I wandered through the house, listening. Nothing, not a sound. To say I was confused would have been a drastic understatement.
Click. My head swiveled towards the sound. “Hello?” I headed into the common room.
Lucy looked up. “Oh, hi Chloe,” she murmured and smiled at me.
“Hey, where is everybody?”
She considered this. “Well, Shaye and Thomas went out to the market a little bit ago and Donovan left for town a bit after them. And…Medea…I think she left early this morning, before everyone else.” Her smile dipped. “Is everything okay?”
“Hmm? Oh, no–erhm yes! Everything’s fine! I was just wondering.” I wandered to the back porch. Behind me, there was a soft click.
Everyone’s outside. I leaned on the railing, thinking. Thomas would be going to that old fisherman. He’d gotten a job playing his guitar outside the old man’s shop and it was helping to pay our room and board. Shaye’ll take any excuse to be outside, so she probably went with him. Donovan…Donovan…he might be at the Hot Springs. He said something about checking out the glyphs there last night.
That left Medea. And that was where my brain was seizing up. Medea wasn’t like Shaye or Lucy or Donovan. She didn’t see natural beauty in the forests, she hated the mosquitos and the lack of proper transportation. She didn’t believe in getting to know a stranger just for meeting them and seeing their perspective. If they didn’t have similar interests as her, she wanted nothing to do with them In the last few months, she’d made an enemy of nearly every other explorer in the boarding house.
She hated the people of Shang Simla almost as much as she hated their lack of cars. They were a quiet, peaceful people. Medea was loud and…opinionated. And those opinions hadn’t found any fellow thinkers since we first arrived in China.
So where could she have gone? I pondered.
I sighed and went back inside. There was another translation waiting for me.
It carried on for a few more days. Thomas left the house every morning at 7am. With him, when she could drag herself out of bed, went Shaye. Donovan made breakfast at 8 and left for some ancient temple or some such soon after. Lucy went back to her watercolors and I to my translations.
And no one would see Medea. Finally, I’d had enough.
“That might be good,” I muttered, stepping back. I heard a half-choked gurgle behind me.
“Hmmm?” I tapped my chin. I might have to rebalance the third quadrant–
“What are you doing?”
I looked up. Thomas was standing beside me, his eyes wide and flickering from me to my project and back.
“What? Oh, this? This is just an ancient pulley system that I’m testing out.” I waved my hands vaguely. I’d seen some diagrams in a scroll and improved upon the idea from there. Thomas didn’t need to know that the diagrams had depicted an ancient tomb trap. “I’m setting this up so I can better visualize it.”
I stared critically at my work.
“Does it have to be right outside the girls’ room?”
I contemplated this. “Yes.”
It was before dawn when my alarm went off. I’d prepared myself with several cups of oolong tea and a particularly nasty scroll. The near-invisible fishing line pulled my light out.
I waited several minutes, listening hard. There! A slight rustling from upstairs, like someone getting dressed. The sound of a door being eased gently open. And the squeak of the hinges I’d attended to last night after everyone was asleep. Silence. The silence of someone listening very carefully and praying no one had heard that. I smirked.
Finally, someone upstairs treaded softly down the steps. I frowned. Normally Medea tromped like an elephant everywhere she went. No one wore shoes in the house, of course, but still. It was Medea, car enthusiast and elephant! I heard the last squeaky step, and then silence again. Then the soft padding of bare feet across the wooden floor. A small thump and then running that faded away.
I ran out of my room and down the hall to the window facing the front porch. I caught sight of a flash of green as Medea vaulted over the railing and down the mountain. I blinked twice. Then scrambled out the open window after her.
I’d always prided myself on being fast and light on my feet. I’d needed to be, between schoolyard bullies and Mom’s catlike ears. But Medea was outdistancing me easily. She was quite athletic, of course, but still.
I skirted through some bamboo and stopped to rest and think. At my outcropping I could see her course.
Their first day in Shang Simla, Medea had escorted Shaye to the Scholar’s Garden. She’d heard it was some kind of beautified wilderness or something. And it had been one of Thomas’s early rules: Nobody traveled anywhere alone.
Anyway, Medea had lounged about, bored out of her skull while Shaye ran amuck staring at the insects. She’d glanced down the mountain and seen the Phoenix Martial Arts Academy. What’s more, she saw the current Master training a student. And she’d been fascinated.
She’d watched for a time while Shaye stared at the sun through a telescope.
Then she’d wandered over to the training dummy in the corner and made some attempts to copy the student. They were less than perfect.
But Medea persevered.
Each day, earlier and earlier, she went back to the Garden, peered over the wall and studied the students and their master. And she learned. She got to the point where she could break oak boards in half with one swift jab.
Then, one student levitated off the ground. Medea stared. Human’s didn’t fly! They couldn’t! Except in airplanes! She’d questioned Chloe, her scientific sister, extensively about it the next day. Chloe agreed, humans couldn’t fly. But the next morning, Medea watched as another student floated off the ground, a look of serene calm on his face. She glared at the training dummy. She’d come this far. Nothing was going to stop her from mastering the skill. She marched down to the Academy and asked the old Master how people could fly.
He’d laughed. “It form of meditation,” he told her, his accent thick. “Only complete calm of mind and body, you can achieve.” Behind him, the student sighed, a soft smile on his face. “You must master Dancing Wind before you attempt,” and he gestured her towards the beginning class, six children, ages five to seven.
Medea glared at him and stomped out. What was Dancing Wind? She didn’t know the names of any of the forms. She didn’t even know the name of the art she studied! But that wouldn’t stop her. She’d made it this far on her own. She’d finish this on her OWN!
Note: I haven’t thought of any particular LTW for Lucy or Medea. Something artsy for Lucy and sports (maybe?) for Medea. We’ll see what their last traits are when they age up. At this point, Shaye has the Animal Rescuer and Donovan has locked in the Seasoned Explorer (it replaced his other LTW…bug?), which is nice, since it saves me saving up lifetime happiness for him. Thomas has the Golden Tongue, Golden Fingers, while Chloe’s is More Than a Machine.