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Miss Chamuel

The place where Regen is trapped is a manifestation of perfect order. There is no change, no entropy: his fellow prisoners labor forever, pointless tasks their prison. They want badly to keep him there too.

Miss Chamuel is an agent of chaos, her wolf a roaring fury, her sword a flaming brand. They throw everything in her path, stone and steel and creatures of nightmare, but though she bleeds they cannot stand before her.

Regen is terrified, shaking, but not surprised. He expected this from the moment they met. For a good teacher, saving your life is part of the job.

Regen

Regen’s in a white gulf, and he can see pretty far. To his left there’s a girl shredding paper to make a trail, but the breeze keeps stealing it away: she walks in circles. Behind him, a girl and a boy try to fix a leaky bucket with a straw.

Regen realizes he’s on a precipice. “Come across the bridge, Regen,” says his father urgently from the other side. The bridge is a narrow arch, but it looks safe. Regen’s pretty sure it’s just the top of a wheel.

“No thank you,” says Regen, who had a fine exemplar of politeness.

Miss Chamuel

On meeting, Regen and Miss Chamuel are struck by an undeniable love, pure and trembling, so intense that it must be contained. It’s not filial or sexual. It’s just the sudden knowledge that they will stand, when necessary, two against the world.

Miss Chamuel never grants favors in their classroom; Regen, unlike most first-graders, never asks. Sometimes, when his mother is late, they’ll hold hands and wait together. That’s all.

But when he goes missing, Miss Chamuel knows before the newspapers do. She contacts a substitute. She dons her coat and hat. She unwraps her sword, and goes after him.

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