When my tablet runs out of battery…

…I write long-hand.

This comes after Acquiring Students and is the beginning of a series of character-establishing notes/stories/ficlets.

Click to enbiggen.


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Acquiring Students, a ficlet of Cya/Doomsday

This is set a little over a decade before Cya Keeps Leo. Well, the end bit is a decade-plus; the ‘finding’ parts are earlier.

There were things Cya looked for when doing student recruitment.

She looked for slaves she could justifiably rescue, children born into slavery that would Change if given the right environment and would thrive or at least survive at Doomsday. She looked for children that would need rescue, kids that were living in fae-unfriendly places that risked being slaughtered when – or if – they Changed.

She looked for post-Addergoole conceived children born to Addergoole students, “third kids”, they called them.

She looked for children with unusual powers – her own power, which showed up immensely rarely; teleportation, which was uncommon and very useful in this post-collapse world; mind control, which was thankfully rare and required careful handling; telepathy, although she had only found one of those in all the years she’d been doing this.

She also looked for kids who were the right age, whose parents were fae or Faded, who could make it to Doomsday or who could accept her help moving to Doomsday.

And in all cases, she started looking for kids who were much younger than Doomsday age. She wanted to be sure that the parents knew about the school in time to make a decision.

Sometimes she found them early. Sometimes she didn’t find them until it was almost too late. She hadn’t figured out the patterns yet.

Sunny, she found when she was five, running around the family ranch doing child-sized errands while carting three kittens in the kangaroo-pouch of her jacket.

Kerr, she found three days before school, working in a landfill mine on a chain gang with twenty other children. She set her jaw and made a note to come back soon to deal with the slave-owner.

And Aron she had to keep finding; his family-group kept moving around. But she convinced his mother the same way she’d convinced Sunny’s family – with shameless bribery.

There were others that year, children from as far as her teleporter could reach, and one she’d made him make three jumps to reach. It was a full year of twelve, and, considering the mix, Cya quietly gave Ascha a raise.


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Bonus Post: oro’cy’Sweetflower

This story is from March; I wrote it but couldn’t quote get it to work out quite the way I liked it, so I wrote something else. But here it is: a glimpse at a test-Keeping in Doomsday Academy.

The collar was new and stiff-feeling, even though Enguerrand knew that there was supposed to be a Working on it to soften it. He tugged on it anyway. “Are you sure I’m going to be welcome?”

Faris draped an arm around Enguerrand’s shoulders. “Certain. For one, any plus-one is welcome at a cy’Sweetflower party, and for another, you’re mine, remember? Anywhere I can go, you can go.”

“I’m new to this,” Enguerrand reminded his Keeper nervously. “You did your own test-Keeping last year. This is my first time.”

read on…

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Second Thoughts, Third Thoughts – a story of Doomsday posted on Patreon

A story of going-to-Doomsday-Academy

“Here we are.” Adelaide looked at her three children, then looked back at the gate in front of them. She stole another glance at her kids and sighed.

Ameera had gone to Addergoole two years ago. This would be her third year there, and she looked both worried and eager. Lorccán was going this year. He looked eager. He didn’t really know what he was getting into.

But first, they were going to Doomsday…

(read on – free for everyone to read)

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(Sha-la-la-la-la-la) Don’t be scared, a ficlet of Doomsday Academy

She’d been doing well enough at hiding for so long. It seemed unfair.

Ruth had been at Doomsday for five years and was working on her sixth when the “transfer student” arrived.

Everyone else seemed to have seen the new girl before Ruth did. She heard the whispers in her first-hour class, straight-out speculation by third hour, and brand new rumors by lunchtime.

It wasn’t until her last class that she saw her, though. Tall and lovely, dark skin and full lips and little horns sticking out through her long dark hair. Tófa. Ruth smiled and shook her hand, bowed and welcomed her to Doomsday. Those were the polite things to do. Those were the right things to do. Not… not what she wanted to do.

Doomsday had been an adjustment for her, right from the first. There were fae everywhere, tolerated and – more than tolerated – accepted. The woman who ran the school was a fae! Almost all their teachers were fae! Her mother – who had moved to Cloverleaf to be near Ruth – had told her to “be patient, and all will be revealed in the fullness of time.”

