June 29, 2016 by Lyn
The more you know
The more you feel
The more you’ll understand
“…so, since we were done anyway, I promised not to distribute any more this year. But it seems our secret is out of the bag.” Kai flopped bonelessly on the couch in Jamian’s suite.
“Could be worse?” Jamian offered from his perch on the adjacent chair. “Maybe that’s all that’ll come of it, now.”
“It was a bit weird, to find it being the Thorne Girls looking out for me,” she admitted. “Between that, and the way Mabina’s been acting – although she’s mellowed since the babies – I don’t know.”
“Don’t know what?” he coaxed gently. Her emotions were in turmoil – she was certainly going through some issues regarding her worldview. Not that they all weren’t, he mused wryly. It seemed as if every other day adjusted their worldview.
“You and Shahin… I know you’re my friends. And Conrad, I’m pretty sure about. Taro… I don’t know. And the Thorne Girls… I’ve never had friends before at all,” she wailed plaintively. “I don’t know how to tell who’s real and who’s just faking it!”
“Just ‘pretty sure’ about Conrad? I’d think he should be the one you’re most sure of. The rest… well, I can’t tell you for sure. I do know that actions speak louder than words.”
“Exactly. Mabina seems to have some sort of agenda, but she never tells me what, just that I’m not living up to it. I got enough of that from my mother! Acacia… I really don’t know with her.”
She took a long breath. “And Conrad? Why would I be the most sure of him?”
Jamian was dumbfounded. “Conrad loves you. Of all of us, he should be the one you can trust.”
“Conrad Belongs to me,” she corrected sadly. “That’s not an emotion, that’s a magical bond.”
“He still has emotions, too. I can feel it.”
She hesitated. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. With friends it’s harder – there’s always such a muddle of different little emotions there. But love stands out.”
“Oh.” She looked thoughtful at that. “He loves me? Really?” Insecurity came off of her in waves.
“He really does,” Jamian assured her. “But, tell me more about these other people?”
“‘Bina… well, you met her. And Acacia, you know the Thorne Girls,” she answered hesitantly. “What do they want from me?”
“No clue what any of them want,” he shrugged. “But the Thornes are at least teaching you, aren’t they?”
“They are,” she asserted. “I mean… that was part of what helped me, with Ardell. That and Acacia showing up to … rescue me, I guess?”
“They have kind of a funny way of doing it, huh?”
“I’m not really surprised. They’re warriors, strong people, hard people.” Admiration was clear in her voice and her emotions.
Jamian nodded. “It sounds like you can at least count them allies; maybe friends, though it’s not easy to tell with people like that.”
“It’s hard for me to tell with everyone,” she lamented. “Studies are so much easier.”
“Well…” Jamian squinted, trying to imagine the problem from her point of view. “Can you approach this from that kind of angle?”
“Like… read up on the subject, study the data, find the patterns?” she asked dubiously.
“Well, there’s nothing to read; your ‘data’ will have to come from…” What did they call it in the textbooks? “…observational experience.”
“Hrrm.” She looked honestly contemplative. “That might get me somewhere. Thank you.”
“Speaking of…” she trailed off as Manira, looking pensive, slipped out of Phelen’s room, clad in nothing but her collar and a silk robe.
Jamian caught his breath, forcing his attention back to Kailani. There was just something about the way Manira carried herself, some casual seduction she unconsciously emanated. “Uh. So. You were saying?”
“Studies, and observational experience. How have yours been going?” She seemed, thankfully, oblivious to his problem.
“My studies?” he blinked, still trying to clear his head.
“Your observational experience. With strange words?”
“Oh! Well, I’m pretty sure I’m right about what it does. Not at all sure what to do with it.”
“Strange words?” Manira asked languidly.
It couldn’t hurt to tell her. She was a Fifth, after all, and his crewmate Owned her. “I seem to have… an extra Word? I’ve been experimenting with it.”
“An extra Word?” she leaned forward, curious, elbows on her knees and her robe half-open. “What sort of Word?”
“It, uh.” He licked his lips, blinking. “It seems to mean ‘magic’.”
“It what?” She leaned forward further, staring at him. “Say it!”
