Síocháin 09, 10,258
Duchy of Nirumbee
I waved goodbye to my parents as King Alister closed the gate he’d opened from the palace. He had such amazing control over the dimensional gates, not only could he open gates that lead to other dimensions, like the one where Earth was located, he could also open gates anywhere he’d been before. There hadn’t been a ruler like Alister in the history of Theria and I knew how lucky I was that he considered me part of his family.
There were thirty of us standing in a clearing, with a forest to our backs and buildings before us. Fiona Drake stood next to her husband, Albert, and she held their babies, Isthe and Geordan, in her arms. There were fifteen of us who were about the same age and another thirteen who ranged in ages between twelve and seventeen; all of us were going to be considered first-year students.
I looked closer at the wooden buildings that dotted the campus. They were constructed of logs and looked like they had grown out of the ground. The rolling hills were covered in green grass, which looked delicious, and the buildings complimented the beauty of the area rather than detracting from the natural setting. There was a small lake in the distance, in front of the largest building and I could see people swimming and boating there. I looked longingly at the water and imagined diving into its cool depths and wondered when I’d get the chance.
I was startled out of my reverie by a voice filled with disappointment.
“Oh, the King left already?”
The man speaking was only about five feet tall, had a very wide smile and red hair that stuck up all over his head. He was wearing the long tunic and drawstring pants favored by most of the people on Theria since they were easy to remove before shifting. His clothing was elaborately embroidered with the various shifter creatures, and a golden hat that looked like a fez adorned his head.
“He had pressing matters back at the palace. The King and Queen will return for Parent’s Weekend,” Albert Drake answered.
“That’s fine then,” he sighed then turned his body slightly to address the rest of us.
“Welcome to Shapeshifter Academy, my name is Dean Winters.
“I’m sure many of you are nervous about being away from your families for the first time but I want to assure you that we want to be like family while you are with us. Mr. and Mrs. Drake will serve as your house parents and you can take any issues, cares or concerns to them, but the other teachers and I are here for you as well. We will hold an orientation gathering tomorrow, but for today I want you to get settled in your new home.”
He gestured to the large one-story structure to the right of the lake and lead us towards it. “The first-year dorm is self-contained and normally has room for fifty students. Since you are the first class integrating from Earth, we’ve decided to house you all together rather than divide you by age and classes.
“There are Shapeshifter Academies still in operation in each of the Duchies across the Kingdom of Theria, and there was one more near the palace but it hasn’t been in operation since the Great Upheaval. You’re more than likely to transfer back to the academy closer to your home at the end of this term, so we feel it’s best for you to form relationships with your fellow students who lived on Earth. Classes don’t begin until Seconday so you’ll have all day today and tomorrow to explore the campus and get the things you need to prepare for classes. Your uniforms have already been added to the wardrobes in your rooms and you’ll find your names next to your doors. Boys will find their rooms on the first floor and girls will find their rooms on the second.
“The Drakes have a suite on the first floor next to the dining hall. You will have your morning and evening meals with your fellow first-year students but you will lunch in the common cafeteria. You will find orientation packets in each of your rooms as well.” He clapped his hands and bowed slightly towards us. “I believe that’s all you need to know for now. If you have any problems, please speak to Mr. and Mrs. Drake first but you can find me once you have discussed things with them. Ta-ta!” he said, waved and then quickly walked away.