May 13, 2016 by Lyn
Bring to me wisdom of age
All that’s locked within the book of secrets
I longed for the knowledge of a sage
It seemed a little surreal to just go to classes on Wednesday like nothing had happened, but there was comfort to the routine, as well, that Kailani embraced.
She dissected Russian grammar through her first class, for a little while able to ignore her problems. Yngvi and Elfred were both nice enough guys, and she didn’t feel like she had to be on guard around them.
But thinking about language made her think about the strange word – or Word – Jamian had used, and that found her approaching the terrifying Professor Fridmar after class.
“Kailani, what goes?” He smiled in a way she could only assume was intended to be good-natured, though it was still fearsome.
“Professor, I heard a Word yesterday-” it was hard to put the peculiar emphasis on it to make it not just an ordinary part of speech “-that I’m not familiar with. I wondered if you could help me?”
“Da, of course. What did sound like? Or, what did do?”
“Frod…” she tried. It didn’t like her, the way eperu sounded wrong on her tongue, but if she took it in syllables, she could say it. “Frod-leik-r. And I’m not entirely certain what it did, as it was paired with jasfe-” another word that tied her tongue up uncomfortably “–but the end result didn’t appear to be repairing anything.”
“End result was what, then?” He rubbed his goatee between two fingers.
“All the oxygen in the room turned to CO2.”
“From repair? Interesting. Very interesting.”
“So what might it have meant?”
“No idea. Approach from other side, maybe. What could have changed air?”
“A chemical reaction. Respiration, combustion. A Working, perhaps, Transmute.”
“Transmute Air, da. You work Air, Kailani. Can Transmute?”
“Nyet, no, sir.”
“Is not easy, so much at once, and you would recognize Kaana. So, chemical reaction maybe. Many Words cause those.”
“Are you suggesting that I mis-heard the Word, sir?”
“Nyet, but is difficult to place meaning, with many possibilities.”
She nodded. “I understand. I’ll see if Jamian found anything out.”
“Da. Duplicate experiment. Scientific method.”
She didn’t feel like contradicting such an intimidating professor, so she just nodded. “Thank you, Professor.” She took her leave, hoping Jamian would have some useful information.
Jamian wasn’t in her American History class, however, his empty chair something of a frustration. Kai really wanted to know what was going on. She could ask Professor Valerian… but the flighty history teacher had never seemed all that together to her. She tried to focus on the class and put the strange Word out of her mind until she could find someone who might be able to help her.
Over English Lit, she recalled that Professor VanderLinden was one of the older professors – and, if she remembered correctly, one of the only pure-bloods in the school. If anyone would know anything, maybe it would be him. She approached him after class.
“What can I help you with, Kailani?” There was something strange about the way he looked at her; maybe Conrad would be able to explain it later. For now, she could try her question again.
“I heard someone use a Word yesterday that I didn’t know; I thought, since you were one of the …” oldest “most experienced members of the teaching staff, you might be able to tell me what it was?”
He chuckled. ”Experienced. Yeah, I’m that, I suppose. What Word was it, Kailani?”
“Frodleikr,” she said, carefully.
He shook his head. “You must have heard it wrong, or heard some sort of modifier onto the Working. That’s not a Word, Kai.”
She was too good a student to contradict a teacher, even when they were blatantly ignoring information in front of them, so, growing increasingly frustrated, she thanked the professor and headed on to her next class.
Were the teachers useless or intentionally obstructionist? Considering the opinions she had heard of Dr. Regine – and that social ineptitude appeared to be a family trait – she could accept that her failure of advice was simply a lack of understanding of the problem. But for two teachers in a row to be so deliberately unhelpful seemed to be in line with the pattern of “we can’t tell you anything; we’ve been geased to keep you ignorant” that permeated the school.
There had to be something going on and, if there was, there had to be a way to find out what it was. Chewing on that problem, she sat down for Chemistry in her typical seat to Conrad’s right.
She could ask Conrad – but he’d been there and didn’t seem to know any more than she did, and she really didn’t like forcing information out around his geasa. She looked around speculatively – Mea was settling in to Conrad’s left, but she wouldn’t be any help. Bowen was sitting down carefully in the back of the class – the poor kid couldn’t even help himself, and she didn’t dare talk to him, anyway. Likewise Dysmas, who was sitting next to Bowen like a jailkeeper. Most of the rest of her class was Fifth Cohorts, like herself, who probably didn’t know any more than she did. Except…
“Morning.” Rozen settled in to the chair to her right.
“Good morning.” She looked over the big demon speculatively. Even the Thorne Girls didn’t trust him, but he’d always been forthright and honest…
“Rozen, have you ever heard of Words beyond the twenty-two we’re being taught?”
His brow furrowed. “You mean, for Workings?”
“Yes,” she nodded. “Yesterday, I heard a funny word, and I’m sure it was a Word, but I didn’t recognize it.”
“What’d it sound like?”
“Frodleikr.” Her tongue twisted on the strange syllables again.
“Frog-licker?” Rozen laughed. “No; but there are rumors that there’s more magic out there. Some of us have always suspected as much.”
She smiled widely. Now she was getting somewhere. But… the smile vanished. “The Words seem pretty comprehensive. What else would the magic cover? Aliens?”
“Well, there are a few things missing. I’m no scholar, though. Check out the Library when you have time.” He glanced at the teacher for a moment, then back to her, almost surreptitiously. “It’s a big place. I’d bet even the staff doesn’t know all of what’s in there.”
“There’s…” She took a couple deep breaths and calmed herself, dropping her voice to just above a whisper. “There’s a Library here?” She turned to Conrad, feeling very betrayed. “There’s a Library here?”
“Well, yeah,” he shrugged. “Everywhere’s got a library, right?”
“There’s a library here and you never told me?” From Taro, it was understandable. She wasn’t entirely certain Taro knew how to read. But from Conrad… she glowered at him.
Mea joined in the conversation, leaning over Conrad from the other side. Way over Conrad. She was wearing a low scoop-necked shirt, and her cleavage was pretty much in his face. “Well, you can’t blame him for having other interests. I’d have thought you’d have found the Library on your own by now, student that you are.”
“Please get off of my boyfriend.” For as annoyed as she was feeling, she thought she managed to be pretty polite. She looked at Conrad, waiting for an explanation.
Conrad shrugged as Mea retreated slightly. “We’ve been busy,” he said defensively.
She sighed. That was true. “We have,” she admitted. “Can we go there after class, then?”
“Yeah, of course.”
On the other side of her, Rozen chuckled. “You’re getting it backwards. He’s supposed to ask you for permission, not the other way around.”
She bristled, but had to admit he had a point. At least, even Finnegan seemed to think that was how it was supposed to go. “I guess…”
“If you want to come hang out in my room some time, I can show you how a Keeper is supposed to treat their Kept.”
“You should take him up on that,” Mea purred. “Conrad will thank you later, once he gets over it.”
She managed to avoid looking at Bowen behind her by focusing on Conrad. “Thank you for the offer,” she told Rozen politely. Conrad glared but remained silent; Rozen only smirked. She realized she hadn’t actually said no to Rozen’s offer, and Conrad was getting upset.
She took his hand; class was about to start and she didn’t want to annoy Professor Pelletier, and she could worry about the library problem later. “I like things the way they are,” she whispered.
Conrad just nodded, squeezing her hand gently, and turned his attention to the class.