I do not own Code: Lyoko. Nor do I own LTT (Let's Talk Tech) or Lyokofreak.
The Lyoko Chronicles Book I:
The Lost Tower
Chapter I: In Which Introductions Are Made
Log of Jeremie Belpois. Kadiccastle, Libancourt. Wizard apprentice. October 9th, Year of Our Lord 2004
A few weeks ago, I was pulled back into our universe while traveling through AE-Space. At first, I had no idea where I had ended up, but I stumbled upon an abandoned castle. (An analysis spell told me it was on the border of Libancourt and the Northern Kingdom.) Anyways, there was no way I'd be able to get back through AE-Space, since the castle seemed to prevent me from moving past it, so I was looking for an alternative way to get home. However, I was distracted in the endeavor by my own curiosity about the signature of a keystone in the castle. Thus, I did get home past curfew, hence the unfortunate delay in returning. (Magistra was most severe in her punishments, but it was not undeserved.) I do not mind; I was more than rewarded for my investigation with a prize I would clean a hundred stables for! I found a fully-equipped torr full of devices of multifarious purposes (some of which I have yet to discover—I hope that my return trip will shed light upon the matter), and a keystone that, though I have recently identified it as dormant, was nevertheless awe-inspiring in power. Because of the possibly volatile nature of subject, I have yet to share this discovery with anyone until I have investigated this further…
Castle Unies, Préselva, Lyoko-Libancourt Borderlands, October 9th, Annos Domini 2004
Jeremie gazed into the chamber of the great tower-device, his heart pounding—playing with things like keystones and mysterious genius loci could have disastrous consequences. And yet… 'Sometimes the only way to further one's knowledge is through direct experimentation.' The quote by the eminent 19th–century Master of Magick rang through his mind yet again. Damn you, Tesla.
He entered the chamber, and walked over to the rising tower. Looking up, he realized it towered at least two good Ells over himself, and once again was reminded of its imposing presence. Now, how to wake it? Scrutinizing the surface, he noticed a spot on the smooth façade marred by fingerprints. Ah. Willing his magick to his fingers, he reached out to wake the sleeping crystal. As his fingertips made contact with the chilled metal surface, he muttered, "I hope that I'm not going to regret this in a moment…" Seemingly at the sound of his voice, the towering behemoth lit up and before the surprised young wizard could draw his hand away, he was sucked into yet another swirling vortex to locations unknown…
Yet Another Location Unknown, October 9th, Annos Domini 2004
Jeremie hit the stone floor with a thud, groaning and cursing his tempting fate. While wondering what it was about him that made him so prone to being sucked up in random magical vortexes, he looked around the room in which he had manifested.
Despite that the only illumination was the dim light of dawn, the architecture that surrounded him was much lighter than that of the chamber he had been in previously. With large windows and warm tapestries lining the walls, it was clearly residential. A quick glance outside told him that the chamber was on an upper story of a simple though abnormally tall bailey on a mott; with no palisade or curtain walls it was plain to the scholar that this castle was not intended to withstand a siege. No waterworks surrounded it, and it was tightly surrounded by a forest of tall trees that stretched as far as Jeremie could see in all directions. Where am I?
A sharp intake of breath from directly behind him drew his attention from the impressive sylvan scenery and that tenaciously ever-reviving question. He wasn't alone. Jeremie scanned the room for the source of the sound, and suddenly saw that on the seat of the bay window opposite him a sleeping girl was stirring.
She was curiously dressed, perhaps even immodestly so, with a tunic and leggings, and her hair uncovered; thus he modestly averted his eyes to allow her to keep hers. However, in his periphery vision he watched her—he had heard horror stories enough to know never to take one's eyes off an unknown quantity—roll over in her half-sleep into the fading moonlight; under its silvery glaze her pink hair gl—Wait a moment. PINK! Jeremie whipped his head around, disbelieving his own eyes. But as he scrutinized her through the darkness, he realized that her red hair was not as red as he had assumed; indeed, it had been darkened by lingering night-shadow…and was, in fact, pink. Then, searching for other abnormalities that might indicate his location, he noticed that she had pointed ears. The respectively unusual colour and shape told him that this was an elf. That would explain the… unusual garb; elves had different standards of modesty and dress than humans, and therefore she should not be offended to be looked on in what by human standards would be male clothing.
Then a fading moonbeam shifted on her face, and he, catching sight of a sparkle on her nose, stared; there were cobwebs all over her! "What in Endor…?"
His muttered invocation roused the restlessly sleeping girl and she jolted awake with a start. Her eyes locked onto Jeremie—it struck the owl-eyed apprentice as remarkable how vividly green they were even in the gloom—and asked, "Who…who are you? Where am I?"
"Huh?" She looked on worriedly as Jeremie's stunned look turned from astonishment to perturbed shock.
Kadiccastle, Libancourt, October 10th, Annos Domini 2004
"Sir Morales, have you seen my 'prentice?" The addressed knight looked behind him, vaguely surprised to see the gray-haired Lady who had addressed him look so tense. Then, it computed in him what she had just asked, and stared. Why did she have to him for help when it was usually he who needed the help finding someone? Moreover, why couldn't she find him herself? The boy usually was sequestered in the library…
"No, Lady Hertz, I have not seen Belpois since last night in the Great Hall." It was normal, really; wizards and warriors of any sort seldom associated. Besides, it was hardly the first time the over-inquisitive apprentice had wandered off… Irritatedly, he recalled the last time the curious youth had gone missing, when the young wizard had sneaked out of the castle and gotten caught in a fairy ring. It still irked the Captain that the normally orderly castle had descended into pandemonium searching for one slight, if extremely valuable, lad of merchant's stock.
"Neither have I." The wizard's response was clearly troubled, as she added, "Nor can I Trace him." Jim stared; he knew that it was nigh impossible for the apprentice wizard to avoid his master's Trace.
"So…that means he's dead?" Lady Hertz tensed for a moment, before shaking her head.
"No—I would know. That magick runs on a different spell entirely." The Spaniard nodded, relieved that the bright young wizard was probably still alive. Still… The Lady was probably the most unflappable person in the land; what she found unsettling usually was more befitting of panic… He felt a chill travel up his spine. His Soldier's Instincts were acting up… is eyes narrowed, considering that, come to think of it, no one had reported seeing the younger wizard since the night before…
Back to business. "So…what do ye think I can do about it?"
"Well, since magick has failed, I would like you to arrange a search party. It is improbable, but there is the possibility that he has been trapped in a location where the trace cannot respond."
Jim nodded, suddenly understanding—while uncommon, it wasn't unheard of for wizard apprentices to be kidnapped by rival kingdoms. "Aye, Lady Hertz, I'll organize a party as soon as I've spake with my squire—he seemed to be looking forward to learning the Achillean Technique today, and I do not want him wasting our time with his sulking…" Sir Morales broke off; he was rambling…
Lady Hertz didn't seem to take it against him. "Thank you, Jim," the worried woman simply replied, and vanished.
Great Hall, Kadiccastle, Libancourt, October 10th, Annos Domini 2004
As the bells tolled eight, a slight boy in a purple cloak approached a squire in green and tawny who was standing against the far wall of the Great Hall. "Pardon me, squire," he began awkwardly, stumbling, with a thick, Northern accent, over the formal Court dialect of Vulgar, "are ye Ulrich Stern?"
The green page looked over the newcomer. "…Aye," he said, "Who wants to know?"
Suddenly, purple-clad blonde dropped all pretense of formality, loudly proclaimed (more fluidly, Ulrich noted, in the Soldier's 'lect), "I, Oddbjorn Della Robbia of Normandy, his spotter, does!"
"What!" the normally stoic ex-page stuttered, before regaining his composure. "Since when?"
"Since this morn's sunrise prayer, apparently, when I was approached by the King himself and assigned to be your cover archer… Took a while to find you, y'see," he explained.
