Chapter One

"Thorr, man, you sure we can do this?" Wil glanced at me, looking unsure of himself. "I mean, we could get so busted by the headmaster!"

I grinned at him. "That's what's so fun about it."

"But -"

"Hey, if you aren't game, I can do this alone," I reminded him. "No sweat."

"No," Wil said quickly. "I'm game, I'm game. Just…remember what happened last time?"

"That was because you tripped." I raised my eyebrows at my lifelong best friend, who didn't appear to be any more convinced about the situation than he had several seconds ago.

I guess to some people what we were going to do was crazy. I preferred to look at it as having a little adventurous fun. What was really so bad about sneaking into the headmaster's office, taking his prized swords, jumping out the window and juggling them for all to see? He doesn't let anybody see them unless they're in his office, and pretty much the only way in there is to get into trouble, and that's not very fair, is it?

Okay, maybe that's a bit risky, but it's just me. I'm Thorr - Thorrin, actually, but I like Thorr better. Thorrin makes me feel like I should act like a good little boy who wears a bowties and studies all the time. Not that I'm a little boy anymore - I'm nineteen. A nineteen year old student at Stiff-People Academy, otherwise known as Phineo Morgrass's Seminary for Scholars. Just because I supposedly have an intelligence quotient of some really high number (I don't know what it is, I forgot), I got stuck going here instead of to the warrior training place I wanted to go to after I'd finished school.

The only reason I don't just ditch it is because of Wil, who I've been friends with practically since I was born. He's what you'd probably call a brain and maybe kind of a teacher's pet, too. That's one big difference between us: He gets good grades and teachers like him, whereas I get good grades and my teachers hate me. Mostly because I "act up", all the time, which is sort of a lie. Okay, it's the truth, but so what? I just like to have a little fun sometimes.

People are always really surprised to hear that I'm friends with Wil. I guess sometimes we're both pretty surprised ourselves, considering that we're pretty different. He's quiet, I'm loud; he's shy, I'm gregarious; he's cautious, and I'll do anything and try anything at least once. Still, despite these things, he usually goes along with my "crazy" ideas; he's a good sport. That's probably one of the reasons why we're friends.

"Yeah, well - well -" Wil seemed to be at a loss for words.

Quick as a wink, I morphed into my headmaster. "Wiliam, have your instructors not taught you that a good answer is a clear answer free of stuttering?" Yeah, I can morph into my headmaster - or at least, a replica of him. I'm a shapeshifter; I can be anything. You name it, I'll be it. Food, rocks, trees, animals, people, even water. I'm pretty sure that I can be air, but I'm not sure - never tried it. Doesn't mean I won't, though.

"Thorr, we should just lock up our headmaster and you can take his place," Wil remarked, laughing good-naturedly.

Swiftly, I returned to my normal form: Six feet, two inches tall with jet black hair and a set of hazel eyes with a thin scar beneath the left eye from juggling knives - but that was from when I was twelve; I'm better now. "So are you in or out?"

"In," Wil responded, grinning.

"Good, let's go then."

We crossed the room to the one wall and began pulling each of the seven swords down one by one.

"We're going to have to leave one; three swords each is going to be hard enough -"

"Nah, I'll do four," I said quickly. "Can't leave any out, their poor feelings might be hurt."

"You sure?" Wil looked apprehensive and didn't even acknowledge my joke.

"Yeah, what could happen?"

"Anything, knowing you."

We approached the window, him carrying three swords and me carrying four, and looked at one another. "Who's first?" I asked.

"You," Wil said immediately.

"Oh yeah, just in case I die, right?" I shook my head. I knew he wouldn't back out on me, but he always almost chickened out just before we were about to do something. Almost. In the end, he just grits his teeth and goes along with me. See, he does the same "bad" things I do, but he's considered well-behaved, and meanwhile I'm an evil rogue. Am I the only one who doesn't see any logic in that?

"Die?"

"Well it is a four-story jump, you know." The thought that I might not survive gave me not anxiousness, but a feeling of anticipation and curiosity. "I'll go now."

In one movement, it seemed, I stepped up on the windowsill - and promptly broke it. I stepped off of it before it could bring me tumbling back into the office and stood on the rooftop just outside of it. Wil looked increasingly worried as he stepped up after me, clutching the swords tightly. "See ya in a second," I said before leaping off of the roof into the crowd of our fellow students below.

I fell fast and gave a yell of joy as I neared the ground, the red cape on my shoulders flapping behind me. I wished that I could do this every day; the rush was awesome. I heard screams below me and I grinned to myself. Such fearful people with no sense of adventure.

I waited until I was about two feet off of the ground before morphing into an eagle and soaring back up towards the sky amidst gasps of surprise and relief. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Wil do the same - I knew that he wouldn't bail on me. We both landed in the middle of the crowd and morphed back into humans before swiftly tossing the swords up in the air and juggling them.

A circle gathered around us and there was clapping and cheering; apparently, most of them didn't realize that we'd stolen them - if they had noticed, they would have gone off on a tirade about morals or something, because that's how most of them were.

"Hey man, whoever drops one first loses," I called to Wil.

"You're on!"

For a minute or so, we juggled them flawlessly. After that, I got bored and decided that I would spice things up a little. I began tossing them upward in more complicated throws, sometimes turning into various animals in between throws. There were screams of appreciation, but I took no notice. They were just the audience. Still, I couldn't help but want to really awe them, let them see how far I could really go.

Somewhere along the lines of showing off, I tossed one sword a little too far. Whoops. Determined not to let Wil beat me, I dove for it while using only one hand to manage the other three. There were several gasps, but they seemed to be more in fear than in surprise. What, did they think that I'd hurt myself? Me, Thorr? Who were they kidding?

