Act 1: Chapter 3, Part 2

Posted on April 16, 2017

In Which There Are Five Nineteens

Evan. First Day of School. Lunchtime!

“Evan!”

Evan Cadell turned at the call, away from peering through the lunch room for anyone he knew.

“Oh, there you guys are,” he said, as he faced Angie and Ryan coming through the door. “I didn’t know if you were in here already.”

“No,” Angie said. “Had to ask a bird about, you know, whatever that was.”

Evan blinked. “Whatever what was?” He glanced at Ryan, raising an eyebrow.

“Uh,” Angie said.

Ryan grinned. “Did you sneeze when the bells rang at the start of last period?”

“What?” Evan said, giving Ryan a baffled look. Then he thought about it for a second. “Yes? I think?”

“Something happened,” Ryan said. “Something mystical. One of Angie’s little friends said it was something Megan did. Gave us the impression that it had to do with us all being born of the 19th of our respective months.”

“I’m the one who talked to the bird,” Angie said, sounding annoyed. “I could have explained that, too.”

Ryan looked abashed. “Sorry, Ange. That was rude of me.”

“You don’t always have to be the guy who explains everything,” Angie said, but she gave him a smile when she spoke.

“I know. It’s instinctual,” Ryan said, smiling back.

“So what happened again?” Evan said, bringing them back to the topic at hand.

“The bird said that now we are five,” Angie replied, evenly.

“Seriously?” Evan said, raising an eyebrow. “Another person born on the 19th? That’s somehow a big deal? That’s like one of every thirty people.” He shrugged. “No wonder I just sneezed.”

“Well, not just someone born on the nineteenth, right?” Angie said. “It’s gotta be someone born in the August before Ryan or June after me. Or maybe the next August, if there’s also a June after me waiting out there somewhere.”

“That’s still two out of 365 or so,” Evan said. “Statistically speaking, there should be one or two people in our year born on one of those.” He frowned. “I think.”

“Sure,” Ryan said. “Closer to one than two, but sure. You’re right, it’s not that mystically significant, in and of itself. It’s not insignificant, though.” His eyes gleamed. “It depends, of course, on other factors. Like who it is that fits the category.”

Evan and Angie both looked at him, working that over in their minds. “Nah,” Evan said after a few seconds.

“That’d be crazy,” Angie said. “Surely not.”

Ryan grinned. “I’ll bet you…” he trailed off, then said, “Three episodes of Flames of Love.1

“Oh, for the Illuminator’s sake,” Angie said. “I don’t want to bet anything. What’ll you watch if you lose?”

Ryan’s expression went quizzical. “Uh… the OC?”

Angie rolled her eyes. “That is also your thing! Let’s just find Megan and ask her already!”

Buzzing came from both Evan’s and Ryan’s pockets, and more faintly from Angie’s bag. “Speak of the lady,” Ryan said, sounding pleased with himself, as they pulled out their phones.

Evan stared for a moment at the name and number on his phone’s screen, a feeling almost of warmth spreading in his chest. They’d all gotten phones for the first time after Lauren. It was the first text he’d ever gotten from her.

“‘U guyz at lunch room? Find small table five seats I have someone you GOT to meet,’ ” Ryan read.

“Light of the moon, Megan,” Angie said, rolling her eyes. “Is the Z really easier to type than the S?”

“To be fair,” Ryan said, “She might be in a hurry, and since whatever she has isn’t an information phone, it might not have a good auto correct.”

“I meant it in fun,” Angie said, sounding contrite, but not that contrite. “And she’s not here.”

“Found a table,” Evan said, and began weaving through the cafeteria. It was a huge room, scattered about with an excessive variety of different types of tables and chairs, as well as occasional wooden pillars providing structural support for the ceiling. Evan was heading toward a fairly heavy, roughly circular oaken table, with five simple chairs of red elm, which took up most of the space between a pillar near the wall and the wall itself.

They quickly settled in at the table, Ryan sitting with his back to the wall, Evan sitting on Ryan’s left and Angie on his right, leaving the three of them more or less facing toward both the center of the cafeteria and the two empty seats.

As they pulled out their food, Evan noticed that there were an unusual number of eyes on them, gaggles of teenagers sneaking glances at them and then murmuring to each other. Many people he knew, to the extent that he’d gone to middle school and had been in classes with them. More, though, were new to him. Three middle schools fed into Persephone High, and of course he didn’t know any seniors. He wondered why people were watching them.

It wasn’t hard to figure out that something was coming; a huge spike in the volume of the murmuring from tables nearest the main entrance drew their attention. “Now we’ll see,” Ryan said, sounding satisfied.

