Chapter 4

It would be a very interesting morning for Jade who, being in the hippogriff house, would be taking her first lessons for the morning. She was delighted to know that she had Jarren and Jerrica to look forward to for the remainder of the day since they had all selected the same classes as one another.

The alarm clock of her room mate rang long after Jade had gotten out of bed. It was the first time in a long while that Jade had really taken notice in her features since she was at college. Her shoulder length auburn hair was put up nicely in a bun with stray bangs framing her freckled face, green eyes beaming with excitement. The morning light had been enough for her to pull her wardrobe from a small drawer, but it became a lot easier to put together when the crystal orbs began to glow overhead. She had a long button up shirt that reached just above her thighs at the hem which formed a drape. A vest tucked a tie neatly between it and the shirt. The sleeves were long, but Jade scrunched them up above her elbows. Her pants were slightly loose toward the bottoms, and a pair of brown shoes poked beneath the minor flares. Around her hips was a tight belt, the drape poking out below it. The last thing to be put on was the cape with its sky blue diamond brooch, the same color as her house. She wondered how her two friends were making out and anticipation rushed through her at the thought of being able to ask them how their lessons went.

"Away with you." Muttered her room mate as she slapped her alarm clock across the floor. This was to the severe displeasure of her other room mate who happened to be knocked in the foot by it.

"What in the world are you doing up so bright and early?" Her second roommate asked as she stretched out her arms, looking worse when she woke up than she had when she went to bed exhausted.

"I want to get on Pyrtle as soon as I can." Jade replied in a hurry.

"You…are mental!" Huffed her other room mate who still lay in bed, face down, so that her words were muffled.

Downstairs were very few people who actually looked awake. No one seemed prepared for the semester to start. The main freshman hall was lined with tall, round tables that had little lanterns in the shape of hippogriffs holding lit orbs. Everything seemed to be made out of crystal and wood which left Jade feeling rather dignified.

"May I sit here?" She inquired to Mindy who was wide awake, sipping on a caffeinated concoction while reading a book on how to ride Hippogriffs. Jade could see that she was nearly through the entire thing.

"Sure." She said, suddenly closing the book with intent, "I wanted to let you know, Jade, that the other day- I didn't mean to insult you or Pyrtle, I just wanted to warn you, is all."

Jade seemed amused that Mindy told her this right away as if she'd been brewing on it all throughout the night.

"Thank you, Mindy. And it's ok. I'm sure Pyrtle was a little more offended than I was, but I have a feeling he'll get over it."

The two exchanged smiles at once.

"So how is it I go about getting some food around here?" Jade asked, her head lifting up to see if there were any lines leading to food stands. It disappointed her when there was none. She did, however, catch a gasp out of Mindy's mouth and a quick 'huh?'.

"What?"

"Tell me you're joking." Mindy said, staring at her, "You say the same thing you've always said at the table since magic school."

Jade didn't think the blank stare she gave to Mindy helped her situation.

"You just…ask for what you want."

Jade tried to look as if she knew this all along, quickly ordering over easy eggs, buttered toast, and sausages with syrup.

"So…how did your father manage to get back in?" Mindy asked, now showing an amused expression.

Jade took on a red tone about her cheeks as she quickly tried to eat as much of her breakfast as she could. "He helped establish a portal to the fifteenth dimension." She said shortly, her eyes darting around. The last thing she needed was for people to realize who she was.

"Uh huh." Said Mindy with a twinge of coldness in her voice.

Jade finished as much of her breakfast as she could before moving away from her table. The distant stare from Mindy made her feel very uncomfortable, especially with a story like hers. No had been as nervous to enter this school as Jade was, and for good reason. Her father didn't hold a very substantial reputation what with nearly bringing down the plane of existence called Shalem in what Jade herself considered and idiotic move. Most people would have been banned for his deed, but he managed to wiggle his way back into the Order of Magical Law's good graces.

Out on the field a few of the freshman huddled. The fog had since settled into a low drape. Jade didn't feel very social, especially after the encounter with Mindy who seemed to be a history guru. So far no one had figured it out, and it was in her right mind to decide no one would. As the minutes passed by, more and more people began to assemble until, at long last, the class was ready to begin.

