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This is a novella that takes place on a world much like Earth called Alastair. The setting has both Victorian and modern elements. All characters are damons: Humanoid people with pointy ears, fangs, claws, and commonly spiky hair.
Part of the Doctor Arturur series. Arturur's Classroom is a side story. It is set some time after the events of The War of Nobles.
Complete List of Books in the Doctor Arturur Series
Then that quietness was broken by the loud mouth of none other than the troublemaking Seth.
"Why are we here again?" He demanded, annoyed. "We've tried this before. It didn't work."
Maximum height, with short, thin spikes of black hair. Seth was as irritating as ever. He had the look of boredom all over his face, however, that didn't stop him from always having something to say. It wouldn't have been so bad if the man had not lacked any semblance of tact.
Arturur barely moved his lips, slightly changing them into a slightly more noticeable frown. He was also tall to the maximum, with long, thick spikes of white coloured hair. He wore an ankle-length, white doctor's coat, with knee-high, black boots.
"I don't care about all your complaining." He said, without trying to hide his dissatisfaction. "If all you're going to do is give me a hard way, you might as well leave. You know that you don't have to be here. So if this is so horrible for you, why in the hell did you come?"
"I want to see the Prince, of course." Seth replied, sarcastically.
"Get out." Demanded the white pixie.
"Okay, okay." Seth immediately decided to forfeit. "I'll keep my mouth shut... You have the floor." He smiled, gesturing his hand to indicate that he would not interrupt.
Arturur stared at him for a moment, and then continued. "Today, we will be starting off by talking about Calvin. Now this isn't going to be a long series of classes. This will be just one class, but it will be more than long enough to get my points across..." He paused for a moment. "Don't worry. I'm not really into this either. So don't take offence if you think I'm being too serious or don't respect your feelings about being here. I have no idea why anyone thinks this is a good idea. Just don't give me any trouble about it, and we'll be fine."
Seated at the desks were Abner, Dende, Jethro, Seth, Val, Calvin, and Yagrius. Every one of Arturur's new students were silent, and Seth was genuinely trying to at least be polite. The fact that Arturur was so intimidating was also not lost upon them.
The doctor pointed with his hand at Calvin. "Come here, Calvin." He instructed, in a calm, collected voice.
Calvin stood. Short black hair, dressed in a fine, black suit like always. He walked to the front of the room, taking his place by Arturur, facing the small group of young men.
Arturur placed his hands behind his back, giving off the impression of a rigid, commanding officer. Abner always noticed it when he did that, and he did it often. But Abner didn't understand why Arturur behaved like a complete soldier all the time. It could make him laugh, however, it was also sad and bewildering. Even the soldiers that Abner had known all his life were not like Arturur, who had a back like a wooden board.
"I'm going to be explaining the basics of Calvin's personality." Started the doctor. "Our families want us to... well... bond. We all just met each other not too long ago, and it's been years between us. While months have indeed passed, that is hardly enough time for us to really get to know each other. There's so much to say, and there's so much to explain. We've lived in different worlds all of our lives, and it's time to... close the gaps... Our parents, our grandparents, and really just everyone, not just our blood relatives... feel like it would be best if I began this process in the deep, complicated way that it needs to be done. Distractions have kept us from truly learning about all the people around us."
Seth rolled his eyes, but Arturur didn't notice. The white pixie was too wrapped up in his task.
"Now... let us begin." Arturur remained as he was: Strict, emotionless, and with that ever mysterious manner about him that kept himself shrouded in darkness. "Calvin is obsessed with books. He is obsessed with the library. He wants to simply disappear in the aisles, always working behind the scenes, carefully concentrating on the world inside of a story. I don't think of it as cowardice, though, that may be a good word to use at first. He is afraid, indeed he is, of all of you. There's a deep suspicion inside of him that none of our new... friends... will be eager to put up with him. But I know for a fact that if any of us are going to start a fight..." Arturur momentarily looked at Seth. "it's going to be this wild jackass over here that thinks it's funny to hurt people's feelings."
Seth raised an eyebrow, a frown appearing on his face. But Arturur felt like he really honestly didn't care. Seth seemed to be too mean to take anything personally.
"I want you all to know that Calvin is really, deep down, a tremendously wonderful, good man." Resumed Arturur. "He is very responsible, and you can't find a better person to organize your books. You can't find better advice on life and religion either. And you can't find a better friend with the ability to take charge and assume the leadership role when things get too tough. Calvin won't push you around, not really, but he will always be there for you.
"You may be misunderstanding me right now. You may think that what I'm saying is simply nice things that I would say about anyone..." He paused for a moment. "That is not true, because I think that Yagrius, for example, is one of the worst people you can put up with. But I'm ready—Perfectly ready—to change that to our loveable Seth over here." Arturur glared in his direction, remembering all the foolishness that he had forced him to endure during the War of Nobles.
"Calvin is a truly loyal and trustworthy companion. I could not feel more safe knowing that he has my back. If something terrible is about to occur, without failure, he will come to your aid, and you might not feel much better because of it, but you will at least always know that things don't have to be as hard.
"However, that doesn't mean that he's perfect." Arturur changed his tone, but the change was difficult to read. "He's also quick to anger, like the rest of you... like me... and he can be way too eager for a fight. He has a passion for arguing and yet genuinely thinking that he's simply debating. He can be downright nasty, and his mouth is difficult to manage. Sometimes, I think about a nice, big boat floating on the water far away, with him on it, completely happy and in no hurry to return home."
Seth laughed. So did Abner and Val.
"And this is where I change course a bit." Said Arturur, equally as calm as before. "As an example of Calvin's problems, he needs to come to terms with his ferocious attitude about the bible. We all take bible school seriously, and so does he, but he takes it too far. It's not that he's exhausting himself by helping people beyond what is considered healthy, but instead that he is far too judgemental. He thinks that he knows everything there is to know when it comes to that book, and I have had to sit through some really tiring times when he was trying his hardest to convert me to his personal ideas..." There was some silence, then, "But I don't want to turn this into a study of religion.
"What I want to do is talk to you all about Calvin's particular issues and how psychology can be used to adjust his behaviour. Change what actually needs to be changed, and not simply what you may find frustrating about him. This is not about just getting along. This is something deeper and more complicated than that. Ultimately, this is about how his actions affect everyone and everything around him."
"What do you mean?" Interrupted Seth, despite that he had promised not to. "This isn't some... emotion thing, is it? Where we all sit around while you tell us what the older people want us to do? About how we should... grow as individuals and talk about our feelings and... cry and help each other and share advice on how to alter our behaviour?
"Because I am definitely not doing that." He asserted, aggressively.
Abner and Val laughed, but it was not clear to Arturur if they were making fun of him or if they just found Seth amusing.
"It's not like that. Not exactly." Answered Arturur, trying to keep his cool—How dare Seth insult his intelligence!
"Not exactly?" Seth was not happy with that response. "I don't really want to do this."
"I can assure you that I am not trying to turn this into some kind of crying and hugging session." Arturur's anger was showing. A lot. He was momentarily silent, attempting to prevent himself from revealing just how much that had really enraged him. "I'm a psychologist. You're a psychologist. We're all psychologists. The whole fucking country is psychologists. Don't pretend that you don't enjoy doing psychology... And stop testing the waters with me!"
Abner found that really intimidating—Arturur was a very intimidating man. But Val kinda lost the point, and Seth's face had twisted into anger himself. Seth didn't like Arturur much. Not yet. He knew that eventually he would find common ground with him, but at the moment that wasn't happening. The noblemen from Wendell appeared to deeply respect Arturur and what he was saying. Seth didn't understand why they didn't get mad themselves. They actually knew the young doctor. Shouldn't it bother them? The way that he was acting?
"Now... if we may continue." Arturur glared at Seth, and then refocused his attention on the group as a whole.
"Simply put, Calvin needs to focus on his actions more and how they affect those around him. He needs to find more colour in his creative works. More of his emotions. That would give him a foothold into the minds of other people by understanding the depths of himself to a greater extent. See, he thinks too flatly when it comes to his own personal feelings, whether he is acting them out or creating something from them that is artistic. This causes him to have trouble interacting with others. Technically, he sees himself doing things amazingly more clearly then Dende, Jethro, and Yagrius, yet, unlike them, he can not apply his activities to his inner world. Using a rigidly imagined map only gets his thoughts so far. Therefore the setting of his mind is very dark and full of hazards, resulting in a blindness that affects his relationships, both with others and his own personal relationship with himself. Basically, he can see his actions with impressive clarity, but he cannot actually focus on them in order to absorb the details of his surroundings.
"Art is what I would suggest to fix this particular problem. I don't suggest that for everyone. Yagrius, for example, needs to get away from artistic expression—It fucks him up. There is nothing more irritating than having Yagrius brainwash your team with completely irrelevant mathematics. He is notorious for totally derailing projects, be them artistic or not.
"But Calvin, on the other hand, is really good at making instructional material in a mesmerizingly alluring and creative way. It's just too flat when it comes to that last, final touch that is so very exclusive to him in its complete lack of personal emotion. It doesn't have enough of his deepest feelings in it. At some point, Calvin just gets really defensive and argumentative, and this can ruin any project, with him trying his hardest to hide what's really in his heart. We give him any kind of important task, artistic or otherwise, and then, eventually, he always comes up with a debate for your debate, and won't work with the other team members. He commonly ends up asserting himself as a leader that doesn't want to truly lead, and good luck trying to get him to understand that. He's just totally blind to the way he starts treating people, and he pushes people away, as far as he can push. And so that makes things really hard on him, he gets really lost, and then, in a burst of frustration, Calvin can easily quit entirely.
"When he is in control of himself, he is definitely the guy that you want to help you out. It doesn't matter what it is. For example, he's great at making very literal artwork that can add all kinds of value to a group project. It has a very special, unique feel to it that you just don't see from anyone else. It's a rare quality indeed.
"However, his art is a double edged sword. It lacks subjectivity. It screams objectivity. He intentionally leaves out his heart, feeling like it would only destroy all the hard work that went into the art. It doesn't matter if it's something he's doing alone or if he's part of a group activity. Calvin is particularly blind in this area, unable to see the effects, positive or negative, on himself and others.
"So why do I suggest art to battle these glaring problems...? It's actually quite simple. Calvin is extremely resistant to accepting help. The world outside of his mind is scary to him. It's ferociously brainwashing, and he is terrified of losing something core to his personality that would recreate him into, what he sees as, another mindlessly submissive member of society.
"Therefore, he needs to be reached in the only way that he can be reached. Through his own personal beliefs and theories about the world around him. Things that he normally guards with his life. To touch that with one's opinions is to burn him and injure him. It only further distresses him. This is why you must let Calvin open his own doors. It is necessary to let him explore his mind through extremely subjective processes that he has always rejected. While most people can see my point, at the same time, they do not see any kind of usable methods in forcing him to more deeply analyse his problem areas. And what I suggest is usually seen as being too stressful and not worth the potential damages. Of course, I don't see it as being capable of what they think, otherwise I would not consider it to be a good idea."
Arturur closed his eyes, trying to relax. He willed himself to remain calm, to concentrate. There was a brief silence, then he reopened his eyes.
"Now we are going to talk about an outline of Calvin's major problem areas. To begin this, I will start thus: We all have trouble with overly technical thinking, but Calvin has a very special type of literal thinking that is not shared with the rest of us. As a group, all of us have very black and white thoughts about everything. However, Calvin centres on certain concepts and ideas that don't have a place in our lives except through him. You can compare any of us to an endless atlas. Calvin is that and a thesaurus.
"Initially, you may become confused. You may wonder... but aren't we all comparable to a thesaurus? Not really. Not when it really comes down to it. For example, I am extremely rigid, so a thesaurus is something that easily comes to mind when people think of me and how I talk and the way I organize information. I always use words specifically, and I try to only have one descriptive adjective for each, individual thing. But I am not perfect in this endeavour. I may be extremely literal, but my vocabulary is very small. By having a small collection of words, I am able to talk in an unrivalled pattern of clarity. I do not have many words for many different things. I have a few words, and always use my vocabulary in an effectively direct manner, a tendency of mine that makes me... Well... amazingly easy to understand. I use this ability as a psychologist, a teacher, and a priest. I am a very powerful voice that promotes comprehension of even the most complex subjects amongst even the most ordinary of people.
