Chapter 38: Arnbjörg

Thursday, January 4, 2001

“Good,” Doug grunted, as Arnbjörg pushed back against his strike with a block and a shouted No.  “Fun power.”  He took a step backwards, nodded.  “Again.”

Again, and again, and again, blocking and pushing with her power and striking back, until sweat drenched her hair and she felt like her arms and legs were made of rubber.  “Good. Enough.”  Doug leaned against the wall and gestured at her.  “Walk.”

She paced the small training room, once, twice, until he gestured to her, enough, and leaned against the wall with him.

“Fun power,” he repeated, and then, “Aelfgar kids.  Always have fun powers.”

Doug didn’t say anything without purpose.  Doug barely spoke. Arnbjörg glanced at him, waiting to see what else he’d say. Continue reading Chapter 38: Arnbjörg

Chapter 37: Leofric

Thursday, December 28, 2000

It was the worst Christmas break ever. Leofric was pretty sure that if it weren’t for his cy’ree practice, Eriko wouldn’t have let him out of the suite at all. As it was, he was missing his kendo lesson; it wasn’t vacation, so he didn’t have to go. At least that’s what Eriko had said when he’d asked.

So instead, he was stuck here, in the suite, sitting to the side while Eriko watched a movie. Some kind of romance drama. He’d tried following it, but he was finding it hard to care about contrived angst when everyone in his own life had it so much worse.

Why Eriko hadn’t decided to get rid of him yet, Leofric had no idea. He was constantly miserable. She was constantly crying, or angry, or crying and angry…

His musings were interrupted by a loud knock at the door. When he looked around, Cya was already getting up to answer the door, so he turned his attention back to how boring the movie was. It wasn’t like it would be anyone to see him, after all, not while he was here. And if Cya was getting the door, he didn’t have to worry about Eriko trying to make him do it. Continue reading Chapter 37: Leofric

Chapter 36: Cynara

Tuesday, December 26, 2000

“How do you get out of here?”  

Luke and Professor Reid had shown Cya the doors, but they’d done something to fog her memory.  She could see them — but she hadn’t been able to get back to the doors, no matter how many times she tried.  She knew they were there. They’d told her she needed an upperclassmen with her.  For safety.  She took that as for not running away.  

So now she was lying next to Dysmas, a thin trickle of blood running down the side of her neck, fishing for the answer she needed. He was in the best mood during these times, and when he fed on her – more than he ought to, Dr. Caitrin said, but still not enough, not enough to keep him from feeding on other girls, bringing them into his bed right past her while Aviv played Go and chess with her like neither of them could see what was going on – Cya found she was in a good mood, too.  Inquisitive, but brave enough to test out questions and mellow enough to not mind when he treated her like a silly child.  It was the perfect time to ask him about the doors.  To see if he would help her find them again. Continue reading Chapter 36: Cynara

Chapter 35: Abednego

Tuesday, December 19, 2000

“All right.  Don’t forget to do your homework this time, class, and tomorrow we’re going to be moving on to the next chapter.”  Professor Valerian nodded at all of them.  “So be ready, bring fresh pens, and try to get a good night of sleep tonight, all of you.”

Abednego did not laugh at his professor.  He did not want to bring her attention down on him, not after the mess that had happened last time.  The last thing he wanted was for her to get involved again, get Rafe all worked up, and be stuck in another fight about why things didn’t work.

Which they wouldn’t.  He’d hoped for a while that something would happen.  Joff had taken him out to look at the outside; that had been nice, if futile.  Zita had been rescued, because Zita, whose Keeper broke down in tears randomly and tended to shout a lot, clearly needed rescue.   Continue reading Chapter 35: Abednego

Chapter 34: Arnbjörg

Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Doug had been not nearly as impressed with Arnbjörg’s new power as she’d hoped he would be, but he’d said “Interesting.  Work on that,” which she took to mean that it was at least an acceptable power — if not as cool as some of the others she’d seen — and as tacit permission to tell everyone and everything no.

