tagSci-Fi & FantasyQuincunx Ch. 08

Quincunx Ch. 08


Book Two

New Friends

I poured myself a cup of the cooling cofftea and pulled the chair closer to the desk to dutifully read the ancient text before me. I sipped the cofftea till it was cold, intrigued, but we were controlling and twisting the forces of nature, making a new reality, however temporary, right down to its smallest particle.

I continued reading till the same cheerful acolyte came and told me that the council had invited me to dine with them. They were already seated around the table, several still quietly debating some point. My entrance brought all their attention to me.

"Davor, come, welcome to our table," Lobsang beckoned me from the far side of the table.

I went and took the vacant seat next to him, next to the apex of the oval.

"So, Davor, what say you of our free state? Where our council rules instead of a king."

I sat for a moment, assembling the disparate thoughts as they crowded my mind in response to the unexpected, probing question. And so began an evaluation of my understanding and position on aspects of ethics, politics and justice. At one point we touched on a hypothetical of Rash's case, the appellant's plea without a defendant to rebut and present the opposing case.

I used the argument of each case's circumstances to backhandedly argue to Rash's benefit that while the politics of international relations seemed the primary focus, no person should be prevented from exercising free will and no law in any ostensibly free country should negate that right.

I was surprised when I was asked my opinion of the ethics of Rash's case, the centrality of human rights as the foundation of her reasoning. From the top of my head I poured out my thoughts

"If she were not born to it, I would agree, but then the permission would be implicit in the contract. You cannot have free will if you inherit; one of the words in your motto, your brand statement is liberty." I paused to narrow my thoughts.

"Liberty to pursue your life the way you want as long as it's a private life and it's kept private and consensual. Her choice is to renounce her inheritance and live a free life here. She has money enough to do it so why deny it to her and condemn her to a life of servitude to her family obligations."

I was relieved when the questions ceased as we moved through to a library replete with lounge chairs where cofftea was served. The two that had been debating before ensconced themselves in the far corner of the room while the other five split three/two, with the two joining me.

The two huddled together left first, joined shortly afterwards by the three. The two that had joined me had once again inquired about my talents, low key questions as to what use I thought I could put them to.

We were still talking when Heen'll appeared through a door to join us.

"Gyatso, Ngawang," she greeted my companions, coming to stand beside us.

"Heen'll," they echoed back.

She flashed a smile at me.

"Lobsang thinks you should return," she informed them respectfully.

She turned to me. "And you, I've got a few more books I'd like you to read."

I pushed myself up, following my companions, who were already standing.

I spent the rest of the afternoon mentally wrestling with philosophical arguments on the nature of magic. Some became obvious observations but gave no deep insights while the few stretched the mind with possibilities.

Her acolyte interrupted my studies to bring me a mid-afternoon beverage and some biscuits to munch on. This kept me going till he informed me again that the evening meal was about to be served.

The three of us were again present for the meal. Rash has been shopping for clothes, Miriamni had been practicing healing and learning the proper techniques. With Rash still not speaking to me, I talked about the weather here with someone who was eager to praise it, letting Miriamni talk mostly to Rash. She complained about the price of things in the shops.

I was finished and lying back in my chair, still thinking of the pleasant comfort of a full stomach.

"Davor," Heen'll said, suddenly standing next to me.

I turned to look at her.

"Come, we have things to attend to," she said plainly but firmly, like a nursemaid to a child.

I followed her out of the chatter and into the quiet of the corridor.

"Your belongings are being moved to your new room. If you come with me we can talk while I show you where it is."

I followed on as she turned slowly and started down toward the far doors.

"Do you want to learn magic?" she asked casually as we approached the exit.

"What sort of magic? Like how to use my power?"

"No, regular magic, how to cast spells, how to conjure apparitions, fun things that anyone with strong magic can do."

"Yes," I said, picturing myself in Wizard's robes. "I'd like to do that, have real magic at my fingertips."

"I'm going to put you in the senior students block. I think they've got another four weeks left before they graduate, but never mind. You should come to my room tomorrow morning and I'll start you off."

"I need to get a message home, is there any way to do that?" I asked. "I'd like to let my family know that I'm alright."

"I think the messages have already gone out, one to your village magician and one to the court magician at Harould's court."