…and the fullness of Tófa’s lips…. no. No.

Doomsday was far more open than her home, as was Cloverleaf. Her mother seemed to adjust quickly to the permissive culture: The women and men working in the same spaces, the lack of chaperons or morality-guardians or even just priests. Ruth had felt quietly ashamed for weeks as she learned she not only would have classes with boys – and taught by male teachers, male FAE! – but that she would dorm with them, in the same big room.

But it wasn’t boys that were the problem. If the morality-guardians knew what she was thinking now…

Her own Change, painful and slow and butterfly-beautiful, had not been so shattering as the thoughts she had kept quietly to herself. She knew she was wrong, but it didn’t feel wrong. She couldn’t go home again anyway, not like this. Not fae. She wasn’t sure she would choose to go back to the priests and the chaperons, even if she didn’t look like the demons in their books.

And if she was never going home, the morality-guardians and their nightsticks would never be a problem. And her mother… her mother was becoming far more tolerant, living in Coverleaf, than Ruth had ever thought possible.

But her teachers, her peers… Ruth swallowed and looked around. They allowed so much, but would they allow…. would they truly allow her…

“Well, what are you waitin’ for?” Professor Sweetflower leaned over Ruth, whispering in her ear. “Kiss the girl, darlin’.”

Doomsday is part of Fae Apoc and has a landing page here. Ruth and Tófa are new characters.

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Angelic Visitation

This comes after The Storm Prince of Death and @inspectrCaracal’s response here. It is set in the Fae Apoc, at least 60 years after the 2011 apocalypse.  Yoshi is the son of Cynara, often mentioned.  

Yoshi loved his parents, he really did, but sometimes he just needed to get out into the world and get away from them. The same was true of Dáirine, with whom he had a strange sort of on-again, on-again relationship that neither of them quite understood.

To get away, he’d taken to wandering the world — a family trait, it seemed. There was a lot of world out there to see; Yoshi had a feeling that he could travel for a century and not see half of it. But he made a point of checking in every year or so. There was nothing more embarrassing than having your mother appear out of nowhere because you hadn’t remembered to visit.

It was on the way back “home” — to Cloverleaf, which had never been home but was the place his family lived — that Yoshi encountered the little village. It was friendly to a passing stranger, something not all towns would do in this rough age, but their friendliness had a cautious edge to it. Continue reading

Sweetbriar’s Escape, a story of Doomsday Academy

Sweetbriar can be found here and in Austin’s stories. She’s Cya & Leo’s grandkid by Viðrou and Ce’Rilla (‘Rilla in the DW icon), thus also Orlaith’s granddaughter.

Set about 5 years into Doomsday.

Sweetbriar had been at school for less than a month when she first snuck out.

It wasn’t that she wasn’t having fun — she was having a blast, and even the boys in her class were all right (especially Austin, who was going to be a Samurai, kind of like Grandpa Leo). It wasn’t even that she didn’t like the school, or her dorm, or her classes. She liked to call her bunk her ship, and her ship was the most lovely piece of furniture she’d ever seen outside of the Tree.

The thing was — and it really was the only thing — she had grown up in the Forest, a woods so big she had, as a kid, thought it had no end. And now she was living in Cloverleaf, a city so small that the entire thing was surrounded by walls, living in a house with thirty other students, and enclosed the entire time by stone and brick.

Slipping out was easy; the walls around Doomsday were barely walls at all. She waited until Miss Ascha was distracted by something Austin was doing – Miss Ascha was often distracted by Austin; it was like he was made to be distracting – and strolled away casually. She didn’t break into a run until she was on the other side of the classroom buildings.

There was a park not that far away. It wasn’t anything on the Forest, of course, but it had trees, trees big enough to climb up into, being enough to get lost in.

Sweetbriar climbed up into the biggest one. She relished every foot of the challenging climb; the tree had no branches low to the ground, and its trunk was too wide to wrap her arms or legs around. She’d climbed harder, though. And when she got up high enough, onto a long, almost-level branch big enough to sit on, it was worth the effort. She could barely see the ground, and, more importantly, she couldn’t see the walls at all. For the first time since she’d come to Cloverleaf, Sweetbriar felt right.

