A young boy, no older than 12, walked solemnly down the cold path bridging his house and the road, ready to head to his new school; he had transferred from a public school to a private school over the summer break after traumatic experiences involving bullying. He tried to be strong, but secretly he was terrified. He didn't like the old people, but new people were more inclined to judge him, seeing as they were also his age and a little more aware than most toddlers (many of the people at his old school had known him since his toddling age, seeing as there was only 1 district and 4 public schools in the tiny town he lived near; a preschool, an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school).
He wetted his lips anxiously, biting on his lower lip as the private school's bus drove up in front of him. By now he was about half a mile from his house and he had explicitly asked his mother to stay at home and not come with him. His father was nearby, but out of sight to all but the most gifted eagle-eyes, even hidden to young Lysander, our little traumatized hero.
The bus driver opened the door and Lysander bravely climbed inside, looking at the range of students riding along. He immediately guessed that his stop was last, going off of the amount of students. They were all looking out the window, wondering why on Earth they were straying so far from their usual, precise-as-clockwork bus path. A few who were close enough to the door to see Lysander enter inspected him curiously. The age range was pretty apparent. Most kids were anywhere from 13 to 16. Lysander, being 12, was probably the youngest. He had skipped 1st grade and he was currently going into 8th. However, the school taught all the way from kindergarten to 12th grade. The busses were divided up into age groups as well as location.
He was lucky enough to locate a single open seat and hid in it, pressing himself as close to the inner, metal wall of the bus. It was cool and comforting and he put his hand on it, squishing his cheek up against the glass of the window. The other kids kind of looked at him and whispered for a few seconds but it quickly went back to friendly banter and discussions about summer and vacations and fun.
Lysander kept himself out of it. He hadn't done much over the summer, anyways, except practiced with his private mentor. It was already decided that he were to be a healer, doctor, or go into some profession involving medicine. It was a family tradition to be healers who roamed the Earth, aiding the sick in places too far away for conventional medicine. Lysander didn't really care about his pre-chosen career. He wanted to be a doctor and worked hard at becoming one. He possessed great talent in that area as well. All his mentor did was tell him what every chemical, illness, and herb they used did, he figured out what to do with them himself.
That was another reason he was going to this private school; it was an extremely prodigious private school for extremely talented and gifted children. It'd look really good on a college application.
Lysander was pulled out of his lonesome thoughts when the bus's wheels made a high-pitched eeeeeee-sound as it stopped short in front of the school. All the students were jerked forward slightly and some of the older ones started cussing and looking at the bus driver, who was nearly oblivious to the reaction to his short stop as he opened the door to the bus. The kids, still grumbling and holding their heads, trotted off the bus and reunited with their other friends.
Lysander, half out of desperation and half out of curiosity, searched the crowd of people for another kid like him who wasn't a kindergartener; a new kid or loner, someone who seemed separated from the massive flow of the intellectuals.
In his search, he realized something. They seemed to act like every other person at his old school. Gossiping and laughing, giggling quietly, reading books while waiting for their friends, attacking each other playfully, and just plain hanging out with each other. This simultaneously relieved and terrified Lysander. It brought on memories of situations similar to this one, rumors and whispers, and boisterous laughing that was attached to physical, mental, and emotional pain. He withdrew himself slightly, hugging his somewhat-empty backpack.
Most of the reason Lysander was attacked was because of his father. Or rather, the lack thereof. In the happy little small town, divorce was unheard of, not because of feminine oppression but rather the fact that everyone was rather happy all the time. Single motherhood only happened because of death, and Lysander's dad was not dead. Even before Lysander's mom knew she was pregnant, his father ran away in fear of her unrequited love for him. However, he was never really gone. Lysander's father was a rogue, and a powerful one at that. If he did not want to be seen, he was not seen. Lysander had met his father, but he barely knew him.
The other reasons for Lysander's harassment included the fact that he lived in a deep forest, just barely within the boundaries of the small town; that he was smarter than the rest of them, and because to them he was never making any sense, when in fact he made more sense than the rest of them; and he was just plain not-liked in general, with personality clashes and his creepiness factor (he was quiet and often sat in the back of the room, he also had pitch-black hair and grey eyes, an appearance most kids weren't all that used to).
Lysander was abruptly tugged out of his panic attack when the bell rang. He didn't know where his classes were, along with everyone else, but he did know to go to the auditorium for an assembly.
Crap, he thought to himself. I should've been working on figuring out where that is…
The auditorium wasn't hard to find, though. Everyone was headed there. He blended with the crowd and followed them to the auditorium.
