Theodora Plays to Win (With Cheat Codes)
The school wasn’t really a school, or least it wasn’t anything like any she had attended. It was more like Little House on the Prairie, one room school house, version of school. Okay, that was an exaggeration, it was a four room school house, but it felt like it should have been bigger. Randran told us that children from three of the surrounding settlements attended this school as well, so theoretically there should have been a bunch of kids going here, so it was somewhat shocking that there were only about 40.
There were also four teachers: Mrs. Modesto, Mr. Farly, Mrs. Toya, and Mrs. Ridlin. They were all fairly welcoming upon arrival, apparently they’d been hyping up their appearance all week. Castella, Castanetta, and Chloe were apparently very popular all over, they were constantly helping out where they could, they even lent themselves to other settlements for various tasks and appearances. They weren’t royalty, but they certainly got around and were well liked everywhere they went.
Almost all the kids were between the ages of 5-12. There were five who were over that age and attended the advanced education course, we’d be meeting with them last. The other 35 would split off into three groups, and rotate classrooms each day based on what they were learning. The three tracks were: Homemaking, Combat, and General Education. General Education was a bit of a misnomer though, this was partly your standard history, math, and language classes, and partly magic. Elves had large mana reserves and were extremely adept at it’s manipulation, historically speaking, at least according to Mrs. Modesto’s lecture.
The three of them sat quietly in the back, Kara took the window seat; Kourtney really wanted to sit there but she was vetoed by both Kara and Camden as they were certain she would just get distracted.
“Isn’t it weird how everyone has pointy ears?” Kourtney whispered to Camden.
“I think you’re just imagining things.” Camden teased, but Kourtney looked genuinely concerned.
Kara kept her back straight and her hands folded, trying emulate the regality of a princess. This was the only elf “town” in about 50 miles give or take and so the residing mayor and his family were the main authority in the region. She had been extremely tired from the events of yesterday and hadn’t had time to properly look Annett over until this morning and wowzers, like her eyes did a Roger Rabbit; in this case, though, she was Jessica Rabbit. She had all the curves, it was a bit disconcerting coming from her previous body. She felt strong, her thighs and stomach were taught, she even had abs. Kourtney and Camden’s previous bodies had the outlines of abs, but these were like manly man’s abs, and above those abs were breasts that were even bigger than she’d previously thought, again: Jessica. Rabbit. No wonder she’d felt so off-balance at first, carrying around those wrecking balls. Moving up from there was straight blonde, almost golden hair that cascaded down her back and shoulders, she’d spent time brushing it this morning even though it was so smooth and silky that she hardly needed to. Her old hair was a mess that she’d struggle for upwards of 30 minutes untangling each morning. She might never want to leave this body. All of that was to say that she wanted to maintain and uphold the dignity and appearance of this new body and her new family. It also might have occurred to her that she was now the hottest of the trio in this new form and though she would never directly point it out, it certainly put a pep in her step and upped her overall confidence level. She would no longer slouch in her seat or spend the class mindlessly staring at her blank notebook, she would sit tall and appear as a princess among princesses! This would be the beginning of her popular phase!
Kourtney and Camden watched as Kara laughed sinisterly to herself.
“Creepy” Kourtney noted.
Kara listened carefully to the lecture. Mrs. Modesto was a short woman with dark hair and a monocle. It seemed not all elves had blonde hair and blue eyes like she’d imagined. Castanetta and Castella had bright blue eyes the color of sky, while Chloe’s had a bit of a greenish hew, like Mountain Dew. It kinda clashed with the shade of blue in her hair, her eyelashes had a dark blue tint as well. Kara had stopped listening to the lesson at this point and was staring hard at Kourtney who was gazing back.
Camden swiveled her head around at the two of them, “Hello? We’re supposed to be learning.”
“But I’m so close to winning.” Kourtney doubled down and began making a noise like she was powering up. Kara could feel the teacher’s attention turn toward them. It was an extremely familiar feeling, except usually it was Lauren and Camden getting the stare down, with Kourtney absentmindedly doodling, and Kara just kind of there but still in the crossfire. Lauren and Camden were always fighting about something. Kara honestly wasn’t sure why they were friends or why Lauren always hung out with them.
“I give.” Kara blinked, sighed, and turned back around. Kourtney did a fist pump at her victory.
“During the 2nd era was when the original elves came into power and the 9th kingdom was established. Can anyone tell me what the other 9 kingdoms were. We just went over this yesterday. Try to name them in order.”
A little girl with pigtails raised her hand. “Yes, Bethel.”
“The first kingdom is what is called the God’s realm,” Mrs. Modesto nods, “The second is the Hallows, third is Daemons, fourth is…” she was having trouble remembering the fourth. A boy with short hair threw up his hand; the teacher gestured toward him.
“Fourth is the Gaia, Fifth is the Lapilli, Sixth is the Girujin, Seven is Fairies, Eighth is the Beastfolk, and the Tenth Kingdom is Termin, or Humans.”
