THE NEXT MORNING, I woke up to a worried shriek from Hannah. “What happened to your face?!?”
I groaned, “I’m trying to sleep here.”
“Sofia, your face has a horrible bruise on it!”
I groaned and opened my eyes, looked around, and then it dawned on me what she said. “Wait, I have the bruise here?”
Hannah gave me a piercing look, “What happened to you?” She looked at a clock, “Talk quickly while I get you dressed.”
I blinked again and sighed, “It’s a long story… Last night someone tried to kidnap me from the castle.”
“What?!?!” Hannah shrieked.
Caireen pushed to the front, “Hannah, please calm down. Sofia fought back against the lady and was able to hold her own until I got there with my guards.”
“What about this bruise?” Hannah asked exasperatedly, she looked like she was about in tears.
“I’m surprised by this, but apparently Sofia carried an injury back to her corporeal body. Give me a moment and we’ll have her healed up.”
I felt Caireen do something and my face instantly felt better. “Is she safe now?” Hannah asked.
“I think so for now, but my world will become increasingly dangerous for a while… I definitely won’t be bringing you in for some time.”
“What about Sofia?” she asked worriedly.
“Believe me, she’ll be as protected as anyone possibly can. She should be safe.”
“Should?” Hannah asked.
“Just change our diaper and get moving Hannah. You can interrogate me later, but I don’t want you two to be late to your first day of classes.”
With that I felt her move to the back and I took over again. Hannah didn’t say anything as she quickly changed my diaper and then sat down in the rocking chair. She bared her breast for me to nurse, but other than patting my back I could tell she was angry at me. After I had nursed her other breast, she burped me. “Hannah, I’m sorry, I didn’t choose to be in this life. This isn’t Caireen’s fault either,” I added.
“Well it doesn’t matter, does it!?!” She asked.
Before I could reply she popped my pacifier in my mouth and I decided to leave her alone. She put her coat and backpack on, my coat on me, then helped me with my backpack before picking me up and settling me on her hip to go to breakfast. I decided it was in my best interest just to be a good baby and stay quiet while my ‘momma’ was mad. I never liked being around Hannah when she was this angry, but unfortunately, now I couldn’t exactly get away from her to let her cool off.
By the time we reached the dining hall I was just hoping she’d get over her anger that day! She sat me down to get food and I held my tray through the line again. At our table our friends were chatting about lots of things and Lizi finally asked, “Are you excited to start classes today Sofia?”
I shrugged, “I’m glad to get to be doing something again… who likes to go to classes though?” I asked with a smile.
“We could just take you to daycare instead,” Hannah said.
I sighed, “Please Hannah…”
“Whoa… are you two fighting?” Camille asked.
“Yes,” I said to Hannah’s “No.”
She glared at me, “This is not fighting…”
“It certainly is Hannah, you’re mad at me for a bruise that wasn’t even my fault…”
“Huh?” Camille asked, “What bruise?” I could see she was looking us both over.
I took a moment to perform one of the privacy warding spells Caireen had been teaching me. She nodded in approval as Camille said, “Wow, that’s a really good ward!”
I shrugged, “I had to keep this private… Each night when I go to sleep, I don’t really sleep…” I explained how I went to her castle each night and even though I could feel Caireen was a little annoyed at how much I was sharing, I knew I could trust my new friends. “Anyway, last night Caireen was getting ready to introduce me to the court for a session and while I waited for my summons to go in, I was nearly kidnapped.”
The others looked stunned as I explained everything more. Camille’s eyes flashed sort of and she said, “Your Highness you should be careful, I can feel your future value to this world… if you die in Caireen’s world you will likely also die here.”
Hannah whimpered next to me and picked me up to hold me tight. “You can’t keep taking her there Caireen…”
I felt Caireen come back to the surface, “Hannah, as much as I like you would prefer to lock Sofia away in a safe bubble for the rest of her life, that’s not her future. She is meant to be a great leader in my world, and will do much good in this world. Yes, she’s going to be in danger sometimes, but I promise you I will do everything I can to protect her.”
