Year 47 of the Addergoole School
Go to Addergoole, her mother had said. Get an education, she’d said. There’s food and power there, you’ll be safe there, she’d said.
Naeema’s mother had failed to mention the fae part; she’d failed to mention the and you’ll learn magic part; she’d definitely failed to mention and some boy is going to put a collar around your neck.
Gwalchmai wasn’t all that bad, she supposed. No, that wasn’t right. He was pretty bad, but he thought he wasn’t bad, and he kept saying it. It was giving her a headache, the sort of thing where she felt like her head was going to split.
“You have to understand,” he was saying, which was difficult, because she didn’t really understand at all, “things were different before Luke’s daughter got herself in trouble. Now they do spot checks of the all the rooms. If you ask me, you’re not getting a proper sense of what slavery is supposed to be like. Not the way it was back home.”
Naeema had grown up in a walled compound; for all that her mother had said Addergoole is safe, slavers were not allowed in her home town and slaves were freed on entry. “It’s not like that everywhere,” she protested. Her skull was cracking open. It had to be.
“Did I say you should talk? Oh, shit, are you Changing? Right here? You can’t, you can’t…”
Gwalchmai was darting, back and forth, back and forth. He had a bird Change, didn’t he? Professor Valerian had said something about that. He looked like a panicked bird, now, squawking orders than meant nothing, orders she could barely hear.
Her tongue tickled. She stuck it out, and found it forked. She blinked, and found she could blink again, a second set of eyelids.
She caught Gwalchmai’s eye. Bird, bird. He was freaking out – no. No, he wasn’t. He was staring at her, intently, hypnotized.
Naeema smiled, and her fangs brushed against her lips. This had just gotten interesting.
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