He was taken aback by the sudden intensity of her emotion, not to mention the view. “Uh. Frodleikr.”
She licked her lips. “Say it again.”
“Frodleikr…? Um. I can’t really do much with it, so far.”
“That will be more than anyone has done in more years than you can count,” she murmured intently. “What have you managed, so far?”
“Just little stuff, y’know? Accidents, mostly, since it seems practically everything here is magical.”
She looked, at that, taken aback, a little horrified. “Oh. Oh, my. Did you tell the Administration?”
“Uh. Not per se? I mean, kind of, with some of the accidents.”
“Accidents.” She pursed her lips. “What sort of accidents?”
Beside him, Kai was vibrating with curiosity and tension, but staying quiet, focused on the conversation, leaning forward much as Manira was, although with a bit of a different effect.
“Like, I made the air bad by restoring some sort of old spell. And I… kinda shocked Conrad…” Why was she so interested in this? It was embarrassing!
“You… wouldn’t that be hik… damnit… electricity?”
“Well, no, because there was once an enchantment on his collar that did it, and I repaired the enchantment, see? I didn’t mean to.”
She shook her head in awe, leaning back on the couch and laughing. “One of the most powerful unknowns in the universe, and you’re playing with it by accident. Truly there is no fairness in the world.”
He blinked, trying to make sense of the strange emotions coming off of her. “Well… what else should I be doing?”
“With that Word? Do you have any idea how powerful it is?”
“No? Do you?,” he challenged her. She was just a Fifth too, after all, and Kept, and would she please put some clothes on?
“I…” she frowned, waves of distress suddenly coming off of her.
He blinked again. “Are you okay?”
“Geasa,” she choked out. “You… that Word.”
“Geasa…? You know something about this? I mean, don’t try to talk about it if you can’t,” he added quickly. What had happened to her?
She frowned, clearly thinking hard. “Your Mentor needs to know about that Word,” she said carefully.
“I already told him,” Kai interjected. “He wasn’t interested – said it was nothing. None of the teachers I talked to would even acknowledge that it might be a Word.”
“Really?” Now the girl was frowning intently. “I have to go talk to…” she had half stood, and then she sat back down again. “I can’t leave.”
Can’t leave? Oh. “Phelen won’t let you?”
“Not without his permission.” That didn’t seem to bother her as much as it should, except… “so it won’t acknowledge the word. Interesting. I wonder if they don’t know, or if they’re trying to keep you ignorant.”
“You still make it sound like you know something we don’t.”
“I do…oo…on’t.” She winced. “Maybe ask why the older ones swear by thirteen departed Gods, when there’s only eleven Domains and eleven Manifestations.”
Kailani looked like it was all she could do to not break out a notepad right there. “Right,” Jamian said slowly. Something was wrong, here, very wrong
“Or just go around experimenting in an underground bunker full of enchantments. What’s the worst that could happen?”
“Y’know, when you put it that way…”
“Oh, goody, our entire cy’ree aren’t morons. If they won’t tell you directly – and it looks as if they’re keeping more secrets here than it first looked like, which is saying something – ask about the Old Tongue.”
“Old Tongue?” Phelen had stepped out of his bedroom unnoticed. “Dear, I’m rather fond of your tongue, but not in the living room with other members of your cy’ree.”
The girl flushed – embarrassed? Jamian hadn’t expected that – and answered, suddenly sounding much more like herself, “Of course, Phelen, I’m sorry.”
“We were just leaving anyway,” Jamian said quickly.
“Mm,” Phelen answered. “Come, Manira.”
“Of course,” she replied, licking her lips. Jamian hastened to depart, Kai hot on his heels.
“Old Tongue,” she muttered in the hallway. “I’ve heard that before.”
“Yeah? From who?”
“A book in the library – on archaic terms of address. It’s the language, I think, used by the ancient Ellehemaei.”
“The Ancient Ellehemaei? Why would she… Do you think, maybe, that it relates somehow to this Word? That it’s an… old word, I guess, or something?”
“It could be? Maybe we could look up the departed gods?” Kai seemed to be getting more and more uncomfortable.
“I guess so, but… how would Manira know about all this?”