Juniata Shallows Academy
Next: Chapter 2
Preface: In the beginning there was the evil Athis Empire that attacked, layed siege on and eventually annected the peaceful City State of Juniata (which Desiderata Valley and Bluewater Ville are part of). Only later I gave the Athispeople more depth, so that they are now a desperate people whose homeland suffers from a terrible curse. Some of them rebelled against their leaders and helped the Juniatans regain their freedom. The empire recently crumbled, it´s provinces became independant and one got swallowed by Juniata.
During the occupation the empire founded a university in the colony. Now, about 20-30 years after the, the university is run by Trent Traveller, who is trying his best to keep the mix of human cultures, nonhuman ones and supernaturals together.

Note: I chose "Fantasy" because deitys, magic and the afterlife are part of the story, but the setting is present time, so there will be stereos, computers and even more advanced technology.

City State of Juniata
Province Juniata Shallows
Juniata Shallows Academy
Left (southern) side of the river

It was the newest and largest dormitory, three floors, a flat roof and sixteen rooms in all. Sixteen faces, male and female, light and dark, fit and… not so fit. Sharla could not connect names and faces of her fifteen fellow students she was sharing the dorm with. Heck, she wouldn´t even recognize face OR names. The second eldest Ottomas-child was living in absolute anonymity.

And that was just as the girl prefered it! Sharlas was having the time of her life in the dorms. Finally she could do whatever she wanted whenever she wanted without interference. It was as cramped as at home, but whenever she stumbled over some other human being, she´d just mumble something non-commitional and walk away. And if she ever felt the need to socialize, she could always call her parents and siblings on the phone. Though Sharla was a loner, she wasn´t at odds with her family. No two Ottomai were alike, but everybody accepted everybody else just the way they were. So she´d probably call her family rather often, like – gulp! – once per semester!
In the few days since coming here Sharla had discovered unexpected talents in herself, mainly thieving skills. A little tinkering in the middle of the night ensured that the right wing bathroom downstairs was only useable by her. She had also scrounged an armful of books from the second floor, probably doing the community a large favour in doing so. Nobody ever put a book back on the shelfs. They seemed to be considered a sort of floor covering by the students, like carpet.
The majority of the books Sharla had taken dealt with advanced mechanics, which would come up only in the later years of study. But is was never too early to be prepared, right? Sharla wasn´t a genius, she would not breeze through college. She was more studious than gifted and generally scored B+ or A-. The micro climate here at Juniata Shallows with it´s long autumn and no real winter would help a lot. Climate and weather were of utmost interest to Sharla. Though she was dreaming of becoming Poseidon´s right hand woman, she would just as happily settle as a weathermachine engeneer or curse breaker.
The institute for meteorology was part of the physics faculty, so Sharla´s major would be physics. She´d meet students from the military school branch of the college as well as those from the „septem artes liberales“ civillian branch. Meet them and forget them. Yay!

Pic: Teenage Sharla in one of her "No spaaaace! Wanna out of heeeere!"-poses

Meanwhile Abhijeet Turner got his first lesson of college live in the dormitory for young gentlemen. The children of the aristocracy lived here, as did the offspring of extremely wealthy families or those individuals that were neither of noble birth nor rich, but so popular, renowned, exotic or whatnot that their heritage didn´t matter. Abhijeet briefly wondered what category he belonged in. Certainly not the middle one… the furnishing in his student room was worth more than all of the Turner family estate.
The dormie who was giving Abe his tour was of Athis-stock, too. You couldn´t tell by the look of him, as the Athis empire had swallowed so many countries in the past, that nearly every color of skin and bodybuilt was present. Neither gave his accent away the student´s place of origin. The City State of Juniata and the Athis Empire shared the same language and especially Athiskids growing up in proximity to the frontiers pretty much sounded like Juniatans, give or take some unique words that rarely came up in everyday conversation. Even the fashion didn´t differ so much, thanks to the nomad clans that were constantly crossing borders, mingling and melting with the two larger nations. Nevertheless Abe could tell he was talking to a fellow countryman. Somehow every Athisborn carried himself with an air of someone who expected the worst imaginable calamity to befall him the next second, as well as an expression of wonder why it had taken the catastrophe so long to happen and whether he was still alive or only imagining it.
But even so, Abe would not have expected the advice he got from his new aquantaince:
„Keep your head down, do not draw attention and try not to anger the House of Glory, especially not Isaiah Gavigan. Better don´t dare f****** breath without his say-so.“
Abe stared. „Say again…?“
„I´m sorry if that´s not what you were expecting to hear.“ The sophomore student shrugged. „But that´s what it´s like here. House of Glory pretty much controls this side of the river and this is where we live, after all. Over on the other side the professors are firm with rowdys, but they have a life, too, and cannot babysit us after class. People like us… Athispeople… gotta maintain a low profile.“
„I will not cower in fear…“ Abhijeet ventured. „Especially not in fear of some para-militaristic goons who have never been in a real combat situation! House of Glory? I´ve heard of them, they are all jerks. Insult them back, if they get sassy and you´ll get along fine.“
„Insults?“ The student laughed bitter. „Emma´s magic lamp was stolen. Club Autumn Crocus is missing it´s miniture golf equipment. Gallagher got his nose broken – and HE´s juniatan. Only not patriotic enough for their taste. So if a Newson didn´t stand the chance of a snowball in hell, what could we hope for?“
Abe clenched his teeth. „Let hell freeze over!“ he hissed. „Juniatan freedom has been bought with Athisblood, too! My father…“
„Yeah. Bore them to death with your family history. For my part, I´d rather survive the next four years.“
Abhijeet retorted with the worst insult he knew: „You talk like a bloody npc!“

