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Moth Malaise

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Academic Demands
« on: May 25, 2007, 05:03:47 AM »
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"To business, then!"

Calder slammed the classroom door. It was an old classroom, not Calder\'s usual, and neglected over many years. As a result, the ensuing silence as students hurried to pay attention was broken by a rat plummeting from the rafters. It fell, with a gentle plop, into the cauldron set up by Calder\'s desk. A sigh passed his lips. He retrieved a ladel from next to the board.

"My name," he said, "is Professor Calder. You will address me as \'sir\'. And I have the pleasure of teaching you, for the next few weeks, what happens when we mix varying dangerous bits and pieces together in a big pot and feed it to owls."

The owls in question were huddled in a cage on his desk, hooting feebly. They watched as Calder began to fish the rat out of his cauldron with the ladel.

"Now. I gather you\'ve all been told some basics of poisons before. I should hope you have, anyway." His eyes flicked up to them, ensuring he had at least some kind of nod coming his way. "Yes? Good. Therefore, this class will move at a brisk pace. I trust that any knowledge gaps will be filled, either by you in your own time or... well, there is no other way. We have a library for a reason."

He finally navigated the rat from the cauldron, and tipped it out onto the floor with a look of distaste. It scuttled away, squelching. He hung the ladel back up.

"Now. There are textbooks laid out on your desks, to verify any basics which may have slipped your minds. Get out your notebooks and a pen."

There was a fluttering and scrabbling as everyone went for notebooks and pencil cases. As he waited, Calder shrugged off his top layer of robes and draped them over the back of his chair, left in white shirt and waist-coat beneath. Before most of the class were ready, he began to speak. They would learn.

"Cyanide. Any chemical compound consisting of a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom. Hydrogen cyanide is the common form - a colorless gas, with a bitter almond-like odor, can be smelt by most people. My hamster could detect hydrogen cyanide. Sodium cyanide and potassium cyanide are both white powders, and in damp air - "

"Sir, can you slow down a bit?"

Calder\'s eyes flickered upon the speaker. "Out." The boy blinked. Calder raised an eyebrow. "You heard me. Out. Out before I call someone with the ability to turn you into an owl and put you in my cage for later."

He leant back in his chair, putting his feet up on the desk, and steepled his fingers.

"Inhalation of high concentrations of cyanide causes a coma, with..."

Offline Trillian

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2007, 07:20:45 AM »
As one student left, another entered.  Long white hair cascaded around a bowed head, a hand drifted out from within robes to lay a yellow transfer card upon the edge of the teacher\'s desk.  There was no declaration or explanation from the student it was for, because the young man went directly to the nearest empty desk (the one most recently vacated) and sat himself down upon it, hesitating when he felt its warmth but then preceeding to place a single sheet of paper upon the surface of the cracked wood and lie a pencil at its side.

Then, he looked up, at his teacher, and stared.

He\'d been a figure of action, between moving from his class recently vacated, taking the card, finding his new transfer as soon as possible to not lose too much of the beginning of said class, doing his best not to get distracted, not even as someone met him at the door and then went out in a hasty path of anger, doing his best to ignore them instead of staring after them, so he could come inside and take a seat.  Once he\'d sat and arranged himself, he allowed himself to feel the sense of pride at being moved to a more advanced class with a specialist teacher.

Said teacher was going to be a problem for him now, but he did not realise the effect, for he\'d never come across anything quite like this.  He had a physical reaction when his eyes met the man standing at the front of the small room.  His skin seemed to tingle all the way to his fingertips, causing them to dance lightly for a second and inside his chest he felt a cavity form which seemed to make his heart work twice as hard to fill it.  He didn\'t know this because he couldn\'t feel it, but his pupils dilated in his already dark gaze and he felt dazed like someone had smacked him upside the head.

Such a strong reaction, just to look at someone.  He stared, unblinking, frozen, looking much like an exceptionally attentive student and not like one transfixed by physical attraction.
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Moth Malaise

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2007, 07:15:19 AM »
"... seizures, the suspension of external breathing, and cardiac arrest. Death usually follows within a matter of minutes. Low doses..."

Calder\'s eyes flickered up as a new boy entered the class. With his usual indifference, he registered the yellow transfer card in the boy\'s hand and so had no reason to chastise. The boy deserved a chance to catch up, he supposed. Not many students were considered hardy enough to transfer late to Calder\'s classes.

He picked up the card even as he spoke, his tongue reciting research notes tattooed on the inside of his skull. He eyed the details with interest.

"... headaches, vertigo, confusion, perceived difficulty in breathing. Bear in mind that some experts consider there to be a considerable range in sensitivity amongst humans. Cyanide is reputed to work faster on an empty stomach. The anion is protonated by stomach acids..."