Ulrich mentally groaned; whether or not this archer (though that seemed strange, given that he could be no older than himself), knew it, this had to be his father's doing—one more of his attempts to preserve—or rather, control—the life of his oft-flaunted "perfect heir". If he had been assigned by the king, then that probably meant that the king was in on this too, and if the king was in on it, then that would make this a tri-national affair—Alemaigne, Normandy, and now Libancourt—so there was no way out of it, lest he start a war. This strange… stranger was to follow him around for most of his waking hours! Furtively, Ulrich searched his mind for a reasonable protest, before finally settling on…
"I don't need a cover," he protested lamely. The blonde before him grinned, exposing momentarily what seemed to be a canine filed to a point. Ulrich didn't have to think about this for long.
"That's not what that arm of yours tells me," the archer countered, pointing to Ulrich's left arm, which had been exposed in its bearer's previous outburst. Self-consciously, Ulrich pulled down at his tunic's elbow-length sleeve, futilely trying to hide the freshly healed arrow-wounds that marred either side of his arm, and turned further against the wall.
The spotter looked on sagely, victorious. Defensively, Ulrich said, "Don't ask."
"Wasn't going to," the archer said, though his inquiring expression told Ulrich otherwise. "Ye may call me Odd."
Before Ulrich could properly voice the obligatory quip, a black-haired girl in noble garb interrupted him. "Oh, there you are Esquire Stern!"
Stern stifled a groan. "Miss Delmas," he greeted—Odd's sharp ears picked up the long-suffering hidden in his voice—and gestured to Odd, who bowed. "Della Robbia, my…archer."
"Greetings," the Princess of Libancourt said briskly, and then turned back to Ulrich, a sickly sweet tone audibly manifesting in her voice. "Listen, Esquire Stern, I have something important to tell you…"
"Let me see…you lost your best hennin?" Ulrich asked flatly.
Elizabeth shook her head, the cynicism lost on her. "God forbid! No, no, nothing so tragic as that. I merely wish to tell you something important about you and me. However, I cannot tell you here—much to public," she said, glancing meaningfully at Odd. "I pray thee be so kind as to meet me by the north tower after Vespers?" Before Ulrich could answer, she flounced off—civilians, even if of noble birth, were not permitted in the Great Hall while Lady Hertz was briefing the men-at-arms of the castle on the innumerable and oft-unpronounceable word-keys to the castle's defenses.
As Ulrich let out the breath he had been unknowingly holding, Odd watched after the princess, amused. "'I pray thee' relate me who's the lass?"
Ulrich pinched the bridge of his nose, still irritated. "Elizabeth Delmas, the heir apparent to the king. Sometimes, she forgets that she isn't queen yet, and is still a petty royal pain."
"'Tis a good thing, then, that we be of lesser nobility," he observed, voice full of mirth. Before the green squire could reply, they were interrupted by the Gray Lady's voice cracking the morning air.
Yet Another Location Unknown, October 10th, Annos Domini 2004
Jeremie spent the rest of the night in a deep meditation, fruitlessly Sensing AE-Space for any of the anomalies that had led to his presence there, interspersed with answering the elf's questions as they came. Who he was, what he was doing here, where they were—after ascertaining their location with a quick analysis spell, of course—and that no, he did not know who she was; and that they looked different because they were not of the same species, and so forth. At last, the inquisitive dwarf-kin had fallen silent, deep in thought, as though suddenly remembering something that she could not quite grasp before, and Jeremie had breathed a sigh of relief, somewhat exhausted from her ceaseless inquisition (though she probably had not intended to do so, so he couldn't begrudge her).
At last, with the dawn's breaking light, Jeremie had excused himself, saying he needed to return to Unies, the castle that had brought him there, to investigate why he had been brought there, among other things. The elf had asked him if he must leave—that she appreciated the company—but Jeremie had assured her that, though he did not know how to transport more than one person, as soon as he crossed through the portal he would maintain contact through Thought-Willing.
Now, he was about to do just that. Sitting down in the chair before the device with the mirrors, which he could only assume were tangible extensions of the keystone three floors below that could be used to interact with people within its domain or properly manipulate Artefact, he Thought, Elf, can you hear me?
"Gyah!" To his astonishment, the elf's face had appeared in the spyglass in front of him! In shock, Jeremie pushed backwards against the table-piece; the stool he was sitting on toppled over, and he found himself supine on the floor.
The elf herself looked more confused than alarmed, but extremely puzzled at Jeremie's rather skittish reaction to her appearance, and though bemused, nonetheless repeated what she had just said aloud. "Yes, Jeremie, I can hear you. I apologize for startling you…" Jeremie mildly glared at her, acutely feeling a headache develop…
Inner Ward, Kadiccastle, Libancourt, October 10th, Annos Domini 2004
Stepping out into the sunlight, Ulrich nervously began re-adjusting his left sleeve, attempting to hide the arrow-marks. Odd stopped him. "Fear not—I've seen worse."
Ulrich rolled his eyes. "You're jesting. That thing nearly took my arm off!"
"Exactly why you need me," pointed out Odd, bringing the duo back to the original point of debate. "Prevention is worth a pound of cure." Ulrich looked skeptical, and Odd glared. "I'm serious! Me father's a berserker!" He paused for a moment, and shrugged. "…He wanted me to be one, too—it didn't work out."
"Too small for the position, ha?"
Odd shook his head. "Nay. I'm not small, I'm compact! But small…yea, maybe a little. Comes from my mother's side. But that's not what made it not work out—I could've gained some weight on good, hearty northern fare." The Norman-Vik's voice took on a note of longing at the thought of his native food.
The Viking scion looked so dejected—at the lost opportunity, the lost food, or what?—Ulrich had to ask. "So, what stopped you?"
The quirky quiver-bearer sighed and promised, "I'll tell you that later."
"Does it have something to do with that cloak you are wearing?"
"Aye. I'd have to show you for you to understand."
Awkwardly, Ulrich said, "I'll have to take you up on that later; I'm supposed to meet my master this morning."
Odd nodded disappointedly, before suddenly—hope springing eternal—asking, "I have nothing to do since the King gave me the day to acquaint myself with the castle, so may I come?"
Ulrich eyed him for some ulterior motive. "Sure," he said at last; after all, his master didn't want him there, he could just send him away…
Castle Unies, Lyoko Borderlands, October 10th, Annos Domini 2004
"Alright, Elf, I'm back," Jeremie announced, again perching on the stool after three enlightening Roman Hours of doing analysis spells throughout the torr in an effort to discern its purpose, among other things.
The elfin maiden's face appeared in the looking-glass. "Hello, Jeremie. Have you succeeded in finding whatever answers you sought?"
"Close enough, Elf," Jeremie replied.
The Elf smiled slightly, before requesting good-naturedly, "Please, would you mind calling me by some other name than my species?"
Jeremie bit his lip. "I don't know; I am horrible at names," he admitted. He had learned that lesson all too well in the "Felix Incident".
"You still know more about naming than I do," she encouraged, misinterpreting his hesitation as trepidation rather than misgivings.
Jeremie sighed—she had a point there; the extent of her knowledge was highly selective—source amnesia did not even begin to cover its extent. "…Sure. What would you rather be called?"
"Must I state the obvious? I don't know."
"No way to get out of it, huh? How about…Aetai?"
She rolled her eyes. "I doubt 'girl' would be a legitimate name."
Jeremie shrugged awkwardly. "I told you I'm bad with names," he reminded the elf, who nodded. "Um…how about…Iphegenia?"
"Taken, and she died, remember?"
Jeremie grimaced—he had never liked that ending to the old myth. "Oh…good point." How does she know that myth? It is hardly a common tale at best, and she doesn't even know her own name! That, however, gave him an idea… His face took on an impish bearing. "How about Circe? Or does Calypso better suit your fancy?"
She glared at him disgustedly. "Surely you jest!" she objected formally (Jeremie made a mental note to ask her how she had come to speak fluently in the Court-lect when the writings he had read on the subject of languages had noted that elves usually would speak only in Standard or Scholastic Vulgar, if at all).
Dialectical dilemmas aside, her expression was most amusing; Jeremie chuckled. "You're right; I was merely testing you. I wouldn't seriously dub you for either of those incestuous adulteresses."
