The first impression one would get upon seeing Balefire Academy would be that they had stepped back in time, at least that's what Shaun Xander was first reminded of on his first day setting foot on campus. The building was build like a massive castle in the middle of the city, it towered over all the small shops that had been built as houses back when the city was first founded. Worn grey stone and elaborate stain glass windows, it was truly a beautiful building, if you were the type to find buildings attractive. Shaun wasn't here just to marvel at the pretty colors though, he was here along with many first year students to take his entrance exam.
To gain admittance to the academy every potential student had to go through an entrance exam. The first step was a blood test to ensure that students were in fact fully human. It kept the school's human only reputation clean and made parents happy knowing that their children wouldn't have to go to school with anything less than other humans. It was all completely unfair if you asked Shaun but he wasn't in any position to change the way the system worked. He followed the shuffling crowd out of the front courtyard and into the entry hall. They were lined up to enter what must have been the dining hall. He sighed and weighted, the tests that came after the medical exam were what concerned him. For now all he could do was wait with his thoughts and a crowd of equally uneasy students.
After the blood exam the students were given written and physical exams to determine what rank they should be placed in for that school year. Shaun didn't have much in the way of physical strength but he had years of lore being poured into his head to prepare him for this moment. His father and uncles had long since decided that he was going to become a hunter just as they had, his training had lead him here and he didn't feel as confident as he should. He was next in line for the blood screening now, he was really starting to get uneasy. The second they okayed him to proceed his trial would begin. His whole family was waiting to hear about his results with bated breath. He was the first in his family to get into a school of this prestige and he didn't want to blow it.
They called him forward and sat him in one of those grey, metal, folding chairs that his high school had used for assemblies. They rolled back his sleeve and drew a small vile of his blood. They then dropped a few crimson droplets into a chemical solution on the table next to him. Nothing happened, which apparently meant he passed, and as he suspected was human. They waved him through to the back where other students were sitting already scribbling frantically. He moved as casually as he could to the back of the room to get his own written test booklet. He took an empty seat at a table and began to write. Years and years of training helping him recall as much as he could about how to kill monsters. Some were easier to answer than others, killing a vampire was common knowledge at this point, taking out something like a Wendigo was something else entirely. He sighed and dug himself in, aiming to do the best he could to earn a decent rank.
He finished the last question on the exam and got to his feet, turning his exam into the drop box on his way out into a second courtyard in the back of the dining room. His legs were shaking now and all he wanted to do was be done. He knew he wasn't fit enough to fight a monster hand to hand like some of the guys already standing around outside. He wasn't skin and bone but he was nobody's definition of muscular that was for certain. An older man, maybe in his late thirties was standing in the middle of the courtyard away from all the students. "Alright kids, this is the last part of your entrance exam. We want to see how physically skilled you are, this isn't to single anyone out. This is just so we can train you properly, preferably without any serious injury." He called, the hot summer air rushing past them as he spoke, a few other men stood joined him in the front of the group. They hardly looked older than the new students and were examining the group grimly.
"These are second year students from class D, they're here to help us with this part of the exam." The instructor continued pointing down the line. "The rules are simple, you have to either go through them and make it through the next set of doors and up into the waiting room or you fail. If you cannot get past them, you fail." He said with a grim finality in his voice. "You can keep trying until I call you out or you feel you cannot continue. Don't push yourself to the point of breaking just yet." He stepped forward marking a halfway line between the groups of students. "On the count of three" He began, Shaun saw the others eyeing up the older teenagers. He felt his body tense up ready to run. "One" they shifted restlessly. "Two" Shaun spotted the route he wanted to take. "Three" The administrator stepped out of the way and the two groups surge towards each other. forty or so students trying to push past the midpoint.
Shaun knew he wouldn't make it through the center, he skirted to the right hand side, there were only a few of the older teens blocking his path and he felt he could side step him. Part of the challenged he soon realized was figuring out who was on your side and who was opposing you. The second years were having a hard time figuring out who was new and who was one of theirs. Shaun, took the advantage and tried to blend in as he met the line, deliberately grabbing at the faces he recognized as others from his year. He was able to push the bulk of the crowd, avoiding conflict with the opposing team and shoving at his classmates. He was almost through and he saw a few other luck students break away, then he felt the hands on his shoulders.
"Go get them" Someone behind him ordered, pushing him the rest of the way through. he didn't hesitate and took off running, "Right behind you" the same voice came at his shoulder. He turned and almost stumbled. The guy was tall, he had at least a foot on Shaun and was clearly pretty damn athletic. "That was a smart move." He said, both slowing to a jog as they reached the door. "Better hurry before they figure you're not one of us." He said stopping at the door. "Why are you even helping anyways?" Shaun asked, it didn't make a whole lot of sense for the second year to help him out. "Like I said it was smart. Not many people try to avoid the fight. I learned the hard way the answer isn't always a fight." He turned and sighed, one of his classmates was almost at the doorway. "Run kid." He said starting back towards the fray. Shaun didn't hang around. But he turned at the first landing to see the second year, bump into his classmate hard enough to make him stagger back a few steps and buy him a few more seconds.