"Oh," I said, a little startled at the thought of using magic, wondering if it was a talent I might learn.

We walked on through the grounds, a mix of grass and isolated trees, paths weaving through them. We were walking to two round houses, fifty, sixty yards across and joined by a covered walkway, my presumed new home.

We entered a circular space, Heen'll shouting 'Hello' to the echoing walls. She stopped and looked around.

"There's your room," she said, pointing at a door with a number seven nailed to it.

There looked to be eight rooms in all, four on either side, split by the entrance and a mini kitchen opposite. In the centre was a low table with half a dozen chairs scattered around it.

"Your things should already be in there," she carried on. "Except your clothes, which have gone to the laundry. There should be a clean robe for you to wear, though."

By this time I was at the door. Inside was a single bed, a chest of drawers and a bedside table with a candle holder and half a dozen candles. My things, such as they were, were strewn on my bed. My panniers were at the side of the door along with my tent and sleeping things.

"I'll leave you to settle in, see you in the morning," she said, backing out of the room and closing the door behind her.

I tidied my things away in the drawers, noting the absence of my sword again. I unrolled my shaving kit and then flopped down on the bed to see what books came included. I was still reading when I heard voices coming from the common area. As I listened I heard three distinct voices.

'Two girls and a boy if I'm not mistaken,' I thought. I rose from the bed and walked to the door and walked through.

"Hi," I said, drawing their attention. "I'm Davor, I've been given a room here."

"Well, it looks like you passed, then. Didn't they give you a new robe to wear?" he said sizing me up. "I'm Grepp, these two are Bemnie and Xentha."

He rose to greet me as the two girls who'd had their backs to me turned to look over their shoulders toward me. I walked around the group and took a chair next to Grepp.

"Where are you from?" asked Bemnie.

"I'm from Skire, a Skirelander," I informed them, leaning forward, eyes flicking from girl to girl as I sized them up. They wore the same brown robe as Grepp, both had pretty faces and I could see that Bemnie's breasts were on the large side.

"I'm from Waest Kikkle, Brusburg to be exact," Bemnie answered back. "Xentha is from Ormskirk, lives on the Great Orm itself, and Grepp's from Fingerport."

"I come from a little village called Pike. I live in Pike Manor," I added.

"Xen, can you start the fire for cofftea?" asked Grepp. "I'm sure our new friend here would like one."

"Do it yourself," chimed in Bemnie.

"But she has better fire magic than me."

"It's okay, I'll do it," said Xentha, standing. "But you can make it when the water boils."

"Fair enough," Bemnie rejoined.

She turned to me. "Oh, and we'd better warn you about Kenval, he likes to play tricks."

She looked at Grepp for support. "Watch out for things like making your chair tip you out."

"Making water leap out of the sink to soak you," Xentha said in response.

"Beer mug handles falling off," Bemnie added.

"Carpet tripping you up," retorted Grepp.

"Alright, that's enough, I'm sure he gets the idea," Bemnie said.

My smile had gotten broader as his pranks were revealed. I thought of the surprise he'd get finding that I could see and neutralize them.

"Oh, I'll be a harder mouse than you to catch," I said, my smile turning to a chuckle.

"A silver says he'll get you before bedtime tomorrow," said Grepp.

It made me think and realize that I had only limited funds. I should see if there was any way Father could send more. My thought turned to how long I might stay here.

"How long have you studied here?" I asked.

"I'll take your bet. He'll have him by tomorrow morning, at breakfast or something," Bemnie said eagerly.

"Save your money," I said, trying to break in. "I can see spells. Unless he knows how to hide those, he can't trick me."

"Huh," exclaimed Xentha.

"It's true. I can see spells and counter them."

"How?" Xentha pressed me.

"I just see them, some of them are like ribbons and others are like balls, sometimes squished flatter," I explained further.

"So, if I cast a spell, you can stop it?" asked Bemnie.

"Yes," I replied. "Try me."

"Alright," said Grepp, taking up my challenge.

His spell was a simple one, rising up the four branch candlestick in the centre of the table. As he uttered the words in a mumble, I recited them back, seeing the spell fade before it was even complete.

He looked slack jawed at the candlestick then at me. "How did you do that!" he exclaimed.

"I told you, as you spoke it, so I countered it."

"But how?" he asked again.

