Kelsy and I would be helping those new arrivals out when they were situated tomorrow, but prior to that, I had a full day of classes ahead of me. They went by quickly, as there was still a lot of paperwork to get situated. Even the end of the world couldn’t avoid that, apparently.
Settling into one of the final classes of my day with Dr. Deville, I leaned back into my chair, taking note of the mixture in this class. Vampires, shifters, and humans primarily made up the studentbase, however every so often we got the odd fae or underworld humanoid, people I still had much to learn about.
I looked over to the front of the room, noting the professor setting up her laptop and grumbling under her breath. Today she was wearing a simple black tank top and ripped black jeans. Her eyes were done up with dark eyeliner and red eyeshadow, which complemented the onyx of her skin very well. She tapped her claws on a few keys before the projector was set, then returned to the front of the class.
The desks and chairs were set up in an elevated fashion, with the bottom row being the lowest, and the top on the highest of the slope, similar to American movie theaters. There were left-handed desks dotted around the room for proper accommodations, along with a way to turn the stairs into a wheelchair-ramp if necessary.
My eyes fell upon the large door that always held some sort of creature thought to be myth at one point. What could be waiting behind there? The professor wandered around her desk and faced the class, leaning against the back of it. “Today,” she said, holding an excited tone. “We will be talking about the hydra. You all have been stressed and getting used to the first day of classes, well this lesson will be more interesting than most of them. That much I can promise. Especially Ares’s class.” Darcia sneered, having a somewhat-rivalry with the other professor.
A few murmurs were sparked due to that, along with minor debates here and there. Darcia cleared her throat, loudly, then motioned over to the door-of-mystery. “Quiet down. Raise your hand if you want to meet the hydra now.” Every single hand rose up. “Raise your hand if you want to go over the powerpoint first.” None of us raised a hand to that, not even me, a fellow professor.
What? I really wanted to see that hydra.
Giving a dramatic pause, Darcia grinned to reveal her sharp teeth, similar to those of a vampire. Of course, she exclusively ripped flesh, being a shapeshifter. Even those that shifted into herbivorous animals were apparently carnivores by default, based on shifter diet requirements. Anyway, our professor approached the door, opening it to allow a gigantic beast hobble out.
I recognized the creature, with its jet black razor-sharp scales and trunk-like body set on two legs. Sky, the hydra that Ares had been riding, was a special guest here for this class. At the moment, despite her fierce look, she had pink bows tied upon her three necks. The class gasped in awe, including me. I leaned forward and widened my eyes with delight, since it didn’t matter that I saw her before, she was magnificent all the same.
“Sky has an unfortunate story. You see, she was captured by the evil organizations in Huntsmaster City not too long ago, and used as a weapon against Elapid Kingdom. The King and Queen promptly fought her off but didn’t kill her. Huntsmaster had her eggs captive, and she was distraught while in rehabilitation,” Darcia explained, much to the class’s dismay. My heart clenched, and I stared down to my hands.
However, the professor continued with, “We were able to save her eggs. Everyone, I’m pleased to introduce you to Pond. He’s only a few months old, but hydra grow fast.”
A tiny version of Sky came tumbling out, tripping over his two legs and falling down onto the ground. He was the size of a large gator, yet still much smaller than his mother. He had two heads, which turned to look at each other, snapping their jaws and giving several growls. He then looked toward the class, his long, flat tail seeming to wag slightly like that of a dog’s. Several hisses and growls came billowing from his long jaws.
The class remained quiet so as to not disturb him, but the enthusiasm in the room could be cut with a knife. Vampires, shifters, and humans alike were wearing gigantic smiles and leaning forward, trying to get a look of the little guy. Pond bounded around the classroom a bit, stopping to say hi to various students.
When he got to me, I cautiously held my hand out, which he sniffed, then nudged with one head, allowing his tongue to hang out like a dog’s as he stared me down. His other head was sniffing curiously at a student in the other aisle.
Now, Darcia went into explanation on the ordeal. “Sky brought along Pond, since he’s the most behaved of her clutch. This is a learning experience as well. I want you to pay attention to Sky’s mannerisms.” She nodded to the adult hydra, who peered around the classroom.
All three of Sky’s heads moved at once as she did so, whereas Pond’s heads stared off into two directions without any synchronization. Darcia allowed whispers to cascade across the room before raising her hand for silence. “Who here notices the difference between the adult and youngling hydra?”
I raised my hand, smiling brightly as Darcia pointed to me. “Sky’s heads move in tandem, whereas Pond’s look off in different directions,” I said, my voice holding an air of confidence. That paid off, as Darcia gave a nod, clapping her hands.
“You got it, Luna. Yes, everyone, think about what Luna said here–this is on the powerpoint, which I’ll email to you, but drill it into your minds. Because it MIGHT be, and I’m not promising, but it MIGHT be on the exam. Hydra heads can take two states of being–where they share one mind among all heads, or each individual head has a different one. This can lead to heavy mental stress on the creature. This is also entirely random, and has no basis in genetics. Pond needs to avoid much conflict in his life, for if he grows too many heads, the stress could become overbearing. Contrary to popular belief, this is why hydra avoid a lot of battle and live solitary lifestyles,” Darcia said, motioning Pond over and giving the little guy a big hug.
