Monday had arrived, and with it, class work. My day consisted of organizing papers, explaining various aspects of literature to vampires, answering questions, and talking about some upcoming essays. I was curious to see how my bloodsucking students fared in the writing world, especially since my focus was on creative writing.
Eventually, I made my way through the halls of the college building, passing by several murals depicting the clash of dragons or other monsters. Now, I knew that had historical relevance, and wasn’t just fantasy. The realization that someday I’d be a powerful mage struck me, and it felt surreal. I gave a nod to several teachers as I passed, eventually coming upon a meeting hall.
A long wooden table was set up with many chairs with plenty of cushioning. The walls were an off-white with eraser boards set up, absent of markings for now. The carpet was a deep navy blue, and the scent of floral air freshener hung in the air.
Several people were seated here, but I spotted a certain biology professor that I made my way over to sit next to. Kelsy was wearing her usual floppy black hat, but no lab coat today, just a fancy blouse and some dark pants. She, like me, wore some heavy eyeliner, brought out further by her square glasses. A bright smile bedazzled her lips as I took my seat.
In a whisper, Kelsy said, “Hey Luna. How are you? Oh, did the tour go well?”
Giving my best friend a nod, I said in a low voice, “Yes, it was surprisingly pleasant. How have your classes been going?”
“Very busy, but it’s neat seeing vampires and shifters interested in biology. I have a feeling that I have some future scientists in my class,” Kelsy replied.
The chattering among professors dulled as the door opened, and in entered one of the most powerful entities on campus. He loomed at over 6 feet tall, dressed with a leather jacket and loose pants of the same material. His ears were pointed, and he had spiked piercings going down them. This was joined by more spikes on the bridge of his nose, and upon his left eyebrow. He had snake-bite hoops on his lips, and he scowled to reveal dagger-like fangs, similar to that of a vampire.
However, he was nothing of the sort. For, coming out from his slicked, medium-length dark brown hair, there rose up curved horns. His skin was fair, which brought out the pure black sclera of his eyes that had a brightly glowing red iris in the center. Finally, from behind him lashed a whip-like tail with spines upon it. Within his clawed hand, he held a book, which he placed upon the table in front of him as he took a seat.
“I thank you all for gathering here today, and am glad to hear the first week went well. I’ve updates on the going-ons from enemies attempting to abolish the harmony. Rest assured, the human professors here will be protected right along with the students,” Hades explained. I wasn’t surprised in the slightest, as we were informed about the dangers during these regular meetings.
Beside me, Kelsy tensed, a common reaction from her upon seeing the king of the underworld. Correct, you heard me right. Hades passed on his godly duties within the realm of the dead to a different underworld god, apparently, and decided to use his ‘vacation’ to help us here since he was friends with King Goliath. Sound confusing? I could barely follow it either, but here he was.
Anyway, I glanced over to my friend as Hades droned on, leaning over to whisper, “Why do you always react that way around him? We both know that all demons aren’t actually evil, and it depends on the individual. I never took you for being religious.”
Kelsy bit her lip, reaching up to adjust her glasses nervously before allowing her hazel gaze to dart over to me. “Oh bother, Luna, I’m obvious, aren’t I? It’s not that I think he’s evil… not at all, actually, I just… find him really… you know…”
I furrowed my brow and returned to looking at Hades, noting his calm composure and his tail flicking like a cat’s every so often. He had a lot of respect around this campus, perhaps due to his connection to the king.
Speaking of which, my eyes landed upon a fancy vampire dressed in a tuxedo, who had long ebony hair spilling out of a black tophat. It framed the pale skin of his face, and he appeared intently listening to Hades’s updates. I recalled my interactions with him shortly after the city was liberated from his tyrant of a brother, Ash Elapid. Ash had taken the city shortly after vampires emerged from the shadows in 2019 and plunged the world into chaos.
Goliath here, though, had a heart for harmony, I knew. He was the one who set up this college, and he was the one who hired me based on my resume. So, in all technicality, my boss was a king. However, he insisted I call him just ‘Goliath’ rather than ‘your majesty.”
Next to him stood a woman with fiery red hair, fair skin, and venom-green eyes. Sam Viper, the queen, had horns like Hades coming out from her hair. However, the tail lashing behind her with ruby red scales was thicker, and she was no demon. The half-dragon had aided in saving the city with King Goliath, and I was grateful for it. She made a few rumbling growls every so often at the threats of enemy kingdoms. Previously a vampire hunter, I couldn’t blame her for the deep hatred. How ironic, though, that she ended up with one.
After briefly giving a smile to the royal couple, my attention returned to Kelsy, who was avoiding looking toward Hades at all costs. I still had no idea what she was trying to express, so I nudged her again. “What do you mean by that?”
“Oh Luna, I…” Kelsy whispered, her cheeks reddening. She reached up with a black nail and nervously returned a wandering strand of her dyed-black hair to behind her ear.
That’s when it clicked, and I slowly began to grin. “…Wait. You do this every time you see him. I think I’m starting to understand.”
“Understand? Understand what?” Kelsy gasped, growing more flustered. Deciding to tease my friend on this debacle later, I finally tuned into the discussion, taking out a notebook and adjusting my schedule accordingly.