Grandma Cya found her a while later, long enough that Sweetbriar was starting to get restless. “It’s time to go home now,” she said – Grandma Principal Cya Doomsday, and that was definitely her Principal Doomsday voice. “Next time, ask a teacher to bring you.”

“Does that mean I’m not in trouble?” Getting down was a lot easier than getting up had been.

Her grandmother smirked at her. “Of course it doesn’t. It means I’m telling you how to not get in trouble next time. And that, believe me, is something you’re going to need.”

Sweetbriar flexed her fingers, feeling the scrapes and the happy muscle aches. Being in trouble — that was a lot like home, too. “Yes, Principal Grandma.” It might be useful to know how to get into trouble, too.

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Doomsday Academy Setting Notes

to go with Cloverleaf: a basic write-up of the city

Doomsday Academy is an 8-year educational institution covering from ages 10 to 18.

The classes cover a spectrum of traditional and modern class subjects, including Math, Survival, Literature, Law, and Science. In addition, a variety of extracurricular clubs cover subjects from Theatre Arts to Fiber Arts to Martial Arts. Sometimes, students who are Addergoole-bound attend Doomsday until they are called to Addergoole; often, Addergoole students will send their non-Addergoole-promised children to Doomsday.

Each fae student learns magic from their Mentors and from other teachers who are proficient in the student’s best Words. The school is primarily for fae students, but they do occasionally have a human student. There are three additional schools in Cloverleaf for human students, one per circle.

Doomsday Academy is housed in a series of buildings built to look like Victorian houses (and church), including three classroom buildings, a dining-and-gathering hall, the dojo, the greenhouse, and the Library. Young students live in a single dormitory; older students live in houses with their cy’ree. Students in their last few years at Doomsday can choose to live in apartment-style housing with their crew. Buildings run along either side of a narrow foot-road, crossing a wider foot-road, in a block of Cloverleaf off to one side of the main road and near a park. There is plenty of green space.

Uniforms are grey, black, and white, with grey-black-and-white plaid; students can choose between pants, skirts, or kilts, sweaters, button-up shirts, and vests (in any combination), with kimono as an alternative option.

Each Mentor’s cy’ree has their own color combination and an accessory they add to the uniform, replacing tie and socks with the cy’ree color.

Professors and their cy’ree colors, when known, are listed below

Prof. Doomsday
Cynara, Red Doomsday
Carmine, Red
cy’Red accessory: utility belt

Prof. Inazuma
Leofric, Lightning Blade
Sky Blue, Yellow
cy’Lightning accessory: tanto-style dagger

Prof. Agislaw
Kheper, Law-Shield
Orange, Green
cy’Law accessory:

Prof. Lily
Dáirine, Black Lily
Sage Green, Rose
cy’Lily accessory:

Prof. Chthon
Athanaric, Beneath the Surface
Dove Grey, Pale Blue
cy’Underground accessory: ??

Prof. Sweetflower
Magnolia, Sweetest Thing
Purple, Plum
cy’Sweetflower accessory: scarf

Meliadne, Soft-Sight
Dark Raspberry, Turquoise
cy’Healer accessory:

Aceline, Water Under the Bridge


Clubs are as follows:

Drama Club
– Advisor: Prof. Chthon

Camping Club
– Advisor: Prof. Doomsday

Newspaper Club
– Advisor: Prof. Inazuma

Fashion Club
– Advisor: Prof. Sweetflower

Chorus Club
– Advisor: Aceline

Fiber Arts Club
– Advisor: Prof. Doomsday

Gardening Club
– Advisor: Prof. Lily

Martial Arts Club
– Advisor: Prof. Inazuma

Puzzle Club
– Advisor: Prof. Agislaw

Archaeology Club
– Advisor: Prof. Chthon

Model Citizens Club
– Advisor: Prof. Agislaw

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An Educational Visit, Part VI- The End

Written to [personal profile] inventrix‘s and Kuro-Neko’s request/commission after I Should Visit, Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V; 2500 words

“…you might consider, in due time, why some people’s children seem to know so much more, coming to Addergoole, than others’.”

