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The Darkest Light

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When Riih's mother dies she is sent to a boarding school for mythical creatures like her. Unlike the rest of the students, she's spent her life hiding from others and even now she has to keep part of her identity secret for fear of being hunted for what she is. But the more friends she makes the harder it becomes, and the more she wishes she could just let herself be a normal kid.

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Chapter 1

"Don't ever tell anyone your secret, Riih," my mother said as she drove me home from swim practice.

"What? Mom don't be weird," I laughed, "you sound like such a cliche."

"Just, I want you to be safe, honey, and if anyone ever knew..." she rubbed her head. "I won't always be here to protect you."

I think she must have known what was coming. Why else would she have suddenly brought this up? She had always made it clear that my secret should stay a secret no matter what but bringing up that she wouldn't always be around, yeah she definitely knew.

It didn't seem like she died of anything weird. No weirder than a heart attack in a completely healthy woman under 40. Not unheard of, not odd enough for any kind of investigation. But when the lawyer dropped off the letter, and the letter told me to watch my back it wasn't hard to guess that maybe it wasn't a freak accident. Because how could she have predicted a freak accident like this, with enough time to write me a letter to prepare me for what came next?

And what came next? A sleek black car and a man in a suit who told me to pack my things and get in the car. We drove for hours, stopped to sleep in a hotel, and then got back into the car to drive for a few more hours.

"When we get there you will go straight into freshman orientation," the man didn't look up from the road.

"I'm not a freshman, I was about to start my senior year," I stare at my lap.

"You're going to freshman orientation because you're new to the school, not because you're a freshman," I glance up just in time to see him roll his eyes at me. I hunch my shoulders and try to sink farther into my seat. It only takes a few more minutes for us to reach the school and the man drives off almost before I'm all the way out of the car.

I'm ushered into the school where a large group of fourteen-year-olds are standing around with their own suitcases. Nothing about this school seemed as weird as my mother's note had made it out to be until I was almost run over by something huge and covered in fur.

"Watch out!" A seven-foot-tall half man half cow stumbled over me.

"Give me my bag back!" A much smaller tan-skinned boy with goat legs stumbled past as well.

"You gotta catch me first, short stuff," the minotaur laughed as he disappeared into the crowd.

"Stupid brute," I looked over to see a girl with sea-green skin roll her eyes at the other blue and green girls around her. All the other sea nymphs laughed and agreed.

"Tell me about it," a three-inch fairy flutters past the nymphs.

"Hey! Are you Riih," a tall girl with bright red skin and yellow eyes walks up to me, "I'm Valindra, I'm a succubus I was sent to be your guide since even the freshman have been here before."

"Yeah, I'm Riih," I wasn't in the mood to talk to someone so upbeat.

"Yay! Well as I'm sure you can see this is the main hall. You've got the math hallway, the English hallway, you've got science classes down that one, and most of the elective type classes are held down that one,"

"Okay," I stare down the main hall as she gestures to each of the four hallways, two on the right and two on the left. She kept talking, something about how the cafeteria was at the end of this hallway and the dorms were across campus. I watched the satyr chase the minotaur down the hall without comprehending anything she was saying.

"So what are you?" She gave me a big fanged smile.

"What?" I turned to stare at her.

"Like what species are you, I already told you I'm a succubus," she laughed.

"Oh, yeah. I'm a... shifter," I shake my head and stare back down the hallway.

"Ooh, what kind. Are you a Were or non-were, what animal are you?" Her questions kept coming faster and faster.

"Non-were," there are two kinds of shifters as she said. The Weres include werewolves, werebears, and anything else that begins with Were and can only shift on the full moon. They usually act and look a lot like their animal counterparts from what I've heard but I've never met one. On the other hand, the non-weres, like me, could shift whenever but we didn't retain as many animal qualities in our human form.

"We don't get many of your kind, almost all the shifters here are werewolves," she keeps babbling on about how well I'll get along with the wolves and the tigers and such.

I try to drown out her high-pitched rambling until a half-orc male clears his throat and then all the students fall silent. He introduces himself as the principal and says a few welcoming words before instructing us on how to find our dorm rooms.

"I'm gonna show you to the dorms okay?" Valindra orbits around me, "I wish we were gonna be roommates you seem so cool, I had to room with some grumpy mermaid. She complains all the time about not being close to the ocean and shit."

"Wow," I roll my eyes as I pick up my bag and follow her through the crowd. No one else seems like they're in too much of a hurry to head to the dorms.

"Why's no one else coming with us?" I turn back towards the crowd.

"Oh, all of them have gone here for first through eighth grade too so they already know where they sleep and stuff. The Freshman thing is more of a formality since starting 'high school' is a big deal even though it's not different from being in the other grades and stuff."

"Huh, damn that's crazy," we keep walking toward a group of buildings of to the left of the main school building.

"Each grade has its own building, so we'll be in the senior building with me," she practically squeals in delight.

"Great," I roll my eyes again. We enter the dorm building, and I'm blown away by the size of it. It's shaped like a circle and must be enchanted to be bigger on the inside. There's got to be at least a hundred rooms spread around the outside and the large center is a kind of common area. There are desks and sitting areas and even a communal kitchen.

Valindra leads me to one of the rooms halfway around the circle.

"Here you go, hey maybe we can get dinner together in the cafeteria together tonight or something," she grins.

"Maybe, not today now though. I'm tired," I force a smile, "thanks though, I'll see you around."

"Yeah," her smile falls, "I'll see you for the first day of classes." In an instant, she's back to her previously cheerful self. I shake my head and open the door to my new life.

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