Character Academy: 2

The adventures of young Paul continue in this strange presentation of my brain. If something doesn't make sense, there is no explanation. Its my brain. It makes no sense. Ever. EVER. EVER!!!!
Also, there is mild language in this post. Its modern day Ukani and Tseskos, what can I do?!

Georgette had finally decided on Paul, so that was going to be his name here. Rose had given him a hurried, and very incomplete tour of the main Academy building. They were just passing back through the train station, when Georgette jumped out of a train in front of them, and hurriedly told Rose that she was being moved to another wing. She look absolutely miserable as she said this, and became rather choked when she explained that Rose's old wing was simply gone, and couldn't be found.
The boy called Ben appeared seemingly out of nowhere, now wearing a name tag that said Phillip. People's names seemed to change an awful lot here. He and Rose hurried off together, and Georgette turned to Paul.
"So sorry to stop things so suddenly, but I have no control over these trains. Tess will show you to your room, and I have asked her to answer some of the questions you probably have right now." She glanced at a silver watch on her risk. "Oh crap! I'm late, I simply must leave, do enjoy yourself and poke around into anything you like. Goodness knows everyone else does!" She paused as though listening for something, then bit her lip. "I'd love to stay, but two new arrivals just came in. Bye!"

A train screeched to a halt beside them, and Georgette jumped on, as Tseskos jumped off. 
Paul recognized the girl from his rather abrupt introductions earlier.  
"Tseskos right?" He said, just to be sure.
She nodded, and looked rather annoyed.
"That's my name, but around here everyone just calls me Tess. Georgette said that some people couldn't pronounce my name very well...idiots."
He grinned wide enough to make up for Tseskos' bored expression.
"Great! So does Georgette run this place, like, by herself?"
Tess nodded. "Yes, she's always busy. I don't know that she even sleeps. Somehow though, she still finds time to hang out with everyone here. No sure how."
Paul let a quick breath out between his teeth. "Wow! That's crazy. And Rose said something about a finishing school too."
Tess frowned.
"Yes, and that's where I have to go next year. All of us from the Pendant wing will be the first ever to attend that school, just like we were the first to reach stage six." She sounded proud, but also a little sad.
"So what is this finishing school?" Paul asked.
Tess sighed. "Georgette has told me about it, and from what I hear, it sucks. She manages it from here, so I won't see her the whole time I'm there. She has these people called Beta Readers that pretty much deal with the school, and they pass along info and suggestions to her. I've met some of the Beta Readers, as far as I can tell, they seem to like us pretty well, but they don't care as much as Georgette, and are quite strict. Probably the worst of it is that I won't see Georgette until the finishing school's graduation ceremony, and that can take one year or a hundred years, no one can be sure."

Paul drew his eyebrows together in puzzlement. 
"If Georgette likes you so much, why would she send you to this place?" He asked.
Tess sighed.
"She says that its for my own good. That she is too easy on us and the strictness of the Beta Readers will be good for us and prepare us to stand on our own feet in the real world and make her proud, blah blah blah blah. I think it's bullshit, but she seems to believe in it. I have to admit, I kinda resent it. Hey are you coming or what?"
Tseskos grabbed his hand and pulled him onto a train, that barely stopped long enough for them to get on.
"So what happens after the finishing school?" Paul said.
Tess shrugged. "Not entirely sure. No one has ever gone to the school before, let alone graduated. Georgette said that if the Pendant wing wasn't ready to go out on our own, we would have a year long retreat just with her. Sounds pretty cool to me, so I'm hoping for that. Of course, its not entirely up to Georgette. The day before the finishing school (I think its called 'Third Drafts' or something) has its graduation ceremony, Georgette comes up and has a meeting with the Beta Readers, and they decide whether or not we are ready to go off on our own."

There was a moment of silence while the train rushed on. Then Paul asked "What if they decide you don't need the retreat?"
He was almost one hundred percent sure that she blinked back a tear.
"Then its over, pretty much. She lets us go to live our own lives. She recommends us to these people called Publishers, and hopes that they can give us good jobs. We stay in touch, maybe meet every now and  then, but otherwise never really see each other. Again, I don't like it. Its sad."
Paul frowned. "I don't understand. If everyone would be happier just staying here, and Georgette would be happier that way, why can't you all just stay here forever."

