Chapter One

Nocte Yin was a perfectly normal 12-year-old oriental girl with the telltale dark brown eyes, almost black, and black chin length hair with bangs just above her eyebrows. She had braces (white ones, much to the horror of her mother) and none of her ears were pierced. She liked to wear jackets, preferably red ones that were too big for her (they covered her butt) and baggy jeans, preferably deep blue. She liked to read classic books like the infamous series of Corrine and the Blue Valley and Sister Princesses, but never about Ominous Angels because it may just very well activate a too "creative" side of her that had been passed down in her family from generation to generation.

Despite her trying to be normal and ignoring her family's ways, they had to drop a huge bomb in front of her (not literally, but no doubt that they could arrange one for her). By the Gods of Hell, she went to normal school, had normal friends (they weren't even Goth), listened to normal music, watched normal television, and had a normal status in school and, basically, all that normal stuff. But no. They just had to do this!

She looked down at the small stack of papers on her father's office table, which was a nice genuine cherry oak desk (probably stolen), and then to her parents, who were sitting beside each other with serious faces.

Nocte had a problem. But of course, everyone had problems. However, it was very, very, very unlikely that one would have problems like that of Nocte. I mean, who else had a mentally unstable doctor/scientist for a father, or a malevolent sorceress for a mother? This included a destructive warlord of an older brother, a wicked witch of the southeast for an older sister, a jealous psychic for a younger sister and to top it all off, like one would an ice cream with a cherry, she had an evil genius for a younger brother. Did I mention that he was seven? And yes, this leads us to conclude that she was indeed the middle child.

She closed her eyes, rubbed them thoroughly and then opened them. Crud, they still said the same thing.

And to make things extra sweet and painful – and I mean, why the hell not? - her family had a Venus Man Trap (courtesy of her father dabbing into the genes of a Venus Fly Trap and a giant man-eating snake) and a talking pig (who was the result of her mother's jealousy way back when).

You would think that Nocte would be quite crazy or, at least, traumatized (like Grade 11 Math traumatized), but she was quite sane, thank you very much. You see, she grew up with screams coming from the basement, mutilated arms and legs lying on the floor and even, now and then, a few wanna-be heroes, or heroines 'cause we mustn't be sexists here, crashing down on their "secret" lair/castle to try to, as they proclaim (and I quote): "Vanquish all evil and purify this great blah, blah, blah". Anyway, it made no difference to her because eventually those screams would be quenched, those arms and legs would be disposed of by various mutated servants and those heroes or heroines would be struck by lightning, burned alive, eaten by the Venus Man Trap, stabbed by a million arrows dipped in acid and so on and so forth etc.

"What. Is. This?" Nocte emphasised each word with a punctured breath.

Her mother gracefully replied, "These are rules and regulations of your new school starting September."

And yes, it's the middle of August and she was still wearing jackets and jeans. And no, she wasn't hot.

"Mom," she began, "I can see that."

"Then why did you ask?" her mother said in an offhanded manner.

Nocte sighed.

Her mother was one of the most feared sorceresses around. Her name was Malise Hei and she was very much Chinese like the rest of them. She had long black hair down to her waist that always hung loose, alluring almond-shaped eyes and she always wore revealing dresses to attract the opposite sex, and sometimes the same sex, luring them in and using them before discarding them in horrible ways. She was known to be cruel, manipulating her lovers. In fact, so cruel was she that she had won the Award of Cruelty at the Anubis Awards Ceremony two years in a row. The only one she couldn't manipulate, and she tried (trust me), was the man she married, Umbra Yin.

"I don't understand," she complained. "I don't want this."

"There are a lot of things that you will find in life when things will just appear before you whether you want it or not," her father, calm, cool and collected as always, said.

Umbra Yin, her beloved father. Although he was always busy doing experiments and dissecting something or another, he always found time to tuck her in at night and help her on her homework. His features would have been ordinarily Chinese, but spending 24/7 near dangerous, and I mean dangerous, chemicals have bleached his hair, eyes and skin pure white. He always wore a lab coat – always. And no matter how many times she saw him carry scary and bloodied machinery around the household or how loud the screams were down in the basement, that lab coat was always pristine white – always. He was a genius, but not a prodigy, he had to work his way up to what he was now, which was unlike his youngest son, who was born into intelligence.

The glare of light coming off of her father's glasses (and did I mention he wore glasses?) splashed onto the papers on the desk. Nocte looked from her parents to the papers again.

"I still don't understand," she said and then exclaimed. "I don't want to be evil!"

Her mother gasped, somewhat mockingly and somewhat seriously, "Imagine, my daughter not wanting to be evil. That makes me sad."

Nocte gave her a glare that would have been fatal if Malise wasn't immune to it. She plainly said, "Mom, unlike your boyfriends and girlfriends, I can't be manipulated so easily. I know you're lying."

"Although we are not sad, " her father cut in smoothly, "we are fairly disappointed in you."

She gave them an appalled look and announced, "It's not my fault if I wasn't born to be evil!"

"You are right," Umbra nodded calmly. "Perhaps I should have influenced your development in your mother's womb, but that was the past. And you are my daughter now. I may be insane, but I am not like my colleagues who would experiment and deform their own children, so you should be grateful that you have me for a father."