People were scribbling furiously. He loved teaching. He watched with pleasure, still speaking mechanically, as people desperately asked their neighbours how to spell \'protonated\' and what it meant. Absently he cast his eyes over to their newest arrival.

How interesting. Someone with the brains to listen and be attentive, rather than try scribbling down irrelevant words they didn\'t understand. His eyes landed on the boy only briefly before away again, watching his owls dimly as he began to run through the various chemical equations of cyanide salts.  He reached up and loosened his top few buttons absent-mindedly.

Offline Trillian

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2007, 05:58:54 PM »
Ren\'s thumping heart seemed to go straight to his groin as his eyes met with his teacher, he attracted an approving gaze and then the man unbuttoned his shirt.  For a mentally flailing moment, Ren thought his new teacher would strip his entire shirt off, and Ren knew he wouldn\'t be able to cope with that.  His heartrate had skipped a beat before regaining its earlier galloping pace when his teacher stopped at two buttons and continued with the rest of the class.

Ren\'s eyes, however, had almost doubled in size and still hadn\'t returned to normality.  With these dark circular orbs staring fixed on Calder, he likely looked more like the caged owls than the students he was sitting between.
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Moth Malaise

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2007, 11:24:09 PM »
By the time that Calder had rattled through the solubility of various cyanide salts without a breath, twenty-five minutes later, half the class were in despair. The furious sound of scribbling was like music to his ears. He paused to yawn, as if all this was boring him, and stretched out his long legs slightly. He rather wanted to kick off his shoes, but there was a line between dramatic and melodramatic.

"... and as an optimum temperature, twenty-five degrees should be fine but the range is relatively liberal, which possibly explains its extensive use. Now."

He fancied that one of the boys at the back was actually crying.

"There\'s an important lesson to be learnt here," he said. He laced his fingers behind his head. "If you all lift up your textbooks, you\'ll find every word of what I\'ve just said, neatly typed on a revision sheet. You\'ll also recall that I asked you to get out your notebooks and pens, not to utilise them."

Horror registered on the faces of most of the class. Several checked. His lips curved.

"There is more to poisons and chemistry than writing down everything that nice Professor Calder tells us. You need to be observant of your environment, selective with your note-taking, and attentive to what you need and what you don\'t need. Now, potassium cyanide."

He reached into the pocket of his waistcoat, extracting a small silver box. He clicked it open. Inside was what looked like sugar.

"Anybody tell me something interesting about potassium cyanide?" he inquired, lifting his eyes lazily to the class, most of whom were still tearful over their wasted frenzy.

Offline Trillian

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2007, 11:45:59 PM »
As there were chuckles and relieved laughter throughout the classroom, Ren didn\'t even blink, so attentive still was he on the Professor, transfixed on the man who inspired physical reaction from him.  Was this a trick as well?  He would have to know the secret.  At the question posed to the classroom, Ren had an answer.

"It looks like sugar," Ren blurted, wanting to impress.  He\'d found this fact interesting about potassium cyanide, "and dissolves the same way."  One of the things he was looking forward to, was offering a victim a cup of tea or coffee, then watching them poison their own cup with what they thought was sugar.  It would be quite the way to kill someone, and he found the whole process of planning such things, intriguing.  He wondered how many people Professor Calder had killed.
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Moth Malaise

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2007, 12:00:14 AM »
Calder nodded briefly to Ren. The approval was momentary, insubstanial, impersonal enough to madden and yet underlaid by a rarity that made it precious. "It does indeed. Highly soluble in water, 71.6 grams per 100ml. Difficult to differentiate from sugar. Scent of bitter almonds, unfortunately, but some are unable to smell it due to a genetic trait."

He tilted the box; everyone leant forward to see. He reached into a small clay pot of owl treats to one side, selecting one at length. The owls bustled and shifted hopefully in their cage. Absently he dipped the pellet into a glass of water, and then into the granules of power.

"Used in the production of jewellery as well, for buffing and so on... also used by the particularly pathetic members of society who collect dead insects in jars. Most insects die within seconds, minimising damaging."

He yawned. The owls had all hurried to the front of their cage and were fluffing eagerly, nipping at the bars. He considered them for a moment. A particularly pretty little grey one caught his eye. He fed it the treat, and it gobbled it down rather happily.

"Effects are highly similar to sodium cyanide. On a small amount , consciousness is lost within around a minute, can be as low as ten seconds depending on immunity and amount of food in the stomach... ah, there we go."

The owl had teetered to the floor of the cage with a soft thump. He opened the cage and reached in for it, moving it to the front of his desk for them to see. It was quite still.