I slid to the ground and reached out and grabbed the fourth one with a triumphant, "Aha!" I caught it by the blade, however, and felt a searing pain in my palm from gripping it too hard. Oh well, I hadn't dropped it, at least. As I turned to exclaim my triumph to Wil, I heard three clattering sounds. I knew instantly that it wasn't my swords, but rather Wil's. I caught sight of him; his hands were at his sides and his face was ghostly pale.

Someone directly in front of me cleared their throat, and I glanced up to see the headmaster standing right before me. Uh oh.

"Why, Headmaster Morgrass, what a surprise," I greeted him, feeling somewhat foolish from my spot lying on my stomach on the ground.

He stared down at me with a livid sneer, telling me that I was in more than a little trouble.

---

"Thorrin, why do you do these things?" asked Headmaster Phineo Morgrass the…seventh? Eighteenth? Hundredth? I couldn't remember the number, but I knew that the school had been around for ages, meaning more than one Phineo Morgrass. "Do you enjoy making a mockery of my school? Does it make you happy?"

"No," I answered. "I just do it because I'm bored."

"Bored?" The headmaster stood up and slammed his hands down on the desk.

"Careful, Phineo, don't want to have a heart attack there."

"As long as you are a student in this school, you will refer to me as sir or Headmaster Morgrass. Not Phineo. Understand?"

"Sure 'Neo, man."

He growled at me furiously. "What did I just say to you young man?"

"Something about how I'm your favourite student and that you've decided to let me graduate early," I replied, locking my hands behind my head casually. It wasn't fair; he'd let Wil go without punishment just because he's a teacher's pet and I'm not. I'm not complaining or mad at Wil for having teachers who like him, I'm just saying that it's kind of biased. Right?

"Thorrin -"

"Thorr," I corrected him.

"Why is it that you can't spend more time concentrating on your studies rather than causing trouble?"

"I never liked books." This wasn't entirely true. I didn't hate books, I just didn't have the attention span for them. I got practically the top grades in the class anyways, what was the point?

"Then why do you do so well if you don't study?"

"It's too easy to get the right answer."

"Do you cheat?"

"No, cheating's for stupid people."

The headmaster sighed. "Thorrin, I don't know what to do with you. If you ever do something like this again, I'm going to have to expel you."

"Expel me for sharing your swords with the public? People only get to see those swords when they come into your office when they're in trouble; you should share your glory, 'Neo."

"No exceptions, Thorrin. Pull another stunt like this, and you are no longer a student at this school. Is that clear?"

For once, I was a little daunted. I would get expelled for having a little fun? How fair is that? "Sure. Can I go?"

"Very well then. Behave yourself."

I walked out of the office and outside of the school, feeling unusually vexed. My mom would kill me if I got kicked out, and she wouldn't send me to that warrior's place I wanted to go to instead. I couldn't get expelled. So was I supposed to turn into some teacher's pet kid, too?

I leaned against the wall and folded my arms, frowning slightly. I hated this school and would like to get expelled, but I couldn't.

Suddenly, I felt something wandering around by my feet, rubbing my ankles. I glanced down and saw a small kitten with large amber eyes. I sighed, knowing instantly who it was. "Hi, Kitten."

The kitten morphed into a girl about seven inches shorter than me with long, thick blonde hair and those same eyes. One of the prettiest girls in our class. "I've told you before, Thorr, call me Kitty," she said demurely.

"Okay, Kitty." What did she want now? She was always in pursuit of me or something; showing up at the weirdest times. I knew that she was attracted to me or something - she made it obvious - but I wished that she would go away, especially now.

"So I saw you earlier today," she said slyly, stepping closer to me. "That was amazing."

"Thanks…I guess."

"You're a dangerous one, aren't you?" She came close to me; too close for my liking. Couldn't she just go away? Without waiting for an answer, she went on. "I like dangerous."

"Good for you." I took a couple of steps away; it appeared as though she was going to kiss me, and I didn't want that. I hated girls like her. "I have to go."

Kitty looked affronted. "But -"

"Bye." I began walking away towards the forest as a heavy wind began to blow. Feeling that it would be a challenge to fly in such a strong wind, I morphed into an eagle. The tip of one of my wings was bleeding; I suddenly remembered that I had cut my hand. Oh well, it would heal.

The wind was getting stronger now. I fought against it to maintain control of myself, but I couldn't. I decided that I would just have to get out of the current of wind, so I began flying off in all directions - but the wind held me firm.

It was like the wind was taking me somewhere - but wind couldn't take you anywhere, could it? Some of the better books I'd read in my life - the ones about adventure - had forces like this that took you places. Maybe this was one of those types of things - a force taking me on an adventure!

I no longer struggled against the wind and instead allowed it to take me where it would, wherever that was. Maybe it would take me to a battle or something. That's be fun. Not to mention forbidden - my mother would hate that I was there, since she worried about me so much. Why worry? It seems like I'm the only one who knows how to live in this world.

---

After awhile of letting the wind guide me, I grew bored. I had to be somewhere in another village of another species, maybe elves or something. I'd never met anyone who wasn't a shapeshifter; I thought that it would be interesting to meet someone of another kind. Maybe -

I caught sight of a tree just up ahead of me. Where had it come from? The wind was strong and bringing me closer to it so fast that I almost couldn't think. It was too wide to fly around. Uh oh.

Before I could think of a plan, my head collided with the tree. I dropped towards the ground only half-conscious, morphing into different things on my way down. A blue jay, a canary, a robin, a dove -

A dove? I couldn't be a dove, that was a girly bird -

THUD.