Nocte would have rolled her eyes if it weren't a serious conversation that slightly freaked her out. And she was glad that her father didn't mess with her genes while she was in her mother's womb, and that showed how much they believed in her to make the right choices to be like them, in spite of what the experts have said.

You see, when Nocte was still developing in her mother's womb, her grandmother (on her father's side) decided that they should hire fortune tellers, soothsayers and even people who could decipher the future by looking at tea leaves in order to decide what kind of education, upbringing and whatnot her parents should bestow upon her when she came into the world.

All of them came to the same conclusion: She would never be evil.

However, Umbra and Malise did not heed their words. Instead they simply destroyed those who dared imply that a Yin would be a disgrace to their name. Umbra tortured the fortunetellers with scalpels, Malise sent demons she had summoned (with much difficultly because she was seven months pregnant at the time) to devour the soothsayers, and they sent the tealeaf-reading idiots to their soon-to-be-an-official warlord son. They never did know what he did with them, but one thing was for certain, they were never heard from ever again.

And now in the present, they found, quite shockingly, that the fortunetellers, soothsayers and the tealeaf-reading idiots were, and they shuddered at the thought, right. So now, before it was too, too, too late, they agreed to send their beloved middle child and middle daughter, Nocte Yin, to the Erisire renowned Evil Academy, the school for villains-in-the-making.

Why? Because a Yin had to live up to their expectations.

And they had such high hopes when she was born on Friday October 13th under a full moon.

Her mother was tied as the top sorceress in her class, which was until she turned her rival into a pig – the same talking pig that lived with them at the moment. Her father may not have been the top student, but he bested the top student by winning in a science fair where, coincidentally, the top student was beheaded. Her older brother, the destructive warlord, got rid of his own master and took over his legions of terror, something that none at the time could achieve in under a day. Her older sister was never as good as the Wicked Witch of the West, but she was the one who destroyed the Wicked Witch of the East. I mean, haven't you wondered where that tornado came from that actually carried a huge house that was to be her demise? Her younger sister was a psychic, a master manipulator, even surpassing their mother. She made all the teachers at school afraid of her and she even brainwashed four heroes to be her bodyguards. And then there was her younger brother, who, might I add, have already taken over a whole entire country.

Question: So where did Nocte fit in?

Answer: She didn't.

To add to the above, her family was famous for becoming the impossible. Let me explain. Her mother was in her late forties, but because of her magic, she stayed at twenty-five. Her father had found a serum for immortality decades back so he looked to be in his early thirties, even though he was sixty-something. He had recently shared the serum with his oldest son so he may stay twenty-five. Her older sister wouldn't need the serum because she was a witch. Her father would then give the serum to her, then her younger sister and then to her younger brother, until they were all "immortal". So it was logical to conclude that they were the most likely family to take over all of Erisire and, some would even say, the universe.

Except, and there always will be an "except", for a tiny, little, minuscule problem: Nocte.

She didn't want to be evil. She didn't have the makings of evil. There was no way in the eighteen levels of Hell was she ever going to be evil. Unless, of course, her parents decided to interrupt Fate, which they did regularly and succeed more than what was physically possible (screw science was what her father thought when they were doing something unheard of or broke many scientific, and magical, laws).

"But I have friends here," Nocte argued, grasping at the last straws she had desperately.

"You don't need friends," her mother spat out the word as if it burnt her tongue. "All you need, Nocte, are loyal henchmen who would die for you, a couple of thousands of minions willing to kill for you and some servants to do the cooking, cleaning and, occasionally, torturing."

She made a face and went over her mother's list in her head. Did they have those things?

Loyal henchmen who would die for you: check.

A couple of thousands of minions willing to kill for you: check.

Some servants to do the cooking, cleaning and, occasionally, torturing: check.

But everything came with a price.

Loyal henchmen: major brainwashing and $5 000 or more.

A couple of thousands of minions: sharpened weapons, adequate armour, twelve-hour training schedules, a dash of major brainwashing and $1 000 000 or more.

Some servants: cooking stuff, cleaning stuff, torturing stuff… just stuff, a pinch of major brainwashing and $… who knows?

A totally evil family hell bent in turning you evil against your will (and that's evil, by the way): priceless.

I guess there's some things that money can't buy, but for everything else there's-

"Nocte," her mother snapped her out of her thoughts, "are you listening?"

"No," she thought to herself and lied, "Yes."

"Good," her mother nodded. "We'll go tomorrow."

Now that got Nocte's attention and she asked, quite confused, "What?"

Malise gave a weary sigh and answered, "We're going to buy your school supplies tomorrow, so wake up early."

Umbra slid his chair back, got up and told them, "I have some… experiments I have to finish." His statement was emphasised by a muffled explosion coming from the basement. "I will see both of you and the rest at dinner."

"Don't forget that Gash, Ebony and Dire are coming tonight," Malise reminded her husband and then looked at Nocte. "They're coming to congratulate you."

"For what?" she asked in disbelief as Umbra calmly left the room. "For going to be evil?"

"Precisely," Malise said with a smile and then she, too, left the room. "Six o'clock. Remember."

Oh, she'd remember alright.

- - -

the point