The teacher nodded, “Exactly, Michael. Now, what exactly are the origins of each of these races?”
No hands went up, a girl with her hair styled into ringlets started to raises her hand but then immediately put it down.
“No one, no guesses. How about our guests in the back?”
Kourtney, surprisingly or unsurprisingly, stood up, “Gaia are Earth Elementals, Lapilli are Fire Elementals, and, and…”
“I’m sorry I should have clarified, what are the origins, as in what are the theories behind their creation.”
“Oh, I couldn’t say”
Mrs. Modesto looked a bit taken aback by her lack of an answer, but Kara and Camden were shocked that she answered at all and seemed to know what she was talking about.
“What was that?” Camden whispered.
“Well, Gaia is the Earth Titan, and Lapilli probably comes from Lapillus which is a type of volcanic rock.”
“Are you actually smart?” Kara uttered in disbelief.
“I’m just trying to earn some extra credit. When’s recess?”
“I take it back.”
A girl with lavender highlights and flowers adorning her hair raises her hand, “God brought spirits from other lands and imbued them into the earth and the Lapilis and Gaia emerged and-”
“And what about the Daemons and Hallows?”
“Umm, they were exiled here from the same lands for fighting with each other so much.”
“Very good, and that is why they created the Lapilli and Gaia; God created the two races to intervene in the perpetual war between the Hallows and Daemons. Once they eventually came to a ceasefire, God then decided he liked creating new races, and began experimenting by adding human souls to other things and manipulating their biology. First he tired it with fish which created the Girujin, then from a combination butterflies and pure mana he created Fairies. After that he made the beastfolk, putting human souls into the animals and transforming them. After that there was nothing new for close to 3000 years, and without warning god decided to meddle once again, this time creating us; the elves.”
“What about humans?” Asked a boy with glasses, “And why do they hate us?”
“I can answer the first question. We were born with something new within us, it was called Divine Grace. It made our mana even more potent than any other that existed in this world, our existence threw the entire world out of balance, but there was a condition. If we had romantic relations with another one of the 7 other species then we lost our Divine Grace. We were blessed with massive mana reserves and intuitively understood how to use it and this gave us a massive advantage over other races, and people with power like to hoard it, so this led to us claiming ownership over the northwestern region and throwing everyone who had been living there out. From there we established the first official kingdom, and the rest soon followed suit, becoming isolationist, and hoarding and building up their own power.
Tensions built over the next 50 years until it was discovered that a beast had a child with an elf. That child was the first human. It was soon discovered that if any species had a child with an Elf with Divine Grace, it would be born a human. Naturally, the king and his advisors at the time were loath to think their subjects would be having children with the barbarians outside their borders. He made sure the first one had been publicly put to death. Nonetheless, the Termin population grew, and so the king ordered that they be exiled from the kingdom.”
“Did every elf have relations with beastfolk?” Asked the girl with ringlets.
“What do you mean by relations?” Kourtney raised her hand.
“No, sweetie.” Camden whispered and lowered Kourtney’s hand. Kara glared at Kourtney, she kept swinging back and forth between weirdly smart and log stupid.
“Uh, no, not every elf had children with other races. It’s true we’ve lost our Divine Grace. That was mostly due to a coup planned by the Daemons and the Last Princess. The Daemon’s stole our divine grace making it easier for the princess to overthrow her father and subjugate the nation under her and the Daemon King Silver’s rule; however, that’s a lesson for another time.
Getting back to the subject of humans. As time passed the humans, who mainly lived in hovels and foothills, began to gather together and build a proper society. They started making tools to assist them in their everyday life. Even if they had mana, they lacked the intuition needed to properly wield it, and so they relied on the tools the made. They traveled to the domain of the Lapilli to gather the secrets of fire and energy, and to the Gaia to learn planting and agriculture, and to the Girujin to learn fishing and purification, and then to the beastfolk for engineering. Using the information they learned from the different races they were able to accelerate their development and eventually, after about 2000 years they established the 10th Kingdom and took their place among the other races. It was also at this point that the Hallows, Lapilli, Gaia, and Girujin decided to leave this continent and head to a newly discovered continent on the other side of the world; these events brought the 2nd era to a close and led into the endless warmongering of the 3rd era.”
A bell dinged.
“I suppose it is that time. Okay, class, you have your 30 minutes, and after that it’s Math with Mr. Farly.”
“Recess! I call dibs on the jump rope!” Kourtney jumped up from her desk excitedly.
Camden grabbed her arm, “hold your horses there.”
All the kids filed out in an orderly manner with ringlet girl in the lead. Once they were gone the teacher approached the girls; Mrs. Toya and Mr. Farly had slipped into the room as well and were following close behind her.
Mrs. Modesto started, “It was so good of you three to come visit, the kids weren’t the only ones looking forward to it.” She wrapped Camden in a hug, Camden was a bit confused but returned the gesture and attempted to play along, “It’s so good to see you again, Mrs. Modesto.”
