Three breaks later Faith lifted her head as the Professor spoke, "time. Pens down." Lowering her pen she frowned, not being entirely happy with her answer to the last question. During the three breaks, the professor had watched them all, Faith and her classmates all seven. He'd come to some conclusions about the young woman who he knew had arrived here by virtue of an entrance exam. Of all of them, she was the only one who had literally not lifted her head, who had written for the entire time. She had remained focused in a way which he knew was rare. He'd learnt things about the others, too; one lad had almost nodded off, one of the female students had looked on the verge of tears.
He collected in the papers and sent them away for their lunch, after which they had another lecture, this time with Professor Carter. As they trooped out of the door, Argus Hamilton-Smith looked up and spoke in a soft, friendly tone. "Faith? When you've finished with Professor Carter, I'd like to see you back here, please."
"Yes, Professor," she replied and made her way out.
She didn't really understand why people needed to eat so much, if she was honest. She'd had breakfast before she left the house this morning; later on she and Padraig would eat. That was one meal a trial more than she was used to and she genuinely could not face the idea of lunch. So, she made her way to the library for a break, preparing for Professor Carter's class. They were going to be studying anatomy, according to the timetable that the Dean had given her. She was looking forward to that, very aware that she didn't know as much about other races as she should. At the moment, she was studying Sev'ryn anatomy in as much detail as she could.
They were in a different room, but she made her way there and sat down when there was a quarter break still to go before the class started. She sat, reading a text on the physical and cultural differences between races which she'd seen at the library. Rose, the librarian had told her that it was a book for Charter students and above and Faith had smiled and nodded, replying that she was very much looking forward to the challenge. Rose really didn't know what to make of the very serious young human who came into the library most trials and who, if her record was anything to judge by, read an awful lot.
Sitting, Faith didn't look up as the students came in together. They had spent the break together but then, Faith considered, they knew each other. She was unknown to any of them and they to her. She wasn't unfriendly but the simple truth of it was that Faith had no idea how to behave in this circumstance and so did what came most naturally to her. She kept to herself.
"Hey, how are you? I'm Elaine," one of the female students sat next to her and smiled. Faith looked over and returned the smile. She was a Biqaj, Faith thought or a mixed race with strong Biqaj tendencies. "I'm Faith. It's a pleasure to meet you."
"Yeah, so Professor Hamilton-Smith told us. Faith with no other name. That's weird, is it really true?" Elaine asked, curiosity evident in her expression.
"Yes," Faith replied with a smile. The young woman next to her was curious, Faith didn't doubt. When she got home this evening, she considered, she was going to talk to Padraig about how to deal with this.
"And no date of birth either? Quite the enigma. Where did you join us from?"
"Before we lived in Scalvoris, we lived in Andaris."
"We? Oh, you're here with your parents?"
Faith looked at her with a smile and shook her head. "No.Do you live here with your parents?"
"Yeah, I have to whilst I'm studying, really. So you live with your husband? Come on, what's the secret?"
"There is no secret. He isn't my husband, no."
Elaine looked fully set to ask another load of questions when, thankfully, in walked Professor Carter. He was older than his colleague by maybe ten arcs, which Faith thought probably put him in his late twenties or early thirties with glasses on and a bemused expression. Like he wasn't quite sure who he was, where they were or where they were. Faith liked him immediately as he looked around and beamed.
"Students!" He exclaimed, delighted. "Diploma in medicine students studying anatomy. Yes?"
They nodded and he looked relieved. "Right. I'm rubbish with names, so here, write your name on this piece of parchment, fold it up and put it in front of you. There we are. Now. Anatomy."
For the next two breaks, they worked their way through a series of subjects. First, Professor Carter gave them a quiz but his wasn't a formal thing, it was him asked questions and pointing at them and saying their names. It was a good technique, Faith considered, for teaching. She would have to remember it because what it also did was mean that he got to know their names, at least a little. Then, once he had some idea of their knowledge levels, he asked how many had come from Viden Academy (four of them put up their hands) and how many from Andaris University (the other two). He quirked a brow at Faith and said, with a friendly smile. "Now, I know you didn't study here last season, we weren't open. So, where did you come from?"
Faith smiled back at him and, as always, answered the question she was asked. "I came from Andaris, Professor, but I was accepted to study because I sat an entrance examination."
Professor Carter gave an amiable smile, "You can do one of those?"
"Well, how did you do?"
"I'm not sure, Professor," Faith wondered if she was supposed to know. "I was just given the time of the classes and that I was studying a Diploma."
Once that was dealt with, the professor moved to the chalkboard and started writing "Three races, we're going to look at the anatomical similarities and differences. Human, Sev'ryn, Biqaj. Also, keep a space for specifics of the race. Alright, let's look at the systems which are the same. Internal organs?"
As he taught, which was often by virtue of asking a question which, once answered, he explained further Faith took careful and meticulous notes. Hearts, lungs, livers, renal system all the same in the three races. Biqaj, though, had silver blood although that seemed to be an entirely cosmetic thing. Faith raised a hand at that. "Is it chemically different? Does it react differently to specific chemicals, Professor?" He stopped and looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
"I don't know, Faith. Why do you ask?" He peered at her with curiosity.
"Because it would need to be tested in case of intravenous treatments. All it would take would be for Biqaj blood to have a different Ph level and that would mean that some coagulants and anti-coagulants could have unforeseen side effects. Or it could be more or less viscous, which would impact how we treat cuts, especially arterial bleeds"
Professor Carter smiled at her tilting his head curiously to the side, looking at her like she was an item worthy of study, she thought.
"Find out by next session. Tell us." He gave a grin to her, and she nodded, eagerly.
"I will, Professor."
And so the rest of the afternoon passed. Faith asked a lot of questions about Sev'ryn anatomy, but she did about all three in fairness. She was most interested in the neurological make up of a Sev'ryn, in comparison to a human. Professor Carter knew about this, and they discussed the theory ~ and theory it was, that Sev'ryn neurological make up was the reason for their racial ability to bond with a familiar. Apparently, he said, there were those who believed that subtle differences in the neurology of the Sev'ryn might cause this. Faith asked for names, which he gave and she determined that she was going to get those books and continue her research for Nir'wei.
Eventually, as they packed away, she made sure to stop and thank Professor Carter who smiled at her and told her she was more than welcome. She liked him, Faith thought to herself as she breathed in and made her way back to the classroom of her other professor, who she was frankly far less impressed with.