In the auditorium, the principal of the school, an elderly, blatantly wealthy, and wheelchair-confined woman rolled herself onto the stage while the children sat in the audience.
"I," she stated with formidable volume, "am Ms. Moss."
She lacked a microphone but she overpowered the still-talking children in the auditorium. The kids who had been there before for at least a year seemed to have adapted to it and silenced immediately, but not startled. The new kids jumped in surprise, not expecting a sweet-looking-granny-type to be that loud. Lysander himself leaped slightly, holding his backpack in his lap and fingering it nervously.
Ms. Moss respectfully waited for the kids to stop talking (which wasn't very long) before continuing her speech. "I am the principle of this school, which as you may already know, is designed for educating children with unique and spectacular abilities and intelligences."
Most of the kids tuned her out at this point, seeing as this was the exact same speech she gave last year. Lysander kept listening, but leaned back slightly in his cushioned auditorium chair.
Ms. Moss went on about school policies about bullying, drugs, dress codes, the usual "new school year" spiel most schools have. However, there were a few certainly exceptional rules unique to this school; No using magic in malicious fashions, except when instructed to for educational purposes.
In the universe Lysander just happened to live in, magic was common. In fact, in this universe, the "No Malicious Magic" rule was fairly worldwide in schools. The abundance of magic of all forms was mostly derived from the close proximity of Heaven and Hell to Earth here. In this universe, Heaven and Hell weren't planes; they were planets, stuck in an orbit with Earth, all of them rotating around each other. They're so close to Earth that if Lysander were to look out the window right then, they'd be visible in the sky like moons (but larger).
The habitants of Heaven and Hell are Angels and Demons, respectively, and they often travel to and live on Earth. Most people are ambivalent about both Angels and Demons (Both in this universe are more like slightly stronger humans, instead of powerful beings of light and darkness, and both have just about the same diversity of personality as humans do), but the rest believe Angels and Demons should be chased off of Earth. T 1hese people are commonly referred to as lunatics.
Angels and Demons taught humans, at the dawn of humanity, how to use magic themselves, but only a few humans today really can use magic effectively. Thus, there is a common argument among most mortals; which way of going about things is more efficient, using magic or using science?
If you're thinking of the magic I'm guessing you're thinking of, you'll probably say "magic", but most magic for a majority of people living on Earth is high risk, high reward, but very costly if done or used wrong. The same is with science.
Think about the awful leaders who are atheist and the awful leaders who are religious. It's like that.
"ALRIGHT! That's it!" shouted Ms. Moss. "I assume that you still have your cards from the orientation a couple days ago…" Lysander checked his pocket. He still did. "On it contains the name of your Homeroom teacher. They will be holding up a sign somewhere in the auditorium. Find them and follow them to homeroom. There you will receive your schedules."
The students clapped and then started hunting for their homeroom teachers. Lysander looked at his paper and read the name, Mr. Dragonstripe.
That name sounds like a Demon's. Lysander pondered. Interesting…
Demon teachers weren't very rare. Lysander had a Demonic teacher in 4th grade. They were among the best teachers because of how spectacularly unique they were and how well they connected with children, while still being very strict. Most parents feared Demonic teachers just because of random crap they've read on the internet about Demons being extremely violent. That wasn't completely wrong, but most Demons were just as civilized as your average human.
Lysander found the teacher holding up the "DRAGONSTRIPE" sign above his head. The first thought Lysander had was, Oh my GOD he's tall.
Not only that, but Mr. Dragonstripe was pretty handsome (also typical of most humanoid Demons), and he seemed to know this and held himself highly. He was wearing a school t-shirt with the school colors on it (Cerulean and white, if you're wondering), and some regular blue jeans. He was naturally blond and his hair went down to his shoulders, but it was pulled back in a ponytail. He had a few gray stripes on his body, most noticeably on his neck and a bit on his cheeks. That was probably where the "Stripe" in his name came from, or maybe the name caused it.
Lysander watched Mr. Dragonstripe take a headcount and referring to a list on a clipboard, which, until then had been hidden behind the sign saying his name. After he made sure everyone in his class was there, he called them all together and started heading off to his classroom. It took quite a while to get there, the school building was huge.
There was an ActivBoard in the room, along with a projector and a document camera. The desks were clumped into table groups. Each desk had a slip of paper with a list of names on them, one for each period, taped to it. The students guessed that the desk with their name on it was their desk for the time being and they began their search. It didn't take very long for each student to take their place and wait for instruction, while incessantly talking.
All of the kids in the homeroom class were within the same age group as Lysander, probably anywhere from 7th to 9th grade. Lysander felt small and vulnerable, despite the fact that he wasn't the only 12-year-old in the room.
