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7 Odetta professorial
shadowsusannah wrote in milliways_bar
The Sunday New York Times is about as thick as a hotel Bible; Susannah Toren has two of them to get through each week. She's parked and settled at her table for a few hours of scenery change, and in addition to the newspapers there's an accordion portfolio and a notebook and pen to one side, a medical supply catalog under that, and a Dragonfly cocktail and a bowl of sweet potato chips towards the middle of the table.

When the papers get too depressing, she works on the papers in the portfolio (covered in odd, looping script and annotated in her own hand) or the notes she's been making in the notebook; when she's really ready for a break, she flips through the catalog, looking at new wheelchairs. She has not been in every respect satisfied with the green model she's sitting in now.

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"Nothing else you haven't seen, I think. It looks like the end of this page--"

this when, the island has become the haunt of vampires and worse. The tower of the rose is beset, and defended only by and then an untranslated word.

"--follows on to this one." Near the top of the third(?) page:

mindless force of defense, striking down any that approach without regard for friend or foe. Thus the rose weakens, cut off from any possible attack, but also from

"That sounds like what I encountered, all right. I wish I could figure out the name." She taps the untranslated. "Ka-something--the thing itself, in other words."

"Whatever it is, it's the same word as this."

This is almost certainly the last page; it's the end of one sentence, and the start of three more (translated) ones, and then blank paper. They must not . This is imperative! Do not allow them to ."

Edited at 2008-09-17 01:28 am (UTC)

Charlie rubs her forehead. "So just getting a foothold in the world isn't enough. There's something else they're going to do, and it's imperative that stop them from doing it."

She lets out a breath. "And we don't know what it is."

"I have a... sense, of what the word means," she says. "It's like having it on the tip of your tongue. But all of the words in this language have so many associations and shades of meaning, and I can't put my finger on the right one."

"Hmm." She studies the untranslated word for a moment, its curls and loops barely even differentiating themselves in her eye as writing.

"Would it help to just ... reel off the things it doesn't quite mean? Talk around it?"

"There are two roots here that I know," she says. "an and cal."

"An can mean a chamber or a room, but that's a metaphorical usage, and I don't know exactly where it comes from," she says, "The main root is breath, I think. They had a saying in the Calla, can-tah, can-ah, annah oriza. It means that Oriza breathed life into all living things and even the gods. Something an-tet is something that's shared between the members of a tet. Sometimes even without words; it's something you... breathe in, just being around each other. But it's also--" She gestures with her hands. "Secure. Held between you."

Edited at 2008-09-17 02:11 am (UTC)

"That's harder," she says. "I know a lot of words that use it--Calla, Callahan, Calvin. The can calah are angels, and Can Calyx is the Tower itself. The Hall of Resumption."

"And calyx is an English word, too. It's the green part that protects a flower's bud."

"If the same rules apply, it's probably connected to cam and can, too. But I don't know if I can articulate the common thread."

Charlie chews slowly on her lower lip.

"And it adds up to something bad. Or something dangerous, if we let them do it."

She nods. "It makes me think of something Eddie said once, about the rooms of ruin. But I don't know why."

(The silent rooms, stretching on and on, grey and empty and unsane. Whatever walked in Hill House, walked alone.)

She looks down at the papers again.

"It looks like it might mean what they're talking about earlier, when they say if unchecked -- that that's what's going to happen if this isn't stopped."

"As for stopping it," she says. "I guess you saw this fragment?"

One of the loose pages, with no clear place in the sequence:

place your hope in the children of another world, raising them to become the guardians of

The rest of the page is untranslated.

Charlie nods, unconsciously straightening in her chair.

"It definitely looks like it's talking about the kids." There's deliberate caution there.

Susannah can't see what else it would be referring to. She's waiting to see if Charlie has anything further to say on the topic.

"I mean -- it looks that way to you, too? This isn't just wishful thinking on my part?"

Interesting phrasing. She shakes her head. "I can't think of any other children from another world, except maybe the kids from the Big Combination, and they were from more than one world."

And are scattered to the four winds, now, to boot.

Charlie takes a breath.

"It would be ... heartening," is the word she settles on, "to think they're the answer. That they'll be the ones to make it work, in the end."

"Is it something they could do?" she asks. "I realize we're talking about something poorly defined, on both sides, but one thing that sticks in my mind was that the entity protecting the rose was a mental one. Are they in control of themselves enough to fend off something like that? Or could they be, if things continue as they have?"

"If things continue as they have ... maybe. They've been ... I've seen them take initiative more, lately. Together. Almost always together."

She's looking into the middle distance, trying to find the words.

"They're more stable together. Better able to react to things." A small, wry laugh. "I know, that's real specific."

"Don't forget, I know River Tam," she says. "That's... promising."

"I wonder--if it is the kids, that may affect the time frame. I was two hundred years in the future. But if they're meant to get involved, something must happen in their lifetimes. Maybe even while they're still children." She taps the single translated line with her pen again.

"Maybe." Charlie frowns. "Age-wise, they're hardly even children anymore. The youngest one's Avi, and he's already in his mid-teens. But there's still ... in a lot of significant ways they still are children, and I don't know if that's going to change."

Susannah nods, and then something occurs to her. "How good are you at keeping something under lock and key?" She taps her temple.

"If you're asking about my mental shields ... they're pretty good. Not," with an air of one determined to be honest, "completely failsafe."

"We're not sure," she says. "It would be better if the kids didn't know what we've been speculating about."


This next part is going to be sticky. "Ted, either. He's not going to like the idea. There's no reason to upset him if it turns out not to be necessary."

Charlie's lips press together for a moment; she's all aware of the sticky.

"The idea of the kids fighting, you mean."

She nods. "If it comes down to it, he'll do what he can to help them. But he won't approve."

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