Tanya Grotter And The Vanishing Floor

Dmitrii Emets
Tanya Grotter And The Vanishing Floor

Prologue

Tanya Grotter has no luck. When Sardanapal, Medusa Gorgonova, and other instructors rebuild anew the destroyed school of magic Tibidox, they send the students home. Here Tanya is also forced to return to Moscow to the Durnev family. On top of that, as an obligation, she has to take with her a full trunk of troublesome ghosts. Well, not too bad! During training in Tibidox Tanya had time to master something, so that Uncle Herman and Aunt Ninel will have to be unhappy. And here finally the time comes to return to Tibidox. It has been rebuilt anew and is even better than before, but the Vanishing Floor… Something incredible has happened to it. Nobody who dared to venture there had returned. Or nevertheless some did?

Chapter 1
The Trunk with Ghosts

Something flew by with a whistle, someone began to yell, somewhere glass showered down. A normal morning of a normal day in the normal school for difficult-to-raise magicians, Tibidox, located on the Buyan Island in the ocean-sea.

Black Curtains sniggered maliciously. Tanya Grotter tore herself away from the rather thick reference book Dragons: Breeding, Training, Treatment and ran to the window. Something interesting was happening in the small clearing in front of Tibidox. Two very strong cyclopes, who were assigned the job of carrying boulders for construction, were arguing and now, with knotty clubs, were enthusiastically beating the daylight out of each other. One of the clubs shattered, and a fragment, having traced a beautiful arc in the air, fell down precisely on the nose of the hero Usynya, who, having placed a stretcher under his cheek, was peacefully dozing in the shadow of the Cove Oak.

A minute later Tanya watched as Usynya, catching hold of one of the cyclopes by the legs, was spinning him with a whistling sound. The other hero-bouncers Dubynya and Gorynya, appearing at the howls, started to laugh aloud, having discovered that their brother’s nose had swollen up and acquired the colour of beet. They gesticulated, nudged each other, and finally demolished the section of a wall miraculously surviving till now. And here Usynya already let go of the legs of the cyclops and that one, like a candle soaring into the sky, crashed with his head into the Big Tower. Bricks rained down. The cyclops, as if nothing had happened, got up and touched his forehead. “Thimply knowth a hundred thuch clown! Again will be penalty!” he lisped unhappily.

Drawn by the noise, Medusa Gorgonova, associate professor of the department of evil spirits studies, jumped out onto the small balcony of the Big Tower. She was holding a kicking swamp bogey by the collar. She had recently caught it on the tabletop in her office, where it was scratching with its nail all kinds of filth. Noticing the crumbled wall, Medusa from indignation unclenched her hand. The swamp bogey, exactly like a toad, flopped to the floor and rapidly bolted somewhere, swearing bad words and threatening troubles to Tibidox. But Docent Gorgonova had already forgotten about it. She had to investigate the brother-heroes and the cyclopes that cast off all restraint. Medusa’s cheeks were burning and her hair started to hiss like snakes. Though, why like? Only – shh! – what woman likes it when her little secrets are revealed?

Sparkis frontis!” Medusa shouted. A dazzling fight spark flew off her magic ring and several huge boulders immediately crumbled into powder. The enormous cyclopes fell onto the ground and unsuccessfully attempted to hide behind blades of grass covered with white hoar frost. It was well known to them that an angry Medusa was not one to be trifled with.

Fillissimo-moronissimo! What is this?” Docent Gorgonova shouted. “Two weeks of work and no result! Even wrecked what the titans didn’t touch! Do you imbeciles understand that the children have nowhere to live? That the roof leaks? That the arches of Tibidox will collapse any minute now?”

The cyclopes began to tremble slightly, and the hero-bouncers guiltily dropped their eyes. “We what? We did nothing… The cyclopes… s-s… they started first,” Usynya began to mutter, despondently sniffing his beet-red nose.