"You'd better not," she threatened. But Jeremie could hear the laughter in her voice. "Let's stay away from ancient history, shall we?"
Jeremie nodded, but lightly quipped, "So Hecate and Morrigan are out?"
The elf giggled slightly, and then gathered her composure. "'Aetai' almost sounds decent after those," she said seriously.
"All right." Jeremie, too, looked thoughtful; perhaps the nameless elf-maid felt more comfortable with a name out of her own tongue? How could I have missed it? "So…an elf name? How about… Maia?"
"Best name you've come up with so far," the elf observed, nodding. "It will do. Now, about your findings?"
"Well, to start the place you are located in is—or was—called the Kingdom of Lyoko. However, it has been uninhabited for the past decade; this dome prevents sentient beings over a certain level of intellect from entering or leaving the kingdom," Jeremie reported, returning to fishing through the data that was flickering over the surfaces of the glass tabulae almost faster than he could read.
The elf-girl now dubbed "Maia" observed frankly, "You got through it." The question behind her words she left unsaid.
Equally bemused, Jeremie nodded, adjusting his spectacles. "I know, but I didn't intend to. Queer, is it not? I can only guess that that was a response to the keystone's activation."
"Possibly," Maia agreed, nodding. "But it does prove that the barrier can be passed."
Jeremie smiled slightly, savoring having the chance to discuss matters of Magick with an equal—it was not every day that he met someone who could keep up with him on matters of Magick, before replying. "Yes, it does, but…" he trailed off, glancing to the right of the pane. He blinked, and fervently scanned through the lines of text again. Elf, who had held her silence while he searched the surrounding lines for any more pertinent information, looked at him expectantly. "The keystone has come up with an answer to my Query about the permeability of the barrier," Jeremie explained, then paused, hesitating.
The Elf lifted an eyebrow, intrigued. "Well?" she pressed after a beat.
Jeremie sighed; some of what he had to say was not news he would have wanted to tell anyone. "There is both good news and bad news. Which would you like to hear first?"
The green-eyed girl was weighing her options; Jeremie could see it in her expression. Finally, after several moment's deliberation—during which Jeremie belatedly wondered if she knew enough of herself and the world to make a decision where there was no right answer, before concluding that it would therefore be quite indicative to her true nature—through whatever process of logic elves used, she looked up, resolute. "The good news first…" she directed…
Ah. An optimist, Jeremie thought…
"…Lest we forget it in lieu of the bad."
…Jeremie revised his opinion. She was not so much optimistic as conscientious. Prudent. Perhaps an optimist, if not blindly so… Psychoanalysis comes later, Jeremie, he reminded himself; Elves go by different rules than what we have studied so far. He nodded, adding that thought to the mental notes—or list—of topics he would have to research when he had the opportunity, and said, "Alright. The good news is that there is a regular way of intentionally bypassing the barrier… I didn't use it."
Maia nodded, encouraging him to elaborate. Therefore, Jeremie took a breath—this was going to be a while—and began, "The tubes in the story below me are apparently the tangible-world extensions of Magick-wrought tunnels through AE-Space. At the right keyword, anyone who enters them is brought to the coordinates indicated on this chart"—he indicated to the chart that dominated the other half of the pane the elf was looking through. Jeremie quickly dropped his finger, realizing that though she was trying to follow his finger, the feat was impossible from her vantage point. "Sorry. Anyways, depending on the right codes and keys, we could presumably send—or remove—anyone to any place in Lyoko."
The elf looked thoughtful; this was only natural—or so Jeremie hypothesized, considering how dearly the whole matter concerned her quality of life. "That is interesting, Jeremie. From what you are saying, could I not use it to visit your side?" Jeremie noted, slightly concerned and confused, how she had so unconsciously used the word "visit" rather than "go to" or "leave this place". Did she really want to be alone there? The surveillance spells had not detected any other sentient life-forms there. Did she not want to leave?
…Maybe not; she did not seem to comprehend the risks of being entirely alone in Lyoko. Perhaps she would see the implications of her isolation once he told her… "That's just the thing. You cannot leave the dome; you are, somehow, by some Magick I cannot even beginto describe the power of, bound to the land. You are trapped. At least, for now."
The elf looked at him quizzically, then philosophized, "One can only be trapped if one wants to leave one's location, Jeremie. This seems like a pleasant place so far. And even if there are no others here, surely if you visit me, I won't be lonely. So why would I want to leave?" It all sounded so clear. So rational. And yet, her words…
…told Jeremie that she had no idea what the fact that she was all alone—aside from him—meant for her chances of survival. Jeremie readjusted his glasses, and began to list. "Well, for one, Maia, you have limited access to food there, at best. And what if you need help? Medical assistance or something. No one can help you if you are being mauled by a bear if you aren't in hearing range…" He trailed off, hearing a grumble; he and Maia both followed the sound to its source. Then, Jeremie chuckled, relieved. "Why Maia, I believe you are hungry."
Maia tilted her head to the side curiously. "So that is what that feeling is… Is it bad?"
Jeremie looked concerned. "Not necessarily. It tells you your body needs food—nutrients, sustenance to keep it going. How long have you felt it?"
"Since I woke up, Jeremie. I didn't realize it was a…warning."
Jeremie narrowed his eyes. "You need to eat." He paused, then said, "I'll go back and get something from the kitchens at Kadiccastle—the place where I came from. I apologize, but I cannot take you with me as of yet. I don't know how to transport more than one person yet."
The green-eyed elf blinked owlishly. "Ah. I thank you for your consideration, but I wasn't going to ask." She Willed him a vision, and Jeremie followed through her gaze to the massive bookshelf filled with old tomes sitting against the wall. "I think I will be plenty occupied with what is here." The scholar nodded, slightly jealous—he was certain he had spied a copy of Surface Loci there… His reasons for not leaving was interrupted with an impatient gurgle reminding that Maia was not the only one who had neglected to eat for some time. With that thought, he opened a portal into passage to the kitchens.
Library, Kadiccastle, Libancourt, October 10th, Annos Domini 2004
The halls echoed as two young nobles skidded into the library and, with a clamorous shout, nearly crashed into the Friar. The merry old monk chuckled, long-since used to the antics of the older pages-younger squires, and cautioned them, "'There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens,' Ecclesiastes 3, verso 1," before making his way out through the portal they had just entered, passing by the bulky form of a certain knight. "I found your squire, sir," he said, gesturing over to the terrible duo, and then whispered conspiratorially, though loud enough so that they may hear, "I believe he and his friend thought they were going to be late."
Sir Morales quirked an eyebrow, amused. "Ah. Thank you, Father."
With a jaunty tip of his cap unbefitting of his age, the jolly old Man-of-God, still chuckling, entered the long hallway in the direction of the chapel.
As the chuckling faded like incense in a towering cathedral, the Perpetual Knight surprised a chuckle of his own. He had always liked that old coot, even if he did beat him over the head with the Testaments for interrupting him in the hearing of someone's confession that one time… Crazy giant beaver.
Reassembling his composed "Captain-of-the-Guards" face, he loomed over the two lads, who froze, stupefied—they had been expecting some dreadful punishment for causing poor Sister Cornelia-Pia's to start wheezing again; she never could stand loud noises well. Yago snorted—they would be right if they had the time. Then, he held out his hand. "Oddbjorn Della Robbia of Normandy, I presume? I am Sir Yago Nonius Morales de Mérida the Tenth." He stared fiercely at the young archer. "You shall call me Sir Morales."
A bright nod—no fear there, anymore—and an exuberant handshake. "Call me Odd! I-" His mouth was clamped shut by a well-timed hand.
"Shh! We're in a library," Ulrich hissed, before apologizing, "Sorry, Sir. Er…what were we going to be doing in the library?"
Jim shook his head. "Think nothing of it. We were going to work on strategies, but we haven't the time. Come on," he gestured to the doorway, and set off.
The two youngsters looked at each other questioningly for a moment—during which, Ulrich wiped Odd's saliva on his cloak—before taking off after the larger soldier.
