Icy cool air hit me and I almost dropped my luggage to chafe my arms as my teeth chattered from the chill. She made sure not to make skin contact and walked a little ahead of me. "I am Mrs Phobia, Headmaster Uno's secretary and assistant," she began in a cold, impersonal voice. I thought how well her name suited her as I took in her almost silent tread, floating steps and collected air. She was as chilly as this room; sub-zero. Maybe an ice maiden in a sense. I almost missed what she said next because of my bemused thoughts and jumped as she went on, "If you need anything, or are unsure of anything, you only need come here and I will be happy to answer."
Something about this old woman told me nothing would make her happier than living with the penguins in Antarctica. She didn't seem like the type to show any emotion, but I didn't voice my thoughts and instead blushed as I murmured in answer a simple, "Thank you, I will."
Mrs Phobia went ahead and stood outside a tall door with a gnarled hand around the name plate, 'Principal Uno'. I swallowed, my dry throat aching for want of hydration. What would the Headmaster be? A clown? In my opinion, clowns weren't very frightening. I had found long ago not many things scared me, just make me anxious and stress. But I could still say that clowns were on my top ten for the creepiest creatures on earth.
It seemed an age before Mrs Phobia knocked on the door and poked her small head in. "Headmaster, Theia of the Eden Clan is here."
A small sound of shock came from the other side of the door and I fidgeted with my bags' shoulder strap with my free hand. Then a deep, booming voice came next, making me jump. "Well, then, by all means, show her in, Mrs Phobia!"
I swallowed hard again and chewed on my bottom lip as Mrs Yelps nodded and opened the door to admit me inside. I felt my eyes were wide on the ground, afraid to raise them and look at my new Headmaster. "Good afternoon, Ms Eden!" A jovial, warm voice boomed, making me jump. I was frightened into clicking my neck up to find the source of the disruption and found an eye, black and like a large beetle in his smiling face. My Headmaster was bald and taller than me by almost a foot. He towered over me! Yet, he wasn't a clown, or anything remotely what I had been expecting. He was more like Hagrid, rather than Albus Dumbledore.
"G… good afternoon," I squeaked back in a tiny voice, my hands clenching around my suitcase. My traitorous eyes must have become golden again because the giant of a man smiled kindly, gesturing for me to be seated.
"Now, now, there is nothing to be frightened of. I understand you grew up in the human world and, though this is your birthright, you are going through many changes, Theia. Oh, is it alright if I call you that?"
I could only nod and swallow loudly as I cautiously sat down on a hard, wooden chair and let my luggage rest by my feet. The Headmaster walked around the desk and sat back slowly, almost as if to reassure me of his harmless presence.
Unexpectedly, he laughed out in booming chuckles, making me bite my lip in anxiety. "In all my years; never have I met a Shape-shifter who was so shy! You are going to be quite a novelty in this College, Theia; for both the students and teachers alike. After all, we haven't had a Shape-shifter attending this College for so long, and you must be aware your race is especially rare."
I bobbed my head in answer and let out a short sigh of frustration.
Headmaster Uno chuckled, "And now, to explain the details of your enrolment. I take it you are curious about this?"
I looked up a little, "Yes."
He clapped his hands together with a loud 'snap' and I jumped, my eyes wide and golden as they stared into my lap. I was hopeless and vulnerable right now, and I was sure that my hair was whitening at the roots. "I'm sorry for startling you, Theia. I will begin with your parents." I shivered and my hair was beginning to lengthen into the natural ringlets. "This may be distressing to you, Theia, but I'm sure you will want to know. Your mother and father I met thirteen years ago to this day, and you with them. You were a very exuberant child and they said that, on the event of their death, they wished you to be sure to have a definite place in this College for future education. I did so and was sure that it wasn't necessary for your parents to be so anxious about their possible deaths, until I received word of their passing.
"I then located you in the Orphanage and supported you financially from there unto your leaving their patronage. When you came of age, I sent word of your being enrolled in this College. Now you are here!" He smiled, "What do you think of it?"
I swallowed again and chewed on my lip for a moment as I thought, "It is a little… different than I expected it to be. But it has a certain… charm about it, but maybe the Dragon could use some therapy."
"Oh, yes, I witnessed that event not long ago. I was quite astounded by your prowess and poor Louis didn't stand a chance. You are indeed a credit to your race."
I blushed and didn't know what to say. "You have had previous training?"
