Months back, I was your average west coast American teenage girl. Then I made a few bad choices, which, overall, balanced out. There was this girl, and a bible was involved, and the next thing you know I’m being accused of sexual harassment and because I sort of overreacted. Apparently, these types of things are frowned upon and you get in serious trouble. I got kicked out of the school because her father ran it, but then I got a letter in the mail the next day. It read as such:
Dear Miss Sidhe,
It has come to our attention that you are in need of a change of school, and that your lineage entitles you to certain privileges in our academy. We at Avalon Girl’s Academy are pleased to help our fellow young women gain the most out of life. Our fine young women are all groomed, nurtured, and cultured for the future of our world and enter into the world of class and style well above their peers. No other school can offer one-hundredth what we can, and no other teaching staff can mould students in the right way.
Should finances be a concern, let us reassure you that we take full care of our students needs. We will pay for your transportation to our academy, and we will offer a stipend to you. As our academy is located on our island, we provide room and board for all students as well as shopping centres for all your other needs. All foods are grown on our island, all meals are catered to your unique tastes, and all tastes are accepted.
We note that your most recent ejection from school entailed a dispute of disreputable conduct. At Avalon Girl’s Academy, we encourage students to broaden their horizons and learn as much about themselves as they can in the time allowed, within reason that is.
Lastly, we offer the most unique schooling methods available and as such we offer classes at all points in the day to accommodate any sleep schedules. Our faculty is available 24/7 in all efforts to aid our young ladies achieve their highest level of potential. We do ask for a reply to our offer within the week so that we may prepare your room and dorm mate and obtain all the supplies you will need to excel in our academy.
Your sister in the world,
Anna Josephine Black
Headmistress, Avalon Girl’s Academy
The letter itself was a shock, but that the woman in charge of this school gathered all the information she had on me in under a day was even more terrifying. I showed it to my father, the man who raised my younger brother and I by himself after my mother vanished, and he did some digging into the school. As an FBI agent, he had some experience digging through information to get what he wanted. We looked at the pictures plastered on Google’s image search; all the girls on the screen were gorgeous. The lush landscape in the background completely evaded my rather one-track mind. There were lush curves and short skirts, and a personal favorite, knee socks.
“Lauren, you know I love you, and I’ll stand by your decision whatever it is. Personally, I don’t want to let you to go, baby girl. But I won’t stop you if you decide to, you know that. This would be a huge leap, and if you’re half as adventurous as your mother, I doubt I could stop you if you set your mind to it. You, Lauren Sidhe, are your own woman.” My dad said in his slow drawl. “What do you want to do, princess?”
Just under two weeks later, I arrived on Avalon Island, the first self-sufficient, (wo)man-made island located just off the coast of England. From the sky, the island was a marvel of greenery, and the school was a sprawling city in and of itself. The entire outside of the school building was a masterpiece of gold and silver, copper and bronze work made the cornices look like fire come alive. Do not even get me started on the windows; I think they were made of cut diamond. Then an amazingly beautiful woman stepped out from one of the French doors leading out into the courtyard where the helipad was located.
“Miss Sidhe, a pleasure.” She said, pronouncing my last name correctly, which threw me off. “I am Anna Black, your headmistress. I do hope your flight was pleasant. If you’ll follow me inside, I’ll introduce you to your dorm mate and we shall register you for your classes. Come.”
I followed her, still stunned, and more than a little excited. Upon entering the corridor, I noticed a rather lanky, pale girl hiding in a dark corner. She pealed herself from the wall and followed us as if she were our shadow, all the way into the headmistress’s office. Mistress Black, as I would come to refer to her later, signaled for us to seat ourselves opposite to her own massive and ornate satin chair. We both sat quietly, and she stared at us for what seemed like forever.
“Miss Sidhe, this is your door mate, Miss Dalca. As you both opted for classes in the evenings, I have determined that you may have similar sleep schedules. Miss Dalca, I would like you to assist our newest sister in whatever way you must. I have taken into account that you both may have certain allergies to trees and certain woods, hence I’ve opted to furnish the room in violetta. I hope you do not mind. I will handle the paperwork for freshman classes for you miss Sidhe, but I must ask you for your elective choices. I trust you reviewed our catalogue?” She said all this without even getting winded.
