Nicholas Does Science

Nicholas and his fascinating obsession with science.

 

Their home wasn’t enormous, but it was more spacious than average to afford extra room for books and research. It was also located near the center of the underground town and had belonged to Storykeeper families for generations. “Nicholas, where are you?” Eidald called as he searched the house room by room for his adopted son.

“You know that boy is probably in your study. I think he may love those books more than your father ever did.” Zofiya looked up from the pile of chia seeds that Nessa, their daughter, and she were harvesting.

“I suppose I should have thought of that first.”

“Yes, you should have,” Zofiya’s words were brining with hostility as they had been for the past ten harvests. Just when Eidald thought her ire was lessening it would flare back to life. “When you find him, tell him to come help separate the seeds.”

“Actually, I had something I wanted to show him.”

“But not Nessa?” Zofiya’s words were laced with daggers. Nessa hunched lower as if she could escape remove herself from the middle of her warring parents.

“If she wants to come along, she can join us,” Eidald answered slowly, knowing that he was surrounded by a minefield of wrong answers.

Nessa looked back and forth between them before finally whispering, “Uh, okay.” She brushed her hands off and hurried to Eidald’s side.

“We’ll be back in time for the dimming meal.”

“You probably shouldn’t have said that,” Nessa whispered on their way to the study.

“Which?”

“The dimming meal. You know she resents you for not helping with the chores and harvesting. Sometimes you can be so obvious.” Nessa shook her head disapprovingly, and Eidald fought not to laugh.

“It’s ‘oblivious’, Nessa. And you sure are growing up quick.” He bent down and kissed her forehead while tugging her braid gently.

“You know what I meant,” she crossed her arms defiantly and for a moment looked so much like her mother that it broke his heart. “Why are you sad?”

He smiled slightly. “You really are growing up, love. You just reminded me of your mother when she was your age.”

“Why do you and mom argue so much?” She remained rooted to the spot waiting for an answer.

Eidald sighed and tried to think of an answer. “A long time ago, I made an agreement that I deemed necessary, and your mother didn’t agree. But the consequences of this arrangement caused quite the burden to both of us, not just me.”

Nessa looked at him for a moment while her mind digested this information. “You mean Nicholas?”

Eidald looked toward the closed door of the study where Nicholas was undoubtedly secreted away. “How do you know that?”

“The other kids talk. They say he was a Crowkeeper and that, he’s a menace and can’t be trusted.”

“You don’t believe that, do you?”

“I don’t know.” She shrugged and kicked the dirt.

“Well, has he ever done anything to hurt you?”

“No. But then why do Crowkeepers live separate from the rest of us if they aren’t a menace.”

Eidald sighed again. “You’re full of the big questions today, aren’t you. Originally we all started out as one people, but once our powers began to manifest they noticed that a small segment of the population had developed the ability to talk to animals, and had a particular bond with crows. Interestingly these powers didn’t not require the ingestion of glowstones to activate them, unlike our powers.”

“But I have powers, and I’ve never eaten a glowstone.”

“You don’t remember, but only a short time after you were born, your mother’s mother went on to the Summerlands and you were fed a piece her glowstone.”

“But not Nicholas?”

“No… it was decided not to.”

“But he can talk to animals?”

“I imagine he can.”

“But that seems amazing, so why do they live separately?”

“When Crowkeepers have children they inherit this ability, even if one parent had a different magical power. The Elders at the time were fearful that the Crowkeepers would breed out all the other powers and leave us defenseless…”

“That seems silly,” Nessa declared.

Eidald laughed. “Perhaps it is, but fear can make monsters of us all. Now are you ready for my surprise?”

“Is it a sciencey thing?” Nessa pulled a face.

“Yes, Nessa, it is.” Eidald laughed.

“Alright, let’s get this over with.”

“Nicholas,” Eidald pushed open the door, “I’ve got something amazing to show you!”

Nicholas’ head shot up from his books. “You got it working?” He leapt from the chair and darted down the stairs.

“Where’s he going?”

“The library of course.” Eidald laughed as Nessa rolled his eyes.

“And what is he going to find there?”

“You’ll see.”

 

***

 

They walked in to find Nicholas’s face pressed up against a medium sized contraption with two jutting oculars.

“It’s so amazing!” Nicholas exclaimed.

“Look!” He grabbed Nessa and pushed her face against the eye pieces. “Nicholas! Ow.”

“Sorry,” he mumbled and let her go.

“I don’t see anything except light.”

“Here let me see,” Eidald offered. He adjusted the lighting and a few of the knobs on the side before holding out his hand to Nessa. “Want to see something really amazing?” He pricked his finger and mixed it with the salt water that Nicholas had already placed on a slide. Slowly she moved to Eidald’s side and placed her eyes against the oculars.

“Whoa,” Nessa exclaimed. She drew away from the scope and looked at the bloody smear. “What? How can I see weird circle things through here? It’s just blood.”

“This microscope lets us look even closer at objects. Let’s us see tiny details that we couldn’t see with just our eye. Like blood isn’t just a liquid, it’s made up of solid objects floating in the liquid. Those circles.”

Nessa places her eyes back up to the eye piece. “That’s so amazing. Hey! The weird plate ones are swelling and popping!”

Eidald stroked his chin as he thought. “Must be because there isn’t enough salt in the water solution.”

“See. Science isn’t boring,” Nicholas stuck his tongue out.

 

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