Strange Things Await
Virtus Academy, #1
by Jamila A. Stone
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, LGBTQ
Publisher: Black Glory Publishing House
Date of Publication: April 2019
Number of pages: 288
Word Count: 98,270
Cover Artist: Michael Corvin
At Virtus Academy a boarding school for the supernatural, the students are not your average High Schoolers. They might go through some of the same social problems, these students are powerful and many dangerous. From vampires, witches, werewolves, and werecats these youngsters must learn how to navigate classes and other species who might on the outside of campus be a natural enemy.
Virtus Academy’s walls are going to be shaken up this year as they never have before. Not only do the walls have to contend with two young Sophomore witches (Natalie King and Alexandra Aurelius) who despise each other so much so they constantly wage war against the infrastructure, there’s a monster on the loose killing students.
Will these two witches who once were best friends rekindle that friendship in time to help each other through all that’s about to hit them this year? Or will they fail to unite even after a mutual friend of theirs get captured by the same monster killing students?
The night had felt better and it came from that one kiss she had shared with the dashingly handsome vampire who fought hard for her. For Nat, it capped off the beautiful night even with Hamilton humiliated and leaving with promises of getting her, she couldn’t help but feel somewhat proud of herself.
Doing her bid to avoid more drama from the other kids, she had chosen the alternate route leading to her dorm room, cutting through the almost worn off pathway just behind the rave house, heading north with the dorm house not yet in sight. It was going to be within her reach as long as she continued on her path for another ten minutes.
It was at that moment everything slowly began to feel odd. The air changed, followed by an uneasy feeling growing down her spine in form of tingling sensation which she had come to trust to mean that trouble was heading her way. It was something her mother had always asked her to watch out for; the sixth sense embedded into witches right from their time of birth.
“What now?” a rather embattled and worried Nat asked herself. She wished she had taken the normal quick route.
“Is anyone there?” Nat asked turning to her left, nothing. She clung unto her purse tightly.
The air grew colder, and fog soon began to fill her surrounding oddly.
She began to quicken her steps and managed her breathing so her hearing could remain focused and sharp enough to pick up any odd sounds. The sounds came in plenty; from leaves being rustled aggressively, to twigs being stepped on and snapped. Yet, Nat choose not to look back; she couldn’t deal with the thought of having a bunch of vampires hunting her down on Hamilton’s behest.
“Russel!” she called out softly, wondering if she should have taken his advice and allowed him to walk her to her dorm before heading to his.
All she could do was to keep her unsteady breathing pattern steady as possible, while her feet walked as fast as they could carry her.
Yet, the dorm room seemed further away the more she attempted to get closer. In fact, for the past five minutes, she had managed to walk on the same spot without realizing it until she stepped on a large trunk of wood which had almost tripped her and then she first realized she was being tailed by someone.
“Witches!” Nat sounded in fear and mumbled underneath her warm breath.
Her lungs stung and her eyes burned as the fog slowly began to clear and grant her vision of her surroundings.
“One…” Nat counted the incoming figure from her left before looking around. “No… two… three… four!”
“I don’t know what you want but I’m not going down easily!” she declared with her fists raised barely keeping them up. School grounds were supposed to be safe.
One to her left cackled in a dark laughter, while the others simply closed in without giving off any sound asides the crunching sound from the snapping twigs and dried grasses beneath their feet.
“This should be fun,” one of them mumbled.
Another cut right in, “She seemed to have a lot of spark in her earlier.”
Nat’s mind raced wildly with thoughts and her entire body grew numb as the four finally came to full view. She stared at them one at a time and felt her inside walls collapse as she struggled to figure out what exactly it was that she was dealing with.
“What are… what are you?” she stuttered, noticing the same faces staring right back at her.
The four figures were impossible to tell apart and they donned nothing different as regards to their clothes nor their faces. She had never come across such an anomaly in her life and it threatened to topple her to the ground just by the eeriness of things.
Boxing her in, one stepped closer and smiled right into her face. “What’s the matter little witch? You never seen perfect shape shifting before?”
Nat had never come across their kind before. She had indeed heard of them, but they never showed themselves out in the open a lot.
“But… but…” she stuttered.
“News flash!” another replied. “We aren’t as hidden as many would believe.”
Feeling the one to her left shove her hard to the ground, the four slowly transformed into girls of the same liking before turning into elderly men as they morphed their skin and facial features impressively, before finally settling to their initial look. It sickened her stomach and she was about to feel even more nauseated as they drew closer.