"Where is our teacher?" One of the voices piped with a soft huff.

It was as if what he said was a calling card, for in swooped a tremendous black streak, landing with an audible thud of its hooves just a little ways away. The entire class stood in awe at the onyx feathered hippogriff and its leather clad rider atop it. He had slicked back black hair and robes to match. His leather gloves pulled carefully on the reigns as he slid from his majestic beast.

"Stop gawking. Get your hippogriffs." He said simply, shocking the entire crowd of confused freshman who began to huddle toward the stables.

Jade entered carefully, her stall one of the first ones at the entrance. Pyrtle was eagerly anticipating her arrival, for the moment she opened his stall door he began to preen her hair happily. Down the ways Mindy was fighting off Dimwit who seemed to be drooling on her hair during what was supposed to be an affectionate preening and ended up with Dimwit staring off into space. Jade's stomach turned with the sickening thought of Mindy's calculating stare behind those thick, round glasses.

"Hurry along." The man in black sneered, waiting for everyone to gather in the fields while he inspected the hippogriffs. At long last he came upon Pyrtle who seemed to look about the field with interest.

"Amazing they didn't drown him." He commented.

Jade stroked the feathers on his neck as they began to bristle, trying to calm him down.

"I am your riding instructor, Professor Wick." He said coolly, looking over the crowd, "And as freshman riders I expect your full attention to detail and I'll accept no failures." His cold eyes scanned the audience before landing on Mindy.

"You." He stated simply, "Show the class the proper way to mount a hippogriff."

Mindy looked as if he had just marked her for death. Her face went pale and a worried glance flickered up to eye Dimwit, daring him to embarrass her. She placed the reigns around his head with ease and gently tugged his beak so his neck was parallel to the ground. With that, she climbed onto his lowered neck and sat upright, then pulled the reigns back so she slid to his shoulders. Everyone was rather shocked and surprised that Dimwit didn't do something incredibly stupid that might have enraged Professor Wick.

Professor Wick, however, seemed to manage a slight smile before analyzing Mindy's stance. He straightened her arms, tightened the reigns, and had her lean forward a little more. "This is the perfect stance for when you are grounded. Everyone, mount your hippogriffs while I take attendance."

Jade carefully climbed on top of Pyrtle who seemed perfectly content with her being astride him. She was told that he had never been ridden due to his sickly woes, but she wouldn't have been able to tell. Professor Wick slowly came toward her, eyeing the paper that read her and her hippogriff's name.

"Mosskin." He said with a tilt of his head, tightening his lips, "And Pyrtle." His icy blue eyes glared up at her, brows furrowing before remarking snidely, "And how is your…father?"

Jade flinched, looking toward the line of people whose eyes had bugged out. It seemed Jade's secret was no longer safe at this point. She managed a slight smile and Professor Wick continued away.

"Y-You're Jade Mosskin?" One of her classmates asked, surprised.

"Wasn't your father the one who…well…" Another classmate said.

Jade rolled her eyes up, tapping Pyrtle's side and moving away from the crowd of staring and glaring faces. Her father wasn't at all popular for what he did, but she wasn't going to suffer through it just because she was his offspring. She watched the other portion of the field where the sophomores were practicing different techniques for taking off. It was amusing for Jade to see a class full of hippogriffs lying on their side suddenly pop from the ground and take off into the air.

"Now." Professor Wick shouted, gathering everyone's attention, "We're going to just focus on walking for the moment. There should be no strain on your reigns as it will be in a straight line at my lead. Gather into rows- three across- right then, now give your hippogriff a light tap on the side- right- stop deviating from the path, Sarn- Good then, follow me." He said, turning his hippogriff about after he had mounted it and walked slowly.

Jade couldn't complain. It was a nice, gentle stroll, even if she was at the back of the line. One of her classmates had complained of boredom, but aside from that, the entire group was silent, focusing on keeping their hippogriffs in formation. It was a little harder than it seemed as the hippogriffs kept wanting to nip at each other or run off to the side to pick at branches.