Sky let out a rumbling purr-like noise and lowered her heads, resting them on Darcia’s shoulders. Darcia chuckled and said softly, “I visited Sky and Pond to make sure they were alright after the conflict in Huntsmaster City. They still appreciate that.”
The class proceeded as usual, with the professor going over the powerpoint and soon dismissing the class. I remained at my desk, wanting to borrow some books from Darcia before heading to my final classes for the night. Sky and Pond made their exit, likely turning it in as well. Soon, just me and the other professor remained, and I rose from my seat.
“That was quite the lesson,” I said breathlessly, prompting a nod from Darcia. She placed a clawed hand on my shoulder.
“You’re doing great, Luna. Read a few of your articles for the paper. Well done with the in-depth sourcing. Are you here still for questions, book borrowing, or both? Oh, and thank you for agreeing to help with those royals.” She paused, narrowing her eyes for a moment and growing distant. There was, as expected, clarity to only her working eye, which showed a brilliant brown at the moment, though was tinged with the slightest hint of red. “You two need to be careful, though. Those royals could be unpredictable.”
“We will,” I said with a confident tone, smiling toward the professor. “But yes, on a lighter note, I’d love to borrow some more books from you. Your library is so extensive,” I added, beaming at her.
She returned my smile, then glanced toward the door of the classroom. A small form darted in, and when it drew closer, I realized it was an albino rat with red eyes that glowed brightly. It crawled toward Darcia, baring its fangs up at her, displaying the fact that there were daggers for teeth rather than that of a normal rat’s. Its ears were ripped, and its body had many cut marks all over it, which showed through the white fur.
Darcia rolled her eye and commented, “Stop with the theatrics, love. C’mon, you know you’re not fooling anyone. Luna’s the last one here, and you don’t intimidate my students much anymore.”
The rat shimmered, and standing before us was suddenly a male vampire with a quite muscular build. He was shirtless at the moment, which showed many laceration scars dotting the ivory of his flesh. On his right arm was the tattoo of a bat being sliced into via a knife. He wore a golden chain with a spider charm upon it, accompanied by golden hoops on his eyebrows and ears. His dyed-platinum hair was slicked back, falling to about shoulder length. His red eyes fastened upon Darcia as he provided a bored sneer in her direction. In a disinterested tone, he said, “I wasn’t trying to intimidate anyone, darling. That’s just how I am.”
“Right. And allergic to shirts, apparently,” Darcia grumbled, giving me a look, to which I covered my mouth to hold in a chuckle. Then, she looked back to her lover, returning his sneer. “How was your day? You weren’t walking around like that, were you? Not appropriate, idiot.”
“Why would I care?” Smoke replied with a yawn, flashing his dagger-like fangs and moving closer to Darcia. He was taller than her by a decent amount, so when he arrived behind her, he had to kneel down slightly and wrap his arms around her torso, just under her breasts, and rest his chin upon her shoulder.
Ignoring him, for now, Darcia’s attention returned to me. “You’ll have to deal with this loser in your class. Finally convinced him to take a few, despite his insistence that he doesn’t need it.”
A light groan emitted from the vampire, and he said, “Because I don’t. I’m a glorified body guard here, I don’t need to attend classes.”
Giving Smoke the most evil smile I could muster, I replied, “Oh, your assignments will be extra difficult, Robert. Considering you put me and a few other humans through hell before you turned a new leaf, you deserve it.”
Darcia let out a roaring laugh and had to clutch her stomach, pressing her hands over Smoke’s, who still hadn’t let go. Rather, he was wearing a deadpan expression and grumbling to himself. His story was super surreal, considering he was a decently potent villain prior to being put into his place by Darcia and friends. He’d done a complete 180, working for a former vampire tyrant, but now embracing his want to help the world and love for the shifter.
“Professor Luna, I like how you think. I’ll go fetch the books for you. You want the usual historical stories of various monsters, I assume?” Darcia asked, giving a bright smile at my nod. “Perfect.”
With that, the shifter tapped on Smoke’s clawed hands, causing him to reluctantly let go and step aside. “Oh, you’ll be able to be all lovey-dovey later, you damn rat,” Darcia growled, giving him the side-eye. A tinge of blush formed on Smoke’s cheeks as he looked away, narrowing his gaze. “Don’t even deny it, I can feel your emotions.”
I tilted my head, knowing a little bit about the blood bond between them, but not much. I’d have to inquire later. For now, I accepted the books offered by the bestiary professor, and soon I was on my way home for the night.
Yawning rather loudly, I stretched and as soon as I arrived at my apartment, put the books away, and collapsed upon my bed. No doubt, tomorrow would be even more busy, but I was prepared.