Anomaly of the Fates
Chapter 6: The Basics
Copyright© 2012 by Celtic Bard
"-somewhere between abominably atrocious and suitable for use as a garden fertilizer. Many of you, had I been grading for it, would have failed on the grounds of plagiarism due to lack of proper citation. I know the school system in this country does a piss-poor job of teaching actual writing skills to the majority of its technology-addled, texting-addicted, semi-literate students, but these papers were generally disgraceful and so bad I had to grade on a curve. Without the curve, nobody in this room would have earned higher than a B-," I growled, glaring at the roomful of freshmen. It was silent enough to hear them breathing, almost quiet enough to hear their hearts speeding along at an accelerated rate. "So, what I want between now and Thanksgiving is a rough draft of your final paper. Remember, it is to be ten to fifteen pages long (no more, no less), double-spaced, fonts no bigger than twelve in either Arial or Times New Roman, and standard margins. The grade for the rough draft will take into account that it is a rough draft, not a final draft, and will be exchangeable for the grade you have before you."
I gazed out across a roomful of relieved faces, some of which were covered in sweat. "Given my generosity on that score, barring a death in the family or being abducted by al-Qaeda and held for ransom, I will not give any extensions and grades will fall by ten points every day it is late," I told them sternly. "This is not your public school, where you can slack off and mommy or daddy will complain to the principal and get you indefinite leave to turn things in late. This is college. You, or you parents, are paying a ridiculous sum of money to take this class and others. Start acting like it and apply yourselves. What you do in the next four years will have an inordinate impact on your future. So, buckle down and act like the adults you now are."
I allowed my gaze to touch every face in the room before turning around and walking behind the lectern, picking up the remote to the projector. "Now that we have that unpleasantness out of the way, we will take up where we left off last week," I said in my more impersonal, lecture voice as I brought up the PowerPoint.
The Greek was sitting at my kitchen table staring reflectively into a cup of tea. I don't drink tea, or coffee for that matter, so he had to have brought it with him. Far from being an expert on tea, I knew next to nothing about it. However, there was an Indian teacher at my last job who was from Bengal and she drank a tea that smelled a lot like the odor wafting up from that cup. I walked into the kitchen, poured myself a cup of apple juice, quickly made a sandwich, and sat down opposite Ixandarius.
He finally looked up, a wan smile curving sculpted lips. "You might want to hold off on eating that until after you try your first teleport," he said blandly, his tone a warning that he was serious. "Teleportation is uncomfortable enough that a lot of lesser anomalies, and even some guardians, don't bother with it except in emergencies."
I looked at the ham, salami, and provolone sandwich and then at him. "Define uncomfortable."
The smile turned into a grin that reached his eyes. "Disorientation, vertigo, nausea, headache, you know, uncomfortable," he replied with relish. "The effects vary from immortal to immortal, but everyone is affected the worst on their first attempt. You might have an advantage because I have already teleported you twice, so your body might have already built in a resistance. You did fairly well when we arrived in Augusta that first day."
"I thought the headache and nausea that day was just from the God-awful heat," I told him, putting down the uneaten sandwich, suddenly not as hungry as I was.
"Let me run down the basics, then I will finish my tea and we can take you on your first try," he said, his voice assuming the pedantic tone he tended to use when instructing me on my weird new life. "Teleportation is an act of will backed by power. I showed you how to use very little focus to surround your aura with a lot of power, thereby shielding yourself from detection and most harm. That is such a simple application of power that you can literally do it in your sleep or even while unconscious. This is the opposite. This takes all of your focus and a touch of power. So little power, in fact, that teleportation is nearly undetectable and it is impossible to tell where you went to, be it the next room or the other side of the world.
"Now, what I want you to do is think about the oak tree in the back yard. The color of the leaves, the texture of the bark, the smell of the yard, the feel of the heat outside, the sound of the breeze through the leaves, the sounds of the birds in the trees, the dappled light sifting through the branches, the feel of the grass and earth beneath your feet. Construct everything about the tree and its surrounds in your mind. Do you have it?" he asked, his voice getting softer and softer until it was just above a whisper. My eyes had drifted closed to focus on imagining it and I did not want to break that concentration so I merely nodded. "All right, now place yourself in that image. When you have it, use a trickle, and just a trickle, of power to move your being to where you are picturing. Whenever you feel ready, Kiernan."
I would have been fine if he had not said my name. His using my new name made me think of my old name, which made me think of home, my childhood home. The one he destroyed when he killed the monster that invaded my last birthday party with Cat. That distraction was apparently enough because I was suddenly standing on a twilit sidewalk in front of a foundation with the frame of a new house half built resting on it. The houses to either side looked the same as they always did, as did the rest of the street, but the bushes and trees that surrounded the house I grew up in were as gone as the house that I died in. The grass was torn up and patchy with weeds telling me that nobody was keeping up with it on a regular basis like my dad and his El Salvadorans. I looked around and saw nobody on the street at the end of the driveway, heard no kids at play, and only a lone dog barking told me anyone still lived in this upscale neighborhood.
There was an odd popping noise behind me and I turned to find a very unamused Greek glaring at me. "What the hell are you doing coming back here?" Ixandarius demanded hoarsely, clearly wanting to yell at me but wanting nobody to notice us even more.
I shrugged somewhat morosely, my eyes going back to the mute evidence of my radically changed life. "It was kinda your fault," I told him somberly. "You used my new name, which made me think of my old name, which made me think of home, my old home, and so here we are. I guess I see what you meant by all of my focus. That split second of random thought right before I applied the power was all it took."
He sighed, rubbing his eyes wearily. "I guess that does explain it. And I guess this visit was inevitable, so it is better gotten out of the way now. However, we need to get out of here before anyone sees us. Give me your hand," he said, his tone as worn-down as his expression. Between one blink and another, we were back in my kitchen in Georgia. I stumbled back to my seat, nauseous with a headache coming on, and Ixandarius exhaled with relief. "Are you up for trying again or should we wait until Friday?"
I actually felt what he did that time. I was at my full power and awareness as a sentinel, unlike when he transported us from the white nothingness to Augusta. I felt the rapid build of power and its casual release, focused through his mind and body, to the kitchen in Columbia County, Georgia. I was pretty sure I knew how it was done now. "Let me give it one more try. Now that I have felt you do it, I think I can," I assured him, my tone confident, if still a little subdued.
He nodded slowly. "All right, then. Just like before, concentrate on building the image with as many sensory inputs as possible. The more vivid your image, the more likely you are to wind up where you are aiming. Lazy teleporters often find themselves in odd places because of poor imaging," were his instructions.