They had just begun learning how to turn when Dimwit began deviating from the path. Try as she might, Mindy could not control his reigns, unsure of how she was to pull them. Professor Wick grew incredibly irritated as he barked orders to her between gritted teeth until, confused, Mindy gave the reigns a snap. Dimwit was immediately airborne with the mousey girl clinging tight.

"Pull his reigns down!" Professor Wick snapped.

Mindy, in all her confusion and panic, lifted the reigns instead. The next thing she knew she and Dimwit were doing spread-limbed summersaults through the air. The entire class erupted in laughter at the sight and even Jade felt better after a rather awkward morning with the girl.

When Professor Wick had finally grounded Dimwit and had another student carry Mindy's limp, shaking form to a tree to sit down, class was over.

"I'll come see you whenever I can, Pyrtle." Jade whispered to a very sad looking hippogriff as she closed him back into his pen. One of his protruding, scraggly feathers fell from his body and he lifted it for her in his beak. Jade took it with a smile and gave Pyrtle a kiss on the top of his nose.

She eagerly hurried to her Talisman Crafting class, a requirement for all freshman seeking degrees in the school if they passed remedial magic. Jarren and Jerrica were already at the front of the room and waved her down. She set her book on the table after seating herself next to them. The room had high-rise seating that focused on a desk at the bottom of the class and a large chalk board that nearly reached the roof.

"Did you ever have such a heavy book?" Jerrica asked, picking at the stony cover.

"It's perfect for dissuading twin sister's from eating the only pack of gummied turnips you have." Jarren sneered from the side, eyeing Jerrica who had a satisfied smile across her face.

"It's all for looks." Rang a voice from behind them. They all turned about to see the strawberry blonde haired girl from the assembly who had stormed off after Jerrica made a remark about the pegasus house. "It's just a decoration that's a metaphor for the very material the talismans are created from."

They were all silent. Jade began to feel dumber by the moment. First there was Mindy who seemed to be an expert on hippogriff farming, not to mention she was wise with her history, and now this new girl seemed to know a bit herself. Her thoughts, however, were interrupted when a teacher came rolling down the stairs, popping up near the end with a heavy blush on her cheeks, "So sorry!" She muttered as she picked her things up and hurried toward the front of the room.

"I am your talisman creating instructor, Ms. D'Lilly." She said shyly, looking about as if she had lost something. The stack of books she had let drop on her desk were already beginning to slide off and papers fell from their folders. She was quite a disorganized woman. "If any of you find a teleportation talisman, please hand it up he- Ah, thank you!" She smiled to Jade, Jarren, and Jerrica, noticing they were in the front row when one of the students handed her the lost talisman.

The class picked up with only a lecture, but was stopped several times so Ms. D'Lilly could run about the classroom to find a piece of paper that she was missing. The chalk behind her moved restlessly, writing everything she said including the fretful interjections when she realized she had lost another section of her lecture. Their first assignment was to make a table of what types of stones and gems created what type of talismans. As they all piled out to go to their next classes, Ms. D'Lilly called miserably behind them that she forgot to call attendance, but Jade was secretly glad for it, especially after that morning's class.

"That was a strange class." Jerrica commented, heaving her book up in her arms at the sight of one poor kid dropping his on his foot and howling in pain.

"I feel sorry for her." Jade remarked, "I wonder if she is like this ever day."

Jarren yawned, balancing his book on top of his snowy white head, "I sure hope so! I've never seen something that amusing in all my life."

Jerrica sneered and Jade cracked a smile.

They finally found their next class. It was a small shack just off to the back of the Academy grounds. A moat surrounded it with sticky, black liquid that crawled with something Jade would have preferred not to know. Across a shaky bridge was the only safe, clean way in and out. The closer they got, the more strange the shack seemed.

"Doesn't it seem a bit…tiny?" Jade said, but they pushed the door open and found themselves in a large, hauntingly dark room with shrunken heads hanging to one side and various jars of organs and other strange creatures on the other. Beneath an opening that led out of the shack like a chimney brewed a cauldron of a spicy smelling liquid. Jade felt the dirt floor beneath her and noticed that there were no chairs. Instead, there were simply four rows of cauldrons and small tables next to them with instruments in their cupboards.

