A Learning Experience: Chapter 1, Turn 5

Maintainer's out-of-character note: Some of the events detailed in this Turn Summary occur simultaneously. I apologize for any confusion this may cause.

In the library:

"Of course, dear," Elzbieta says. "If you'll wait a few minutes, I'll copy some for you." She disappears into the stacks.

***

Outside the auditorium:

Trevor follows Niko out of the auditorium. He seems unusually serious, as if he's worried about something.

Niko turns to Trevor, notes his expression and says "If you were a pooka where wouldn't you be?"

Trevor relaxes a bit when Niko addresses him. "She likes taking photos, and seemed to like English class. Maybe the library?" Trevor blurts out, "Hey, I didn't mean to make you mad - I really like you and thought it'd be fun to go out with you. I'm really sorry if for screwing things up."

***

Outside the basement:

Panting, Valeria leans against the closed basement door. "Holy crap -- what were those things?" She swallows hard, shuddering involuntarily for a moment, then seems to calm a little. "You two okay?" She looks at both Emmet and his red-haired companion with evident concern.

Emmet smiles bitterly as the punchline to an old joke comes to his mind.

"Rats. Big Rats. Big, big, BIG furking rats!" he says as he sits, panting, on the floor.

The redheaded girl laughs hollowly as she wipes the blood from her slim sword. "I am unhurt," she says as she regards Valeria with somber eyes. "I'm glad you were with us, Walker." She sheaths her sword and turns her attention to her companion.

"Emmet? Let me look at your arm. Are you hurt?" She rolls up his sleeve, revealing a large red mark on his bicep.

"No," Emmet replies sullenly. "The furkin' bastard just clipped me. It aches a little, and I'll have a helluva bruise in the morning."

"Sounds like your pride is a little bruised as well," she laughs. The musical sound carries down the empty hall. "Come on," she teases, thumping Emmet with the toe of her boot. "Get up. You have work to do, remember?"

The girl favors Valeria with a smile, as if inviting the sidhe to jump in while the getting is good.

Valeria seems to be considering a response, but her reply is cut off as the group sees Niko and Trevor approach.

***

As Trevor and Niko proceed toward the library, they hear the sound of musical laughter wafting down the hall. Rounding a corner, they spy Valeria, Emmet, and the nocker's redheaded companion in front of the basement door.

"Should we wait for them, or continue?" Niko switches his sketchbook to the other hand and continues to walk.

"We might as well ask them if they've seen Layla." Trevor replies.

Once the pair reach Emmet, his companion, and Valeria, Niko asks, "Have you seen a pooka about Yay high," he gestures about Layla's height with his hand, "with rabbit ears and an adorable face?"

"'Adorable' is relative, Skirtboy," returns Emmet. "Haven't seen her since we left the office. What did you two discover?"

"Did you wack your head, Emmet?" says Trevor with a smile. He waves in the direction of Niko. "He's the talented one, and I'm the one with no pants on." He grips the bottom front edge of his kilt and grins challengingly, "Unless you think I need to check under here?"

Emmet favors Trevor with a look that would melt adamantium. "Sidhe, sluagh - where's the difference?"

Emmet's companion steps between the two boys before things can escalate further, lying a delicate, perfectly manicured hand on Trevor's chest. She gazes into his eyes as her hand slowly moves south. "It's a shame you're so intent on proving your manhood, Milord. Self-assurance is sexy. Offering to expose oneself to one's friends is, well, pathetic."

She turns to Niko. "What were you saying about a tribe of women?"

'I said that they called themselves the Dhy'zhonn tribe. You recognize the name?" asks Niko.

"Well, I thought it sounded like fun," mutters Trevor. He bows in the direction of Emmet's companion, "Thanks for the tip." He turns to Emmet, "From my limited experience," Trevor nods in the direction of Niko, "I'd say that under the surface, there isn't that much of a difference." Trevor eyes Emmet, "It might even hold true for nockers too..."

