Charles Gray's blog of writing

Charles Gray's professional and not so professional writings

  • Catogory map.

  • Blog Stats

    • 4,926 hits
  • Twitter Updates

    Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

  • Archives

Booby Trap, conclusion

Posted by Charles Gray on June 24, 2011

 

 

The Dean’s office was quiet, all dark wood from the local forests and subdued lighting.  The pot on the desk projected a series of dancing, softly singing stars, the sorcery drawing the eye, and calming the spirit, at least according to those who sold such things.

Carla had heard that Dean William’s enjoyed the perks of her office.  Given what that office entailed, the teen didn’t begrudge her that.

Right now, she was sitting on the couch, in deference to her healed, but still sore side, while there were two chairs, for Janice and Jake, and a place for Sora, the naga’s coils nervously twitching.  Next to Dean William’s, Savastan stood, giving the three a cocked eye gaze that he normally reserved for whatever was on his plate at dinner.

“Well,”  Dean Williams said. “I have to congratulate you three.  Most students simply complain about their assistant Dorm Supervisors.  Few actually try to kill them.”

“We did-“  Jake fell silent as Williams’ turned to face him.  Her gray hair and old fashioned glasses, coupled with the legends (and true stories) about her deeds in the past gave her a very intimidating mien, even when she wasn’t angry.

She’s angry, Carla thought. She’s very angry.

“Didn’t what?  Didn’t bring an active magical artifact, that was neither examined nor passed by customs, into the school?  Didn’t activate it, thereby creating a situation that might have led to the deaths of  your classmates– would have led to their deaths had not Carla kept her head, and had not Savant Savastan been passing by?”  She paused, and Carla noticed that her knuckles were whitening where she was holding on to the side of her desk.  “Is that what you were intending to say?”

“No ma’am,” Jake said, in a barely audible voice.

“We didn’t kno-“  Janice said, and this time Savastan cut her off.

“You did not know?  Obviously you did not realize what it was you had, that much is true,” the Saurian said.  Janice started to relax, but Savastan continued on, inexorably.   “But you did not know it could be dangerous?  I doubt that in the extreme. Every class reminds you that magic can be dangerous, and unlike most technology, spells can have conditions, even sentience, behind them, as can constructs and spirits.  The first rule is, if you do not understand, you do not attempt to use.  Even I would consult my colleagues before making such an attempt and I am far, far older than you are.  There are ten thousand worlds and world like objects we know of personally, many, many more we have never encountered, all of them with their own traditions, own ways of doing things, own forms of magic….and traps.  You knew this.  You just didn’t take it seriously.”  The Saurian bent down, the great scaled head inches from Janice’s bloodless face.  “There is a great difference between the two.”

“And, you got off very easily.”  Williams said.

“I know.” Jake replied, staring at the carpeted floor.

“I do not think you do.”  Williams shook her head. “If you think this is bad, imagine sitting in this same room, with Savastan and I…and Carla’s parents as you told them how their daughter came to die.”

None of the three said anything, but something that sounded suspiciously like a sniffle came from Jake or Janice.  Sora was balled up so tightly Carla wondered how she could breath.

“Then of course there’s the matter of the fellow you purchased it from. Wilson evidently thought you were going to show it to one of us– when the officers dropped by to pick him up, they ended up having to take him to the hospital.”

“A minor attack of Angina,” Savastan said. “He is, physically at least, fine, though obviously distraught at what might have happened.”

“But yet another example of the consequences of your actions, to say nothing of any possible legal consequences against him, because the book was unlicensed,”  Williams added.  “But now I need to know what to do with you three.  I’ve got the call board going insane with demands you be expelled.”

“I-No ma’m, please!”  That last brought Sora out of her ball. “I’m the first to go to school and my-I’ll do anything.”

“An unwise offer,”  Savastan told her.

Sora looked up at him and wrapped her four arms around her body, “I say it with my name, I say it three times.”

“Ah.”  The saurian looked at her for a moment, then dipped his head.  “Wise or Unwise, it has been said, three times.  I accept for my part.”  At that, Sora went right back into her ball, quivering.

“Dean Williams?”  Carla finally decided to speak.  “Since I’m the one who might have been killed, do I get anything to say?”

“We always get something to say, Ms. Stevens, whether others listen to it is the question.”

“Very true, sadly,” Savastan said, eyes crinkling with amusement.

“They didn’t intend to hurt anyone,” Carla said and seeing the beginnings of  a retort forming, pressed on, “but they did and they need to be punished.”  With that, Williams leaned back in her chair and gestured at Carla to continue.  “If they get expelled, it won’t really be a lesson.  If they stay, they can be…” Carla smiled, “an object lesson like my dad would say.”