Corridors, Kadiccastle, Libancourt, October 10th, Annos Domini 2004
"What's the emergency, Sir?" Ulrich asked breathily, trying to keep up with the large man's steadily swift pace.
"Jeremie Belpois has gone missing," the knight explained, choosing at random a curtain and pulling it aside to investigate the garderobe it concealed.
"The Wizard-apprentice?" Ulrich asked, disbelieving his ears; the older pages had sworn that he never left the library, even for meals!
"Who're ye talking about?" Odd, in the dark, asked, hoping for an explanation.
Jim ignored him. "Yes, Squire Stern. The very one." Ulrich stared, comprehension suddenly dawning on him as to why Lady Hertz had seemed a bit…frazzled…that morning.
"Wait. So your Wizard Apprentice has gone missing?" Odd gathered.
This time, Ulrich answered. "Yes; you haven't met him yet, obviously."
"But ye have—so you two can just go and look. Good thing Delmas assigned you a partner, Ulrich; I was getting tired of assigning you to search parties. Just keep searching this story," the Knight instructed, leaving them to hunt.
First Floor Corridor, Kadiccastle, Libancourt, October 10th, Annos Domini 2004
"This is weird. I mean, how do you lose a wizard?" Odd asked for what seemed to Ulrich the thousandth time as they wandered down the halls and corridors of the ward.
Ulrich by this point was more than annoyed with the repeated inquiry. Therefore, he gave back the answer he had given the last nine-hundred-ninety-eight. "Very easily. He's not here—next room."
Odd scoffed, following the squire out of the storage room. "Come on, ye got to be more creative than that!" Suddenly, he dodged to the side, narrowly avoiding crashing into a grim-faced young lady who must have been of an ambassadorial family from one of the Oriental nations. Peeling himself away from the wall, he sniffed the air. "Hei, Ulrich! How far are we from the kitchens?"
Ulrich pointed to their left. "That way. We'll look there next…" He trailed off, suddenly hearing a sharp whooshing sound. He looked around, and saw a perfectly round portal of pale blue open to expose a pure white space in the wall behind them. "What the…?" He trailed off, as a towheaded boy awkwardly fell—rather, floated horizontally out of the hole—and then dropped down, yelping upon hitting the hard stone.
As he recovered, Odd asked Ulrich, "Am I right in guessing that that is he?"
After a moment—this would be the first time the solemn young squire had seen the Wizard's apprentice up close—Ulrich nodded. "Aye."
Odd grinned. "Well, that was convenient! And right near the kitchens too… Now that we found him, shall we get something to eat?"
Ulrich grabbed the archer's hood, shaking his head. "Nay; we really should report back to Sir Morales first…"
"Actually," an astute voice said, "I was heading to the kitchens myself." The standing duo turned to face the speaker, who looked vaguely irritated that he was being spoken of as if he wasn't present.
Ulrich hesitated, distracted by the wizard's interruption, but the archer pulled his cloak out of his grasp and smiled. "Brilliant! My apologies, squire, but ye are outvoted—to the kitchens it is. For us, anyways; you can go and report to Jim but some of us are hungry! If you need us, me and what's-his-name-"
"It's 'Jeremie and I'," Jeremie interjected, and turned, walking briskly in the direction of the kitchen doors.
Odd bristled, and repeated, this time emphasizing the precorrected subject, "Me and Jeremie will be raiding the spence!"
Before Ulrich could protest, there was a yelp; before the two young soldiers' eyes, the once-missing wizard, his hand on the handle of the heavy oak kitchen door, was suddenly struck by what had to be lightning. He hit the ground, stunned, his spectacles askew.
It had only taken a second; it took two for the duo to compute what they had just witnessed. Then…
"Belpois!" Ulrich ran over to the body, Odd hot on his heels. Odd looked silently on as the close combatant checked the wizard's pulse. "He's alive," Ulrich reported, "I'll take him to the infirmary; go tell Sir." Odd merely nodded, his stomach for once the last thing on his mind, and dashed off.
Hospital, Kadiccastle, Libancourt, October 10th, Annos Domini 2004
"You will live," Sister Perraduin decided, bemused at why (in Heaven's Name) the child in front of her had been struck by lightning not just indoors but inside a castle with an ell of stone on all sides. The wizard in front of her seemed to be thinking along the same lines; in vain, she reiterated, "'Tis naught but a shock, but it still left minor burns. I'll prepare a poultice."
"Not what I'd call being struck by lightning," Ulrich observed dryly as the Sister on Duty strode over to the dispensary, out of hearing range. He laid a hand upon Jeremie's shoulder, drawing the young wizard out of the trance-like state of concentration he had been in, intently listening for something only he could hear. "You going to be okay getting back to your quarters?"
"Aye," the wayward apprentice said not ungratefully, less distracted; though he still seemed like he was searching for something (Ulrich could not imagine what; this so-called "wizardly behavior" was becoming quite disturbing), he at least was on the same plane of awareness. "Thank you."
"'Tis nothing, really," Ulrich assured—though both magus and miles were keenly aware that the latter had had no choice in the matter, that both the Code of Chivalry and the teachings of the Church would have forced him to help even if conscience hadn't pressed him to, neither thought it was appropriate to mention it. Then Ulrich, hearing the town church-bells chime six, got up from his seat and walked towards the threshold. "I'll come check up on you after my evening duties are completed," he said.
He received no answer, and, looking back, found the reason why: the Wizard was once again lost in agitated thought.
Infirmary, Kadiccastle, Libancourt, October 10th, Annos Domini 2004
Jeremie? The Mind-voice sounded far away. Nevertheless, Jeremie bolted upright; that was Maia!
I am here, Maia, he Thought back.
There are some strange creatures attacking me! This was much clearer, but it took Jeremie a few seconds to compute what had been said… Wait. What?
Irritably, he asked, Maia, where are you?
Outside, in the forest. I am hiding in a tree.
Jeremie groaned, suddenly realizing he had neglected to warn the naïve elf that the forest was a dangerous place. Maia, why are you in the forest?
I was reading about the local flora, and thought I had identified a tree near the tower that produces fruit good for eating. However, I could not be sure, so I went out to investigate.
Jeremie nodded; that made sense. Still… What kind of creatures?
I do not know—there was nothing like them in the texts…
Describe them, Jeremie instructed. He could feel the elf nod, assenting.
They are…earthen-like in colour and texture; round, but more oval-shaped in the back. They walk on thin legs without any kind of foot, and are smaller than me. They do not seem very intelligent—they have yet to look up. Suddenly, a Vision graced his Mind's Eye: obviously viewed from above, hidden by a thick tree branch, he watched as strange, sigil-marked hermit crab-like creatures ivory in colour circled the ground below like foxhounds that have lost their quarry's scent. That is not good, Jeremie thought, glad Maia had thought to send him a Vision.
And how were they attacking you?
They breathe fire, Jeremie! Jeremie's blood ran cold—those things could not be natural.
Nonetheless, Jeremie did not pursue the matter—this was not the time. Assuming for the time being that giant fire-breathing crab-golem-things were, contrary to his personal concerns, actually part of the natural ecosystem, he enquired, And these…creatures are the only ones attacking you?
I do not know about any others—I have yet to see any.
Oh.Of course she wouldn't have. With those things around, any sane animal would have left the area. Still, more pressing matters were at hand. Are you injured?
Yes, came the immediate response. Jeremie's mind raced. It makes sense…if Maia is hungry, then the creatures in the forest no doubt are famished… and Maia is as good a prey as any. Quag. He did not need to look into the implications further to know that she had gotten herself into a very tight spot…and here he was, unable to help. Maia, you have to get back to the tower!
A derisive huff. How? I clearly cannot go down… Jeremie heard her trail off; thinking. Then, she suddenly said, I have an idea, Jeremie. I am heading back to the tower.
