Tanya Grotter And The Vanishing Floor
Dmitrii Emets

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Tanya Grotter And The Vanishing Floor
Дмитрий Александрович Емец

Таня Гроттер #2
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?

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.

* * *

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