Dukkha concentrates fiercely. a few drops of sweat trickling down her forehead, as she chants a few words over and over, her hands splayed around a small bucket that lies before her in a complex arrangement of sticks and scribbled lines.

Dukkha After a few moments, she stops, sighing, and dips her hand into the bucket, taking a drink of the water, then spits it out disgustedly.

Dukkha "I almost had it..." she mutters.

Daravina watches quietly until Dukkha is done, and frowns. "Sorry, Dear. I think the words have changed since... well... you know."

Dukkha glares over at her. "Yes, I know. It's merely a matter of finding the new words. Experimentation. Research!"

Dukkha "That, or die of thirst. Or of drinking tainted water."

Dukkha stands up, kicking the bucket over viciously, and begins to pace.

Daravina chuckles, "Well, maybe the students will have some ideas. They're very bright, you know! It's a shame the building turned to spun sugar, don't you think? It was so beautiful until the rain." She sighs, then says encouraginly. "Well, don't worry. I'm sure we'll figure something out."

Dukkha "Bright," she mutters. "We had probably better check on them and make sure none of them have blown themselves up recently trying to kill rats or light cigarettes or something."

Dukkha "How many are left, anyway? I can never keep track."

Dukkha "I know Alexander and his gang all vanished forever last week...."

Daravina "Well, of the ones that stayed, I think hmmm, yes, 69 are still in the dorms, trying to help us solve the puzzle. I don't know about forever but... it is worrying that they keep vanishing... But I have no doubt we will find them once we can make magic work again!"

Dukkha "Well, we won't be able to stay here much longer without finding another source of water."

Dukkha chews on her thumb. "How far is Sudra from here? Just ten miles or so? If we're going to have to walk that, we'd better start tomorrow or the next day."

Dukkha "What did you want to talk to me about, anyway? You know I hate to be interrupted when I'm working."

Daravina "Well, do you remember three years ago when you lit that boy on fire for insubordination? (I always thought that was a bit harsh of you, dear, but... ) Well, I was thinking of the theories he was shouting during your class, and how they seemed so crazy at the time. And I thought that maybe that's exactly what we need."

Dukkha 's face reflects a complex mixture of emotions for a few seconds, and she fidgets with her hair.

Dukkha "Alucard."

Dukkha "He deserved it."

Daravina "Yes, yes, that's what you told the board. You'd been working on some of the more subtle influential magics then, too, if I recall!"

Dukkha "I don't..." she hisses, and sits down.

Daravina smiles pleasantly, "Well, now, what was it about his theories that inspired such anger?"

Dukkha "I remember telling you it wasn't any of your business then, just like it isn't now. This kind of thing is why you never got tenure, you know. That conversation you had with the Dean's wife at the All Saint's Day parade!" Dukkha shakes her head expressively.

Daravina "Why that was a perfectly nice conversation!" she says mildly. "And quite informative, as I recall."

Dukkha snorts. "That's certainly one way to look at it. Certainly we all learned a lot."

Dukkha hesitates. "I...don't remember any of those theories anyway. Come on, let's get back to the school before it starts raining."

Daravina "Well, I think Alucard still lives in town, poor boy."

Daravina heads for the door. "We wouldn't want to get caught in that rain.

Dukkha doesn't respond to Daravina's statement, lost in her thoughts.

Dukkha Late that night, Daravina, kept up dealing with a teething baby of one of the students, notices a light leave B Dorm and head off purposefully towards the collapsed but tasty remnants of the Laboratorium.

Daravina puts aside her knitting - it just hasn't been the same since she's had to move the needles with her hands - and tucks the baby into bed one more time, giving the child a little ring to chew on and the father a reminder list of how to deal with babies mundanely. She walks quietly down the hall - not sneaking though, oh no! she would never do that. But her footsteps follow that light.

Dukkha The light heads directly to a patch of ground strewn with rubble and rotted, discolored office furniture, and there hovers, bobbing slightly, while its owner begins digging through a battered desk.

Daravina "Find what you're looking for?" She asks cheerfully when she is close.

Dukkha jerks upright in surprise and bangs her head on the desk.

Dukkha swears. "What is your PROBLEM, Daravina?"

Daravina gestures to the world at large, expressively. "Well, there's that water thing, and the fact that I can't find Alucard anywhere. And then, there's professors breaking curfew!"

Dukkha "Alucard moved to Sudra two years ago when he got married."

Dukkha "And the curfew rule stems from back before the WORLD WAS DESTROYED."

Dukkha "I'm not sure how much validity it has in our present circumstances."

Daravina "Well, I just didn't want the Shadows to catch you unawares."

Dukkha "Yes, well. That's why I've got a witchlight." She wiggles her fingers, and the glowing ball of light darts about above them -- the first spell anybody at the school has seen in years, and not something anybody knew she could do in the Second Age.