A moment later, Megan appeared out of the small entrance hall, her movements light and graceful and filled with a barely contained energy. She almost seemed to dance as she took a few steps forward, and scanned the room. She paused looking off to their left, and following her gaze, Evan saw Lauren and most of her party at a larger rectangular table of fir, flanked by fir benches, closer to the center of the room.

Lauren waved Megan toward her, the sweep of her hand both curt and almost frantic. Megan smiled, a little sadly, and shook her head, dismissing Lauren to trace her gaze across the room, until she centered her attention on the three of them at their table. Her face lit up like the harvest moon, and she looked over her shoulder and held out her hand behind, motioning to someone behind her in the entrance nook.

All across the lunch hall, the volume of conversation spiked again as the new Light Bearer stepped out of the entrance behind Megan. She beamed at him, then turned and pranced through the room toward the three of them. As she neared them, a faint chiming noise came with her.

Evan was struck, watching her approach, by how much he missed her still. It’d been so long he’d just learned to live with the absence. Like he lived with the absence of his father, of his sister. But unlike them, she was there. She could be back in their lives, if things went right. If she was still the same, or similar enough they could all fit together. He could barely believe, even after walking to school with her that morning, even after getting her phone number, even watching her dance through the crowd toward them, beaming, that she could be back.

The Light Bearer weaved his way through the room behind her, an easy, confident elegance in his every moment. His gaze jumped from person to person as he passed them, and he appeared to be exchanging a few words with each of them. As a result, Megan reached them while he was well less than halfway across the room.

“Oh my friends!” Megan said, as she fully danced across the last few feet and threw herself over the back of one chair, leaning out over the table, the silver bell around her neck sweetly chiming with her movements. “Something magical happened! Did you feel it?”

Ryan and Angie nodded immediately, Evan a half beat behind them and half beat less assured. “A little bird told me something about another Nineteen,” Angie said.

Megan’s eyes sparkled as she slipped into the empty seat next to Angie. “Yes! Yes! Chris was born two months after you, in June! He’s the last of us!”

“Not the least, I hope,” the Light Bearer said as he arrived. He plopped down in the last chair, next to Evan, even his plopping elegant. He grinned at the three of them, a winning smile, and full of sincere interest and a hint of bemusement. “It was really something, folks, let me tell you. I’ve seen some stuff, too.” He held out his hand to Evan, who took it. His handshake was firm and friendly, not squeezing too hard or holding the grip too long.

Evan found himself smiling back, an odd twist of surprise jolting through him—surprise that he was, indeed, smiling back.

The raven haired boy said, “Chris Gramyre. Nice to meet you,” and released Evan’s hand.

“Evan. Uh, Cadell. Evan Cadell.”

“From Kernowek2?” Chris asked, taking Evan by surprise.

“Um?” Evan replied. “Yes? I mean, uh, no, not really. My great-grandfather grew up in Kernow, but his father spoke Cymraeg3. Cadell is from that.”

“Huh,” Chris said, a gentle frown crossing his features. “Thought it might be Kernowek.”

Angie and Ryan exchanged a glance.

“And you?” Chris said, turning his focus to Ryan and offering his hand.

They shook, and Ryan’s trademark self-satisfied smile spread across his face. “Ryan d’Maughan.” He glanced at Angie, still smiling. “Glad you didn’t take that bet?”

“There is no world in which I took that bet,” Angie replied, rolling her eyes. Then, to Chris, she said, “I’m Angie McMillan,” as she held out her hand. They shook.

“A pleasure to meet you all,” Chris said, with all apparent sincerity. “It seems like our lives are to be entwined in some manner. I look forward to getting to know you.” He appeared willing to let the bet talk pass without inquiry.

  • 1. A reality dating show in which a single, Light Bearer, sometimes an up-and-comer and sometimes an already successful one, dates seven people to whom they are attracted to simultaneously over a number of weeks, typically fourteen. While dating, they travel on an airship together from town to town, city to city, or City-State to City-State, highlighting local places of interests in their dates. The show spends half its time on the relationships between the star and the contestants, and the other half on the relationships between the contestants. The contestants alike are typically drawn from interesting candidates--LIght Bearers, hunters, traders, wizards, sorcerers, various spirit-talkers, and so on. While there is the occasional duel between contestants who can’t resolve differences, for the most part of the show focuses on more pleasant interactions, giving the viewers  a lot of insight into the personalities of the cast members. After giving the star and the contestants seven weeks to get to know each other, one contestant starts being eliminated per week. Arguments between fans of different cast members are known to grow fierce on the internet.
  • 2. A language from the British Isles, known in real world English as Cornish. In Fredonian Common, it is customary to refer to languages using each language’s term for itself.
  • 3. A language known in real world English as Welsh.