225 Days Until the Examinations Of The Uncertain End (part 3)
Zeydar sat, eyes drifting closed as he tried to keep himself sitting at attention. This is it, he had to remind himself. It was the last part of the hellish two days, and then he’d be able to sleep. He’d force his way to sleep, layering up whatever protective charms he needed, if necessary. The Superiors had left him waiting for almost an hour, and his mind was fading quick. His body was aching, shaking, sweating, and shivering all at once. He was nauseous, and he needed his dreams.
“Zeydar Arcadius.” Zeydar’s eyes snapped wide, thoughts focused on the moment, the second his name was said. He looked to the Superiors who he had not realized had entered the room. He had not stood. Not greeted them, had messed up. So much for this being perfect.
“Hello Superiors.” He stood and greeted them then, belatedly, and to disgruntled snorts. Fury bubbled and he cast it aside. He was so close. There was no time for anger. He needed this. Needed his effort to be worth something for once.
“Please sit.” Yes, sit back down, he mocked their voices to himself. His mood was sour after they had purposely done this. Yet, he knew better than to argue or even pretend that he could, so he did as commanded. A familiar voice, the leader of all Superiors, spoke. “Tonight is your final interview for the Superior position.”
Position, as if it wasn’t his status as an adult that was being questioned. Superior wasn’t a position it was a title one held when they reached adulthood. It was a title he should have held. This was a question on who held power in his life, and one that he was tired of answering.
“Before we begin this interview, are there any questions you have for us?” The next voice was higher.Zeydar found himself starring blankly into the hood that he knew belonged to Majorie. Any questions for them? He had tens of them teeming with anger and frustration.
“Can I speak freely?” His voice came across as tentative, a bit more reserved than he would have liked.
“Then…” He had only one question. It was the only one that he had ever wanted the answer to. He stopped himself from asking it. Deciding it was better to play it safe. “No.”
“Then, we will begin.” Her voice seemed to fade in the sound of his own heart beat.
“Other than.” Steadying himself, he decided to say the question anyway. The itch of the magic around him made him want to scratch his skin off, to bleed so he could feel it better. Everything hurt, and he was so tired. Rationale, remained but he was so tired. “Why the farce?”
No one else could hear this interview. No one but the Superiors. If he couldn’t speak freely now, then when would he ever. This was his Superior interview after all. This was his stand to be considered an adult, a human in his own right, more than a tool or something to be feared. “This is not my first time taking these exams, or doing this interview. My answers have not changed, from the practices, from the days of training. Why do I want to be a Superior? It’s my birthright. It is the title I may hold when you determine I am to your standard, the standard of a Class 1 Magician, and that I am an adult. It is not a position. I can’t work towards it. It’s when you have decided I am no longer a child, and one day you will have to. For it’s my birthright to be a Superior.
“But of course, then you will wonder if I am truly an adult and ask me to speak for myself. You will ask me how I can prove that I am. I can not. For proving one is not a child is not as easy as saying ‘see mother, I won’t blow up a Tower in my rage again.’ Not that you care for that answer, because the official story is that I didn’t do it. We know that is a lie. So what do I say? That I have been able to pass my exams, kept myself medicated in my trauma, kept myself working for the Superior and Star committees, and aced all my studies every year since I was nineteen? No. None of that proves I am not a child, since they are things I was required to do. Its not as if I am not allowed to leave campus and try to prove myself as a well adjusted functioning adult.
“Not that I am, you’d remind me. The Sweet Dreams after all, Sweet Dreams that you had made for me and my abilities. Sweet Dreams, the drug, that you have been feeding me since I was a child… no, a baby. A drug I almost got clean of, relapsed by accident, was forced to detox from and destroyed a Tower because of that detox.” Focus on the moment. On the moment, He had to remind himself when the memories began to boil to the surface. “So no. I can not prove to you that I am an adult other than to say you need to trust that I am.
“And if you don’t trust that I am, at least understand that by keeping me as a student, I am not learning to control these powers anymore than using Sweet Dreams. I have a right to this magic and to know for myself. I told you that. I need the Superior status in order to get new knowledge and to have the freedom to test what I need to test, without everyone breathing down my neck. If you want me to control it, then you need to give me the room, the knowledge, and the status to understand it. I am Class Zero. Right? I need to see your notes on it, on me, all of it. For how can you understand the whisper on my skin that is the voice of magic as it tells me that I can do this.”
Zeydar placed his large staff on the floor and his wristband staff, before holding out his hands and willing flowers to grow from the magic in the air. The magic seeped out, soothing him, as if he had finally let the river break the dam. No words. No staff. Nothing. The shaking took over again in moments and he canceled the magic. Deep breath in and deep breath out, he continued. “I can do that. I don’t know why I can do that, but I can and you know I can. I need to study it, freely as a Superior. And I understand… You are afraid. I’m afraid. But you have controlled me for twenty-five years and where has that landed us? A Tower destroyed, my mind compromised, millions dead, and proof that if I can’t learn to control it as things are now, you will not be able to. Which is why I asked why the farce? We have been over all of this many times. I have told you this too many times to count. My answers will not change, if you ask me why I should be tested, versus why I should have the chance to succeed. I am a Superior. I have been since I was nineteen, magically at least. I have been able to stand on my own since I was twenty. I was born a to be a Superior, and it is what I am right now. So, once again. Why the farce?