"No fuss. No mess. No blood. A few hundred milligrams in someone\'s cocoa."

Offline Trillian

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2007, 05:25:38 PM »
Class was relatively simple, if a student was ahead of their game.  Ren had learned about cyanide when he was in years prior, and had paid attention then to not worry too much about it now.  Yes, his teacher was going into more detail, with quirky hints and tricks that he was sure he would use, but it wasn\'t so much the fact that Ren was a good student (though he was, but not because of study, rather his uncanny way of remembering things), as his interest in every word that came out of Dominic Calder\'s mouth.  He didn\'t know his teacher\'s full name either, but he would find out, oh yes indeed.

He spent the rest of the class keenly observing Calder\'s actions, listening to Calder\'s words.  Everything out of the man\'s mouth was mentally noted - until, of course, he was dazed by the flowing movement of his teacher\'s lips, mesmerised by the erotic thoughts they were giving him before he came to and coughed into his hand before paying more attention yet again.

Then class was over, and though Ren had another immediately after (and so did most other students, judging by how they were packing their stuff and getting out like they couldn\'t escape fast enough), Ren found himself dawdling with the desks and chairs, waiting to be addressed by his teacher, or at least to follow him, if the man left the classroom to hurry somewhere.
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Moth Malaise

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2007, 07:07:14 AM »
Calder sat lazily in his chair, watching them all pack away, flicking through the back of the textbook they\'d all been using with long, ink-stained fingers. Whether he had somewhere to be wasn\'t clear. He gave the impression that wherever he had to go, whatever he had to do, it would always be utterly trivial. As the first of the class began to file out, his eyes found the transfer slip left on the edge of his desk.

"Ah... you, boy - " He glanced up.

The boy in question was dawdling, probably desperate to get his slip signed and leave. Calder tore off the appropriate part. Producing a biro, he signed it - a sharp, spiky signature, Dominic J Calder - and jotted down the date. He handed the signed part back to Ren.

"I doubt very much that any member of staff will ask to see the signed slip, but keep it somewhere safe in case of emergency." He leant to one side, pulling open a drawer of the desk. From inside he extracted a weedy little yellow plant in a pot and a pair of clippers. The next class were hovering outside already.

"Off you go," he said dismissively to Ren.

Offline Trillian

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2007, 07:19:08 AM »
Ren looked at the slip in his hands, feeling an electric spark as Dominic handed it to him, and a sense of joy at getting the man\'s first name.

Dominic Calder
Dominic
Dom
Dommy
Dominiiiiiiiic Caaaaaalder


His mind played with the name even as he softly asked: "What\'s the J stand for?" and watched the man\'s mouth, to see his lips form the name while fantasising about what else his mouth could do.  Oh, he might be blushing now (but he wasn\'t) and felt extremely aware of the man\'s presence.  He lifted the  hand holding the slip and pressed it lightly to his own lips, feeling the paper touching them briefly, the signed name against his mouth.  It was like kissing, he romanticised, like a child with a crush - though he wasn\'t far from the latter, but with a bit of age behind him.  Regardless of this, he had no experience to draw from, so he was approaching things much like a teen would, only without the self-doubt that came with it.
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Moth Malaise

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2007, 05:28:02 AM »
Calder had begun to prune the plant, clipping off the shrivelled leaves and collecting them in his palm. He assumed that the boy would leave, his class would come in and sit, and when he next looked up, he would find their attentive little faces peering at him and awaiting instruction. He had this lot well-trained.

The question caught him off-guard. It barely registered in his face - a slight tightening of his forehead, a momentary pause with the clippers, and he looked up. His eyes were distinctly narrow. All the same, he sat for a full five or six seconds considering the boy. While it wasn\'t an ocean of time on the grand scheme of things, it was certainly a long time to be under a single, penetrative gaze for. Calder prided himself on the ability to come to a conclusion within micro-seconds. You had to, working with posions. The six seconds, then, went on for eons.

And in that time, he observed the slip pressed to lips, and wondered if it was in nerves, in shyness, in simple curiosity. Or something else. Pretty boy, he noted. Attentive. Inappropriate question, of course, and had turned up late - but pretty boy, nonetheless. His mouth opened, a sarcastic slice of dismissal ready to be served, before he paused. He wondered. He could feed a little more information, surely. See its effect. Drip another drop.

"James."

A single word, spoken with the significance and intention of a masterfully-crafted piece of political rhetoric. With this spoken, he sat back in his chair. He put the clippers to one side and waited, observing Ren, examining.