Regine watched the woman walk down the stairs, her mink tail bobbing. She watched her open the back door and head out into the back yard, where Feu Drake was telling the toddler some convoluted story.

It was a question she had not given too much thought, she was forced to admit, if only to herself. Some students came in with basic or no educational background; some came in nearly college-educated. Some knew what a Kept was, what a promise was, what hawthorn was. Some learned those things the hard was during the course of their time at Addergoole.

It did make it harder to shock them into Changing, but the tight, Ellehemaei-full environment did what surprise did not.

She realized Cynara was looking at her. She could ask, of course. She raised her eyebrows; that often sufficed.

Cynara smiled back at her, a small thing and enigmatic. “I’ll tell you the half I don’t think even you will think to forbid. The rest you’ll have to figure out for yourself, I’m afraid. I won’t do future generations that disservice.”

Regine coughed politely. “You would say that the oaths are a disservice?”

“To keep our children intentionally in the dark about any part of their heritage? To set them up to be targets to predators like Tethys, like Alika, like Delaney?

Regine noted the names she chose with interest. The Keepers of her son and her grandson, that made sense. But – “Not Eriko?”

“Eriko is a childish, spiteful, blind person.” Cynara listed the words as if she was passing sentence. Regine was suddenly struck by a recollection of a young Sigruko speaking of her “Aunt Cya.” “But she is not a predator. As I was saying – yes. Yes, the oaths are a disservice, especially to those without the wherewithal to get around them. And as for how – we make friends, Director, simple as that – something you instilled in us, if we didn’t come with the skill. We make friends.” Her smile was suddenly very bright. “Someday, perhaps, I’ll introduce you to Bambi the Impaler, speaking of friends.”

Regine found herself raising her eyebrows yet again. “That sounds… not so friendly.”

“It’s a long story, like all of the best stories are. Now, where were we?”

“I think it’s best we were leaving.” Regine had been given a number of things to think about. She wanted to retreat to the quiet of her office to consider them all in the proper context.

“Oh, but you haven’t seen the dojo yet!” It was very hard to tell with Cynara, but Regine thought it possible that the woman was sincere. “It’s not going to be a complete tour without that.”

“Perhaps another time,” Regine murmured. She doubted she would return here for many years, but it was the polite excuse.

“I would quite like to see this dojo. Sa’Hunting Hawk has spoken very well of it.”

Once again, Feu Drake foiled her. Regine wondered, in some irritation, why she had hired him after all.

“Well, then, I suppose go we shall,” Regine allowed with poor grace.

“Oh, good.” She was either a supremely good actress – which Regine would not put past her – or Cynara was genuinely relieved. “I’m sure Inuzama will be glad to see you. This way. Upsie, Kovi, that’s a boy.” She swung the boy up onto her hip and led through the back yard of her cy’ree house. Watching her tail sway again, the little blonde child riding happily on her hip, Regine was struck with an unfamiliar thought. She was watching a stranger, a woman entirely at home in her own skin and entirely a cypher to Regine.

“Have you visited here before?” She pitched her question quietly, for Feu Drake alone, but was not naive enough to believe she would not be overheard.

He raised his eyebrows at her. “Oh, no, I haven’t been to Cloverleaf since it was nothing but a couple of walls and three houses. But Cya and I have kept in touch over the years. She writes letters,” he explained, and then, with a little smirk, continued. “Of course, she sends them via teleporter, but that should surprise no-one.”

It struck Regine, finally, what sounded wrong about his discussions of his former student. “You’re not fond of informality. As a matter of fact, I believe you said this situation called for formality.”

“And so it does. We are guests in another Ellehemaei’s territory. Why would you – ah.” The surprised realization had to be feigned. “Perhaps you speak of me referring to jae’Doomsday as ‘Cya.’“

“It’s a nickname. I’ve never heard you use a nickname before.”

“No.” Cynara’s voice came from in front of them; she didn’t bother turning around. “You were there at my naming ceremony, the graduation, sa’Lady of the Lake.”

