Thurs. 11/14/2250 – By Rebecca Green.
The weather had been both comforting and irritating. Gwen loved the cold, don’t get her wrong- she was pretty used to it, what with Mrs. Ice Queen back at home, aka her mother, making everything feel like an ice box. However, the snow made it difficult to make her long trek to her little alcove by the lake. Then again, she loved making snowballs and pelting her sister with them and laughing as Aelita shrieked back about her hair. Plus, sled races were the bomb.
Anyway. Her alcove. The banks of snow that had littered campus grounds ever since that one guy had arrived, Blackhell as she’d learn to call him from Aelita, were finally melting. Not entirely, it was slushy in some places but it was enough that she had been able to pelt through the forest. She was disappointed to find the small alcove, a circle of water covered by low hanging trees branching off from the lake was frozen over and she couldn’t do anything with it.
Draped in a huge poofy pink jacket that her sister had demanded she wear, Gwen had taken to settling down in the nape of a tree branch and sketching on the drawing pad her father had bought her before she left for school that year. It was nearly already full, and it was just one of three he’d given her. She’d have to get another for Christmas, but that was only to be expected. Gwen fixed the nose she’d made a bit too wide on her portrait of her sister and finally pushed herself back to her feet and fixed the hair tie pinning back her pale green mass of hair into a ponytail. It was getting frayed from so many years of dyeing it since she’d begun school three years ago, or from the dozens of time she’d take a comb and teased it up to look cool, but she quite liked the big, messy look.
She was about halfway back to the school when she heard voices. Naturally, the curious girl just had to pause and strain her ears until she accidentally ended up in perfect earshot, and halfway up a tree, stripping off her coat to prevent the fabric from squishing her way to being discovered.
“-you have got the world up in arms, you know.” It was the dry tone of one of her professors, and Gwen strained to place the voice. Her Herbology professor… Muya? Yeah, Professor Muya.
“Humans like to make a fuss about my kind, that’s for sure. Really, we’re quite nice, I baked cookies and had a tea party just last night.” Amusement in the voice that Gwen couldn’t place as easily. Male, a professor, and she knew he was one of the newer ones but for the life of her she couldn’t recall his name. She had his class, but that was magic and she sucked at magic and blocked most of it out, preferring to goof off in the back making paper airplanes and blowing spitballs at her friends.
She was much too intrigued to climb down.
“Does anyone know?” Professor Muya asked.
“Not at the moment,” the magic professor replied, “And, if you don’t mind, I’d much prefer it stay between us. I’m impressed you knew at all.”
“I felt it. I will keep it between us, however. You need not worry about me.” A steady tone and Gwen squinted her eyes, adjusting in the tree to peer through and finally catch view of the pair. Her eyes lit up as she saw the man- yes! Professor Matutina, he was her magic professor. The woman was settled on the ground, cross legged.
“Good, good to know…. Now, how long has she been here?” He was looking around them, and Gwen froze- sure that they’d figured her out.
“Oh… Eight hundred years?” For a moment, Gwen’s eyes widened in confusion. She certainly had not been there that long unless she’d developed an absolutely horrific sense of time in what felt like the last, maybe, five minutes, before she remembered that Muya was likely talking about someone else. She was a fallen angel, if Gwen remembered correctly, so she could certainly be that old, or older, herself. “She only resurfaced recently.”
“Why is she still here? Wouldn’t she have liked to pass on?”
“I’m not sure.” Muya admitted, leaning back on both hands to glance around the small clearing they were in, “Her death was quite violent. She’d lost, or thought she had lost, all five of her children all at once – my grandchildren. She threw herself off a cliff a few miles north into the lake, I lost track of her trying to help my grandchildren and did not make it in time. In the end, one child pulled through, but she never knew. Maybe she is waiting to meet them. But they also died, of natural causes, a couple decades after the accident.”
“I’m sorry.” The man offered and Gwen was transfixed- becoming acutely aware that this was not a conversation meant for her ears, but of course she couldn’t just climb down and leave. Aelita would kill her if she found out that Gwen had abandoned the quest for a great scoop. Then again, it occurred to her that it might not be a good idea to spread around information of a fallen angel’s dead family. Still, she’d like to know just for her. “What was this accident, anyway?”