“Now I’m interested,”  Williams commented.  Savastan brought his hands together, networking his clawed fingers, and inclined his head at Carla.

Encouraged, Carla continued, “Even if you get contractors to fix the dorm, it’s going to take a lot of work, and there will be lots of garbage and stuff that needs to be removed.”

“They have classes.”

“I-“  Carla paused then forged forward. “Yes, but classes only take part of the day and then there are the rest days.  I mean, it’d be hard, but if they want to stay-“

“We do!”  three voices chorused.

Carla smiled. “Then I’m certain they could fit it in.”

“Ur…”  Savastan paused, looking at Sora. “Sora’s work in mathematics is lagging. In order for this to work, she would need a tutor….I believe that your marks are quite high in that field, are they not, Ms. Stevens?”

Well, you didn’t want them to get kicked out.  “Yes sir, they are.  I could help her, if she needed it.”

“I am not… adverse to this, but of course,”  Savastan nodded at Williams, “the decision is not mine alone to make.”

Williams leaned back and didn’t say anything for a moment. Finally, she nodded, and spoke the three in front of her, “I agree…if you three work at this, and that means you work.  Carla will give me daily and weekly reports as will the workmen at the site…and for your sakes, those reports had better be good.  You’re also on complete restriction until the work is finished.  I don’t want to see you out of your temporary housing when you’re not at classes, study halls, or dining times…or working at whatever the clean up crews tell you to do. Do you understand?”

“Yes Ma’am!”  three voices chorused.

“Good, now get out of my sight. The secretary will give you your temporary rooms.”

“I-thank you!”  Jake said as he got up.

“Sora?”  Savastan said as the Naga started to uncoil and follow her friends.

“Yes sir?”

“You have said it three times, with your name,  and I have accepted.  Complete this task, to Carla’a and Dean Williams’ satisfaction and I will hold your debt fulfilled.”

“I- yes sir,”  Sora said, bowing her way out of the room.

 

“Now for you, young lady,”  Williams said as the door closed behind the three chastened students. “Have you ever heard of just running for help?”

“I didn’t have much of a choice,” Carla said. “It was heading for Jake.”

“Logical.  It wasn’t a complex spirit construct, and it probably was designed with the assumption that the most skilled individual would be the one opening it,”  Savastan mused.

“Regardless, you put yourself at grave risk for those students, and so far, we’ve just thanked you with more work.”  Dean Williams frowned.  “There will probably be some form of award in your future, but we’ll also be trying to play this down… I don’t want to convince our students that a brave heart will see them through when in most cases it’ll get them killed.”

“I don’t think it was a brave heart,”  Carla said. “More like a cornered one.”

“The two often are very similar,”  Savastan replied. “I am more impressed at your intelligence.  How do you intend to handle your three charges?”

“Well first I convince David not to kill them,”  Carla said.

“Ah, your consort,”  Savastan said.

Carla colored. “Err…boyfriend.”

“If he kills them he’ll answer to me,”  Williams told the other two.  “But it certainly will be an interesting story to tell when he gets back from his field trip.  But you haven’t answered Savant Savastan’s question.”

“Well none of them are lazy,”  Carla said.  “Jake will come up with some great idea to get the work done in half the time, and will really take twice as much effort, so I’ll have to sit on him, but Janice and Sora won’t be a problem.”

“I agree with your reading of them,”  Williams answered.  “You’ve been healed more or less, but would you like to eat in your room?  I can have the staff bring it up to you, or would you prefer to bask in the glory of your fame?”

“I…. I’ll eat in the cafeteria,” Carla said.

“Good.  You’d best hurry then.”  Carla nodded and got up. Just as she opened the door, Williams spoke, “And Carla?”

“Yes Dean?”

“A very good job.”

“Ah-thank you,”  Carla said as she closed the door behind her.

The door closed, leaving the woman and saurian alone.

“So what do you think?”  Williams finally said.

“She isn’t the most skilled in my class,”  Savastan said, “not even among the top ten percent, in fact.”

“But?”

“She has common sense,” the Saurian answered, “the ability to look at a course of action and decide if it makes sense and the willingness to abandon it if it doesn’t,  even if she might face embarrassment for doing so.”

“We knew that before.”

“But now we know how she reacts under real pressure.” Savastan looked down onto the quad, crowded with students talking about the days excitement. “A test we never could have applied.”

“Of course we couldn’t have.  It would have been utterly unethical.”

“So let us use our good fortune.  Three incautious students have been taught a valuable lesson that might save their lives, and one…well one has proven something we couldn’t have learned any other way.  She keeps her head, as you would say, when things get bad.”

“Right.  I’ll let Hank know.  We’ve got our team captain.” Williams smiled and shook her head.  “God help her.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: