11 – The Possessed Book
Startled, Marion dropped the book and stepped back. It began quivering on its own. It trembled, as if scared that something inside itself would crawl out. The three watched on in horror, not daring to move, until it suddenly stopped a few moments later.
Marion looked like Halsman’s portrait of Salvador Dalí.
Ray looked like Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
Archidemus looked like Rodin’s The Thinker. First, he thought about how many more centuries until retirement. Next, he thought about preparing some morning tea. And finally, he thought about changing the topic of the lesson.
Calmly, he rose with a sigh, pushed the freaky book back into the shelf, and reached for his Earlybird teapot and some Earl Grey. “I usually prefer black tea in the morning, not black magic. It’s bad for the ‘ole ticker. Ah, how ‘bout you boys?”
Marion looked like Halsman’s portrait of Salvador Dalí.
Ray looked like Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
Archidemus looked content.
   
12 – The Finders
It was a while before the boys spoke. Archidemus savored the silence with several cups of tea. He was just about to strike up a conversation when Marion’s voice trembled, “I’ve n-n-never seen a b-b-book do t-t-that.”
“Me neither,” added Ray.
“It was The Finders’ doing,” interjected Archidemus.
“The who?!” inquired the boys.
“Or, as I like to call them, sniffers, heh-heh,” the old teacher chortled to himself.
The boys timidly stepped closer, “What are you talking about?”
“Hunting dogs for The Exctinctors. They’re mad at me for the trick I pulled. They’re as mad about the whole thing as you are confused, Marion.”
“Oh, right! Why did you trick me last night?” Marion’s spinning mind return to the question.
“It was necessary to throw them off our trail. Ah, I can see I’m going to need to back up a few steps. You boys know nothing about leftwords yet, do you?”
They shook their heads.
   
13 – On Leftwords
A handsome and dignified graduate student stood at the podium; before him, several school board members and fifty or so classmates.
“At the Academy, our teachers often remind us, and rightly so: be judicious with your use of words. They give us many reasons for this, but rarely is it mentioned that our surroundings inevitably record any words we speak. I don’t mean by microphones installed by humans, which is obvious and known. No, simply speaking our words aloud and alone in the woods is enough to record them, too.
Subtle or not so subtle, the recording of everything anybody, living or dead, has ever said is still with us now, swirling in the atmosphere. That is why I call them leftwords.
It is my belief, and the belief of some of my colleagues, that learning to sense leftwords directly is possible. With training, we believe one can read the invisible impressions of leftwords in, say, a room, as easily as one can read words on a page.
Today, we respectfully request a grant from this honorable board in order to pursue our research to the fullest extent allowable. I will now provide further details about the intended goals of our first project.”
   
14 – Red
“What is this?” asked Marion still holding the paper.
Archidemus woke from his memories. “My friend Red wrote that,” he answered. “He wanted more money from the Academy so he could study leftwords.
“Did the school give it to him?” asked Ray
“They gave it to him, alright… a rejection letter. He almost lost his mind. Actually, he did lose his mind. He did. That was the last straw for him. Ah, he often butted heads with the school leaders, thinking they were wrong about so many things. We called him Red because he always edited the mistakes he found in teachers’ papers like they did in ours, with red ink.” Archidemus’ chuckle couldn’t quite hide the pain in his eyes. “Anyway, boys, you see now about this leftword stuff? It’s important. You gotta be careful. Red wasn’t right about everything, but he was right about this.”
The boys’ expressions electrified. They desired to learn everything there was to learn about leftwords in mere seconds!
   
15 – Page 73
“We can talk about this more later. I have to skedaddle. Will you two make some memtea and read more of Red’s speech?”
“No problem!” said Marion. And it really wasn’t. The boys had never been more excited to read something.
“And no joking around in the apartment! We don’t want any more mishaps with books flying off the shelves and such.”
The boys made memtea and read on for a bit, but Marion’s mind apprehensively connected dots in the silence. He waited for the right moment. When Ray looked up and said, “Whew. This is kind of heavy stuff, innit?” That was it.
“Yeah. And Ray, I think the writing style is similar to that crazy book that jumped shelf.”
Ray’s knew Marion’s thoughts exactly, “Awww, no. Nope, nope, nope. Archidemus warned us.”
“But I remember the page number it fell open to!
“Yeah! Because it was Archidemus’ age: 73.” Ray’s eyes popped open. Marion continued, “I really think it was a warning or threat, like Archidemus was starting to say.”
“Marion, I really think we oughta stick to this essay or else get out of this haunted house Right. Now.”
“But what if Archidemus is in trouble? He just raced off to get help probably. He wouldn’t tell us if he needed it. We better investigate.”
“Marion. C’mon. The essay.”
“We’ll just take a peek at page 73 for a moment and if anything freakish starts to happen will put it back and bounce. It’s only a book. What worse things could it do than some dancing? Archidemus wasn’t even half as scared as we were about it.”
Marion started to get off his stool and Ray realized there wasn’t a thing he could do to hold his friend back.
   
