The air twisted and screeched in a purple sky. Creatures beyond one's imagination looked up at a wretched portal absorbing anything in its path even the magic in the air. Dark shadows screeched as they were ripped to pieces by the portal. Then it halted. It took a more stable form and a character could be seen on the other side. The visage of a young boy with broken bones and wounds covering his little body. He reached out into this realm for power. To gain aid.
A shade crawled carefully towards the frightening portal into a new world. It wanted to leave this realm. To feed on unsuspecting victims. So it took the leap. The portal closed behind the shade but still let it through. The twisted creature now stared at a blue sky and sensed all the people living underneath it.
It would not survive in this world. Not without a host. The shade sniffed the air for the right kind of properties for him to feed on. Fear. Anger. It needed those to feed on. Then it sensed it. The person perfect for his desires. His new host…
A head covered in blond, shaggy hair on a thin body walked timidly along the lockers. Two emerald eyes looked around to find something familiar in this strange environment. It was new to him as he had just transferred though all the other students had arrived a month earlier.
Blake Oakley wandered slowly down the corridor of Vale Academy, a private school by the Caban-Coch reservoir in Wales. It's just a street away from the local village Mactire located by the Claerwen Valley. If you walk over the Gareg du dam you will enter Elan valley and the Elan village.
Forest and dams. That's all there is in this area.
Blake's family was poor. They lived in a humble village in the district of Kingsland. His village had farms, a fire station, a rugby club and too many inns for such a small village. His family are farmers and could hardly afford a decent school but with a bit of luck and an artistic side, Blake was able to get a scholarship to Vale academy. A school so elusive it wasn't even on the map.
Blake straightened his clothes trying to hide his bruises. He was happy to have left his old life behind as his bullies could not follow him here. Though, he had not dared enter the school's art club called the Art Guild, which had granted him the scholarship, until the bruises had faded.
A goth boy hollered at Blake down the corridor. Alex Lloyd was his roommate and fortunately very kind, despite his scary exterior. Blake himself was relieved that he was able to make a friend. Coming from a village where everyone knew each other did not prepare him for a new life filled with strangers.
"Bloody hell, it's cold outside. The mist sure lays thick in the old forest. Alright, Blake?"
Blake gave his friend a shy smile and Alex pulled out a thick scarf from his bag. He looked like he had two layers of clothes. Blake couldn't understand the need for such a thick layer of clothes in late summer but he didn't want to argue. His uninspiring answer did not bother Alex either who merely clicked his tung.
"Good morning, sunshine. Ready for a day among the snotty delinquents?"
Quite an accurate description. Vale Academy was for the wealthy but most was sent here because of some dreadful deed they did at home. They were sent out to the lush countryside as a repercussion of their dastardly deeds. There were some exceptions, though.
Blake was suddenly almost pushed over from a force behind him. Alex caught him though before he fell onto the floor head first.
"Watch it, you bloody wanker!"
Blake rubbed his back and looked at one of the exceptions. Jaxon Price looked at them with his wild appearance and piercing blue eyes. His face burst into a charming smile.
"Don't be miffed! I mean no offense. Your mate was merely too small to see."
"Rubbish! If he was so bloody small then you would not have smashed into him."
Jaxon turned toward Blake who felt his heart skip a beat.
"Pardon me. I was a tad careless. You alright?"
Blake felt his face going red and he grabbed Alex’s jacket before shaking his head. When Blake noticed Jaxon frowning he started to nod instead.
"Is he alright?"
"He was hit by an eight feet troll. It's bloody certain that he is bruised."
"I'm… I'm fine. Look… No broken bones."
Blake stretched his limbs to prove that he was fine but stopped as Jaxon gawked at him. Blake twisted uncomfortably. Jaxon looked over at Alex who stopped him before he could ask.
"He's alright! Blake here is new. He came all the way here from some backwaters village in England so he is rather timid. Like one of those fluffy bunnies."
"I fancy bunnies. Mostly to eat though. Either way, I need to go. The rugby team is to gather in the field. Do come to watch our games."
Blake watched Jaxon walk away before he turned around and looked straight at Blake.
"Welcome to Vale Academy, coinín!"
