The last class of Friday had come to a close, and Regine gathered her teachers and staff in the conference room beside her office to discuss their charges.
They spent a few minutes on the returning students – second, third, and fourth cohort, and the one remaining first cohort still in school – and then turned their attention to the twenty shining jewels that were the fifth cohort.
Regine laid out the files in front of her in tidy rows, and picked up the first one.
"Aelgifu sh'Marienne. How's she doing so far?"
"She's very hard to get a feel for," Michael Vanderlinden responded with a frown. "That girl is the most self-contained person I have ever encountered." Coming from Michael, that was certainly saying something. "I think she will be a slow one."
"She's certainly good enough at her studies, though," Laurel Valerian interjected.
"What's ‘good enough,' Laurel?" Regine asked, patiently. Somehow, the patient tone always seemed to take the vibrant history teacher aback.
Flustered, Laurel frowned. "She's a decent student," she admitted. "Interested in the subject, and willing to try hard, rather than a natural at it."
Regine nodded, and turned to Luke.
"She's a wonder on the uneven bars," he said frankly, "and everything else I've tried her at. I don't know if it's native skill or training that she's lying about, but she's astonishing. If she'd started earlier, she could have been an Olympic gymnast."
Regine nodded, made a note. "No other signs of talent?" The teachers shook their heads mutely. "All right. Next up – Channing sh'Sylvie?"
They went through each of the Fifth Cohort in turn, dissecting their performance in the short time they'd been in Addergoole.
"Hippies," Regine explained. "Her mother had her name legally changed to Moonchild BrightNight. Hence, Kailani sh'Moonchild, since she couldn't touch her daughter's names."
"Shit," Luke shook his head. "Some of these kids have reason to be grateful for their father's naming."
"I'm not sure they feel that way," Shira Peletier answered dryly. "But Kailani – we're going to have to run to keep up with her, Regine. She's brilliant."
"She has an amazing comprehension of patterns," Reid Solomon agreed. "Of course, that's to be expected, considering her parentage, but still, by next year, I'm going to have to get into some very high-level calculus to keep her occupied."
"I don't know why we bother," muttered Laurel Valerian, but she quieted quickly at a glance from Regine. It was fortunate the woman was so easy to quell.
"There's something of the water in her, too," Luke commented, as if Laurel hadn't spoken. "A sort of slippery grace. And we know she likes the pool." He pointed at the picture Regine had laid out, a candid shot of Kailani and Petyr by the edge of the pool.
"Then she's living up to her name. Good." Regine smiled briefly, and moved onto the next file.
It was nearing dinnertime when they finished with Yngvi sh'Amanda. Regine nodded at her staff, pleased with their findings so far.
“Our charges have had a few days to settle in.” She glanced over the table at Solomon. “How are the wards performing?”
He smiled tightly. “Everything is functioning normally so far. The students are very focused on their studies, and on the older students courting them. Of course, the true test will come once the Masks and illusions are gone.”
“Then it’s time to let them get some insight into our world.” She looked around at the teachers. “Those of you who wear Masks, drop them. Let them begin to see.”
Copyright © 2009-2010 Lyn Thorne-Alder & Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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