“We won’t hurt you,” one promised.
“We just want some sugar,” another joked.
Nat struggled to fight them off with punches, but they succeeded in pinning her down regardless. With her hands pinned on either side by two of the shape shifters, one stood watch and the fourth slowly began slipping his pants down, Nat forced her hands free and ripped her nails into the fourth’s face, causing him to shriek in pain as he struggled with his already fallen pants.
“You bitch!” he cried, yanked at his belt and began to wrap it around his knuckle.
Yet, she wasn’t done and upon sighting a large branch in the nearby bush, she waved her hand at it and watched it levitate but not convincing enough in the air, while her captors laughed and made a mock of her. Feeling her anger fueled, she swung hard with every intent possible within her bones and the branch struck one of them in the face immediately.
It would be the act that got them even more enraged, and most notably, the one she had struck.
Nat watched his fast swinging hand reach her face, and suddenly knock her into a barely conscious state. He still wasn’t done. He came swinging hard for the second time, but his fist didn’t connect as something seemed to hold him back against his will. A glowing light, burning brightly in the distance approached and seemed to startle the shape shifters who turned their attention to the person.
“Leave the girl alone!” a feminine voice warned.
“This isn’t any of your business bi…” one of the shape shifters had barely spoken when he started to clutch his throat with both hands.
Nat watches her assaulter choke and her savior approach in a steady walk, Nat managed to make out fuzzy images from her somewhat swollen eye from where she had been punched. They weren’t having a good time with whoever had come to her rescue. The girl bore what appeared to be fire in both hands, before ramming it hard into one which caused the others to slowly crumble to the ground in agony.
“Show your real self you coward!” the girl demanded.
The four bodies slowly began to merge into one, while the single figure coughed and slowly got to his feet with a rather enraged look on his face.
“Who do you think you are?” he asked.
Lunging forward and hammering down Nat’s savior, Nat could only attempt to crawl towards the fight to try and assist but it proved more difficult than she had imagined it would. Her spine felt stiff and her joints were unresponsive. Her rescuer seemed to be in trouble as the huge framed attacker now in his true form reached for a rock to his right and threatened to hammer it down on the girl he had pinned to the ground.
“Watch out!” Nat felt herself scream and try to warn the other girl.
Thankfully, the girl had managed to draw out a silver knife from within her boot, rammed it hard into the shape shifters’ chest which sent it squabbling backwards in a painful roar. It struggled to hold the knife as he felt it burn his hands as he continued to growl then began to burn violently from the magical knife jammed into his heart.
Nat felt her heart threaten to give way. Sweat rolled down her face immediately as she came to the realization that someone had just killed for her. Her hands trembled while her weakened frame struggled to get back into a sitting position but found it to be almost impossible. The blow to her head not only left her with impaired vision but some way left her struggling for balance.
“You shouldn’t try to overly exert yourself,” the feminine voice said before laying her hand to rest on Nat’s forehead. The voice is familiar.
Nat could hear the girl mumble words she recognized to be mild healing spells. Warmth quickly spread through her face and around the wound, causing it to close back up.
“You’re good as new,” she said, gently backing away while she held her hand out for Nat to grab hold of.
Nat opened her eyes and looked up at her savior, Alexandra, who slowly began stepping away.
“Alexandra!” another girl in a low-cut top came rushing through. “Oh my god, what happened?”
“Alexandra? Why the hell would she come to save me, she hates me,” Nat thought with a soft gasp.
Alex motioned for her friend to remain where she was, before leading Nat out from the dark woods and turning around upon getting to a more lightened clearing leading towards the dorm. Nat motioned to speak with her, but Alex obviously wasn’t interested in having a conversation. It was typical of Alex after all and after all those years, she still seemed to have a chip on her shoulder.
Nat felt rather happy to have been saved by her, though somewhat sad by the situation of things between her and the girl she used to call her best friend.
About the Author:
Jamila A Stone lives in Washington, D.C with her two dogs. Jamila is driven to tell stories without censorship and for the continued creativity in the world of literature. As an African American woman, she understands the lack of opportunity persons of color have to let their artistic creativity be seen on equal platforms, so she created her own publishing company called Black Glory Publishing House. She thinks not just of herself but of the current and future of literature namely increasing the diversity and inclusion within the literary community.