"But I am ultimately not the best comparison to a thesaurus, in the most literal definition of the word. No, that is Calvin. Calvin is the best comparison to a thesaurus. None of us even begin to have the insanely complete understanding of each and every individual word in each and every individual way, according to the most rigid interpretation of the dictionary... While this can be a good thing, this ability comes with its consequences... Namely, social agitation, experienced in a great way by both himself and those around him. It can make him unbearable at times. How do we explain even the simplest concepts to a man that is so lost in the dictionary that everyone around him is like a collection of mere adjectives? He is unintentionally the rudest, nastiest person on Alastair. He has created an all new field of technical thinking all his own.
"Need to find something that's been lost like a duck in the ocean? Ask Calvin. Need a forged exam paper on the subconsciousness of repetitive button mashing? Ask Calvin. Need advice on how to apply trigonometry to everyday life? Ask Calvin.
"When I get bored of levelling up my video game characters, I turn off the game. When Yagrius gets bored of levelling up video game characters, he gets Calvin to do it for him. When I can not come up with the answer to a burning psychological question, I take a break. When Jethro can not come up with the answer to a burning psychological question, he engages Calvin in conversation. When I'm lost and don't know what to do next, I think of something else. When Dende is lost and doesn't know what to do next, he consults Calvin.
"This is a problem. It's fine most of the time, but it always becomes a problem eventually. Calvin is wasting his life if all he ever does are redundant tasks that serve no purpose other than fuelling him with new technical ideology. Something must be done. Somehow he needs to be stopped. I've known him all his life, and yet I have never been able to fix this. It's not because I don't know how. It's because other people will not listen to me. They believe that I'm too extreme in my opinions, and they don't want to take a chance. But how is this behaviour ever going to be corrected if it is not approached in a different way?
"I am tired of being challenged by fellow psychologists, and I am tired of watching Calvin withdraw from anything that is emotionally stimulating. He does these things becomes they are not satisfying. He believes that satisfaction comes from completion, so he misses out on all the things that don't end in a high score. He will play a pinball machine forever, and never move onto something else until his name is at the top. Then he becomes satisfied, and because he is never satisfied by classical activity, he firmly believes that he can not enjoy anything that doesn't give him a rush. In other words, he is addicted to his own idea of psychological improvement.
Arturur took a long pause, then, "My suggestions are met with hostility. People find me too eager to prove what they see as a primitive approach. They misinterpret my energetic drive as veiled feelings of rebellion, a perceived attack against the integrity of my career decisions, as well as my personal psychological condition. I have attempted many times to assure them that they are not understanding me correctly, but all of these attempts have been in vain. There is an almost barbaric amount force aimed at preventing me from carrying out what they see as highly experimental psychology. Not so much for others as for myself. I am told again and again that my psyche is extremely fragile, whereas Calvin would simply feel a little ill if I was allowed to work with him in the way that I seek. On one hand, they raise me to be perfect. On the other hand, they worry that I will break if I am permitted to use skills that are considered too raw.
"Calvin lives behind walls. He's been very comfortable that way ever since he was very young. I have always tried to find a method for bringing him out into the light, but he refuses to move from this safe and uneventful refuge. He's not able to see the worth in 'coming out to play', and he takes his studies more seriously than I do. How can someone ever have fun if all they do is hide in a book? To this day, he stills acts like a frightened child. His adult life has been spent living in the same private sanctuary. This sanctuary is just as much mental as it is physical.
"I want the freedom to create a project for battling this reclusive nature. But I need assistance. It is not something that anyone wants to give me. In fact, they flat out refuse to even let me work with my own people for such a cause. Wendell has always been in charge of the region where I've spent my life, but the decision to hold me back belongs to everyone that I've ever known. Even peasants feel that I should be kept from playing out my full deck of cards. Normally, one would think they would agree with me, and once you come to know what peasants are really like, you will wonder the same thing. It doesn't matter if you ultimately choose their side. There is no doubt in my mind that you will still think to yourselves that their behaviour doesn't make sense. All of these details are important, because they affect Calvin equally. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.
"The first place that I want to take him is the library. I want to walk with him through the halls of books and I want to start randomly pointing them out. I want to choose completely random books, and I want to sit down with him and I want us to read them together. Do you know that people fight this one simple act with unimaginable ferocity? They are utterly convinced that even the most simple and harmless of activities are going to permanently damage his psychology. And not just his, but mine too. They accuse me of being too autistic to see the problems that such a thing would surely cause. There's no percentage of possibility in their mind. There is only one-hundred percent certainty.
"The power of randomness can be very destructive. I know this very well. In a way, my job is all about taking random numbers and restructuring them into productive, useful tools for doing psychology. So when everybody starts doubting me, despite placing me at the top of administration, I become extremely frustrated. I have never known how to explain to them why this is a good thing. But then... for the majority of my life... I have been pretty much mute..." A flash of pain appeared on Arturur's face. Just a flash. And it was hidden once more.
"I know what I'm doing. But that isn't enough. I have to learn how to prove this. I have to learn how to prove more than I have ever had the power to do. Not long ago, I was met with a great challenge. Overcoming it had always seemed impossible to everyone I knew. However, this is different. This is not the same kind of challenge. This is not based on the same kind of information. While there was always this legend in the back of people's minds that I could somehow truly win that horrible war, no one has ever thought that I can do what I am now trying to accomplish. Perhaps I even look foolish to you, but I'm still getting to know you all and I don't really understand what your words mean yet. I will. But right now... I am doing everything in my power to find myself, and to free myself from all the things that have ever held me back...
"And if the only way to do that is by fighting you... I won't... Because this is a new world now. And in this world, we may talk of what is in our heads, but none of us should ever again pick up a sword."
All those years, Seth had longed to meet his Prince. Arturur was destined to be his friend. They were both destined to be close and happy and content in each other. All this fighting and arguing between them... Seth really didn't want to be so rude and nasty to Arturur, but the Prince was so utterly perfect that Seth had not been able to control himself. Arturur seemed like the kind of person that Seth normally wrestled with, or at least that's what he looked like to him. Seth knew that Arturur was supposed to have a great deal in common with him, things that would make their relationship special. But whatever those things were... Seth had not discovered any clues to the mystery.
And now here Arturur was again, ready to start talking about another thing that didn't matter. That's how Seth felt. That Arturur was wasting his time by standing there and talking about everyone else. Seth knew that he would have to listen to the young doctor continuously drone on about the psychology of his old friends, and while it was all very interesting, Seth really wanted to just hear about Arturur. Those other guys could wait. Dende, Jethro, Calvin, and Yagrius were not the people that Seth was so captivated by. Seth wanted to meet his best friend, and while they were all supposed to be best friends, ever since Arturur had arrived, Seth had not been able to contain himself when it came to Arturur. He was so excited, it was really tough. Arturur was sensitive, wary, and afraid. Seth could easily tell. The fear was one of the only emotions that you could see, and there was lots of it. Even after the War of Nobles, Arturur was still terrified of them. Seth just wanted to make him feel better.
"Next, we are going to be talking about Dende." Arturur began. Then he gestured for Dende to come to the front of the class. Dende quickly obeyed, and there was not a noticeable emotion on his face, just like Calvin had been.
Long, thick spikes of grey hair. Dende was wearing a brown suit. In the same style of Calvin, he tended to wear suits, and they were always the same colour.
"What about questions?" Seth asked suddenly. He didn't want to wait until it was too late.
Arturur gave him a long look before replying. "There are not going to be any questions." He answered, calmly.
"But why?" Seth was angry. He wanted to ask questions!
Arturur paused for a moment, then, "Because it is not apart of this class and would only stretch things out."
Seth's face was full of disappointment. "Are you going to do questions in another class?"
"Do you mean a class on this class?" Asked Arturur, for clarification.
"Uhhh..." Seth wasn't sure what to say for a moment. "I guess so."
Arturur was quick to answer. "No... We will not be doing that... And don't ask why. I don't have the patience for this right now. I have to focus."
Seth wasn't happy about it, but he kept his mouth shut. He didn't want to stress out Arturur any more than he already had, and he was finally starting to feel guilty about it. Well, he supposed that he could apologize once this was all over with.
And then Arturur began to talk. "Dende is an extremely intelligent and wise individual. He is known for his ability to search through massive amounts of knowledge, be it in his mind, others' minds, or a library. Dende knows how to pinpoint the best sources of psychology, and filter the best information in these sources, and then condense everything that he learns into neat, carefully organized categories both inside of him and outside of him. He has made a new art out of 'instant learning'. As a teacher, he is the best when it comes to instructing anyone on anything. Except for me, of course. But he still does it in his own impressive way, and he still has the copyright on his own unique methods of delivering education.
"Then we look at his living spaces, and find the most neat and carefully planned room arrangements. It's like everything is sparkling crystal, artfully mastered in anal perfection. Every dish in a cupboard. Every spoon and fork in a drawer. Every knick knack and other accessory to his madness. All of these things so well thought out that it actually makes one violently ill. I can not tell you how many times I have passed out upon being a witness to Dende's absolute fascination with turning his personal world into temples of godliness.
"Don't try to suggest an improvement. Don't try to tell him to subtract something. Don't recommend that he see a psychologist and spend his life in a hospital hooked up to monitors. You will only be met with one very angry sprite. He will explode. He will go after you. He will get in your face and become unbearable. It's best that us normal, ordinary people give him a wide berth.
"If there was ever a man that needed vision, it's Dende. Unlike Calvin, he has not even a very technical outline of himself. He has nothing. All there is to Dende is Dende's own book of rules. While Calvin is a slave to the bible, Dende is a slave to himself. Dende believes that everything that comes out of him is the perfect incarnation of intellectual beauty. And, you know, he's definitely right about that to an extent. If I ever need an example of arrogance for a patient, I use a painting done by Dende himself. The sheer complexity of the painting is more than enough to convince even the most difficult patients that they need to reconsider their own—Far less perfect—obsessions. In fact, it works so well that I feel like Dende deserves part of my reputation.
"But alas... we need to move on from this to a more detailed example of his psychological problems..." Arturur paused for a moment, preparing himself for the following discussion. "Dende works on his theories as if nothing else in the whole world exists. He disappears into his own logic, and will not come out. It's like the darkness of an underground river. His mental construction continuously flows, resisting all attempts to control it. And it is comfortable residing in shadows. Instead of pushing people away, Dende brings people to him. And he does everything in his power to convince them that he is the only sound choice that one can make when it comes to an administrator. The only person that he doesn't put down is me. Everyone else... Well, if you live in Dende's world, then you're going to quickly learn that Dende puts no one before his beloved studies. You have to be an extremely weak person for Dende to pay more attention to you than his precious ideas.
"So how do we help Dende?"
The sprite momentarily winced, making a low sound of discomfort, then went back to hiding under his guise.
Arturur resumed. "You see, Dende needs something very different from Calvin. Calvin needs to learn how to absorb his surroundings, so that he can respond to them better. But Dende needs to learn how to stop absorbing his surroundings. Dende is so obsessed with knowing everything that he can not restrain himself. He is constantly questioning everyone, always trying to get better at what he does by going into everything. He's eaten every food, drank every kind of alcohol, analysed every book, and tried every hobby. To Calvin, his world begins and ends with religion, and he answers every question with a bible verse. Dende, on the other hand? His world begins and ends with himself. He is arrogant, self-centred, overly confident, and thoroughly impossible. I'd rather listen to Yagrius go on and on about his goofy mathematics than go through one more incident provoked by Dende.
"In this case, I would recommend that Dende's tenacious tendencies be frozen in place by a highly structured and perfectly planned therapeutic program developed just for his particular, one of kind problems. He needs his space, he needs to be free to go where he wants. This is not something to be done inside of a hospital. That would never help him. Dende goes where he wants and never asks for permission. A hospital would just suffocate him. The only way to get through to Dende is by assuring his complete freedom, except for the major parts of his behaviour that go into his fiery persistence. That's as much restraint as he can handle.
"But how does one accomplish this? After all of these years, you would think that if there was actually a solution to this, then we would have found it by now. This is another area where I find myself constantly battling the people around me. It's no surprise really. People love to fight with me. They think it's how I need to be raised. People getting up in my face, ordering me around, literally physically pushing me forward into symbolism. I am the rock, and they are the ocean, always trying to drown me simply because my instincts refuse to budge.
"In my hotly debated opinion, I believe that Dende can be communicated to through constant supervision, strong verbal correction, and... this is the part where people laugh... workbooks. Special, expansively designed, and powerfully addictive workbooks." Arturur said nothing for a moment. There was no sign of emotion on his face, and the only sign was the fact that he had paused. He continued. "I have only recently achieved the ability to be fully understood, so I have not had the opportunity to demonstrate my theoretical insights into the matter. My past, primitive attempts to explain myself were always met with humiliation.
"It's a simple fact that Dende can only be reached through himself, which is basically true about Calvin as well. But the two require two totally different approaches. Calvin needs shrink into the darkest, loneliest parts of his mind. Dende needs to be forced to come out of the shadows, to be enveloped in others' research so that he can not keep evading the scientific proof of his individual issues. With Dende, you slam his face into a wall of common sense. With Calvin, you gently suggest to him, in the most hypnotic way possible, that the world outside of his bedroom really is a great place to live.
"What is a workbook...? A workbook is a curriculum designed by, in this case, a psychologist, in order to educate the person studying it. Dende can't stand it when there is a teacher right in front him, staring him down, and explaining to him in every way how he is wrong and needs to accept this about himself before he can move on. That would enrage me too. But people don't treat me that way. However, Dende is treated that way... by everyone. And they wonder why he never makes any progress. It's glaringly obvious... Dende needs the teacher to be watered down in the form of a piece of paper with questions on it and educational explanations of what he is learning. He can't handle a person face to face. It just makes him feel attacked.
"This workbook needs colour. It needs life and dreams. It needs images, clear cut examples, and, most of all, it requires the faith of the people around him. How would he ever take anything positive from it if everyone continues not to believe in its power? I've known Dende forever. He's used to my logic. I've said everything that I can say to him. And then... I've never been as clear. There must be a great change.
"I will approach my superiors. I will address them with my concerns. I will talk and talk and talk until I am listened to. Eventually, they will allow me to go through with my plans, and I believe that this will only happen because they will wish to prove me wrong with active examples of my 'foolishness'. As long as I can get the opportunity to do things my way, I know that I can eventually convince people of my insightfulness.
"You see, I'm sure you're wondering why Calvin stood through this when I was talking about him, and why Dende is now standing through this as I talk about him. It's because they know me. It's because they respect me. And why do they respect me? Because my reputation as a psychologist is unmatched. Muteness or not, I have always found ways of demonstrating my abilities. In my younger days, I did not even begin to understand this. As an adult who has had time to mature—And has been through a lot of recent instruction—I now see what I never saw before. And I now wonder... why I was never taken seriously.
"If this is the truth... if I am really this talented... then why have I not been treated with the awe that I deserve? Instead, I am laughed at and mocked... laughed at... mocked... because the people who raised me only expect that I will finally fall after many years of standing strong. That it will suddenly dawn on me that they really were right. All those years of psychologically analysing me... I think it almost stupid that it's taken them this long to find the truth. I am a pillar of stubbornness, and I can assure you above anything else that I never... give up. Not truly... I experienced a very sad day not too long ago, but that day is done. It ended with personal victory. I admit... my consciousness had finally, at last crumbled... but there was still something inside of me that wouldn't die. And that is my stubbornness to live.
"I believe in Dende. I believe that he can rise up and find that part of him that others took away before he could even realize what it was. I believe that he can show me something new, that he can talk for himself, that he can get through this terrible ordeal of growing up with feeling only minimal pain. Dende is smart. He's a very clever man. He might be a jerk and he might not realize why it's wrong to be a jerk, but he will surely find some other way of pushing people around that's only amusing. I know that he will see, utilizing a new independence, that he can get his rush—Like every other addict—by discovering a way of interaction that does not promote chaos and disorderliness in excess. A better way that we can play together without harming each other... Our parents think that we need strict discipline... and while I don't argue with that... I do know that there is a better way. For all of us. And for them too.
"What you do with Dende is you grab him and hold him still. No matter how much he fights you, you have to be there for him. You have to play your part in the great design of society. You don't give up and let someone else do it for you. No one can replace your significance. You matter, as we all do, in the all powerful web of psychology first started by our distant ancestors, many of whom have joined the gods as Angels. There will always be a hole in your heart that can only be filled by someone you have not yet met. I tell you now, fill that hole in his heart... and then fill that hole in everyone's heart that has entered your life. Grow stronger together, and help each other...
Arturur stopped speaking, and, for a moment, the classroom was still. "So let's talk about these workbooks.” He said then, the glow of emotion gone from his voice. “I know, I know. It seems pointless. How could you ever repair severe psychological damage with a piece of paper? How could you ever push a person forth into emotional maturity armed only with a pencil? It doesn't seem like much at first. It doesn't seem like it could be effective at all. Oh, sure, there are all kinds of good that you can do with a workbook. But a job this big, this tough... Well, I am completely aware of how absurd this likely sounds. I use the word 'likely' because, obviously, I don't understand your culture and how it thinks. Maybe you all do this sort of thing all the time. I was never told that much about you all. Hopefully, you're not as close minded to my more controversial suggestions as Wendell.
"One very helpful section could focus on psychological word problems, utilizing the factual hardness of mathematics to cement a foundation of vital fundamentals. Numbers can not be argued with. They can not be evaded. They can not be disassociated from. Up until very recently, I have never known how to translate my 'big maths' into 'small maths'. I am used to working only with large numbers, and then I am used to working with them only in estimates. 'Small maths' are precise. And that precision is what I need to start restructuring Dende's psychology.
"Another section could be on strict, unyielding literature that can not be transformed into a different meaning, and is so clear and direct that it can not be pushed aside and forgotten either. Just like mathematics, I have never been able to talk so understandably about this subject or any subject. I have always felt it inside of me—This animalistic language of feelings that does not know how to take up the form of words. Now I finally have the opportunity to translate myself into comprehensive language without all the constant misunderstandings. I can begin cracking down on my primitive archives, and offer answers that are full and complete, allowing people to see—After all of these years—that there really is a point to my 'childish and ridiculous theories'. In this new light, I can write in a way that Dende has never heard me speak. What was clouded before can now be revealed to all.
"I have an intereseting idea for this workbook. I want there to be a speaker on it, with buttons. It can be used for a section on phonics. Dende has a lot of trouble with tone. Calvin gets the general gist of what people say, but Dende does not hear any of it. That's part of the reason that he goes into people instead of running away like Calvin. He does not hear what you and me hear. He only hears himself. The part of his personality that can be confused for that of someone else. Dende's mind is so shadowed that the shadows dominate his vision. People are there, they are right in front of him, and he never gets this, but... he can only interact with them how he would interact with his own mind. That is the source of his unbearable confidence. For he sees himself too much in others, and therefore can not feel much embarrassment. How can you be embarrassed if your only audience is yourself?
"Those are only a few ideas, but it's enough to get you started. Don't you think it's amazing? That people won't let me do this stuff? Don't you think that they are overreacting? Okay, so I couldn't talk clearly before. But people could still understand me to an extent. There is no reason why they could not make something like this themselves. They hide from this particular kind of simplistic therapy. They just have all these ideas floating around in their heads that they can not come to terms with and treat only with fear. What they can not understand becomes their enemy.
"I'm going to shift focus to a different area of Dende's problems. I feel like it describes him to a much greater degree than just talking about his favourite books, music, games, and so on. I will not be tearing him down—Don't get the wrong idea. But it may sound like that at first. It's a sensitive subject for him, however, it takes a very special context to truly upset him with it. So don't worry. I can guarantee you that he's fine even if at some point, he reveals some kind of emotion. When Calvin stood here, he was able to take it because his issues are, in a way, nothing special... And yet, as Dende stands here, while his problems are very worrying, he will not feel any kind of negative emotion that I can't control. The world to Dende is a very different world indeed.
"I'm just going to get to the point immediately. Dende is obsessed with winning, obviously, and there is one thing that rules his life beyond all others. And that's trophies, plaques, medallions, certificates... anything that represents his talent in the form of symbolism. You can't find another man who is as infatuated with his own accomplishments as Dende. There are halls and halls and halls of awards that have been won only by Dende. That's a rare thing for his age, however, our society does commonly reward behaviour with beautiful objects that we can hang on the wall or sit on a shelf. Everyone has awards... But if you could see behind Dende's exceptional madness for victory... Well... you would be shocked.
"Dende loves gold just as much as he loves silver and bronze. He loves diamonds just as much as emeralds and rubies. Tall, gorgeous symbols of triumph... trophies covered in precious stones. All the colours in his halls of pride gleaming in each and every physical piece of Dende's brilliant intellect. To listen to him talk about his many, endless projects—The ones that bring him the joy of competition—is to find yourself lost in his narcissism. He genuinely desires to make the world better through psychology, but his own brand of selfishness is difficult to swallow. We all want to contribute to our communities. However, sometimes we need to be stopped. Sometimes, we lose control of our desire to play too. And sometimes we lose control of our wish to be acknowledged.
"Acknowledgement to Dende is one of the most powerful forces in his life. He deeply seeks for a model of perfection that is not real, but only imagined. Trying to convince him of this is impossible. For his personality type, he is too young, and this is something that blocks Dende from making progress. Severe autism is at the core of these issues rather than irrationality. That's why he isn't considered crazy. Because he's autistic, and his special breed of autism has spiralled out of control in a frenzied obsession for power. He has honed in on a mission for unbelievably lofty goals, his focus stuck in place on highly repetitive behaviours that he trusts to be getting him the farthest in life. However, what it really does is slow him down and make him vulnerable to failure, unable to cope with even the smallest of mistakes. Surely, this one way street to total mental collapse can not be allowed?
"Will our families continue on with their frustrating requirements for protocol? Am I fated to walk into the school library one day and find Dende in a mess on the floor? This huge lack of understanding must come to an end. It is destroying every possible path that we can make use of to heal Dende. If something doesn't happen soon, then every last chance we ever had to fix this problem will be wiped out. Psychological death will become a certainty. Dende will change and he will change so completely that he won't even recognize himself any more. He will become afraid of his own patterns of thinking and behaviour. He will be traumatized so badly that he will fall into such a submissive state of mind, he will be doing the opposite of what he was doing when he was overflowing with arrogance. I can not just let this happen. I must be stubborn and assertive. I don't care how annoying that it may be to people."
Arturur closed his eyes and simply stood there. What was going through his head, no one knew. But they felt strange, all of them, even the ones who knew Arturur. When was it going to happen? That was what they were all wondering. When was Arturur going to finally realize that he himself was beyond help? Long, gruelling months of worrying had passed. Yet Arturur was still going strong, as resistant as ever to his need to change. He saw so little that he could relate to, feeling like he had been totally alienated from others by massive fundamental differences.
When would he learn to use his own new wings? When would he realize that they were even there?
And then Arturur called his name.
"Yagrius." He said. "It's your turn next. Come here."
But Yagrius didn't want to. He couldn't stand the mere thought of it. And then that jerk, Seth, would be listening to the whole thing, thinking stupid nonsense about him, thinking that he was some overly submissive and broken pet. Yagrius hated Seth with a fury.
Yagrius was as tall as Arturur. He had long, thick spikes of black hair, and was wearing all purple. The young professor tended to wear a lot of purple.
Some time passed. Yagrius didn't notice.
"Yagrius." Arturur emphasized his name this time. "You can do it. Just walk up here and stand very quietly. You don't have to be afraid. I know you. I know that's what has gotten you frozen like an ice lolly."
But Yagrius still didn't move. In fact, he just shrank in place. And Arturur didn't get angry or anything. His patience was both calming and frightening to Yagrius. On one hand, Arturur could make him feel a whole lot better. On the other hand, Arturur didn't know when to stop. The white pixie would go on and on without providing any additional comforting words. He kept thinking that he had to do things the way he was taught. That his teachers were always right. Yagrius had always wished that one day... Arturur would turn against his teachers.
"I don't want to do this, Arturur." Whined Yagrius, trying his best not to just explode.
"Would you rather sit down through this?" Asked the young doctor.
No words, and then, "Okay... I can do that." He submitted, not knowing any other way to make his current problem better.
"Good." Smiled Arturur. "I'll give you a minute to get more comfortable, and then I'll begin." He was so thoughtful. If only, thought Yagrius, if only...
Yagrius looked around at his classmates. Seth was staring at him. So was Abner and Val. The rest of them had their attention on Arturur. Yagrius understood what his old friends were doing. They were familiar with Yagrius, and they knew that staring made him exceptionally uncomfortable, even compared to other people with lots of anxiety issues. But these new guys didn't understand. And Yagrius didn't think that Seth even cared. Abner and Val, on the other hand? Yagrius really thought that they cared, but, at the same time, just simply didn't get him very well. And they were a lot weaker than him, which meant that if they decided to stare at him all the time, then he would just have to put up with it. He couldn't expect them to control themselves. That was his job, as a much stronger man.
A minute passed, and Arturur announced that he would finally begin. Yagrius made a fearful expression. For a moment, he almost said something, almost told Arturur that he preferred to stand after all. But nothing managed to escape his lips. Yagrius would just have to deal with sitting.
"Yagrius is really hard to get along with. He's not nasty. He's not mean. He's completely fucking insane." Arturur laughed, amused at the mere thought of Yagrius' silliness. "Let me reword that. He is both completely compliant and utterly defiant. You couldn't be bombarded with a more undomesticated man. He's hyper, he's aggressive, he's assertive, and while that's just his personality, that is entirely my point. When he does get out of control, it is unimaginable unless you know him.
"Probably one of his better qualities is that he is always willing to help. He doesn't seclude himself like Calvin, and he doesn't overwhelm people like Dende. He is in the middle of everything, always wanting to participate. He doesn't mind it when he's not the leader, and sometimes it is difficult to get him to lead. Yagrius is more than happy to just play along. He likes following orders, and he enjoys doing what he's best at, rather than trying to be the best at everything. Yagrius has highly specific interests, and he loves it when people tell him how he can use those interests to benefit others.
"So you've got a great, loyal team member. He experiences a lot of pleasure in working with people, and he is easy to please. If you need someone to work on a project when you've become too tired to do it yourself or you've just hit a complete roadblock, then Yagrius will happily assist you in whatever you need—Just as long as it's up his ally, otherwise he can be very resistant. But, hey, what good project doesn't need a good mathematician? It's really very easy to find things for him to do. He's just impossibly argumentative if you try to give him an all out administration job. As a noble, that's what he was born to do. However, as a young person, he has not realized that he can still be himself even when he's not in his comfort zone. Trying new things is not easy for him.
"Now let us move onto his exact problem areas." Arturur paused for a moment. "We'll start with one of his biggest, most out of control issues. And that's with mathematics... I know, that may sound quite baffling to those of you who don't know him, but it's completely, totally, and absolutely out of control. Yagrius has taken a whole field and made it his everyday life. Instead of generalizing his interests, he has been stuck in very troublesome, highly specific activities. It's everything to him. You can't pull him away from it. There's no such thing as reasoning with him, and he has no idea that you're even trying to prove a point. He's not ignorant, but he sure seems that way when you can't even begin to explain to him what's wrong with his behaviour.
"Yagrius doesn't trust anything unless it's been checked out by his super system of mathematics. He must always be in command when it comes to numbers. Oh, he works fine in a team, but his place in that team is always dominated by his own breed of mathematics. The only one that he listens to when it comes to maths is me.
"But I don't have the time to constantly supervise him. I need to do other things. I have a lot on my to-do list as the head administrator of everything. And some people actually have the nerve to get angry at me when they have to deal Yagrius instead of me. Hey, I'm not the person that should bear that responsibility. I can't handle it. So what do they tell me? This handful of irritating critics? That I should learn how to handle it.
"This may be hard to believe, but when you very first get to know Yagrius, he seems like he's genuinely insane. All of you are powerful, calculating men. And I am as well. It doesn't seem natural to see such traits in one of our own. But those traits very strongly resemble what you see in a mental ward. It's not the same thing at all, of course, but it looks like it. And that is what is important. That Yagrius has taken his obsession with numbers to such a faraway place, and that none of us can communicate with him without speaking a unique and almost impossible language. How do you tell Yagrius to stop? How do you get him to listen? Once you see what this man is capable of doing to his own mind, you will most definitely give up some of your very favourite obsessions yourselves."
But that didn't sit well with Seth, and Arturur had just unknowingly empowered him with unrivalled passion. On the same subject as what he had been talking about, Arturur was about to see something in Seth that was possibly even crazier than Yagrius' mathematics.
"I do not agree with you on that. At all." Grumbled Seth, glaring at Arturur from his desk.
The white pixie's attention became focused on the young wild man. "What are you talking about?" He didn't really want to know, but if he was going to get anywhere with this guy...
"You act like I don't have a mind of my own." Complained Seth, angrily. "First, you tell me that you have to embarrass all of these people in front of me, and then—"
"I do not need you to come and rescue me." Growled Yagrius, keeping himself from turning around and yelling at him.
Seth gave him a tired look, not wanting to engage with a man who he saw as brainwashed by Arturur. Then he turned back to the teacher.
"I'm not going to give up my life so easily." Said Seth, obstinately. "You think that all you have to do is shock me with your psychology and show us all how clever you are, and that's it."
Now that did not sit well with anyone.
Abner was disgusted. "Don't talk like that!" He admonished him. "Arturur is not a toy! You can't play with him as if he was Val! Stop being such a jerk!"
Even Val spoke, and he was not a very talkative person. "Calm down... You're going to start a fight." He said simply and calmly. His demeanour failed to reflect the situation, and it was strange to those not familiar with him that he was so easygoing no matter what happened.
Calvin held his tongue. He knew that he would just escalate the problem. Calvin would get him later. Yagrius was afraid of losing control of his anger too, and so he did as much as he could not to open his mouth, which was far harder for him than Calvin, being a more reckless individual. Jethro merely glared at him, as confrontations made him feel ill. But unlike the others, Dende chose to speak his mind.
"You're just a stupid troublemaker." He spat. "All you want to do is fight with everyone. Leave Arturur alone. He may seem like a tough son of a bitch, and he is, but this is actually far harder on him than he will admit."
Arturur looked away for a moment, unhappy that Dende was hinting too much. Then his eyes returned to Seth, who was glaring at Dende.
"I'll let you have that one." Replied Seth, his voice heavy with distaste. "But only because you're smaller than me!" He was referring to the fact that Dende was psychologically weaker than him.
Dende said nothing. His burning expression was the only communication he needed.
"You're really that stubborn, aren't you?" Seth couldn't stand the look on his face. "Do you ever come down to reality? I just listened to the most beautiful biography about you, and, I have to say, you sound like a complete loser."
Dende rushed to get out of his chair, and he was about to go over to Seth when Arturur quickly interrupted.
"That's enough!" Demanded the young doctor, losing his patience. "I want both of you to stay in your seats and calm the hell down!"
Dende reluctantly did as he was told, but he was not happy about it. He wanted to teach Seth a lesson. However, he knew that would only make Arturur angrier, so he had made the split second decision to stay out of it.
But that didn't mean that Seth was done. He redirected his attention to Arturur. "You are the real jerk! Ever since we first met, you've been trying to control me and force me to do everything that my parents say! Everything that the bigger people say! Why are you beating down on your own friends?! We're supposed to be partners in crime, and all you want to do is be a telltale all the time!"
Arturur was quiet for a moment. "You don't understand me very well yet. That's all. I'm not the kind of person that you should be getting angry at. You just think that you understand me."
Then Seth got out of his seat. "Stop telling me who I am!" He yelled, his control over himself slipping. "You may be a great psychologist and I know that you're the Headmaster and I have no idea why you're the Wexler, but I tell you now...! You are the most arrogant, irritating, and forceful person I have ever met!"
"I have never been anything but nice to you." Responded Arturur, finding himself to be strangely calming down.
Seth scoffed, feeling like that was absolutely ridiculous. "You know, all I have to do is get pissed off, and then you know what happens?! I—"
Abner intervened. "Seth, really, seriously calm down!"
And then Val did as well, in the same quiet voice. "This isn't worth it. Let it go."
Seth gave them both glares, but he did not stop. "You see, I live in the trees, you got it? I'm not crazy, but I don't think anything like you think I do. See, you come in here, and you feel like you have everything down just because of who you are, and then you blow me up and you blow everyone else up, and then because you're such a reputation obsessed fool, you keep going like nothing is your fault."
Dende was about to fly out of his chair again, but Arturur put his hand up before Dende could get up. "Sit!" He commanded, and Dende obeyed. All of a sudden, the sprite became very submissive.
"What in the hell do you mean by trees?" Arturur was honestly interested in Seth's strange comment.
Seth simply stared at him for a minute, trying to find the words to answer Arturur's question. Seth was just so upset, he was having the hardest time not going into him.
"My house is in the forest." He replied, calming down just a little. "I like it there. It's nice."
Arturur gave him a baffled look.
"It's my home." He continued, not intending to be cryptic.
"I have no idea what you're talking about..." Arturur was done. "Now look, okay? I understand that you're angry, and I understand that you don't know what kind of person I am, but let's try to get one thing clear, okay? I am not anyone you should be yelling at and fighting with. I can't handle it. I'm not being a jerk, I'm not being mean, I'm not doing anything to you. You have never met me before, and most people understand that they are going to be really confused when they meet new people for the first time. However, I have noticed that you seem to think that you can judge a person's character far more easily than is possible."
"I thought you had super powers when it came to meeting people you've never even seen before!" Exclaimed Seth. "You think I can't come to conclusions too?!"
"I never said that you were an idiot." Explained the young doctor, finally reaching a much more harmonious state of mind. "I said that you are presumptuous."
There was a long silence, and then Arturur took back control. "If you need to leave, Seth, just get up and leave. I'm not being harsh on you, don't misunderstand me. But we're here for an entirely different reason. This is not about a personal feud. This is about the psychology of a handful of people. This isn't about sociology or the fact that you see me as a telltale. This... is about Yagrius. And we are going to resume this discussion whether you like it or not, and I am going to say what I damn well want to say. This is my job. Understand? This is not playtime at break. Now, I am going to continue. Leave if you must, but we need to move on now."
Seth finally leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms. He still looked angry, but apparently he was ready to submit anyway. He clearly didn't like it and he certainly wasn't used to it. However, something inside of him told him that he needed to be easy on Arturur.
"Now... let us resume." Restarted Arturur, as if nothing had happened. "Yagrius is obsessed with dark, lonely places. He's not secluding himself, as I've stated before. But it looks that way. It really does. He is a particularly rare kind of person, in that he lives in shadows yet is very extroverted and loves to interact with others. I know that can sound like confusing opposites. However, it is indeed true.
"Yagrius is hopelessly mesmerized by the action and the adventure and even the misery of mental exploration. He is constantly searching for more and more baffling riddles. Always want to solve the world's hardest mysteries. There is not one single tree in our vast world that hasn't been entertained by Yagrius' unusual methods of analysis. And this is where we see a very troubled young man who can't come to terms with life. Every day there is another uncontrollable interest that takes over every hour that he is awake. It eats at him, it erodes him, it has killed him before. Psychological death is something that Yagrius has experienced. We do all in our power to help him, and we try every new treatment, and we invent better and better medicines... but it has all been lost, and that is because people can not come to an agreement on the issue. There is too much fighting, too much arguing, and all the good stuff that would have worked falls through the deep, unreachable cracks of Yagrius' mind.
"I talk to him about his problems, in the same way as any psychologist. I interact with him just as much and with just as much dedication. But I am always different. There is always something that causes a heated argument. However, that is just life. When it comes to Yagrius, people are so desperate to help him that they will try anything, even what they call my 'kookier' theories. Hey, I may find it insulting, but at least they will do what I say. Really, I can just go ahead and admit that when it comes to any field—Not just psychology—and to any issue... somehow, somewhere, sometime... my 'kooky' behaviour comes into question and people are very hard on me. Yet like I said... they are willing to try anything with Yagrius. It makes it all a whole lot less annoying for me.
"You have to let Yagrius talk for himself. You have to allow him to explore his weirder thoughts and you have to engage with the problems at hand by accepting that Yagrius is disabled and you can't fix everything with magic. I constantly witness people trying to shut him down. Trying to overwhelm him into submission. They have great difficulty not over controlling him. That's not going to work. Yagrius doesn't think like that. There's not some deeply embedded psychological issue that causes him to be... Well... to be Yagrius. He's just like that. They're looking in the wrong direction.
"Yagrius needs mathematics in his treatments far more than most people are comfortable with. They see it as aggravating the issues. It's not really like this. What it does is make him more open minded and direct him to simpler activities that are not mind numbingly huge and detailed. He loves to make mathematical discs that are covered in highly specific equations that are very important and dear to his heart. We're working with someone that has a deep passion for critical core elements of, ultimately, what his problems are. So like the delicate hands of an experienced doctor, we must gently remove the bad things from the good things, without overlapping the two and just causing Yagrius to explode and push away.
"It's kind of stupid when you get down to it. It's just so simple to help Yagrius that it's really sad that people just keep slipping and slipping. Yes, they will follow my commands, but their hearts are not in it, and as long as they act this way, nothing good is going to happen. You must save a person to save a person. You can not wait for something to happen and then hope it all goes well. You must do what needs to be done, and if you don't, things will just get worse. It may take time, but it will happen. And many people are tempted to be blind to this, and that doesn't do anything but irritate Yagrius and, quite frankly, myself. This is very personal for me. Dende and Calvin can help themselves, weaker or not. However, Yagrius... is enslaved to the mercy of others. You either do things for him or he will fail miserably at trying to help himself.
"I must emphasise that all you really need to do is really, just honestly talk to him. Don't give into trying to control his mathematics, not yet. That needs to be done once the first step is finally achieved in the not-so-long journey of restructuring Yagrius. Mathematics are key, of course, but have self discipline. Do things the right way, so that you don't just find yourself trying everything. That is the major mistake that people have made with Yagrius ever since he first started developing these very tough issues.
"Let me try to make this make more sense..." Arturur stopped for a moment. "Concerning mathematics, Yagrius believes that he can use black backgrounds with coloured lines in such a strange and powerful way that, in his mind, it gives him something akin to super powers. That sounds crazy. That sounds downright insane. He looks like he comes from a completely different world, and everything he says and does appears to describe him using only one word. And that's 'irrationality'.
"But no matter how crazy it all sounds, we learn eventually that Yagrius is onto something quite ingenuous. However, we can't get him to come down from the sky, and see that, just because something is different and new, does not mean that he should become totally obsessed with it. It's not that important. Not to the point of dominating his entire life. I want the old Yagrius back. I want the fun loving guy who didn't stop having fun simply because he came up with a 'new idea' and needs to go write it down as fast as possible. Oh, I still find him completely interesting. I just want him to be happy. That's all. That's all I mean by referring to him as the 'old' Yagrius.
"So these black backgrounds with neon lines... How do you explain to someone that a unique perspective is not necessarily a good discovery? Sometimes, even the most amazing of finds only bring people strife rather than true progress. After all, people can not move forward if they are constantly aware of all the little details in their thoughts and actions. People don't keep stopping and asking themselves, what is going on? Now I know that I do something very similar to that, but my mind flows without actually stopping. Yagrius has to think long and hard about it. For me, it's just natural. It's just my mind. Try telling Yagrius that, because he uses it as part of his argument, and no matter how silly that is, he never understands that he should not do things like that.
"He takes a completely black image, and starts taking coloured markers to the picture. He is a professor, so he does a lot of teaching. He draws all of these highly complex relationships between lines, connecting them with maths that are so hard, his students can not understand it. Only I really know what he's talking about. But despite that his students can not handle the class, Yagrius is always refusing to change the topic. He insists that if he explains it enough, anyone could understand it. That was all mighty fine when he was a child. However, he is an adult now. And he has had every opportunity to make sense. Yet he hasn't made any sense ever since he started. He would be crazy if he was anyone else.
"Do you know that Yagrius actually commonly believes extremely outlandish stuff that doesn't get him deemed insane? Stuff that is even outlandish compared to me?! I'm the Headmaster. I can think whatever I want. I don't turn anything into irrational rambling. Yagrius is so underdeveloped in such a way that he can basically think whatever comes to mind, and he's just considered too little in the head to understand. It's all very sad, of course. But this is ultimately what we're dealing with: An obsession with mathematics that is completely off the charts. Leave it to Yagrius to turn it into something that's virtually harmless. However, if we don't control it, Yagrius will end up killing himself by overworking his mind."
For a few moments, Arturur was quiet, then, "Well, I'm going to leave our discussion about Yagrius here. The issues are too deep and complex to further explore in the current psychological climate of this room. It would just start baffling you to the point of incomprehension..." He paused again. "I don't have the ability to keep talking about it either... It's just too depressing. Really, I could go on and on, but, like I said, even I am not in the mood to elaborate on Yagrius' mathematical mess."
"Does this mean that we can take a break?" Asked Seth, suddenly. He was trying to be respectful.
Arturur said nothing, then, "Sure. But only a short one. We still have to do Jethro. He's next. And, at the end, we'll be doing me. I'll be talking about myself."
"Oh, really?" Seth was surprised. He had not known that. "I can't wait then." He smiled, genuinely excited. "I really, really want to hear about you."
Arturur's face betrayed a hint of discomfort.
But someone refused to be pushed away. Abner took his drink to Arturur's table, and sat down. He had a large soda with him. Arturur gave him an unhappy look.
Meeting Arturur in height, with long, thick spikes of white hair, Abner was an imposing figure. Like other white pixies, he commonly wore a long, white coat. However, today, he was not wearing one. Instead he was dressed in a black turtle neck and white trousers.
"Why are you sitting here?" Arturur demanded, quietly.
Abner had a strange look on his face. "Because I want to talk to you." He revealed, his demeanour almost mysterious.
Arturur said nothing for a moment. "About what?" He was practically growling, irritated that someone was interrupting his me time.
Abner was silent, then, "Let's go to another room." It wasn't a suggestion.
"But I don't want to." Arturur was obviously confused.
"Just for a little while." Said Abner, calmly. "I just need to talk to you for a moment... Please."
Arturur appeared to think about it. "Fine." He gave in. "Where?"
Abner smiled, glad that Arturur didn't fight with him about it. "Just follow me." He got up from his chair. Arturur soon joined him. Abner lead him away, out of the room. "There's another break room nearby."
They walked through the little school, going down a few hallways until they finally reached their destination. Abner lead Arturur to a table, and they both sat down, Arturur wondering what was so important, and Abner trying to be friendly despite what he was about to say.
"Well..." Began Arturur, curiously. "What's your problem?" He figured it was something negative.
It was. "I think you should be aware of something..." Said Abner, slowly. "You see... I have tried to speak with you about this before, but I'm usually kept from discussing it, because the bigger people won't let me address you on some of your more sensitive subjects."
Arturur sighed, already annoyed. "What in the hell do you want?"
Abner knew that he was probably about to get yelled at. "I want to talk about... Seth."
Arturur glared at him, unspeaking. Then, "Why?" He demanded.
Abner decided to speed things up. He didn't want to take too long. The class needed to be resumed soon, and he understood that, that was important for all of them, especially Arturur. So he tried not to stall.
"It's not just today." Started Abner, nicely. "It's every time you're around Seth... And I just need to tell you... you don't understand him. It gets on my nerves that you think you do. If only you knew about all of his problems, and how hard life is on him, you wouldn't be such a jerk to him all the time. You know, all he wants to do is be your friend."
Arturur looked away, sighing heavily. He was extremely annoyed.
"Now, I know that this is difficult for you." Abner tried to be more sensitive to Arturur's emotions. "And we all know just what a weak person you are. But you still need to try to get along with Seth better. I feel like Seth is doing all the work, and you're not putting any real effort forth."
"Effort?" That pissed off Arturur. "I do everything I can to make this guy happy, and you come up to me, ask me to leave the room, and bring me here to tell me that... I am not making an effort?"
"You're talking to him about the right things." Insisted Abner, trying his best to be kind and thoughtful. "However, everyone keeps telling you that you have to talk to him differently. But all you want to do is pretend that you know everything, and you won't take anyone's advice. You're really arrogant."
"That is not arrogance, I can assure you." Asserted Arturur, crossing his arms over his chest. "That is me not wanting to put up with Seth's nonsense. The man is absolutely out of control. He continuously rams into me as if I must struggle with him no matter how difficult it is for me. Why would you ever think that Seth is allowed to treat me so badly?"
"It's not like that." Replied Abner. "Seth is being a major jerk. I know that. You might be an extremely weak person, and I know that you are, but even you have to try to get along with people. I understand that this is far harder on you than the rest of us. But you still have to live. You can't stop time from passing. We're here for you. And there's going to be rough spots like this one. And we're going to do everything we can to help you through it. But you still have to live."
"Seth is mean, nasty, and full of himself." Arturur did not see Abner's point. At all. And he didn't want to. "Dealing with him is like dealing with a brick wall. Nothing I say to him calms him down. Nothing I do satisfies his need for absolute control. And nothing I try makes a difference in his behaviour. He's got an attitude problem that makes Eugene seem like a fluffy, little kitten... What in the hell could I possibly do differently?"
Abner studied Arturur's eyes, looking for any sign of understanding. He found none. "Arturur... You're a prince... And... that gets to you. It makes you foolish."
Arturur gave him an incredulous look. "You know nothing of a prince. You know none of my problems. I'm sick of you trying to control my every move. You did the same thing with Eugene. Eugene. You tried to control my every thought, my every action. And you're like Euchre more than you're willing to admit. Your brother is a complete jackass. You're not. But you're still more like him than you're willing to admit, and I can't stand your brother. Most of the time, you're easy to be around, but sometimes, like now, you really get on my last fucking nerve."
"I'm not trying to fight with you." Assured Abner. "I just want you to work harder on building a friendship with him. He's supposed to be your friend, your buddy. That's how us nobles are. We're all really close. That's how all of Warren is. We're all super close."
"I come from this far away land, and you expect me to just instantly fall into place." Arturur felt like Abner was being completely hypocritical.
"No, no, it's not like that." Abner was struggling to control him. "I'm not crazy. I know that you're from a totally different world. I understand that. But you've got to see that—"
"You are ridiculous." Arturur hit the table with his fist. "Get off my back!"
Abner was silent for a moment, worried that this conversation was going to turn into a vicious fight. Abner knew that he had trouble reasoning with Arturur, and from their past confrontations, it was obvious to him that Arturur was amazingly stubborn. Trying to communicate with him in any manner was hard enough. Bringing up a topic like this? Sheer impossible.
"What is going to happen when Yagrius finally blows?" Asked Abner. It totally threw Arturur off. "Yagrius is obsessed with these strange mathematics. That's what you said. It's true. But what is going to happen when Yagrius and Seth finally get into it? Are you going to help Yagrius and ignore Seth? Are you going to let Yagrius say and do whatever he wants, simply because you think you already understand the severity of Seth's problems? Do you really think that I'm going to sit back and just allow that to happen?
"You talk a lot about intervention. I'm extremely interested in hearing what you're going to say about yourself. I honestly have no idea what it's going to sound like or how it's going to affect me. You're like that. You're like no one I have ever met. You are the most out of control, the most wild man that I have ever seen...
"You should have lived here." Abner's anger began to show, but it was not for Arturur. "You should have never lived with those people. They don't know how to control you, and you would have been so much happier with your own kind."
"My own kind?" That snapped something inside of him. "I love Jamal. Jamal has always been like a grandfather to me. And you want to take that away by labelling him as some kind of inconsiderate fool?"
"Arturur. Arturur, stop." Abner did not want Arturur to think something like that about him. "I am not like that."
"Oh really?" But Arturur had already flipped. "All of these powerful psychologists living in powerful psychologist land... and they all think the same stupid stuff about peasants. That they're not as smart, that they're not as interesting. That anyone that doesn't have a degree in this fantasy world of theirs... that they can say whatever they want about my family. Just because they don't have the same flashy education... I was happy with them. I care about them. I love them... Don't you ever come up to me and tell me that there's something wrong with anyone who isn't native to Warren."
Abner gave Arturur a moment to calm down. "You know none of that is true." He said, calmly and supportively. "You know that no one really believes things like that about people... They're just mad... the people of Warren... They're just angry because they didn't want you taken from them... It's not like that. It really isn't. And I'm nothing like that. I know the others can get pretty nasty about it, but you know... you know I'm not like that."
Arturur made a long, heavy sigh. His eyes were on the ground, his face tense. Everything was just so hard. Just so hard. A little time passed.
"I'm sorry." Apologized Arturur, genuinely. "I shouldn't have said those things. I know you're not like that. I know that no one here really means the stupid stuff that comes out of their mouths. They're just mad. I know that. I really do. I'm sorry, Abner. I'm really, really sorry."
"It's okay." Assured Abner, in a caring and sympathetic voice. "I would have said the same thing if I was in your situation."
Silence. Quiet. Peacefulness. But it was about to break again.
“Arturur...” Abner said, feeling guilty. “I shouldn't have brought it up. It's really my fault.” That was fine, but soon...
“Thank you." Arturur smiled. A small, nice little smile. That was fine too, but...
"As much as I feel bad, and as much as I want to just ramble on and on about how sorry I am and how you've done nothing wrong at all... As much as I want to just apologize and apologize... Please understand that we're simply running out of time, and I feel like this is an important and critical conversation between us."
Arturur gave him a strange look. It was not an angry look. He said nothing, waiting for Abner to continue.
"We must... We really must..." Abner was trying his hardest to be sensitive. "We have to talk about Seth."
Arturur sighed again, looking away momentarily. "What more is there to say, Abner? Really? Is there really more for you to say?"
"Yes." Answered Abner, quickly. "There is." And then the peace began to wane, instantly.
Arturur's anger was slowly returning, however, it was not as great as it had been before. He wasn't sure why. Perhaps it was the reassurance about peasants. Perhaps it was just him getting used to Abner. Or perhaps he was simply exhausted. It was probably the first time in his life that he didn't understand what he was thinking.
"Seth has really bad problems, okay?" Abner was ready to get back into it. "He has this thing... with trees... I'll start with that, since it's the first thing he's really been able to admit... Here we go. And... here we go... Seth is hard to talk to, I know you can see that. The reason why is because he's a bit on the ignorant side, and he's got really wild, untamed thoughts. No one can convince him that his obsessions with 'living' in the forest are in actuality nothing special. He has all of his emotions wrapped up in it. Seth thinks that it gives him all this special knowledge, which sounds a lot like a crazy person, but he's not crazy, of course. He has autism. And his particular kind of autism is just totally out of control. Trying to communicate with him is terrifying. We just can't help him at all."
"And this makes me a horrible person why?" Arturur was so sick of hearing about Seth. The guy was a jerk. Surely, that counted for something?
"Arturur... We're getting past that. We're not going to get stuck on that." Abner tried to take charge of the conversation. "Seth is intense. I know he is. But you have to listen to me no matter how hard it is."
Arturur just stared at him, an unpleasant expression on his face.
"Seth thinks that none of the rules apply to him." Resumed Abner. "He's not like you and me. He can't see the lines. He honestly can't. There's all these social rules that are just totally beyond his grasp. He couldn't be nice to you if he wanted to. There's nothing in his mind stopping him from getting on your nerves.
"You're going to have to learn to live with his behaviour and just accept it. You can't keep ramming into him. You guys go at each other all the time. It's got to stop. Arturur, you're not stupid. I know you have your problems too. But you're not stupid. You're not an ignorant person like Seth. Seth is dumb. He really is. I'll be completely forthcoming with you. I know Seth is a jerk. I know Seth is idiotic. I know Seth can't deal with being challenged. At all. But he can't help it. And you... I know you have your problems, and that they are ultimately worse than Seth's... but you at least have the ability to overlook what he's doing."
Arturur was perhaps the most mysterious person in the world. On one hand, he was easy to get to know. But on the other hand, there was this great plot hole in everything he did. Everyone he had met since returning from Wendell couldn't wrap their minds around what exactly filled that space.
"I don't have the patience to deal with Seth." Admitted Arturur, finally. "This is going to be a totally new thing for you to hear about me. I'll give you a preview of what I'm going to say in the classroom shortly... I am weak. You know that. But you don't understand something about me that's really very obvious, however, no one ever seems to notice... I do not have any patience for someone like Seth. How many times do I have to say it? I know it's new for you.
"Look. Let me get straight to it. Even if you asked the main computer, or one of the Edge Daemons, or one of the Old Ones, or the Angels or the gods themselves. They would all tell you the same thing: I can not handle someone like Seth!" Arturur slapped his hands down onto the table. "You don't need to know why. You don't need to know the statistics. It's really that simple. Just latch onto the truth and let it go. Leave me alone about it.
"But that's not enough for you. You see... I am not like other people. And this will only take a moment to explain... My job would be at risk if there wasn't something very true about me that no one else can do and, trust me, the gods have told me that this is completely true." Arturur didn't say anything for a moment. "I never judge a person until I have absolute proof. That includes both the people I have lived with and everyone I am still meeting in Warren. I believe that even your Vampire King is possibly completely insane. But you know what? I even think that about you." Arturur leaned closer over the table. "I think that about everyone. I think that about every man there is in Warren. Because I don't know any of you, and I can't be sure that a person is credible until I've ever heard everything that I need to hear.
"Not only do I believe that your grandfather is possibly the craziest person in Alastair, but I also learn these things very quickly about people. I can detect things in your body language, in your speech, in the context of what I can actually understand, and from that information, I can determine the most amazing things about you.
"So before you come up to me and tell me that you're one-hundred percent sure that I'm being cruel to Seth, I want you to stop and think about what I just said and understand that Wendell and all the really old people simply want me to be the one to say it. It is true. The Edge Damons, the Old Ones, and the gods have told me that. Exactly that. And do not question it any more. Because I will not repeat myself again. I don't do that. I say something once and then I never say it again. I'm a militant person, and you're going to have to learn to live with my inabilities. And Seth will learn to live with them too. I can't help it. I'm sorry. I can't handle Seth. And that's all there is to it. I will try to be nice to him, but if he comes after me, I'm taking him down.
"I can not handle people aggressing me that relentlessly!"
Abner was quiet. He was studying Arturur very closely, worried that he had done something terribly wrong. What was all this about the gods telling Arturur he was perfect? The Prince could do what? What Arturur had told Abner was too little to really absorb. It was technical at best. Abner's face tightened as he scrutinised his friend, and he wondered, so privately wondered... what in the hell was Arturur thinking?
"I don't understand." Admitted Abner, feeling very guilty. "I won't question you about Seth any more. But I have to be honest myself... I have no idea what you're talking about. You seem to think that I can and do, but I really don't. All I heard was that bigger people have ensured you that no matter who it is or what is wrong with them, you can't handle too much aggression. I already know that, so what you're saying is not computing with me."
Arturur looked so angry that Abner had trouble facing him. "Why..." Said Arturur. "do these people... force me to explain these things? I've never wanted to do this. It's too hard!"
Abner felt very sympathetic to that. "They should just tell us themselves... I don't like that they do this to you."
Arturur looked away, fuming. "I just want everyone to get off my back. I just want to get along with people, and have a good time, and it's always ruined by some stupid misunderstanding."
"After all of this is over..." Started Abner, trying to hide his own anger. "We're all going to help you. Me, Val, and Seth. We're all going to get this straightened out and taken care of. You're just going to tell them that you have worked to the maximum, and that you can not handle any of these responsibilities any more. You should have never had to do any of this to begin with. I can not even begin to fathom why someone like you was given so much to do. You're tired. You're weak. And I am making you done. This nonsense is over with."
Suddenly, Arturur looked like he was about to cry. He turned away, trying to mask his pain. "Thank you." He said, voice breaking.
Abner slowly got up from the table, and walked over to Arturur. He bent over and hugged him. "It's going to be all right." Said Abner, softly. "We'll get everything sorted out for you. You don't have to go through this alone any more."
Arturur felt extremely embarrassed, but he couldn't help it. He was tired.
Most people would have snapped. So when Arturur finally began talking and there was no indication of fear in his voice, everyone was confused. The psychology of it was so simple and yet Arturur kept defying the norms. If it had been one of them, they would have gotten caught on the fact that Jethro was second to last. They would have at least made a tense expression or kept looking away in nervousness or... something! An uncomfortable posture, a strained voice, a strange arm gesture... but Arturur was perfect. Even when he very first started talking about Calvin, they had all expected more than just a little uneasiness. But... Arturur was perfect.
"Jethro." It was the first word that Arturur spoke. "Come up here. Or would you rather just sit like Yagrius did?"
Jethro went to speak, but no words came out. Then, "I would just prefer to remain here." His voice was a bit shaky.
"All right. That's fine." Replied Arturur, ready to get things started.
Jethro was tense. And it was very clear that he did not feel ready. His expression was one of anxiety. But at least he was acting normally.
Jethro was also very tall, but that was not unusual for the "little ones"—They were all very tall men, and maximum height was normal amongst them, which Jethro was. He had long, thick spikes of blue hair, and he wore long blue robes, with red along the inside borders. Underneath, his clothes were tight fitting and also blue.
"So... let us begin." Announced Arturur, calmly. He showed no sign of the frazzled man he was shortly before. "Jethro is easy to describe... Very easy... He's hyper. We're all hyper. But that word is special when we use it with Jethro... You see, his hyperactivity is legendary. I mean, I'm far more hyper than him, of course, but that doesn't matter. What matters is what you do with your personality, not the statistics of it.
"And Jethro is infamous for his particular kind of bouncing off the walls. He's nice, who isn't it? He's mean, that's not new. And he's addicted to himself. Apparently, if you look into the deepest depths of history, you will find that no one had ever invented 'self love' before the birth of our very own Jethro. I wouldn't call him arrogant. I reserve that word for Dende. But Jethro certainly doesn't understand that there are facts outside of his own academic prowess. Information that started in the minds of men that have been thinking before Jethro ever walked the earth. No, Jethro seems to believe, in his own unique way, that knowledge begins and ends with him. Hell, he even considers me to be an idiot.
"According to Jethro, I actually have no special place in the development of psychology. It doesn't matter that I'm the Prince. That my father is the King. It doesn't matter how much I study or how powerful my psychology is. I am nothing but the product of brainwashing, an act that he believes to be exclusive to everyone but himself. Jethro, a brainwasher? Impossible. A concept that he can't even conceive. A world that doesn't need him to open up its doors? Again. Sheer impossible.
"The man before you..." Arturur gestured with his arm at Jethro. "the only one capable of designing true skills and discovering true knowledge. I present to you, a god himself. A god even more intelligent than other gods. A god that doesn't need any other god. If there's something that you want to know about the universe, then you must certainly ask Jethro. Trust me! No one knows anything but him!"
Jethro was scowling at Arturur as he humiliated him in front of the entire class...
But you know what? It was actually the truth. And Arturur wasn't allowed to tell lies, no matter how funny they might be.
And then how did that make sense? Abner, Seth, and Val were all very confused, knowing that they had been reassured again and again that Arturur would not and could not make anything up. Not only was it not in Arturur's personality, but people had been sure to prepare him for this particular event.
Well, you know... Abner, Seth, and Val didn't believe that he was speaking literally. Until the special monitor lit up, the special monitor that had been set up next to Arturur. And the special monitor quickly told them that Arturur was indeed speaking the truth. And the main computer would have never allowed such confirmation unless it was factual.
"Jethro is insane?!" Exclaimed a baffled Seth.
Abner and Val made their own confused comments.
"No, he's not insane." Assured Arturur and the computer. The computer's screen instructed the young men to believe what Arturur was telling them, and to continue to believe anything that he said. The main computer made sure that Arturur would not be further questioned.
"What's wrong with him?" Asked Seth, with a bizarre expression.
"His problem..." Began Arturur, equally as calm as before. "is that he's so little in the head in his own unique way, that he can't think in all the same ways that we can. It's because he never really understood his problems to begin with. The root computer tried to explain certain, critical information to him when he was young, but failed to ensure that Jethro would understand it... You see... there really is a lot of things in this world that even Warren doesn't know is possible."
Abner said nothing, his mouth agape. Val was the same.
"How can anyone be that stupid?!" Demanded Seth, frustrated.
"Unfortunately, I can not answer those questions directly." Informed Arturur. "You will have to listen to the rest of the lecture."
There was stunned silence.
"Of course, I am not being completely literal." Resumed Arturur. "But that is obvious. However, what you will still fail to understand is just how literal I meant my words to be. We can not slow everything down to explain that. It would end up throwing a wrench into the gears. Instead, we must attempt to move forward, even if it's a bit blindly."
"If you don't tell me how that makes sense, I can't possibly follow you." Said Seth, just as bewildered as Abner and Val.
"Sometimes, you have to just go with it." Replied Arturur, smoothly. "I will try to explain it in some detail, but there's no reason to tell you that you will understand very little about this. It's not possible to fit all of the information into one very brief lecture. I know that you're shocked, but we must resume the discussion. Ultimately, you will find yourself thinking about this long after this class is over, and still not have any real idea of what it means."
Seth just stared at him, finally unable to think of something to say. It took a lot to stun Seth into silence.