Offline Trillian

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2007, 05:25:41 AM »
Under the long and silent gaze, Ren stared back, the eye contact thrilling and causing his heart to pound with excitement in his chest, tingling fingers, tingling lips.  Then came his answer; James.

"Dominic James Calder," he said softly, though loud enough for his peer to hear it, and hear the pleasure in Ren\'s voice as he said it, as well as the smile behind the slip of paper still touching his lips.  He lowered it now, and would\'ve kept staring except he was distracted by a busy crowd of students parading through the door, noisily scraping back chairs from tables in order to slip themselves in, wondering at who the white-blonde student was, talking to their teacher.

"Can I meet with you?" he blurted before he was told to leave, "after classes?" he clarified, which wasn\'t a terribly unusual request from students to some of their teachers, if they wished extra tutoring and the teacher was willing to agree.  Despite this question being asked a lot, mostly it would yield a response in the negative.  A teacher at the Academy often had far more important things to do with their free time than hang about with more students.  Unless the student was one they found... interesting, of course.
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Moth Malaise

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2007, 04:59:08 PM »
Well - how very blatant. How charming.

Calder decided that he rather enjoyed this, and almost wished he didn\'t have another class now goggling at him like owls. He\'d have enjoyed observing Ren for a little longer. It was an experiment he didn\'t want to leave. And it was a rare experiment for him, one he didn\'t try as much as he liked - it wasn\'t often that he himself was the poison.

He\'d been asked before. Why, he\'d never quite figured out. He wasn\'t the most attractive of the teachers, not by far, and he was quite happy to acknowledge it. Usually the ones who asked him weren\'t particularly tempting themselves. The studious types.

Not the pretty white-blondes. And never quite so openly. He assumed this was what he\'d been asked, anyway. The poor boy could be asking for help to catch up, for all he knew.

He waited again, watching Ren, two fingers on the seam of his lips. His class were greatly interested now, wondering if the boy was being kicked off the course or admonished, and Calder was legendary in his punishments.

"For what purpose?" he inquired, simply, and waited to see how far Ren\'s resolve went. His eyes were glittering slightly.

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2007, 06:17:00 PM »
What purpose?

Ren made the tiniest choked sound in his throat, one that Calder would hear but the students behind him wouldn\'t.  He blushed as he thought about what he would like to do, what he hoped to do.  Such things seemed to dance their way into his imagination without help from experience at all - funny that.

He licked his lips, well aware of the hushed students behind him, so that his gaze sidled off to the left, but he couldn\'t see anything save the wall and doorway, before his gaze flitted back to Calder.  It was screamingly obvious by the pink tinge that touched his face and the humiliated silence that followed, what it was he sought, but he couldn\'t bring himself to say such a thing with a crowd at his back.

"To talk," he answered lamely, for that was something he wished to do, but \'to explore\' would\'ve been a great deal more truthful.  He felt almost like he\'d lost an opportunity there, that he would be swatted away for seeking something so boring.  It wasn\'t like he had much conversation to offer his teacher, other than to gush compliments and say how much he adored him.  He wasn\'t one of these students that commonly offerered themselves to their masters for a thrill or for special attention, so his reputation for such was not known.  The excitement of the prospect of seeing Calder in private was lost in his eyes, as he resigned himself to rejection (but he hoped against hope regardless, and waited for Calder\'s response).
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Moth Malaise

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Re: Academic Demands
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2007, 04:38:07 AM »
Ren probably wouldn\'t be aware that his imperceptible, choked little sound was among the best answers he could have given. Calder held his face utterly still. No expression came forth to enlighten his class, or Ren himself, to the nature of his thoughts. Behind his eyes, Calder had come to a conclusion. The rest of his time was spent contemplating Ren.

Briefly, as if remembering something entirely unrelated, he reached for the half-torn slip still on his desk. He checked it with a glance.

Veneficus - excellent. If he\'d seen the word \'Cruori\', he would have been handing Ren out as poison ingredients within a few minutes. The little demons seemed to have some obsession with going after the Eruditio lot. They made ironic trophies, apparently. Not that Cruori were renowned for their grasp of irony. Killing an Eruditio tutor after luring him to his own seductive death... well, he wouldn\'t put it past them. At least that was now ruled out.

His class were still goggling. He looked up, into Ren\'s eyes. He hoped the boy had the sense to spot a screen when he saw one.

"This once, I will spare you a public criticism. You may come to my rooms at some point this evening, after eight, and we shall discuss this matter further. Let it go without saying, though, that if you ever accidentally or otherwise ignite a fellow student in my class again, I shall not be so lenient. Out."

The class, their curiosity sated, began flicking through textbooks. With the attention away, Calder\'s lips curved just faintly, his gaze still locked with Ren.