Channing knocked on Carter’s door nervously Sunday evening, hoping either Kendra or Callista would be able to make it. Nikolai had said he’d be there, but Eris was impossible to pin down on plans, no-one had been able to find Shahin, and the other two members of their cy’ree both had rather controlling Keepers. She didn’t want to be alone in a room with Carter & Nick, nice as they seemed to be.
Kendra showed up as Channing had the thought, looking nervous and breathless, her pink nose twitching. “I can’t stay long,” she murmured, “but I have a little bit…?”
“Oh good,” Channing breathed, as Carter opened the door.
“Hey, come on in girls. Nick’s already here. I take it we’re not expecting anyone else?”
“Who can expect Eris?” Channing muttered. “And Shahin… I don’t know.” She frowned. “I’ve heard some things, but…” She hurried into the relative safety of Carter’s room and settled into the chair furthest from him and Nikolai.
“We’ve all heard some things,” Nikolai said from the corner. “Supposedly she can’t be ordered. She’s immune to magic, or Law, or maybe everything.”
“Nobody’s immune to magic,” Channing scoffed.
“Law maybe, though…?” Kendra offered hesitantly. “I saw it, when she was collared.”
“And the Director did whisk her away for some sort of secret training,” Carter mused.
“Yeah?” Nikolai demurred. “I heard she got kidnapped by a dragon.”
“A dragon?” Kendra’s eyes went wide. “She set someone on fire, didn’t she? Tried to kill them?”
“No, that was her boyfriend,” Carter said, shaking his head. “She somehow went from being Kept by someone to Keeping them in return.”
“I heard the dragon thing too,” Channing added. It was a frightening thought, but so was the mere existence of dragons. At least she’d escaped; maybe it wasn’t as bad as it sounded? “She killed it when it turned its back on her, and ran back here.” Or maybe it was just that Shahin was worse.
“No, no, she didn’t kill it, she learned its magical secrets the way I heard it,” Nick said.
“Do you think any of them would help us win this competition?” Kendra whispered. Channing couldn’t blame her: she wanted to get out of this place, and Rand barely bothered her at all anymore.
“Maybe?” Nikolai shrugged. “If she helps us at all. Has anyone even seen her since she supposedly returned?”
“Not me,” Channing shook her head. She didn’t go out of her room much besides for classes, though.
“I did,” Nikolai answered, “I think. She didn’t look like her, though. Pale…”
“Well, she’s always pale,” Carter pointed out.
“She normally looks like a vampire queen. Yesterday she looked like a vampire’s meal.”
“Doesn’t she see dead people?” Kendra interjected. “That would make me pale.”
She did, didn’t she? Channing had heard that, too. She was supposed to be some kind of witch, or something, right? Supposedly she had magic before she even came here.
“…someone has to talk to her,” she murmured. “Make sure she knows about the cy’ree challenge.” If she was really a witch, maybe she could bring an extra edge.
“Don’t look at me, I don’t even know how to find her,” Carter said, spreading his hands.
“It’s a small school, and we all have classes with her,” Nikolai pointed out, “don’t we?”
“We do,” Kendra agreed. “One of us has to talk to her. Who’s it going to be?”
“Not me,” Channing said hurriedly. “She’s a little too weird for me.”
“We could make Eris do it because she’s not here?” Nikolai suggested.
Carter shook his head. “No, I think she’s the only one who actually doesn’t share a class with her. Let’s just draw straws or something.”
“That sounds fair,” she admitted reluctantly. At least it minimized her chances of getting chosen. “Anyone bring straws?”
“Close enough,” Carter said, holding his hand over the desk. “Meentik Unutu.” Four small pieces of straw rained down from his hand onto the wood.
“All right.” Channing gathered them up, tapping them even on one end, and wrapped her fist around them. “I’ll hold. We can pull by seniority.”
“Fair enough,” Carter nodded - of course, that meant he went first. He reached in and pulled a straw. It was hard to tell, but she was pretty sure it was a long one. She held her fist out to Nikolai next.
He pulled a straw as well, turning to Kendra. She took hers in turn, leaving only a single straw in Channing’s hand. She turned her hand over, showing the remaining straw, hoping it was a long one.
It was, thankfully, and she breathed a sigh of relief, glancing around at Carter’s long straw, Nikolai’s long straw... Kendra was chewing her lip, hand closed tightly around her own straw.
“Hey,” Channing coaxed gently, “I’m sure it will be okay.” Lots more okay; it’s not me.
Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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