“They? Well, march back to work, or you’ll be left without dinner!” Medusa frowned and tossed up her ring, a new spark flared up. The spark, as this happens with magicians, gave the necessary strength to the spell: Hungeronus hungerygus!

Tanya was hearing this spell for the first time. “Interesting, what is it for?” she started to think, but immediately felt such wolfish hunger that she almost sank her teeth into Black Curtains. At this moment, she could eat absolutely anything, even Aunt Ninel’s day-before-yesterday oat kasha with a crust, which Pipa called bullet-proof. Tanya believed that Medusa’s magic also accidentally snagged her: indeed, she also saw the spark.

The cyclopes and the brother-heroes at once stirred and started in a hurry to rake up the stones into a pile. Hunger drove them on. “No dinner until you finish tidying up! Clear? Deadbeats!” Medusa shouted. She turned sharply and, swift as always, left the small balcony.

Chewing on a sandwich by chance left over from breakfast, Tanya moved away from the window and again took the book in her hands. Will she not always be looking at cyclopes? Moreover, from the huge crack in the ceiling a stream of water had been flowing down for a long time behind the girl’s collar. “And indeed it’s because of me that everyone is suffering!” Tanya thought guiltily.

After that incident when she carelessly let out the titans from the cave and they, battling Plague-del-Cake, smashed half of Tibidox, it became impossible to live here. If one was looking into this, from the entire enormous school of difficult-to-raise magicians there remained only the basement, the Hall of Two Elements, and the Big Tower with the Main Staircase. But even they had suffered a great deal.

The drafts roamed along the corridors, in the middle of the night they began to slam windows, and whipped rain into the numerous cracks. It was also uncomfortable even for the ghosts, a quantity of them populating Tibidox. Deprived of their beloved Tower of Ghosts, where they knew every little corner, the phantoms wandered in groups along the corridors at night, moaned, rattled their chains, and spoiled everyone’s mood.

Moreover, the time was a long way from summer. December. And really how is it possible to keep busy when the entire floor ices up in the class on practical magic? And in removal of evil eye all students are forced to sit in fur coats, and teeth nevertheless clatter so that you cannot utter a single spell?

Tanya got up in order to slam shut the door thrown open by the draft. Shutting it, she casually saw how Slander Slanderych – a lopsided little fellow with tiny gimlet-eyes, a former black magician who moved over to the white – sneaked along the corridor on tiptoes. He pressed against his chest a very healthy live little fish, which was hitting him on the nose with its tail. Tanya surmised that the stern dean of Tibidox was running to the pond to feed the mermaid. Everyone was surprised that, till now, the pond with the mermaid had not yet frozen, and they said that it simply did not manage without powerful magic here. The mermaid had grown terribly stout from constant overeating, and its nature had become extremely quarrelsome. All day it rolled in the slime, devoured fish, and flung algae and snails at the enamoured Slander.

An offended cupid happened to be on the watch for the dean and released an arrow into him! Academician Sardanapal had already tried several times to remove the spell from Slander, but he was unsuccessful. Love magic is the most delicate and the most complex of all magic. Only the one who cast it can remove it. But the cupid just flatly refused – he was still mad at Slander for breaking his favourite bow.

“Oh, indeed these mermaids! Simply: an evil spirit! It recently doused him entirely with leeches – just from mischief. You love me, it says, so prove it. So the poor wretch was walking around entirely covered with leeches. One is even directly on his nose,” grumbled Yagge. Earlier she was not particularly sorry for Slander, but now she even started to pity him once in a while. Yagge was the old sorceress running the magic station. Furthermore, she was also the grandmother of Bab-Yagun, a good friend of Tanya.

Tanya concentrated and, forcing the escaping thoughts to flow again in one direction, sat down to her task. She had to do this because the reference book Dragons: Breeding, Training, Treatment had already started to snort unhappily and release sparks. A little more and it would singe the blanket on the bed. It was better not to toy with dragons, even if these were not dragons themselves but merely a book about them.

