Hawthorne Academy for the Exceptionally Gifted was a hideously long name, Chantelle thought as she stared at the pamphlet the little mousy freshman had given her. Which was maybe why most of the students called it simply, Hawthorne.
The large academy sat atop a cliff, separated away from the common people of Granada, Spain. The only way to access the cliff would be to take the long winding road which led to an even bigger winding road that eventually stopped in front of large ornate iron gates. Which was a hassle, by the way. The things people do for security. But the grounds itself in which the school sat primly on, was beautiful. Rolling mossy hills, amazing gardens, fields for all sports, and a large bonfire.
The architecture of the buildings wasn’t anything to scoff at either. The outside of the buildings matched the scenery around them, and the interior could be described as nothing short of royal and grand. Her tour guide suddenly stopped in the middle of one such hallway.
Chantelle rose a single arched eyebrow at the girl in concern.
The girl- who had introduced herself as Billie- turned around to face her. The speed of the action was surprisingly fast, and Chantelle had to take a step back to avoid getting knocked into.
“How well can you gamble?”
She couldn’t stop the predatory smirk from rising on her face. Now, this was what she had come here for. She ran a hand through her long black hair. Took a step forward, leaned down into Billie’s face. Cupped her cheek. Their eyes met, well, more like Chantelle’s dark brown eyes bored into Billie’s, who, instead, stared at the swinging light fixtures above.
"Very well. You needn’t worry about me” And it was true.
A blush bloomed onto Billie’s face. “O-okay!” She squeaked, a little too loudly, the sound bouncing off the grand golden halls of Hawthorne.
“A-ah, it’s just that gambling is kind of everything around here, you know?” Billie scrambled back, which looked quite comical, stuttering out some form of an apology.
No. She did not know. She crossed her arms over the mandatory navy-blue blazer and waited for Billie to continue.
“Gambling is how we solve...everything around here. You can get kids suspended, expelled or worse” Billie spared a look at Chantelle for this part, the latter looking less than fazed. “Now...uh, there are some people you should watch out for and don’t gamble with them. At all. Even if you’re at your lowest, don’t do it. You lose- you die”
“Interesting. And who is it exactly that I should be looking out for?” Billie seemed more than enthusiastic to offer this information up, for she pulled out her pamphlet and turned to the flap that said, Extraordinary Students.
The first name sent a lick of fire coursing through Chantelle’s veins.
“This is Arthur Burton-Clarke. He’s in his third year here, like you” Billie pointed to the image of a dark-skinned male with a chiseled jaw and sharp, intelligent eyes. “He’s what you would call the Head of the Table. He runs things here”
Chantelle hummed. That, she could probably guess. Arthur never did like being nothing less than the one in charge.
Billie pointed to the next picture, a boy who looked pretty much like Arthur, but younger. This male, Chantelle was also well acquainted with. “This is Arthurs younger brother, Thomas. I...uh, don’t know much about him. He likes to keep to himself. But, that doesn’t mean you should take that as an advantage. Those two are stuck to each other like glue”
“If someone would be dumb enough to cross the brothers and went missing, it was probably Dekko Hamilton who did it.” Billie’s tanned finger pointed to the next picture of a person with creamy white skin and wavy brown hair. Again, this she knew. Did Billie have a piece of actual useful information?
To the close-minded eye, someone would say Dekko was but a boy, too small and too feminine to do much damage.
To Chantelle, Dekko would probably be the most dangerous one on the list, even if it were composed of felons and criminals. Not only were they so hopelessly devoted to Arthur (and by default- Thomas), but they had trained in over 12 forms of martial arts, had extensive knowledge of poisons and toxins, and knew how to strike you where it hurt. In so many ways than one.
Billie scoffed quietly at the next name, Aliza Lawerence. “She’s in her fourth year, captain of the art club, really cute and adorable. Explosive energy. You’ll know her when you see her. She lights up the room”, softly, Billie added, “Literally”. Although her words were positive, her tone suggested quite the opposite. That snippet intrigued her, and she couldn’t wait to find out more.
Next was Nwoye (no last name, but Chantelle recognized him from being on the cover of so many Vogue magazines). He was in his final year at Hawthrone and Billie couldn’t quite keep the fawning school girl lilt out of her voice. Which, Chantelle could sort of relate to. Nwoye was hot. Dark smooth skin, thick intelligent eyebrows, and a blinding smile.
And although she was of legal age in Spain, she doubt that would be the case in Kenya, his home country.
The rest of the names, Chantelle quickly committed to memory:
Arizona Sullenger isn’t in any actual clubs, and she only recently gained her seat. Chantelle can’t quite recall the owner of the chair before her, and she really didn’t care. Unimportant and irrelevant. Probably the easiest way to get a spot on the Table, but wheres the fun in that?
Julee Sanders was also a senior, like Nwoye, and of the science club. The beautiful Jewish girl was in charge of the morning announcements and general media intake for the academy. She also served as the overseer of important gambles which Billie explained were called Table Gambles, and meant that one member of the table would be gambling for their spot.
Casual Gambles, Billie said, were for the rest of the student body. They could play anything, from pool to poker to darts. As long as both parties agreed to the rules (and the wagers) then anything could be done. This excited her, and Chantelle could barely keep her emotions intact. What a convenient way to get rid of opponents and rivals.
What a perfect little community Arthur had set up here. Chantelle couldn't wait to ruin it.