Blake finally dared come out from behind Alex when Jaxon finally was out of sight. Jaxon belonged to one of the only wealthy families which actually lived in the village of Mactire. Claerwen Valley did not have a large population but the Price family had a large estate just outside Mactire. They have lived here for centuries and own a large portion of the forest. Though they appeared no different from the farmers in Claerwen Valley.
"A fit bloke that," Alex said slowly and Blake sighed.
"He sure left you in shambles! Well, if you fancy men then I guess Jaxon is the prime example of the male species though I heard he has a girlfriend."
Blake wanted to bury himself in embarrassment. It had taken Alex just a few days to notice Blake's attraction to his own gender. Apparently, he had not hidden it well. Blake could only hope that it wouldn't lead to any trouble in the future. Small villages can be lovely but when his homosexuality came into light, he had been furiously bullied in his village. Children can be as cruel as the parents that just watch with pity in their eyes.
"Naturally he has a girlfriend."
"Don't look so down, mate. This is an all-boys school. There is bound to be someone willing to shag you."
Blake felt his face turn scarlet as Alex showed him the way to his class.
"By the way. What did he call me? Coinin?"
"Coinín. It's Irish. Seen the word in some old recipes. It means rabbit."
Jaxon ran towards the player in front of him. His opponent carried the ball. Jaxon's focus went down to the opponent's thigh as Jaxon went down low with an inhuman growl. Both he and his opponent went down hard on the field and Jaxon could hear his teammates holler as his dump tackle was a success.
"And that's how you do it, whelps. I knew that you had at least some of my blood in you."
Jaxon took off his gear and grinned at his older brother Kai, who also was the P.E teacher and coach. Not that they really needed a coach as they rarely play in matches and certainly not in tournaments. The rugby team was only to get exercise and give a focus for the more wild students.
Jaxon heard a growl from the ground and watched his mate Aeron Evans try to rise. Aeron's ebony skin was covered in mud and Jaxon saw him roll his brown eyes.
"Bloody hell, mate. A dump tackle. Are you trying to kill me?"
Jaxon helped Aeron on his feet with a burst of laughter.
"I needed to show the newbies some moves and maybe even gain some new recruits. There is a lot of spectators here today."
"So you decided to throw a dump tackle on the captain."
"I'm a full-back! That's what I do."
"Your job is to kick the ball. Are you any good at that?"
"I don't know. You never seem to reach the end of the field."
Aeron groaned but waved at the spectators that looked ecstatic.
"Still wish there would be more girls though."
"In an all-boys school? Maybe you should try playing at Elan Academy. I'm sure you would look fetching in a skirt."
"I would look adorable in a skirt, mind you."
"Well, it's better without ladies. They are too distracting."
"Says the guy with a girlfriend."
Jaxon growled and his eyes flashed in an unnatural light and Aeron raised his hands in surrender before walking over to the newbies to give them some pointers.
Jaxon looked out over the field. It was a small group this year. Only two wolves. Some witches from the Elan Coven had dared to enter the rugby team even if Jaxon fully expected them to quit as they would most likely be bullied by the wolves. The natural world did not blend well with the mystical one.
His family are mostly alphas, the strongest of the wolves, and were famous among his own people to receive the spirit of a wolf at a young age. Not all of the same bloodline receives a wolf spirit as the spirits sometimes choose an outsider but all three of the sons of the Price family gained a wolf.
His own wolf spirit called Nightmane was one of the oldest of his pack. An alpha who had chosen him when he was four years old. Four years was young for being chosen by a wolf spirit and among his people it was a sign of greatness.
Except for his own pack, they have some members in the ruby team chosen by other spirits. Two foxes, a bunch of bears, and even a lynx. Though lynxes often keep to themselves. The school only has around five lynxes from what he had heard. Otherwise, they had a lot of wolves, deer, horses, and bears in this school.
Most came from other parts of the country but his pack was welcoming to all. Even witches from Elan valley. Though they often got into fights with the wolves. Druids worked better with the animal spirits than witches with their secret societies and wealthy lifestyle. No humility at all.
There hardly was any humans in the academy. The few students who are humans are often from supernatural families. Such as a wolf family, but they themselves were not chosen by a wolf in their own pack. They are often sent to other packs in hope of being chosen by spirits of other wolves packs.
