Tales From the Fae – Part V: The Academy of Dana
Chapter 19 – The Greie Leeideilagh
I remember the next seven days with great fondness. I was, for perhaps the first time in my life, having an intimate relationship with a male, and was not worried in the slightest what he thought of me, at least not from an intellectual standpoint. Douglas was quite remarkable in that respect. Perhaps his ability to accept me stems from the fact that all of us here at this strange school are gifted. We have all been blessed with some semi-random collection of genetic traits that allows us entrance into the world of the Fae. For better or worse, we have jumped head-first into this new world, in order to re-establish a race of people missing from the Earth for three millennia.
Whatever our ultimate destiny, Douglas has chosen to be more than a casual friend to me, and I find myself nearly giddy with joy. I’m also wearing the poor boy out as I deal with four years’ worth of repressed sexual frustration. At first, he was just as enthusiastic as I was, and we stole every free moment to dash back to one of our dorm rooms, or sneak into the bathing area. We even rutted each other silly in an alley behind a shop at The Candy Market while Candice took Michelle clothes shopping.
But finally, after three days of heavy-duty sex, he expressed his need to slow down. We were back in my dorm, where I had dragged him as he walked out of his latest History class, and were just catching our breath after having gone at it hard for nearly half an hour. I rolled off his hips and snuggled up next to him, watching the slow rise and fall of his hairless chest. After a few minutes, I noticed that the tempo had changed and realized that he had fallen asleep. I let him doze for twenty minutes or so without moving from his side, and was still staring at him when his eyes fluttered open again.
“Oh, sorry,” he said, realizing that he had been asleep. “I guess I buggered out…”
I smiled. “It’s alright. You’re cute when you snore.”
“I snore?” he said with genuine shock.
I giggled. “Only a little. It’s more like a purr.”
His face took on a real concerned expression. “What’s wrong,” I asked.
“Well… Maybe it’s nothing, but I never fall asleep like that. Don’t get me wrong,” he went on quickly. “I like a decent snooze as much as the next guy, but I can usually override my need for sleep.”
“Not getting enough rest?” I was smiling, but inwardly I felt a bit guilty. After all, it wasn’t the books he was pounding after hours, it was me.
“Er… Well, now that you mention it… uh… probably not. I’ve always been an eight-hour kinda guy, and lately…”
“… You’ve been lucky to get four,” I completed for him.
“I’m not complainin’,” he replied with a wide grin as one hand patted my fanny affectionately. “It’s not like the time hasn’t been put to good use an’ all.”
“Ummm,” I agreed. “Very good use.”
“Still, I’ve caught myself noddin’ off a few times in class recently, and… Well, it’s just that you seem to have unlimited reserves, love. Sometimes I don’ know how ya do it.”
I thought about it for a moment, considering something that Rachael mentioned in Sexual Arts. All at once I understood.
“Oh my goddess! I think I’m draining you… No, I’m sure I am!”
Douglas’ face crinkled in humorous concern. “Well, you are energetic, but I wouldn’t go s’far as ta say you were drainin’ me…”
“No, Douglas, listen to me,” I said lifting myself up on my elbow so that I could look him directly in the eyes. “I’m serious. Rachael showed us that magical constructs can use the energy created during intense moments of passion to recharge themselves, and the nymphs use sex the same way we use food.”
“Well… yeah. But Ran, you’re not a nymph.”
“No, but I am a master-class disassembler. I take things apart and study them all the time. I re-tool half the stuff that Rachael and the other instructors give us…”
“You do?” He asked, surprised.
Continuing, I said, “If I somehow incorporated one of those functions…” My breath caught as I started to feel that familiar nausea in my belly when I was alienating someone, and I clammed up. Douglas noticed.
“Hey! None o’ that,” he said sharply and sat up. “Miranda, look at me!” He placed his hands gently to either side of my head so that I was forced to stare into those wonderful blue eyes. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re sapping my energy or not. You’re not taking anything that I’m not giving willingly, and damned if I’m going to let you run off just because you think you’re going to wear me out or something.”