His he dropped into one of the seats in the mostly empty classroom. He was alone aside from a few other students, a girl with silver hair was seated in the back looking extremely bored. He was done, it was hard to believe that he made it this far and was one of the first ones back, he was more amazed his stupid plan had worked. The other guy had called him smart, and he supposed that most kids here wouldn't think to avoid the fight they might not be able to win. He just had known that there was no way through the middle and had gotten lucky. He might not have even made it without help. He would consider it sheer dumb luck that got him here in one piece, not his own intelligence, well not only his intelligence at least.
Several more students tickled in, sometimes with one of the older teens right on their heels. Shaun, started to see more pairs of students coming in together. Some of them were working together to pass. After a half an hour another adult came into the room, a stack of folders in her arms. "I'm going to out your name, if you are here right now you may go to your dorm and meet your roommates for the next school year. Your placement and a map leading to your dorms is in each folder, you class schedules will be arriving over the next few weeks. Congratulations in advance, let's begin." She began rattling off names and students climbed wearily to their feet. "Shaun Xander" she called, Shaun rose to his feet and accepted the folder. He opened the door and peered inside. He sighed in relief, he had made it into class C, which wasn't the best, but he wasn't at the bottom. He smiled wearily to himself and set out for the dorms.
When Shaun entered the room that would be his home for the next several months he was surprised as to how empty it was, two other students were seated heads together in hushed whispers looking at something in their laps. A few others were unpacking and appearing to go unnoticed. As he took in his surroundings he was once again socked as to how nice it all was, he had expected something more militaristic. Instead the rectangular dorm room was home like, almost cozy. At least a dozen beds were pushed against walls and at the foot of each sat a small, hinged bench that would hold most of their belongings. Several desks were also bunched together in small groups. The sheer size of the room was impressive, he roughly estimated that several dozen people could fit comfortably within without the furnishings. He began to seek out his own bed, he was intending to sleep at some point during the year after all.
He eventually settled for the bed against the wall closest to the two whispering boys. They seemed like the only two people here willing to acknowledge each other's existence. As he sat, going through his things he tired to listen in only to gain small snatches of conversation and the occasional fit of laughter. Shaun glanced at his watch, they still had roughly a half hour until they would all have to go down stairs for dinner. He steeled his nerves at walked over to the others, he couldn't quite place it but something seemed interesting about them, and really what was there to lose? They already didn't know each other. As he approached they stopped talking to watch him, too late to abort mission now. "Since you two seem to be the only ones willing to actually acknowledge another person's presence, I figured I'd at least introduce myself. We are going to have to be rooming together for at least a year after all." The guy with glasses and black hair looked up. "Alecks" he let go of his DS and extended his free hand. "Shaun" He replied accepting the hand shake. "I'm Ray" The his friend replied mimicking the gesture before returning to his game.
"You can sit you know" Aleks smiled up at him after an awkward pause. Sinking down on to the bunk across from the others he watched their fingers tap across the small screens. "So why are you here Shaun?" Ray asked, looking up slightly to meet his gaze, there was something off about his eyes but he pushed it aside. "My whole family has hunted monsters since monsters have existed. It seemed like a logical choice, plus it's more interesting than taking a pedestrian job. I can't see myself behind a desk, not knowing what I could be doing." He answered, he knew it was cliché but he honestly couldn't think of a better answer. "You sound like my Dad." Alecks responded, his tone trying to hide some humor small amount of humor. "Not that that's exactly in insult. Is it mister Ryan" Ray shot back, smirking at the teen across from him. "I didn't intend it to be one" Aleks shrugged. "So your dad is a hunter I take it?" Shaun asked feeling a bit foolish, he never really followed hunters like everyone else seemed too. "Travis Ryan, one of the best in the city." He replied coldly. "I'd rather people didn't know that my dad got me into the damn school." He added venomously. "I doubt anyone will jump to that conclusion." Shaun answered calmly, he was used to keeping an even tone when people where bristling. Aleks exhaled and returned to his game.
"I joined the academy to be like him, it's hard living in a shadow. I'm sure you get that. I'm different than my father, I understand a bit of both sides and people don't like a sympathetic hunter. At least that's what he is always telling me." He sighed. "I love my dad but he's a bit of a jerk about hunting." Shaun nodded, he had seen his cousins go through the same things when it came to his uncles. His own father was letting him walk his own path, being the youngest in the family had had time to learn from his brothers. "What about you Ray?" he inquired turning to the third member of the little group. "I can't think of anything better to do with my time. My parents just want me to do whatever makes me happy so I'm here." He shrugged noncommittally. "Good enough reason I suppose." Shaun nodded settling to watch the other two play.