"Anyway, continuing." Arturur coolly moved on. "Jethro thinks he knows everything. Regularly, I find myself face to face with the greatest emptiness that I have ever witnessed. His mind is so devoid of common sense, of the normal everyday understanding of the world. He stands on his own, always believing that he is the only one that can bring science to a greater and greater visibility. Even the Old Ones are at a loss for showing him the world as it is.
"They refuse to overwhelm him with facts, reassuring everyone that for him these kinds of beliefs are perfectly normal and healthy. They tell us that it would be destroying Jethro's childhood if they themselves intervened. However, for the most part, they allow the younger damons to instruct him how they want. They simply refuse to deal with it themselves, despite that they are fully capable of correcting the problem. Youth itself has always been valued as one of the most important parts of a child's growth, and that is that growth requires ignorance, even when that ignorance is great and disturbing. To deny the young of their youth is one of the most dangerous sins.
"So we are given the puzzle of fixing Jethro on our own. Only through us can he be saved from his deafness, from his inability to absorb the wise words of his elders. In order to do this, we must strengthen the balance of knowledge within his mind, and amplify the complexity of nature. To increase the volume of his own thoughts is to bring him to himself. He must not be allowed to evade our lessons. He must be held in place with an unyielding firmness that can be used repeatedly without causing psychological harm. Until his care can be equipped with the satisfactory gentleness, the cost would be too great for any kind of experimental treatments. It is never a good idea to explore a path that has not been mapped.
"While this is most definitely an important part of his psychology, for now, there is no reason for us to shed more light onto the matter. It is too complicated and would only create more confusion. Jethro is a class himself, and not just a class, but an entire degree. A very large and shiny degree. We will change course and leave this for another day."
Hearing that upset Abner, Seth, and Val, but there was nothing they could do about it. The three simply listened, their feelings deeply stirred by the enigmatic Jethro. They could not wait to hear more, even if it wasn't focused on his most fundamental thought patterns. At this point, anything that came from Arturur's mouth was more than interesting enough.
"Jethro frequently walks the halls of our own Academy." Started Arturur, without a single sign of fatigue. "He tells us it's like blue lights are always alongside the floors, glowing with knowledge and power that only he can understand. Blue lights... Keep that in mind. He is hypnotized by colours in ways that you could never imagine without instruction. Think about it. Let your subconscious fill with it. It is a necessary process to understanding Jethro.
"He is always the first to speak. The first to step forth. The first to do anything. The only one that outruns him is me, of course. But it gives him a very exciting personality, this need to rush into everything. He is charismatic, charming, and has a way of enticing you to experience more of him. His face is like a light in the darkness of deep waters. You always need him to travel forward in life. His companionship is one of the greatest forces in all of Alastair.
"I would have grown bitter with time if Jethro didn't always make me laugh. While I needed others as well, people that I could never imagine my life without... Jethro shines brightly in any crowd. He stands out. And he knows how to help me when others can do nothing. It would have been an empty life indeed without him to share my days. There's not one thing that we haven't talked about. He doesn't always understand me, but he knows how to talk about it. People try, but they fail. They want to, they need to, but they can't. Jethro..." Arturur's face became hot, feeling as if he might cry from the emotional intensity. "always finds a way."
Suddenly, everyone in the classroom realized that Arturur had just broken. They expected more. They expected him to actually cry, to cover his face with his hand. But nothing happened. Arturur just stood there, choking on his own words.
It was almost normal. But not quite.
As quickly as it had appeared, the pained expression on Arturur's face was gone. He was a soldier again. An unfeeling and hardened doctor that could not deal with his emotions. It was clear that there was something deeply wrong with Arturur. There was something that created in him a kind of psychological death that wasn't technically psychological death. An inability to be like everyone else in the most crucial ways. Everyone felt something then, something powerful and sad. They just wanted him to get release. He was standing there, just in reach... but no one could help him. He was a mystery inside of a mystery inside of a mystery.
"Jethro..." Arturur began again, strangely calm and appearing unaffected. "is obsessed with riddles. However, his obsessions with them are nothing like Yagrius'. Yagrius is trying to unwind the world and study all its many facets and create a better place to live in. Yet Jethro is incapable of failure in any way that enlightens him of the dangerousness of residing in puzzles.
"He loves to challenge himself with hard questions, and he loves to occupy himself with easy ones as well. But because he does not explore the in between, he is not able to understand that hard questions create excuses for not comprehending them, and, in the same basic way, easy questions create a sense of progress and completion that tricks the mind into over relaxation. Without the middle, he can not come to realize that a more balanced difficulty level is enlightening to the true nature of questions. The only way to be in touch with our inner selves and the people around us is to be able to accept confusion. Balance creates confusion in the minds of those that analyse it, proving to people that you don't always have the answer. Simply challenging yourself with difficulty prevents yourself from understanding that losing is important rather than merely inevitable. And simply collecting information by focusing on what is easy causes you to believe that you are satisfactorily productive despite ignoring an entire field of thought. When you don't focus on hard and easy questions in relation to each other, you are almost incapable of genuinely learning. And what you do learn is both misleading and disabling.
"However, he is a genuis. But no one envies his path... When we wonder why this is so, we are constantly brought back to the fact that Jethro is relentless when it comes to the gathering of knowledge. A true savant. All of his weaknesses seemingly leaving him devoid of the skills that it takes to conquer so much ground. Yet he does it... Most people don't really understand why. I do in part, but I have never been able to explain it to people. They know that. They know that very well. But, like everything else I'm good at, there's always a point when they powerfully doubt me.
"What I don't understand is precisely why. The comprehension is so generalized within me, that I can not use words to properly describe it. It is not an easy task to seek out light in what is overwhelming darkness. All the research in the world can only do so much.
"So how do you find it? How do you discover the cure? Well, I believe that everything that is exceptionally bad is, in actuality, very easy to solve. What is terrible, in severity and symptoms, is virtually effortless to analyse if only people would just do it. It is amazing how stubborn others are when it comes to things like this. They always want to believe that everything is simply impossible. That there are no methods to eliminate the biggest of problems simply by studying it in a different way. So they don't. They don't even try.
"They believe that giving me the benefit of the doubt would only hurt us, we who are so 'little'. Of course, that damage would have to be pretty big and scary for them not to go through my version of protocol on the issue. They feel that our minds would not be able to cope with a sudden cultural shift of such magnitude. That it would 'brainwash' us even. That it would lead us to think that so many other things are also open to consideration. In their beliefs, it would be a massive loss of control over us if they were to even entertain the possibility that such outlandish ideas could have any value. Even if they don't believe in it at all. Just the act itself. The act of searching. A breach of command.
"What must be done is that Jethro must be fully restrained, both logically and emotionally. He can not be allowed to keep living this way. We must penetrate the deepest part of his mind if we are ever to put it on course with everyone else. The way this is done begins very simply. We do not let him control us with his great knowledge any more. We tune it all out. And we force him, utterly force him... to live and think and feel like us. We surround him so tightly that he can not escape us. We constantly dig into him and replace as many of his thoughts as we can with ours. We may have our own problems, but they are nothing compared to his. We will infect him with our poor logic. It is highly contagious when restructuring someone's mind to such a great extent. However, it is far better than just leaving him to his own devices."
Arturur became silent, his arms behind his back. They watched him, his every movement, his every change in expression. But there was not much to watch. Arturur was always fully in control of himself. They could not wait to hear about him.
But could he admit his own problems?
"That is it for Jethro today." Announced Arturur. Everyone but Jethro showed disappointment. "I know that I have not described his issues as much as the others, but that is all that you're going to understand for now. Like Yagrius, I just have to stop. You will only get more and more confused. I have made enough sense to give you a basic idea of Jethro.
"But that's why this has been a discussion. Once I am done with this class, the point of explaining all of this is to discuss it. I have laid down the foundation for that conversation. And we will talk about it. All of us, including me. And we will share and learn. While I may not continue the discussion in an actual classroom, you will still get to hear me talk in just as much detail and more. It's simply that... today... we will be done. And we will take a nice, long break. You may continue to think about it to yourself. It is simply that we will not be conversing with one another about this class until tomorrow."
"Teacher..." Said Seth suddenly.
Arturur did not know what to expect. "What?"
"You don't have to..." He trailed off, unable to complete his sentence.
"Don't have to what?" Asked Arturur, curiously.
Seth was silent for a moment, then, "You don't have to talk about yourself. Not if you really don't want to... I don't want you to feel pushed. You don't have to be perfect all the time."
Arturur was quiet himself, then, "I'm fine, Seth... but thank you for your consideration. Don't worry. I'm well versed in being insanely patient." He smiled.
But Seth frowned.
No one knew what was about to happen. A thousand questions flew threw their minds at once. The classroom was charged with nervous energy. Arturur stood before them, just as quietly as they. He appeared to be getting his bearings for the next part of the discussion. Soon, he would be faced with the challenge of talking about himself. Whether he could do it or not... Well, that was a question for them all.
Not wanting to put any pressure on him, Seth kept his mouth shut. And everyone was grateful.
"All right." Started Arturur, appearing calm. "Next up is me..." He paused for a moment. "This will be a little awkward at first, but I will quickly get past that."
A little awkward? His audience found that downright silly.
"Now... we will begin." Resumed Arturur, only showing just a hint of uneasiness. "I am a... capable and... as you have already seen on many occasions... a very militant kind of man... I am a soldier, I am a teacher, I am a psychologist, I am a priest, and I am a mathematician. This is something that confuses those who don't know me. It's very difficult to absorb, but it's not so hard to understand. Not really." He paused again, and it was clear that he was indeed a little nervous. But just a little.
And then he just flew into it. "I am known for my legendary stubbornness. I don't give up and I don't give in. And no matter what comes into my path, I will succeed one way or another. Obstacles mean nothing to me. I am not perfect, but no one is. However, if you're looking for the definition of perfection, I won't pretend to think anything else. I will go ahead and just tell you... I am definitely as perfect as you're going to get."
Seth chuckled, and then did everything in his power to hide his amusement.
"I am at the very top of administration, obviously. I am most comfortable laying down plans and ordering around employees. And then I am also very comfortable getting my hands dirty and doing all the hard stuff the same as the people I command. You can not truly govern your subjects if you don't know how to do their jobs. And so I regularly hone my skills by occupying myself not just with leadership, but with submissive roles that require a lot of patience and dedication in ways that are normally completely alien to leaders. I like it. I really, truly like it. And I know it's very difficult for Warren natives to understand, but this is who I am. Don't fight with me about it. If you have something negative to say, tell someone else, because I sure don't want to hear about it.
"I like being part of a team. I like telling people what to do. I like solving problems and fixing what is broken. I love puzzles. I love hard work. I want to transform this entire world into a perfect place to live. We all know that utopia is within our grasp. Now we must learn how to make it a reality. While people would argue that we already live in a utopia, there is no reason that it can not be better. For one, psychological death must be eliminated as a possibility. And all people must come together and work on the same page. No matter how irritated you may get, no matter how hard something may seem, it is vitally important for us all to work as one.
"This is who I am. I live my life by the book, and these are not dreams, but realities that I will make whether anyone helps me or not. In the end, you will help me, that is certain because that is the whole point. And you may find me to be a silly, goofy headmaster, but I don't give a damn. Everyone in Alastair is going to be happy whether they like it or not."
Seth laughed again, and again he tried to hide it.
"I always move forward. I always ask every question that can come to mind. The world is my playground, and I effortlessly manipulate it. People do not find me harsh. They find me impossible. No one thinks that I'm wrong, not for the most part, but they do see me as difficult to argue with. I am always sure of myself, but that is only because I play by all the rules. My adopted family has raised me to be this way, however, that makes no difference. I am who I am because that is who I am. I merely require the support of others to do what I am best at.
"Now I know that all of you are eager to tackle me and control me and tell me what to do, but I will warn you. I am not easy to drag down. You think of me as this weak, pathetic man who, after that tiring war of words, is now completely exhausted and capable of being whipped into submission like a horse. You are wrong. You expect me to say that. I've already heard my share of nonsense from Abner, Seth, and Val. And the rest of you have this silly dream as well. But I can tell you with absolute certainty. What you are hearing in my voice is invincibility. Good luck winning your games against me. Because you won't."
Seth was trying hard to stifle his laughter, but he couldn't help but grin. Abner had a funny, amused look on his face, and Val was simply baffled. The rest were already completely versed in the behaviour of Arturur, and showed no outward signs of anything that could be interpreted by the other three. But Arturur's old friends all knew what they were thinking. Even Jethro saw Arturur as completely ridiculous. It didn't matter what faults they had themselves. Arturur was surrounded by an incredulous audience.
