Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 17


Yeah, let’s enroll wizard kids in wizard school. The problem is that it isn’t as simple as all that.

Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 17

Pierre was still holding my hand when I woke up several hours later. “How are you feeling?” he asked.

“Why is it I get a feeling we’ve gone through this before?”

“It does seem to be turning into a habit, now, doesn’t it? You knock yourself out fighting the Others, and all I do is watch you sleep it off afterward.”

“Oh, don’t be so hard on yourself. Watching me sleep can’t be the easiest task in the world.”

“For me, it is. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to looking at an angel. Meanwhile, we need to get ready for the ceremonies. You can have the bathroom first.”

When Pierre and I got to the small ceremonial room, everybody else was already there. The room itself was like a small chapel, with a small seating area for an audience, and a raised area at the front of the room with a table at the center. The seating area was empty, and I gathered that was on purpose. Even in as protected a place as the school, it was a good idea to have as few people as possible aware of what was happening, in case the Others somehow found out.

First, Sylvia stood at the center of the raised area and drew Edna and me toward her, while Pierre, Runyon, and Jackson sat in chairs to the side. Sylvia placed a small, pale-blue cube into a golden bowl in the center of the table, and then tapped the cube with her finger, creating a bright spark of light, after which a thin trail of smoke arose from the cube, which I realized was some sort of incense. “Here today, we create motherhood. Edna, you have pledged to be a mother, and to nurture and care for Sarah as your daughter. Sarah, you have pledged to be a daughter to Edna, and to do your duties to her as a parent.” She lifted the bowl and walked around me and Edna, creating a wreath of smoke around the two of us.

“Since neither of you has been through training, neither of you will have a letter spell yet, but the ceremony requires that I ask: Do either of you have a letter spell?”

“I don’t know what that is, so I guess I don’t,” Edna said.

“I don’t have one either,” I said.

“No, wait!” Pierre said. “You do. Last night, when you died, I heard it. I was using it when you came back.”

Jackson and Runyon looked at each other, startled. “You must be mistaken,” Jackson said. “Letter spells come to the individual, and not to anyone else, not even the person’s parents.”

“But I do know it. And I used it. It’s – ”

“Stop!” Jackson shouted. “Don’t say it out loud. Whisper it in her ear. If it’s hers, she’ll know it, and she can say it for the ceremony.”

Pierre got up, came to me and took hold of my hand, brushing my cheek with a light kiss before whispering in my ear, “K-V-E-F.” Instantly, a shockwave went through me, and I knew that was my code.

“It is mine,” I said.

“Because you do have a letter spell, the ceremony requires an extra step,” Sylvia said. “I’ve never done it before, and I’ve never heard of it being done before, but then, Sarah, there’s a lot about you that’s never happened before, so I guess this isn’t too far out of line.” She turned to the table and picked up a small, pale-green piece of thin paper and a dark-green crayon, which she then handed to me. The paper and crayon had a tangy scent, and I realized that they were either made out of herbs or infused with them. “Write your letter spell on the paper.” I did so, then handed the paper and crayon back to Sylvia. She laid the paper on top of the incense, and it burst into flame, the ashes quickly falling around the incense cube, which by now was almost gone. She took a small, golden pitcher and poured a white liquid from it into the bowl, extinguishing the incense. She then handed the bowl to Edna, motioning her to take a sip, and then passed it to me. I tasted the liquid; it was milk, flavored by the incense and by the herbs, sweet and a bit minty.

Sylvia then set the bowl on the table and brought Edna’s and my hands together. “You are now mother and daughter,” she said.

Next, Pierre and Jackson came up to join Edna and me while Sylvia went to sit down next to Runyon. Jackson had Pierre and Edna stand behind me to either side as my parents, and he picked up two lengths of rope from the table, and a triangle of sailcloth. “As a learner aspiring to become one of the wizards of winds and waves, you must be released from your parents to become part of the school.” He handed the sailcloth to me and the ropes to Pierre and Edna. “First, your parents must tie a stopper knot in one end of each rope.” Pierre rapidly tied a figure-eight knot in his rope and then turned to help Edna tie one in hers, only to be surprised that she had already accomplished the task neatly.