Recently, not without the influence of her friend Vanka Valyalkin, Tanya had firmly decided that she would dedicate her life to veterinary magic. Perhaps this is not remarkable – to treat sphinxes, harpies, mermaids, centaurs, dragons, which become fewer and fewer from year to year in the magic world? And this is in the magic one! In the world of the moronoids they have almost completely ceased to encounter these strange half-magical creatures. Not without reason the moronoids – normal people – have already almost stopped believing in them.

Moreover, Tanya hoped that the skill to get along with dragons would help her show good results in the favourite game of all magicians – dragonball. The rules of the game are simple: two teams of ten players each, two dragons, and five balls: sneeze, flame-extinguisher, stun, pepper, and immobilize. The mouth of the hostile dragon serves as goal. Not everyone has the power to throw a ball there, especially since the battle is fought in the air. Moreover, the dragon of the opposition does not in the least sit on the spot, obediently opening its mouth. Nothing of the kind! On the contrary, it moves swiftly, shoots out a flame, and with all its might tries to swallow tarrying players. Therefore, it frequently turns out that a good half of the forwards languish in the tight stomach of a dragon and hope that someone would throw into its mouth a pepper ball, which will force the dragon to spit them out.

 

For this very reason, Tanya dreamed now to learn everything about dragons and be on good terms with them. Quick tempered, swift, furious, dragons yielded to no one nor put up with any training. They even got accustomed to the players of their own team with enormous difficulty and frequently, confused, swallowed them instead of players of the opposition.

Tanya sighed and turned the page. How dreary to sit and cram one paragraph after another. Especially since it was not homework but her own whim.

THE RIDDLE OF FLAME THROWING

If your dragon ceased to breathe out fire, it is evidence of its internal weakening. In this situation, a usual tincture of red pepper, mustard, and sulphur should help, in a proportion of 3:4:2 diluted with nitro-glycerine half-and-half with mercury. Give eight buckets to drink three times a day. The mixture is dangerously explosive! Do not shake and carefully adhere to the proportion.

“Eight buckets!” Tanya repeated, pondering how to pour these buckets into a dragon if it, for example, does not want to open its mouth? Squeeze its nostrils? Or perhaps appear with a ladle and say, “Koochi-koo! Open the little mouthie, my little one! A spoon for mummy, a spoon for daddy! Mind you don’t push the bucket or it will jerk so that not a lace from mummy will remain!” Tanya was annoyed. They always write a lot in these reference books, and later you rack your brain trying to figure things out! “Will have to ask Tararakh tomorrow. Indeed he knows exactly how to dose dragons,” she thought.

The immortal pithecanthropus Tararakh – instructor of veterinary magic – was her favourite teacher. Perhaps she also went with similar pleasure to Medusa Gorgonova’s studies of evil spirits. But this was not too surprising, since the subjects in many respects intersected. Among the magical and half-magical essences encountered was a great deal of dangerous evil spirits, which, before being treated, still needed to be tamed as well. Precisely this – taming of evil spirits and studying their habits – also occupied Medusa.

Unexpectedly someone violently pushed open the door, and Coffinia Cryptova, Tanya’s roommate, barged in.

Coffinia, a girl with a very special sense of humour, was from the black magicians. It was her bed in the shape of a gigantic coffin occupying almost the entire space by the window. And a skeleton by the nickname of Page served as her hanger. Several times a month it came alive and began to wander around the room, clicking its teeth. Once it even devoured Tanya’s boots. In a word, Coffinia Cryptova was quite a character. A worse roommate could not be imagined even in a nightmare. However, Tanya did not complain. Uncle Herman’s daughter Pipa, with whom she grew up before coming to Tibidox, was not a bit better.

Having looking askance at Tanya, Coffinia, without taking off her shoes, flopped onto the bed. “Hello, stupid orphan! I have excellent news for you. You’ll become bald from this news, and on your nose will appear a new birthmark, even uglier than the one you lost thanks to She-Who-Is-No-More!” she stated.