"I am utterly determined to get my damn way. I know that sounds like a goal without true aim. I seem childish and foolish to all of you. A dreamer. A wisher. And ultimately an idiot. I have had to work and work with the most gruelling effort to make my way this far. Of course, those of you who have just fallen into my life still don't understand what it really means when I say 'effort'. I am not just your playmate. I am a committed, hard working official who takes my job with the utmost seriousness. I refuse to be beaten off my track or to be lured by something that you think is more appealing. This is appealing to me. Maximum difficulty. The most demanding of all tasks. The stuff that no one else wants to do or can. This is me. I am the Prince. And I will teach all of you what that means, not just Abner, Seth, and Val. I have unfinished business with my dear, old friends that need to come to learn that I am not going to be pushed aside. Regardless of how hard they try to push me.
"My grandmother," Arturur was referring to Jamal's wife, Jacqueline. "has utterly assured me that I must be... open with my feelings at this point. If I ever am going to win, she insists that I must... open my heart... no matter how arduous that may be for me."
Arturur said nothing.
Then he continued.
"I am a very thoughtful and... kind... and soft-hearted sort of man..." He paused, the emotions making him feel heavy and embarrassed. "There is nothing that I can not do if I put my mind to it... I have no real walls... When I am not successful, I always find some reason for why it doesn't matter. Not ultimately. Not really... I always take others' feelings into consideration, even if it doesn't seem like it. I'm arrogant, of course... That is obvious... It is supremely difficult for me to... talk about... myself." It was so hard. "But I am trying, right now, as I always have... to find a way past even the impossible."
Everyone was completely silent, all of them waiting, almost like cats stalking prey. The slightest hint of their existences, they felt, may be all that Arturur needed to emotionally collapse. They did not want that if it was capable of not happening. And Arturur was unusually talented at keeping himself erect and mentally withdrawn.
"My problems are not so interesting, I think." That really got their attention. "I am captivated by even the smallest of things, and I am like... a walking encyclopaedia, as my grandfather likes to say. You would think that they all say that, but they really don't. Not the palace dwelling, not the fishermen, not the peasants. Instead, they tend to use more flavour when referring to my personality quirks. But Jamal is a simple man, and he enjoys the straightforward when it comes to metaphors. Oh, he has his more colourful terms, but when it all really comes down to it... Jamal is thoroughly the most laid back and carefree person that I have ever known. Other than myself... It's one of those things that makes us close.
"I never know when to stop studying. I never know when to enjoy myself. My friends are constantly taking me by the hand and leading me into the sun. I always find myself following others with a distracted mind. Sometimes, all I seem to think about is the world and how it works. Like any good scientist. But unlike a good scientist... I don't know when to take a break.
"However, my biggest problem has nothing to do with academics. Instead... it is that..." There was a long silence, but Arturur did not flinch even once. "people think that I am dreamer..." Arturur was so quiet. "While it has its place in the school... really... it applies to most anything. Most anything I say or do..." He so empty of words, and then, "I believe in the power of the heart to do anything. I believe that if you trust yourself and you fully open yourself to your beliefs... that anything is possible. And it makes a lot of people very mad. They can't stand it. They can't control me. They can't 'bring me down to reality'. But I refuse to be thrown off course. I have a way of holding myself, of thinking about my own behaviour. I am determined, without failure, to do what I believe in no matter what anyone thinks of it." There was anger in his voice. "Of all the things in my life that annoy me and frustrate me the most. Of all the useless suffering, all the completely useless suffering!" He exclaimed, powerfully. "I am not taken seriously. Not when it matters the most! If I had only a handful of wishes in my pocket, one of them would be that the world would start to listen to me. Listen to me! Heed my warnings! Before all of this just falls apart due to idleness. Peace brings idleness. But peace can not be made permanent without work."
He had a way of stunning his audience. But that didn't necessarily mean that they agreed with him.
"I spent my early childhood hating psychology. People were always trying to do psychology on me. They were always telling me that I was out of control of my hyperactivity, that I was out of control of my aggression. They told me that I was going to grow up to be a very jaded scholar, and that they were trying to prevent that. Everyone just wanted me to be happy. To just go with everyone else. To partake in the fulfillment of being commanded by my superiors. To find gladness in being told what to do, like the soldier I was born to be. To take absolute joy in orders.
"I hated psychology. I couldn't wait to be anything but a psychologist. And I hated mathematics. But, you know, it's funny, because now I love psychology and I love mathematics. I had always been doing both, but never knew it. I was told this, but I didn't believe them. That's the thing about being a child. You have the freedom to think whatever you want. Then you grow up, and reality dawns on you. And you're suddenly a member of society like everyone else. But for me this transformation into an adult was hard and strenuous. I was constantly becoming exhausted. All the facts, all the opinions. I couldn't figure out which thing to believe and which thing to just do...
"I became arrogant. I became unreachable. I can't really say that I was reachable before, but then, once I became that kind of child-adult hybrid that we all become once we're fully grown... I thought I knew everything. As a teenager, I remember thinking that. But as a young adult, I remember being engulfed in it. I had power. I wasn't a kid any more. Or at least, that was what I believed.
"I was ferocious. I was intense. I was controlling and demanding and didn't understand my place. I fought everything and I fought everyone. I wanted to do good, I did. But I didn't know what that was. I was too young. People my age never did the right thing. They just thought they were doing the right thing. They weren't bad. They weren't doing bad things. They just didn't know that they were doing nothing. And, like everyone else in their early twenties... I was doing nothing.
"Then once I got a little older, I started to finally mature. My thoughts became more like others. My behaviour was genuinely altered. I saw myself trusting my superiors. Trusting all the real adults in my life. I became them, and I became worthy of calling mature. Not completely mature. But mature. I had earned it. I was now closer to the stars, but I still couldn't touch them. I still had more to do and learn. And I was finally treated like a true apprentice. Everything in my life had come to this exciting, wonderful day when I would finally become recognized as an equal rather than a child.
"It was time to spread my wings.
"But still I fought with them. I struggled, I battled. I did everything in my power to hold onto my idea of being the alpha male. I asserted myself as this, even against those who were much, much older than me. They found it silly, but inevitable. All men war against their fathers and grandfathers, and this was just simply part of the process in what it took to truly rise in rank. My friends started to back off, started to tell me that I was at last calming down. All that endless aggression, all that overwhelming energy... the relics of my childhood.
"And I was almost there. Almost able to touch the stars. Growing closer and closer.
"I want to say that I have touched the stars today. But that has not yet been done... There is one thing more that I must do... I must admit that I am wrong about something... something very important and critical to my development... I think that I have already reached the summit, and that I simply need to explain this to others, so that they will finally get off my back and bring me into their ranks... but that is what I am wrong about... Right now... I feel it... I am coming to understand it... the last of what I needed to learn... And I say to all of you... that I really am wrong...
"And I have almost touched the stars..."
Arturur suddenly felt faint and overwhelmed. The world began to spin, and he lost some of the strength in his legs. Quickly, he pressed his back against the large, white board in the classroom. It had been there, always behind him, clean and unwritten on. He felt as if he was choking on his own emotions.
"Arturur...?!" Exclaimed a worried Seth. "Are you okay?"
Abner and Val said similar things. The rest were quiet, trying to give Arturur some mental space so that he could clear his head. Abner got up to go and help him, but Dende and Yagrius rose from their seats and quietly stopped him. Abner was angry. He did not understand. But Dende and Yagrius were insistent that Abner return to his seat before he caused any trouble. Abner obeyed unwillingly, believing that Dende and Yagrius were in the wrong. It made him think of earlier, when Arturur had almost broke down crying in his arms. The first chance he got... the first change Abner got... he was going to change everything. Arturur would never be damned to suffer alone any more.
Ultimately, their new friends were instructed to remain calm and immobile. They did not understand why at all, but all of them obeyed, trusting that this was the best thing to do. To just give Arturur some much needed space. And while Abner trusted them the same as Seth and Val, he still believed that if things had been different, there would have been no problem with allowing him to comfort Arturur and aid him in his time of need.
"I..." Arturur choked on his words. He was breaking. "I..." He violently shook his head. A minute passed, then, "They want to... They want to... They want to help me... I am not... against it. But... it's just so hard. The things they want me to do I can not understand and I can't wrap my mind around it."
"They told me that..." And then Arturur became shockingly smooth and calm amidst occasional shakiness. "I need to just simply submit to them." He looked at them, stunning them with his ability to resume eye contact. "It's easy, they tell me... Just do everything that they say. Just jump into it. Stop arguing with them. I don't even have to believe that they are correct. All I have to do, they tell me, is submit to them emotionally and then the thoughts will come after that.
"But I don't believe them. I don't believe the things they are telling me. These things that they label as childhood tantrums that need to come to end so that I can grow. And, well, I have a big problem with a lot of that. I have beliefs, very strong ones. I know that you understand that about me. But what you three don't get... is just how controversial I am. I am always rocking the world with my discoveries, irritating the elders with 'forbidden knowledge'. Oh, I'm harmless, they say. I do nothing bad. But I am so controlling, it's insanely funny. That's what they tell me. You're hilarious. I'm not afraid of you...
"You know who they are afraid of...? Eugene... They really are... He's terrifying to them... But me...? Oh, I'm harmless." He smiled, but no one knew why. "Well, I'm not going to get into him right now. That would just ruin everything...
"You need to submit to your elders, they say. You are just a child. You are not even one-thousand years old. Hell, you're not even one-hundred. Why should I listen to you?" Arturur laughed. "But I am who I am. That's what I tell them. And they are not me, and they are not the Crowned Prince. They do not have my destiny. They have never felt responsibility on their shoulders in the way that I have. I feel like I am going up against a machine. They don't crack. They don't make deals. And they don't leave me alone. Absolutely, utterly, totally... in control... all the time. Always ordering me around and trying to command every stupid thing I do... I get sick of it."
Arturur gave them a strange look. It was almost as if he expected them to say something, but that was not what he was really thinking. That was just what it looked like. What did he think? Well, Arturur didn't even know. He was joining the ranks of adulthood unwillingly. He was changing without noticing it.
"According to my superiors, I can not be myself for another three-hundred-and-thirteen years. That's when a man's mind finally matures into full adulthood. So what adulthood are they trying to enter me into now...? It's a kind of exclusive club for people pleasers. More like a place than a state of mind. They all get together and make 'important' decisions. I can finally be 'important." He grinned, laughter breaking into his voice. "I can finally order around people younger than me!" He exclaimed, in a strangely amused tone. "Isn't it exciting? We're all growing up. We're becoming teenage adults! Now we can serve ourselves our own ice cream. We can eat with the metal fork. We can drink from a glass. No more sippy cups for me! I'm mature." Arturur's face was overflowing with pleasant mockery. There were no traces of sadness any more. He had completely flipped upside down into a bewildering happiness.
"So what I am to do first as an entry adult...? I could start ending protests for everyone under twenty-seven. I could start eliminating free thinking and bully people into hating themselves. I can punish others at last and not get in trouble for it! All the wonders of having the big stick!"
Abner, Seth, and Val were completely confused and shocked. But the rest of them already knew what was coming.
"I am a psychologist...!" Exclaimed a now angry Arturur. "I have thoughts! I have research! I have spent endless hours honing my craft...!" But then he started to immediately calm down. A few moments passed.
"Someone told me once... that I was an impenetrable fortress." The young doctor's eyes were full of intensity. "And you know what...? He was right... I am..." Arturur then rested his forehead against his hand.
Without any further warning, Arturur left his place on the floor and headed for the door. Apparently, he was done.
But Seth had other plans.
"Arturur!" He called, as he got up from his own seat and followed him into the hallway. Others tried to stop him, but he had already made his decision and he was moving faster than them.
Arturur was just starting to head down the hall, and Seth quickly walked up to him and put a hand on his shoulder, trying to get him to stop.
Suddenly, violently, Arturur spun around, enraged. "Don't ever touch me!" He demanded, in a fury of unrestrained anger.
Seth was even more shocked by this reaction. Arturur left no time for words, turning back around and continuing on, moving quickly. Seth just stood there, watching his retreating form, wondering why Arturur had suddenly become so aggressive.
But he did know one thing.
That wasn't a normal reaction.
And instantly... he thought of Asterterkin and Davin.
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