I shook my head and chewed on my bottom lip, "It was instinctual. I have been… known to fight when I had to, but I only choose to do so as a last resort."
He nodded, "I stand by what I said; you are indeed a credit. Anyway, back onto the subject of your new education here at Wiccan College. Many things will come as a shock to you, and I know that the humans' have a slightly different age to their schooling, but you will be taking an additional three years here as the ages and grades are a little different from what you're used to. The student… body will also be something you aren't used to. We have from aquatic to the darkest species and I'm sure that in a few weeks, you will be assimilated to the ways of your world. I know that you will soon fall into the pattern of things. Judging by your reports, I would say you are a quiet and studious student. We are very happy to have you here."
I chewed on my bottom lip and looked up, sure that my golden eyes were in place; I was too nervous to keep them from being anything else. "Will I need to do any extra curriculum activities to catch up with my year level?"
Headmaster Uno thought for a moment, his big black eye regarding me for a moment, "I think perhaps just the History and Cryptology classes will be in need of further studying. The others are very much like the humans teach and you will be up to their studies. You need not be apprehensive; this is as much a part of you as anyone here and it isn't hard. You were always meant to be here."
I swallowed, nodding as I accepted it and my eyes were wandering to the window, my body tensed and awkward.
Thirty minutes later, full of a one sided conversation on Headmaster Uno's part as he informed me of all the new things I was to expect in this new environment, and then the crushing news of my parents bodies being found and burnt; the true burial of any shape shifter. It released their souls bound to their bodies and cut the ties that held us to the earth.
As I was walked out of the office by the Headmaster, I was too shy to look up as we passed Mrs Phobia, and as soon as we were in the halls again, I was on edge. No matter how much Headmaster Uno tried to calm me and draw me out, I still felt affected by the attention and hang on to his explanations of the College and everything I would be doing for the next year. I was awkward to say the least.
It was a long time later that we stopped outside a pink door, sickening in its rosy colour. 'Girls' Dormitory' was written in calligraphic italics and I swallowed. I would have roommates? They would see me sleep and wake up, and be there in the same room with me for the whole time? I started to feel dizzy, but I held myself together and we finally made it to the end of the corridor, where the ancient oak door was painted with number gilded, '56'.
"So… I'm going to be sharing a room with… others?" I asked nervously.
Principle Uno nodded, chuckling, "Yes. With five other monsterettes, to be exact."
I shuddered, "But, when I sleep I am a little… strange."
Principle Uno nodded to himself, "I understand you had your own room in the Orphanage, and that, with your Shape shifter heritage, it is something not everyone is accustomed to when they wake up and find you still asleep, but it will be a special time, where you all discover each others' different characteristics. Why, last semester, I was besieged by the female population requesting that they be your room mate; after all, you are an anomaly—in a wonderful, curious way. But this way, you discover new friendships, relationships, everything a teenager is to go through."
I nodded, knowing there was no way that I would get out of this. It may seem stupid, after all, they were a different species from humans altogether, but to them, I would be a freak. I was apparently the first shape shifter in a long time. How would they, along with everyone else, react? I was a boring person by nature, not really keen for telling everyone my circumstances of becoming an orphan, despite my blabbing to that Vampire girl, Edith. Besides that, I had been living with humans, a race completely different from myself and had adopted a few of their traditions. I wouldn't be the smartest person here, nor the most athletic. I would be average. I just hoped they wouldn't be disappointed.
The door was thrown open the next moment, a girl with shining amber eyes and ghostly green hair standing there in, from what I understood, a black robe. It was fashioned into a long evening gown, though, the sleeves dangling past her small hands and to the ground. She must have been stunned by my human appearance, or easily surprised. Either way, she smiled after a time, and I found it hard to smile back. Her greenish tinged pallor frightened me more than I could admit. She was like a preserved corpse.
She laughed at my wide eyes and stepped out of the room, "Good day, newcomer." Her voice was soft, like a croon.
I swallowed roughly, my throat as dry as parchment. "Um, hello."