The kids in Lysander's table group all seemed to be in the same position he was, new to the school and scared. They were probably the only ones not talking to each other. Lysander didn't dare initiate the conversation himself and stared at the patterns in the wood on his desk. Before anyone even considered breaking the awkward silence between the four kids sitting at the table, Mr. Dragonstripe called the class to order. The children who were a little better-behaved quit talking (even if someone was talking to them) and glanced over toward the teacher. Even though the better-behaved students outnumbered the ill-behaved students, it took about 3 whole minutes to get the whole class silent.
"As you already know, I am Mr. Dragonstripe. I will be your homeroom teacher for the rest of this year. Homeroom is always the first class of the day and you will meet here every morning before you go to your classes. We'll do some pretty cool stuff in here. By 'cool', I mean COOL, not some dumb teambuilding activities that everyone thinks is good but are in reality awful for everyone," Mr. Dragonstripe grinned broadly at his students, most of which were now in shock. They hadn't ever really had a teacher who didn't advocate teambuilding skills before. The teacher continued his speech. "In here we will learn a random little bit about anything that happens to strike my fancy as well, especially art and science; the two subjects I teach when we're not in homeroom. I already know I have some of you in my classes. Anyways, questions?"
A little girl in the back of the class raised her hand. "Yes?" Mr. Dragonstripe said, pointing to her. "Also, what's your name? I need to get them all down before the end of the week and I suck at names."
"My name is Lucy Holly," the little girl said. "a-And my question was, y-you're a demon, right?"
Mr. Dragonstripe laughed and nodded. "Someone asks that every year. Let me guess, you're now going to ask if I eat people, right? Because of the teeth?" He grinned again and Lysander now realized that all of them were sharp. "Well, even if you weren't going to ask that, I don't. I'm a rampant carnivore, not a 'cannibal'. If I was, would I even be here?"
Lucy tentatively shook her head, the reddish ringlets of hair cascading down her shoulders bouncing slightly. "I guess not, sir. Sorry."
Mr. Dragonstripe nodded approvingly and then looked around. "Any other questions? No? Well now it's time to hand out your schedules…" He picked up a neat pile of papers off of his desk and began traversing the classroom, handing them out to each student, referring to his seating chart (written down on a clipboard, once again) every once and a while.
Lysander received his schedule and looked at it. There were 6 55-minute-long classes per day, homeroom first, like Mr. Dragonstripe had mentioned earlier, and homeroom was 25 minutes long. 5-minute passing periods, which he enjoyed because last year, the passing periods were about 10 minutes, allowing students ample time to use the restroom, finish up some homework, or harass those they don't see "fit" to live in harmony with society. There was a staggered lunch. Lysander had Lunch "C", right after 4th period. He wondered if Lunch would be any better than last year, last year's involving plenty of food fights (the entire lunch room against him and the other 2 or 3 outcasts), flipped trays, stolen lunches, reserving the worst food for him whenever he bought lunch, and mocking tones about his mother whenever he brought lunch from home. He eventually resolved to just quit eating lunch and hide in the library for the last half of the year, letting himself go hungry. He would've eaten in the library, but it was against the rules and he didn't really want to be a bother to get some special privileges about where he could eat.
That was also a reason why 7th grade had really sucked for him. Despite probably being the smartest person in the school (teachers included, possibly), he had a hard time actually understanding what assignments were telling him to do; had he known what they were asking of him, he wouldn't have struggled to keep his grades up. He didn't simply ask for advice from the teacher because (1) he would've been a bother (2) it was a sign of weakness; if the other students had found out he was asking for help, their delirious suspicions that he was an idiot would've been reinforced.
Lysander fingered the slip of paper his homeroom teacher had handed to him anxiously, biting his lower lip. He knew it'd be useless to look at it for right now. He didn't have friends to compare schedules with, nor did he know any of the teachers. The most information he could salvage from the schedule was the room numbers, which might prove to be useful later on, if he got a map of the building, which would be extremely useful.
After handing out all the schedules, Mr. Dragonstripe rattled off a few more random tidbits about the school; its history, a quick review of the rules, a bit about the other teachers and a bit more about himself, etc.
Lysander was staring emptily at the schedule which meant nothing to him, while the rest of the class chattered after the end of Mr. Dragonstripe's speech, when the girl sitting next to him accidentally looked over and noticed the name of his 1st period teacher. "Ms. Angeli?" She said, causing Lysander to jolt up slightly when he realized that she was speaking to him. "I have Ms. Angeli for 1st period, too. I hear from some of the other kids that she's really fun… My name's Aaren, by the way, what's yours?"
