Actually . . . Ajha would have been here all through the transition from scattered “Cross Dimensional Studies" with classes all over the science departments, to a consolidated program at the new Directorate School.
Rael tapped out a query to him . . . that got a bit long.
Then the door behind her opened to a grinning Xen. “We have—to the apparent irritation of the inspectors—passed all the hurdles. The power and water are back on, and we can officially live here.”
Rael grinned. “Don’t tell me, let me guess. You bubbled all evidence that we were living here?”
“Yep. And I just got started on everything we bagged up from your Paris house. Come and see?”
The front parlor had lost the work table and now had her favorite rug in the middle of the gleaming hardwood floor, the couch, and the coffee table. The dining room table was now in the dining room and the kitchen cabinets were where they belonged.
“Granite countertops, coming up.”
Rael grinned. “It’s starting to look like home.”
“Yeah, it does, doesn’t it?” Xen grinned. “and about to be inundated with children, well, young adults. I promised Ryol and Arno I’d show them how to work with the stone, and half a dozen friends somehow wound up invited.”
Rael snickered. “Guess I’d better order a whole bunch of pizza.”
Which, however chaotic it got, was an opportunity Rael wasn’t about to pass up.
“How many of you guys have done the Basic Techniques of Magic class?”
A mass groan. Miles snickered. “See? If you all weren’t such hotshots, you too could be taking classes with Professor Rael.”
Voyr snorted. “Hot shots my ass! The better we were, the more the instructors freaked out about us being careless and screamed at us to be careful before we killed someone. Which was stupid. We got very careful and very controlled after the first time—and they still treated us like mass murderers.” She shot a glance at Ryol. “I ought to have listened to you, instead of showing off how good I was already.”
Arno nodded. “Ebsa told us to never ever show how strong we were. And boy was he right. Even so, everyone on the Team Track got yelled at. Like Voyr said, mass murderers. I . . . took a dive, so to speak, and started acting like I could barely do anything, and One, did they ever look smug!”
Sunny, Osnu, who’d been bright-eyed and cheerful, hunched his shoulders. “They screamed before I did anything. The kids with barely any ability got praised.”
Pussy nodded. “I hadn’t ever had much training. So I had to be shown how to do anything, and they gave me a four point five for my final grade.”
Ryol nodded. “I actually managed to slide through with a four, by doing the absolute minimum of anything. They need some better trainers. Badly.”
Rael sighed. “I suspect a large part of the problem is that they aren’t very strong, and know damn well they can’t block accidental flares from the strongest students. Not a good situation.”
Xen nodded, a wrinkle between his brows. “Well, in any case, why don’t we go slice some stone?” He flipped a switch and the small back yard was flooded with light.
Of course half of it was taken up by a huge block of stone.
Xen cut an eight centimeter thick slab, and after it had thudded impressively flat, unrolled a broad paper, rounded on one end. “This is the template for the first piece . . . do you all know slice?”
By the time they’d all practiced on the scrap stone, they did.
Rael watched, subduing horror at the strength of some of the flares Xen caught, as they started controlling and extending their slices, of doing flat planes of force leaving behind a mirror flat and polished surface. Shaped slices for rounded edges.
And he got them to do the last, third slab all by themselves.
Rael stayed quiet and fed them lots of pizza, sodas, boost, chips . . .
The kitchen was beautiful, the kids grinning and exhausted.
Rael shut the door behind them and walked back to find Xen frowning at the kitchen, but obviously thinking of something else.
“Oner magic training stinks.”
Rael sighed. “Yes. A week and a half of classes, and those kids are catching on in huge leaps. They ought to have been getting training years ago, at a low level. We . . . after the war of Unification, the Warriors married into the local families, and there were several generations with little or no power. Somewhere along the line we lost the methods of training powerful kids. Perhaps we lost the ability to control flares, and were frightened into suppressing magic.
“I started out thinking it was deliberate sabotage from outside. But perhaps it was just ignorance and fear.”
Xen nodded. “Three thousand clans . . . just a couple of your Warriors in each. By the time they had grandsons with power, they might have been old, or dead. Or just not trained in training themselves.”
“Generally one Warrior, his family, the Halfers he served with and their families, and all encouraged to marry out. If I ever find the time, I’ll have to see how many generations usually married out, before they started reconsolidating the power genes and insertions again.”
Xen snorted. “By trial and error, through competitive fertility?”
“Mostly. Well, starting with genealogy, and then finally getting some better biology techniques and counting the insertions.” Rael glanced in the general direction of the university. “So here we are suppressing the magic talent. That needs to change.”
A nice quiet day
Wednesday, 19 Furkan 1416yp
Rael surveyed her all new Very Basics class. “So. Let’s start with basic shields . . .”
