July 15, 2016 by Lyn
Friday’s first period Lit class ended with Professor VanderLinden pulling Jamian aside. “After classes today, could you stop by my office? Morgan, our visitor, would like to talk with you.”
“Um… sure,” he offered nervously. “What about, sir?”
“The school, and your experiences, and all manner of things, I suspect,” the professor replied vaguely. “She’s an outsider, representing a larger group of Ellehemaei.” Now, he set a hand on Jamian’s shoulder, meeting his gaze. “I trust you’ll leave her with a good impression.”
Jamian gulped. “Of course, sir?” A good impression of Addergoole? Or of himself. “Is there, ah, anything you don’t want me to talk about?” Like Kendra?
“Of course I wouldn’t tell you not to talk about anything; that would hardly leave her with an accurate picture to take back to her fellows, would it? I’m sure you’ll use your discretion.”
Oh, good. He’s not going to tell me what not to say; I just have to guess.. “Yes, sir.”
“You’ll do fine,” the professor said with a wink as he turned away.
Gee, thanks. No pressure at all. It weighed on him all day, making him far less enthusiastic than either Shahin or Kailani would like in the locker room, twitchy at lunch, and miserably inattentive in class. By the time he headed to Professor VanderLinden’s office after class, he was a zombie, tail dragging, nerves raw.
The stranger was there, seated behind the professor’s desk, which made the whole thing even more unnerving. At least the curtain was closed.
“Jamian, isn’t it?” Her voice was brisk and businesslike, though not unfriendly, per se. “Do have a seat, please.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He sat uncomfortably, almost tripping over his tail. Brilliant showing so far. “Professor VanderLinden said you had some questions to ask me?”
“Oh, nothing so formal as all that.” She leaned back in the chair, smiling in what was probably supposed to be a disarming manner, but the closed steel wall of her emotions showed her demeanor for the facade it was. “This is your first year here, is that right?”
“Yes,” he agreed. This part was easy.
“And how do you find it? I’m sure it’s been quite an adjustment, to say the least. Why don’t you tell me about some of your experiences here.” She crossed her legs, making herself comfortable; this wasn’t supposed to be so easy. Great.
He thought quickly. “Well, I, ah,” he tugged on one of his horns, “this was quite a surprise. I didn’t know anything about being fae, Ellehemaei, or magic, before I came here. Professor VanderLinden has taught me a lot about those things, and so has my Keeper, Ty, and hi- its crew.”
She nodded, listening raptly. “VanderLinden is your Mentor, yes? What kind of help has it provided?”
Okay, he could handle this. “He, ah, it’s taught me about the Law, and helped me master my form…” he gestured, a little uncomfortably. “I had trouble sticking with a gender when I first started. I’d change every time I got nervous, which could be a little awkward. The Professor and Ivette and Joff helped me get control of my empathy, too. And, I mean, there’s magic lessons.”
“Ivette and Joff? Other students of similar abilities, or heritage perhaps?”
“They’re, ah, well, the cy’ree calls them incubi?” That was okay, right?
“Ahh, yes.” She – Jamian suddenly realized she hadn’t even introduced herself – nodded. “And you have similar heritage? Have the more technical terms been used?”
“I’m not all that clear on my heritage,” he admits. “As far as I know, my mother raised me, and I don’t know anything at all about my father. But yeah. Daeva.” He wracked his brain for the word Ty had used, so many months ago. “Call… Callavanaei? And Mara like Luke and Grigori like Reg… Dr. Regine.”
“Daeva is explanatory enough, there aren’t so many who use the Old words consistently now. They also tend not to be used as much in reference to those with any mixture of heritage, which of course is the vast majority of Ellehemaei.”
“It certainly is here,” he said, thinking of Ty’s insecurities about its lineage. “I don’t know any other Ellehemaei outside the school.” Wait, she’d said Old words… “Are there other Old Words that aren’t used that often?”
“Well, the whole of the Old Tongue is used less and less, in modern times. Partially because, as you mention, it’s entirely possible to live quite some time, given current population levels, without interacting with other Ellehemaei.”
“So there really aren’t that many of us out there? I didn’t just live in a bubble my whole life?”
“Probably a little of both,” she demurred. “But, you mentioned learning from Ty, as well? How would you characterize your relationship?”
“Hunh?” He blinked at her. “He’s my Keeper.” His hand went to his – her – stomach. “I’m carrying his baby. He’s – she’s carrying mine.”