Lysander took a quick breath before responding, "I'm Lysander…"
Aaren smiled at him. "Are you a new student? I've only been here a year myself. I can help you find your classes, our schedules are similar. They're going to tell us to get in groups with whoever they want anyways to have a self-created tour of the building if you need to get familiar with it, and I know the building pretty well already. We should try to stick together because we, right now, are pretty low in the ranks in the social system but that's only because we're new and haven't really introduced ourselves much, but I know they'll like you because you seem nice and smart!"
Lysander pondered how much longer Aaren could've kept talking without taking a breath, had she not found a reason to stop. He fiddled with the paper in his hands, trying to think of what to say in response and what to respond with first.
"Oh, sorry, I went on a truant and overwhelmed you… That happens to me a lot."
Aaren's voice was rather cute, befitting more of a 4th grader than an 8th grader. Her eyes were a soul-piercing blue and her hair was short, silver-gray, slightly wavy but mostly flat. It curled around her ears in ringlets. Her ears were pierced, the earring sealing the holes a strange insignia, a crossbreed between the sun and the moon. "Or are you just shy?" Aaren continued after a few seconds, when Lysander still didn't respond.
Lysander muttered quietly, his voice creaking slightly from underuse. "I-it's a mix of both, no offense… I-I'm new here, too… I transferred here from the public school in town."
Lysander squeezed the paper tightly with his fist, crinkling it.
Mr. Dragonstripe, once again, called the class to order. "Alright, class, you have an hour to do whatever you want. Get out of my classroom!" He called, laughing and waving his hand toward the door.
Aaren stood up, pulling her backpack up with her. She tugged on Lysander's shoulder and he stood up next to her, following her out the door.
"So where first? This school is huge. Should we just tour the campus or find our classes?"
Lysander was slowly getting used to this chatty girl. "M-maybe we should find our classes… Do you kn-know if th-they give out maps anywhere?"
Aaren hesitated for a moment, pondering this. "I don't think so. They might in the office, but they didn't have any last year…" They both frowned before Aaren looked at Lysander again and inspected him. "Wait, how old are you?" She asked. "We have a lot of the same classes but you don't look old enough to be in 8th grade."
"I'm 12," Lysander responded with the same solemn-sounding quietness. "I skipped 1st grade, and my birthday's in November…"
"So you must be really smart, then, right?"
"I wouldn't say that… It was only 1st grade…"
"Still, it means you were smarter than the rest of your classmates and most people in general."
Aaren quickly changed the subject and began chatting incessantly again, heading to their first period class. Ms. Angeli for English.
The door to the classroom was open and a cluster of a few students were inside, some who may have had Ms. Angeli during previous years and were visiting her, or new students who haven't had any of her classes before. Ms. Angeli was laying down in a reclining chair, her hands folded over her lap while she was chatting with the students. It seemed very casual for a teacher, especially on the first day. She wasn't wearing a frilly dress in the school colors like many other female teachers were. She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt with the school's name on it written across her breasts. Which, the budding pubescent male noted, were voluptuous. No wonder a majority of the older kids visiting her were boys…
Her brown hair was streaked with blonde and blue highlights, but it seemed strangely natural, rather than dyed. You could see a few feathers from her wings showing on her back.
So she's blatantly an Angel, Lysander mused to himself. You don't see very many of those on Earth…
Angels who were openly Angels, like Ms. Angeli, were not very common on Earth. Most Angels didn't like hanging around with humans, and the only way for Ms. Angeli herself to explain why she liked them so much was that they were an "acquired taste". The students didn't know that she meant that she was exiled to Earth a few years back and she was forced to get used to it, but that's really what happened.
Lysander didn't know any of that, though.
Ms. Angeli looked at Lysander the second he walked in. "Oh, you must be Lysander Maddox. The new student!"
Aaren and Lysander glanced at each other uneasily. "How'd you know my name?" Lysander asked out of habit. He was fairly used to strangers knowing his name and pretty good at handling it, but now that a stranger in his school knew his name, it bothered him. Typically, when people knew his name, they wanted him dead or tortured, most likely both. Lysander flexed and tightened his fists, preparing to fight back if needed, a survival reflex.
"They gave me a picture of you for attendance and memorization, even though they know I don't particularly need it…" Ms. Angeli smiled softly. "Sorry if I scared you, I do that a lot."
Lysander eyed her distrustfully as Aaren took over vocally. "I'm Aaren Megalos, I'm sort of new, too! I came here last year for 7th grade and I'm still here but I wasn't here before then. I hear you're a really good teacher from some of the older kids and I can't wait to be in your class to see if that's true! Well, really, it's more like I'm in your class, I just can't wait until we're actually learning things…" and the girl continued off on her tangent, Ms. Angeli listening quietly, having about the same face Lysander had when Aaren first spoke to him.