"'Under the surface'? Cuck! Next thing you'll be wanting us all to join you in a rousing chorus of 'Kumbaya.' Spare me the feelgood psychobabble, Skirtboy, and let me tell you where the bear shit in the buckwheat. Nockers may be irritable, foul-mouthed, bad-tempered, greedy little louts who'd sell their mother if we thought the old bitch would fetch a decent price, but we speak plainly and take our commitments seriously. Show me one nocker - just one - who's ever backed out of a promise or a signed contract. Don't bother looking - there aren't any! There are damn precious few sidhe who can make a similar claim, and most of them," Emmet tosses a quick look toward Valeria, "get smacked around like redheaded stepchildren by the rest of you self-righteous prigs. You like to run around with your noses in the air, acting like your shit doesn't stink, and have the gall to look me in the eye and suggest we have any damn thing in common."

When Emmet's companion doesn't answer, Niko walks over to Valeria, "While these two bicker, we found a group of women call the Dhy'zhonn tribe. Sound familiar?"

Valeria frowns at Niko's question. "The name doesn't ring any bells." Then she brightens."Maybe there's something in the library about them, though -- Miss Danvers always seems to know about stuff like that."

Niko smiles. "Ironically, that's just where we were about to go. Milady?" He offers his arm to Valeria. "Shall we go?"

Valeria offers her free arm -- the one not holding a chimerical saber -- to Niko with a gracious tilt of the head. "Why, certainly, kind sir." Her smile transforms her average (for a sidhe) looks into something extraordinary.

Niko takes Valeria's offered arm and starts for the library as Emmet and Trevor seem to be in this great discussion and don't seem to be about to end it all too soon. "So, what did you guys find?"

Valeria makes a face. "Rats the size of German Shepherds in the basement." She shudders a little. "One of them clipped Emmet a little, but the three of us managed to get away from them." She seems to get control of herself and then says, "Sounds like you and Trevor there had a nicer time of it."

"I guess you can say that," Niko smiles and looks as though he's remembering something good but then the moment seems to end as quick as it begins, "There's more to this school then meets the eyes. I hope Layla found something out."

"Well, I'm actually rather glad you don't think we have anything in common. I was trying to be generous, but I'll happily concede that you're right. I surrender to your superior wisdom, even if your sense of smell is a little off." Trevor bows to the nocker. "I'm off to the library, so if you wish to enlighten me further..." Trevor takes off after Val & Niko, though unless they decide to wait for him, he won't quite catch up to them.

"Bloody damn sidhe," Emmet grumbles to no one in particular, then turns to his companion. "I think the sluagh has it right - there is more to this school than meets the eye. See what you can find. Be sure to tap Gwifgyr - that pisher seems to have his fingers in everything."

The girl brightens at the charge. "Done and done. Catch you back at the Bat Cave," she says with a wink.

Emmet watches her for a moment as she jogs down the hall toward the nearest exit before he follows the others to the library.

***

Sitting at one of the library tables is Layla, scribbling furiously in a notebook. On the table is an oversized, leather-bound book with parchment-colored pages.

Niko releases Valeria's arm, and, being more stealthy than normal, he sneaks up behind Layla and plops down beside her without her seeing him. He signals for the rest to be quiet using the international symbol for "Keep quiet" (putting one finger to his lips) before he tries this unique escapade.

"So, find anything good, bookworm?" he asks casually.

"EEP!" squeaks Layla. In the quiet of the library it sounds much louder than normal. She blushes furiously, yet adorably, and bats (ineffectively) at Niko's arm. Calming down in a second, she proceeds to point out what she's found and explain in a smooth whisper that could make a sluagh jealous.

"Well you see here, My my new friend's just a little softy! According to Miss.Stickfigure and the brickwork over there the school's not exactly a spring chicken, well unless you like it as a skeleton or can stomach a hundred years of rot, but that's more Branded-y's department, but anyway. as a wasn't saying later. there's a ka-boom room in the dark over that way that got shutted up" she points down looks to the left and nods. "I'm a going to try to find a picture of a drawing of the school and see if I can find out where it wasn't cause it doesn't have anything to do with this but it is something interesting for my spare time you know.

"How about you, anything good?"