Tanya looked at Coffinia, calculating whether to launch a fight spark at her. Okay, let her live. If Coffinia was guilty of anything, it was only that her home had a slippery windowsill, and the bassinet, into which she was placed for the first time, turned out not to have a bottom. “Well, and what’s the news?” she asked.

Coffinia folded her hand around the telescope and, deliberately stretching out a pause, began to examine Tanya with interest through the hole. “What, you don’t know? You haven’t been informed that tomorrow they’re pushing you out of here? Only imagine: you’re returning to your green uncle-vampire and his fat wife, where you lived on the balcony! How do you do, here I am, give me the bagel hole for dinner and candy wrapper for dessert!”

“For what reason? Drop the joke, Cryptova!” Tanya said. Simultaneously she was recalling whether she had done anything recently. Of course not, everything was like normal.

Coffinia snorted. “What jokes are here indeed? They’re pushing all of us out. Pity not you alone. Sending us home until Tibidox is rebuilt anew. All the same not possible to stay here now that Sardanapal has decided to send all the students home. Our dean, Professor Stinktopp, agreed with him, so that we, black magicians, are also off… Toodleoo, on a quiet boat! Cheerio, Tibidox!”

Coffinia got up and, throwing open the cabinet, began to toss things onto the bed, clearly deciding what to take with her and what to leave behind. “Not to forget the bat miniskirt, the gloves with claws, and the stockings on heels! Must make the eyes of the moronoids immediately pop out of their heads,” she mumbled to herself.

“It’s the truth! Everything is true!” Tanya suddenly realized. Her eyes darkened. The reference book slipped from her hands and crossly started to fly around the room, breathing out a tongue of flame exactly like a true dragon. Tanya did not even notice this.

Is it really necessary to forsake this dear, this beloved Tibidox and return to Uncle Herman and Aunt Ninel, who cannot stand her, dress her in cast-offs, and force her to eat vermicelli so slippery that they hang on the fork like dead worms, then stick excellently on the glazed tiles in the kitchen?

Tears choked Tanya’s throat. She could not remain in the room anymore and ran out into the corridor. In the common room, she saw Bab-Yagun and Vanka Valyalkin, who, moving away to the window, were quietly deliberating something. Hardly glancing at their depressed faces, Tanya surmised that everything already was known to them. So that is why they have not visited her the whole day today!

“Why? Why didn’t you tell me? Even call yourselves my friends! Really honestly, I had to find out everything from Coffinia!” she shouted and, noticing that both boys at once hung their heads, she rushed down along the stairs.

“Wait! No one understands why Sardanapal so decided! No one! Here the matter is clearly bad!” shouted Vanka Valyalkin, the slender mop-headed boy in the long yellow soccer shirt, which his father once gave him as a present. Tanya’s best friend, he alone of all the students persistently refused to change into the cape and robe of Tibidox. A boy who for two weeks hid a harpy under his bed and treated its wing. And this despite that the claws of a harpy are impregnated with fatal poison and legends circulate about their bad nature. Now Vanka was about to rush after Tanya, but soon stopped and helplessly sat on a step.

Tanya herself did not remember how she rushed through the Hall of Two Elements, turned into the wide corridor of the teachers, and turned up by Sardanapal’s new office, where he moved to when the Tower of Ghosts collapsed. She pushed the door and, swallowing her tears, ran in.

* * *

Tanya found Sardanapal during a moment of extreme busyness. The academician of white magic, laureate of the Award of Magic Suspenders, head of the legendary Tibidox, Sardanapal Chernomorov was chasing his gold sphinx around the table. The hungry books on black magic, which he sometimes used for removing spells, were bobbing up and down excitedly and beating on the bars of a large cage. “Now, did you see this impudent one? Carried off my meat. And it’s for feeding the books!” the academician complained on noticing Tanya. Sardanapal’s luxurious moustaches were angrily waving in ringlets, and the terribly long beard first became invisible, then appeared again.

