Chapter 8: Cynara

Monday, September 18, 2000 

Cynara had been the new student at more schools than she could count, in at least eight states, two provinces, and a territory.  None of them had ever been like this.

Of course, none of them had been full of fae.  That was mark one.  The horns, the tails, the cute snake-boy with the green hair and the chalk-white skin, the cuter-still dark-haired one with fire in his eyes and tattoos slinking across his bare chest.  The casual discussion in class of fae, of Daeva  – Jaya and Professor VanderLinden, of course – and Mara and Grigori – Luke and Director Avonmorea – and all of this other stuff that her father had only talked about on rare occasion when drunk.  

The only disappointment was the lack of magic classes, and on Monday night, Cynara found herself testing for magical Words.  Some of them rolled off her tongue like syrup, sweet and perfect; others stuck or stuttered or turned into coughing fits. Around her, every single new student was having the same problem, the same advantage.

Eperu, that was a nice one.  It meant earth, but it resonated like the ground and the planet and the metal in her jewelry.  Intinn was nice – minds and all the stuff that clacked around in them.  But by far her favorite was abatu.

“Abatu,” she murmured to herself on the way back from her Intinn class.  “Abatu, abatu, abatu.”

“Woah, watch out for that.”  A boy she hadn’t meant yet came to a screeching halt in front of her.  “What are you trying to abatu here?”  He was very tall, very, very tall, with a wide, expressive mouth and burgundy skin.  Right now, the mouth was doing an exaggerated frown sort of thing and the skin was turning redder.  

“Nothing.  I’m not putting a noun with it.”  Cya looked down at her toes.  “I mean, my best noun is Intinn, so…”

“Wo-ah.  Okay, remind me to watch out for you and not piss you off any time soon.”  

She peeked up at him.  He looked like he was joking or, at the very least, not too serious.  “Watch out for me and don’t piss me off any time soon?” she parroted back at him playfully.  “I mean, it’s not like I’d really do it.  That would be awful.” She shuddered.  The idea of deleting someone’s mind was horrid and terrifying.  What if she did it by accident…?  “And it’s only my first day in class.”

“The way you say that word, like it’s the tastiest word in the world, you’ll get better really fast.  I mean, you shoulda seen me with Huamu when I first started.”  He rolled it around in his mouth. “Hoo-am-ooo.”

“Huamu,” Cya repeated.  “That’s nice.”  It wasn’t as good as Intinn or Eperu, certainly not as good as Abatu, but it was a nice word.  

“Isn’t it?  Look, where’re you headed?”

“Just back to my room.”  She gestured vaguely, even though it was a lie.  She’d been going looking for exits again.  Somewhere, this place had to have a back door.

“Hey, me and a couple buddies are chilling tonight, playing poker and stuff.  Wanna come over?”

“I don’t even know your name.”  It was a lame protest, but that was the other thing about this school – people were nice.  People were weirdly nice.  Friendly and falling over themselves to get to know her and–

“And she’s coming over to my place for dinner anyway, aren’t you, Cynara?”  Dysmas.  Cya chewed on her lip.  Where had he come from?  She felt vaguely guilty, and she wasn’t sure why, and she disliked both things.  

“I didn’t know I had an invitation,” she hedged.

“For a lovely lady like you?  Every night, if you wish.”

“Oh, come on, Dys, that’s getting greedy, don’t you think?”  Her other new friend frowned warningly.  Cya looked between the two of them; Dysmas appeared un-warned and unperturbed.

“Hardly greedy.  Cynara is a lovely young lady and somebody ought to keep her company.  Preferably someone who will value her time.”

“Oh, and that’s not a loaded phrase there.  Trust me, miss, he might talk a good game, but that’s all he is, talk and backstabbing.”

“Alexander, can you name a single instance in which I have ‘stabbed someone in the back?’ Metaphorically is fine.  I’m not in the habit of getting into knife fights in the halls.”

Cynara noted that he said it like some people might be doing such things.  She looked around at the wood paneling, the lush carpet, the hidden lights.  It didn’t seem like the place where people would be shivving each other (Not like that one place she & her father had lived…)

However, unlike the place on 5th and Main, and unlike any other school she’d gone to before this, two boys were arguing over her.  Maybe even suggesting knife fights!  Alexander, if that was his name – as good as any; she couldn’t just call him reddish-burgundy guy – had narrowed his eyes and was glaring at Dysmas.

“You know I can’t.”

“Well, then, I don’t think your warning has any meat behind it at all, do you?”  Dysmas offered Cynara his arm.  “Dinner, dear?”

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