Project ZEAL

Scene 2 - Najran Classroom (Symmetry)

Naomi sat in a classroom desk with her eyes fixated on the clock that hung on the wall to her right, her intense gaze burning a hole through the glass that separated the timepiece's slow-moving arms from the outside world. Although she had no great desire to study in the school of temporal magic, the struggling student wished she could simply fast forward herself through time every afternoon from two o'clock to four, the period occupied by the dreaded class that was Introduction to Enchantment, 1101.

Ten more minutes... Only ten more minutes! Hurry up, minutes! Pass like you've never passed before! Nine! Only nine more minutes... Unfortunately for Naomi, she was a poor cheerleader; the more she exhorted the clock onward, the slower it seemed to move. Come on! Six minutes, still? There were ten minutes left half an hour ago! Clearly, time was indeed relative. While temporal theorists continued to debate the name of space-time, Naomi had confirmed a truth that proved to be source of great agony. For every class period, as one approaches the end of the two-hour duration, the last five minutes always extend to effectively double the length of the period. Always, as in, one hundred percent of the time, without failure.

"Miss Maruyama?"

Five minutes!

"Miss Maruyama?"

Thirty two... thirty one... Four and a half minutes!

"Naomi Maruyama! Are you daydreaming in my class again?!"

The student quickly sat up in her chair, losing track of the countdown as she struggled to remember precisely what the topic of discussion had been before she had become lost in her own thoughts. Standing immediately in front of her desk with arms crossed tight enough to cut off blood circulation was the class instructor, Provostia Sessimine, her aunt and caretaker. "No moth -- ma'am! I was just momentarily distracted... What was the question again?"

The instructor sighed as she turned away and walked gracefully back to the front of the classroom. "For those of you who were 'momentarily distracted', I had inquired if anyone in the audience could explain Kobayashi's Principle of Semblant Enchantment. Seeing as how no one volunteered to answer my question, I chose you, Miss Maruyama, to explain the concept to the rest of the class. You are familiar with Kobayashi's Principle, correct?

Naomi stuttered as she tried to bring to memory the contents of what she had studied the night before, but to no avail. While she would immediately realize the theory in question when it was explained, the student could do nothing at the moment but hesitate as the clock counted down the minutes until she was free once more. Naomi merely acted as if the answer was on the tip of her tongue as her classmates all turned to revel in her humiliation. Finally, another girl in the class broke the silence.

"Professoressa, if I may..."


With a smirk on her face, the student continued on. "Kobayashi's Principle basically claims that by manipulating illusions in conjunction with casting a simple spell, we can stimulate a greater degree of fear within a subject than either component could by itself." The young woman paused slightly before continuing onward. "Perhaps next time you should reserve questions like that for a competent enchantress who has kept up on her readings." The rest of the classroom - save Naomi - followed up the comment with snide laughter; even Sessimine joined in on the fun, although she was the first to return to her composed state. The instructor seated herself on one of the desks in the front of the classroom, which unlike the ones toward the back, were large enough for several students to sit at.

"Competent, hmm? Well, let's see..." Turning to her right, Sessimine noticed a young man at the end of the desk she was seated upon. After looking the student over momentarily, the instructor turned back to the young lady who had just answered her question.

"Is this one yours?"

"He sure is." The girl swelled with pride. "One of two, to be precise."

"Ah! Excellent! Then you won't be too lonely when I tell you that I'm taking your boyfriend here for the evening."

The young woman's eyes nearly shot out of their sockets. "What?!"

Sessimine replied in a matter-of-factly tone. "You heard me. We're going to have a romantic dinner, maybe a pleasant walk in the square. Perhaps we'll go to the theater -- I'm sure there will be something suitable there." The instructor spun around, throwing her legs up on the desk in front of the young man, making sure that they were quite visible through a slit in the side of her gown. The student simply stared, absolutely smitten by Sessimine's advances; his former girlfriend, however, was less than charmed.

"But, but... You can't do that! He's mine, for the love all things good and holy!"

"Correction. He was yours, and if I find him boring, you can have him back tomorrow. If you were a... How did you put it? Oh yes! If you were a competent enchantress, you wouldn't be having this problem now, would you?"

The rest of the class began to snicker -- save Naomi, who had burst into full-on laughter -- as the young woman turned to the charmed man and slapped him several times in an effort to jar him from his trance. "Come on, Professoressa! You're at least..." The girl stopped in her tracks as a sinister stare from Sessimine convinced her that guessing the instructor's age was probably not a smart idea. "He's only twenty-two! Isn't there some kind of policy against this sort of thing?!"

"Of course not! And besides, if an instructor was interested in you, it would be an insult to turn them down, would it not?" Sessimine turned to address a young man seated several rows back. "Am I correct?"

"If it aids you in passing a course, by all means..."

"See! This way, everyone's happy, except those who make smart-aleck comments to their instructors and lose their boyfriends -- but most people are smart enough to know when to hold their tongues, right?"

The humiliated girl simply pouted and stared off into the distance. Not one to be ignored, Sessimine sketched out on the desk and poked her in the side until she responded with a stare. With a tone somewhere between consolation and mockery, the instructor continued to prod at the young woman, hoping she would put up a better fight. "Come now, don't be so cross! I promise we won't do anything too intimate. Will it make you feel any better if-" Sessimine was abruptly cut off by the noisy clamour of the bell sounding the end of the class period and the shuffling of paper and books as her students gathered their materials. Quickly sliding off the table and back onto her feet, Sessimine crossed her arms and shut her eyes while she addressed the fleeing students.

"Ahem! I don't believe I ever finished explaining Kobayashi's Principle. I assure you, it will appear on the next exam. I will require you to demonstrate it, so you'd better start practicing! If those students who are now leaving my class would be so kind to seat themselves once more, I'll make a point of it to forget I ever noticed them commit such a grave offense as running out on a lecturing instructor!"

There was a moment of silence followed by the mad rush of footsteps making their way towards the hall. When Sessimine opened her eyes moments later, there were only two students sitting in her classroom, one of them being the hopelessly charmed boy. Perking up one of her eyebrows, the instructor stared at the lone right-minded scholar inquisitively.

"Well, what are you doing here?"

"You said you were going to explain Kobayashi's Principle... I don't want to fail my next exam."

"You're not a very bright one, are you? You should have ran out with all of your peers. Do you think I'd fail an entire class?"

The student replied hesitantly. "Well..."

"Ha! At least you have a sense of humour. Now hurry up at get out of here so I can have fun toying around with my new butler." With a snap of her fingers, both students stood up; the young man quickly making his way to her side and collecting her books, while the young woman quickly scurried out of the classroom. Content with her day's work, Sessimine motioned for the boy to carry her books back to her office while she locked up the room.

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