Tanya wanted to say something, but she was not able to. She only sobbed and, turning, attempted to run out of the office. Sardanapal caught her by the hand. “What’s with you, girl? Dreamt of Plague-del-Cake again?” he asked with uneasiness. In the entire Tibidox only two – Tanya and the academician – were not afraid to call the terrible sorceress, the lady of Chaos, by her name. The rest preferred to use the vague – She-Who-Is-No-More.

“It’s t-true? True that tomorrow everyone will have to r-return to the moronoids?” Tanya uttered, stuttering.

The moustaches of Sardanapal drooped despondently. “Alas,” he sighed. “Alas! The Ancient One sees I tried so that you would learn about this as late as possible, but there is simply no other way out… In a couple of months, it’ll be necessary to interrupt lessons. I know that you don’t want to go to Uncle Herman and Aunt Ninel, but only for a short period… Otherwise it’s simply impossible.”

“But why?”

The academician helplessly parted his hands as if attempting to cover at once the numerous cracks on the walls and the ceiling. “You can see for yourself! Tibidox, of which we were always so proud, resembles a sieve. One more corner tower collapsed the day before yesterday, and the rest are held together on a wing and a prayer. Magic no longer helps. And even what magic is here? Will you cast a spell between each brick? And to rebuild Tibidox in one night would even be beyond the power of the great Ancient One.”

“But the cyclopes? And the heroes Usynya, Gorynya, and Dubynya? They’re working!” Tanya asked with distrust.

Sardanapal made a contemptuous face. “Did you see how they work? These giants are amazingly confused. They put up one wall and bring down two. In Tibidox it’s cold, it’s uncomfortable. The Atlases no longer hold up the arches – what can they support when everything has crumbled? – and from idleness they’re loose along the corridors. Yesterday one of them accidentally stepped on Professor Stinktopp – a remarkable scholar and splendid magician. Just that in the darkness his bald spot resembles a mushroom so that the mistake of the Atlases can be understood in principle. The poor wretch has three hidden breaks. Certainly, Yagge will join his bones, but it’ll take time. Here I decided that it’s worthwhile to send you all away for a time and do major repairs. To drive away all evil spirits, all wood goblins, all giants, and to invite a few more genies on the side – and make everyone help build. Then it’ll make sense.”

“But why send us away? We could live in the Big Tower! It’s solid, and even enough space for everybody!” Tanya proposed, clutching at a last straw.

Sardanapal’s moustaches straightened and began to toss about like the wipers of a car. “No, no, and again no,” he said inflexibly. “No one will remain here. Yes, the Big Tower is solid, but… You see, there is one more reason, which you have no idea about…” The academician cautiously looked around at the sphinx, leaned over slightly, put a finger to his lips and whispered, “Only remember: what I’ll tell you is a secret! No one must know about this! You swear to keep the secret?”

Tanya promised. Sardanapal leaned towards her ear and said quietly, “Three days ago Medusa, Slander Slanderych, and I went down to the basement and discovered that the foundation had fractured.”

Tanya shrugged her shoulders. She saw nothing awful or at least interesting in this news. “Well, so?” she asked. “Everywhere is full of cracks now! There the corner tower collapsed, and nothing, no one was frightened. Seal them up, and that’s all there is!”

Sardanapal looked at her reproachfully. “You don’t understand. The cracks are very near the Sinister Gates! And any second they can go deep down. Then Chaos will escape from the dungeon, the ancient gods will break loose and smash the island to pieces! This is the main reason why we insist that all students leave Tibidox. Only we, the instructors, will remain here, and we’ll make repairs in earnest. I hope we’ll be able to strengthen the basements and create a durable magic barrier. Just remember: not a word to anyone!”