Another Vision. Through her eyes, he saw the tree branch below her feet… the thick lower tree branch on the tree in front of her. The vision shook; she was running… down the length of the tapering tree branch…she was leaping…His heart stopped for a moment, then he saw slender hands catch the next, sturdy lower branch. For a moment, he caught sight of charred skin on one arm; then the Vision blurred momentarily; she was pulling herself up. She looked down—the things hadn't seen her, yet. She ran towards the trunk of the massive tree; she leaped over to another thick one angling to her right… She was looking around… The tower was no more than a Rod away… There were no trees large enough to sustain this mode of travel within leaping distance; hence, the elf ran down a side branch and leaped off it, hitting the ground with sure, felinesque footing, and resumed running towards the tower. This grabbed the insect-golems' attentions; Jeremie heard them pursuing the light-footed elf. Suddenly, a thin, long blade of flame blazed into Maia's peripheral vision; she glanced around for a moment, still dashing, allowing Jeremie the opportunity to see one of the creatures in the act of firing, the fire-shaft emitting from between the upper and lower parts, through a crack in the plate-armor. However, doing so slowed her momentarily; in that time, a glow from the side, one of the two others was about to attack…
The Vision turned to black, and Jeremie, panicking, started Calling out, Maia? Maia! Are you all right? It was futile, he knew—she was already injured, so it would be a lie to say she was in good condition, but… She cannot be dead. She can't…
After what seemed like a second eternity—but was really no more than five seconds—the elf's Mind-voice Thought again, I am in the tower, Jeremie.
Jeremie fell back against the headboard, sighing in relief. Maia, what happened? I thought you were dead!
I was in great pain, and needed all my attention to be on getting to the tower. I apologize for scaring you; I did not exactly have time to warn you.
Jeremie sighed; an odd combination of exasperation and relief tinged his Mind-Voice as he Thought, No need to apologize, Maia; I understand…
Thank you, Jeremie, the elf-girl Thought, before adding, If it is any comfort to you, I am healing—look. Before Jeremie could protest that he didn't need to see—he had never had the stomach for injuries, despite the wizardly requirement to heal the injured—the Vision manifested—specifically, one blackened forearm quickly paling away, smoothing out into the rest of the elf's skin, as though the burn had never been.
Jeremie didn't know enough of elf anatomy to know what to make of it. Maia, he thought, were you healing like this before, while in the tree?
No, Jeremie. Jeremie pondered this for a moment. It could be that she had not relaxed enough to heal before entering the tower… It could be that she could only relax enough to heal when in the safety of a tower…it could be the tower was healing her… Perhaps she could only heal indoors.
That made no sense. The great zoölogist Tusi himself would have turned in the tomb if he had heard that thought; only healing indoors would only be a detriment on an evolutionary scale, so it shouldn't be the case… To the library it is, then. I'll do some research on the matter, he reported; I will be back as soon as possible.
Thank you. With that, he knew the Communication was ended.
Now, he needed a plan. The first priority was the matter of food. The kitchens were out, but he always had some emergency supplies stored in his room and his kit…yes. He would stop by the dining hall if there was time, then go directly back to his room—inconspicuous enough, seeing as he is coming from the Medical Ward—and assemble those rations, and other equipment, and head out. He would tell Magistra Hertz that he had an experiment that needed monitoring, which in a way is true, so she would detect no fabrications in his alibi. She would not pry; it was not uncommon practice for Wizards—even apprentices—to keep secrets. Given that it would be rude at least and foolhardy at worst to interfere with any magical work, she would let him do what he must. That would buy him some time, though he would have no choice but to explain the whole situation to her at the next opportunity. He could return to do the research when the current crisis had lessened. He nodded to himself, calming somewhat.
Yes. That was what he would do. Now, he could relax—until Matron discharged him, of course.
Achillean Technique – based on the fleet-footed Achilles of Homeric myth, this is a technique developed by monks for knights to use. What it does? You will see.
Alemaigne – old name for Germany
Circe and Calypso – two sea-nymph-type characters who played parts in the Odyssey. The former turned Odysseus's crew into pigs (according to Homer) and bore Odysseus three sons (according to Hesiod); the latter attempted to make Odysseus her immortal husband, and may have borne him children. The former, according to poets other than the two named sources, was the truly incestuous one—however, given the convoluted genealogy of the Greek pantheon, Calypso too probably technically fits Jeremie's accusation.
Court/Court Dialect– see Vulgar
Dispensary – Technically, a room where something is dispensed, but in common provenance refers to a room designed for the dispensation of drugs, i.e. a pharmacy.
Ecclesiastes 3, verso 1: Full text: "There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens."
The Catholic Youth Bible, Revised. Rev. William M. Becker, S.T.D., et al. Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press. Print.
Friar – Middle English; a member of certain Christian orders of Religious, especially the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, and Augustinians. As it is derived from old French frere, itself derived from Latin frater, meaning "brother", it can only be appropriated to male Religious.
garderobe – Historically, the garderobe has had multiple meanings, especially in Romance languages; in several Germanic languages, for instance—and Spanish, oddly enough—it means cloakroom. Indeed, it is derived from Old French: garder ("to protect") + robe ("clothing"), indeed stating its original purpose as a closet. However, in medieval castles, in a twist of lexicon akin to that of the water closet, the closet-like space of the garderobe has been transferred euphemistically to the small chamber overhanging the outside that contained the hole, usually discharging into a cesspit or moat, that one would use as a toilet (Figure A). Thus, theoretically, one could use "I need to go to the garderobe" in a similar sense to one uses "I need to go to the bathroom"—both of which implying the need to use the privy by using the term for the room containing it instead.
According to Wikipedia, citing the medieval architecture scholar Frank Bottomley, garderobes were:
Properly, not a latrine or privy but a small room or large cupboard, usually adjoining the chamber or solar and providing safe-keeping for valuable clothes and other possessions of price: cloth, jewels, spices, plate and money.
\–\ \– 3
|–| |– 4
Key: 1) Wall; 2) Garderobe; 3) tunnel; 4) where the tunnel ends; 5) castle exterior wall again; 6) castle exterior wall and moat/cess pit.
genius loci – the guardian spirit of a place.
Hecate – chthonic Ancient Greek goddess best associated with witchcraft and magic; lunar lore; childbirth and nurturing the young; gates, walls, and doorways; torches; dogs; crossroads; the fringes—for she has indeed, according to Wikipedia, been observed as "more at home on the fringes than in the center of Greek polytheism…" On another level, according to some myths, Iphigenia was transformed to this goddess by Artemis rather than being sacrificed. Seldom in the early myths was she depicted with three heads, and in her original form was not a triple goddess. Her Roman equivalent is Trivia. In late antiquity and the early medieval period, she was conflated with Artemis/Diana.
Hennin – historically a Late Medieval headdress worn by women of the nobility, it is now the stereotypical "princess hat".
Iphigenia – The daughter of Agamemnon, sacrificed in order to appease Artemis, who, having been enraged by Agamemnon's sacrilege of slaying a sanctified deer and desecrating her sacred groves, so that the impatient armies of the Achaeans could set out for Troy after the angered goddess delayed their sailing from Aulis with plague and several windless months.
Sentence structure brought to you by Homer. Sorry; that was my idea of a "Latin Joke" (I hope that some of you will appreciate the irony). Homer's sentences are really that screwy unless one takes artistic license (and therefore corrupt the meaning) while polishing the translation. So I guess this really should be "Sentence structure brought to you by Direct-Translation-of-Homer-from-Latin Class", but it is far too long-winded (which is rich, coming from me) for my tastes.
