Institute of Manamancy
Atalen ya Doaka
“Dude, it’s Davic,” he called, running his finger through the entry chime menu floating above the right side of the fat, T-shaped door-opening leading to his friend’s dorm. He put his hand through the door chime again and was about to override the pattern when Ian pulled the curtain aside.
“It’s open,” he said. “What do you need?” Ian was an odd character. His grin was infectious and his hair needed attention! It wasn’t so much that his hair was curly as it was unruly. It seemed to have a mind of its own and wanted as much attention as it could get. His beard, now that was curly! And as unkempt as he may look, Ian was the least messy thing in his dorm. He was probably in the second grade when his mother had given up on him ever having a clean room. He sure didn’t have one now!
The smell, though, that’s what hit you right in the face when you visited his place, which probably explained why he spent so much time at his friends’. Davic was no exception. “What reeks?” he asked upon entering. He looked around the first of the three rooms in the dorm suite. There were the customary woven rugs on the floor; they needed to be cleaned. Dust and even dried mud footprints overlapped each other. Several black-on-white ceramic mugs lay near a workstation. One had spilled coffee onto the rug.
He counted three --make that two and a half-- pairs of sandals, a pair of cargo pants and several dried doughnuts in various attitudes of disbandment in a room eight by seven feet. The source of the odor drew him deeper into the suite.
He pushed the curtain aside and looked into the next room. Bathrooms at Atalen ya Doaka have a low built-in shelf with a large basin and a pitcher for face washing, tooth brushing and such; a larger and shallower basin on the floor at the far wall for bathing; and a short olla, (a ceramic container built rather like an upside down waste paper basket) for a toilet. And while Anasazi style ceramics are never shiny, they display intricate black decorations on a white background. That was no longer the case for any of the furnishings in this bathroom.
He closed the curtain as fast as he could. Then reached back inside and activated an crystal built into the wall. There was a flash of bright golden light and the smell began to dissipate. “Dude, you have got to clean your bathroom! I am setting the override to activate itself once a day as soon as you leave in the morning.”
Ian threw the curtain aside and stormed into the second room. “What did you do with my toothbrush!?”
“It’s right there!” He slid the menu back into the crystal floating beside the wall. “It will always be right there if you let the room clean itself.”
“What do you want, Davic?” Gone were the smile and the carefree attitude. Belligerence and open hostility replaced it with a vengeance.
Davic had never seen the jovial Ian like this. He frowned slightly then said “Professor Johnson has assigned us to work on a Project. So if we’re going to work together, you’re just going to have to learn some new hygiene.”
Ian made a noise in the back of his throat and rushed in, invading his schoolmate’s personal space. “You know, I don’t blame Retta for hitting you in the face!” He jambed his index finger into Davic’s chest. “You probably deserved it.”
“You’re not going to hit me in the other eye, are you? Or bloody my nose?”
“How about a fat lip and a chipped tooth?” He paused. “Dude, I probably would have hooked up with Retta if you hadn’t chased her off! I thought you had a thing for her.”
“Thing for her? Retta? Not really”
“Oh, come on! Weren’t you looking? She had a nice set of . . .”
“She did have a hot body, and if that’s all that mattered then, yeah. I thought we were moving that direction. Every time we’d get close... No. I hate her attitude. She likes to fight with me and criticize everything I say.”
“I think everyone argues with you. But, I think she did ’cause you two didn’t realize yet that you really like each other. If you really didn’t like her, you wouldn’t have talked to her and studied with her. Everyone else thought you two were a couple.”
“Well, if there ever was anything, it just capsized in a stormy sea!” He gritted his teeth slightly and felt his black-eye. “She’s working for LeDuc.”
“Ho - how do you know this? I mean you’re not just making this up, are you?”
“Johnson took me to the Motu to tell me. And he sent me a copy of her last message to him. We can’t view it here. But the next time I go to the Motu I’ll take you.”
“Professor Johnson gave you a copy of Retta’s letter showing she’s working for the most vicious mage ever and gave you the ‘keys’ to the most powerful source of mana in the history of mages? And then just tagged me on the end without asking me?”
“Ummm, yeah,” he said, not knowing what else to say.
“Well, thanks for cleaning my bathroom, but I am halfway through my own project. I am not going to throw away six months of research for Johnson, who doesn’t trust or like me anyway.”
