332: Where Credit Is Due

on December 18, 2008 in Book 12

In Which Mackenzie And Ian Exchange Looks

The remainder of the class seemed to go by quicker than usual. That might have been because instead of sitting there waiting for Gloria to attack and reacting to it, I was being forced to engage with Marco. When I did not counter his attacks with ones of my own, he pressed on that much more aggressively. I had to strike back in order to get any room to think or breathe. Over the course of the period, I got a little better at catching strikes with the staff and a little better at swinging it.

Callahan returned her attention to me before the period ended.

“I want you to get a staff,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be magic to use in class, though in the long run you’re going to want something you can swing full-force without breaking. There are books about stickfighting in the library. I suggest you try reading them… there are a lot more ways to hit with a staff than what you’ve been doing.”

“Isn’t teaching that kind of thing supposed to be your job?” I asked without thinking.

“Yeah, sure… if you’d rather learn all the ways there are to beat someone with a stick from me than from a book, come see me during my office hours and we’ll take care of it,” Callahan said. “Otherwise, you can hit the library. You should be able to find something with step-by-step illustrations so you can see how you should be standing and where your hands should be.”

The class ended at a quarter till five, giving me more than two hours before the party. I didn’t know if everybody else was planning on going to dinner normally, but with Hazel in charge of food I figured there would probably be a meal’s worth, anyway. So, after not entirely un-quick trip to the healing center to take care of my face, I decided to hit the library to see what they had in the local history section… Professor Hart’s umbrage notwithstanding, looking up history stuff for a history class was less of a bullshit assignment than looking at a picture book for a fighting class was.

Apparently the local government was very serious about the whole local history initiative, because there was a little table set up in the wide gap between the history section and the next section over which had a sign on it reading “Local Spotlight”, with a logo seal for the Provincial History Commission in the bottom corner. The stuff on the table seemed to be too recent to be of use to me… the titles were all things like Enwich In The Second Century. The commission’s interest seemed to be centered from the time Prax had become a province onward.

There was a big thick volume called Magisterius University, A History… that one attracted my interest on a more personal level since MU was going to be my home for the foreseeable future, but a quick glance through it was enough to dispel that interest. The book was so dry and dull and the information it contained so random and uninteresting, there was just no way I could see any of it coming in handy even once during the years I was planning on spending at the school.

I did grab a book called Under Enwich… it was more of a coffee table book than a history book, full of drawings and pictures with the occasional paragraph of explanatory text floating among them, but it looked cool. Even if the town of Enwich had come into being after the period I was looking for, at least some of the structures underneath it were older than that and they were what had piqued my own real interest in the subject.

After making sure there was nothing else relevant on the island, I headed into the stacks. The actual local history section suffered from an imbalance between modern and pre-revolutionary, which I supposed was understandable as there would have been more history recorded in Pax since the first imperial settlers had moved in. At least it did have some sources I could use.

There was a multi-volume set of books on the history of the plains provinces, broken down into fifty year spans. I grabbed one called Plains Crusaders which covered the Kharolinian presence from 50 to 100 PE, and the next one called War of the River, which went up to 150 PE. This was still way too early, but I figured that judging by the title, the War one would answer my questions about how the Merovian paladins had lost control of the area. It was always possible I could include a summary of the details of the period as a sort of foundation or introduction for my paper.

I skipped ahead through the decades until I got to 300-350, which overlapped with the revolution and the start of the Magisterian Era. The book for these dates was thinner than the ones before it, which were thinner than the ones which came after it. Evidently, the goings-on throughout the rest of the Westering Lands during the time of the war had not attracted as much attention from imperial historians.

I didn’t much feel like hanging out in the library alone… and I was slightly afraid that I’d lose track of time and miss the beginning of the party… so I checked out my four books and I headed back to Harlowe. Amaranth and Hazel were hanging out in front of the doorway of Hazel’s room when I got to the fifth floor.

“Hey, baby!” Amaranth called. “Ooh, what’ve you got there?” she asked, noting my much-fuller-than-usual book bag.

“Just some history books,” I said. “I went to the library after my weapons class.”

“Oh, how fun!” she said. “Did Steff go with you?”

“No, she had to go turn something in,” I said, not wanting to say that she’d been returning a possibly evil weapon stolen from among the effects of the dead in front of Hazel. “Where’s Two?”