She tried telling a door no when it was trying to close in her face, but it only hesitated for a moment before swinging shut.  She had told Rand no, which was very pleasing, if only to watch the look on his face.

She hadn’t quite been brave enough to try telling Luke no, but when it came to Calc class, she was more than willing to look Professor Solomon in the eye and say “No, sir.”

The look of surprise on the professor’s face was wonderful.  The way he coughed and took a step backwards.  “Well, isn’t that interesting.  Arnbjörg, please stay after class, and -”

“No, sir,” Arnbjörg repeated.

“Aah, ahem.  Well, then.  If we could take open to page seventy-two-”

“No, sir.”  This was surprisingly fun!

“Would you just shut up?”

She was not expecting that from Leofric, of all people, but all of a sudden he was glaring at her from across the classroom.

Arnbjörg smiled widely. “No.  No, I’m not going to.  I don’t have to, for once, and I don’t see why I should.” Continue reading Chapter 34: Arnbjörg

Chapter 33: Leofric

Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Leofric doodled idly in the margins of his history notes, trying not to think of being stuck in Eriko’s room as boring. It helped a little to think of it as being grounded; it made him feel more like a typical rebellious teenager, and not like a horrible, awful, worthless, why couldn’t he do anything right

The tip of his pencil snapped, rolling gently off the page and landing on the floor with a quiet tic. He watched it go, then pulled out a pencil sharpener from his backpack and started sharpening his pencil for the third time. Not that he needed it sharpened, since he’d already finished his homework. But he hadn’t been ordered to stay in his mistress’ room until he finished his homework; he’d been ordered to stay there and finish his homework. So now he was only under orders to stay in the room, and he had nothing to do. Continue reading Chapter 33: Leofric

Interlude: Luke

Monday, December 11, 2000

He thought he might hit something.

He was certain he was going to hit something.  The question was whether or not he was going to manage to wait until he was out of Regine’s office.

“I know.”  He spoke very carefully, because if you got “emotional” around Regine, she stopped listening.  “Emotional” meant that you weren’t being “rational,” and that meant that she could discount any and everything you said.  “I’m aware that the Student Council interfered in the matter of Zita.  But they don’t see the same things as we do, and they’re — they’re biased.” Continue reading Interlude: Luke

Interlude: Ambrus

Monday, December 11, 2000

It felt like the air was too heavy.  Ambrus wandered the halls, feeling like there was something pressing on his throat, feeling like there was something sealing his mouth shut, feeling like he was wrapped up in mummy-wrappings so tightly that he couldn’t move at all.

He leaned against the wall and felt a frission of misery and anger.  That was not any better. Continue reading Interlude: Ambrus

Chapter 32: Cynara

Sunday, December 10, 2000

“I need to go to the library for a couple hours.  I’ll be home by bedtime.”  Cynara held up her bookbag by way of illustration.  “Homework.”

“All right.”  Dysmas had the lazy, sated look he had after he’d fed.  “Be careful.”

“I always am.”  

She slipped out the door before he could give her any more orders that pulled and tugged at her mind like imperfect stitches, leaving little rows of discomfort she’d re-position herself to avoid.  She left before she had to look at Leo, or at Eriko, and remember to hide everything she was feeling.   Continue reading Chapter 32: Cynara

Chapter 31: Abednego

Friday, December 8, 2000

“I keep saying that wasn’t me, it wasn’t him!  It’s not how these things work!” Rafe had been arguing with Joff on and off since the – the thing.  The demon, Abednego called it in his mind, even though he’d been through enough history classes here to know that demon was usually another word for faerie.  Close enough, in his estimation.

“Look, it might not have been you, but – things have to change, Rafe.  What are you doing to the kid?”

No, not this again.  The last time they’d had this argument, the demon had come.   Continue reading Chapter 31: Abednego