I felt Caireen slide to the background again and just shook my head. “This is never going to feel normal…”
It took a few more minutes for everyone to reassure Hannah before I felt like she was at least no longer angry at me. It annoyed me that she had been in the first place! Especially given I was the one in danger! Eventually though it was time to go to our first class at our mutant high school!
It would have sounded so much cooler if that class hadn’t been Calculus!
We walked into the classroom and introduced ourselves to the teacher. He directed us to two seats that weren’t occupied and happened to be on the opposite side of the room from each other. Hannah looked pained about it, but I shrugged and said, “We can’t be together all the time” as quietly as I could.
I ended up standing on my chair much of the class so that I could see the board and what the teacher was doing. I was just grateful that we had covered the same stuff at our school a week or so ago! The cool thing that I noticed though was that as I went to copy my notes down, I didn’t have to worry about glancing up at the problem every other second, my new exemplar memory let me remember without doing that! I debated about not even taking notes then, but I was sure I would land myself into trouble that way!
Towards the end of the class the teacher came to speak with me and looked over a couple of homework questions that he had asked us to start one. To my relief he pronounced my answers correct and just shook his head. “I can’t believe a baby can do those equations that quickly,” he added with a smile.
I just smiled back.
Hannah and I visited the restroom before our next class so she could change my diaper before we went into the Costume Shop. While we weren’t behind the students in Calculus, we both felt dismay at how far behind we were in this class!
The teacher, Mrs. Ryan, came up to us at the table she had assigned us, “Ladies, do you have any ideas on your costumes? Remember as you’re making them that for your time in the Arena you do need a costume and a mask.”
“The Arena?” Hannah and I asked.
“Oh dear… I assume you’ve heard about the combat finals?”
“Someone mentioned it and said we might not have to do them since we came in late?” I said remembering a couple of hints.
“Well, let’s not count on that just yet…” she began walking us through things the class had already done. She spoke of materials that were bullet proof, fireproof, magic proof… The sky was the limit if you had tons of money! I shook my head, “So we have like two weeks to do this?”
As I sat there panicking Caireen mentally poked me and I smiled. “Okay, we’ve got this.”
“What?” Hannah said, clearly afraid.
“Don’t worry. May I see some of these fabrics you mentioned?”
Mrs. Ryan looked at me skeptically, but led me over to cabinets with massive racks of bolts of fabric. Hannah ended up holding me up as I touched and felt everything she had there. Caireen and I were able to get a good handle on the fabrics and how they worked. ‘Is that enough do you think?’ I asked her.
She seemed to nod at me. “Before we start working on our costumes Mrs. Ryan are there any rules that we need to be aware of?”
“Well copyright… you cannot have an identical costume to another established superhero or villain. It has to have at least color differences in the design so you can be identified as unique.”
“What about design?”
She and I had a ten-minute conversation before I looked at Hannah and said, “Okay, we can do this by the end of the week!”
Mrs. Ryan looked skeptical, “Umm… you shouldn’t rush through this sweetie.”
I grimaced but said, “There are no rules about using magic, correct?”
She looked taken aback by me asking that, and said, “No…”
“Okay, we’ve got this!”
“I do need sketches before you begin,” she told me.
“Okay… Hannah and I’ll have them for you tomorrow.”
With that it was time to switch classes. I had almost forgotten that Hannah and I were separating then when Camille met us at the door. Hannah handed me over to Camille and said, “Be good!”
I sighed, “Yes Hannah.”
“She needs changed,” Hannah whispered to Camille.
Camille squealed, “I’ll take care of that.”
I groaned but just stayed in the good baby role as she walked down the corridors and eventually into a bathroom. She pulled down a changing table that looked rarely used and made quick work of what I was sure would just be a wet diaper, but instead was a poopy one.
“There, I bet you feel all better now without that poopy diapee,” Camille said to me with a smile.