Hades’s deep voice shifted to another subject. “Now, I have word from a demon in Los Angeles, Loki, that two stray royal vampires were on their way here, fleeing from their mother. Who here has heard of Elizabeth Bathory?”
The room went silent, eyes widening, as whispers broke out. I exchanged a shocked glance with Kelsy in disbelief. Wasn’t that a historical figure, and wasn’t she dead?
A woman stood up, her wavy black hair spilling down her back. The most noticeable feature about her was her eyes. Her right eye was glazed over and white, with a huge gash over it. The other was a deep brown with more intensity and intelligence than most I’d ever seen before. Her deep midnight-toned skin was dotted with heavy scarring, and when she spoke, I could see dangerously sharp teeth. Like Hades, she wasn’t a vampire–but she wasn’t a demon either. The famous bestiary professor of Cobratongue University, Darcia Deville, was a Tasmanian devil shapeshifter. Admittedly, her class was one of my favorites; she taught the ins-and-outs of magical creatures.
At the moment, her strong voice rang out as she said, “She’s here, in the United States?!” Giving a low snarl, she continued, placing her clawed hands on the table and staring Hades down. “Elizabeth Bathory is one of the most dangerous ancient vampires to ever live. But I thought she slaughtered all of her offspring. Could this be some sort of trap?”
“No,” Hades replied calmly, letting out a sigh and furrowing his brow. “Unfortunately, it is not. These royals happen to be legitimate–my source confirms as much. They have been horribly abused. I do not feel right turning them away. Doctor Deville, you therefore know the type of magic they were born with.”
“I do,” Darcia confirmed, leaning up and pacing in front of her chair. Her white T-shirt, which had the pawprint of the marsupial she could shift into, was torn in several places, likely an intentional asset of her style. After a pause, she muttered, “Potent mind magic. How do we know these kids won’t go haywire on what we’ve established here in New England?”
“We don’t,” Hades says simply. “Which is why I’m going to have Ares test them. If they lash out at him with their magic, they will be lying about their ignorance. They encountered humans in the shattered California city. I will be going to receive them. I seek to house the lost little lambs. You are among the most powerful that I know. I would appreciate your help with this, and plan on assigning them to your class.”
The shifter stared Hades down, then slowly began to smirk. “Alright. Fine. How are they around humans?”
“Very ignorant,” Hades responded. His eyes fell upon me right then, and he tilted his head. “Which is why I have a favor to ask the two human professors here that I trust the most.” I blinked, rising from my seat and giving a confused bow. “Not necessary, Professor Luna Miller. We are all equals here,” Hades said firmly, flicking his tail and providing me a fully-fanged smile. “Now. You and Doctor Kelsy Gardener have your heads on your shoulders more firmly than any other human teachers here. Even with only a week’s progress, I can tell you are very determined. Which is why I hesitate to ask you a favor like this, as you have so much on your plate. But you two are the most up-to-the-task that I know, for this.”
Kelsy straightened up next to me, standing as well. I turned to look at her, noting the spark in her hazel gaze. When it came to things like this, she was all business. Truly a professor at heart.
Looking back over to Hades, I questioned, “Thank you, sir. What is it you’d like for us to do?”
“The two lost lambs, Derek and Fallynn Accipitrid, will need to learn about manners around humans. They have no experience with ‘free humans’, and I would like you to help them learn both the proper way to act around your kind, as well as the technology your kind has developed. They are very sheltered. I have no qualms, whatsoever, if you decline,” he said, reaching up to stroke his beard, which was a couple inches in length.
I replied, “I’m fine with this task. Kelsy?”
Kelsy provided a nod, a fierce gleam to her eyes. “Me as well. I’d love to help.”
“Perfect. They will be arriving soon,” Hades said, flicking his tail with satisfaction. “I will keep you in the know. For now, good luck with your classes.”
Dismissed from the meeting, I walked along with Kelsy once more, who was deep in thought. The stars twinkled above as usual, and I yawned, muttering to my friend, “We have a lot on our plate, but I’m really honored we were picked to help these mysterious vampires out.”
Kelsy nodded, her eyes trained forward, her gaze far away. “Yeah, agreed. Gee, I thought we were invisible to the higher-ups. I guess I was wrong…”
“Yeah. Are you starting up your experiment again?” I asked her, my voice tinged with concern. I glanced down to the bracelets on her wrists, knowing that vampires would start biting her again for her self-experimentation if the answer was yes.
Kelsy nodded, prompting me to sigh. She shot me a glance and said, “Oh Luna, you worry so much about me, but I’m fine! I promise. I just get a bit more tired from it, is all. But I’m taking care of myself.”
“You? Taking care of yourself and not overworking? Now I’ve heard everything,” I chuckled. I pulled out my phone, checking the time. “Want to watch a movie at my apartment to cool off a little bit?”
“I’d love to!”
“Excellent,” I said, and then smirked evilly. “We can talk about your apparent crush on the king of the underworld during that.”
“Oh bother Luna, I don’t–how did you–” Kelsy sputtered, causing me to burst into giggles. I’d have fun tormenting my friend with this, I will admit.