“Oh, my.” She – Morgan, that was her name, Professor VanderLinden had mentioned it – leaned forward intently, folding her hands. “That sounds like rather more than just Keeping.”
“Maybe?” He – she, damnit, and she’d been doing so good with that – squirmed uncomfortably. “Ty’s my first Keeper.”
“Do you intend to have others, then?”
“No? I mean… Probably not… can we not talk about not being Ty’s Kept, please?” She squirmed more, almost wriggling off of her seat. Quick, a distraction. “You were talking about older Words, like that one you mentioned to Kai – aeosthena – Shahin’s father. What about Word-Words?”
For the moment, at least, it worked. “Magical Words, you mean. Domains and Manifestations. You mentioned you’ve been learning those as well?”
“Yeah, yeah. Eperu, hugr, so on,” she nodded. “Are there more than the normal twenty-two?”
“More than the normal? Whatever would give you that idea?”
She was going to stonewall him too, wasn’t she? “Frodleikr,” he said, hearing it ring even without a Working.
No, perhaps she really wasn’t expecting it; at the least, she stared openly, voice dropping to a whisper. “Say it again.”
“Frodleikr,” he repeated. “I think it means ‘magic;’ but…”
“By the departed gods, she’s done it,” Morgan swore, awestruck. “Yes, yes, it’s a gross oversimplification of course but… ahem.” She took a moment to compose herself, nodding slowly. “Can you use it?”
“Mostly to make messes,” he admitted uncertainly, “but… well, yes. I can dismantle something someone’s Working at me, or repair an enchantment that was dismantled.”
“And the Director taught you this?” she pressed. “Or your Mentor?”
“N-no,” he shook his head. “I figured it out.”
“Figured it out,” she echoed. “Well. You are certainly an extraordinary individual. What Manifestations have you mastered? You mentioned repair and disassembly?”
“And disguise and preserve,” he added. Not any of the cool ones, sadly.
“A versatile array,” she murmured. Really? Morgan was still talking, though. “And what does your Keeper think of all this?”
“Which? My Words?” he asked guiltily. “Ty was kinda grumpy when I Changed to full-blooded Daeva?”
“A certain resentment, perhaps. Has it been taught, here, that your Change makes you superior to your peers?”
“…” Jamian stared at her for a moment, wordless.
“By either the staff, or an attitude fostered by the other students?” she urged him.
“No…? I mean, other than Ty’s issues? And I really try to ignore those, because he’s my Keeper,” he added, hoping she’d get the point. “So Frodleikr is really rare?”
“What did your Mentor tell you about it? I assume it’s involved?”
“About Ty?” Jamian blinked, confused.
“Not what I meant, actually, but since you bring it up, yes.”
“Uh… not a lot. I mean, to be patient with Ty, which I am, I mean…” He squirmed. “Mike didn’t tell me anything about Frodleikr,” he blurted out.
“Two separate discussions here, I think,” she murmured. “First, Ty. To be patient with it? Wouldn’t you think that advice more necessary for it than you?”
“No?” He wriggled backwards in his chair. “I’m not hard to deal with at all!”
“Perhaps not you, specifically. Shouldn’t a Keeper be more concerned with how they treat their Kept, though, than the other way around?”
“Well, yeah, but Ty treats me fine.”
“You must be doing well together, if you’re both pregnant,” she noted.
Jamian blushed hotly. “Well enough for kids? Yeah. I like kids,” he added defensively. “Can we talk about Frodleikr now?
“You don’t want to discuss Ty? I’m surprised, it seems the two of you have quite a close relationship.”
“You don’t know much about teenagers, do you, ma’am?” he asked, feeling a little exasperated. “We’re close, yeah, but I wouldn’t really talk about it with anyone but my close friends or maybe my Mentor. We get along. I don’t like thinking about him leaving at the end of the year. Okay?”
“It’s been a long time,” she murmured. “Well. You wanted to talk more about your Word, didn’t you?”
“What…” he caught his breath. “Yes, please. What does it do? Why do I have it? Why doesn’t anyone know about it?”
“Doesn’t anyone know about it? Oh, oh, my. I suppose this is a younger crew… your Mentor isn’t old enough to remember, is it?”
“It’s that old?” He boggled. “I thought Mike was the oldest one here!”
“That it may be, but still only, what… five centuries, six at the most I’d say? Hardly an elder.”
“I…” Jamian slumped in his chair. “I’m always gonna be the kid, aren’t I?”
“You?” A slow smile spread across her face. “Oh, no, not always, I’d wager. I see great things in store for you.”