Zendaya walked into Baramore’s office and knocked on the door. He didn’t seem to notice and so she leaned back against the door until he looked up at her.
“What do you need, Zen?” he asked tiredly.
“A better response, first off,” she replied with a smile.
“You’re right… I’m sorry. I’ve just got a bit going on.” Baramore rubbed his temples with his fingers as he leaned back in his chair.
“Like what?” Zendaya asked, walking forward to sit in a chair in front of his desk. “Is it just me or is it really hot in here?” she absently shook off her jacket.
“It’s nothing we should be talking about,” Baramore answered her first question. “And I had the heat up because of the colder weather today.” His gaze drifted to her arms and he stood up abruptly. “What is that?”
Zendaya looked down at her arms and realized her welts were exposed. She could have cursed for taking off her jacket. “It’s nothing. It’s just…”
“What did Nevara do?” Baramore asked angrily.
“It wasn’t on purpose!” Zendaya often found herself defending her sister. “She was just feeling happy about a test or something…” Zendaya sighed and slumped back in her seat. “Baramore, quite honestly, I feel like she just does it for the pain it causes me.”
“Hey, keep smiling, dear,” Baramore said quietly. Zendaya nodded, continuing in a much happier tone.
“She seems to just get happy feelings in order to cause me pain these days. I don’t know what’s gotten into her. Our relationship used to work so well before.” Baramore nodded. Zendaya and Nevara had been cursed as babies. A Huntress who had gotten into a fight with their mother over who had the right to their father had hired a witch to set the curse. When Zendaya felt any negative thought, Nevara would be put in pain, and when Nevara felt a single happy thought, it caused Zendaya pain. The pain manifested in different ways every time. That morning giant welts had formed on Zendaya’s arms as though someone had brought down six whips at once when Nevara had felt happy about something. Zendaya tried to stay as upbeat and cheery about everything as she could to keep Nevara from getting hurt.
Zendaya glanced at the clock. “I should probably get going. I’ll be late for third period.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it. Vaiko isn’t in today and your class is working with Principal Berret.” He glanced down at a sheet on his desk. “Though, it looks like she’s just given them a free period.”
“Really?” She watched Baramore’s strained movements after he mentioned Vaiko. “What happened?”
“What do you mean?” Baramore turned to her.
“With Vaiko. Where is he? What did he do?”
Baramore sighed. “He didn’t do anything. He just…died.”
Zendaya’s eye brows knit together with concern. “What?”
“Zendaya, I’m really not supposed to be telling anyone this.”
Zendaya grinned and crossed her arms. “You think PB won’t be telling Rhea about it right this second?”
Baramore nodded. “You’ve got me there.” He looked around the room until his dark gaze came back to rest on her. “There’s some kind of dark creature hunting Shadow Creatures.”
“You mean other than the Hunters?” Zendaya asked worriedly. Baramore nodded. “And this thing killed Vaiko?” He nodded again.
Suddenly, the bell rang for fourth period. Zendaya stood up. “Sorry, B, but I’ve got to get to class. Can we talk more later?”
Baramore nodded and smiled at her as she exited his office.
Zendaya walked through the corridor and ran into Rhea, who had been coming out from the opposite corridor, in front of the stairs. Rhea smiled, though it seemed like a transparent smile, as though she was hiding something beneath it.
“Ready for fourth period, guys?” Alexia asked, walking down the stairs with Myst.
Rhea nodded and she and Zendaya followed the were-beings back up the stairs to the second floor. While their class had been Vaiko’s only class, they were also Professor Trepka’s only AP Shadow Creature History class.
“What are the odds that another of our AP teachers isn’t here today?” Alexia whispered to Myst.
“Not very likely.” Professor Trepka the elf opened the door with her usual scowl and herded the class into their seats. “Today we will be discussing the Elf and Dwarf War of 1322. Can anyone tell me what started the war?”
No one raised their hands. Professor Trepka sighed and called on Zendaya.
“The Dwarf king of the time had a young son who was killed by a passing elf and he blamed the incident upon the entire elf nation. He retaliated by killing Elf king’s daughter, his most prized possession. The war went on for nearly a century before they were able to negotiate peace through the Treaty of Tripoki.”
Rhea looked at her in surprise. Zendaya smiled sweetly. Though she never raised her hand, she already knew all the history of Shadow Creatures from her readings and Professor Trepka had tried every day since the beginning of the year to ask a question Zendaya didn’t know the answer to.
“Got me again, Ms. Zendaya.” Professor Trepka sat back in her seat and smiled. “I’ll get you eventually, don’t you worry!” She then opened her textbook and started lecturing them about the Elf and Dwarf War in more detail.
Zendaya let her mind drift as Professor Trepka tried to drill into their heads that the dwarves and elves were usually both peaceful creature and this war was the only time in either history when they had chosen a side in a war.
Zendaya thought about what Baramore had told her about Professor Vaiko. She still couldn’t believe the crazy old scientist could be dead.
“We will be having a project due sometime next week.” Zendaya came back to the class as Professor Trepka began explaining what the project would involve. “You need to choose a war in history and write report over it, as well as create a visual to bring to class and give a presentation.” She then turned her piercing ice blue gaze on Zendaya and smiled as she swept her long blue hair out of her face. “Though, you, Zendaya, will be doing something different.” Zendaya sighed. She stood up and walked to Professor Trepka’s desk.
“Yes, Professor?” she asked.
“I want you to go through the history textbook and find something you’re interested in. Any event; war, peace, politics, anything. And do the same report on it. Thing is, you have to choose something you didn’t previously know about and stand up here and admit to the class that you didn’t already know about the event.” Professor Trepka grinned mischievously.
Zendaya grinned. “Seriously, Professor? You want an admission of something in history I didn’t already know about?”
Professor Trepka nodded enthusiastically.
“Alright. I’ll get back to you on that tomorrow.” Zendaya went back to her seat, where Alexia, Myst, and Rhea were stifling laughter.
“Class dismissed for research. Spend the rest of the period on the magic web or looking up books in the library. This is what we will be working on for the rest of the week.”
Zendaya left the classroom with Rhea and Alexia while Myst went to ask Professor Trepka about a possible topic.
“So what are you going to do?” Alexia asked Zendaya.
“Oh, you’ll see in class tomorrow.” Zendaya winked and quickened her pace, leaving the two girls behind.