I just said, “Thank you,” while finding myself in shock that I hadn’t noticed and no one had said anything.
Camille hugged me after she sat me down and washed her hands, “It’s okay Sofia, no one minds.”
“I do,” I said quietly.
“Come on, let’s get to class. Mrs. Chulkris really doesn’t like late students!”
I groaned but accepted that. She carried me into class and Mrs. Chulkris looked at me with wide eyes and I returned the favor. Mrs. Chulkris was covered from head to toe in vines and flowers! I knew this to be a case of GSD, and knew she was harmless, but I couldn’t help but take a breath in as it was kind of shocking to say the least. For her part she seemed to be looking at me similarly.
“I’m Sofia Hammerstein,” I told her as Camille carefully stood me up on a desk at the front of the room.
“I’m Mrs. Chulkris,” she said with a smile. “I see we both are shocking the other. You have so much power you’re obviously not really a baby, and I know I look like some sort of overgrown vine.”
I laughed, “Can’t judge a book by its cover, huh?” I said with a smile.
“We’re going to get along just fine. Why don’t you join Camille at her table since you seem to be friends with her.”
I thought maybe I would be just sitting on the table or something, but Mrs. Chulkris suddenly performed a spell that made a highchair like seat appear. It was made of something that looked like living tree limbs woven in a beautiful pattern. As much as I disdained the idea of a highchair, at least it was a beautiful one. She looked on at me expectantly and I said, “Umm... thanks.”
Before Camille placed me into the chair, I grabbed the textbook for the course and was actually pretty happy I could sit in relative comfort for this class. It really was a good thing, because as much as I liked her, she was definitely a voice that would make me sleep if I wasn’t awake! I seemed to become the object lesson though as she was discussing gathering essence.
“How do you do it...?” she paused, “Anyone?” Camille’s hand was up, but she called on me, “Sofia?”
I grimaced, “Well… I can sense the ley lines and I just kind of use them for the power.”
I heard a couple intakes of breath around the room. “You only mean minor ones, right?” A girl that looked a little bit catlike asked.
“Umm… Not really? I haven’t found one I can’t tap yet…”
“What do you feel around here?” Mrs. Chulkris asked inquisitively.
“Well there’s an artery going through a big one right underneath the Crystal Hall. It passes close enough to here, I can easily tap it…”
“Let’s not do that just yet…” she said hastily. “Hmm… If what you say is true then you will never suffer with a loss of essence you can’t recover from.”
“Camille, how were you going to say…?”
The topic shifted from me and I quickly gathered that the most powerful would only grasp at the smaller veins, not the main arteries. I kept getting stares through the rest of the class and I couldn’t help but wonder if I had pooped my diaper again. Eventually we were told to work in our groups at our table on a set of questions.
“Camille… Why was everyone staring at me?”
She looked around and then back at me, “Umm… Sofia… Most people can’t do what you say you do to collect essence. The ability to tap into minor ley lines isn’t unheard of, but very rarely has anyone been able to say they can tap into a main line like you mentioned.”
She smiled at me, “That just means you’re cooler and more powerful than others.”
“It means I’m more of a freak…”
Caireen mentally spanked me, but I just shook it off.
“Sofia, you’re not a freak… Well, not any more than the rest of us!” She said with a smile. She reached over and grabbed me from the highchair like seat and sat me in her lap. “Okay, let’s get this done…”
Camille was a great person to work with as she was easily the most brilliant person in the class. Towards the end of the lesson her voice changed, “You are going to be an interesting little girl to be around.”
“Who are you?”
“You should know by now that names are a dangerous thing,” she said.
“You are one of Queen Aunghadhail’s sisters, correct?” Caireen asked, taking over.
“Yes, I am, and I know who you are as well,” she said before Camille’s voice changed.
“Well that went well…” she said in her normal voice.