"This looks almost like a chemistry lab." Jade laughed, but she was met with awkward stares.

"A chemistry lab?" Jerrica asked.

"Never mind." Jade said softly, stepping to one of the free cauldrons. Jarren and Jerrica had a slight scuffle over who would be Jade's partner since they obviously didn't want to be each others, but the moment that the pegasus girl walked in, Jarren was happily offering her a place at his table.

When class began a small, robust figure hurried to the front of the room. She wore a feathered cap and dangling necklaces covered in various bones and skulls. If she seemed like a gruesome looking woman, she was not. Her face was cheery and pleasant and her voice was soft and mellow.

"Good afternoon class, and welcome to Rituals of Dark Magic! We'll need to go over some of the basics so no one pops an eye out or accidentally boils their partner." She chirped merrily, her foot kicking at a small gremlin who cursed bitterly, handing out safety papers to each of the partners. "You can all call me Professor Patchwork." She said, never losing that eerie smile.

"Does anyone else find her disturbing?" Jarren asked, leaning over to whisper to Jade and Jerrica.

Professor Patchwork seemed to stop, but her smile was still present. "Jarren." She said simply, leaning against her rickety, lopsided desk, "Did you wish to share something with the class?"

Jarren shook his head, bothered even more that she already knew his name.

"Awe, do I have to rip your tongue out and boil it in truth serum to get you to tell me something honestly? Ah hah hah!" She laughed happily, turning about as Jarren's eyes popped wide open and his mouth shut. The gremlin had returned and Professor Patchwork seemed content with kicking it about a few more times while it cursed wildly at her before retreating into a drawer.

"Ah, now! Everyone read your safety guidelines and sign at the bottom in blood. Ah hah hah! I am joking! Ink will do." As the class did this, she turned around to check her boiling cauldron, seemingly excited about the contents.

"All done? Alright, put them into this cauldron!"

The class slowly began to move toward the bubbling substance, but the lovely strawberry blonde haired girl stamped her foot and spoke up, "Do NOT put your signatures into that cauldron!"

The entire class stopped.

"This is rituals of Dark Magic, and you're going to put your name into a pot of goo that you don't even know what is made of? Do you want your hair to catch fire?"

"Clever, clever, clever girl! One hundred on today's lesson for you!" Professor Patchwork squealed, plucking the papers from everyone's hands and opening the drawer where the gremlin slept, shoving them in there and closing it before another parade of curses could be heard. "First rule to rituals of Dark Magic my little poppies, never do anything without first knowing what it is you are doing! My last class did not catch on as quick and had to brew their own hair growing tonic after it had all burned off. Imagine my delight when my classroom suddenly erupted with heads afire, screaming, and arm flailing." She seemed so dreamy and content with this thought that the entire class thought she was truly demented.

"Ah. I must say I am rather sad I don't get to see that again." She sighed, but you couldn't tell by the way she kept smiling. "I guess it's time to let you out early! Be prepared to perform rituals with pig blood tomorrow, poppies!"

"What a creepy teacher." Jarren said again, shuddering at the thought of how she had joked about ripping his tongue out, making sure he was out of ear's reach as he began to follow the rest of the class out.

"Clearly she's mad." Jerrica replied.

"Yes. Where is that girl who stopped us from putting our papers into the cauldron?" Jade inquired, "I need to thank her."

The three of them looked around the hustle of people hurrying to escape the class before seeing the girl they were looking for walking toward the main building.

"Wait!" Jade called to her, running until she had caught up, "Wait, I wanted to say thank you for what you did back there."

"It was nothing." She said curtly, grasping her book close to her.

"No, it's not nothing. I would be bald right now if it weren't for you." Jerrica said, catching up to them.

The girl seemed displeased with seeing Jerrica, "Maybe I should have let it go on, then."

Jerrica stopped, staring at her with raised eyebrows. Jade gave her friend a face that said she deserved it, especially after the comment toward the pegasus house. Jerrica's eyes rolled to the side in defeat before sighing, "Look, I'm sorry about the comment I made at the assembly."