“I attend very many naming ceremonies. Seventy-five or so since yours. But I certainly would not forget your Name; not with it being so explosive.”

Cynara and Feu Drake laughed as if they were sharing a joke – and, it seemed, they were. Cynara turned this time, smiling. “Sa’Hunting Hawk said much the same thing. I think our crew name just causes everyone to think everything we do is explosive. Bulldozer. Lightning Blade. …Taste the Rainbow. Red Doomsday. My Name isn’t about explosions, Director.” She shifted her child on her hip in a way that somehow drew one’s eyes directly to his puckish face. “It’s about preparations. And what we’re discussing isn’t my Name – it’s just that trick Professor Drake pulled with my given name.”

“Names connect a child to their father. Given some of the…” Feu Drake looked at a loss for a moment, a situation Regine had seen only a few times in all the years she had known him. “Some of the issues surrounding this particular father – Cya’s, that is–”

“There are issues surrounding him?” Regine found her eyebrows shooting up.

“As several of my students were once fond of saying, ‘volumes.’ The issues around Enion Dayton are too many to list out here, but let us simply say that I thought it best to provide a bit of distance. I believe it’s worked.”

“Haven’t heard from him in decades.” Cynara sounded particularly cheerful. Regine was finding herself just a little bit lost.

“I don’t see what that has to do with…” It hit her. “Ah. You gave her a Name and, at the same time, you changed her name. From Cynara to Cya.”

“Exactly.” Drake smiled, looking far too pleased with himself. Regine found she could not fault him for that.

“Very interesting. I should ask Ambrus how that has worked for him throughout the years.”

“Oh, is he still with you? How interesting.” Cynara gestured across the green. “Here we are. The dojo.”

Like all the other buildings here, the dojo gave the appearance of being a suburban house. This one had a bit more of Japan in the lines and the color choices, but it was, after all, called the dojo and the domain of one professor Inazuma. Regine expected no less.

“There are going to be children underfoot, of course. There are always children here.” Cynara’s – Cya’s – smile was quite wide and pleased with herself. “Mind your step and stay off the mats, and you should be fine.”

Inside, a classroom of pre-teens were going through some basic kata. Cya set down her son; he made a quick bow to the mat and hurried around the class towards the instructor.

Regine brought her gaze away from a small gathering of children with the Aelfgar familiar features to look at this Professor Inazuma.

She had to look twice. Many of Aelfgar’s descendants bore a resemblance – but this one was rather distinctive in many ways. The scar on his left cheek was new, however.

“Daddy!” The child ran up to Inzauma – Leofric, no matter what he was calling himself, that was Leofric Lightning-Blade – and held his arms up. Laughing, Leofric scooped the boy up into a hug.

Regine realized she was staring. More, she realized Cya was watching her and smiling.

“Mags – Professor Sweetflower – is fascinated by them. Viddie and Mai and Kovi, I mean. And then Tilden and Sweetbriar and Tangle. I imagine you have some children like that at Addergoole, too?”

Regine nodded, not truly paying attention to her answer. Three children, over something like sixty years, from the same two parents. She had read theories…

…and Cya was suggesting that Ce’Rilla and Viðrou also had three? Regine’s fingers were itching to study that data.

She smiled, instead. “So this is the dojo.”

“And Professor Inazuma.”

Leofric was making his way over to them, somewhat hampered by his son attempting to wrap around both of Leo’s legs. “I see.”

Cya was smiling. “It’s not as if, say ‘Mike VanderLinden’ is the Professor’s original name. Or ‘Laurel Valerian?’ Feu Drake? Some of our teachers took on pseudonyms.”

“Professor Aegislaw,” Professor Drake offered.

“Him, too. Kheper,” she explained for Regine’s benefit. “They’ve seen the dorms and the dining hall, but the classrooms are all full. I hope you don’t mind being interrupted, Leo.”

“Of course not,” he replied cheerfully. “Class, this is Feu Drake and Director Avonmorea of Addergoole.”

The students all bowed, very properly. Regine nodded politely back to them while Feu Drake executed a lovely Japanese-style bow.