Unfortunately, few have been chosen. His family guards over fifty wolf spirits and is one of the largest packs in the United Kingdom. Or at least they could be if the spirits actually chose a host. But none have been chosen for a long time. Aeron was the last one.
Jaxon's thoughts wandered to a young lad with a timid appearance. The quiet boy from the hall was without a doubt human. He had not smelled a spirit of an animal or magic on the lad. He smelled of earth and grain. Not an uncomfortable smell for a wolf but those with spirits of animals rarely enters cities or farming villages. They needed forests and lakes. Witches keep to the cities were their unnatural practices will be more appreciated. The boy might be related to a druid but then he would have smelled of herbs.
Those fearful, emerald eyes which barely met his. No, those weren't the eyes of someone who had seen the other side. An ordinary human without knowledge of the supernatural. Rare, but not unheard of in Elan and Vale Academy. Some humans were brought in because they had the potential towards the arcane or the natural world. Maybe a distant descendant of a witch or a wolf. A descendant of one who had received a spirit has the potential to receive one as well. But they are hard to find.
A smile came onto Jaxon’s face. If that one was an animal spirit then he must be a rabbit. There is no other animal that suited that lad. He could feel Nightmare agreeing. His wolf fancied the boy and could imagine the fun it would have hunting him through the forest. Jaxon shook his head to hunt away from the picture of him hunting a little white rabbit throughout the forest in his wolf form. He needed to focus on the game. Maybe it wasn't just girls who were distracting.
Blake and Alex snuck under the stands. The lessons were done for the day and they went on a break.
"Why are we standing here?"
Alex lit up a cig and inhaled it with a sigh.
"This is the best place to smoke without having a teacher nag. Though I suppose coach Kai must surely know of this place with his sense of smell."
Blake looked between the stand towards the field in the hope of seeing some of the players. Or to be specific. A player.
"Is he sensitive to smoke?"
"Not really. More like, a bloody good nose. Like a hound. Looking for something? Or someone?"
Blake shook his head furiously and avoided Alex's eyes. But did sneak a few glances at the player with the number 15. That was Jaxon's number after all.
"Well, though I wouldn't want to ruin your jolly good time but you need to go to the Art Guild. They did give you the scholarship so it would be proper to actually show yourself at least."
Alex started to walk towards a building behind the main one as Blake quickly followed.
"What if they don't fancy me?"
"Fancy? I'm fairly sure that has nothing to do with it. They gave you a scholarship for your artistic talent, not for your personality. From what I hear the Art Guild has plenty of unique personalities that no one fancies. But they are good at painting, photograph or creating music. Whatever you art nobs do."
"I paint, mind you. Then are you in the journalist club? Maybe the Literature Club. I cannot really imagine you as an athlete."
"Firstly, I would be an impeccable athlete if I wasn't so bloody sluggish. Secondly, I hardly write my essays so why would I join the nutters that write or read for amusement. Thirdly, I'm in my own club. I call it to slumber your day away club."
"You sleep all day?"
"Mate, I'm knackered. Naturally, I sleep."
They enter the giant building which belonged to the Art Guild. They went up the stairs and Alex stopped outside two giant wooden doors. He knocked before entering.
The room was enormous and light filled every corner of it. A young man around Blake's age stood at the center in front of a canvas and Blake had to rub his eyes as he could swear that he saw some orb of lights fly around the man. When he looked back the orbs were gone and the room seemed a bit darker than when he entered.
The man's brown eyes turned to them and he gave them a gentle smile. He was dressed in a white silken shirt and looked like a prince from a fairytale.
"Mr. Lloyd, It's a rare pleasure. Might I ask what you doing here?"
"Bloody hell, you sound old. You may be a senior but merely by one year. No need to sound like an old fart."
"Charming Lloyd. But you did not answer my question."
"Right! You might ask what I'm doing here."
"Hilarious. What do you want?"
Blake tried to speak up but the words were stuck in his throat. It didn't help when the man turned to him and Blake turned crimson under his gaze. Why must he be so timid?
"This is Blake Oakley. He-"
The man interrupted Alex and moved towards Blake.
