Spirit Splinters, Part 1

The room was immaculately clean. White walls, polished wooden floor, orderly bookcases.

I can't believe it was me.

The woman behind the desk was gentle and understanding, with curly blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. "Miss Cenobi Hannele, is it?"

Am I supposed to be happy, or scared?

My voice came out in a squeak. "Please, call me Hanna."

"Teachers do not address students by first names or pet names here," she informed me gently. "You should get used to being called Miss Hannele."

"I'm sorry," I said, embarrassment tinging my cheeks red.

Her face softened, then broke out into a smile. "There's no need to be afraid. You're very lucky you were chosen; very few are allowed to attend Ulnow Institute."

"I was just picked at random," I said. "I'm not sure how good I'll do."

"Nevertheless, you have potential. Everyone here does. Now, if you could fill out this form..." she pushed a sheet of paper and a pen towards me.

I stared at the printed words. Name. Relatives. Hometown and Residence.
I filled them out and passed them back. The woman took a moment to study them, then smiled at me again. "Thank you very much. Now if you'll come with me, we'll get you fitted for a uniform."

I followed her out of the room, then remembered my bag and dashed back to get it. When I caught up to her, she was giggling like a schoolgirl. "You're certainly very forgetful, aren't you, Miss Hannele?"

I smiled weakly.

She stopped at a door, pulling it open to reveal a large room filled with racks of clothing. I was momentarily stunned at the rainbow-like assortation of clothes; expecting, as I was, one set uniform.

"Is there any preference as to what color you'd like to wear?" asked the lady. I shook my head. "Whatever's cheapest."

She smiled. "Price is not an issue. Tuition, meals, and boarding are all free. This is a country-run and sponsored facility, and after all-- you will be defending it, in a way. The country, I mean." she giggled again.

Resisting the urge to grind my teeth, I said, "Black will be fine."
A few minutes later I stood in front of the mirror. The uniform I was wearing was coal-black, with lace around the collar, sleeves, and dress hem, and gold buttons down the front. It was fancy looking, but designed to be easy to move around in. Even so, it was gaudy and upper-class while I was the complete opposite, with my gangly frame and stringy reddish hair. For all the world, I looked like an ostritch shoehorned into a ball gown.

"It looks great on you!" exclaimed the lady, who still had not told me her name. "Looks like you're good to go, then!"

She handed me a few sheets of paper. "Here's the schedule, here's a map, and here's an envelope if you want to send a letter to your parents! Now you can go to the assembly and get introduced before you start your classes. Good luck, and toodles!"

Then she abruptly left, leaving me holding the papers and blinking in confusion.

**

There were so many. I know in comparison to larger, international schools and colleges it might have been considered small, but to me, who had lived in a small, sleepy town prior to coming here, the sheer number of people was immense.

We were in a rather large room, with warm sunlight shining through the huge windows on the ceiling and walls. The group of students completely filled the room, watching while a man at a podium talked about this and that.

"The Institute was founded by the Ulnow family one hundred and thirty years ago. The Ulnows were a prestigious warrior house, who amassed a great fortune through the hunting of vampires. They donated money to help start this academy, dedicated to the fighting and control of rogue supernatual creatures.

"Students are recruited at random, from any number of places, minimalizing the chances of demons and evil creatues targeting a specific social group. It doesn't matter who you are, if you are rich or poor, a delinquent or a noble. You have a chance to enroll, and all of you here have.

"Here you will learn many fighting techniques as well as methods to trap and track the various number of unearthly beasts that roam the land. Good luck to the the new students, and to the rest, have a good term!"

There was a smattering of polite clapping. It was obvious they'd been given the speech before, perhaps several times.

I nervously tugged an auburn lock as he stepped off the podium. "Now, to introduce our new students!"
There were ten other people with me, waiting to be introduced. He pulled one up to the front.

He was a rather relaxed-looking boy with black hair combed meticulously into the shape of a shark's fin. His purple boy's uniform was fashionably unbuttoned, and he wore earrings and a necklace made out of what looked like fangs.

"This is Elaundus Jaenbert," the man announced. "Anything you'd like to say, Elaundus?"

"Hey," he said, licking a hand and slicking back his hair. "You can call me Elly. Everyone does, and it sucks, but it's better than being called Laundy. Hi!"

Silence. After a moment, a few scattered claps.

"That's very nice, Elau-Elly," he corrected. "Please, go on ahead and join them." he pushed Elaundus down the stairs.

"Next!" he called, turning around immediately. I shrank back, unwilling to be put on the spot, but he caught sight of me. "Aha! Hannele, was it? Come here!"

I unwillingly let myself be dragged up. "This is Cenobi Hannele!" he introduced me, then paused. "That name sounds vaguely Vetayoran, doesn't it? Anyway! Anything you'd like to tell us?"

I blinked. "Um....I..." I looked at all the students who were gazing at me expectantly, focusing their attention on me. I swallowed, caught in a sudden case of stage fright. "Y-yeah, I'm Vetayoran. And, uh... call me Hanna."

Polite applause.

"There we go!' said the man, pushing me down the stairs and turning around once again. "Next..."

I stepped into the crowd, feeling relief wash over me as I sunk into anonymity. People were staring, but not as much as when I had been put on the stand; now they were concentrating on the newest student.

Maybe this school wouldn't be so bad after all.

**

The school moved down the hallway; now that everyone was done, they were drifting off to attend their classes. A few people said hi and no one was asking me anything, but I was sure that as soon as lunchtime rolled around I would be bombarded with questions.

All of a sudden, an arm clamped over my shoulders, and a loud voice yelled in my ear, "Heey! You're that girl Hanna, aren't you?"

Maybe not even then.
I flinched, slowly turning my head to meet the gaze of the boy with the shark-hair.

"I'm Elly!" he said cheerfully, as if I didn't already know. "We newbies gotta stick together, right? So let's eat together at luchtime, 'kay?"

I didn't know how to politely refuse without giving off the distinction of being an ice queen, so I replied, "O-okay."
I hoped with all my heart we didn't have the same classes.

He held out his schedule, which was already scrunched up and smeared. "Let's see, I've got battle tactics up first... what do you have? Hey, we've got the same schedule! Sweet!"

I was absolutely wrong. It was going to be just as horrible as I had feared at Ulnow Institute.

nervous start

Hanna has a nervous start with this unruly boy , this is my first read on this story it looks interesting .

Roo

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