She chuckled, taking my hand and the contact instantly pulled a picture in front of my eyes, the wind rushing through my mind, the view being pulled up further and further into the sky. I felt a little queasy; all this skin contact with these people, their fears. It hurt my head. To top it all off, I was going to have to share a room, which would most likely ostracise me in a school for the world I belonged to by birthright. I sighed, my eyes clearing back to the dull brown. Principle Uno followed us in, at length, and the chattering girls hushed their voices, Silence falling on the room like a blanket. They stared at me, wide eyed, and I shivered visibly as I smelt the scent of Wolf. My eyes fell on the girl who was to be my new roommate, the very species I had been orphaned by. I swallowed and my hair began to lengthen, my roots whitening in fear. My eyes, I could see in the reflection of her sparkling brown ones, were golden again. She stared back at me with fear as well, her shortly cropped pixie black hair framing her trembling features. I felt the instincts to run tug me closer to the door, and they must've seen my apprehension, because they all tried to speak at the same time.
Instead, the Werewolf spoke. "I…I'm Tonya. I'm terribly sorry for what has… happened to your parents."
I swallowed, my senses whirling, but I held still. My breath was shaky, "I…It's not your fault…"
She blushed, and I looked down to my feet. I couldn't let my childhood experiences prejudice me against the entire race. What kind of being would I be if I held grudges against them all? I took a breath to steady my thumping heartbeat, "I'm… Theia. It's nice to meet you."
Tonya the Werewolf smiled tearfully, something that made my chest tighten. I couldn't let her think I hated her. Because I didn't.
She smiled a little, relieved by my own. I guess she had been thinking I would carry a vendetta against her kind, or something like that. It was impossible when I couldn't do that with anyone, with the exception of those who had murdered my parents in cold blood, out of thirst. It was the coward in me.
"You aren't what we'd expect a Shape Shifter to look like," the tallest girl remarked, and I turned to her with wide eyes. She smiled, her thick Snowy white hair covering much of her body. She was a giant, and, from what I could gather, a Yeti, or Bigfoot.
I nodded, "I like to be as little noticed as I can, and the Humans don't really pay attention to the plain appearances."
"Vain morons!" The She-Yeti remarked and grinned, razor sharp white teeth flashing, "I'm Olga, and that ghastly green girl is Nadia, and this little one," she pulled a fragile looking girl with one dead white and another sky blue eye under her large arm, "Is Geneva. No prize for guessing what she is."
Geneva blushed, one side of her face turning an odd pink, the other a violent purple, like bruised skin. I noticed her mismatched limbs, one pale arm, the other with a light olive tone. Like they had been sowed on. Her gawking mouth was like an unhinged door, and I knew she was unsettled by my stare, which had gone back to my golden hued eyes, "An Undead?"
I was almost alarmed at how deep the girl nodded, worried that her head might come off. "Most people guess 'Frankenstein's' Daughter' the first time we meet. I'm glad you got it right."
I chuckled a little, "You smell distinctly 'Undead'. Frankenstein doesn't smell like that; more like charred skin and electric crackles." I knew this with my brief walk through the halls. The scents had all been disorientating, but I had been able to discern them and make generalisations.
"We have a sharp one here, girls," Principal Uno remarked, grinning. His one eye was crinkled at the edges and I blushed. "You will look after her, girls?"
They all nodded solemnly, Tonya especially. I could see all the guilt written over her face, and I didn't know how I could help lessen it. There was bad in every species and race, it wasn't just the Werewolves. At one point in my strange childhood, I had almost been eaten by a Banshee and a couple of skeletons, before my parents had found me and destroyed them as quickly and then taken me to the other side of the globe. So, in a sense, I had met a great many acquaintances. The Principal left, waving his giant hand and smiling.
I had to force my eyes to rise again, meeting almost… sympathetic stares. "So… W… which one is my bed…?"
They laughed, Olga the Yeti stepping forward and grabbing my hand. Her skin was cold, but maybe that was a general characteristic of the species, "You can have the bed closest to the bathroom if you want. We haven't chosen ours because we thought you'd like to have first pick."
I was led over to the double bed that would be mine and touched the thick quilt almost wistfully, "Thank you… And I hope that we can… be good friends."
They cheered and Nadia came up and hugged me. It was like hugging glass—glass that wouldn't shatter when hit. Olga patted me on the back, but it felt more like a heavy thump of bricks and I coughed, while Edith smiled and gave me the 'thumbs up'. Geneva hugged me as well, the corpse's flesh warmer than the Banshee and Yeti. She felt slightly more human.
I smiled at Tonya, who blushed and was pulled over by a beaming Olga. "Join in the group hug, girl. You too, Edith!" I felt suffocated in their different temperatures and wiped the gathering tears in my eyes away, but they noticed. Maybe they thought I needed some space, and I was grateful.
"Um, thanks," I murmured with a smile.