My lower lip was trembling. Taking my hand, he gently kissed my palm and smiled. “Miranda Summers, I wouldn’t let you go even if it meant that you drained every last bit of life from my body. I don’t know how to tell you this, but I think I have truly and honestly fallen for you. I know who you are compared to the rest of us, and I don’t care. To me, you are just Miranda, and unless you forbid it, I plan to spend as much time as possible with you between now and the end of school.”
“Douglas, you don’t know what you’re saying,” I blurted, tears coming to the corners of my eyes. I wanted so badly to believe him that it hurt.
“Yes. Yes I do. I may not be the genius that you are, but I know people. I know that you spend most of your time behind a mask so that we won’t know how truly gifted you are. I know that you have been hurt in other relationships, and I know that you think you’ll destroy anyone that you get close to…”
I blinked in surprise as he spoke the last, and opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out. Once again, Douglas noticed.
“You weren’t even aware of that, were you…” he asked quietly, almost in awe.
My mind furiously fought to deny the allegation, but could not. Completely without the inner sight that I had felt with the faeries, Douglas had managed to pin down the darkest fear of my heart, and it scared me. It was a new fear, nearly alien to me myself. It was the fear that I would lose the precious gem that had been handed to me in the form of a red-headed young man.
Quite suddenly, I made a decision and drew him into a tight body hug.
Whispering into his ear, I said, “Regardless of what the future brings, Douglas McBride, I am choosing to trust you. For this moment, and as many as I can hold to, I am going to trust that your words and your love are true. I have never done this before, so I don’t know how I will react or change. But I am yours, and will wear no masks while I am with you alone.” Then after a moment I added, “But…”
“What lass? You have my heart, what else can I give? I’m not a rich man…”
He was teasing me, and I knew it, so smiling I continued. “But, I insist that we reduce the frequency of our lovemaking so that you get enough rest to function as you rightly should…”
“Arrrgh… It is much you ask of me, m’lady. But ’tis still better to be with you sparsely than not at all.” His accent was growing thicker by the minute. “I accept. But be warned… Do not deny me too often, or I may grow insane with lust, for you have truly charmed my soul.”
“I had no idea you were such a poet, Douglas,” I stated smiling.
“There are many things still left to discover about me, lass. Now come closer and sap a wee bit more energy from this poor tired boy…”
In the next few days, I saw that Douglas was true to our agreement. I let him get his rest, and he in turn made the time we did share all the more sweet. He started leaving beautiful love notes on my bed, and (to my great surprise) roses on my pillow! Candice was overjoyed that I had “finally” hooked-up with Douglas, stating that it had only taken me two full weeks longer than she had predicted. She and Shawn were no less active sexually, and it became necessary to devise a system to share “private” time in the dorm room. The pools were great as a backup, but some things are just better in a nice soft bed.
My second major surprise came when Candice managed to convince the headmaster to cut back our class loads. He rearranged our days and dropped Candice from Arithmancy, which she was acing anyway, and myself from Physics. The latter class was terribly interesting since it included a whole new set of laws and revisions regarding the Fae world, and I was quite sad to let it go. Still, if our research was to proceed as I planned it to, I would be learning half of those new laws on my own anyhow.
Professor Brightly decided that it would be best if we worked someplace that was so far unknown to most if not all the rest of the student body, since secrecy was paramount. To that effect, we were quite surprised when he led us to a small door off the main hall between classes one day. An overly large bronze placard affixed to the simple wooden portal read in plain English, “Conference Room J”.
Leading us inside, we found a small room containing a number of very old oil pantings, an ornate wooden table and about a dozen chairs.
“Uh, Professor,” started Candice in confusion. I was equally confused, but was watching the man’s face and noticed a brief slight smile, and so held my tongue. “I don’t mean to be picky or anything, but I’m not sure that this place will be big enough for what I think we need to do. And there’s no lock, so somebody could walk right in on us.”
“Patience, Candice. All is not what it seems.”