The other girl stopped and looked back at her, jaw twisting on her pretty face as if she were stirring an idea in her head. "I hope you are sorry, especially after your gleeful musing about Edgar. Just because I'm in the pegasus house does not automatically make me swoon and worship Gabriel."

Jerrica was silent.

"Don't worry, she is truly sorry for ever having offended such a lovely girl as yourself." Jarren smiled cheekily, earning a glare from his twin.

The girl seemed to straighten, eyeing the three of them. "So far you have all been in my classes. Don't tell me you have History of Riders next."

They all seemed to look at one another and Jarren had a look of unmistakable glee.

"Oh dear." The girl said, pulling two round objects from her pockets and clicking them together over her book. Her book disappeared and her history one appeared mid-air. She had to catch it before it fell.

"H-How did you do that?" Jade stuttered, clearly shocked and impressed.

"That? Oh. It's simple talisman combinations. The pegasus house has their own storage of talismans that they give out to the students. I've already read the entire book. How sneaky of them to mention the book changing combination at the very last chapter. By the time you're at the end of your semester you'll realize that you've been carrying around all those dreadfully heavy books at once for nothing. I suppose I can teach you as a sort of…friendship…thing." She said, looking over them diffidently, "My name is Svetlana, but Lana is sometimes easier."

She showed each of them how to do the trick. Only Jarren, who had forgotten his history book in his room, was able to perform it. Jerrica and Jade were forced to carry their heaping stack to their next class.

When they entered the room it was covered in tall pictures that kept disappearing and re-appearing as something else. Sometimes the pictures would leap from their posts like ghosts and carry on through the classroom, talking to students with interest. One of the portraits, Madame Josephine, was pale with long black hair and a cruel look to her eyes, but she laughed heartily and spoke to a few of the students who had returned from the Rituals of the Dark Arts classroom, talking about her own experiences in the subject.

They were all rather early since they had gotten out of their previous class so quickly. Jarren, Jade, and Jerrica all gathered around Svetlana in fascination as she showed them simple ways to combine talismans in order to perform very helpful tricks. She showed them how to turn pages in their books with a wind talisman and a mind talisman so that they could read while they ate without ruining the pages.

"And this is a history talisman." She said happily, plucking it from her tinkling bag while she began to fish another one out, "Depending on what you combine it with, you can read the history of just about any subject. History talismans are very expensive for this reason, as are mind talismans."

"But you had no problem getting either, did you?" Jarren asked in awe.

"No." Replied Svetlana, adjusting the diamond brooch on her cape as she combined a mind talisman with a history talisman. She finally pulled another talisman from her bag and clicked it against the rest of them, smiling as she twisted them to certain points, "Are you ready? We have about ten minutes to do this." They all looked at one another before nodding.

Svetlana took Jade's hand and cupped it around the talismans before bringing the twins into the group, closing her eyes. Their bodies felt as if they were slowly being pulled in all directions as if they were made of rubber, and soon they dropped into a small room where a group of very official people stood around.

"You do realize what you are proposing, right?" One of the white bearded men said.

"Of course." Replied the man

The four of them slowly stood, looking around the room.

"I just used a history, a mind, and a teleport. We can't be seen here, so don't worry about that, but also this is a memory of Jade's blood."

Jade looked around the room. She didn't recognize it at all! Her eyes peeked onto the desk of one of the official men, "This reads six months before I am to be born." She said in a rather impressed tone.

"If we allow you back in after what you have done, how will that look on this council?" Another white haired man asked.

"Maybe we shouldn't be here…" Whispered Jerrica unsteadily, forgetting that none of the older people who spoke could hear her.

"Do NOT make us close the portal on you, Mard." A younger looking fellow bellowed, his thick chest puffing out as his face began to grow a crimson color.

"Look. My wife and I managed to get into the fifteenth dimension, and I'm offering it to you for safe passage back to my home; back here. Otherwise I will be forced to use this." He said while lifting a row of talismans that were all connected together in a very precise manner. The entire council looked warily at one another before one of them stood up in his wooden chair.

