Chapter 168: Jamian
I believe I've waited long enough
Where do I begin?
For the very first time
Don't you pay no mind
Set me free again

"Hey, I'm not the one who was prowling around looking for trouble," Ofir smirked, spreading his hands. "If you kept a tighter leash on your Kept, you wouldn't be here. There's nothing in particular I want right now, so you'll just have to owe me one."

Ty scowled, clearly frustrated, but it was just as clear to Jamian that Ofir had them over a barrel, legally speaking. The conversation had lasted barely a minute. They'd exchanged pleasantries, such as they were, and then Ty had come right out and asked Ofir what he expected to get out of this. The answer hadn't pleased him.

"An unspecified favor," Ty sighed, nodding. "But! Not to incur lasting damage to any party, further debt to any party, or any change in any party's status in the eyes of the Law."

Jamian felt as if he ought to be taking notes. Or hiding. Or smashing someone's face in. All he'd done was talk to Kendra! Instead, he sat quietly and tried not to make things worse than they already were.

Grudgingly, the others shook hands, and then Ty turned towards him. "Let's go home."

"Okay," he agreed, subdued. Was Ty going to be angry with him? He had little luck with his empathy on the quiet, but thankfully short, walk home. From what he could discern though, Ty seemed more resigned than upset. He hadn't been surprised by anything that had happened there.

Jamian, he realized, wasn't surprised, either. But he was growing more and more determined. He needed to be able to stand up for himself. Ty wouldn't be there to protect him forever. Ty shouldn't have to protect him forever. He wasn't without resources of his own, though. Resources both known and secret. His strength would lie in the abilities that an adversary wouldn't know he possessed, until it was too late.

"I'm going to go practice my magic," he announced, as they re-entered the suite. "I'll be back later."

Ty waved in acknowledgment before heading into his room. Should he stay, instead, and try to make it up to his Keeper? No, there would be time for that later. He needed to be stronger. He slipped out the door, looking for a place where he could practice in quiet.

Or maybe it wasn't to be; when he turned, Manira was hot on his heels, having slunk out behind him.

She held up her hands, looking amused. "Just watching," she assured him. "I don't mean any trouble today."

He was mildly embarrassed to realize how much he'd tensed, and he chuckled as he relaxed. "No trouble," he agreed. "I was just looking for a quiet place to practice privately. Any suggestions?"

"The back of the grotto should be nice," she offered. "Or outside."

"The grotto," he agreed. Despite how limited it was here, "outside" just didn't resonate as "private" with Jamian.

"It's a nice place for privacy," she agreed, with a far-mellower version of her normal purr.

"Uh." Yes. Yes, he supposed it would be, as he recalled how she had looked with Professor Linden... no, that was not the point of this excursion! Although, recalling that...

"Hey, do you remember the other day, when we were talking about the types of Belonging?"

"Ye-e-es," she answered slowly and not-entirely-certainly. "I remember the conversation." She hurried her steps towards the grotto door.

"I'm not sure if I quite grasped all of the nuances," he said, watching carefully for her reactions as they entered. Maybe he'd actually be able to read something off of her again today.

A twist of frustration emanated from her. "You should pay attention," she answered shortly. "It's important. It's too important to leave to chance."

"I thought I was paying attention? I'll think about it more while I practice, then. I might be starting to get the hang of this Frodleikr thing - not that it seems to be very useful, generally."

She barked out a little laugh. "It's not the most useful Word, but it's the most useful one you're likely to get your brain around. What Manifestations do you wield, again?"

"None of the big, flashy ones. I'm solid with Tuapeka and Quipia, and decent at Jasfe and Aposyntheto." He could feel the latent power as he said each word; maybe there was a reason the older students often called them by their nicknames? It didn't seem to do any harm, though.

"Mmm." She pursed her lips. "You ought to try dismantling Workings. It could be very effective." Her tail lashed thoughtfully. "And you should think about Keeping while you work on it."

"It's hard to focus on much else while I do it, but maybe? And if you want to make a Working for me to target, I can give that a shot."