“Yeah,” I said as well. “I guess we know each other…”
She shook her head, “the great thing about having an avatar spirit attached is all of the information you get…” she paused, “the tough thing is all of the baggage!”
I smiled, “it’s even more awkward with mine… maybe we can talk more privately later,” I said as I looked around and saw Mrs. Chulkris coming our way to check on us.
She smiled, “so I think that’s about it with this question…”
At the end of the class she surreptitiously checked my diaper as she carried me down the hallway and off to our dorm. We met up with Hannah in our common room, “Hey Hannah!”
“Sofia!!!” She said excitedly, and afterwards, “Hi Camille!” I felt my eyes narrow a little bit and found myself quickly captured in her arms.
“I missed you so much,” she said to me as she squeezed me tight.
“Umm… I missed you too,” I told her.
“Sorry… I don’t know what it is…” She said, suddenly turning red with embarrassment.
“You’re a new mother with separation anxiety,” Camille and I said at the same time. Her tone was joking, mine was resigned.
I hugged her around her neck and she said, “Thanks Camille for taking care of her.”
“No problem, I’ll meet up with you at lunch?”
“Sure, we’ve just got to take care of a few things first and then we’ll be over at the Crystal Hall.”
“Sounds good, bye Sofia,” she said and waved at me with a smile.
“See you in a bit,” I called after her trying to maintain some maturity.
Tough to do when you’re being carried back to your room to be breastfed…
‘LUNCH’ AND LUNCH progressed quickly and without incident, leading to my handoff to Camille once again for Intro to Magical Arts. With each of the non-traditional classes I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmingly behind all of my classmates. The three months they had before we came had obviously been packed with valuable information. My worry of course bled through to Caireen.
‘Sofia, don’t worry about it,’ she reassured me.
‘How can you say that?’
‘What did Dr. Tenent say was the principal behind essence?’
I thought back and repeated, ‘Essence is free energy that flows through the universe and can be tapped for magical spells…’
‘So, what are you worried about?’
‘What do you mean…?’
‘You have a perfect memory now Sofia. Worst case scenario you have to sit down with your books and your friends notes over Thanksgiving Break and read them. You’ll have perfect responses on tests.’
‘As long as it’s just regurgitating! If I have to use it…?’
“Sofia, here’s Hannah, I’ll see you later Princess,” Camille said with a hug as she passed me over.
“In la-la land huh?” Hannah asked.
I just nodded and looked over her shoulder at the passing students. She patted my back reassuringly before shifting me to her hip to where I could at least look forward. A number of students waved at me and smiled; some obviously did not know yet that I wasn’t a regular baby. Before long though Hannah walked through the doorway to our Powers Theory class. I felt her check my diaper briefly as she sat me down with a smile and whispered, ‘it should be okay through this class.’
I was glad something was okay through the class… I right away realized that we were behind in the material, but also that the class was not the most interesting one I would have. Once again, I found myself being the object lesson of the teacher though as they began talking about powers that day and how power and major changes came into play. As far as the class was concerned though I had been a teenage girl a week ago…
At the end of the class Knag met Hannah at the door and I was passed off once again. “That diaper’s a bit wet, if you don’t mind changing her on your way?” Hannah asked.
“Sure!” she said with a smile. I could see her face though and could tell she was nervous about it.
I giggled, “It’ll be okay, I’ll help you if you get stuck - it’s just wet.”
She squeezed me slightly and we found a bathroom on the way to class. I helped her by handing her a new diaper, wipes, and a changing pad from my bag. She picked me up nervously and set me on the table to change me. It took about four minutes longer than it should have, but she had me out of the wet diaper and into a new one without too many corrections!
As soon as we walked in the door for the class, I could tell the word was definitely out from the teachers about me as there was a bland high chair sitting next to the seat that Knag took. Powers Theory in general seemed like it could be interesting, but once again I could only groan in dismay at how far behind everyone I was. ‘I’m going to have to read every moment of the day over Thanksgiving Break…’ I complained mentally.