Regine was, she had to admit, reeling. She sought refuge in manners older than the world they were currently living in. “You seem to be doing very well for yourself here, Leofric, jae’Lightning Blade.”

“We are.” He smiled back at her, seemingly unfazed. She wondered if he was doing as Cya had seemingly done, and hiding his fury behind a smile. She wondered what his fury would look like.

“It’s a lovely school. And I’m sure Luke is pleased to see you’re teaching combat?” She did not wish to start another argument, not today. Luckily, Leo seemed to have no interest in arguing at the moment, unlike his crew-mate.

“Oh, that’s just secondary. I’m the math and science teacher.” His smile was entirely disarming.

“Ah.” Her eyebrows shot up. “Very good indeed. Do you, ah, do you find it challenging?”

He shook his head. “Nah, not at all. I love working with kids, and it’s nice to use my ancient PhD for something.”

Regine coughed. “You – ah. I believe I’d forgotten you had a PhD. What in?”

He shrugged dismissively, still cheerful. “Physics with a focus on electromagnetism. Not a lot of reason to remember, the way the world is now. “

“Well…” Regine rallied with effort. ”In this city, here, it seems like it might apply?”

“More than most places. It’s a great city, isn’t it?”

“It’s an amazing city,” Feu Drake agreed. Of course he did. You’d thought he’d thought of the whole thing himself – which was a train of thought to consider.

Regine glanced over at him, then returned her attention to Leo. “It’s been very impressive so far.”

“That’s Cya for you.” Leofric was practically dripping with pride. Regine found her gaze drawn down to the toddler currently attempting to climb “Inazuma’s” leg, then back up to Leofric. What else had she missed?

She smiled politely. “I could only wish all Addergoole’s graduates were this accomplished.”

“That would definitely be interesting.” He smiled affectionately at the child. “I hope you’re being good for the visitors, Kou-kun.”

Sigruko suddenly made a great deal more sense. Regine found herself smiling at the clear parental love. Then the rest of what Leofric had said sank in. “Ah.” She considered every single Addergoole graduate achieving at this level. “Ah.“ She coughed. “Interesting indeed.”

“That reminds me, while you’re here, Director. I was thinking it might be educational for some of our students to visit Addergoole for a couple days. What do you think?”

Regine sputtered, her only consolation that Cynara was sputtering too, and, appearing to think it was a fun noise, so was Kovi. Leofric looked damnably innocent.

“I am… certain it would be educational, and that we could arrange something. I’ll, ah, make certain to send a note.” She nodded to Leofric. “It’s been a pleasure to see you again.” She found she meant it.

“Enjoy the rest of your visit.” He smiled and turned back to the class. Regine turned back to Cynara, uncomfortably on uncertain footing.

“It’s a busy school,” Cynara commented mildly. She gestured out of the dojo and led the way she’d gestured, bringing them back out into a sunny afternoon.

“Your children – your students – seem quite happy and well-adjusted,” Regine was forced to admit. “It would be difficult to realize, standing here, that the world had fallen to pieces out there.”

Just then, three of the children in question darted past. One was wearing kimono and hakama, the obi in a blue-and-yellow plaid that looked quite fetching. Another was in a grey-black-and-white plaid kilt with a grey sweater vest; he was wearing purple knee socks and tie.

The third, Regine noted, was in addition to the grey and pale blue accessories and the long black pants, wearing a collar that was, firstly, very much a collar, and secondly, stripped with the same purples of the kilted student.

“You allow Keepings here? I’m quite surprised.”

“This is me we’re talking about here. I can’t believe someone hasn’t mentioned my penchants to you.”

“You mean your, ah, Kept-of-the-Year?” It had taken a disturbingly long time for Luke and Mike to explain that to her, but they had, indeed, explained it. “It’s a bit surprising, considering how vociferous you are about the Keepings your crew endured.”

Cynara raised her eyebrows. She turned to look Regine flat in the face and her expression blanked. “Howard had a lovely Keeping. I had endurable Keeping. Zita had a necessary Keeping. And we all learned quite a few things from those Keepings, including that it is not the institution that is bad.”