She nodded slowly. "Let's try that. I can do a little …" she paused, leading him deeper into the grotto. Jamian was content to follow her lead, although he wondered at the apparent secrecy. Yes, he had entertained thoughts of secret powers himself, but there was some difference between such platitudes as he had considered and the actual reality of a clandestine training session.

She seemed to read his uncertainty, and smiled sharply at him. "The administration told you what, exactly, about your new word?"

"That I was wrong. There was no such word - and at the time, I couldn't cause an obvious, deliberate effect with it to prove it."

"They don't want you Working it. So let's not give them occasion to stop you."

"They don't..." Jamian was only becoming more puzzled, the more she explained. "How do you know all this?"

"In this case, I'm extrapolating," she hedged.

"Right, okay. Sure." She could keep her secrets if she wanted to. "So were you going to give me something to try this on, then?"

"Ah, yes." She settled down on the bench. "Meentik Eperu," she murmured.

Jamian watched in appreciation of her talent as a tiny earthen figurine manifested in her palm. As simple as the basic Manifestation was, Manira was able to add detail and nuance that gave him pause for a moment. Finally he nodded, steepling his hands, and began his own Working.

"Aposyntheto Frodleikr." As an afterthought, he added a Word as he repeated the intonation: "Aposyntheto Frodleikr Eperu!" He was fairly skilled with Eperu himself, after all, and he knew for a fact that was the Domain being manifested...

The statuette began to lose cohesion, and the sculpted form of it washed away as if by a wave. The entire construct dwindled, particles of dirt sifting through Manira's fingers. With a few more repetitions, it was nothing more than a stain.

"Nice," Manira murmured. "You're going to have to get quicker at it, but I imagine that will come with practice. But Eperu's one of my better Words. Can you counter it when you're actually being attacked?"

Jamian froze like a deer. "Uh. Attacked?"

"I'm not going to actually attack you. I'm not allowed. But… Meentik Eperu." She focused, and a lumbering golem began thudding towards him.

"Holy crap! How did you do that so fast? Uh, I mean, Aposyntheto Frodleikr Eperu!"

"I'm really good at Eperu. Tempero Eperu." The collapsing golem began flying towards him.

Jamian backpedalled, waving his arms frantically in front of himself. "Aposyntheto Frodleikr Eperu!"

She chuckled. "Very good. What about a more targeted attack? Tempero Intinn…"

Intinn? He couldn't even... "Aposyntheto Frodleikr, Aposyntheto Frodleikr!" What was she even trying to… Did it really matter? She was so pretty, after all; and he was sure she'd be even prettier, out of the little sundress-like-thing and totally insufficient sweater she was wearing.

She stretched, smiling, showing off those assets, nipples nearly popping out of her dress. "Lovely, thank you," she purred. "So you need some work on attacks outside of your Word comfort zone."

"That... attacks?" Right, her eyes were up there, focus! They hadn't come here for that... here, to this secluded, beautiful spot, intentionally chosen for its privacy - by her, no less - had they? He licked his lips as his gaze travelled back up to meet hers.

Her smile did nothing to help the ideas running through his mind. "You also need to work on that," she teased. "You're an incubus, Jamian. You shouldn't be that easily pushed over the edge."

"Over the edge? I'm not over the edge!" The protest on his lips was completely detached from the thoughts in his head, though. He struggled to calm himself, to snap out of it.

She chuckled throatily. "You'll learn. Have you had a chance to think about that other thing?"

"That other... um, oh." Right, a distraction, that would be perfect. That or a jump in the waterfall... "Not as much as I'd like."

"Well, we've got a few moments until they come looking for us, I'm sure. Think about it. Think about… Mmm. Could you or I Keep someone, right now?"

"Of course not. We're both Kept already." Where was she going with this? Every time it came up, lately, his thoughts went back to that one line: "to its mother, then its mentor, then itself."

She looked smug. "Exactly."

"But I don't see why that matters," he said plaintively.

"You will," she purred enigmatically.


  Copyright © 2009-2012 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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