Joking aside, this is really a great myth; one of my favorites out of Greek Mythology. Sad, bittersweet, perhaps reflecting a secret history of human sacrifice in Even-More-Ancient Greece, the whole story is much more complicated than what I have presented you with, but is, likewise, much more beautiful and tragic. I highly recommend people at least look it up on Wikipedia (search Iphigenia at Aulis) or, better yet, read the myth. If that's not your thing, there's this great movie version by Michael Cacoyannis that is by far my favorite media depiction of any part of the Trojan Saga. It is a European film, so it is longer and more dramatic than what American viewers are used to, but it is done beautifully—especially since it is done in Greece, even if not, as I have been led to believe, done on-site at the ruins of Aulis themselves. It is in many ways heart-wrenching, calling for the viewer to view most—if not all—of the characters in a sympathetic light, especially since it lends a level of dignity to ALL the characters, even giving a dynamic and complex character to the oft-bashed Agamemnon. Ergo, even with this small description, I can assure you it displays many of the finer qualities of Greek drama. (It beats Oedipus any day of the week, in my book.) I recommend it be watched in the original (native) Greek; non-Greek-speakers (such as myself) should just live with the subtitles, since the language of the region adds a level of depth to the piece that cannot be conveyed with Russell Crowe voiceovers. Trust me, it is not a pleasant film to watch—many of my classmates were disturbed or even depressed by it—but intellectually, emotionally, and in its own myriad of ways it is indeed a fine work of art.
Again, I apologize, this time digressing into a prosaic tirade about my favorite movies (which, funnily enough, I hadn't even liked for the same reasons stated above until I Wiki-ed the main character about halfway through—having a light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel really can help one's perspectives on things). Anyways, for anyone who has actually withstood my rambling annotations thus far, here's a hint: foreshadowing.
magus – Latin; nominative masculine singular adjective; magic, magical. Used as a noun, thus making it approximately "magic one" in this situation. (Note: an alternate translation would be the nominative masculine singular noun magus; however, I refrain from using that translation as it has derogatory connotations.)
Matron – The most senior nurse in a hospital or other medical facility.
miles – Latin; nominative masculine singular third declension noun; means soldier. During the Middle Ages, it actually became limited to reference to knights—the "only true soldiers" of the era.
Morrigan – Figure of Irish mythology that appears to have once been a goddess but is not explicitly stated as such. If she was, she was a goddess of battle, strife, and fertility. She appears to be a triple goddess, but this supposed nature is inconsistent and ambiguous. See Wikipedia for more info, but this probably will be irrelevant to the story. (My personal theory, however, is that she was several goddesses conflated, much like Hecate and Diana.)
Mott and bailey – a form of castle situated on a raised earthwork (the Motte) and surrounded by a courtyard (the bailey), typically enclosed by a palisade.
Normandy – Is NOT in France. It does exist, but NOT on the English Channel.
This is my reasoning:
According to Wikipedia:
The Vikings started to raid the Seine Valley during the middle of 9th century. After attacking and destroying monasteries, including one at Jumieges, they took advantage of the power vacuum created by the disintegration of Charlemagne's empire to take northern France. The fiefdom of Normandy was created for the Viking leader Rollo (also known as Robert of Normandy). Rollo had besieged Paris but in 911 entered vassalage to the king of the West Franks, Charles the Simple, through the Treaty of Saint Clair-sur-Epte. In exchange for his homage and fealty, Rollo legally gained the territory which he and his Viking allies had previously conquered. The name "Normandy" reflects Rollo's Viking (i.e. "Northman") origins.
Now, in this timeline, the coast of France is far less convenient for Viking settlement because Doggerland is in the way. Yes, the English Channel still survives in this timeline, going all the way through to the North Sea—but the North Sea is more of a bay in the Arctic Ocean, the channel is more of a series of interconnected two-way firths (which is troublesome, but more than manageable to the viking raiders—it is those who want to stay in constant contact with their homeland, their settlers, that have issues with the potentially dangerous whirlpools the Channel is prone to.
However, because there is more ice, and Scandinavia's inland is at best a polar desert (in the lowlands) and ice-locked (in the highlands), the Scandinavian peoples are still pressured to move out of their vastly overpopulated homeland. Where, therefore, is a great place nearby to settle (that does not belong to the English)? The eastern—and more expansive than in the original timeline—coast of Scotland. So, they settle there, and the whole drama plays out. However, the characters are different: the Vikings never created the power vacuum; the Celtic Clans were about as loosely-organized as the States were under the Articles of Confederation. The Vikings just settled there with comparably little resistance to what they would have received in France. Eventually, they integrated into the native population of the region. While there were no major treaties or wars denoting the development, the fact that the norse had settled so deeply into the region—and by this point in the timeline is culturally a part of Scandinavia—not missed in the region's nomenclature. As I do not know what the native Scots would have called the region where all these Norsemen were settling, I am just going to call it Normandy for the moment.
Northern accent – see Vulgar
Oddbjorn – A Norwegian given name derived from Old Norse oddr (spear) and bjǫrn (bear). A fitting Viking name, indeed! Because, you know, no sane parent their kid the English interpretation of "Odd" intentionally.
Préselva – from French; means "Meadow-Forest". The name I have selected for the woods containing the Factory/Unies and the Hermitage
Quag – Abbreviation of Quagsand, a word I invented in the prior chapter. Technically, it also is a real word, meaning quagmire. See quagsand, chapter 1.
Scholastic Vulgar – see Vulgar
Sister – "Sister" is not just a title for Religious women. According to Wikipedia:
The charge nurse is the nurse, usually assigned for a shift, who is responsible for the immediate functioning of the unit. The charge nurse is responsible for making sure nursing care is delivered safely and that all the patients on the unit are receiving adequate care. They are typically the frontline management in most nursing units. Some charge nurses are permanent members of the nursing management team and are called shift supervisors. The traditional term for a female charge nurse is a nursing sister (or just sister), and this term is still commonly used in some countries (such as the United Kingdom).
Yolanda Perraduin, the Nurse in Code: Lyoko's first season, was originally going to be a religious sister, as it was in hospitals in Medieval Europe…but then I remembered that she was engaged. That blew that out the window. Therefore, I tracked down this tidbit; it, I think, is a worthy compromise.
Soldier's 'lect – see Vulgar
source amnesia – the inability to remember where one has learned something.
spence – the larder, especially in Scots usage. Now used to refer to a cool place to keep food prior to the development of refrigeration, the larder as we know it has its roots in Medieval Europe (though larders in other forms date back to the Indus Valley Civilization), where it was headed by the larderer. Originally meant to keep meats and fish cool until the time came to prepare them, and act as a staging ground for the preparation, the purpose of this particular room is nowadays commonly mistaken for the buttery or pantry, to other offices with similar purposes. Therefore, let me give you a hint as to how to tell the difference: the larder contains lard (i.e. animal fat). In Scotland, the term for larder is the "spence", and accordingly the person in charge of the spence is called the "spencer". Fun fact for anyone who has the surname!
spyglass – normally an old-fashioned term to use for a telescope, I found it a fitting term for the panes of the "cross between a printing press and a bay window" (1), considering its potential purposes in surveillance and observation.
Standard – see Vulgar
still – According to Wiktionary, it can mean "always; invariably; constantly; continuously" in "archaic" and "poetic" contexts.
Surface Loci – A lost work of Euclid that either concerned loci (sets of points) on surfaces or loci that were themselves surfaces.
Tabulae - Latin; nominative feminine plural first declension noun meaning "wax tablet", but has some deep literary connotations, being a precursor to the book. The phrase "tabula rasa" equates to the modern term "a clean slate".
Tesla – Surname of Nicola Tesla, the developer of alternating current and prototypical mad scientist of the 19th century. He has become fairly well known, after years of anonymity, and a bit of a legend in some circles. In this timeline he did not develop AC, but he did make invaluable developments in magick and understanding AE-Space. He was a Master of Magick.
"'Sometimes the only way to further one's knowledge is through direct experimentation'" is not a quote by Nicola Tesla—nor anyone but me (as far as I know), for that matter. However, in this universe, Tesla did.
Tusi – In this case refers to Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī, a 13th-century Persian polymath who was, among other things, an early pioneer of biological evolution in scientific thought. In this timeline, he was a wizard who, through the use of magick, which permitted him to test, correct, expand on, refine, and prove his and others' discoveries, replaced Darwin as the developer of 'survival of the fittest', thus advancing human knowledge of biology, namely in the range of natural selection, man evolving from apes, etc. by some 600 years.
Vespers – Sunset prayer, in the tradition of many Christian denominations.