“Agreed,” nodded Tanya. Sardanapal had communicated his seriousness to her. Now she understood how dangerous the cracks in the foundation were. Indeed Tibidox was not only a school for difficult-to-raise young magicians from the “white” and “black” departments. Tibidox was also a fortress-prison: ancient spirits, heathen gods, and Chaos are confined in the basements.

After Shurasik, enslaved by She-Who-Is-No-More, with the gold sword cut the Hair of The Ancient One into two, the balance of forces between good and evil, intact for millennia, was disrupted. And although she, Tanya Grotter, was able to prevent Plague-del-Cake from opening the Sinister Gates and setting Chaos free, this threat existed as before. The forces of evil are immortal. They are there in the basement – roaring and shaking the Gates. Now it is always necessary to be on the alert.

 

“Can I stay? I’ll help. Please!” Tanya asked.

Sardanapal shook his head. “Impossible. If you stay, others will want to stay, and you yourself understand what this can lead to… We’re also taking a risk – we’re releasing into the world of the moronoids a whole crowd of half-educated magicians! A nightmare! Slander Slanderych is horrified even now by what you’ll be up to there.”

Tanya became ashamed that she could not keep herself in control and broke into the office of the academician. Now when she found out the truth, it became clear to her that Sardanapal’s solution was singularly valid and it would be impossible to change it.

“By the way, Tanya, I have a commission for you…” the academician continued. “Not as a service, but for friendship. You’ll take something with you to the world of the moronoids. Medusa thought and… eh-eh… I decided that during repairs much can suffer or be lost. It’ll be better if we send them with those whom we trust.”

“What shall I take with me?” Tanya was interested.

Sardanapal knitted his brows. His moustaches began to jump with such animation and inspiration that they were actually conducting a symphony. “First, you’ll take with you Black Curtains…” he said.

Tanya almost began to moan. Only not Black Curtains! Possible to think that here, in Tibidox, they have spoilt her blood a little. “Oh, not them please? Why do I need them? They’ll fly at night and peek at dreams. Or they’ll scare someone half to death,” she objected.

“Now precisely for this very reason why someone must keep an eye on them,” Sardanapal retorted.

Tanya nodded. She knew that it was useless to argue with the head of the white department of Tibidox. Especially when Medusa supported him, and he had decided…

“And you’ll also take this with you!” Sardanapal clicked his fingers and a huge leather trunk crept out from under his table.

The trunk took off and dashed towards Tanya at an enormous speed. The girl in fright shielded herself with her hands, certain that now she would be knocked from her feet. But the trunk turned out to be light. Likely, it was empty altogether. “But what’s inside?” Tanya asked, stretching to the gleaming locks.

“STOP! Must not open it now!” the academician said quickly.

“Why?”

“You see…” Sardanapal hesitated, looking sideways at Tanya. “Well, but you’ll find out all the same. There are ghosts in there.”

“Ghosts?” Tanya asked again dejectedly. Next to the ghosts, Black Curtains, palmed off on her at first, immediately began to seem like a trifle. “And what ghosts are there? Not Eyeless Horror, I hope?”

“What’s with you, what’s with you!” the academician smiled. “We’ll hand Horror to someone among the senior pupils. In this trunk are merely Lieutenant Rzhevskii and Unhealed Lady… Take them with you, they’ll only interfere with us. It’s clear that you must be very careful: the moronoids must on no account find out what you have in the trunk. They treat ghosts very incorrectly. Some, they say, even faint.”

Tanya dejectedly sat on the trunk. Here is such an assignment – completely in the spirit of Academician Chernomorov. Rzhevskii will again tell his idiotic little jokes and show off the twelve knives in his back, and Unhealed Lady from morning till evening will moan and complain about her problems.

“Trust me, there’s nothing for you to worry about!” the academician continued briskly, with each second becoming more animated. “You see the seal on the handle? On the sealing wax is the impression of my ring. Ghosts fear it with dread. Not for nothing the ring once belonged to the Soverign of Spirits! But even if there is no seal, all the same they wouldn’t rush out.”

