My Ranking Points
Lyra had concluded that the School for Good and Evil was a genuine parallel dimension, it was just a genuine parallel dimension probably stemming from the moronic teenage fan fiction that bred online like a virus. She should have listened to her Potterhead friend back in Copenhagen; she might have learned how to survive this hellhole.
It might even have been funny if there was actually a way to leave.
But here she was, slumped on some oaken bench in a “History” lesson. Or whatever they thought was history here. They had apparently brought in two “alumni” of the school for the final part. Like Lyra actually knew or cared who they were. A married couple of just under thirty, she knew that much. One, a tall man with a face like an umber knife, each bone stabbing through his skin, each turn of the head the flicker of light across a blade, delicate and fierce and almost inhuman. His eyes were obscured by tea shades and his stubble impeccably-groomed and flecked with gold. The coat that enveloped him was so black it seemed to leach the colour from the air around it.
And then there was his husband.
Considerably shorter, his hair was ruddy and matted. His eyes sweltered with warmth like beach pebbles embedded between waves of freckles. He wore a fuzzy jumper, fuzzy socks, and a somewhat fuzzy smile. It was kind of as if someone had plucked select baby features and plastered them onto an adult. It was almost unnerving. “Hi,” he piped. “I’m Atti!”
“I am Chester Samedi,” murmured the tall man. “Son of Baron Samedi, Prince of the Dead, the Oncoming Dusk, Bringer of—“
“You can call him Chess!”
“You cannot call me Chess.”
The crowd rustled. Of course, no one from Earth seemed to have any idea who these men were, but everyone else began to whisper.
“So, basically,” Atti scrabbled around the table at the front of the room. “I think we’re supposed to tell you about the school and adjusting and everything. But really, we spent most of our time, um, out of school, soooo…”
“The reader population is apparently far higher than ever before this year.” Chester cocked his head. “I don’t know exactly why they thought that would be a particularly lucrative endeavour for anyone, but I suppose I should introduce you all to this world properly, since Castor tends to miss out the important things. Atti?”
“Th—We talked about this. Like, the—“
“Ohhh, right.” Atti grinned again, even wider, if that was possible. “Okay, I guess, like, we can take some questions first, and then we have a super super important message! Remember, we’ll be guests here for at least a few more days, so you’ll get the change to talk to us again in Surviving Fairytales and all that stuff. Yep, you in the front row?”
An Everboy that Lyra deduced was not from Earth (he had wings) drawled, “But wasn’t Chester Samedi a Never? And he’s so dark and gloomy and grumpy! Why did you marry him?”
Atti’s cheeks wobbled furiously. Chester, for the first time, chuckled.
“CHESS IS NOT GLOOMY,” Atti choked, standing on tiptoes to put his arm around his husband’s shoulders. “CHESS IS GREAT AND KIND AND SOFT AND HE BUYS ME SOCKS AND I LOVE HIM.”
“Okay,” Chester rolled his eyes, and Lyra watched him subtly clasp Atti’s hand in his own. “You there, tall kid.”
“How do we get back to Earth?”
Atti froze and shifted uncomfortably. Chester shrugged, the beads knotted through his hair casting dancing shadows across the classroom. “Classic reader. Very direct too. I assume you’re talking about Woods Beyond, but I’m very glad you asked.”
He raised his hand and darkness spilled from his palm, dousing the door almost faster than Lyra could blink. Several students gasped. The rustling intensified.
“No worries guys,” mumbled Atti. “We just need to speak to you in priv—“ “I don’t know why the Schools have taken in so many readers this year,” Chester frowned. “But I do know that it’s not some harmless inclusion scheme. Everyone you know from our tale is dead. Puck is dead. Indigo is dead. Therin and Molly and Levi and and Sergi and Jae-Sun and Eleanor and Rhosemary, hell, probably even the old bat Amos. Dead, all of them. Not the work of the Enchantress, not the work of the Sword. They’re dead too. We don’t know exactly what it is, but we believe part of it stems from here, these Schools, which is why we’re here now. Trying identify the threat.”
“If you’re a reader, leave.” Atti’s voice had suddenly run cold. “If you can. I know a kid that works here called Ross, or something. I think he knows a way. There are other tears. Ways to slip back to your old lives. Don’t trust what the teachers tell you. This school is not safe.”
The darkness melted away from the door and walls, scurrying back through Chester’s fingers. A bearded man in a purple suit that Lyra assumed was a teacher strolled in. “All done here, class?”
“Oh yes, Sir!” called Atti cheerfully. “We’ll see you guys in a few days for Surviving Fairytales!”
UGH WHY DOES THIS WEBSITE KEEP FORMATTING MY LINE BREAKS INCORRECTLY IT MAKES IT LOOK LIKE I DONT KNOW HOW TO GRAMMAR FJSODJGKLSJGD
buying socks is the most atticus reason for loving someone i’m so happy this exists