Vulgar – The language of the common tongue, the lingua franca of the land. I imagine is based on a combination of Old Norse, Vulgar Latin and Old French, and a bit of Gaelic and local languages, with loanwords from Elvish (Ɛljɪt, Elyit), Dwarven (Uǧɑmɔx, Ujchamoc(k)h), Japanese (Japanese; Yamatogo), and other training partners. A relatively consistent common tongue was made possible in Northern Europe because the landmasses of Scandinavia, continental Europe, and the Celtic Isles are connected through Doggerland. As all languages have variations—lects—such as accents and dialects, even within their own 'sphere of intelligibility', I worked on the assumption that Vulgar too has them, too, despite the united landmass. Region is one factor, of course; for instance, the further north one comes from, the more of a Northern flavor that person's idiolect (self-lect) will have. Another is the stability of the region—it makes sense that the languages in less peaceful regions will be more prone to using military terminology. However, these two factors are seldom mentioned because they really do not matter in this society. The third primary factor – one's class and field—is much more important in the eyes of this society (sociolects). These are useful for identifying not only one's profession but additional information such as one's background, one's intent, how one wants to be seen or views the listener as, and the like.
The lects I have introduced are the Soldier's lect (Lingua Militis), which is what is most affected by military terms. A much more polite and standardized version is Court-Speak, (Lingua Regis, literally Language of Kings), and is naturally spoken by much of the court, higher officials, and others who associate with them, such as servants. Using Regis is sometimes used deliberately, in order to sound more respectful or in lieu of terms of respect, or as a way of mocking the latter deliberate purpose. Scholastic Vulgar (Lingua Literati, literally Language of the Scholarly) is the lect of scholars, containing more Latin roots, and is denoted by more complex or uncommon linguistic structures and words. Based in Literati is Wizard-Speak (Lingua Magici, the Language of the Mages), which is essentially a sub-lect of Standard that contains more wizard jargon. The true Common Tongue is Standard (Lingua Communis, Language Common) is based mostly in this, since it was the speakers of Literati who first developed a standardized version of Vulgar, but is simplified, and tends to be the one taught in schools. By this point in time, some several hundred years after it was initially recorded, it has become the most common language used, especially if one does not know if the other can interpret one's native lect. Thus, it is the true lingua franca of Northern Europe. Here, Standard is denoted by plain English, and it is best to assume that one is speaking in Standard unless it is otherwise noted and/or indicated.
ward – in castle terminology, a protected area of the castle enclosed by the castle's walls. In a hospital, this is the communal room where patients reside, separated by movable partitions.
Wimple – Not mentioned in this chapter, but in the chapter previous. I feel obliged to define it, as I neglected to before. A wimple is a garment worn by medieval women worn around the head, much like a veil. It survives today, most notably, in the traditional habit worn by nuns.
zoölogist – obsolete spelling of "zoologist"
Author's Notes and Explanations:
I apologize for the long wait; though I had already started preparing this chapter when I had posted the original, the opinions of my 'guinea pigs' initiated a domino effect that led to two weeks of additional revision. Furthermore, senior year is in full swing, and the teachers are not cutting us any slack! Oy vey. Anyways, I hope that this chapter meets the standards I had set in the Prologue's notes, despite the early update.
I admit that a distressing number of Glossary entries are more resembling of annotated encyclopedia entries; forgive me! I will try to avoid doing such a lengthy list again. (Ironically, when I had started the chapter I actually thought that, since I had gotten past the prologue, this glossary would be comparably short, and even thought to work with that in mind. And yet, this is what happened! (Oh, thank you so much, worldbuilding…) I actually gave up on conciseness when I realized how many of my explanations were, by necessity, becoming small essays. Ah, well. Here's to hoping that it works out—this time. (Hopefully, I will have to do little researching and theorizing all of this, so I can focus on writing this and not answering my own problems of consistency.)
I seriously recommend that anyone with questions on the text read the glossary; it has the explanations for several in-text quirks.
On that note, if anyone thinks I should simplify this, please advise me. I do not want to be confusing anyone, but neither do I want to sacrifice what I have already developed. My compromise is thus: if the readers like the lects, I will leave them, if not, I will tone it down, but I will not sacrifice on the world building much more than that.
Anyone who thinks Aelita seems more naïve than in-canon is absolutely right; she is. It makes sense, really: in the first season, she has already had about a year to learn the basics of Earth's customs; in the prequel, at least she had the internet to help her! Our Aelita has neither of those to help her, and has to be pretty confused right now. Cut her some slack! Don't worry, she'll learn the rules of the road soon enough (there's an encyclopedia in that shelf!). Also, concerning her little venture outside, do not think it is foolish. She is hungry, and she is (as far as we know) an elf; she lacks most of H. sapiens' instinctive fear of the wild.
I am fully aware that the order of events does not follow the plot accurately. I know this, and did it deliberately to encourage a more logical order. For instance, I did not put Maia's first encounter with the monsters where it should have been—that is, before Jeremie was attacked by XANA. My reasoning for this is that since Jeremie had already seen outside, he had no motive to ask Maia to go outside the tower—in fact, if he so wished, he could have done so himself, since he was there in the tower with her. However, he has been indoctrinated with the belief that the wilderness can be a very dangerous place and that one should not go out alone in the forest. He wasn't going to put anyone in danger that quickly. Additionally, he is a wizard—he wasn't so interested with the lands contained within as what made this barrier tick. In comparison to a keystone, trees were not that interesting.
Now, for the grand finale…
An Analysis of the Character of Ulrich Stern and His Relationship With His Parents In Canon Code: Lyoko and This AU Counterpart
At this point, I feel the need to discuss what may seem to be a major change in Ulrich's character: his relationship with his parents. In canon, he is constantly seeking their recognition. He seems to have already given up, at least to an extent, excelling in the academic realm, where he struggles, and tries to compensate for that by being the best athlete he can possibly be—he is the star player on the school's football team, and a constant practitioner of pencak silat (1), among other things. His mother, while hard to please, acknowledges his efforts and does show affection towards him. His father, however, never gives Ulrich the regard he works for—he belittles Ulrich on account of his poor grades and the expenses that he is "wasting" on his education in every major appearance. Therefore, Ulrich at some point must have given up trying for anything more than the GPA (or the French equivalent) necessary to permit him to do what he excels at. (On that note, considering that in most schools there is a minimum grade average required in order for a student to participate in extracurricular sports, I am going to assume that in-canon Ulrich at the very least meets the bare minimum.) Seldom does Ulrich see his parents—it is implied in the show that he may not communicate with them for up to half a year. Indeed, Ulrich's background seems to be just as stern as his name dictates!
So, how would Ulrich's character be when placed into a situation where there are no grades, where the emphasis for one of a wealthy (as is implied in the show) background is on strength in physical combat—a strong suit of Ulrich's, and, starting at around the age of seven, he does not see his parents? Let us start with the core of Ulrich's issues: his relationship with his father. In canon, earning his impossible-to-please father's regard seems to be behind Ulrich's entire drive to excel in sports, his strong point. Nevertheless, Ulrich's father appears to be too blinded by his minimal grades and the expense necessary to send his son to Kadic to notice Ulrich's good points. Now, what if those two factors—grades and money—are taken out of the equation? In this fantasy universe, we do just that. There are no grades; there is no real formal schooling as we of the post-WWII generations know it. Ulrich's family is not paying for Ulrich's schooling as a page—it is a "goodwill" venture, and a chance to forge political alliances through their son's peers. Therefore, there are no grades for Ulrich to struggle over; there is no money "wasted" for his father to resent. Sounds like heaven, right?