“Why? Don’t ghosts pass through masonry, penetrate through walls? But here’s nothing but a trunk,” Tanya said with distrust.

“This is a special trunk. You see, it’s made from the skin of Minotaur, a terrible half-bull, which was once conquered by Theseus. Ghosts can’t pass through it… Here look!” Sardanapal picked up the trunk and energetically shook it. It was true that no one tumbled out of the trunk, but then the ghosts confined in it came alive.

“Hurray! Long live the swing! I want more!” Lieutenant Rzhevskii yelled with laughter, and Unhealed Lady began to moan that she was dying and demanded that they immediately summoned a doctor for her.

“I cannot be in the society of this cad anymore! He doesn’t change his socks and always tells the same anecdotes! He smokes stinky cigarettes! He steps on my hat with roses!” she complained.

“She lies all the time!” Lieutenant yelled indignantly. “It’s me who must be saved from her! She drinks iodine the whole day and passes on her sores! And this hat of hers with the roses! Might as well be cacti pin on! To hell with it!”

Tanya and the academician exchanged understanding glances. Unhealed Lady again started to keen, threatening that now she would nail this dork with her umbrella.

“Don’t wail! What do you want?” Sardanapal asked her.

“Supply me with a thermometer! Give me medicine! Drink bruderschaft with me with a wineglass of ethyl! Or I’ll kill everyone! I’ll add rat poison into the tea! I’ll fling my appendix at everyone!” Unhealed Lady threatened.

Academician Chernomorov smiled and twirled a finger by his temple. Likely, the threats of the spectre amused him.

“They’ll arrange these free concerts at Uncle Herman’s? The entire building will come running to us!” Tanya was concerned.

“What’s the seal for? Here look! You take this here and you pull slightly this way… Especially slightly in order not to break the wire!” Sardanapal pressed the seal with two fingers, turned it slightly, and the voices of the ghosts at once fell silent as if the sound had been turned off. “Here’s the whole deal! This I call ‘to put in one’s place’ and ‘to tighten the screws.’ While the seal is intact and the trunk is closed, you won’t have any trouble with the ghosts. Now and then, you can even let them get some fresh air so that they don’t whither away from melancholy. I don’t see any great harm in this,” said the academician.

Unexpectedly his gold sphinx pricked up its ears and began to growl quietly. Hasty steps were heard in the corridor, and Dentistikha ran, stumbling, into the office. She was tiny, round, young, with bangs like a pony’s over her eyes. She taught removal of evil eye to white magicians and imposition of evil eye to the black. She adored reading abstruse verses and smelling flowers. True, this did not interfere with her putting strong curses on the students for training purposes, so that sometimes for half an hour they rolled on the floor with a sharp pain in their stomachs, attempting to recall the neutralizing spell. “It was your homework! Next time you’ll be more responsible for your lessons!” Dentistikha said in such cases, pensively turning in her fingers a cornflower or a camomile.

Now the instructor for removal of evil eye was behaving as if she was beside herself with terror. “Professor!” she shouted, choking. “Quick! The Vanishing Floor… it appeared again… I just climbed up along the stairs and saw how someone’s shadow slid there, and then… It’s simply a nightmare! I’m barely alive!”

Tanya was startled. Until now, she would swear that the instructor for removal of evil eye simply could not be frightened in the least. Once during a class Eyeless Horror (the most terrible ghost in the entire Tibidox) stole up to her and with a terrible howl rushed at her from behind. Most likely Horror reckoned that she would begin to squeal and disgrace herself before the entire class, only that he picked the wrong victim. Turning slightly, Dentistikha with a shield spell nailed him to the wall and, as if nothing had happened, continued to explain the theme. After this incident, the children gave her the nickname the Great Tooth, which she knew about and was proud of. However, now it was difficult to recognize the Great Tooth. Is this really her, barely alive with fear, hanging onto Sardanapal’s sleeve?

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