“He said that if we worked together we’d do great stuff and if you weren’t on board, that I’d have to site all of your work anyway.”
“So, he wants you to babysit me and steal my research? No, thank you! And you’d better leave now.” It looked like the slight calm in Ian’s temperament had heated up. He seemed to be on the verge of violence.
“Alright, alright,” said Davic, quickly pulling aside the curtain to the T-door leading out to the main plaza. As the curtain dropped he heard a message coming through for Ian. Not wanting to eavesdrop he shambled on toward the cafeteria. But soon the mumble of voices became loud.“Davic McKay? No way in . . .” Davic stopped the noise of his sandals in a patch of loose gravel and strained to listen. But the voices were too muffled from this distance, so he continued, on his way.
He reached to the mana storage crystal at his wrist and retrieved the menu window that maintained personal comfort. He checked the level of mana in its storage, then turned the personal temperature zone down a half a degree. He noted the cooler air about him nearly instantaneously. He was almost to the cafeteria when he heard running footsteps behind him.
He turned and saw Ian sprinting his way. “Davic you dick-head!” he called. “Slow down!”
“No!” he said continuing his pace. “Are you going to give me a fat lip?”
“No, another black-eye! Professor Locminé wants us both in her office, right now!”
Rather than enter the cafeteria doorway, Davic climbed the rustic ladder up to the rooftop plaza. Not waiting, he hurried along to the main office complex. Rather than enter Professor Johnson’s office, he entered the third one down.
He bowed. “Hello Professor,” he said to the middle-aged woman sitting cross-legged on the floor. “I heard you wanted to see me.”
“Yes. Have a seat.” She motioned to one of two cushions on the woven floor covering. Her accent was quite strong, betraying her origins in the French Province of Bretagne. But Davic had several years to get accustomed to it.
“Was it Ian Buxton that was being rude out there? Sometimes I’d swear he was a high school student.” Before her, on the floor was an orderly grouping of override crystals. She shut the window of one and a cloud of mana wafted back inside.
“Thank you,” he sat at the closer one. “He does act like a teenager from time to time, Ma’am. I don’t know what’s keeping him . . .” Heavy footfalls and the sound of breathing preceded the opening of the curtain to the outside.
“I’m here,” said Ian between gasps for air, “like you asked and so is he.” He sat on the remaining cushion eying the other student. “How can we help you?” He tugged on his curly beard as he bowed the head. His too rapid arrival had precluded the displays of respect that her station required.
She nodded to them, ignoring Ian’s rude behavior. She was solemn and wise in her mage training. She retrieved three mugs and sat them in a circle on the side table. She waved her hand. Golden light filled the crockery. To the uninitiated eye, it looked like she was creating coffee out of the air. In reality, she had merely teleported it from the cafeteria below. “Thank you, Ma’am,” they said almost in unison. Davic, who never drank coffee, put his hand over the top of his beverage and replaced it with orange juice.
She did notice the glow under his hand and smiled gently. “You gentlemen are almost ready to graduate and happily, you, Mr. Buxton, are closer.” She quite nearly beamed in his direction. “Your project is going well and you only have one assignment and two finals left, one in Professor Johnson’s class and one in mine. You, Mr. McKay, have completed that assignment, but lack the project and both finals.”
“Mr. Buxton, I have enjoyed working with you on your project so far . . . and will continue to do so . . . but . . .”
“Oh, there’s always that little but now, isn’t there?”
“You have just chosen a field of study that will have repercussions for all mages, not just here, but elsewhere, even in Yalun né Siana. And we have determined that it is now a matter of security. You may continue on it, uninterrupted, but Professor Johnson will now be a second adviser and we will combine your study with Mr. McKay’s.”
“No!” Ian barked. “How does an historical overview of the positions of the moon have repercussions that go to Yalun né Siana? And why him!”
“You have shown that the flow of mana in the Earth/Moon system is related to the position of the lunar standstill. You will be allowed continued study of this at the Motu. There are retro-patterns there of this relationship going back for thousands of years.” She would have continued in this boring, dry, lecture voice if she hadn’t been interrupted.
“Wait a minute,” said Davic. “What is a lunar standstill?”
“Has he been asleep in class!?” Ian asked. “You see what I mean? I have no idea how this guy gets such good grades. And you’re putting him in my project?”
“Davic, it is rather basic astronomy,” said the Professor in a quiet, patient voice. “Earth is tilted on its axis giving us our seasons, correct? The moon should rotate around Earth in that same plane, but she is tilted further by a set number of degrees . . .”