Moving to stand in front of one of the larger of the paintings, the Headmaster began to speak rapidly in an old and highly cryptic version of Gaelic. At the same time, I saw his hands move through the air executing short commands within his unseen MOS. After a minute or so, he turned and gestured that we should come closer.
“When I ask you to, place your right hand to the surface of this painting. You will feel a slight tingling, but do not remove your hand until I say. Ready?”
We nodded together.
“Very well, Candice, you first please.”
The girl came forward and stood in front of the old frame, waiting.
The headmaster spoke a few more quick commands and then nodded to her. She gasped slightly when her hand made contact, but did not pull away. It took the magical painting about twenty seconds to finish whatever it was doing, at which time Brightly withdrew her hand gently and massaged her palm.
“Weird…” she muttered, staring at her fingers as she walked away to give me room.
“Remember,” said the Headmaster again, this time direct to me. “Do not remove your hand until I say. The Greie Leeideilagh is felt differently by each individual who uses it. Some, it accepts easily, but for others…” He shrugged to show helplessness in the face of old stubborn magic.
“I’m ready,” I said with perhaps a little more confidence than I actually felt.
He turned back to the picture and made the final necessary command gestures, and then nodded to me.
“Weird” was one way of describing what I felt. Another might be, “erotic”, or possibly, “shocking”. Something akin to being sucked into a giant’s mouth hit me the moment my flesh made contact with the painting on the wall. It was a slippery wetness that made me think I was going to be suffocated, and the urge to pull away was intense to say the least. There was a soft pressure all around my body, and a feeling of liquid motion. I’m sure I couldn’t have been in contact with the painting for more than thirty or forty seconds, but in that time, I went from simply nervous, to nearly panicked.
The trouble was that the sensations weren’t painful, as I had expected them to be based on Candice’s reactions. Instead, they were intensely sexual, almost as though something had instantly stripped me bare and then enveloped my entire naked form inside a living creature who was intent on licking me in all the right places. By the time it was over, my knees were shaking, and I was gasping for breath.
“Perhaps Miss Mellions should be the one to control the Leeideilagh when you need to work on the project,” suggested the Professor as he gently directed my trembling body to a nearby chair.
“Are you okay, Miranda,” asked Candice, who was standing there with a wide-eyed look of terror.
“Y-y-yeah… Sure. I’m fine. Just a bit more intense than I thought it would be…”
“Did it suck on your arm too,” she asked with a slight grin.
“Arm? You mean it only affected your arm?”
When she nodded, I shook my head. “Figures. I always get the expanded version. So, Professor, are we going to have to do that each time we come here? I don’t know that I can handle full-immersion sex like that every single day…”
He laughed. “As I mentioned, Candice may activate the Locator for the both of you.”
“Full immersion…?” Candice was staring at me with her mouth open as she tried to image what her arm-length sensation would have felt like over her whole body. When her cheeks turned red, I grinned.
“Right,” he said clapping his hands to get us back on the subject. “I have just given each of you access to a gate of sorts. It’s a miniature version of the one that was used to bring you to this school originally, only it works locally. This room, or more particularly, the door into this room can link with almost any other door within the Academy. To pick where you want to go, you need only identify yourself to this portrait, and…”
The Headmaster placed his hand to the surface of the canvas. There was a slight blue glow, and the painting that used to be there, was replaced by what appeared to be a map of sorts. It took me only a second to realize that the white lines on a black field were representative of the whole of the Academy, and as Douglas had mentioned, we seemed to be privy to only a tiny fraction of the vast complex.
“Whoa!” stated Candice as she came closer to the painting. I was also up, curiosity having won over the fading arousal.
“As you can see,” he continued, “we are here.” He pointed to a very small box off of a much larger one. “This extra large space is of course the main hall. If I wanted to establish a link to someplace else, I need only tap twice on a room and it will be so. I can then pass through the door out of this room and into the new. The only restriction is that the door through which you wish to travel must be closed. This is a safety to prevent spacial collisions. The gates will remain open for exactly three minutes, during which time the door that normally leads into the target room will be magically sealed shut, also for safety.”
“It’s a Wonkavator!” Candice suddenly stated and looked about ready to burst.