"My friend, Mard, means Shalem no harm. He simply wants to return home, for what purpose shall remain secret. Whatever he is running from, he will be safe among us. Can we not offer this man that, even after he offers us free reign to a the very dimension we've been trying to find all this time?"

The old men grumbled to one another, nodding slightly, but still some glared at him.

Suddenly, the four of them felt tugging on their skin as they returned back to the classroom, staring at each other in shock. Jade remained silent, her eyes falling to the ground. Svetlana seemed to know exactly what had happened, but Jarren and Jerrica busied themselves with staring at the teacher that came in.

He couldn't have been more than five inches tall and very skinny with a nervous look to him. He made sure to fly an extra few feet above the students on shimmering, thin wings that beat so quickly that they made a humming noise. He had pointed ears and almond shaped eyes, and his hand held a handkerchief over his mouth as he finally perched on the podium in the front room. He whipped out a small staff with a talisman wrapped around the top ("That's a conjuring talisman!" whispered Svetlana to the others) and another talisman suddenly appeared, then another, and another, and another. The little creature seemed to busy himself with connecting them, making sure their points fit just right before lifting them up, making him appear four inches taller.

"May I have your attention!" A quivery, booming voice said aloud, "I am going to be your history instructor and my name is Professor Trippint. If you sneeze, cough, are very ill, feel as if you're going to be very ill, or anything related to illness, keep it out of my classroom. I-I have sanitizer taped to the bottom of everyone's desk. Please apply before handing me papers or touching me!" He said, sounding very unsure of himself. One of the paintings on the wall suddenly sprung to life, hurrying across the room and into another painting.

His talismans began to glow a faint blue haze around him, which Svetlana explained was like a shield- a very sanitary shield. The other two talismans acted as a sort of microphone.

"My classroom will also be taught by some of the historical figures themselves, which is why I have the paintings." Professor Trippint said.

Jade noticed that each of the paintings had talismans on the frames, but she didn't recognize any of their symbols. Some were odd shapes, and it was clear that they were more advanced than she could recognize.

The entire class sat still and quiet as the lessons began. There was no need for notes today as it was simply an introductory class where all of the ghosts who would be aiding in the term introduced themselves and what subject matter they would be expounding on. Svetlana and Mindy Mouse were the only two who seemed to be raising their hands to answer nearly every question and competed highly with one another.

Jade could not get the events with the talismans Svetlana had put together out of her head. She hardly paid attention as she repeated each word in her head over and over. She knew that the man was her father because he had told her what had happened, but he never mentioned anything about running away from something. The very thought sent a strange chill through her body.

While Mindy and Svetlana stayed behind to argue the history of the hippogriff rider Veldis, Jade and the twins took to walking toward their next class.

"Jade, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Clearly it was some kind of mistake." Jerrica reassured her after Jade told them how she was concerned about why they were teleported to that exact point.

"Where as I personally do not think Svetlana is capable of mistakes, I do think it's not something you should really concern yourself with." Jarren said while giving Jade a friendly pat on the back. Jerrica rolled her eyes.

Jade, however, only felt worse. They were comforting her without even realizing what was going on. She managed a forced smile, "I'll tell you two more about it later." She said softly, "But unfortunately we're looking at a wall that is supposed to be our next class."

They all looked up to notice the wall and several other students staring, confused, at their papers which told them where to go.

"It says there should be a door here." One of them remarked.

Jade leaned forward, noticing a few of the stones were a little off center. "Odd…" She hummed, tracing them with her fingers in a wide circle. Once she did this, the wall simply disappeared and a round doorway opened up into an empty classroom with a very bored teacher waiting. As soon as she saw the door open, she sighed in relief.

"Finally, someone manages to figure the darn thing out! I've been waiting here all day with no progress! Ah, come in, come in! I'm your teacher, of course, but you can see that, and I'm going to be teaching you about the dimensions- er, but you ought to know that as well, too. Hurry in!"

Jade got a few cheers as they entered the classroom, seating themselves and preparing for the remainder of their day. Jade was personally distraught that she discovered the portal. The last thing she wanted to think about right now was realms.