"Ah, Welcome Mr. Oakley! We have waited for your arrival. Though we were a tad worried when you did not arrive last week. We feared you might not have found the Art Guild."
"It's an enormous house at the back of the school," Alex replied sarcastically.
"Indeed! Awfully hard to find if you do not go to the backyard which not many are in need of doing."
"Sorry for being late."
"Oh, your not late. We in the Art Department do not really have a set schedule like the Music Department. Merely come to paint at the studio when you desire. We have two exhibitions. One at Christmas and one at the start of summer. If you want to show your paintings then you need to show them to the head of the Art Department for inspection. I am the head of the Art Department," The man explained before he suddenly gave a bright smile to Blake.
"Oh, where are my manners? My name is Leon Graycrest. I would like to welcome you to the Art Guild."
Blake was able to successfully stutter the reply to the head of the Art department. Leon just smiled gently and started to show him the art tools while giving instructions on how to handle them. Alex had retreated which Blake took as a sign of him not liking the place.
Leon showed the rest of the building before giving him a schedule of art classes the Art Department had to arrange. It was mandatory but it looked like fun. Leon then bought him food at the Art Guild's cafeteria.
"The food here is better than in the main building. It’s more healthy. Only members of the Art Guild can eat here but it's cheaper than the main building's cafeteria."
"Then I cannot eat here with Alex?"
"I'm afraid not. He does sneak in sometimes to order some food. I'm fairly sure that he has flirted with the chef and gets some leftovers when he comes."
"That sounds like Alex. Do you live on campus Mr. Graycrest?"
"Dear God! That sounds old. Call me Leon and to answer your question. No, though I shouldn't be surprised that you haven't heard of the Graycrest family as you are not from here. We are one of the major families in Elan Valley."
The valley over the dam. Blake has heard from Alex that they are rivals to the Price family. Not that Blake was sure how or why.
"I didn't want to assume."
"I understand and no harm was done, Blake. Can I call you Blake?"
Blake nodded eagerly. He was happy that he seemed to get along with Leon. He felt like a nice older brother. Not that Blake had met one of those. He had himself two giant blockheads to brothers and one sassy sister. Neither was especially close to Blake.
"May I ask you something?"
"Why did the Art Guild choose me for the scholarship?"
"Did you not want it?"
"Yes. Of course, I'm grateful! I just was surprised. I did send in my paintings but I did not expect anyone to take notice of them. Most schools seemed to focus on achievements such as involvement in exhibitions and recommendations. I had neither of those. Only a lot of paintings made from cheap materials."
"And still they looked marvelous. Vale's Art Guild does not look for achievements but talent and most of all potential. The way you painted landscapes and made them alive… The lighting was out of this world and if it wasn't for the cheap materials in which it was made. One would assume that you had used some kind of computer program to achieve this. It was astounding and deserved attention."
"Though what made me recommend you was not just your technique but your vision. You painted the landscapes with an atmosphere which was just… Otherworldly. Like you had seen a world beyond our own. It was rather intriguing. I wanted to see more of your paintings which is why I recommended you to our board."
Blake felt himself wince in embarrassment. He had not known that Leon himself had recommended him. It made him happy. A hand come from behind and snatched his sandwich. Blake looked up to see Alex.
"Are you flirting with my mate?"
"Don't be silly, Lloyd! Anyway, now when your mate is here I will take my leave. Seek me up again if you need further aid."
"Bloody hell, he sounds like a fossil."
Blake watched Alex eat his sandwich. That is the third time he has snatched his food this week. Blake wondered if his fate would be to starve to death.
Jaxon tried to hold his facial expression as neutral he could but it was hard. Aeron looked like he shit himself any second and Kai merely looked bored. They were at the nurse. One of the witch lads had been hurt. A broken arm from the looks of it and the nurse, a druid, mended it as they spoke. Well, as the annoying witch in front of him yelling.
A Graycrest always seemed to be at the center of all problems. Shamus Graycrest did not belong to the main family but always seemed to come when trouble called.
"Can you at least try to keep your bloody animals in line!?"
"It's not our fault that you witches are fragile."
Kai clearly didn't look bothered by the injured witch. Jaxon knew that Kai had no love for witches and he might have encouraged the other players to target the two witches on the team.