"Shouldn't you find the rest of your classes, Aaren?" Ms. Angeli politely interrupted when Aaren paused briefly.
"Oh yeah, I should! It was good to meet you!" Aaren responded and Ms. Angeli said the same. "Come on Lysander! By the way, can I call you something shor—" Before Aaren could finish her sentence, Lysander stopped her with a stern "No." One of the problems Lysander had in previous years were people calling him "Lysol", like the cleaning product. This came from when someone in Lysander's class heard one of Lysander's mother's friends call his mom "Oxyclean", derived from her real name, Oxana.
Because of this "nickname", Lysander had come to hate any sort of shortened form of his name. There wasn't very much to shorten it too, aside from possibly "Lys", which sounds like "lice", so that's out of the question. "Sorry, then," Aaren said, slightly startled with Lysander's volume.
The two compared schedules again, discovering that they had different 2nd period classes. Aaren promised to Lysander to help him find his class if he helped her find hers. They went to Lysander's class first, determining that it was closer by the room numbers of Ms. Angeli's and the surrounding rooms.
While they walked, avoiding classmates, peers, and staff running about, Lysander asked Aaren a question; or rather, a string of them, each one falling out of his mouth before he could quit.
"Aaren, how hard is it to make friends here? Are people mean, or are they nice? I know you're nice, but… what about everyone else? Are you sticking with me because there's no one else for you to be with? Or because I'm the confused new kid, I'm a target?"
Aaren took a moment and then looked at Lysander. "Of course it's easy to make friends here and really, I do have a lot of people I could be with instead, but I kind of knew how it felt to be the confused new kid myself, and it's fresh in my memory, so I decided to help you so it wasn't as bad for you as it was for me."
"Is that a nice way of saying that the people here will tease you mercilessly if you're alone?"
"I'm serious; nobody here is going to bully you."
"The more you say the less likely that seems."
"But… Fine…" Aaren fell silent. "Sorry I scared you."
Lysander grumbled at her.
"These kids could get as mean as the kids in your old school, but they're not dumb… If they were going to hurt you, don't you think they would've by now?"
Lysander begrudgingly realized that this was probably true. He was no longer low among idiots. At least he was low among intelligent people now. Maybe they won't be so judgmental, maybe they weren't so prejudice, and they might actually let him do something about his popularity. He was only low because he was new. Right?
"Okay… That makes sense, I guess," Lysander glanced to the side and noticed that they were at his next classroom, the one in which he would take science in. The room was designed for teaching science; it wasn't just a box with some vaguely scientific paraphernalia sitting and collecting dust in a cabinet in the room. He began to walk inside before he realized something. He turned around to face Aaren entirely, glaring at her.
"Why do you talk like you know me really well? I haven't ever met you before! It's … It's kind of-- …You can read minds, can't you," Lysander relaxed after this realization, though he had no idea how he came across it. It was probably because he was in a school for magic and really smart people. "Guilty," Aaren replied. "I'm here for a reason, you know… Speaking of which… What are you here for? You – no offense – seem rather human and … unmagical."
"I'm 'gifted'. That's the term my mom uses, anyways. And my aunt Corona. I don't know, they just seem to think I'm really special or something like that, and they somehow convinced the principal to enroll me here. I don't even know how, really."
"…It might've been something your 'aunt' said, because she came from the other universe. Whatever that means," Aaren said.
"…Sorry, I'm scaring you again, aren't I?"
"Mm…" Lysander mumbled, now more interested in going to his class than talking to people.
Aaren bit her lower lip, looking guilty. She decided to stay with Lysander, despite the look he gave her when she said that.
The science teacher looked up when the two entered. There were a few students in the room with him, but they all seemed a little uninterested in the teacher, but more interested in playing with some of the microscopes on a table. Apparently, the first unit that they were going to work on was some things about biology, evolution, cells, and the like. On some of the petri dishes the students were looking at under the microscope were amoebas, leaves, and mold.
The science teacher, surprisingly enough, was fairly unremarkable. He was an Elf, but one of the tall ones. He wasn't as tall as Mr. Dragonstripe, but he was above the average height for most humans. He had the typical pointy ears and somewhat of a druidic atmosphere about him. He was wearing a tie-dye long-sleeved t-shirt underneath his school-logo cerulean short-sleeved t-shirt. His name was Mr. Hollydemon, but he insisted that the students call him Jayden, his first name.