Chapter 1: Welcome to Alterdam
“I still don’t understand why the Gurukula has to prohibit mobile phones. What if something has happened and I have to contact you but I can’t, because of the stupid rule.”
“Mother! Nothing’s going to happen and if you have to contact me, you can do it the way it has always been done,” Lea said with exasperation but she found her mother’s illogical worry a little endearing.
“My little Lea, when did you get so grown up? Why can’t you act like a normal fifteen year old, who can’t live without her phone because she has to keep up with the Kardashians?” Lilian said as she stroked Lea’s hair and pulled her into a tight hug.
“You know that’s not what all fifteen year olds do on their phones, mom. They- you know what? I’m not getting into this again. And besides, I’m not them. I’m Blue. Well at least I hope I am,” Lea said wrinkling her forehead with worry.
“Of course you’re Blue. I remember the day you were born. Your eyes were a shade of blue, brighter than-” Lilian said but Lea interrupted her.
“The sky on the sunniest day and deeper than an ocean. I know, mom. But what if they kick me out because I don’t look like any of them. Or worse, what if I don’t even make past Virgil”
“They wouldn’t have sent you your own elixer of the water of Rivenden with an envelope with your name on it just to kick you out now, would they?” Lilian assured but she was scared too. That’s why she was so hell-bent on sneaking a Mobile phone into Lea’s bag. She wanted to know what was happening at all time in the school. Sure, Lea had the blue-est eyes when she was born. She had them even when Lilian sent a message to the Count’s castle about how she’d given birth to a Blue. She had them even when she fell off her little bicycle after she made Lilian remove the trainer wheels. Lilian remembered so clearly how Lea had tears in her big blue eyes and how it instantly stopped when Lilian gave Lea a bath. She didn’t have to look at Lea’s eyes to know that she was a Blue. But as Lea grew up, the blue in her eyes started to fade and got mixed with all these different colors, and finally turned into a color that hasn’t faded since she was twelve: a golden color with two tiniest freckles on them that looked like glitters.
Lilian even considered not sending Lea to the Gurukula but Lea had grown up hearing about all the great stories of Alterdam from Lilian’s sister and sometimes from Lilian herself, and she didn’t have it in her to break Lea’s heart. Also, it would’ve been a crime. The Count was gracious enough to let the Alterdamians live their lives out here so long as everyone had been trained for four years in the school, in case “the war” ever happened.
Lilian had kept a big secret from everyone at Alterdam. She was pretty sure that holding the secret was a crime itself but she knew that she’d sooner die than have anyone do anything to her precious daughter.
“Are you ready to go?” Matthew said as he entered Lea’s bedroom. Lea nodded her head and Matthew hugged his daughter.
“You know you can get a GED, and then go to a college if that’s what you want when you get back, right baby girl?”
“Yes, daddy. I’m,” Lea stopped for a second, “I’m scared.”
“It’s okay. You’ll be fine, I promise. And when you get back, you have a normal human life waiting for you. That is if you want it.” Matthew was putting a brave face on for Lea but this was a completely unchartered area for him. He was still filled with absolute amazement when he remembered the kinds of power Lilian had back when he met her. The powers had dimmed a lot, Lilian barely ever used it anymore but it still filled him with awe and a little bit of fear to know that his wife was not like him, not like anyone they lived around.
Lea was scared but one thing she knew for sure was that she didn’t want a normal human life. The simple life. It seemed wrong. Although her dad was a normal human, she had too much of Lily’s genes in her to not be an Alterdamian, even though she had never lived there.
“Here,” Matthew said and locked a bracelet with a little moon, and a book charm on it, “I’ll miss you, Lea.”
“This is so beautiful. Thank you, dad. Mom, I’m going now. I’ll send you a letter about how it goes.” Lea loved Matthew so much even though he was her stepfather. She had never met her real dad. He had left her mom during her pregnancy and Matthew had been there for both of them since back then. For Lea, Matthew was her father and there was no questions to it.
“Take care, baby girl,” Matthew said as Lilian hugged Lea tight once more.
“You know what to do,” Lilian said, “Just close your eyes and think of Alterdam.”
She had her two suitcases laid on either side of her. She opened the elixir and poured its contents out. The blue water fell in front of her and as she closed her eyes and thought of Alterdam, the one place she had been dying to go to ever since was a little kid, and suddenly a portal opened right where she had poured the liquid. She had always worried how she would be able to picture a place she had never been to, but when she closed her eyes, it wasn’t hard at all.