“Y-yes ma’am, I have. I would like to take Mythos 101 and Modern Women’s Studies... but there’s a pre-requisite on the second one that I was never given in America. We don’t have a lot of women’s classes or feminist studies until we reach college. I also considered Religions through History, but I was unclear as to the course material from the excerpt.” I stammered out, hoping to be given some consideration due to my area of birth.
“I shall approve the Mythos and Religions courses, the women’s studies will integrate a certain amount of your pre-requisite via your freshman courses. Miss Dalca, I trust you will aid Miss Sidhe in the history course?” Mistress Black gazed from me to my new dorm mate. Miss Dalca nodded slowly, as if most of the way asleep. “Very well then, Miss Sidhe, you shall address me as Mistress Black or Headmistress at all times. We are very pleased to have a Sidhe grace our halls again. Your mother went here when she was young, beautiful woman, no unique talents though. You are dismissed, please go to your dorm and prepare for tomorrows classes. Books will be arriving at noon tomorrow.”
After being dismissed without a chance to ask about my mother, I found myself wondering what she meant about lacking in unique talents. I had no frame of reference to what she meant, having not seen my mother in years. I did find it peculiar though that she mentioned it at all.
“So... I’m Lauren, and you are?” I asked my quiet, seemingly brooding companion.
“I’m Valerica. Can we save the Q&A until I’m awake? Being up before dusk is not my happy place. Follow me and we’ll get to the dorms without running afoul of any sunlight or sunny people. Let’s go.” She spoke softly and with a kind of apathetic scratchiness to her voice that reminds you of people who try acting like the dead. She also wobbled a little when she moved, like she wasn’t all the way awake. All of these facts, combined with her pale as death complexion and matte black hair made her both eerily attractive and mysterious. So I followed her.
When we arrived in our room in the dorms, I was shocked by the sheer beauty of the furniture we had been given. For those not in the know, violetta is also referred to as kingswood, and is a royal purple in color and extremely rare. So when the entire room’s woodwork and all our furniture is done in said wood, it sends out an alarm as powerful as a flare in the night, this place had some major cash to throw about. Everything was in dark blues, purples, and deep crimsons... and it was so WONDERFUL! It looked like something you’d see in a major film with vampires who don’t need coffins or something!
A sudden "FWUMP" shook me from my awestruck state. My roommate was sprawled out on her bed rather... unceremoniously. And moments later I heard light snoring. Some people just don’t realize how gifted they are when things are set up like this. Normally, I’d have taken some more time to bask in the wonder of my new living space, but the time difference between Oregon and the UK was pretty intense and I found myself flopping down on my own bed soon as well.
I awoke some time after the sun had went down, I knew this because my heliophobic roommate was awake and in our small kitchenette making what I assumed was tea. That’s what people drink here in the United Kingdom, right? She seemed more lucid than she had earlier, so I figured now was the best time to ask questions. After all, she did say I could... in a really roundabout way.
“Um... So...” I muttered trying to find words.
“Here.” she said, placing a steaming cup in my hands.
“Thanks.” I said appreciatively, setting the mug on my lap.
She sat down on her bed opposite me. “So, Mistress Black has placed you under my care. I don’t think that’s really the best idea, but she doesn’t often make mistakes. I’m also going out on a limb here and making the assumption that you’re not completely stupid. You ask questions as articulately as possible, and I’ll attempt to play nice. I do not make any promises that I will not hurt your feelings. So... ask your questions.” She said, her croaky voice taking on a slightly more aware sense of weight.
“Ok, so... Where are you from?” I asked.
“That’s... over by Ukraine? Right?”
“Not directly touching, but yes, in that general area.”
“Um... Oh, ok, so missus Black-“
“Mistress Black or Headmistress.”
“Right, Mistress Black said something about the talents. Is that like a code word here, or is she meaning something specific?”
“I’m going to decline to answer. If she elaborates in the future, or you find your own answer here, then it’ll be enough. Next.”
“Do you always look like the living dead?”
“Are you always so insensitive about these things?”
“Yeah... my dad always told me I wasn’t burdened with an overabundance of tact.”