“Oh, please, you’ve long since graduated, call me Dorie.”
Mrs. Modesto looks at Chloe and Castella with pride. Kara cleared her throat to draw attention to herself. Mrs. Modesto wasn’t quite as warm with Castanetta, “Cassie, you look…well.” Dorie clearly wasn’t as close with “Cassie”, as a matter-of-fact Randran had mentioned close friends and family called her Annett. Her parents had started out calling her Cassie, but Castanetta was not a fan of that nickname, so everyone began calling her Annett. Knowing this, “Cassie” felt like a personal attack, whether Dorie meant it that way or not.
“And you seem older.”
“Do I? I’m well past 80 at this point, so I suppose you’re right.”
“My sister can be a bit blunt, sometimes.” Camden attempted to cover.
“I can’t say I ever got a good read on her, she always just stared out the window, in that exact seat now that I think about it. You were always the more studious one.”
“Is that right?”
“It was almost 10 years ago now, since you dropped out, right? Did everything turn out as you’d hoped it would?” She questioned Annett.
“I couldn’t say” Kara responded with her fingers in front of her mouth. This conversation wasn’t meant for Annett, obviously, and she didn’t like this teacher’s attitude, so she stood up and excused herself, “I’m going to join the kids outside, if you don’t mind, Mrs. Modesto?”
“No, not at all, as I said they’ve been looking forward to interacting with the mayor’s daughters for a while now.”
“Yeah, sure, go on ahead, I need to catch up with Dorie.”
Kara maneuvered herself around her desk and stepped out of the classroom. She looked both directions, they’d hadn’t exactly been shown around the place so she wasn’t yet familiar with the layout, the teachers had shown them to the classroom and briefly explained the current school situation; they had probably assumed that the girls were already very familiar with the building. Kara didn’t mind walking around for a bit, she needed to process all that she’d learned. Learning about the history of the world was fine and dandy but Castanetta herself was getting more and more enigmatic by the moment. Once you made it through the basic schooling you could then move on to the advance class, which most elves did, especially those bent on becoming a town guard or a merchant, or adventurer, or a traveler of some sort, though it was just as common to have people stop their schooling and not enter into the advanced courses. In more recent years the advanced class had begun to shrink, helped along in part by a decreasing population, and an increasingly apathetic younger generation.
It seemed as though Castanetta had refused to continue into the advanced course, which would have been fine if she weren’t the Mayor’s daughter, and if she were to logically think it through that’s probably when the decreasing advanced class started. It would explain why Mrs. Modesto wasn’t particularly fond of her.
All three of the mayors daughters were attractive and generally well liked around town, according to their father, even though it appeared as though Castanetta was fairly aloof in her younger years. The others in her class probably saw her as an unapproachable beauty and followed her despite her reluctance to don the leadership role. In fact, that might have been a factor in her wanting to quit, though that logic was lost on her followers. Kara was starting to get a picture of Annett’s situation. It was all guess work of course, so she might be a bit off on the details, but all of that seemed like it tracked.
“Mrs. Castanetta?” A finger tapped her on her shoulder, startling her.
“Jesus! Yes, hi, hello!” It was Mr. Farly, the math and combat teacher, it was an odd combo, thought Kara.
“Hello, yourself.” He smiled nervously.
Kara’s eyes wondered around and she finally saw the door to the courtyard behind Mr. Farly, “Um, hi, It’s been a-”
Mr. Farly suddenly pulls her in and smacks his lips into hers. Kara had no idea what was going on. Mr. Farly wasn’t unattractive, she couldn’t say any of the elves were unattractive, at least from the ones she’d seen; anyway, attractiveness aside, she was at a loss. He unhooked his lips but kept his arm looped around her back. His triceps were bulging under his sweater. Kara took a shaky breath and gently pushed him away. She was incredibly flustered, though she tried her best to get a grasp on the unfolding situation.
“We c-can’t do that h-here?”
“I know, it’s naughty, right?”
“Yes, very. No, more than that, it’s wrong. Right?” Why was she asking him that?
“I know you told me to keep my distance for a bit.”
“Right! That’s totally what I said, so do that!”
“I want to make it public, I’m at my wits end, keeping this a secret. Actually, I don’t want to keep any of it a secret anymore.”
“But we have to!” She had to get a grip and end this conversation before she accidently revealed herself.
“It’s almost finished, another day at most and it’ll be ready.”
She paused considering possible answer, she could feel a clock ticking despite being nowhere near a clock.
“You’re right. I just need a bit more time to think it over.”
“It’s been years-”
“I know” what was she saying anymore, “Just…one more day, you only need another day, right?” He nodded, “So, I’ll have my final answer tomorrow, okay?”
He seems a little ticked but nods his head, accepting this counterproposal.
“Okay. I have to go, alright?” She gives him a peck on the cheek and quickly scurries past him and into the courtyard.
What the hell was that?!?