“I used to sail myself, you know,” she commented at his look of surprise.

“Now, Sarah, you must take the ropes, and the sailcloth …”
At as Edna and Pierre were handing me their ropes, the unexpected happened: Pierre’s rope burst into flames, and I dropped it to the floor, where it was quickly consumed until nothing remained but a thin line of ashes. “I take it that’s not supposed to happen,” I said.

“No, that’s not supposed to happen,” Jackson said. “It is the magic’s way of keeping children from being entered into the program without their parents’ consent. It works even with adult children, when the person acting as a parent isn’t one and hasn’t been confirmed as a surrogate. Pierre, you aren’t Sarah’s father.”

“If I’m not her father, then what am I?” Pierre asked. “Why are we so much like each other? Why has the magic power drawn us together?”

“I can’t answer those questions. But before we can finish the induction, we’ll have to confirm a surrogate.”

“So we’ll go back to the original plan, then,” Pierre said. “Runyon wanted me to stand in for Sarah’s father even before we knew – er, we thought we knew – that I was really her father. I’ll take the confirmation.”

“The ceremony will take some time to set up. You three can return to the guest quarters while we work on it.”

Pierre, Edna, and I went back to the guest quarters and sat down in the sitting room, Pierre and I on a couch and Edna in an armchair. Pierre leaned forward, elbows on knees, head in hands. “How could it happen?” he moaned. “You’re so much like me, and like Dora, and – and you came back from the dead for me!”

I took one of his hands in mine. “I don’t know either,” I said. “But I don’t love you any less. I would still do the same for you. And I do know that, whatever the case, we are indeed meant to be together. That’s been true all along.”

“Besides,” Edna said, “now you have an extra daughter. You’ve gained Sarah, or you will once the surrogate confirmation is over, and Eliza is still out there somewhere. The two of you working together should be able to find her where just you alone couldn’t, especially if her magic is so powerful.”

“Edna, you may be right,” Pierre said. “But it really has hit me hard. I was just so happy to have Sarah as my daughter – she was everything I could have ever wanted in a daughter – and now she’s not my daughter. It’s like getting kicked in the gut.”

“But you’re choosing to have her as your daughter now.”

I spotted a chess set in a corner of the room and brought it over. “How about a round while we wait for the ceremony preparations?”

“No, thanks,” Pierre said. “I’m tired. Let me go rest.” He went into the bedroom.

“Poor thing,” Edna said. “He really is taking this hard.”

Eventually, Sylvia came to lead us back to the ceremonial room. It was set up similarly to the way it had been before, complete with the bowl and the pitcher. Jackson and Sylvia sat down, and Runyon stood by the table to begin the ceremony. Suddenly, something felt very wrong – there was a serious knot in my stomach, and I felt myself shaking. “Stop!” I said. “Something’s not right.”

Pierre looked at me, stunned. “What’s not right?”

“Well, it isn’t the Others; it’s not that kind of feel. But something we’re doing here is just wrong!”

“How can it be wrong?”

“I don’t know. It just is. Runyon, you have to be my father, not Pierre.”

“Sarah!” Pierre exclaimed. “Whatever happened to us belonging together? What about the magic forces?”

“We do still belong together. But you can’t be my father. Not even by choice.”

Pierre turned and started to leave the room. But then he turned back. “I can’t watch this,” he said. “But I can’t not watch it either. What happened earlier was like getting kicked in the gut. This is more like getting my guts torn out. This is worse than losing Eliza.” He finally took a seat in the audience area while Jackson conducted the ceremony to confirm Runyon as my father, nearly identical to the one that had made Edna my mother, except that the liquid involved was beer rather than milk. It went without a hitch, as did the enrollment ceremony, which involved taking the knotted ropes, tying the un-knotted end of each to the sailcloth, and then unknotting the ends.

“Sarah, you are now officially enrolled,” Jackson said. “You will have the rest of tonight in the guest quarters with your family and friends, and then tomorrow they will have to leave and you will have to move into the dormitory. Make the most of the evening.”


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