“So... what is the curriculum like? What classes am I looking at as a freshman here? I didn’t get too much in my last school, it was run by... jerks.”
“I know that feeling. Well, you’ve got twelve classes during the year. We’re currently in the first six. Classes start... uh... what schedule option did you pick again?”
“I'm in 4pm or later classes.”
“Right, ok... your schedule is 4 pm to midnight. Classes alternate day by day, and you have an hour and a half lunch around... seven thirty? I’ll ask Kryssia about it tomorrow, she’ll help you get situated until you make some friends of your own.”
“Ok, second to last question! So um... the school’s name is Avalon, is that in reference to Arthurian mythology? Like is this island called Avalon in honor of the isle Arthur was lain to rest on?”
“As I understand it, yes. The mythos class you’re taking will cover that. Most lessons are going to focus on the feminine side of things for the first half, it’s important to know women’s impact in the world around us.”
“Ok, so do we have computers here? Like for student use to keep in contact with the outside?”
She pointed at the twin desks on the opposite side of the room. “We each have a custom built desktop PC and an even more tailored laptop for personal use. Laptop is in the top drawer, the monitor of the desktop is under the roll-top of the desk. The entire campus has beyond high-speed Wi-Fi. ” She said, trying to gauge my reaction.
"That's awesome. I really like to keep up on certain internet topics.
“I'm hoping we’ll get along just fine then. Oh, and one last important note. The girls here are... different. If you run into trouble, find me or ask for a prefect or the head girl.” She said, and pulled out a device from her pocket. It looked like a bracelet, but there was a glowing crystal in the center. It matched the one on her wrist already.
“What’s that?” I blurted out before I could think.
She handed it to me before speaking. “This is... how to explain... ok, this lets you communicate with other people on campus in real time, contains your student bank account for the shops on the island both on campus and on the other end. It’s like a phone and a credit card and... it’s a student ID. Just keep it on you at all times. In fact, put it on right now. We’ll test it out to be certain it works, and then we can go get food.”
I slid it on, glowing part under my wrist, like a nurse’s watch. it felt like it almost became a part of me. “Ok, how does it work?” I asked tentatively.
Valerica spoke into her own crystal, “Call Lauren Sidhe.”
My wrist began to tingle, so I flipped it over and the crystal was red. I poked it, and a window popped up in mid air before me with her face in the center. “WOAH! That is AWESOME!” I squealed.
Valerica then double tapped my crystal and the window closed... I guess that was hang up. “You tell the crystal what to do, and it does it. Let me call Kryssia and we’ll meet her for dinner and I’ll show you how to pay for stuff with it. By now, the first thousand euro should have hit your account. You’ll get a variable amount based on your grades. A student averaging C’s will earn about one thousand a two week period. Your class rank will drop bonuses every few months as well, be a good student and you’ll be rolling in money. Now give me a second and we can head out.”
I sat in stunned silence for a while. I’m making one thousand euro per week with a C average? That’s what in American dollars? That’s like... carry the one, subtract seven, multiply by four... one euro is about 1.13 dollars as of last I checked, so that’s like eleven hundred dollars every two weeks. Who has this much money to waste on students? Do I get to keep this after I leave? That’d be one way to get a massive college fund.
Valerica snapped her fingers in front of my face to get my attention.
“Come on, we’re getting Chinese. You know how to use chopsticks, yes?” she asked, trying to see if she made the right call.
“I know how to use the square variety... the round ones give me a little bit of trouble... and those flat ones are right out, but yeah, I’m game.” I said and got off my bed. Strands of my long red hair swung down to cover my left eye.
“Comb that, I’ll be in the hall.” Valerica said pointing at my rampant bed head.
I wandered into the bathroom in our room, and again, I was shocked. This bathroom was almost as big as the living room at home. The bath alone was like a queen sized bed sunk deeply into the floor. The vanity was right by the door, and I combed the rat’s nest that fell just under my shoulders. In the mirror I saw my own dark blue eyes gazing back at themselves, and I suddenly felt alien in this world of beautiful girls like Valerica.
I exited the bathroom and made my way to the door. I grasped the sterling silver door handle and turned the knob. Destiny Awaited.