“Bye mom. Bye dad,” she said and stepped into the portal with her suitcases in her hand.
The portal closed as Lea left the confines of her bedroom and into world that she couldn’t have possibly fathomed before.
Lea fell right out of the portal and on her back. Her hair was a mess around her face and she tried to comb her bangs with her fingers. She had recently got those bangs after she got the envelope and elixir. She thought that if she cut her hair into bangs, no one would notice her golden eyes and call her out as a mistake, a fraud.
Lea heard a throaty chuckle and she looked around to find the source of it. It was a guy, with sandy blonde hair and unmistakable grey eyes. The Greys were supposed to be the most arrogant ones, the ‘my-power-is-literally-everywhere’ kinds.
“Not very graceful. I bet you’re not a grey. Well at least for our reputation’s sake, I hope you’re not,” the guy said in a patronizing tone, and she decided right there and then that she hates him. She stood up and dusted herself off but made sure to not look him directly in the eyes.
“And who are you? The Grace Police?” Lea said and the guy just raised his eyebrows in a confused way. Lea realized what a weak comeback that was, so she tried again, “I have an idea where you should shove up all that gracefulness that you have. It starts with an A, ends with an S, and is a description of your personality. Any guesses?”
“Watch your mouth if you want to make it here,” the guy said and left after giving her a deadly stare. She hated that she was looking down like a coward when she wanted to look the guy in the eyes and flip him off.
“Hey. It was amazing what you did just now. I would’ve shut up just to not piss off a senior even if they acted like a jerk,” a girl said and Leah turned around to find a girl with blue eyes smiling at her.
“He was a senior? I thought he was one of us. He isn’t wearing the crest of the Gurukula,” Lea said.
“No, I saw him take off the coat earlier. He’s here with four other seniors to take us to the school. I’m Beatrice. But you can call me Trissy.”
“I’m Lea. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Welcome to Alterdam,” a loud voice said and everyone stopped talking and listened to the voice. Lea noticed that there were about fifty people around her. There was a big moon looking over them, and there were many boats on the shore. There was a beautiful blue body of water sparkling with the moonlight. She remembered it was daytime when she left. Could she have been travelling all day in the portal?
“I am Virgil. I am here to guide you to the sacred school: The Count’s Gurukula. I have stood in this very ground for as long as I can remember, guiding people before they step into the sacred Rivenden, and I will guide you as well,” Virgil said. Virgil was a tall man, 7 feet maybe or more. He was very easily towering above everyone even though he was standing at a great distance from everyone with his feet in the water of Rivenden. Lea’s aunt had told her all about Virgil and how he was always touching the water of Rivenden with his feet, held a green twig on his left hand and fire torch in the right. He was an old man with a bald head from a distance but the nearer you go to him, he looked a bit younger than before. “His eyes are of ever changing colors,” her aunt Jaclyn had told her but she couldn’t tell for sure as it was night time and the moon and the torch that Virgil was holding were the only source of light. "You will see things that you couldn’t have fathomed before. You will learn and understand what great power you hold. And you shall be well equipped for the war as there’s no weapon as powerful as self. But never forget! Discipline is of the utmost importance in The Gurukula. Now, your names will be called by your seniors, and you shall follow them to your respective boats. Remember! I see everything and each and every one of you,” Virgil concluded.
Lea got chills on her arms. This was it. She had been waiting for this for a long time.
“Beatrice Van der Bilt”
The names went on and the people around her went to their respective boats. Lea closed her eyes and held her breath. She was sure that there had been some kind of a mistake, and her name wouldn’t be called, and she’ll be left alone in this place with no way to return home to the normal human world.
Lea blinked her eyes in disbelief and hurried to the boat. She had almost climbed onto the boat with her suitcases in her hands when she heard a voice.
“You don’t have to carry your suitcases, Ophelia. Next time, how about you look around yourself and get an idea about what’s happening before doing anything,” a now familiar voice said. This guy again? She thought as she looked around herself, and no doubt, everyone had left their bags beside Virgil.
“I’ll take them there for you,” a guy said and she mumbled a thanks to him.
She climbed onto the boat, purposefully ignoring the hand her “senior” gave her to help.
After calling out some more names, Virgil bid the students goodbye and their boats moved towards the school.
“Welcome to Alterdam,” Lea whispered to herself as she watched the place she was going to spend her next four years, if not her life in.