The Color Yellow: Part Three
The Grey Faerie walked to the center of class, cradling a stack of papers. She handed it to Yellow.
"Please pass these to your classmates," Ms. Rofay said. Yellow took them and started to hand them out.
She went to the blackboard and snatched a piece of chalk, writing her name in long, loping handwriting. As he put the remaining papers on her desk, he noticed a wand. It was covered in dust and looked like it hadn't been used in a long time. He wondered if it was her wand, back when she still had her magic. It seemed to weigh heavily on the desk, a reminder of the magic she had lost.
"Welcome, students, to Critical Thinking. I hope that you do decide to come to this school." Her eyes flashed with a bizarre passion when she said it, and Yellow thought it made her seem even more depressing. He turned his attention to the piece of paper he had handed out instead; it seemed to be some sort of word puzzle.
"My class comes easily to some, and difficult to others. I will always be willing to help you, however, if you should seek help. The purpose of my class is to challenge and stimulate your minds, and to teach you to think in creative ways. Sometimes, what seems obvious is a puzzle, and the answer is just in plain sight."
"For our first lesson, we will do some examples of several different logical puzzles. If you do not finish this sheet in class, I request that you keep it. You never know when you will need puzzle-solving skills."
Ms. Rofay turned back to the blackboard. "Let's begin..."
Yellow opened his notebook to take notes:
One of the oldest and most common forms of puzzles is the anagram. Many of you are familiar with Eliv Thade, the infamous villain who speaks only in this type of puzzle. Some variants of the anagram include the word scramble, with the major difference being, of course, that an anagram creates new words from the existing word, while a word scramble simply jumbles up the word into random nonsense.
Ms. Rofay paused here, and Yellow looked up from his writing. She smiled wearily. "Of course, what Eliv Thade speaks is often nonsense anyway."
A small, slightly nervous laugh spread out through the class. Ms. Rofay wrote on the board:
"Can someone create an anagram for this word?"
Everyone in the class immediately looked away, desperate to not make eye contact with the teacher and be called on. Yellow debated raising his hand, but before he could, the Cybunny next to him hesitantly raised her paw.
"Yes, you. What is your name?"
"Sella, Ms. Rofay."
"Very good, Sella. What can you make from this word?"
Sella studied the word, squinting her eyes; apparently, it was her near-sightedness that caused her to sit up front.
"Can you make a word using all of the letters?"
"Um.... An mice?"
Ms. Rofay smiled. "Very good. That does work, even if it sounds strange. Anybody else?"
Yellow raised his hand.
"Yes? What is your name?"
"Yellow..." the teacher mused for a moment. "I've always preferred purple."
Yellow smiled, unsure of how to respond. After a second, he said, "Would 'Iceman' be an anagram?"
"Yes, yes it would. Very good."
Ms. Rofay turned her attention then to another student. Forest was right, Yellow thought. She was depressing. But Willy was right too; she was also very nice. He wondered whether or not she was depressing before she became a Grey faerie.
The class finished and the host students came back to pick up their students.
"Forest," Ms. Rofay's voice rung out. Forest visibly winced, then turned to face her.
"Yes, Ms. Rofay?"
"I expect your homework on my desk first thing Monday morning."
"Yes, Ms. Rofay." He grabbed Yellow's hand. "Come on," he whispered, "before she changes her mind and decides she wants it right now."
"So, how was it?"
"Pretty interesting," Yellow answered. "I think she liked me."
"That's good," Forest said. "Perhaps then she'll give you good grades."
The welcome dinner was held in the cafeteria; current students and teachers mingled with the preview students. Yellow looked for Ms. Rofay, but didn't see her.
"Come on," Willy said. "Everything here is pretty much done. What do you guys want to do now?"
"I kind of want to see that abandoned pool you mentioned," Zani said. "There's nothing exciting like that at my current school."
"It's not that exciting," Willy answered. "Just an empty pool with some trash in it."
"Supposedly some Kau drowned in it several years ago," Forest whispered conspiringly. "They had to close down the pool when her spirit started haunting it."