“Five degrees,” interrupted Ian.
" . . . causing her to rise and set at different places on the horizon. But because the orbit of the moon around the earth is only 29 or so days, the furthest point north and the furthest point south that the moon rises or sets are only two weeks apart. There is also a nineteen year . . .”
“Eighteen point six year . . .”
" . . . cycle between the most extreme north and south in any lunar period and the least.”
She stood up. “Come with me,” she said as she walked out of her office and onto the rooftop plaza. Davic stood beside her as she pointed northwest up the canyon. “On the morning after the first day of the Major Lunar Standstill, the moon will set up there as seen from the mound in front of the Pueblo. And two weeks later the moon will rise behind us,” she turned and pointed to the southeast. “Even though this is much better seen from Tsin Kletsin, or Yalun né Siana. We can see it from this rooftop. This canyon is aligned to these two lunar events.”
“So the Lunar Standstill is the two week period . . .”
“No!” interrupted Ian, behind them. “A lunar standstill is the one moonrise that’s the furthest north or south in any two week period. The Major Lunar Standstill is the two week period when those two points are the most extreme. The Minor Lunar Standstill is about nine years later when they are the closest together. But, what does this have to do with Yalun né Siana?”
“Back inside, boys,” said Locminé. However, rather than walk to her own office, she strode toward Professor Johnson’s, and walked right in!
“Oh, now that was clever,” said Davic, following. Ian stood outside for a second with a slight, perturbed expression and his fists upon is hips. He followed a bit later and then sat on the only free cushion, the one between his classmate and the door. He folded his arms across his chest and looked away.
“I am glad you came in Ian,” said Johnson warmly. “Getting off the floor at my age is a major chore.” He wriggled a bit on the cushion and toyed with the crystals at his workstation.
“With all due respect, Professor, what on Earth would Yalun né Siana want with my project? And what is the relationship between my project and his?” He pointed his thumb sideways at Davic.
“He’s always the direct one, Marie.” He smiled wanly to Professor Locminé. “He drank your coffee, did he?”
“I’ve never had the difficulty keeping him on task as you have, Kevin. We’ve shared a cup several times in discussing his project. Perhaps the caffeine helps. You might share a cup or two with him.”
“Then upon your advice, I shall offer him some whenever he comes to this office.” He nodded her way. “And you, Young Davic, would you mind sharing your ideas for your project, starting with our discussion two weeks ago and including the one we had at the Motu?”
“Umm, uh, sure.” He looked around nervously and fiddled with his mana crystal. “I have always been interested in the rongorongo script from Rapanui. It hasn’t been translated yet, but we use a modified version of it whenever we write an override in free-mana. I know that you, Professor Johnson, and LeDuc studied it from the wooden tablets in the early days, but I think it’s about time we took a new look at it.”
Ian, who was about as antsy as a new dog on a leash, said “I can see what LeDuc would want with his research, for personal reasons if nothing else. But, what does . . .”
“Continue Mr. McKay.”
The older Professor may not have been fazed by the sudden outburst, but Davic was. He inhaled sharply and looked to the doorway. “Some linguists think rongorongo is a pre-literate system. Some are not even sure if it’s really writing. Some think it’s just decoration on an object the priests held to show their status. We would need to hear the writer himself read them in order to translate the whole system if they are indeed writing.”
He paused to study the reactions of those around the room. “The reason we haven’t had that opportunity, in my estimation, is that the retro-patterns embedded within the wooden tablets have so degraded that they are illegible. I think if we went to the Motu, the ambient mana flow there would enliven the retro-patterns enough for us to read them.”
“Bravo, bravo,” clapped Ian. “You get to putter with the kohau rongorongo while you babysit me. You don’t trust me to mine the fossil Mana patterns of the standstills on my own, do you? And I still don’t see how it fits together.”
Professor Johnson reached behind him and pulled a dark, smooth plank of wood from under the cushions between him and the far wall. “This rongorongo board was recently found under a pile of fallen rocks in a lava tube at the Poike end of Rapanui. It has unexamined writing. But the moon glyph and the makémaké glyph appear a total of sixteen times, each. It’s not a recitation of war dead or captured victims, like with the known boards. This one looks different. If they had a mage, this would be what he would have written. What they knew about the moon can only help your studies, Ian.”