"We are no more fragile than the humans on your team and none of them has ever been hurt!"
True enough. Those with animal spirits on the team has been instructed to hold back against humans. Not witches though.
"Maybe humans are better at dodging."
"You dimwitted mutt!"
Leon Graycrest entered the fray. Shamus went silent but glared at Kai who growled at Leon who didn't look bothered. Real mature Kai.
"Your pack has made itself known to be inclusive and welcoming to all races. But no witches have been able to enter the athlete clubs."
"They are allowed to enter," Kai snorted. Jaxon tried to not roll his eyes. It wasn't like the witches didn't have any interest in joining. They were just chased out. A fact Leon didn't miss to mention.
"And be targeted by bullying and injuries."
"Rugby is a tough sport. There will be injuries."
"And what is your excuse for basketball? One witch ended up with their ribs broken. Another had their leg broken in football. That is only in excess of such things as head injuries and bruises along with the injuries made by their own teammates outside of the games and training. One poor boy had been violated by his teammates. That can hardly be called playing rough."
Jaxon stared at Leon. Assault? Violation? What is he talking about? Jaxon turned his eyes to Aeron to see him avoiding his gaze. There was no question in his mind that Leon spoke the truth.
"That's hardly their fault! They are teenagers with animal spirits. They will always have a hard time controlling their basic impulses."
"I thought the existence of the athlete clubs was to learn control over those impulses. That was your words if I remember correctly. If the athlete clubs are only here to enhance these impulses then why do we need them."
Jaxon stepped forward when he noticed that his brother looked like he was about to do something dumb. Well, dumber.
"Look, I agree with you that those incidents are taking it too far and it needs to be handled. But at least let us try to get things under control. I will speak to Elliott about trying to mend this situation."
Elliott was the oldest of the Price brothers and the next in line to be Patriarch. He pretty much handles everything in Claerwen Valley and was set on an alliance with the Graycrests. Kai was not as thrilled about the prospect of an alliance as Elliott and often did dumb things to complicate the matter.
"Do so, I would rather this be handled by the Price as there will be animosities if the Graycrests enter to handle the matter."
"This is our territory!" Kai roared angrily.
"And you opened the door for everyone. That comes with responsibilities. If your young are allowed to roam free then there is just a matter of time before they start to target other weaker races. What will you do when there is a human who becomes the victim?"
Jaxon's mind flashes to a boyish face, fair skin, pink lips, blond hair, and big scared eyes. Shaking like the rabbits he used to catch in the forest. A little rabbit would never be able to protect itself from a wolf and the thought terrified him.
Blake yawned as the night had fallen and the building was quiet. He had come to the Art Department to paint for the last two weeks. He wanted to impress his fellow artists with his painting so he had worked overtime. It must be close to midnight as the moon was high in the sky. It was full tonight which gave him plenty of light in the dusky night.
"I better pack up."
Blake cleaned and put the tools away along with the paint before covering the painting carefully so it wouldn’t be smeared. He put out the lights as he went out and walked out into the backyard. A shiver escaped him as the cold night air hit his face. The forest covered the moon and it was so dark that Blake was unable to see his feet before him.
The main building was quiet as well and it would take a while to walk to the dormitories. He had considered calling Alex but wasn't sure if he was asleep. Besides, it wasn't really fair to let Alex walk alone in the dark to get him when he didn't dare do the same.
He started to walk slowly and watched the dark trees move in the wind. It was creepy outside and he could swear that he heard something behind him, but when he turned around he saw nothing. He speeds up the pace but came to a halt when he heard footsteps behind him clear as day.
Blake slowly turned around and was paralyzed by what he saw. A giant, black wolf with golden eyes. Blake inhaled slowly and the wolf showed its teeth. When a growl escaped the wolf, Blake turned around and ran. He screamed for help when he heard the wolf follow him. What the hell did a wolf do here? Did Britain even have wolves?!
"Think, think, think!"
He couldn't outrun a wolf. It would be insane to even try. He needed to climb. Wolves cannot climb. At least he hoped so as he threw himself at the closest tree and started to climb. A scream of agony escaped him as the wolf's fangs bit down on his heel. With every bit of adrenaline, he could muster, he hanged onto the branch as the wolf growled and tried to drag him to the ground.