Niko lowers his voice so that only she [Layla] and other sluagh can hear "If you're really curious, how about we discuss it over something to eat, since it is getting late and all." He winks and a bit louder he says, "That could be useful; now all we need is a translation or for you to lead the way."

The soft rustling of papers catches Niko's ears as Elzbieta emerges from the stacks, clutching a manila file folder in one hand.

"Here you are, Layla," she says in her soft voice, placing the manila folder on the desk. "I've copied the documents you asked for."

Then she nods at the others. "Good afternoon, gentlemen...and lady," she adds, nodding at Valeria. "Is there something I can do for you?"

"Hiya lady, just showin' them the pics and the yea's but anyway, so you find anything? please!" says Layla.

Niko stands at her arrival and gives a slight bow, "We're with Layla." He grabs his sketchbook and shows her the unfinished picture of the women, "They said that they were from the Dhy'zhonn tribe. Does the name or any of the faces look familiar?"

Elzbieta takes a look at the picture, a pucker appearing between her brows. "I'm afraid I don't recognize any of them, but the name Dhy'zhonn sounds familiar, somehow. Perhaps there's something in one of my books about them."

Trevor also gives Elzbieta a slight bow. "I hadn't realized...." Trevor grins, "I guess this why librarians have people whisper."

"Kewlies," says Layla. "now, do you guys think we should show all this to dr. busybody or play hide and go seek for the fallout shelter?"

She looks to Elzbieta and says, "Thanks tank tanks a bunch," and then gives the sluagh a courtly bow with a sweep of her cloak and kisses her hand.

"I shall have to owe you one for this, won't I, lovely lady of mine? Would you like to take a trip to the wonderful world of the outside some night? I may or may not, could possibly, maybe have something you might be interested in at my store. Or maybe not, you never know!"

Elzbieta favors Layla with a nod. "Perhaps," she murmurs in her soft, reedy voice. "As you say, dear, you never know." She gives the pooka what passes for a smile.

"You've got a store?!?" exclaims Trevor to Layla. "Anyway, we could also exchange stories before we do either. Besides giving Niko time to write up his notes," Trevor looks at Val and Emmet, "Maybe our basement explorers spotted something." He looks at Elzbieta, "Fallout shelters are in basements, aren't they?"

Valeria grimaces as she answers Trevor. "All we found were a pack of rats the size of German Shepherds." She sighs. "We were too busy getting away from them to explore too much of the basement."

Niko says to Layla, "You have a store? I may have to visit one of these days." Then, to Trevor, "Thanks for the consideration."

Niko opens his sketch book and attempts to finish his drawings and notes.

Trevor seems pleased at Niko's thanks. "You're welcome." Then, to Valeria, "At least no one got hurt, right? It sounds like if we're going to explore down there, we should stick together. Niko and I had a much better time..." Trevor smiles unconsciously as he speaks. "...Though giant rats would have fit with the ruined auditorium we were in."

"I hate to interrupt," says Elzbieta, pulling on a black wool cape, "but it is getting late, and I, for one, would like to get home and have supper." She indicates the clock on the library wall; the time is about 5:15 pm. "Much as I'd like to continue to hear about your discoveries, I'm afraid you'll have to leave the rest of this conversation for tomorrow, at least if you want to hold it in here."

"Well I have some things to check out so do you think you guys could get permission to come over to the store with me?" asks Layla.

"I'll go with you. My mom usually knows where I am anyways, and my dad won't care." Niko closes his sketchbook and stands up, "Can I meet you in front? I have to grab my bookbag."

"No not all, I mean Iam known for being rather impatient. I could never ever wait for you by the front doors now could I? It's not like I plenty of time to waste after all!"

"Then I'll meet you there." Niko closes his sketchbook and gets up. He gives a slight bow and leaves the library.

"I'll have to give my parents a call, but I don't think they'll have a problem. How long were you thinking for? It's getting close to dinner and my mom will want to know if I'm not eating at home. And she'll want to know when I need to get picked up."

"I'll pass. Deadlines to meet, y'know."

Emmet pokes Val's behind with the foil he's carrying. "You need to return this to Miss K, don't you, Walker?" He sets the sword on the table nearest to the sidhe. "I'll give you this much - you sure know from exciting on a first date. Let me pick for the next one," he says with a wink.