The man seemed confused. “A what?”
“From Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory…” I explained. A moment later he opened his mouth in an “ah” of remembrance and returned to the map.
“You two will use the Leeideilagh to travel to this room.” He was pointing to a very large square that was two thirds of the way to the far side of the map. “Candice, if you will…” he said, stepping back.
She gulped, and then tapped her finger twice on the indicated location.
There was a brief moment of disorientation, and then all seemed as it was. No flash, no booming gongs, no wild ride through hyperspace.
“Did I do it correctly,” she asked, looking to our instructor.
“Let’s find out, shall we?” Moving briskly forward, he opened the door that we had entered not five minutes previously. Candice and I turned and looked at each other, then back to the portal.
The Main Hall was an odd place to begin with. It was like stepping into a cathedral, complete with about a million tiny points of light to give it permanent illumination no matter what the hour. The room that we stared into now was as black as pitch.
I happened to be watching the headmaster, or I would have missed the next trick he pulled. Raising his hand, it seemed as though a ball of light immediately appeared, hovering a few inches from his palm. What I had noticed was that his lips moved, even though he never uttered a sound. Why that was significant was almost more astounding than what was now visible beyond the open doorway.
You see, I knew that it was possible to activate a magical construct via voice commands, but what I hadn’t understood until that very moment, was that such triggers did not necessarily have to be spoken audibly. The simple motions of the mouth, lips and tongue could act just as well. This fact opened up for me a whole new range of possibilities concerning the activation and control of magic. For example, if it were possible to cast a charm by simple soundless mouthings, was it also possible then to activate a spell by performing a certain dance step? Or by using the eyes alone? It was certainly something to consider, but I filed it away for a later time and joined Candice in a state of quiet surprise.
As the Headmaster moved forward out of the conference room, his light sprang out and found the ceiling and walls of the massive space. Aside from the lack of illumination, it was architecturally the exact twin of the Main Hall we had just come from. There was no doubt that we were in another place, however, for it had none of the smaller decorations that the more familiar hall had, placed there over time by the four Houses. Things like tapestries and portraits, shelves and comfortable chairs – were all missing. It was as though the room we were in now had never even been used as more than a storage space, for covering nearly half of the floor and stacked five high were countless crates, barrels, spools, rolls of cloth, piles of metal, and a thousand tons of other things you might need if you were equipping a university.
The winter previous, I helped an older friend move into an apartment. I can clearly remember the feeling I had when we walked into the living space for the very first time, empty save for the boxes the movers had left. It was something between an unused canvas and an unsettling “wrongness” about the whole thing. As we stood in the new hall, I had that exact same feeling. The place was just too damn bare.
“Professor,” I asked, staring up into the blackness above. I could just barely see the ceiling in the dim light. “What IS this place?”
“That, Miranda, is something of a mystery.” He was slowly turning around, as awed by the emptiness as we were. “As far as we know, this hall is in every way an exact duplicate of the one you are familiar with. But to all appearances, it has never been occupied.”
“But why? Why would the original Tuatha create such a place,” chimed in Candice.
He sighed. “I wish I knew, I really do. We searched every record we had, and even the oldest of the faeries remembers nothing spoken about the place. Of course, the faeries did not have even as much access to The Iron Mountain then as they do now. We don’t even know the name of this grand room. Even so, there is much about this place as a whole,” and he indicated the whole of the underground, “that we do not yet understand.” He saw Candice turn and grin at me and his eyes narrowed.
“Hmmm… Yes, Miss Mellions,” he continued in a slightly more formal tone, “it would make for a great adventure, but I highly urge you to keep your exploring to this one room. From here, there is an identical Locator room through the door we just came out, so you can always get back to our Main Hall. If you were to tell one of these Locators to place you somewhere more… random, you might find it quite difficult to return to our own side of the Academy. There’s a reason we sealed off most of the place…”
“You sealed it off,” I snapped the question. The Headmaster turned and fixed his eyes on mine, obviously calculating.
