Chapter 2:

Interlude: Nora and Theo part I

Shadows of the Elite

Eleanor Thornwood had achieved what could be referred to as the impossible, all thanks to her unique personality that had begun to shine since her childhood...

"When I went to school, all the other noble children shared similar interests. They all enjoyed reading about Sherlock Holmes solving mysteries and arresting bad guys who wanted to take over the place. All the protagonists worked for the good and protected the weak, while all the antagonists were selfish and fought for their own interests. When we were role-playing, some of us portrayed the good guys, and some others relished playing the bad guy, or were forced to do it. They would scream, 'The world will be mine,' but no one ever meant it...

They said there would be a new student, a commoner apparently. How had he gained admission to this prestigious school? Not all nobles could secure a spot for their children here. I was intensely curious about this guy, Theodore Wycliffe. He had black hair and black eyes, wore clothes that seemed inexpensive, and had a good attitude. He even possessed better etiquette than most of the spoiled brats of the noble class. He didn't draw much attention to himself and always greeted everyone with a smile. A smile that conveyed to most people, 'I'm okay, just don't involve me in your day.'

But for me, after realizing how fake his smile was and how sad he truly was, it held a different message. It said, 'If you can see who I truly am, let me know.'

One day, I decided to approach Theodore. He was sitting alone on a bench, gazing upwards. As I came within a foot of him, he spoke.

'Lady Eleanor Thornwood, it's a pleasure to meet you. I've been in this school for a couple of weeks, and this is our first interaction.'

I replied, 'I'm here to ask you some questions, commoner, and you will answer then forget we ever spoke.'

I didn't despise him or consider him inferior; I just didn't know how to respond to his politeness. So, inadvertently, I created a social distance between us. However, he just smiled and expressed his eagerness to answer my questions.

'How did you gain admission to this school?' I inquired.

'It's true that I'm a commoner, Lady, but sometimes, Britain values something beyond class, gender, or race.'

'Are you saying you were admitted solely based on your abilities?' I responded, grinning with a hint of excitement, a facial expression I hadn't worn even in my childhood.

'May I ask you, Lady?'

'I'm the one supposed to be asking!' I stopped and then exclaimed, 'Just spit it out.'

'What's your dream?'

It was our first-ever conversation, and it amazed me how he knew just the right question to ask. I didn't have time to formulate an answer because I was engaged in discussing my plans for gaining more power, for making all of Britain, perhaps the entire world, mine. He continued listening and never once suggested it was impossible. He even delved into the details of how I might achieve it. When my senses returned, I asked him about his dream.

Theodore smiled, that same fake sad smile he displayed to everyone, and said, 'I've been thinking about leadership lately. It's strange; you don't get to choose everything. You can't choose your followers; you have to let them choose you. You can select your rivals, but they're not truly your rivals until they choose you in return... I want to rise to the top like you, but defeating you won't be easy. Can't we sit on that throne together?'

His response intrigued me. He was just a young boy; he shouldn't be saying things that made so much sense. It both excited and annoyed me. I was excited to find someone who shared the same dream, yet annoyed for the same reason.

So, I responded with a touch of anger, 'You'll have to get better if you want to reach the top because I won't share what's mine with you.' Then I left without saying anything more.

But I went and talked to him the next day. He was in his usual spot, so I sat beside him and said, 'Hey, can we study together from now on?'

For the first time, Theodore's face displayed a genuine smile, not the temporary facade of happiness he typically wore, but a real, heartfelt smile. I had always thought he was bad at smiling, but it turned out he was better at it than anyone else."