’m not going to go there, terribly tempted though I am – I like you too much for that. 🙂

          Sorry about the imagery, or at least its effect on you! *hugs*

  4. Kuro_Neko says:

    Good stuff.

    Quite a bit seems to be happening off-screen, which I wasn’t really expecting. The 4th floor students attacking their teacher seems to have happened off-screen (since the creatures are wondering the upper levels); Most or all of the 4th floor students seem to have been captured; And now most of the creatures seem to have been mopped up. I kinda expected these three events to be covered in detail, or at least the first two. *shrug* I’m sure you have your reasons.

    I’ve always liked Timora. Arundel might be a bit of a bird-brain at times but he tried to explain and gave Timora a choice, which earns him a ton of brownie points from me. He’d have to be a really lousy Keeper to off-set those and he’s not. In fact he seems to be one of the best. He seems to really be following through on the explanation he gave to Timora: that Keeping is mostly about protection, because that’s mostly what he’s doing, just protecting her and otherwise giving her as much freedom as she wants and is safe. Other then maybe Porter I can’t think of a better Keeper from this year, and Porter didn’t give Bel a choice (that we know of). So three cheers for Arundel.

    It was a downer hearing that but for a fluke of fate Timora could have ended up down in the dungeon. Sure her power is uncontrollable when she uses it, but it is controllable in the sense that she can choose not to use it. Yet another black mark against the staff in my book. It’s not like she’s like the gas-cloud girl (sorry, too lazy to look up her name). And the gas-cloud girl seems like a nice kid herself, not really deserving of her fate even if her powers are dangerous and not under her control. They should do what they do for students like this at Whateley Academy (another great web serial which I highly recommend), which is build them nicely furnished isolation rooms and pipe in classes via cctv. All the while trying to come up with some combination of magic and/or technology that would allow them to at least function in the rest of the school and village if no-where else.

    I completely forgot about Noam when I did my list of 9th Kept, so that another to add to the going to be fine list.

    For those interested in my mention of Whateley Academy: It is a collaboration between a dozen or so authors and is also about a school for superhuman teens, in this case mostly mutants a la Xavier’s school but on steroids. It’s a full on boarding school with about six hundred students and teaches regular classes along side such as magic, mutant powers theory and costume design. The world it’s set in is comic-like in many respects, with super-heroes and super-villains an accepted part of the world, but alittle more realistically handled then many aspects of todays comic books. The school itself is strictly neutral, so there are students that plan to be heroes, some that plan to be villains and many others who just want to learn to control their powers enough to function in everyday society. I will offer fair warning that Whateley Academy contains strong LBGT elements, emphasis on the T, especially early on. But if you’ve gotten this far in Addergoole then it probably won’t bother you too much. I’ll also warn that there is *alot* of material. For a comparison, I was able to read the entirety of Addergoole (Y5 and Y9) in about three days of intense reading. It took me three weeks of equally intense readying to get through all of Whateley, and that was when there was a fair bit less then there is now. We’re talking about 50 novel length stories (100-500 pages) and over 200 more shorter works that range from 20-80 pages. About 5 million words all told (War and Peace is about 450 thousand words). If you’re looking for more information about the series before you commit, here’s the series’ TV Tropes page:
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/WhateleyUniverse?from=Main.WhateleyUniverse

    http://crystalhall.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Canon_Stories#
    That’s a link to the wiki, which is the best most up to date source for stories. The first table you’ll find contains the primary stories. It defaults to chronological order which is the best way to read them with one exception. Chronologically Baker’s dozen and Silver Linings part 1 are first. But I would advise starting with Enter the Chaka and reading through to Welcome to Poe, then go back to read Baker’s dozen and Silver Linings part 1, then continue chronologically beyond Welcome to Poe.

    Sorry if my shameless plug annoys anyone. I’m a huge fan of Whateley Academy and promote it whenever I can. I’ll be doing the same for Addergoole as well from now on.

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