"Catch y'all on the flipside." With a casual wave over his shoulder, Emmet leaves the library and heads for home.

"Gotcha!"

Layla waves to Niko as he leaves and turns to Trevor.

"Well, whenever works i guess, just don't tell me a time and of course its not like i have a kitchen or food or a phone a car or anything like that! gasp, I just haven't a domestic bone in my body. Tsk-tsk. Anyway, if your coming I'll see you by the up and downers right?" She giggles nervously, "and by the way... kilt boy... the rabbit was sweet, a little chewy but otherwise delicious! tanks."

She rushes up to him and gives him a big hug, pulls back wide eyed and scared looking and runs off to her locker.

Trevor waves goodbye to Emmet when he leaves

Trevor seems a bit surprised when Layla hugs him, but does give her a hug back. Layla can see him smiling before she rushes off. "I'll meet you in front," Trevor calls to her retreating figure.

"Now to phone home..."

Valeria looks almost fondly after Emmet and picks up the foil from where he left it. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass, too. I've got to return these foils to Miss K., and then I should really go home; my folks get worried if I don't show up for supper, and well, I really don't want my dad upset he's liable to send a police car for me." She waves at the group with her free hand. "See you all tomorrow!"

Trevor meets Niko and Layla in front of the school. He looks rather disappointed. "My parents said I had to come home. I think it was because Mom had already made supper, despite her saying she didn't want me out late on a school night. I'd rather go with the two of you, but I'm not sure its worth getting grounded over on the second day of school." Trevor will give Layla and Niko hug (assuming they let him). "So I'll see you tomorrow then."

Niko returns the hug, "Sorry you can't join us."

"Thanks." Trevor returns.

Layla has a kinda disappointed look on her face but she just quietly hugs him and waits for Niko.

Trevor looks less unhappy after the hugs. A red sports car pulls up in front of the school. "Looks like my ride is here. See you tomorrow!" Trevor opens the passenger door and climbs in. The car takes off at a high rate of speed as Trevor is shutting the door.

Niko watches as Trevor leaves. "So shall we be off then?"

A dark blue SUV pulls into the school parking lot. Behind the wheel is a large, well-muscled man of Mexican extraction, clad in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt in a light blue. It's quite obvious he's no longer young, for there are gray strands in his black hair.

To kithain eyes, the man is larger and even more muscular. His skin is a deep blue-violet color, and there is a pair of small, ridged horns on his brow. His teeth are white, strong, and wolf-sharp. He's wearing a shirt of silvery mail over dark leather trousers, and a large claymore hangs at his belt.

He rolls down the window, and calls to Niko and Layla in a friendly manner, "Hi there. Do either of you know Valerie McSkeath? I'm supposed to pick her up."

"Uh yeah, I'll go get her." Niko takes off to get Valerie.

Upon finding her, he says, "Hey Val your rides here."

Valeria finishes stuffing a notebook into her backpack and shuts her locker, giving the lock's dial a casual spin, then zips up the backpack. "Oh, thanks, Niko." She slings the backpack over her shoulder and strolls down the hall to the parking lot.

Once outside, a look of pleased surprise appears on her face as she waves happily to the driver of the blue SUV. "Hi, Jenner!"

The troll opens the passenger-side door with a wink and a fond smile at the young sidhe. "Hi, sweetheart. Your Mom's probably got supper ready by now. You ready to go?" His smile becomes a sly grin. "And your dad's getting anxious to start the poker game tonight, so let's not keep him waiting."

"In a minute," Val responds. "Niko, Layla, do either of you want a ride?"

When Niko and Layla respond in the negative, she climbs into the SUV and waves goodbye. "See you tomorrow!"

With that, Niko and Layla take off for Layla's parents' store, hoping to find an answer in its many books.


Time: 5:30 pm, Thursday, September 5, 2002
Current weather: Cloudy. Expected weather: Partly cloudy

This web page copyright 2002 by Midori Hirtzel-Church.
This page first posted -- December 10, 2002
First uploaded to mirror site -- January 10, 2003

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