"Let go! Help!!"
Blake was suddenly freed and did not give it another moment thought as he started to climb. He could hear growls, roars and something that sounded like hissing. It wasn't until he was safe up in the tree that he looked down to see a battle being fought between the wolf and… A cat?
A giant cat. A lynx? No, it looked like a smaller leopard with a long, furry tail. It wasn't nearly as big as the wolf but it surely was ferocious and the wolf seemed confused. It clearly hadn't expected resistance from a cat. Apparently, it was too much for the wolf as it snarled at the cat before it ran away into the forest. Blake watched it go but turned his gaze toward the tree trunk as he could hear a rattle. When he looked down the cat tried to climb the tree towards him.
The cat froze and looked up. It didn't look dangerous but it was too big to be domestic so Blake didn't want to take any chances. The cat's golden eyes looked at him for a while before it jumped down and started to run away.
Blake was shaking and his leg hurt as it was bleeding. He wasn't sure he would be able to climb down without falling down because of the pain. If he lost consciousness if he falls then he would be an easy target for the wolf if it came back. All he could do was clinging to the tree and hoping that someone would find him.
Nightmane ran through a forest chasing the little white ball of fur. Jaxon could feel Nightmane's joy. He loved the chase. The power of the hunt. The white rabbit ran as fast as he could but Nightmane was faster and smarter. Nightmane's black fur raced through the trees as he avoided roots and stones. Now he could hear the little animal’s frighten breath. His erratic heartbeats. With one leap he threw himself at the little rabbit who let out a weak squeak.
Jaxon opened his eyes and groaned as he stared at his ceiling. When did dreams become insanity? He had dreamed about turning into his black wolf form and hunting a white rabbit since he had met that boy… What was his name again? Blaine? Blake?
It was one thing that he thought that the boy looked like a white rabbit but another to keep dreaming about chasing one every night. He was sure that if he asked Aeron or Kai for advice then they just would tell him to go shag his girlfriend.
Jaxon grimaced and got off his bed. He went out to the kitchen and met Aeron who was ransacking the fridge.
"Well, hi there, sunshine. Having a hard time to sleep under the full moon? It makes me want to turn into a wolf and howl in the backyard. I'm sure that your mother would appreciate that."
"Remember your first full moon? Wildfang took over and ran through the woods. You woke up naked the morning after in Elan Valley. "
"Don't remind me. I had to walk naked through Elan village while the Graycrest's asked if I needed some clothes. Their girls were cute though."
"Yeah, well. It's not the full moon that has me in shambles."
Jaxon explained his predicament while Aeron frowned throughout his explanation.
"So you saw a boy you thought looked like a cute rabbit and now your dream every night that you are chasing a rabbit. I hate to say it, but you should try to call your girlfriend."
"And say what? I keep dreaming about chasing a white rabbit. Can you come over? Or maybe I should mention the boy to Jessie. She will clearly fancy that."
"How about I'm horny as fuck? Please, shag me!"
"She's a fae. Shagging is what she does."
"Look, our problems often come down to lust. Either shag your girlfriend or that boy and your problems will solve itself. "
"So am I! but we are stuck in a school for boys. You will have to make do. There are plenty of boys willing to help. Have you seen the foxes? They pull up their tail for anyone."
"Firstly, that's racist. Secondly, I have a girlfriend. I don't have to make do. I just don't want to use her just for sex."
"What else would a girlfriend be for?"
"Fine, do as you want. I'm just saying that your problems are easily solved.”
Jaxon sighed. He should have known that Aeron would be of no help. They both froze when they could hear people moving at a fast pace through the house. They both looked at each other before going towards the people. His two brother dressed in haste as they talked in a hushed voice with a boy.
Jaxon recognized the Asian looking, goth boy as Alex Lloyd. Then they started to move towards the door Jaxon pulled on Elliott.
"What's going on?"
"A human has been attacked by a wolf."
Jaxon felt cold shiver grow along his spine.
"We don't know who attacked the human."
"That's not… Who was attacked?"
Elliott turned to face Jaxon. His gaze perused Jaxon’s face and there was a painful moment of silence before he answered.
"A transfer student. His name is Blake Oakley."