Act 1: Chapter 5, Part 4

Posted on July 16, 2017

In Which We Meet California

Evan. First Day of School. Still After School.

“Damn, just missed Chris, huh?” “Isn’t he choice?” Over and over in his mind. Evan couldn’t not think about those couple of seconds: Megan’s genuine disappointment, Beth’s starry-eyed amazement. Or of lunch, Megan and even Angie falling all over themselves to get him to talk about Light Bearing.

And, of course, “Gramyres hunt alone.”

Evan Cadell was not happy. If someone had asked him to articulate why he was so unhappy, he probably wouldn’t have been able to. He wasn’t a super eloquent guy.

Evan wiped his eyes as he stormed up the front stairs to The Grove, the boarding house his remaining family essentially shared with Ryan, not doing much of anything to keep the door from slamming behind him.

“Sacred shit, dude,” California said, leaning backwards out of the kitchen doorway, fully three sticks of Pocky hanging out of her mouth, the non-chocolate dipped ends of the biscuit sticks half nibbled away. She continued with a few more backward steps, until she could turn her body and face him directly down the hall. Only a couple inches shorter than Evan, slender and gangly, her short bleach-blonde hair flopping nearly into her wide gray eyes, she stared at him and said, “You’re like Ginny coming through the door there.”

Evan clenched his teeth and took a deep breath. “Cali, could you not right now?”

California rolled her eyes. “She was our sister, Evan. Banishing her from our thoughts and our words doesn’t honor her memory.”

“Cali!” Evan snapped. “Not now!” He deposited his bag in the closet and stalked past her into the kitchen.

She blinked. “Who peed in your Cheerios?” she asked mildly, munching on her Pocky.

Evan paused with his hand on the fridge door, thought about how much he wanted to talk about this. “A guy named Chris.”

“Oooooh fuck!” Cali said, then nearly choked on Pocky. She coughed for a bit, and took a drink of a seltzer while Evan busied himself pulling a big block of cheese out of the fridge. As he finished taking it out of the bag and started to cut it, Cali went on. “Don’t tell me you pissed off the new Light Bearer?!”

Evan sighed. “No. It’s complicated. It’s been a weird day.” He frowned at her. “How do you know about the new Light Bearer in my year?” He finished cutting himself a couple of pieces of cheese, and put the block back in the plastic bag he’d pulled it out of.

“Cause his sister is the new Light Bearer in my year! Sacred sounds, she’s cool!” Cali said happily, hopping up on a stool at the breakfast bar. She looked off into the distance. “She’s this, this gymnastic Europic hāfu girl with these pale green eyes. She’s like, lithe and powerful. It really goes along with her name--”

“Cat,” Evan replied, as he put the cheese back into the fridge. “Huh. He’s not hāfu. If I had to guess I’d say he’s entirely of Europic descent.”

Cali blinked at him again. “You know her name? Maybe a half-sister?”

“Yeah. Chris mentioned her at lunch,” Evan said, frowning at nothing. “Probably?”

“Get out! You sat with him at lunch?!” Cali said, pouncing toward him, scattering pocky.

“Yeah. Him and Megan. Me and the ‘rents,” Evan said, nodding.

“Oshit,” Cali said, freezing, her mouth a tiny, tiny O. “Okay. Fuck. Just the five of you?”

“The fucking five of us,” Evan said, trying out vehemence.

“Okay!” Cali said. “Stop. Emergency processing time!”

“That’s what I was trying to do before I found the Inquisition at my door,” Evan said, a touch dryly. He started walking toward his room, took a bite of his cheese snack.

“Sorry,” Cali replied, a little sheepish. “No one expects that. But remember,” she said from the hall as he stepped into his room, “you need to process, not obsess.”

“Sure,” Evan said. “I’ll keep that in mind.” And he closed the door behind him.

Angie. First Day of School. Still Still After School.

“So,” Ryan said, looking up from his phone, “What’s the plan?”

Silence had stretched between them for several minutes now, with Angie and Megan both focused on their own thoughts. Ryan had apparently been content to dick around on his phone. Angie had been wondering if she could have handled today better, if she could have done something that would have helped keep Evan from having to leave. She’d just been coming to the conclusion that Evan was a big boy now and that it wasn’t her job to manage his emotions for him. She, Ryan, and Cali had been ‘counseling’ him for years, now, after all. Sure, he’d been through a lot, but...

“Dunno,” Megan said, her voice soft. She raised her eyes. “Oh, Chris said he wants to hang tomorrow. He said we’re talking music.”

Ryan raised an eyebrow. “Yeah? He won’t have another last minute weapon practice session?”

Megan shrugged. “Um, I dunno. It seemed like a surprise?” she said, unconvincingly.

“Uh huh.” Ryan seemed correspondingly unconvinced.

Megan wilted a little bit. “It’s possible he implied that whether we hung was premised on everyone being in a little better mood.”

“We will be,” Angie said, cutting in. She smiled at Megan. “We’re the Five Nineteens now. We’ll make it work.”

Laughter burst from Ryan and he said,“Hah! Fuck yeah! We’ve got a name for our party! Take that, Brandon. ‘The Olympians.’ Are you serious?”

Megan giggled. “Yeah, he’s a doof. He’s not terrible, though.”

“Mmm,” Angie said, by which she meant ‘drop it.’ “Music, huh? What’s he mean?”

“Oh,” Megan said. “Well…. He said to bring our best, er, favorite stuff. So presumably we need to be able to access the music. Maybe he wants to hang at someone’s place?”

Angie chuckled. “Oh man. My favorite stuff. Head’s up, Megan, we’ve been getting into a lot of stuff lately.”

“Oh yeah?” Megan said, starting to smile. “Anything I’d have heard of?”

