May 13, 2016 by Lyn
Will you figure out
How you can change it
And rearrange it
And turn it all around?
You will learn by trial and error
She pulled him away from other people as soon as she could after class, her concern about the strange Word momentarily forgotten. Once she had him, though, in one of the little niches that pocked the classroom floor, she didn’t know what to say; she just looked at him helplessly.
“Hey, it’s okay, Kaia.” He ran a hand gently through her hair.
She sighed at him, torn between being embarrassed at Rozen and Mea’s suggestion and angry at him about the library. “It’s not really okay, is it?” She had a flash of insight, remembering Mabina telling her Put a collar on the boy before he gets too full of himself; she and Rozen had been talking about the same thing.
“Well, I don’t want you to be mad at me,” he sighed.
“I don’t like being mad at you, either. But it’s so hard to get anyone to tell me anything, and then all the upper-classmen are laughing at me…” she sighed unhappily. “…again, and you can’t tell me there’s a geas about the Library!”
“Well, no, there’s not. It just never came up.” He shifted uncomfortably.
She sighed. She couldn’t expect everyone to be as interested in books as she was. “It’s okay, I guess,” she ceded. “But it does seem like this school is stacked against knowledge. I talked to professors all morning, and then Rozen gives me more information than all of them combined.” Mentioning Rozen made her think about his offer. She didn’t want to take him up on it, of course not, but… “Should I be treating you differently? Am I doing it wrong?”
“There isn’t a right or wrong way to do it. Everyone treats their Kept differently.”
She frowned at him. “The way Agatha does it is pretty wrong.”
“I’d tend to agree, yeah. But others might not.”
She sighed. Social mores ought to be consistent through a group, at least. “I guess I can ask the Thorne Girls. I paid for their advice, after all; I might as well use it.”
“That’s true. They might have a little more knowledge than the average student about practical applications of magic.”
She wondered if he was intentionally changing the subject, but he did have a point. “They probably would. Let’s go to the Dining Hall, then, and I can ask them there.”
“Sounds like a plan,” he nodded.
Once in the Dining Hall, however, Kai couldn’t find the Thorne Girls; Finnegan was sitting with Melchior and his friends, looking wan and poking at his food, but he looked so sad that she didn’t want to bother him.
“They don’t seem to be here,” Conrad noted with a frown.
Kai shook her head. “No… but look, there’s Shiva’s crew. We can ask them if they know anything.” She grabbed his hand and hurried across the room.
They filled up the entire table, Shiva in the middle of one side and Jamian in the middle of the other. It made it awkward to find a way to talk to them; she settled for standing at the end of the table where Ty and Nikita sat across from each other.
“Hey, hon.” Shiva smiled up at them, seeming no worse for the wear and, like many of the people at the table, freshly showered. “How are you feeling?”
Kai blinked – did the cat-woman mean from the near-suffocation, from Anatoliy, or was she just being polite? She guessed on polite and just answered “Fine, thanks. Did you find out what happened?”
“Oh, that’s right, you weren’t there. Pull up a chair – a couple chairs – have a seat and we’ll talk.”
Conrad pulled over a chair for Kai and another for himself, at the end of the table with Ty and Niki.
“So.” Shiva leaned forward, her elbows on the table. “We went to Regine’s apartment early, because the air was turning bad again.” Kai tried to get a question in edgewise, but Shiva, it seemed, had just gotten started.
“And Regine was in with Luke, and Doug, and the Thornes, and that big guy that’s been wandering around for the last week. And…” she dropped her voice down to a whisper, “they were looking for two students.” There was something in her voice that even Kai could recognize as horror. “There was a Nedetakaei Dragon in the school, and he kidnapped Emrys and his girlfriend.”
“Kidnapped?” Kai gasped. “Really kidnapped, not like… Rozen?”
“Really kidnapped.” She nodded solemnly. “So they were in the middle of making war plans, when they realized that Ambrus had run off.”
“Ambrus? The Director’s assistant?” She frowned, bringing his face to mind. “Ah.” The nose, the cheekbones, the hair. Not close enough to be twins, but parent and child, that she could see.
