I work the shampoo through my hair. About Jan Hass’ magic… could he be moving things with his mind? Is there a supernatural that can do that? / An ancient ghost or spirit can move small things within their line of sight, but Hass isn’t one. Sturgen, the Warden of the Bastille, the prison where Pier 7 dumps malcontents is a magic-user who can freely manipulate kinetic energy, but that sort of magic is rare. It would help if we knew more about the particulars of Jan’s magic./
I wash my hair, feeling the soap flow down my face. If Jan Hass is something else than human, something like a werewolf or a kappa, then there are weaknesses to exploit. If he is a mortal magic-user, then there are aspects of his magic that can be used against him. I seriously hope I’d never have to fight Kai, but if I had to, I’d tie him up and make sure that he couldn’t bleed himself.
The steam of my shower rise to the ceiling and a sudden tingle of magic fills the shower. Before I have time to react, a singly water-lily gently floats down. I strain my senses and pull more magic than I normally use from Verde. Nothing– that sense of magic is gone, and nothing is in my apartment.
Still drawing greater strains from Verde, I kneel and grab the lily, which is folded. A small piece of paper has been tucked into it.
Meet me at Fenner Bog when school has ended. I have a warning for you.
Mizu, formerly of the Hiroshima Pond.
Huh./That was unexpected./ Yeah, she could have called. Or left a longer message./ That was not what I meant. The speed with which she sent her message is… do you realize that the same speed can be brought against you?/ I wince. She is a friend. /She is Hermann’s friend, which doesn’t neccessarily make her your friend./ You think she would hurt me?
I grab a towel and dry my body. /No, she would not hurt you, not physically. But as your recent break-up showed, one doesn’t need to strike a person in the face to hurt them, does one?/
As I dress myself I ponder on Verde’s question. In the end I have to grant him the satisfaction of being right. I think I’d rather be poisoned by the barrowman again then face Nevena. Of course I got school today, I am by far to law-abiding to play truant.
I sit down in my usual spot in the classroom, making care to not look in the direction of a certain Nevena Stanislaw. The thing, I have learnt, is that to look indifferent, truly indifferent, you can’t look too indifferent. Isocrates, our drama-teacher stresses that to showcase an emotion, you can’t go too far. It becomes a farce, he says. Better to restrain the emotion.
Which is why I don’t quite fly out of my seat when Indra, our history teacher, walks in followed by Jan Hass. /Speak of the devil.../
“Today”, Indra begins,” our student-councilor is here to talk about your specializations for your sophomore year!” I frown. Are we supposed to make that choice this early?
The Swedish school-system works like this; you have got a nine year mandatory stretch, followed by a voluntarily (except everyone does it) three-year long stint at a gymnasium and then another university education, all free of course. At a gymnasium level you specialize. Art, Nature, Social Studies and so on. If you’re doing a Nature program, then the emphasis will be on the sciences, chemistry, physics and so on. In your sophomore year you specialize one step further, doing something similar to choosing an American major. Additionally, all of these programs are ‘theoretical’ and are supposed to prepare a person for university studies, unlike ‘practical’ programs that allow a person to work directly after their gymnasial studies, like say as a welder. Me for example, I am doing Social Studies as my general program. But chosing a special ‘major’? I haven’t even considered what to study.
Hass walks up to the front and starts to talk. “For you who are studying Social Studies, there are three options. Behavorial Science, with a focus on psychology. Languages, where you will learn two or more languages. Social Sciences, which is an umbrella program for anyone who wants to continue studies in the same vein as a police-officer, lawyer, a teacher and so on” Hass concludes. I digest the information simultaneously as I try come up with a difference between the Hass I spoke to last year and this one.
“Which languages”, Amanda calls out as Indra glares at her for not raising her hand. “Latin, French, Spanish, German, advanced English, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and there has been a certain discussion about Korean”, Hass recites, neutrally. He’s bothered, I think, but I can’t decide by what.
Shirin raises her hand. Hass nods. “You said that Behavorial Science has a focus on physchology, but more specifically, what does that mean?” Hass straightens his back, like someone who has had extensive training in talking. ” That it will enable you to continue study programs at university-levels which will grant you jobs that has to do with people and human-interaction. Therapists, councilors and the like.
Kai raises his hand. “I have got the same question, except for Languages.” “You can, should you so desire, chose to later on study to become an interpreter, a language-teacher, a translator.”
“Is there a way to start working directly having graduated from Ochre?” The question is posed by our very own orc, Erim Yazar. “No, not that I know”, Hass responds. “You should all be aware that you’re studying a program that is prepatory for higher studies”, he adds with a certain disdain.
“About those languages”, Nevena asks, and I tune out. It isn’t conclusive, but I am not certain that Jan Hass is Jan Hass anymore. That disdain… the Hass I met, he was too…. too stoned, too uncaring to ever dispise someone. Then I only met him once, so I am not exactly the best judge.
I sigh. Jan Hass can fly, and what can I do?/Heal? Benchpress a car? Blow mighty gouts of fire? Possibly live forever?/ I laugh at Verde’s diatribe. But you have to admit, the grass is always greener….