“Shipwreck. We were returning from England to the New World in the 1650’s. I teleported my daughter and three of the children here. Two of them we lost in the waters. Predictably, they found it difficult to survive a journey through the void and the sole survivor was dreadfully sick for days on end. I almost lost them too.” Matutina nodded, glancing around in consideration and Gwen couldn’t help but duck a little, wary of being caught.
“If she’s waiting for her child who’s long gone, perhaps I could help her move on? She won’t find peace on her own.” He raised one hand as he spoke, as if to do so, looking at Muya. The fallen looked back with hesitation, unsure if forcing her daughter to pass on would be the best plan of action. Or rather, she was hesitant to lose the girl entirely, even if it was just her lingering spirit.
However, before either could move or reply, a different response came in the form of a deathly shriek that had Gwen clamping a hand over her mouth and made every hair on her arm raise in a manner that had absolutely nothing to do with the cold. Her heart beat wildly, having not expected the noise and while she prided herself on not being easily scared, it had come out of nowhere.
Her eyes snapped back to the clearing from having been staring up at the trees where the shriek seemed to originate when they spoke once more. “That must be a no.” It was the woman, speaking dryly as she was now standing and looking up herself.
“Certainly.” Matutina replied, lowering one hand from where he had been instinctively raising it to cover his ear. “You talk to her then?”
“Almost everyday. I hear her cries and her screams, more often than others, she doesn’t usually make noise that others can hear. I’ve told her stories of her daughter.”
“Maybe you could bring one of your descendents- do any of them attend the school?”
“Not presently. They don’t have very many children, and tend to be separated in terms of generational length. The youngest is currently 35, and he doesn’t plan on starting a family anytime soon. I might ask him to come by, though. Anything that may help. I’d rather not force her alone.”
It was insane. She didn’t know anything about the woman- Muya tended to be the quiet type and, unlike some teachers, had never done any sort of ‘about me’ segment at the beginning of the semester. In fact, she’d had what sounded like a very interesting life and Gwen leaned forward in anticipation, hoping to learn more and already forgetting that it wouldn’t be wise to speak of this to others and spread the information. At the very least, she just had to tell her sister, and once Aelita knew, there was no telling who else would.
“There’s someone listening.” Muya said suddenly and Gwen nearly squeaked, clamping a hand over her mouth again and wiggling until she fell down from where she sat halfway up the tree. Scampering onto her feet, she snatched the jacket up and zoomed out of there with a speed that she didn’t know she had. She ran clear all the way to the Eagle house, the fact that she was not being followed entirely escaping her notice.
Hakidonmuya’s eyes went toward the obvious movement in the trees as their spy fell to the ground and ran off. Clearly a student, judging by that squeal they’d heard. She hadn’t noticed them before, too focused on the aura of her daughter and conversation with Levi, but as she’d tried to feel for her fading daughter’s presence, she’d noticed the difference.
“How long were they there?” Levi spoke, tense for a moment and worried that they may have heard what wasn’t for their ears.
“Not too long.” Hakidonmuya replied, closing her eyes and focusing, “I do not think they heard anything too bad. No sense in going after them just some student who thought it would be good to listen in on our conversation.”
“Should have noticed them earlier.” He finally looked back at the woman from the spot in the trees where the figure had disappeared from. A figure with green hair, a few shades paler than that of his adoptive daughter’s, but familiar nonetheless. It wasn’t too difficult for him to pick out which student it was- one Gwen Rede, as he knew her from his magic class. She didn’t have the best aptitude, but she was bright when she applied herself. And, as was now apparent, she tended to be quite nosey. “Do you want me to try and send your daughter along anyway?”
“No,” Hakidonmuya replied, sure now in her answer. “She is not ready. I will bring along my grandson and see if that does any good. If she doesn’t move on soon, though, I will keep you in mind. I appreciate the offer.”
Levi nodded, “Of course. That is my job, after all.” After a moment, he took a step back and glanced in the direction of the academy, “I’d best be headed back, though. Just in case she did hear anything, I’d like to catch the information spread at its source and address it personally. Are you going back?”
“Not at the moment.” She looked down as she spoke, moving to where she could sit on the ground once more. “I would like a little longer with her. She has never been so loud before.”
Levi left her to it, understanding in ways very few people would what she meant to do, speaking and keeping company with the dead. Instead, he stepped through the forest until he found himself on campus, making his way around and keeping an ear out for any sign of trouble. Even the slightest hint that his secret might be out could be quite troublesome.