Vanessa Marino, Leonine
One year ago — October 2015
As she’d said, once our breakfast was done, Zainab drove me to school although this time we packed into a car instead of her motorcycle. Although the drive was very long, it didn’t feel like it; I was too busy taking in the world I’d been imprisoned away from all these years.
All these new sights, sounds and smells that were also vaguely familiar, the smooth melodies coming out of the radio, the smell of the oceanside breeze and the wind in my mane took all of my attention. For once in years, I didn’t think of the fights ahead, the masters, the isolation or anything but the present moment.
After taking a boat ride, the first in my life, we arrived on a mountainous island shrouded in fog. We drove through the woods for a few minutes before stopping in front of a large brick wall, a gate a few meters from us. We got out and toward the gate, a woman opening it for us after Zainab talked to her.
“Here we are.” Zainab said, giving me my bag. “I’m sorry to say, but this is goodbye for now.”
“You’re not coming in with me?” I asked, my chest sinking.
“I’m afraid I have other things to attend to, but I’ve made sure to have someone much more knowledgeable about Ravenhold than me to be here and take care of you. I’m sure she’ll be here soo—” She didn’t finish her sentence that I heard someone speak from behind me.
“YoLionGuy!” I didn’t have the time to turn around that Tachyon was already in front of me. “Sup?” She said.
For the first time I had a good look at her. She kept her black hair short and perpetually messy. She was thinly built with long limbs and her skin was tanned. She clearly couldn’t stand still, fidgeting around like crazy; tapping foot and fingers, looking around every half-second.
“Oh hey. You’re Tachyon, right?” I asked remembering what Nusaybah had told me.
“What?” I flatly said.
“Just a tiny bit.” Zainab said with a smirk.
Tachyon closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. “I’m Lucie. Is that better?” Her words were still quickly spoken but not so much that I couldn’t understand.
“Yeah, I can understand you now.” I muttered.
“Sorry, it’s just hard to slow down to other people’s speed. Do you have a name? Can’t exactly keep calling you lion dude.”
“I’m actually a girl…” I muttered, feeling embarrassed.
“Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to be a jerk.”
“It’s alright. I know I don’t look like it…” I muttered looking away. “I’m Vanessa.”
“Well, V-girl, welcome to Ravenhold. Let me show you around, you’ll love it they have like everything.”
“I’ll leave you girls to it then.” Zainab said. “Goodbye and good luck Vanessa.”
She gave me a quick hug, which only had me freeze. She let go and took steps toward her car, making me thank her about a dozen times more as she waves a final goodbye as she sat down on the driver’s seat.
“Alright, tour time!” Lucie declared. “First thing to do is get you to the administration, that’s the central building.”
“So you’re staying here too?”
“Yeah, I’m a fourth year student though. But since I’m a purp I help the Legion once in a while.”
“Purple security rating.” She said, taking a purple badge off her clothes and showing it to me. “It’s the highest. Only two others got it in the whole school.” She declared before launching into a long explanation which I didn’t understand a word of…
I nodded absorbing what information I could register. As she spoke, Lucie got moving and even in her slow-mode I had to run to keep up with her. She took us to a big building in the middle of the place and went in. She headed toward a large office where people were working and stopped in front of one of the desk. I just froze as the guy there looked up from his things and at us.
“Can I help you?” He asked after a moment of silence.
“Hello…” I said. “I’m Vanessa…”
“Ah yes, the new student.” He said with a nod before searching around his messy desk. He retrieved a stack of papers and gave them to me along with a pen. I grabbed them but for a minute I just stared at the scribbles on the sheet of paper, trying to decipher their meaning.
“You alright?” Lucie asked.
“I don’t know how to read…” I admitted.
It took me a moment to answer and even then it was just a slight nod. “I know the letters and some of the sounds they make, but I’m not good at mixing them…”
“Why don’t I do it for you?”
I nodded and she snatched the pad and pen away, scribbling answered super fast, occasionally asking questions, some of which I didn’t know what they even meant; such what a vegetarian or a period are… Which according to Lucie, I was a ‘lucky bastard’ for not knowing…
“There. All done.” She declared, giving the papers to the secretary. “They’re putting you with a second year class since all the first year spots are filled up. You’ll have lots of catch-up to do, but I’ve seen you fight, you’ll be alright in that department.”
Not knowing what to answer, I simply nodded.
“Let’s see your new home.” She said beginning to walk.
She guided me to a house on the edge of the academy grounds and we went in. It didn’t take more than a second for everyone in the house to swarm to our side and begin throwing a thousand questions at me, which just made me freeze.
“Okay everyone!” Lucie yelled. “Back off for now, let her settle in and put down her bag.”
Seeing as I still wasn’t moving, she took my hand and guided me up a flight of stairs. We went into one of the room only to be met by three copies of the same girl, one of them lounging on the bed with a book, another at a desk in front of a computer and a third on a floor matt doing some stretching. They all turned simultaneous to look at me.
“Hey!” The bed one said getting up to meet me. “I’m Katrin.” She said in a foreign accent. I looked at the others, frowning. “Oh, we’re all the same person. I can be at multiple places at the same time.” She added.
“Oh okay… I’m Vanessa…” I said, not knowing what else to say.
I knew there were people with incredible powers but other than Tachyon, I’d never seen one in action before…
“Hey Katrin…” Lucie said from behind me.
“Oh hi Lucie…” Katrin answered awkwardly.
“You eh… Look good.”
“You too I guess.”
They both went silent and I looked back and forth between the two, seeing their tense body language.
“Welp… I better bail.” Lucie said. She was gone before I could even look at her.
“What just happened?” I asked, looking back at Katrin.
“Long story, you probably don’t want to know.” She said. “Why don’t you put your things down and we grab some food? You must be starving.”
The growling in my stomach agreed with her. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast with Zainab…
“Do you like hot dogs? there’s a stand in the park who makes amazing ones.”
“I don’t remember ever eating any…”
“Well, I have to introduce you. My treat.”