The blankness vanished, replaced by another smile, this one dry and unamused. “Our older students explore mutually-agreed-upon Keepings under the supervision of both students’ Mentors. Cases of abuse are nipped in the bud, and we monitor the physical and emotional health of all involved for every step along the way. We take care of our students, Director.”

There was not so much of an implication as a clear accusation there. Regine studied the woman in front of her, ignoring the smile, crooked and fake. There had never been any warning signs in that Keeping – and, two years after Eris, they had all been looking. Of course, they’d missed the signs in Leofric, searching for violent abuse and overlooking emotional suffocation.

Regine nodded, very carefully. You left us to pick up the pieces.

She had done this woman a disservice. She had, as Feu Drake had suggested, quite a bit to consider.

We take care of our students.

“It is good,” she answered carefully, “Principal Red Doomsday, that you do. There is much to learn from here.”


“Well, that went quite well.” Feu Drake seemed quite perky as they left the city.

Regine eyed him sidelong. “You truly believe so?”

The smile faded from his face. “Yes.” He was the more serious Drake she had come to know. “Sometimes, she needs to remember that it is acceptable to be angry. And sometimes, you need to be reminded that you have done things worthy of that anger.”

Regine did not answer, lost in her own considerations of the trip. She had much to consider, indeed.

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An Educational Visit, Part V/?

Written to [personal profile] inventrix‘s request/commission after I Should Visit, Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV; 1,425 words

Regine’s eyebrows went up. “You have an Addergoole student here?”

Cynara, curse her, smirked. “We have several. However, Deimos was conceived and born outside of Addergoole.”

Regine twisted her lips. Definitely a student of Feu Drake, this one. “He is on our rolls to attend Addergoole next year.”

“His mother didn’t contact you?” Cynara raised her eyebrows. “Perhaps she was waiting until her first two children graduated.”

Regine held Cynara’s gaze. “Why do you think she would do something like that?”

The woman’s smile was sickenly sweet and innocent. “To avoid retribution against her children, of course.”

“And I suppose you told her that I would do such.” She would wipe this insolent speck off the face of the planet, but Luke would be irritated with her.

“If I had, who could blame me? You have threatened my own grandchildren.”

“I did no such thing!” Even as Regine protested, some small, honest part of herself reminded her that she had certainly considered it.

“Director, I was a student of Drake in my youth. I can certainly read into the words spoken. However, I said nothing like that to Eulalia; when we have third-children here, we normally suggest the mother inform Addergoole as soon as possible.”

“So this is common?” Regine gestured around the shabby little dorm room. “You often steal away Addergoole students for your school? No,” she interrupted Drake, “don’t explain for her. I want to know what she thinks she’s doing.”

“I steal no-one.” Cynara’s voice was calm and smug. “I invite parents to send their children here. Some of them, as I do, have children we have borne outside of the confines of Addergoole.” She gestured to her toddler, who was opening and closing the door to the “cottage” with glee.

“If they don’t want to want to send them to Addergoole, they’re under absolutely no obligation to do so. And if they have children who will be going to Addergoole, well, there’s absolutely nothing that says they cannot come here until then. We have several of those in attendance.”

“How dare you?” Regine stepped closer to Cynara. ”The sheer unmitigated gall of you, you insufferable mistake of a child!”

Cynara kept smiling, despite the insults. “If I am a ‘mistake,’ it wasn’t me that made it.” She pulled up a chair and sat down. “Professor Drake, maybe Kovi can show you our garden?”

“I would like that,” Drake agreed solemnly. He murmured Words that Regine was certain he did not mean to be secret, a Working that would allow him to monitor the conversation. She found it irritating – but she had far bigger fish to fry right now.

They waited, in seething silence, while Drake coaxed the toddler out of the room. Regine had several Workings ready; if it came to battle, she did not intend to lose. But she would wait, patiently, rather than have it be said that she put a child at risk.

“So.” Cynara steepled her fingers and looked over them at Regine. “I think we have some misconceptions here. You seem to have come here to judge me or my school. And while that may be your intent, you are in no position to do so.”