Four more weeks, then these early sessions will be done. I wonder what will fill up the hole in my schedule?
She contemplated the possibility of seventy plus kids showing up for magic exercise every morning . . . I’m going to have to put my foot down . . . this year . . .
I ought to have asked Ajha if he had anyone nearing retirement age who might like a teaching job . . .
“Not bad. Now take the shields down and hold your hands out, face the rising sun . . .”
And in the winter we need to do this later!
She sent the kids off sort of able to gather power and with slightly less shaky shields. And found Xen . . . with Aunt Kael and Ajha in her office.
Kael was standing, arms crossed and scowling. Ajha and Xen sitting at the table.
Xen glanced her way, but kept talking “. . . time I go there, not that I do very often, mind you, that the power structure isn’t what I expect, from old reports. Emperor Alfred appears to consult with the Temple, but . . . I don’t see the sort of religious control I’d been led to expect. And the Priests, with their enslaved gods . . . The Exalted Jared always has a priest and what they call a little god—a dwarf—in attendance . . . but eavesdropping on them, the dwarf appears to be an adviser, not a power source.”
Ajha nodded. “So that revolt of the gods that had half the priests fleeing to another world?”
“Yeah, they blame it all on the God of the Sun—have you seen the vids?”
“Yes the flaming fellow who saved your sister.”
Xen nodded. “And all of the Menchuro gang just look innocent and say ‘Warric? Oh don’t be silly.’ So we’re just letting it ride. Whatever happened was an internal issue that has very little to do with outside influence.”
“So, personally? I think the gods’ revolt was successful and they’ve reformed the church, reducing its hold over the government.”
“Huh.” Ajha looked over at her. “I thank you for giving me an excuse to escape from the office. And now I want a bearskin rug.”
Xen grinned. “And I suspect I’d best step out and let you three talk business.”
Ajha watched him walk out into the house. “Is he really playing house husband?”
“Playing is the operative word, and then he pops back to Embassy. He and the SGA gate guards reached an agreement. They’ve got a gravel pad just off the road outside the gate. He teleports his car there, and gets checked in all officially and properly, and leaves the same way.”
Ajha snickered. “Playing being the operative word there as well.” He leaned back and eyed her, as she circled the table and sat across from him.
Kael huffed out a breath. “That . . . man is terrifying. Charming and all that, but I can see how much he’s hiding behind those shields.” She pulled out a chair three down from Ajha and sat, scowling at Rael.
Ajha’s face was straight as he looked at Rael. “So, has the rivalry between the Schools of Magic and Directorate Studies revved up?”
“The rivalry? The situation is very odd. I’m teaching Juniors and Seniors who were never taught to gather power, let alone apply it to anything. Was it that bad before Granite Peak?”
“Well, before Granite Peak we were spread out all over, and . . . there wasn’t really any need for much beyond magifacturing and truth matches. Oh, Speed for fencers, and glow for the sophomoric . . .” Ajha sat back, frowning. “I . . . don’t think anyone but the Princess School was teaching much more. I took theory . . . I was actually in the first graduating class from the Directorate School, then took a masters in Magic Theory, which involved no actual practice at all. I, umm, snuck quite a bit of careful trial and error, mind you. And would have been expelled if they’d caught me.”
A snort from Kael. “Back in the Neolithic when I was young, we all got meditation and visualization exercises from the time we turned ten. Universities had nothing to do with magic practice. That was taught to powerful teenagers in . . . damn, I’ve forgotten what they called them . . . private schools, like Dojo’s for learning karate. They were closed down in 1353 by an act of Council, all the training shifting to ‘the more proper control of the universities.’ Ha! As if! The quality of newbies has dropped ever since.”
Rael boggled a bit. “So the poor training didn’t actually start with the split between Magic and Directorate. Drat. Now I’m going to be back wondering if someone could possibly have infiltrated someone in here way before we thought about the possibility.”
Kael’s eyes narrowed. “Hmm . . . the effects surely look like enemy action, don’t they? But the timing . . .”
Rael nodded. “If the Earth found Granite Peak early enough, and the Purples, and somehow realized that a no-purple Purp could pass for a Oner quickly enough, and somehow got through the gate and somehow fit right in . . .”
Ajha drummed his fingers. “Not impossible, but highly improbable. On the other hand, that Jaejong Chou infiltrated Earther society nearly fifteen centuries ago. So . . . the Drei cyborgs, or Jaejong’s cyborg off-branch mixed with AnnaKarina’s dimensional abilities. They were both active, dimensionally, long before we were. And once AnnaKarina had joined up with Jaejong, they could go nearly anywhere.”