“She’s off giving Miss Delia Daella a private cooking lesson,” Hazel said.

“So… have we figured out how we’re getting her to the party room at seven-thirty?” I asked.

“Oh, that was easy,” Hazel said. “I told her to go there then, and she said ‘okay.'”

“Oh, right,” I said. Easiest surprise party ever.

“And Dee told Two that they could get dinner after their lesson and that we would all understand if she didn’t show up at the cafeteria, which was true,” Amaranth said. “Dee didn’t seem comfortable with lying to Two, and honestly, I’m not sure I would be, either. We could tell her that it’s okay for friends to lie for nice surprises and things, but I’m not sure that couldn’t be used against her.” She frowned and bit her lip, her hand twitching at her side and her nails pressing into her skin. “I’m glad she’s made some inroads towards friendship with Suzi, but I could sort of see that leading to some less-than-ideal situations.”

“I hope it’s alright that I didn’t invite Suzi,” Hazel said. “She’s started tagging along when we go to the kitchen, but it seemed to me like inviting her and not the rest of the pusses would be like inviting one of a brood and not the rest, and I wasn’t about to invite the rest.”

“No, I think that’s probably the best call,” Amaranth said, still quite agitated . “Ordinarily, I would think it’s better to err on the side of inclusiveness and… well, I would have liked it if we could have just invited the whole floor, actually, but I don’t think that would have turned out very well.”

On an impulse, I set my book bag down and hurried over to her side, pressing myself against her with a hug.

“Oh, thank you, baby,” Amaranth said, returning the squeeze. “It just bothers me so much that we can’t just… I mean, I know some people will like each other’s company more than others, but I wish we could count on everybody being able to put their differences aside to celebrate one of their fellow being’s existence for a few hours one evening.”

“It’s a sad state, sure,” Hazel said, nodding. “But it’s the way of the world. Even in the shire, with nothing but gnomenkind, there’s a lot of ‘this lot doesn’t mix with that lot’. I got it from both sides, because my mother was the proper sort and my father rode the river. Folks didn’t know what to do with a girl who knew how to curtsy and swim.”

“So, what do we have to do to get ready?” I asked, not knowing what to say to that.

“Not a whole lot, really,” Amaranth said. “All of the serving stuff and the decorations have already been stowed over there. Steff’s going to come over and help us get the rest of the food over and start decorating at around seven, and then we just have to wait for Dee to bring her.”

“It should be a good crowd, if a bit on the small side,” Hazel said. “It turns out our Twofer is pretty well-liked in the cooking class. I told the folks that they don’t need to bring anything but themselves, since they’re more on the order of casual acquaintances, but I thought it would do her some good to see a load of friendly faces.”

“Celia said she might come,” Amaranth said. “But she’s a little… um…”

“Flaky?” I suggested.

“I guess, yeah,” Amaranth said. “But, Kyle’s confirmed. How about Ian?”

Oh.

Right.

“Uh…”

“Baby!” Amaranth said.

“I forgot,” I said. “We made this plan and then… all that stuff happened, and I’ve hardly seen him, and anyway, it’s not like he and Two are best friends, right?”

“No, but they are getting along better,” Amaranth said. “How’s he going to feel if he finds out he was excluded from this? And what’s Two going to think if all her friends are there and Ian isn’t?”

“I’ll go ask him,” I said, picking up my bag and heading for my room.

I get him in the mirror and explained the whole thing to him.

“It’s a little bit late to get a present,” he said.

“Yeah, sorry,” I said. “But you wouldn’t be the only one… and anyway, I got a couple things, so we can put both our names on them, right?”

“I don’t know… co-gifting is kind of a big step, Mackenzie,” he said.

“Um, you’re fucking with me, there, right?”

“Yeah,” he said. “But, seriously, I’m not sure how I’d feel about that, since I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

“You can pay for half if you want,” I said.

“So generous,” he said. “But, seriously, it’s the principle… I mean, I assume you’re not just talking about a gift card, right? You picked something out for her. I don’t know her that well.”

“Right, so if we’d gone shopping together you’d probably have just listened to me,” I said. “So, really…”

“It’s the principle of the thing,” he said. “If I put my name on it, it’s like saying ‘I did this. I contributed.'”

“This is kind of a random thing to care about,” I said.

“Not really,” he said. “I used to want to be a musician when I grew up.”