“Yes. We quickly realized, when we first began classes here on a more formal basis, that we would have to do something to keep curious, and woefully unprepared, human explorers from wandering where they were certain to get themselves into trouble. Imagine for example, if you had stumbled upon in your first week here, a trap of the kind Miss Rachael has been exposing you to?” Involuntarily, I felt my cheeks grow warm. I saw Candice’s mouth open to say something, but then close without comment.
“I can assure you, there are far worse than the likes of those lurking in the bowels of this place,” he continued. “When the Tuatha disappeared some three millennia ago, they locked away their most powerful magic within these halls in the hope that some day they might return.”
“Wouldn’t you want to find it then,” I asked.
“Certainly,” replied the Headmaster as he worked his MOS, setting up a new spell. “But their works were not meant to be found by others, or so they thought. They were only meant to be hidden and protected until they themselves could return to claim them. Little did they know that it would be their far away descendants who would return.”
“But you’re the head of the Tuatha De Danann, aren’t you?” Candice asked.
“I am…” He made one final flowing gesture with his hands, and fine balls of light burst from his fingertips like a hive of angry fireflies and headed towards all corners of the vast room. They stuck where they each landed, and soon every corner of the space was alight in a warm orange glow. He smiled once, quickly, enjoying the display like a child enjoys fireworks, and then his face was somber once again. “But… my abilities are as limited as my time. As are yours,” he said looking directly at each of us.
“Do not underestimate this place, my dear students, for its secrets are not for the casual day’s recreation… So,” he said, deliberately changing the subject and looking about the empty space. “You two are in charge of the amplifier project now. What is it that you require, beyond of course a place to work?”
Candice and I looked at each other.
“Um…” she started, hesitantly. “A couple of tables and chairs would be helpful…”
“And a chalkboard,” I chimed in at once.
“Oh! And a few tapestries, and a couch, some candles…” Candice looked like the girl handed the brass ring, or possibly a Visa Platinum card. When she noticed the Headmaster frowning, she grinned and shrugged in helplessness.
“Anything else?…” He drawled.
“Yes,” I answered soberly and waited until I had his attention. “I would like something, some kind of container, that can hold about six hundred gallons of water. Metal preferably.”
He looked shocked. “Good grief, what on Earth for? You’re not planning on using it for bathing are you?”
“It would serve two main purposes. The first would be as a gauge to determine how well our amplifier works. We can create a simple heating spell and measure temperature change over time, when we get it running of course.”
“You mean ‘if’ you get it running…”
I simply stared at him, my face passive.
“Go on. The second use?”
“Water works as an excellent thermal capacitor. In the event that we generate too much energy, we can dump it into the tank rather than burn or pulverize something of importance… like each other. Six hundred gallons of water will absorb a hell of a lot of energy before it’s converted completely into steam.”
I could see he was doing some quick calculations in his head. “Yes… Yes it will. I hadn’t considered how to test the spell.”
“That’s because you never considered the implications of what you were doing…” I hadn’t meant to put so much venom into my words, and I was half surprised that I had even said them. Next to me, Candice was silent as she stood there rigidly, staring between the two of us with her mouth open. From the look on her face, I think she half expected the Headmaster to fry me to cinders on the spot. For that matter, so did I. “Professor…” I started an apology. He interrupted me.
“Miranda, I’m not sure what I have done to chaff your hide so thoroughly, but you seem intent on making me the focus of your aggressions. So be it. Better me than another student. I highly suggest that you spend some time in introspection and resolve whatever it is that’s bugging you before you say something that gets you discipline instead of understanding. Am I clear?”
“Yes, sir,” I answered with my head bowed.
He sighed. “I’m going to have Ananha talk to you. She’s quite adept at such sensitive matters, and is aware of your work here on the amplifier, so you may speak freely with her. Now,” and he fixed the two of us heavily. “I have other duties that require my attention. Is there anything… else that I can provide?”
To my complete surprise, my full-bosomed friend meekly raised her hand.
“Yes, Candice…” he sighed, defeatedly.
“Uh, sir… Not that I’m really worried or anything, but… How do we lock the doors?”