“Why is it that you put up with me? If you can’t control me then kill me and we all know you can’t control me. This limited control of holding my birthright before me saying: if I can just get better or smarter, then I will be able to take it. But you don’t intend that. You are trying to control me in the only way you know has worked for this long. However, it’s not working and the world is ending, and if you can’t control me, then kill me now. I won’t stop you. I would understand. Kill me as I sleep, if that is easier. Or have you tried and you realized that it wasn’t possible?”
How he hoped that it wasn’t the case. Had they tried, he wasn’t sure how he would feel. Somehow he didn’t put it past them.
“I did survive Arcadia’s collapse somehow… I’m not going to run. I’m not suddenly going to “become an adult.” You would still be able to restrain me as necessary, keep Superiors on me if required. I won’t hide my studies from you. I won’t keep anything a secret anymore, if that helps. I will tell you anything that you want to know. Just please stop with this charade. We all know that the exams you gave me were three times as hard as they needed to be. We all know that you created this hellish timeline for taking them, and then blamed it on me. Because you wanted to try to break me, make me miss, prove that I wasn’t capable. It’s a farce is what it is. Pretending to give me a chance, but creating a scenario in which any sane person would fail. None of you had to go through anything in this manner. None of you got turned away every time since you were eighteen and were trying your first time. That’s seven years. I have been ready for at least six of them and you know it. Lucky for you I’m not sane, and I passed all your exams perfectly. Didn’t I?”
No one answered.
“If you can’t control me and think I can’t control myself, then kill me. But if you think I am necessary, and, maybe even if for a bit, can control myself, then stop this charade. You have two options. I become Superior or I die. At this point you have no other options. I’m not just going to run away because you won’t give me my birthright. I can barely last two days without Sweet Dreams. How can I try to detox in the Tower, or worse the Lowerlands, with no access to food, supplies, shelter, and protection? Aralax are out there. X’s who would kill Stars are out there. We saw what I did to a Tower last time, and that was because it wasn’t in a controlled setting. It was a high stress uncontrolled setting. You are my family. The Superiors are my family. Valaria is my home. You have your two options, I just hope you can trust me.”
Zeydar sat back, watching that in their silence they did not know how to respond to his request.
“Okay.” The voice of the old man. What a sweet voice it was. “We will make him a Superior.” The voices of the others rose up in protest saying that his speech only proved he wasn’t ready. “Majorie, it’s true he’s passed all verbal and practical near perfectly correct?”
“Correct.” She said it in a way that made Zeydar feel smug. Zeydar would be damned if he hadn’t passed them perfectly, there was nothing near about it.
The sweet voice of victory continued. Zeydar knew the old man wanted to use him, but he couldn’t care at that moment. “While this hasn’t been the traditional interview, the boy is right. Either we make him a Superior or we kill him. At this point what other options do we have? Maintaining the status quo without being able to make progress on studying his powers at all, as we have since the collapse of Arcadia? This is his birthright, and we do not kill our own.”
“Making him Superior is simply giving him as he desires.” Majorie disagreed.
“We should have made him Superior when he asked us to test him at Nineteen, then we would have never lost Arcadia.” The elder’s words created silence in the room.
“We have to finish grading the last tests.” Majorie finally spoke after minutes of silence.
“Feel free to do so, but we all know he is correct and the tests were far harder than necessary. Most of us, would have not been able to do what he has done in these last few hours or score as well as he did.” The Elder then addressed Zeydar. “Your promotion ceremony will be in five days.”
“Thank you.” Zeydar stood summoning his Staffs back to him, clasping the wristband back in place. It felt right and wrong all at once in so many ways. He needed Dreams and sleep. “Is that all you need from me?”
“You are dismissed. Congratulations.”
Zeydar said nothing more as he left the room, and then the building to see May waiting. “How did it go?”
“I need to get to bed.” He was already feeling sick as it was, and he needed his room. “But it went well.”
“You think you will pass?”
And for once, Zeydar realized that there would be no thinking about it. He had it in his hands. Finally. Finally. And he’d be damned if they took it from him now. It was only then that it hit him. He’d done it and it felt no different than before. He felt sick, horrible, in need of sleep and Sweet release. He’d stood up to them, and perhaps that was all that was needed to prove himself capable, but he didn’t feel changed. That’s unfortunate. Perhaps it would be different after rest.
All he knew was that he was going to be used in a different way than before and he hated that idea. His thoughts went to Dreams, and how they could help, then to Evester by recall of the party a few days back. Maybe he’d just leave with Evester, and disappear. Zeydar had said he wouldn’t, but the Superiors didn’t know that he had connections on the outside. Five days to his promotion, he had time to think about it. “When are your friends coming to campus?”
“The date is set for five days from now.”
The same day as his promotion. “I would love to meet them.”
“I will set up a lunch date then.” She smiled helping him towards the dorms. His eyes were starting to fall in more exhaustion than anything else. Some tea to settle the nerves, Sweet Dreams to settle his body and his magic, and then to bed. Finally, to bed.