‘Yeah, but it’ll be okay,’ Caireen reassured me.
By the time she passed me off to Volango, I was aching to do something other than sit still. Apparently, babies don’t like to sit still all day? She helped me quickly change a slightly damp diaper before Caireen helped me into my gi she created the day before. Instead of carrying me out of the locker room though she held her hand out to me that I reached up to take. She led me to where the other students lined a mat.
I took a similar stance to the others and waited for Sensei Ito to appear.
“Good afternoon class, before we begin today, I would like to introduce a new student who has joined us today. Some of you met her briefly yesterday. Emerald, would you please come here?”
I stood and bowed to him respectfully, “Yes Sensei Ito.”
“Emerald may look like she is a baby, but she is actually like many of you having changed significantly when she manifested. I expect there to be no differences expected towards her or from her than anyone else in the class.”
“Yes Sensei” the other students responded.
“Very well then, today…” he began our class much as I had back home in Los Alamos, but there were definitely differences in the way he taught stylistically. Overall though I enjoyed the class as he took us through some techniques I knew slightly differently and had us practice. Volango ended up partnering with me for much of the exercises before he started having us spar.
Much to most of my opponents' surprise I was able to give as good as I got with most of them. Only the speedsters like Celer seemed to be able to easily outmaneuver me. Sensei Ito began stepping in then though and began instructing me how I could find other advantages there. It was the one class of the day that when it ended, I was genuinely disappointed!
After I changed out of my gi I found Hannah waiting for me outside the locker room. She gave me a big hug, “I missed you!”
Seeing her tears, “I missed you too, but see everything is fine!” I smiled at her.
She didn’t dilly dally on getting back to the room really quick, nursed me, changed me, and then we headed to the Crystal Hall for a quick dinner of solid food. “You two better get going,” Camille advised us not long after we sat down. I sighed, threw another fry in my mouth, and then stood up.
“Are you sure you’ll be okay?” Hannah asked worriedly as she zipped up the coat I had put on when we came to dinner.
“Yes, Mommy,” I told her quietly so no one else could hear.
I thought it would feel odd, but oddly it felt normal to call her that. Her eyes welled up, but I just hugged her and said, “I’ll see you after class!”
In theory I knew where this class was since it was near where I had my testing for magic powers. I wasn’t one-hundred percent certain on the exact room location. I kept walking around and jumped when I heard from behind me, “Sofia?”
I turned and saw Cate coming towards me. “Hi Cate.”
“Where are you going? Why are you alone?” She asked somewhat worriedly.
“Basic Mystic Concepts,” I told her, “you?”
“Same thing! Let’s see if we can’t find you a seat near mine!”
With that she led me down one last corridor and held the door open. I felt Caireen gasp a ‘really?!?’ as she saw the teacher. To her credit the teacher seemed to do the same thing and I let Caireen take over, “How are you doing Circe?”
She hesitated a moment, “I’m doing well Caireen. I never thought I’d see you bound to a human… but somehow it seems fitting you would find a baby to bond with, you always did show them way more affection than I ever understood.”
I actually felt Caireen blush at that, “It’s been a surprise to both of us. I’m going to let Sofia take control again, she’s got questions, I’ll try and answer them later.”
“So, you’re my new student, Sofia?” Circe asked me a moment later.
I sighed, “Yes ma’am, it seems you and Caireen know each other.”
“Yes, we do, but it’s been a good relationship, so don’t fret.” She smiled at me. “I see you know Efferous, why don’t you take a seat next to her.”
I smiled and moved to the table and just went ahead and duplicated another of the raised chairs that seemed to be more comfortable than the other chairs at this point right next to Cate. “That’s got to be awkward,” she said quietly to me.
“You have no idea…” I responded.
The class itself was genuinely intriguing. I found myself flipping through the textbook and frowned when I came across a page on vampires. I read things about them that I now knew from first-hand experience. I felt some phantom pains then and stopped flipping through the book and paid attention.