"It's my talent, I can just do. It's how my magic works."

"I've not heard of that before," Xentha said quizzically.

"Nor have I," echoed Bemnie.

"So, what spells can you see in here?" Xentha asked.

"There was a scrying one on the candlestick," I stated.

"Ha, you should get your money back," broke in Bemnie, turning to look at Grepp.

"Would you check my room for skrying spells?" asked Xentha.

"Yes, of course," I replied, seeing her thoughtful look turn to a frown.

"And mine," chimed in Bemnie.

"Anyone and everyone's if they want."

They all agreed that it would be a good idea if I swept the rooms for bugging spells. I started on Xentha's first, finding three. There was one on the corn dolly, one on the candlestick on the dresser, and the one that caused her to gasp most, on her hand mirror. I told her of the bad feeling I got from the spells and warned her to beware.

Bemnie's room was the untidiest. She had extra chairs and clothes scattered over them, unlike Xentha's room, which looked barely lived in. I found two, one again on the candlestick and one on a book.

Grepp's room, to his disappointment, was clear, though he did have a few defensive ones scattered around. We sat back down as Grepp dejectedly, at the prompting of Bemnie once more, got up to make the cofftea.

We sat and drank cofftea. They were telling me about the different professors here, Bemnie impersonating their mannerisms. Xentha got up and started a pot for the next brew.

As she walked back Grepp asked. "Do you want to come out for a drink with us tonight?"

"No, not really, I'm still dizzy from all that has happened in the past few days," I said reflectively. "I think I'll have an early night. I've got another busy day tomorrow."

"Well," Grepp said, standing. "I need to change and get ready."

Both Grepp and Bemnie got up and left, leaving Xentha and me to sit and wait for the pot to boil. They did it differently here, they seemed to add the grounds after it had boiled and then let it steep whilst we put the grounds in with the water.

"Aren't you going with them?" I asked.

"No," she said with a little laugh. "I've got some studying to do."

"I thought you were all but finished?" I replied.

"No, I've still got orals left to do."

"Ah," I said and sat back to wait for the kettle to boil. At least here I had access to it whenever I wanted, a bit more home from home. I wondered if I could use magic to light it.

I heard the hard clip clop of riding boots on the wooden floor and looked to see another young lad.

"Hi, you must be Kenval," I said, standing to introduce myself. "I'm the new resident here, Davor from Skire."

"You're the one everyone is talking about, 'powers like the grand wizards of old.' Are you some sort of genius?"

"Good heavens, no," I said in disbelief. "I've got a talent for seeing magic, that's all."

"And you can negate it." I turned to see Xentha walking back with the cofftea-pot.

"Where did you hear this rumour then, Kenny?" she asked of him.

"Oh, around and about," he said dismissively.

"We found a skrying spell on that candlestick, and a few more in the rooms," she told him. "You and your friends play around with that stuff."

"Nothing here has got anything to do with me," he declared.

"Hum," she snorted. "Really, now who were you snooping on and what did they really say?"

"Fandoxx," he replied bashfully. "He'd been talking to one of the council and he was telling M'doud that Davor could be another Great magician."

"But I don't know any magic at all," I protested.

"Magic is about power," Xentha put in. "If you have the power inside you then you can learn the magic."

"Hence the question of genius," Kenval came back.

Genius, a know-nothing, no-account like me? I had tested very low as a child, but still, I had made the disc glow brightly enough for Jacander when he tested me.

"Well, we'll find out soon enough. Heen'll has promised to teach me tomorrow," I said dismissively.

"You'll be the talk of the campus by then," Xentha commented. "The word gets round like magic here."

"Where's Grepp and Bemnie? Changing for the night out tonight," he answered himself.

"Yes," confirmed Xentha.

"Ah, well, if I'm going to join them, best I get started as well. Are you two coming?"

"No," we said almost simultaneously.

"Oh, okay, I probably won't see you till tomorrow then," he said, walking off toward his room.

Xentha poured cofftea for us, and picked her cup up. "I'm off to my room," she said softly. "I'll see you later."

I picked up my cofftea and went back into my room, thinking of the stir my arrival had caused. Did I really have such a wild talent, a talent that could take me to greatness? It looked like my life was going to get even more dislocated.

