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Chapter 66: Arnbjörg

Saturday, May 12, 2001

Arnbjörg curled up against Jaya on the couch, her girlfriend-and-Keeper’s head on her shoulder.  They were watching a movie – Dangerous Beauty – something about a high-class prostitute in Venice.  The rest of the crew was with them, paying varying degrees of attention to the movie.

“Ever think about that as a living?” Sheba mused quietly.  “I mean, the right Words and the right skills and you wouldn’t really have to work hard.  Some healing Words and it wouldn’t be so dangerous.  What?  Ivette talks about it sometimes.  Lady Mau did it.  We’re fae, different morals apply.” Continue reading

Chapter 65: Leofric

Thursday, May 3, 2001

Leofric watched the pool in the grotto, the water’s surface rippling as Aviv swum around below. It was usually peaceful, spending time there, and this time was fortunately not an exception, which he was very much appreciating. (Even more than the view through the water, which he was also appreciating. It had taken weeks for Aviv to stop making self-deprecating comments about skinny dipping and traumatizing Leo. Weeks. It was like the man never looked in a mirror before!)

Theoretically, he could be swimming too, but swimming was not really his strong point. Electricity and water just don’t mix – you don’t throw a pikachu into a pond, not unless you hate the pikachu and are a jerk. So instead, most of the time he sat on the rocks near the pool in his swim trunks, watched, and did Idu Workings on the plants (which he was not allowed to eat, despite his Keeper clearly having a lot of experience doing exactly that). Continue reading

Interlude: Abaddon 5

Cynara’s finger pointed without hesitation.  “Her.  Channing.”  She looked a little startled at her finger, then back at Abaddon, then back at the girl in question.  “Her,” she repeated.  She was more firm this time.  “I —” She turned away from him, looking at Zita and Howard and Leo.  Her friends.

“Thanks.  I will owe you one, when we are our own people.”  He couldn’t promise, but he imitated the phrasing he’d heard from people who could.

She wasn’t listening anymore, already turned to Howard, but he thought he saw Zita nod in approval at him.

Then he was moving on, hurrying, stepping up until Channing could see him. Continue reading

Interlude: Abaddon 4

Abaddon woke up to find his room ruined.

His room, or at least the room he’d been assigned when he started the year.  Before – before Gennie.

Gennie who would not release him and not speak to him.  Gennie who had spent a week after he told her about the – about the problem – about their father – locked in her room, not coming out for anything, not even Luke.

There was nothing left intact in the room.  This was the third time this week he’d woken up to this, but this had to be the worst.  Abaddon sighed and started the Jasfe Workings.  At this rate, he was going to be a top-notch furniture and clothing repair specialist before his first year ended. Continue reading

Chapter 64: Cynara

Tuesday, April 24, 2001

“Hey Dysmas.”

Cya had learned that when Aviv did that, it seemed to mean he was buying her and Leo a little private time.  Cya looked at what she was cooking and moved things to the slow cooker.  It could sit indefinitely that way, and she could think about more important things than food, like her friends.

“I was wondering if I could borrow Cynara for a bit.”

Wait, what?  She continued moving through the paces of putting the food in the cooker, but she had to struggle to keep her ears from pointing right at Aviv.  Even if nobody could see her ears, they were still a dead giveaway.

“Borrow her?  What do you want her for?” Dysmas sounded – he sounded bored.  She struggled with the stab of indignation and hurt.  She bored him, did she?  He didn’t even really care what someone else wanted with her. Continue reading

Chapter 63: Abednego

Sunday, April 15, 2001

Abednego shifted back and forth on the couch.  His heart had stopped aching; his… everything had stopped hurting, thanks to the blue pills and a few days of doing absolutely nothing, although he was going to have to learn to walk all over again.

They were all staring at him.  It was the first day he’d been up and around, and every single one of the people in the suite were staring at him.

No, he realized, Zeke was staring at Joff.  Which kind of made sense.  Joff was acting weirder than normal.

Abednego scooted back on the couch, although it didn’t really work.  His knees — his everything — went all in the wrong directions now.  “Say something?”  He meant it as a plea.  It made everyone jump. Continue reading

Chapter 62: Arnbjörg

Friday, April 13, 2001

Arnbjörg had just finished running laps of the gym, after a session with the heavy bag and enough weights that her shoulders and back had that happy ache to them.  For once, she was enjoying walking through the halls unbothered. 

“No! No, I’m not going to… let go of me!”  A flash of lightning ripped through the hallway; the lights flickered and burnt out, leaving only the dim “Hell Night” red emergency lights.  

Arnbjörg reached for a weapon she didn’t have anymore.

“I think you should leave him alone.”  The lights flickered but did not turn back on, as a second voice chimed in, similar to the first one and both familiar…

They were her half-brothers, Arnbjörg realized. Ragnvaldr and Leofric. 

“She might seem nice now, but she’s not stable, and it’s not a healthy situation.”  The new, third speaker released his quarry, however, and stepped back until he was silhouetted against one of the red lights. “Rory, I’m just saying…” Continue reading

Chapter 61: Leofric

Wednesday, April 11, 2001

“So, I heard you got past Luke’s guard.”

“Yeah.” Leofric jabbed a punch at Conrad, shifting to the side to avoid Conrad’s counter as he missed. “We did.”

“I’m impressed.” Conrad smiled, then spun around in a kick – which Leofric realized was a feint just in time to dodge a tail grab. “How far did you get?”

Conrad wasn’t the first to ask him about his recent escape attempt. Their escape attempt. If it weren’t for that, Leofric would’ve written off the whole thing as a particularly depressing dream. As it was, all he could come up with were vague images of a dreary staircase and running over dead brown grass, then his thoughts slid away from it. Continue reading

Chapter 60: Cynara

Monday, April 9, 2001

It had been a crazy idea.

Of course it had been a crazy idea: it had been Leo’s, and he hadn’t been sane since –

since, well, Eriko.  But Leo had had an idea, and Cya had gone along with it just because it was Leo wanting to do something.

And because if it succeeded, she would find a way to be clear of this place if she had to cut it out of her mind with a scalpel, and then she could do the same for her friends, and THEN she could find a way to fix what had been done to Leo if she had to practice on every since insane person in America first. Continue reading

Chapter 59: Abednego

Saturday, April 7, 2001

He woke next to Rafe.

He did, sometimes.  More often these days than before.  He’d looked at Rafe and said, more honestly than he’d really wanted to be, “I hate sleeping on the floor.  It’s cold, and it’s hard, and the dog bed is even worse.  Do you think I could sleep in the bed?”

It was a trade-off, because he got to be warm, and he got to have something soft under him where he could stretch out – Addergoole must either invest in quality mattresses, or have someone somewhere in a basement muttering “Meentik Unutu mattress” over and over again, and he wouldn’t put either of those by Regine. – but he got cuddled.

Rafe, it turned out, was a cuddler. Continue reading