Tess was definitely fighting tears now, no doubt about it.
"Some crap about us not needing her anymore. The story being told. Us needing to live our lives without her controlling everything. I don't know, maybe everyone else wants to get away. I don't. Its stupid, and makes no sense."
The train stopped and Tess yanked him out onto soft grass. There were several other people waiting, who jostled their way onto the train before it shot off into a tunnel. 

Paul found himself standing in a grass field, which extended as far as he could see behind him. In front, it went on for about a hundred yards, then stopped in front of a wall, with two huge gates. The wall and the gates were made of some vaguely shimmery material, and they suggested no definite time period or place. They did not seem to have been built by any particular race or people. 
"Hall of the Homeless," Tess said.
They walked up to it, and the gates opened, revealing a large courtyard, paved with the glistening stone or glass or whatever it was. In front of Paul, were three buildings, occupying three sides of the courtyard, with the wall and gates in the fourth side. They too were built of the nameless material. 

"This is where the undetermined people go. Everyone from Pendant wing skipped this part. At the Academy, you don't ever go through a stage or class, unless you need it. The first building is Character, the second Setting, and the third is Base Plot. They are the first three stages." Tseskos said, pointing to each building in turn. 
"Some people leave the Academy before even making it through stage one, and only a few people actually make it beyond the Hall of the Homeless, and onto stage 4. You could be in any particular stage for a day, or a thousand years. There is no knowing. Sometimes people have to go back and complete a stage again, or for the first time, even after they have moved on. Reni, Ukani, and Nefru all came back and spent several weeks in Character. And I spent two days in Base Plot, before I returned to our wing, and was given my own room. All that was right before the entire wing advanced to stage 7."

Paul laughed. "You guys are impressive. You said earlier that you were the first ever to reach stage six. Are you the first students of the Academy too?"
Tess shook her head. "No. The first students are the Planet Uknown people, but they are still in stage four. We came right after them. But even though they are the first students of the Academy, they aren't the first students Georgette has had. The Dustcart group was here before there even was an Academy to join. And I guess they aren't technically students either. They live with Georgette at the Palace of the Imagination."
"Whats that?" Paul asked.
Tseskos sighed, obviously growing tired of the questions.
"No one is entirely sure what goes on there, or what it is, or anything really. Even Georgette hasn't been able to explain it to me. I don't think she quite knows herself. So, you know how a castle has its grounds? An on those grounds it might have a garden, a zoo, a rookery, stables etc.? Well the entire Academy and its grounds, are just like a stable or a garden on the grounds of the Palace of the Imagination. The Academy is the biggest thing on the grounds, though the Land of Reading is a close second. Georgette spends every spare moment in or around the palace." Tess glanced longingly at the shimmering building, as if wishing to be rid of him. But he couldn't stop himself.

"Every spare moment? Like, away from another job?"

Tseskos groaned, but Georgette had apparently ordered her to answer his questions.
"You are Georgette are a lot alike. She never shuts up either. Yes, she has other duties besides the Academy, and all the other places around the Palace. I have no idea what they are, not do I have any desire to know." She stopped and raised her eyebrows at him as though to say are we done yet?

"How do you know all this stuff?" Paul asked, unable to restrain himself. That had always been one of his faults. He was too curious.
"Georgette and I are very close. Look, I don't know about you, but I'm not some stupid stage 1 with nothing to do. I don't have time for this. No come on."
She stalked off in the direction of the Character building, and Paul followed her meekly. At the entrance to the building, a man bounded up behind them. Paul remembered him to be Ukani.
"Hey Tess! You forget about lunch? Who the hell is he?" Ukani looked down at Paul with contempt, seeming to be personally annoyed by his existence. It was clear that he had guessed the reason for Tseskos delay. Paul was now wishing that he hadn't asked so many questions. Ukani was not someone he wanted to be on the bad side of.
"Newbie. Asks too many questions. I didn't forget," Tess said flatly.
Ukani raised his eyebrows skeptically. "Huh, well Reni was worried. Can't you get rid of him?" Ukani spoke as though Paul were some unwanted dog to be taken to the pound.
Tess nodded. "Yeah, he can find his way from here," she turned to Paul, "just go on in, they will tell you where to go."
"Who is they?" Paul asked. 
She looked as though she were about to answer, but Ukani stopped her. 
"Tess! Don't make me carry you."
Tseskos didn't look terrible bothered by the threat, but she turned and jogged back towards a fast approaching train. Ukani went with her.
Paul stared nervously at the door, and finally pushed it open.
"Hello strange new life in this strange new place," he muttered as he stepped over the threshold.  

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