Yellow followed them rather nervously; he really didn't want to go somewhere that he wasn't supposed to go. But his habit of always trailing after his siblings kicked in, and he did so.
"Come on, hurry!" Willy urged. Forest was on his knees tinkering with the lock and a paperclip.
"Almost..." Forest said. There was a distinct click. "Got it!"
Footsteps sounded from around the corner. "Hurry!" Willy urged again. Forest opened the door and jumped in; Zani followed him and then Willy. Yellow faltered for a second, and then it was too late. He knew someone was in the hallway. He turned around and nudged the door closed with his tail.
"Hello, young Neopet," Headmistress Safelila said. "I don't recognize you. Are you a preview student?"
"Yes, Ma'am. I.. I'm afraid I got lost."
"That's all right. Who is your host student? I can contact him immediately."
Yellow faltered; it would be bad if the Dark Faerie did try to contact Forest.
Her eyes flickered to the small, wooden door they were standing next to, and she smiled understandingly. "Actually, why don't you come into my office for a few moments? I'm sure your host student will be free once we're done talking."
Yellow didn't like this idea any better; he had never been alone with a Dark Faerie before. They're not so bad, he told himself. "Okay. Thank you."
"Right this way." Headmistress Safelila turned and lead him down the hallway. With no other option, Yellow was forced to follow her.
"Faerieland Central School has many secrets," she said, her voice warm and bright. "Some of them we allow the students to explore. A good mystery can be stimulating."
"You sound like Ms. Rofay."
The Dark Faerie laughed. "Critical thinking and puzzles are a hobby we both share. Were you in her preview class?"
She opened the large, dark-purple door at the end of the hallway. Her office was mostly dark purple, but gold paint lined the walls and reflected the light from the windows and lamps, giving it a warm feel. She sat down in the velvet chair behind her next, and Yellow sat in the smaller cushioned one in front of it.
"Yes, I was. It was very interesting."
"Good. Would you like some tea? Or maybe hot chocolate?"
"Hot chocolate would taste good," Yellow said before he could help himself.
Headmistress Safelila smiled and waved a thin, dark-brown wand. Behind him, Yellow heard china clicking together.
"What is your name, little Aisha?"
"Yellow. Everyone calls me Yellow."
"It's nice to meet you, Yellow. What do you think of my school so far?"
"I really like it," Yellow said. "The class was very interesting, and I've already made some friends."
"That's wonderful. I agree that Faerieland Central is a very good environment. When I knew I wanted to be a teacher, it was the first school I interviewed at. I'm so thankful that they accepted me."
"What did you teach? Before you were Headmistress, I mean."
"I taught Critical Thinking. When I became Headmistress, I hired Ms. Rofay to fulfill the position." She waved her wand again. "I think your hot chocolate is ready."
A steaming mug appeared floating in front of him, filling the air with chocolate aroma. Yellow grabbed it and used the hot mug to warm his fingers; the air had gone strangely cold.
"If you'll excuse me for a minute, I think someone is at the door." The Dark Faerie stood up and walked through her office.
Yellow took a sip; the hot chocolate tasted velvety. Everything in the room had a velvety look or feel. The curtains, the chair. On her desk, a golden hourglass stood gleaming. As he watched it, a drop of purple liquid fell into the lower half. It looked like it only had a little time left until the top half ran out.
"Yellow, it seems your host student has come to fetch you," the Headmistress said. Yellow turned in his seat to see Forest standing, smiling sheepishly.
"It was very nice meeting you, Yellow," Headmistress Safelila said. "I do hope you decide to come to our school."
"It was nice meeting you too, Headmistress." Yellow and Forest ducked out of the room. As soon as the door closed, they sprinted down the hallway.
"Phew, that was close," Forest said. "Did she seem mad?"
"No," Yellow said. "She was very nice. I think she knew you were down there, though."
"As long as she didn't seem mad. Willy and Zani went back to the room. I think that's enough adventure for one day."
Yellow couldn't agree more. He looked back at the long, dark hallway. The three doors, the door to Ms. Rofay's room, to Headmistress Safelila's room, and the abandoned pool, created ominous shapes in the wall.
To be continued...