Most of the Time, Major Things Happen Far Away
“We need to name him something,” Isaac muttered, watching the puppy sniff around.
“You say that like you just thought of it,” Skip said, arms crossed as he leaned against the dormitory’s outer wall. “You’re the one who hasn’t named him.”
“I know, I know.” Isaac frowned at the dog, then looked up at his roommates. He didn’t need all three of them to police a puppy who needed to pee, but here all of them were, having left lunch early with him to make sure their room wasn’t a mess when they got back.
Or at least, it wasn’t the kind of mess that they didn’t want to clean up again.
“It’s not like we haven’t suggested a lot of names,” Peter reminded him. “You just haven’t liked any of them.”
“It’s not that,” Isaac said hastily. The names that had been suggested were good. Mostly good. Nicholas had suggested naming him Spot. “It’s just…”
“They’re not what you’re looking for.” Spencer nodded. He’d suggested Ruffle, which Isaac thought was very cute.
Isaac nodded, watching as the puppy finally decided on a place to pee. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Spencer assured him.
“Yeah, it’s fine.” Skip’s suggestions had been Dolphin and Digger. “I mean, I’d listen to your suggestions if you had them when it was time for me to name my kid, but I’m not just going to let you wander in and make the decision for me.”
Isaac smiled a little at that, because Skip wasn’t wrong. “Maybe I’ll name him Casper,” he suggested.
“Maybe I’ll drown you in the lake. Then we can name him Isaac in your memory,” Skip said with a smile.
“Why do you hate it so much?” Peter asked, and Skip just shrugged.
The puppy finished up its business and, as usual, tried to run away. Spencer moved in front of him and picked him up, shaking his head as he puppy protested. “Someday you’ll learn.”
A chosen dog for a chosen one, Isaac thought, watching the puppy squirm. Jacob’s comment had been bothering him because Jacob wasn’t supposed to know about Isaac, but now the words came back to him for a different reason. And he broke into a grin.
“Aha.” Peter pointed at Isaac. “He’s thought of a name.” Peter had suggested Paintbrush before declaring he had no talent for naming things and opting out of the rest of the process.
“Yeah.” Isaac nodded, smiling down at the puppy in Spencer’s arms. “I think that…” he trailed off, something loud tugging at his senses. The Pillars vibrated around him for a minute, and Isaac looked up. It felt like something had pulled on them, from far away, in the east.
Isaac looked back, to see all three of them looking at him a bit funny. “You guys didn’t feel that?”
All three of them nodded, but it was Peter who spoke. “The Pillars moved for a second.”
“Even I felt it.” Spencer sounded afraid, and Skip nodded.
Isaac looked east, not that there was anything to see. “I wonder what it was. It felt like something shook all the Pillars at once. I’ve never seen that before.” It hadn’t just been a small move, it had been as though something had grabbed hold of all of them and given them a hard pull.
Isaac wondered who was powerful enough to do that.
“We should go inside,” Spencer said quietly. “We have class soon.”
Isaac had a feeling they didn’t, but he nodded and the four of them took the no longer unnamed puppy inside, depositing him in their room where his water bowl was. Isaac usually let him wander around the dormitory, but not when he wasn’t there. “We’ll be back later, little guy,” Isaac promised him, as the four of them left for class.
Isaac was entirely unsurprised when, as they left the dormitory, Colby came up to them, grinning. “Hey, classes are cancelled for the day. The Pillars vibrated for like one second and now the faculty are all up in arms.”
Nodding, Isaac made himself smile. “That’s awesome.”
It wasn’t awesome. It made Isaac very worried.
“Yeah. I didn’t even notice, but I guess it’s a big deal.” Colby shrugged. “I guess you guys just have just put Mr. Paws in your room, yeah?” Colby’s suggestion had been one of the less impressive ones in Isaac’s book.
“Yeah.” Isaac nodded, gestured behind him. “You can visit him if you want.”
Isaac wasn’t the only one missing a dog from home, as it had turned out. Colby grinned, patting Isaac on the shoulder. “Thanks. You coming up?”
“In a bit, yeah,” Isaac promised, reading Colby’s expression.
“Cool,” Colby smiled again and moved past Isaac and the rest of them. He wasn’t the only one heading for the dormitory, so Isaac moved out of the doorway.
“It was serious enough for them to cancel class over,” Spencer said quietly.
“Could still be nothing,” Skip offered, hands in his pockets. “Maybe it happens all the time and the faculty just wanted the afternoon off before it stops being summer.”
“Could be.” Isaac sighed, looking out over the grounds. He could see a few teachers heading for the main tower, coming from different buildings. He guessed there was going to be a meeting. “Hold on.”
“They aren’t going to tell you anything, Isaac,” Peter told him, as Isaac headed in the direction of the tower.
“I know.” But Isaac went anyway, leaving the three of them standing there.
He caught Yancy just at the front doors of the tower. “Yancy.”
“Ah.” Yancy turned, apparently surprised to see Isaac there. “Isaac.”
“You felt it, then?” At Isaac’s nod, Yancy put on a grim face. “I wish I could tell you, lad. But alas, I’m not sure. Nor is anyone else, I fear.”
