Astray Academy. Strength in loss. Loss. A school founded on loss. Free for those who have been abandoned after their Claiming. I had to roll my eyes as I walked away from the school. I was given a 'higher education' because I was unwanted.
Our house wasn't far from the school. Just two roads away. I stood at the edge of the busy dirt road watching wooden carts fly back and forth as they went on their way. Each one of their drivers came from the same place we did. I thought back to what it was like back in the old world.
I used to live in the city. New York. There were tall skyscrapers and shiny cars. Now it was like I was living in a different era. I looked at the horizon where to the right I could see the shape of the forest where the first school stood just in front of it. Across from there I saw the castle. Our dear royal family and our wonderful hospitable council who is holding us all hostage lived there.
When the road was clear I was able to cross and walk home.
A few days after the claiming a councilor from the school suggested that I room with some others who had been abandoned too and attend Astray. Our home was small and falling apart but we did the best we could with it.
Xio had to rebuild the front door and She and Jorah had worked together, somehow, to fix the stairs so that we could go up into the bedrooms.
As soon as I entered the house I could smell Thayer cooking in the kitchen. I kicked off my shoes and followed the smell. Thayer was a round guy with a long nose. His black curly hair and beard stood out as he bounced around the kitchen grabbing spices and searching through the drawers.
"Why do you insist on cooking for us every night? We can cook too." I told him
He turned and smiled at me standing in the doorway in my ugly brown knee length school uniform.
"I'm not cooking for you all. I'm cooking for myself. It just so happens that there is extra left over."
Upon first appearance Thayer looked like part Fire Clan with bright orange eyes that could stand out from a mile away and black skin over and under his eyelids. His hair was black but turned bright red in the light. Some of his veins, like the ones on his wrists, were black showing that he was part dark elf. It took a long time to believe that because he hid it so well back at First School.
"Thayer, You do too much." I sang shaking my head
"Zephyra, You worry too much." He copied me
I rolled my eyes and turned around to go upstairs.
As soon as I got up the stairs I was knocked against the stair railing as Xio walked by. Sometimes she forgot how strong she was. She was wearing ripped jeans and an old t-shirt. She had a hammer held tightly in her hand.
"Ow." I rubbed my shoulder
Xio turned around surprised.
"Oh, you're home." She said putting her free hand against her hip
"Yeah, I'm back." I mumbled standing up
She had pale grey skin and blue hair that looked like she had purposely made it into dreadlocks. The truth was that being part mermaid caused her hair to dry a lot more than anyone else's. It naturally formed tight braids but if you had ever seen her hair in the water you would see beautiful silky soft hair before it would dry again and twist itself back into braids.
"Did you see what Jorah did?" Her blue snakelike eyes shifted
"What?" I asked wearily
"He ruined what I was fixing."
"Uh oh." I said at a loss for words
Xio was the house 'Handy-man' and she liked everything she did to be neat and detailed. Jorah had the tendency to think he could do everything better.
“I perfectly fixed the leak in the bathroom ceiling and Jorah went behind my back and did it over again.”
"It needed more, Xio." I felt my eyes widen and turned toward the stern obnoxious voice
Jorah was something different. He had the same glowing orange eyes that Thayer did but his skin was transparent like the Wind Clan, like mine. His short spiked hair was blue but turned green in the light. He had long pointed ears and sharp teeth like Xio's except they were smaller and there were so many more.
"You refused to help me fix this big leak then you do this." The pupils of her snake eyes grew dangerously
She lifted her hammer and swung wildly. I flattened myself against the wall to dodge her hammer. Jorah backed further into the tiny hall. Her hammer fell through the air and landed back at her side.
"Xio, you know I only wanted to-"
"Jorah, stop!" I jumped behind him and put a hand over his mouth
"You're lucky she shut you up, Mutt."
I gasped at Xio's language. Even Jorah looked surprised. My hand fell from his mouth and we looked at each other before looking back at Xio. Back at school there was already so much torment from other students and so much pressure from being forced into a world we knew nothing about that I thought we had a silent agreement not to use this world's language.
Jorah tilted his head and one eyebrow came down
"So, I'm a Mutt. What does that make you? Oh, right a Bottom-Feeder."
"Can we just stop-" I froze
A sharp electrical shock went through me and I fell to my knees.
"Zephyra, is it happening again?"
Xio put a hand on my back gently but I groaned as the feel of her hand sent another painful wave through me.
"She needs to let it out." I could practically see Jorah rolling his eyes in my mind
"Shut up, Jorah. She doesn't want to."
"Zephyra, you are acting like a child just let it out."
"Nnnoooo." I gripped my arms tightly holding them against myself
"Come on, let's go outside." Xio put her hands under my armpits and pulled me up. I held in the yell and squeezed my eyes shut tighter.
"Tell me when dinner is ready."
"Are you telling a really bad joke or something? I need your help."
"Do it on your own, Xio."
I heard his footsteps stomping away. Xio walked me down the stairs trying not to put too much pressure on my back. I could feel the skin on my back beginning to tear. Beside me Xio cussed under her breath before she yelled out
Thayer came shuffling from the kitchen. He didn't ask or say anything he just turned me toward him and hugged me. Xio picked up my legs and the two carried me outside. If someone didn't understand when they saw this it would look odd but this was the best way to handle an attack and the least painful way to get me outside.
"I see blood." Xio's voice started to shake
"This is fine, drop her here." Thayer set me down
Xio followed him and set my legs down. She unbuttoned the top of my dress pulling it from my shoulders. The first time this happened I was embarrassed but now that Thayer had seen it all it didn't bother me.
The skin of my back had fully torn now. Sweat was pouring down my forehead and my chest was turning red.
"It's ok," Thayer patted my arm "Just let it out."
The last wave hit me. It was the worst but I was so glad it was almost over. I felt pressure inside my back and then a weight was lifted off of me and I could finally breath again. I opened my eyes and sat up looking on either side of me.
Two large white wings that were stained red were spread out on either side of me. They were folded in toward my back. I refused to straighten them out.
Both Thayer and Xio looked at them. Thayer wiped some of the blood away from a feather.
"What do you want to do?" Xio asked
"Help me put these back. I don't ever want to see them again."