Wrong. If you consider what we have seen of Ulrich's father in Canon, he is the epitomical stereotype of the "overbearing, ambitious businessman" exemplified by the likes of Lex Luthor (2) and Giovanni (3). Key point there: ambitious and overbearing. He, without those primary "faults" of Ulrich to blind him, would notice Ulrich possesses many fine qualities looked highly upon by the ideals of his day (in this case, the ideals of the Middle Ages): Ulrich is a natural athlete with an aptitude for combat. He has mental and competitive drive to win and loves to please the crowds. He is brave and willing to take risks. He has a good mind and work ethic. He is apparently handsome, if the number of girls with crushes on him in-canon is anything to go by. Shy and withdrawn Ulrich is actually very good with people when he deigns to speak, and is usually polite. (This however probably comes from his stern upbringing—and is something that would not change, since it is equally emphasized in this setting.) He is a natural leader, capable of garnering the trust of complete strangers quickly, rallying crowds, convincing individuals—some even of higher status—to follow his lead, and getting people to cooperate. Intertwined with that, Ulrich possesses a firm sense of justice. In essence, Ulrich possesses many of the qualities of great leaders (such as King Arthur, for instance…) from many different eras—leadership skills that withstand the centuries.
His ambitious father would notice that, and, of course, try to utilize that… Perhaps not necessarily for his own gain, but inevitably he, being a resourceful businessman/ or politician, would try to tap into his son's strengths. Thus, even from far away, Ulrich's father would try to exert some level of control over his son's potential—because such a good potential politician/knight is not someone you want as your enemy, but your ally. This would, however, provoke one of Ulrich's bad points—his supposed "impudence", so deeply rooted in one of his supposedly good "leadership" qualities—his sense of Justice. Ulrich is a freethinker, who wants to choose his own path. Thus, this supposed infringement on his own choices would trigger in his mind the conviction that he is being served an injustice. Ulrich is stubborn—he would not give in easily to any attempt of control…or allow for compromise. It does not matter whether he is right or wrong in feeling he has been wronged; it is that he thinks that he has been wronged, and he will not stand for it. Thus, he would resist against it and, essentially, rebel. However, he cannot fight back actively, or even passively, since he is separated from his parents for not just months but years at a time. And because he cannot just put the things he wants to say to his father in a letter, he has to let these things stew inside of him, creating a deep undercurrent of resentment towards the father who "tries to control his life". This comes out in every interaction they have, and his father, noticing this, reciprocates, and tries to put an even greater hold on his son, who is slipping away just as firmly.
And so, it comes around full-circle. We have a son who resents his father, yet wants his support, and a father who resents his son, yet wants him to be a fitting heir. They are not over the same matters though: ironically, while in canon the son wants greater support from his father, in this fanfiction the son wants less. Yet it comes down to the same thing: the son wants the father to exert less control over him, and lend more support to his own ideas, hopes, dreams, and emotions—he wants a father who acts like a father should, something his own father is unwilling to give. This hearkens back to an ancient theme, and for good reason: this conflict is very interesting to read, analyze, and write! And no, it's not just me—other authors seem to think so; this conflict has been recycled over and over in just about every single kind of plot-cloak and setting-disguise imaginable, starting farther back even than the Ancient Greeks' Ouranos (4) and Cronos (5). The father-son conflict. It is a power struggle reflected time and time again in various forms in all forms of media. In this case, neither wants to kill each other; neither fears death or usurpation by the other. Rather, the other is happening: it is no case of neither wants to give up, but neither wants to give in… perhaps something a thousand times harder to resolve.
(1) Pencak silat – a kind of Indonesian martial art
(2) Lex Luthor – If you don't know who this guy is, you need to get out more: he's Superman's Arch-Nemesis! And, apparently, the possessor of one hell of a good publicity campaign.
(3) Giovanni – I know you all want to ask "which one?" Well, I'm referring to the head of Team Rocket in Pokemon. Actually, if you really think about it, they kind of even look the same… o.0 (Yeah, I know it's kind of a stretch, but if you really think about it, it gets really creepy…)
(4) Ouranos – from Hestiod's Theogony, the original Sky God (Father Sky); the husband (and, oddly enough, son, via parthenogenesis) of Gaia (Mother Earth)
(5) Cronos – Yeah, you got it. "Father Time", originally the youngest Titan, was Ouranos' youngest son, who neutered his own father and usurped him as sky-god in the ages before Zeus, his own youngest son and downfall.
Yes, I know I spontaneously wrote an essay on Ulrich's character. This kind of thing is what happens if you leave me alone with no mental stimulation for too long (i.e. Economics class). However, I do hope I caught the essence of what underlying conflicts drive Ulrich's character and clarified for you what makes him tick and my characterization of him in this timeline.
In Response to Review:
Traveler7 – Thank you for reviewing! Your review made my day (and really, my week), and encouraged me to get on writing the next chapter. I am delighted to hear that I am not alone in the search for well-written Code: Lyoko fanfic of this form, and am glad that you think that this may fit the bill (that is what I am trying for!). Also, I am glad that you are able to keep up with this; I completely sympathize with your plight! I hope that this chapter meets your standards. (If not, do comment on this so that I might improve this fic.)
As to your question regarding whether or not I'm keeping Aelita's Season One origins, I am not exactly sure what you mean. They never actually did go into the origins of the Supercomputer or Aelita in any depth in Season One; it is my presumption that the kids didn't know. Ergo, I'm going with the ones that canon gives us, and filling in the blanks from there. Hopefully, I will be clearer than the show was on the matter. However, as you can see in this chapter, I am following canon fairly tightly. Thus, you will not see much of Aelita's origins in this chapter, nor any of the others in this book. The back-story behind the entrapment of Lyoko may come into discussion in the last chapter or so of this story, but do not expect any major reveals about Aelita (hint, hint) to be re-revealed until the next book.
Onyxpelt415 – (Before I start this note, am I right in assuming you are a fellow Warriors fan? : D Don't feel pressured to answer that; the power of the lurker has told me all I need to know…) Firstly, thank you for reviewing! Secondly, I believe I have stipulated my update times on my profile (albeit offhandedly; sorry if that confused you). Compared to some of my favorite stories I consider that a very reasonable update schedule—a compromise between speed, punctuality, and expediency. Thirdly, did you read my author's note? There I stated that "in this project I intend to take all the essentials of Code: Lyoko". Unless you do not consider the rest of the Lyoko Warriors essential, yes, they will be included. In fact, your question should have been all but answered here! But, even though it had been answered already, I would like to point out that I have been over this. After observing that "there is a lot of Jeremie and very little of any of the other characters in this chapter" at the start of the final paragraph in the AN, I stated that this was merely a prologue, a test to see how this world I have constructed is received. Also, while reading the text, you may have noticed how much I have borrowed from the first of the two prequel episodes for the progression of the prequel. If you consider both that, what is explained in my previous Author's Note, and what I have already told Traveler7, it should be clear that Yumi is coming in soon and what the status of the other characters will be… up to a point, though that is long in coming. (What that point is, I refuse to tell.)
Nitpick: And about your use of the phrase "bad guy"… Well, neither of them really fit the category. William is a bit of a jerk, but he's good at heart; really, he's really a victim here. (After being completely possessed by XANA, I completely understand why he never went back…) And as for XANA… well, it's the Big Bad, but regardless of what pronouns the kids choose to refer to "him" with, a computer program physically cannot have a gender, and is therefore not a "guy". (Though I would love as much as the next person to see that virus be tarred and feathered… Sorry. This is why I don't do comedy. Look up the etymology of "guy" in your usage (hint: if Wiktionary fails, try the Free Encyclopedia's page on Guy Fawkes Day) to find out what I meant by the joke.)
To all: How is this fanfiction going? Is it in keeping with the tone of the previous chapter? What do you like about it? Dislike? What do you think about Ulrich's character? Sissy's? Odd's? Aelita's? Jeremie's? Any others? Have I kept them in character, and if not, how may I fix it? How are the conversations? (I've had issues with writing dialogue in the past.) Please, help me improve!
IMPORTANT: Considering that much of Season One is filler, I will be abridging it somewhat. I will try to incorporate some particularly notable episodes, but if any readers have preferences as for what filler episodes should be translated into the setting, I suggest you start suggesting them now. Season One will be its own book, so this may seem early, but I start planning even earlier: about a month and a half in advance. So speak now or forever hold your silence, and all that jazz.
~The Arcticourt Spellwright