Regine opened her mouth. The git did not give her a chance to speak before continuing.

“You are the Director of a school I once attended, and a revered member of a dead society.” She at least did not look pleased at that. “More than that – we are not friends, and we are not allies. If we are careful, we can end today not being enemies, and for all of those others involved, that would be a good thing. However.”

Regine had been accused of not recognizing emotions when they bit her in the face – Mike’s words. However, even she could see the hatred in the face in front of her.

The voice remained entirely calm and stable. As angry as she was, Regine could not help but notice that.

“It is likely,” she began, and it was clear she was beginning something, “that I will forgive you for Dysmas, for the fact that he believed treating me like a thing was the way it was supposed to go. After all, it might not have directly been your fault; Agatha and Delaney taught him that.”

She took a breath. Regine heard something in that breath, and stopped her response.

“It is possible,” Cynara continued, “that I will forgive you for the time my son brought his rapist home for dinner. Or the time my grandsons brought a boy to me so broken, I cannot believe that the administration missed it. Trenton,” she added, before Regine could either ask or place the possibilities. Cynara had two grandsons – that she knew of, she added to herself – two years apart.

She remembered this boy. She nodded slowly, and did not interrupt.

“I may someday forgive you for the disservice you did to Boom as a whole, for years of dismissing us as unstable, as volatile.“ The words were nails the way she said them, hammered home with accuracy and strength. “For cursing us with your derision for being insane, when it was actions you condoned that sent us there.”

She had shifted as she spoke, small movements, animated ones. Now she froze, her gaze pinning Regine.

“I will never forgive you for what was done to Leofric. For watching his insanity for decades. For the fact that you let that bitch shatter him, and left us – broken ourselves, and children – to pick up the pieces.”

She leaned back in her chair. Regine was watching for it this time, waiting for the attack. Instead, she saw the moment that Cynara chose to put the anger away, carefully, as if in a box.

She had a momentary, incongruous memory: the chests Cynara had brought to school, large, clunky, and her only luggage. The sleeker, better-made ones Yoshi and Vidrou had brought, and then the carved boxes their children had pulled behind them like wagons, their wheels forged of steel.

The great-grandchildren had come to school with boxes, too, she realized, so elaborately carved that they looked like works of art.

That was worth considering at another moment. She waited, to see if Cynara was done.

“I spend fifty years–” Her voice was rough, as if she, too, was not sure if she was done or not– “carefully instructing twelve- and thirteen-year olds how to survive emotional abuse and rape without shattering. Teaching them how to lose just enough self to survive, without–”

Regine was certain that if she had not been there, Cynara’s voice would have broken. The woman lifted her chin, paused, and continued. “—without breaking, as their forebears did. I should hope you’ll forgive me, sa’Lady of the Lake, if I built a place with the hope of avoiding that in the future.”

“Your descendants still come to Addergoole.”

They were unwise words, stupid words, but they were the first thing that came to her lips. Why build the school, when all those great-grandchildren would not benefit from it?

“Well,” Cynara’s smile was tired, “if you recall, I did ask to be part of the Addergoole system initially. Since you turned that down – something about volatility, if I recall correctly? – I suppose I’ll just have to make sure as many children get the chance as possible. And besides, they get their first few years here. It’s an 8 to 18 program; that’s a good number of years to establish habits before they go to Addergoole, even if you call them at fourteen.”

Regine didn’t like it, but there was very little she could say to that. Except, she supposed – “And the oaths you swore?”

“Those ridiculous promises you make us all agree to, so that we can leave your place? They’re stupid, you know.” Cynara shook her head. “In this day and age, no child fails to know that fae exist. If you were seeking a level playing field – and what fun would that be, mm? – there are better ways to do it.” She stood up and tilted her head towards the door. “Professor Drake has been tormented by my little demon long enough. Why don’t we go rescue him?”

Regine nodded, rather than argue something where she had no polite way to do so. As they made her way down the stairs, however, Cynara continued, casually. “We don’t break our vows here, stupid though they may be. But you might consider, in due time, why some people’s children seem to know so much more, coming to Addergoole, than others’.”


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