“Okay,” Isaac nodded, looking away a bit.
“If I knew anything, Isaac,” Yancy said, “I wouldn’t keep it from you.”
“I believe you.”
“Why don’t you give your thoughts on what happened? They may be different from mine.”
Isaac doubted that, and he shrugged. “I was just outside with my friends. It suddenly felt like someone had pulled on the whole…” he gestured vaguely in front of him, letting his fingers brush Light as he did. “Not just on the Pillars, like, individually, you know. It felt like a tug on the whole thing. Like someone crashed into it all or something.”
“I see.” Yancy nodded, clearly curious. “A different perspective indeed.”
“That’s not what you felt?”
“Not the words I would have used, perhaps, but I hazard that they aren’t any less correct than any other.” Yancy glanced up at the tower. “I must go, lad. The archmage has called a faculty meeting.” He smiled suddenly. “Which should tell you something, Isaac. There’s nothing the man hates more than to have all of us crowding in one room.” He gave a conspiratorial wink, and Isaac laughed a little. “I should go.”
“Okay. Sorry to bother you.”
“Not to worry, Isaac. About that or what’s happened. If it’s something to be worried about, we’ll do the worrying. You focus on your studies.”
“Oh God, don’t remind me,” Isaac muttered, but he stepped back and let Yancy into the tower with a sigh. He moved away from the door so the other faculty wouldn’t think he was lurking, and nearly stepped full-tilt into someone as he turned. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Christopher was looking down at Isaac, who blinked. “Everything all right?”
“Yeah.” Isaac put on a smile. “Well. I hope so.”
“Nothing you can do about it if it’s not,” Christopher said, patting him on the shoulder. It might just have been Isaac’s imagination, the emphasis he heard on the word ‘you.’ “Just enjoy the afternoon off.”
“Yeah, thanks.” Isaac saw that Oliver was coming this way as well, with a few of their other friends. They must have had some class or something of their own. He knew that the apprentices took advanced classes together. “You too.”
Christopher chuckled. “Mixed feelings. Missing the advanced shadow magic class, which is a great seminar—but Yancy leads it, which sucks.” He shrugged. “See you around, Isaac.”
“See you,” Isaac said, as he buckled a little under the hard pat Christopher gave him on the back. When he recovered from it, Oliver was there. “Hey.”
“Hey. Everything’s okay.”
“I know, I was just…” Isaac looked around, shrugged. “I don’t know. What do you do when class is cancelled?”
“See, Oliver, this is something we need to work on,” Isaac told him, straightening a bit. “There’s this thing called fun. I know you work for Yancy, but you must have heard of it, at least.”
All of Oliver’s friends were laughing at him, and Christopher tapped Oliver on the shoulder. “Kid’s got a point, Oliver.”
“Yeah, yeah. You’re all hilarious.” Oliver shook his head, gave Isaac a pat on the shoulder. “Seriously, though—you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Isaac promised, and Oliver smiled at him. “I should go. My friends are waiting for me to come back.”
“Okay, see you around.”
“Yeah.” Hearing the same words from Oliver was a lot nicer than when they’d come from Christopher. Isaac smiled, and moved away from the apprentices to jog back over to his roommates. “Sorry,” he told them, immediately wishing he hadn’t jogged. It wasn’t blistering hot anymore, but now he was sweating a bit.
“Learn anything?” Peter asked him.
“Not really.” Isaac looked over his shoulder at the main tower. “I didn’t think I would. I just…” He shrugged.
“Can’t leave well enough alone?”
“Yep, that’s me.”
“One of the things we like about you, Isaac,” Peter assured him.
“Alright,” Skip said, taking a deep breath. “Not to be flippant, but there’s no point in worrying about something we can’t even learn about. Let’s do something fun.”
“Oliver suggested I study,” Isaac told him.
“Well, we’re not doing that,” Skip declared, putting an arm around Spencer before he could disagree. “Let’s go swimming or something, come on.”
“I’ll be there in a bit,” Isaac told them, as Skip dragged Spencer down that way. “Colby’s upstairs with the puppy, I should go say hi at least.”
Peter poked Isaac with his cane. “Do not. Have sex with Colby. On my bed.”
“I’m serious. It was bad enough I caught you with Neil last week. Your bed is two feet away.”
“You sleep in my bed most of the time anyway,” Isaac protested, embarrassed more because he’d assumed Peter wouldn’t be back until after they were done than anything else.
“Okay, okay.” Isaac put his hands up in self-defence. “Maybe we won’t have sex, you ever think of that?”
“Anyone who thinks Isaac’s not about to get laid, raise their hand.”
Nobody raised their hand.
“Wow, thanks, guys.”
“It’s a compliment,” Spencer assured him. “Probably.”
“Just don’t take all day. I expect you to spend quality bonding time with us in the lake,” Skip told him, waving a finger.
Isaac smiled. “I wouldn’t miss it.”
It ended up being a really nice afternoon. Isaac decided that time off was what he made of it, and worrying about why he had it was a waste.