16 – Curiosity Kills The Scaredy Cats
Marion crept slowly towards the book.
“Alright, Marion,” said Ray following a couple steps behind, “but if anything crazy happens, I’m outta here.”
“You’re ridonculous.” whispered Marion.
But Marion was scared, too. In his fear, it seemed like the book was controlling the ever-increasing speed of his heartbeat. Gently removing the book from the shelf, he and Ray took in the title for the first time: Find Words, Find Yourself by Kevinos Redding.
“Kevinos Redding! Could that be Red?” Ray asked.
“Yeah, probably!” Marion tried to located page 73 without seeing even one letter of any other page. When he found it, he slooowly cracked open the book, wincing all the while, and right when the book was fully opened –
nothing bad happened at all.
There was something frightening on the page, though. It was a dark, scratchy, sketch of four slender, eyeless figures coercing a fifth, more-normal looking person towards a horrifying apparatus. Underneath, the caption read: The five will be one.
A wave of fear rushed into Marion and Ray’s souls. The fifth man resembled a younger Archidemus!
Without warning, the door to the flat opened wide. The boys screamed in terror.
   
17 – The Spy
“What are you two doing?”
“Aw, jeez. What are you doing? You scared us half to death.”
“Archidemus asked me to make sure you two weren’t looking at Find Words, Find Yourself by Kevinos Redding. Is that what that is?”
Marion reviewed the cover innocently.
“You know what, this morning it fell on the floor really hard after we jumped, so we just wanted to make sure we didn’t damage it and clean it off a little. We really take great care with all of Archid-“
“I’ve heard enough. Hey, why don’t we all go eat before Archidemus comes back here and ends your lives prematurely?”
“Yeah, we should. You know, we’re worried about what might happen to Archidemus.” Ray chimed in.
“If he gets charged for murder?”
“You shouldn’t joke about this! You don’t even know what we found out.”
“Okay, okay. You can tell me at lunch. Let’s bounce!”
   
18 – The Promise
The three friends dug into Spice Me bowls at Curry Favor.
“So what’s all the trouble?”
“Do you know where Archidemus was going?” The boys asked anxiously.
“No, but he was going fast.”
“We think he’s in trouble.”
“I think he can probably take care of himself.”
“Just listen for a minute. Have you ever heard of The Finders?”
“Well, have we got a story for you,” said Ray.
“Yeah, we gotta a lot to tell you,” said Marion.
By the end of the conversation, Savannah Leitner worried, too. She was a longtime friend of Marion and was in his class. Archidemus was one of their teachers, not to mention Marion’s personal one. Savannah naturally joked a lot, but even she could realize a specter loomed.
The three made a promise that day that they would protect Archidemus and solve the mystery of The Finders. To do that, they would have to learn faster and better than ever before, inside of school and out.
   
19 – The Leitner Legacy
Ah, what fire and ardor came over those three in those days! I mean, they really hit the books. Let me give you a typical example of their teamwork and diligence.
One of the first things students have to learn when they come to The Cardlanger Academy is Sebastian Leitner’s flashcard memorization system. Well, Marion and Ray really lucked out with this because one of Sebastian’s descendants was their best friend and classmate! Savannah helped the boys to make and use a Leitner Box more quickly than the rest. They passed that assignment with full marks.
Materials List For Leitner Box
 eight dividers slightly taller and wider than the flashcards
 a footlong box with lid, slightly taller than the eight dividers, but the same width
 a calendar
Ah, I laughed pretty hard that day. I remember Ray’s box was all ca-ca, but at least he understood how to use it well. Savannah made her third one, I think, her most beautiful one yet. She’s kind of OCD.
   
20 – Keeping A Lid On It
Marion, Ray, and Savannah used their Leitner Boxes to remember vocabulary efficiently. They made one box for each language they chose to study. You see, in the first term, each new cardlanger must choose at least two languages.
Ah, Marion chose to study Chinese and Japanese. Ray chose American Sign Language and Spanish. Savannah chose Latin, French, and Arabic. As if that wasn’t enough, they would have to add another language in the second term!
The boxes were sealed with magic. To open them, Marion, Ray, and Savannah swiped their ID cards like a credit card, under the long side of the box lid. Only the correct cardlanger’s fingerprints and palm prints will activate an ID card.
All students receive an ID card on their first day. One side of the card has the students’ information, the other side displays The Cardlanger’s Code.
With creativity, we invent words.
With attentiveness, we understand them.
With responsibility, we share them.
With discipline, we become them.