“Huh?”

“There have been some pretty fierce battles fought over the credits on songs,” he said. “People getting their names left off of their work, other people using their influence and position to get their names on things they have no real claim to…”

“Well, okay, how about this? The one big expensive cookbook I got will be from me, the two cheesy books of activities will be from us,” I said. “Or one can be from me and the other from you.”

“It’s still the same problem whether it’s a big book or a cheap little one,” Ian said.

“I’m trying to compromise here,” I said.

“It’s a principle, though,” he said. “You don’t compromise a principle.”

“But it isn’t a song,” I said. “I’m not going to be earning royalties on the presents I give.”

“Most musicians never make a lot of money off their work,” Ian said. “That’s what makes the credit all the more important.”

“Yeah, but…”

“I’ll go to the campus bookstore and find something,” he said.

“Like you’re going to find anything good there,” I said.

“I’d rather show up with something crappy that I picked out for myself than show up empty-handed or take credit where it’s not due,” he said. “Don’t look at me like that.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“Like I’ve got some insane aversion to having my name put on the card for something I didn’t buy,” he said. “I do, but that’s no excuse for the look.”

“Ooh, card,” I said. “I knew I forgot something.”

“Maybe we should go to the bookstore together, then,” he said.

“Do they sell cards there?” I asked. I knew that in addition to school books and academic supplies, they carried a bunch of sundries and staples that students might need in the course of a week, like hygiene stuff and headache drops.

“They’ve got a small selection for slackers like you who wait to the last minute and people like me who don’t find out until the last minute because of slackers like you,” he said. “When is the deal?”

“Seven-thirty.”

“Harlowe?”

“The student union,” I said. “The party room.”

“There’s a party room?”

“Game room, whatever,” I said.

“That might be a little crowded,” he said.

“I think it’ll be okay,” I said. “We invited everybody we could think of, but that’s not a lot of people.”

“Yeah, but there tends to be some people in there every night, playing cards or darts,” Ian said. “Not that you don’t have a right to use it, too, but I could see it getting uncomfortable.”

“Oh, it’s okay,” I said. “Amaranth reserved it.”

“Huh,” he said, raising his eyebrows.

“What?” I asked.

“I didn’t realize you could.”

“Apparently,” I said.

“And you don’t see that leading to trouble?” he asked.

“Well, no, I think the idea was to avoid trouble,” I said. “I’m sure the people who use it most often are aware that it can be reserved and keep an eye on the sign-up sheet so they know when something’s going to be going on.”

“Oh, yeah,” he said sarcastically. “I’m sure you’re right.”

“Don’t give me that look,” I said.

“What look?”

“The one like I just said something horribly naive and disaster-inviting,” I said.

He laughed.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “The campus guard station is in back of the union, so I don’t think there will be any bloodshed, anyway. Should I grab dinner first?”

“Hazel’s providing snacks.”

“Is that a no, then?”

“Have you ever seen a shireling snack?” I asked.

“That’s a no,” he said.

“If you want to come over here around seven, you can help carry stuff,” I said. “And then we can go pick out our cards.”

“You really know how to make a guy feel included,” he said. “I’ll see you then, then.”

“Okay,” I said. “Love you.”

“Love you, too.”


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5 Responses to “332: Where Credit Is Due”

  1. Greyman says:

    Magisterius University, A History… Hah!

    Current score: 6
    • Daezed says:

      I wonder if Amaranth has read it already…? I didn’t think about it until now, but skew does kind of remind me of another favorite young wizardess… 😀

      Current score: 3
      • Wolff says:

        Imagining Steff as Ron Weasley (to complete the group) was a hilarious mental picture. Thank you for that.

        Current score: 4
  2. Lunchbox says:

    amaranth just doesn’t have to worry about the insanely bushy hair

    Current score: 0
    • Jechtael says:

      Well, her hair IS unmanageable. It just happens to be unnecessary to manage it, as well as impossible.

      I wonder if an unbreakable chain would count as a magic weapon for the purposes of school policy. And how expensive it would be to get a staff upgraded solely with unbreakability, or to upgrade a staff with unbreakability (or rather, “effective unbreakability”, since making a staff that’s truly unbreakable would probably require upgrading the universe from 3.0 to a version of the rules where the staff inherently cannot be broken).

      Current score: 2