Shiva nodded. “Yep, him. So everything went a little crazy for a little bit, and they figured out that he’d taken Regine’s car and gone – and wasn’t answering the phone.”
“Makes sense,” Nikita offered. “If he doesn’t talk to Regine, she can’t tell him to come back.”
“It would work, yeah,” Conrad said slowly.
Kai looked at him thoughtfully, then back to Shiva, who seemed amused by this suggestion. She laughed, at least.
“Yeah, probably,” she grins. “If you can’t hear them tell you to come back, you’re safe, right, Ty?”
“Mmm.” Ty smiled back at them.
“So, where was I? Okay, so Ambrus had taken off, which lit a fire under everyone else, and they finally got outta there, which left us with Dr. Regine.”
“And the problem with the environment in your room?” She wanted to ask more about the kidnapping, but she wasn’t sure how to, or what specifically she should ask.
Shiva shrugged. “They sent in Akatil to fix it.”
“But what was wrong? And what about the strange Word Jamian used? Frodleikr?”
“Frodleikr,” Jamian offered helpfully. The word rolled off his tongue in a manner Kai envied. “It was Jasfe Frodleikr.” The air rippled and settled again with no visible effect.
“Yes!” Kai nodded eagerly, leaning forward across the table. “No-one seems to know anything about it; I’ve been talking to people all day, and the best I could get is that there’s a Library. Dr. VanderLinden said it didn’t exist!” She thumped the table, her aggravation overflowing.
“Linden said the Library doesn’t exist?” Magnolia drawled. “Ah think he’s been there a time or two.”
“No, no,” she shook her head. Why didn’t anyone else care? “I mean he didn’t believe the Word existed!”
“Hey, hey, calm down, Kaia.”
A fzzzt sound zipped across the table, followed by a smell like burning hair and ozone.
“Ow!” Conrad yelped. “What the hell was that?”
“Well,” Jamian offered, “your hair is standing on end.” It was, too, frizzed out of his ponytail. The smell of burnt flesh was definitely coming from him, too; Kai touched his neck just under the collar.
“Yeah, something electrocuted me.”
“I see.” She moved the collar upward and ran her fingers over the sunburn-like line around his throat.
“Ow,” he reiterated, looking at her. “Did you do that?”
She shook her head. “No. You told me to calm down, and then it zapped you. I don’t have any skill with hiko,” she added helpfully. The burn went all the way around his neck and, from the feel of it, wasn’t too severe.
“Well what was it then?”
“The collar clearly electrocuted you.”
“No shit,” he snapped at her. She recoiled back, startled, as another fzzzt sparked through the air.
“Ow! Cut that out!”
Once again, the air sparked and stank of ozone and flesh. Nikita barked out a laugh. “Man, you’re slow!”
Conrad sighed. “Funny, Kai.”
She glared at him; he really thought she was doing this? “Conrad, I’m not doing this. I don’t have the Words to do it, and I wouldn’t even if I could.”
“Who else would mess with my collar?” He glanced around the table.
“It wasn’t my crew.” Shiva shook her head. “You’ve been listening; none of us did anything.”
Kai looked between them, the pieces falling into place. “Jamian…” she asked slowly, “do you have idu?”
He shook his head ruefully. “No. It seems like it would be useful, but I can’t even say it.”
“Mmm,” she pondered, “how about aposyntheto?” She couldn’t manage that one well, either, “I mean, ‘dismantle?’”
“That I can do!” She wasn’t certain, but she thought he looked relieved.
“Would you be…” She remembered what Caitrin had said when asking her to find Jamian; flinching, she turned to Ty. “Could Jamian come over to our suite later? I want to do some additional research, but I think I have an idea what’s going on.”
Ty nodded lazily, tousling Jamian’s hair as the younger boy scowled. “Jame’ can do what he wants. I’m not Aggie.”
“I’ll come over. You think you know what’s going on? Do you think that…” Jamian gestured at Conrad “…is related to this weird Word?”
“I think it might be. Thank you.” She smiled cautiously at Conrad. “Let’s go get some lunch.”