Dukkha sighs as she gets back down to rifle through her drawers again.

Daravina jumps back, startled, "Dukkha! What? How?!"

Dukkha "Practice. Experimentation. Research."

Dukkha "Change the words, change the gestures, change the movements...it takes about an hour to cast, the new way, but it works."

Daravina "Well, you simply must show me how."

Dukkha 's mouth tightens. "Yes. All right."

Dukkha "How's your etherodynamics? It relies on the chaotic field theory. You know. The one Alucard was working on." She reaches what she's looking for, and looks down at the battered gray folder wistfully, before pulling it out of the drawer.

Daravina "Etherodynamics, hmmm oh yes of course. Didn't Sophilia write a treatise on that? Lovely gal. Unfortunate about the thing with the dog."

Dukkha wrinkles her nose at the mere mention. "Well." She hefts the folder. "I'll see what I can do to explain the theory to you. We hadn't gotten it all worked out before...well, anyway, here's what we had."

Daravina "Wait, are you telling me you actually worked with Alucard and Sophilia?" She giggles.

Dukkha "I should be able to improve the process. I was just working from memory with the light..." she blinks rapidly for a second, as if something is in her eye. "I worked with Alucard. We came up with the theory together."

Dukkha "He didn't meet Sophilia until...after he left my class."

Daravina "Wait wait wait... Oh my! You were dating weren't you."

Daravina "This is precious.

Dukkha sighs, and sits down in her old office chair, which immediately collapses under her.

Dukkha "It wasn't...I don't know."

Dukkha "We couldn't 'date'. It would have been against every rule of academic ethics there is."

Dukkha "I was his advisor, for God's sake."

Dukkha "It was completely...it would have been completely...we couldn't do it. We just couldn't."

Daravina sits down primly next to Dukkha and pats her shoulder comfortingly. "Well, I don't know why you never told me, Dear. That must have been weighing so heavily on your mind for all these years."

Dukkha "Why I never TOLD you? Because I could've been fired! Moral turpitude! There are only three ways to lose your tenure, and that's one of them!"

Dukkha "And I know exactly what you would've done. I was there at the parade, you know. I heard what you said to the Dean's wife!"

Dukkha "You were always the biggest gossip."

Daravina looks affronted, "Well, I was worried about them, you know."

Dukkha "Yeah. Worried. But you didn't exactly help their marriage that way, did you?'

Dukkha "She didn't just leave the city, she left the STATE."

Daravina "I simply couldn't help her. I warned her not to experiment with that spell, didn't I? I warned her not to conjure things that shouldn't be put together those ways, but she was planning to! And to think about selling those to the students and novelties, well!"

Daravina (and=as)

Daravina "Besides," she mutters, "She wouldn't give me one."

Dukkha snickers. "I wouldn't have given you one either."

Dukkha "Well."

Daravina looks genuinely unhappy.

Dukkha "I'll see what we can work out from this document, and...what?"

Daravina "I just... nevermind, it doesn't matter, Dukkha. The magic is more important, of course."

Dukkha "I...well, I didn't mean to upset you. I mean. It's not like we were ever friends. Especially after you blocked my appropriation request in '04."

Daravina gives Dukkha a sad smile, and pats her hand. "Yes, dear, I know. I just thought in a time like this, we could overcome our differences. I'm sorry about that request. I'm afraid I just didn't see the use of a theory on how to extract water from stone."

Dukkha snorts, then laughs a little helplessly.

Daravina can't help but laugh along. After a while, she asks "Well, do you still have those papers?"

Dukkha "Never gave it any more work. I'm a practical magician, not a theoretical magician. You know that."

Dukkha "It's okay. With this, hopefully we can figure something out."

Dukkha "Listen, Daravina..." she hesitates.

Daravina "Yes, Dukkha?" She smiles hopefully

Dukkha "I'm glad...well."

Dukkha "Good job. Dealing with the kids. I was never any good at that."

Dukkha "You handle the students really well."

Dukkha "It's good. I don't know what I'd do without you."

Dukkha smiles tentatively.

Daravina blushes, "Well, thank you. I do love children. I just wish I could inspire them to genius. None of them have the rigor and determination that you do, and, well." she gestures to the witchlight. "We would be much worse off without you here."

Daravina "You're amazing."

Dukkha "I think some of the students could do it. They just don't want to work! When I was..." she pauses and half-shrugs. "Well. I guess we kind of had a lot of advantages they don't, like a functioning infrastructure."

Dukkha "I, uh."

Dukkha "Thank you."

Daravina smiles, "Do you mind if I take a look at those papers? Maybe we can figure something out... together."

Dukkha "Sure. I'd love your help. It's always good to have somebody to bounce ideas off of. You know."

Dukkha "Shall we get back?"

Daravina rises, and offers her hand to Dukkha, "Yes, there is so much to do."