|In the morning, the last day before I went to ground at the Chalet School, I explored the area. I walked by the edge of the lake, and spent some time just looking into the blue water and losing my thoughts in it. The first thing I needed to do was find out where the churches in the area were; you never knew when you’d need to take refuge on holy ground, the one place where Immortals couldn’t fight. Once I knew that, I went further afield. |
I had taken a packed lunch, and ate it sitting on the grass on a gentle slope. The fresh air had certainly given me an appetite. Walking on, I came upon the San; I’d read about this and the work its doctors did for tuberculosis sufferers. I was curious, and walked closer, but stopped dead when I felt the presence of another Immortal.
Of course my first thought was: It was him – he’d found me! I backed off and took hold of my sword, hidden in the long coat I wore – unfashionable, but practical for one of us. Did this place still count as too near mortals to have a fight? The door opened, but it was not my enemy who emerged. It was a tall, dark-haired man in a doctor’s white coat, scanning warily for what he sensed. For me. When he saw me, his eyebrows went up.
“Oh, put that away,” he said with more than a touch of irritability. “There are people around.” His accent was British. He appeared to be in his thirties, but I knew that was no indication.
I did put the sword back, but I kept my hand near it, just in case. He sighed and came towards me.
“Who are you, and what are you doing here?”
“My name is Rose Kennedy.” It wasn’t the name I’d been born with. It very rarely was, with us.
“Adam Pearson,” he responded, and I was sure his wasn’t, either.
“I didn’t expect to find others here. I came to get away, and be somewhere secluded.”
“Yes, well, that was my idea too,” he said. “Hasn’t quite worked out, has it?”
“I didn’t come looking for a fight,” I said quietly.
He looked at me for a while. “Are you avoiding one?”
I didn’t want to tell the whole story to a stranger, but he seemed to be able to tell anyway. He groaned.
“And whoever it is you’re avoiding will probably follow you up here. Wonderful.”
Defensive, I said, “I wasn’t to know I was leading him to you. As I said, I didn’t think there’d be any others up here. I’m starting at the Chalet School tomorrow so even if he does find me, he won’t have the chance to challenge me.”
I had the feeling Adam wanted to laugh. He said, “Look, come inside. If you’ve brought trouble to my door, you should at least tell me who it is.”
I couldn’t argue with that, but I was still wary as I followed him inside. We passed two doctors, who looked up from a discussion over papers. Adam greeted them briefly and told them I was his niece, which seemed to surprise them, and named them as Doctors Maynard and Russell. We didn’t pause to chat. Adam led me to a small canteen.
A couple of nurses were drinking coffee in one corner, looking exhausted. We took seats at the other end of the room.
“So, the Chalet School?” he began.
I nodded. “Seemed like a good idea.”
“Theoretically.” Adam gave me a long look. “You look to be in your teens, but you certainly don’t act that way. Are you sure you’ll be able to blend in in a school?”
“Well, it has been a couple of centuries since I was actually seventeen, but how hard can it be?”
Adam rolled his eyes. “Possibly harder than taking someone’s head,” was his opinion.
I shrugged and looked away. It reminded me of the Immortal on my trail, and I didn’t want to think about him. It seemed to me that anything would be better and easier than facing him again.
“You know you can’t hide forever,” said Adam, guessing my thoughts.
“I can hide until he forgets about me,” I told him. “With luck he doesn’t even know where I’ve gone. He won’t come here and he won’t find you.”
“I don’t believe in luck. Who is he?”
“Depends where he is,” I said dryly. “He called himself Simon when I met him but he keeps changing his name.”
Adam just waited, and since I had been the one to invade his sanctuary, I decided I had to tell him what he wanted to know. So I shortened the story as much as I could – fights, the first interrupted, the second fled, a couple of near avoidances, finally the decision to find a hiding place, and finding out about this one.
“Well, I hope you’re right and you have lost him,” he said finally.
“Doctor!” A nurse called from the door. “Dr. Pearson, we need you.”
Adam stood up. “Duty calls. Come along.”
I followed him. “Why do you do it?” I asked. “Work with mortals?”
He shrugged. “It’s something to do, isn’t it?” He steered me to one of the doctors we’d passed earlier. “Dr. Russell’s wife actually owns your new school. Seems like this would be a good opportunity for any questions you may have. Russell, take care of my niece, please, and see that she knows the way back.” He winked at me as he whisked away after the nurse.
I looked at Dr. Russell, sizing him up. I supposed it might be useful to gather some inside information about the school. Act teenaged, I reminded myself as he smiled encouragingly at me.