I was still reading when I heard the other three chattering outside as they prepared for their night out. Not long after that I fell asleep, missing the warm feeling of Rash cuddled up next to me, the softness of her body pressed against mine.

I awoke with the birds in the morning, struggling from the cocoon of dreams with a raging erection and the memory of the taste of Rash in my head. I had dreamt of her and could still feel the ecstasy of our ethereal encounter.

I was lounging in a chair, waiting for the cofftea to boil, when I heard a door open. Looking around over my shoulder, I saw Bemnie almost creeping from her door.

"Oh, good, you've got the cofftea on. My mouth feels like I've been chewing the sawdust from the bar floor."

I gave a small laugh, remembering times I'd woken feeling like that.

"Sit down, it shouldn't be long now," I said, watching as her nightdress revealed a lot more of her body than her robes had.

She looked a few inches smaller than my six feet, with a voluptuous body. Her breasts were full, double handfuls, with a well-padded tush and a visible hourglass figure. She padded barefooted to the chair next to mine.

"Kenval says you're someone special," she said, opening a conversation.

"Well, no one's told me yet," I countered. "I think the rumours are running ahead of the facts here." Though, to be honest, there had been more than a few hints.

"Fandoxx is usually a man in the know," she came back.

"Well, I'm seeing Heen'll this morning, I'll put it to her and see what she says."

"What about Princess Rasyondi, has she really run away from home?"

I felt on safer territory here. "Yes, her father was pushing her to marry some stupid old noble to gain some political advantage."

We carried on talking while I got up and made the cofftea and took a cup back to her. As we sat drinking, Xentha put in an appearance.

"Hi," she greeted us. She, too, was wearing a nightgown. The figure that it revealed was much nicer to my mind. She was slim, with small to medium perky breasts, a waif-like figure who gingerly walked over on her toes.

She came and poured herself a cup of cofftea, sitting next to Bemnie.

"Well," she said, setting her cup down. "Wish me luck, I've got my last oral with Tromblint after mid-morning break."

"How was your night last night?" she asked, ignoring her rhetorical and continuing on. "How did Jaspher perform?"

"He was good, and Kiria got up and joined him for a couple of songs near the end as well," she replied.

I sat finishing my cofftea, and listened to the goings on of the previous night, thinking of whether an indirect or direct approach to my 'specialness' was the better tack to take, or indeed whether to wait and see if she brought it up.

"Are you always up this early?" Xentha asked.

"Me!" I replied, rejoining the conversation. "Yes, pretty much, you tend to wake with the dawn, if not before, in winter. I'd bet that most of my family are up and breakfasted by now."

"Yes," she said. "I lived on a farm one year. Spring is your busiest time. With all that lambing my uncle was working all hours."

Bemnie chipped in. "We never see either of those two up before the breakfast bell has rung for last serving."

"My younger sister is like that; her tutor always had to wait till she finished her breakfast," I added.

"Well," said Xentha, bending forward to pick up her cup, her long ash blond hair falling to hide her face. "I'd better go and get dressed. I've got a couple of hours in the library I need to get started on."

She stood and I turned to watch her walk away, her nightdress flowing around her and her lean, shapely tush.

"She's a nice girl," Bemnie said, following my eyes and drawing my attention back to herself. "A bit weird about being a wizard, but a nice girl."

Actually, she reminded me a bit of Rash, the way she walked and the swivel of her hips.

"What are you doing today?" I asked.

"Oh, nothing much. I'll probably go down to the Coach Inn, or The Bull to meet up with Razzie and a few of the gang."

As she was finishing saying it she realized my ignorance. "Razzie and the rest live in the other dorm, you haven't met them yet, have you?"


"I'll take you over after tea if you want. They're just finishing their first term exams and they'll be off home next week."

"Okay, thanks."

I finished the last of my cofftea and leant back into the chair, still clutching the warm mug, my thoughts straying to my eventual journey home, showing off my new powers, wondering if Webberli would still be waiting for me.

"I'm gonna get dressed," she said suddenly, standing and putting her cup down. "I'll walk you over to breakfast if you want."

"Yes, thanks," I said, sitting upright again.

I watched as she too retreated to her room, her tush flipping from side to side with the roll of her hips. I stood and walked back to my room, retrieving the book I had been reading, then came and sat back in the common room, pouring myself the last of the cofftea.

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