Ryan laughed. “Well, we’re into Jamison Warloeg again, in a big, big way. There’s a reason the man’s such an institution around here.”

“Ahw, I love Jay!” Megan said, smiling wider.

“Also though,” he went on, “A lot of stuff.”

“Like what, you goof!” Megan said, laughing and gently smacking his knee with the back of her hand.

Angie sat, watching, smiling.

“Well, if we’re talking music tomorrow, it seems a little redundant to do it today,” Ryan said, grinning.

Megan rolled her eyes. “Okay, October.”

Angie giggled. “Didn’t you literally just get in trouble for doing that, Febby?”

Megan blew a strand of her hair out of her face, but exaggeratedly. “Yeah, I guess. Soooorry, April,” she said. Then she smiled at Angie and giggled.

Angie chuckled too. “Couldn’t keep a straight face!” she said, poking Megan in the ribs, provoking another giggle.

Ryan snickered. Then he said, “Come on, let’s go get some food or something. Hit the Food Court, maybe?”

Megan laughed. “Yeah, sure! I’m in.”

“You know I’ll attend Court,” Angie said, grinning. “I’ma get my cinna-on at the Cinnabon!” she continued, using a line she liked from an old webcomic.

“Powers Above, really?” Megan said, laughing again. “At three-thirty in the afternoon?”

“Megan,” Angie said, feeling smug. “The spirits have blessed me with a fire in my belly to match the fire in my hair. I gotta feed those flames.”

“She eats nearly as much as Evan does,” Ryan said, his voice wry. He climbed to his feet.

“Damn, and your ass is still that tight?” Megan said, looking at said ass as she and Angie followed suit.  

Angie giggled, and Ryan laughed and, as they started walking, said, “Hey, that’s my girlfriend, you lech!” which prompted more giggles from both of them.

“Yeah, you know me,” Megan said, still in stitches. “Always creeping on other girls!”

Angie went into another fit of giggling, and Ryan snorted.

Megan, though, had paused, thoughtful. “Actually,” she said. “That’s not entirely untrue.” Ryan and Angie both cocked their heads to the same side simultaneously, which prompted a snicker from Megan. “I don’t know, that’s actually kinda the way we talk to each other.” They continued staring at her. “Like, um, Lauren and the girls.”

“Huh,” Ryan said. “Okay then.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” Angie said. “I do have a tight ass. To be fair, I like, run and stuff too, Megan. Evan and I go out running together pretty regularly, actually. It helps us blow off steam.”

“Okay!” Megan laughed as they stepped out into the lane heading toward the trolley stop. “I don’t have to be totally envious, then.”

“Oh,” Angie said. “The fire thing wasn’t a joke. I do have to eat a lot to feed my inner flames.”

“Sacred sounds, really?” Megan asked, staring at Angie.

“Yeah,” Angie replied. “It’s not just, like, talking to birds anymore, Megs. I’ve been talking to all kinds of spirits and fae12 the past couple years. I’ve even run into members of the Summer Seelie and Autumn Unseelie courts,34 I think.”

“Like I said this morning,” Ryan said, grinning, “We’ve had some stuff going on.”

“I guess,” Megan said, looking at them with something akin to awe.

Angie rolled her eyes. “Cinna-on! Cinnabon!” she chanted, her voice low.

As they reached the stop, a trolley was conveniently pulling up to it, so they hopped on as they laughed at that.

  • 1. Fae is a term that sees heavy, imprecise usage in the Fredonian Common tongue. Capitalized, it refers to the denizens of the lands of Faerie,a mystical otherworld (one of many known otherworlds) home to a wide variety of magical entities, most frequently entered/encountered in Europe, as well as in North and South Fredonia where Europic peoples have heavily settled. Lower-case, the term fae is used for any magical creature that is not wholly spiritual; under this usage, enspirited sapient animals are the most common fae. It can be quite difficult to tell the difference between a spirit and a fae creature without actually seeing the spirit manifest a physical body, making the transition between existing wholly spiritually and having a physical form.
  • 2. The fae (as opposed to the Fae) always have a physical, living form like any human, and will die, sometimes leaving behind spirits of their own and sometimes not, if their body is slain. (Except for those so powerful they are borderline immortal, though those too can be destroyed by another sufficiently powerful entity.) To make matters more confusing, a wide variety of the common spirits of Europe spend time in Faerie and have ties to or even belong to the Fae courts, but are not in fact themselves fae, but are fully spirits, the most common of these being nymphs, guardians spirits of various natural features, such as the dryads of the forests, naiads of the rivers, and oreads of the mountains.
  • 3. The bulk of the Fae of Faerie are ruled by one of four Courts, as much mystical ecosystems as socio-political hierarchies, though there are many “wild” Fae as well. The Courts are named for and linked to the four seasons, waxing in mystical power during their season and waning during its opposite; the Seelie (“Happy” or “Lucky”) Spring and Summer courts and the Unseelie (“Unhappy” or “Misfortunate”) Autumn and Winter courts. The names Seelie and Unseelie are terms the courts themselves have adopted from human language sometime in the past millennium or so, and originate from general descriptors of how meetings with Fae of those courts are likely to go for the average person. A meeting with a Seelie court Fae is certainly more likely to be a happy one for the average human than it is an unhappy one, and vice versa for the Unseelie, but the percentage point spreads here are way closer to presidential election spreads than they are to the spread between yes/no for the question “Do you like ice cream?”
  • 4. A major function of the Courts is to regulate the flow of weather, the seasons, and the climate in a manner all but incomprehensible to humans, apart from a few particularly brilliant/mad wizards. A whole variety of other symbolic concepts are also tied to the courts, with associations between each court and particular emotions, particular stars and planets, particular natural processes such as growth, death, and decay, and so on, which the Fae of each respective court possess power over.