A little later, alone in his room, Abhijeet´s head sank into his palms. So the war wasn´t over. Not here. Some halfgrown kids that had never experienced battle and bloodshed firsthand found it funny to re-enact it. He himself was nothing more than a halfgrown kid either, but he felt much older. The war had take away Abe´s innocence. He knew how to fight, to manipulate, to spy and to survive.
Abhijeet sighed. Then the erstwhile child soldier sent a prayer to all Jumboks (except the malign fourth!), thanking them for the precious few years he had been allowed to be an ordinary teenager and mentally prepared himself for his next campaign. House of Glory wanted war? They would not know what hit them!

Pic: Rather boring shot of Abe Turner and his sis Margaret (tourists from the BV expansion, may have other names in your game)

The next day Sharla awoke in her comfortable bed with the cloud-white ceiling. She spent a few minutes contemplating the watcher before getting up. The supreme being didn´t like to be worshipped, and had made that unmistakeably clear at the end of medieval times, too. But she did not mind people pondering her nature.
After breakfast Sharla stepped out of the door. The lane beginning right here led through the forest past the dormitory for young gentlemen and the greek house House of Glory to the Florence-Landgraab-Workshop-for Self-Sufficient-Living for those who did not want to pursue a traditional career after college. Sonja found the naming of the greek house touching. The Newson-kids had named it after their adoptive mother, Gloria, who had died in the war. Hadn´t Gloria Newson lived here all by herself? Back then, when the province had been little more than forest and meadows? Who had this woman been, anyway? A forrester in the service of an extinct noble house or something? Sharla did not know.
She had to follow the other road, that went west along the river and then turned north to the faculties. Sharla was just about to take take this route, when a girl her age walked up to her. She was a blonde, wearing a bright green long shirt, pink leggins and lots of beads. Somehow the vibrant coloring complimented her tan skin instead of making into her a real-life Luna Lovegood.
„Hi!“ the girl (No! Woman! We are adults now!) said. „You are new here, too, right? Shall we walk together?“
Sharla´s response of „No, thanks, I have things to, er think about“ came out weaker than she had planned. Why did others never stopp her having to hurt them? Should she just wear a sign „INTP-personality, only talk to in emergencies, engage in smalltalk at your own risk“?
Sharla started to run. She enjoyed exercise in general, but this time she ran to get away from the stranger. She felt so bad for being rude, that she did not notice much of her surroundings.
The road went past the Juniata Blue Barracks, where officer cadets studied and trained. Across the street was a low security prison, the dormitory for criminal youths on their way back into society. Then came the Campus Mall which doubled as faculty for Business Major students, the only faculty this side of the river.
Finally there was the small grove where Club Autumn Crocus had build it´s greek house.
The members were all nature fanciers. They grew their own food, maintained a fishing pool and spent most of their time outside. Sharla found the concept interesting, but participating in club activities just wasn´t her style. She paused to watch, though.
Two students, boy and girl, erected a fence around the lot. It looked defensive, but was also adorned with flowers and vines. One of the students Sharla knew from the newspapers: Princess Brandi Stompel, daughter of the richest nomad merchant, future queen of the City State. Boy and girl waved to the passer-by and Sharla felt her social bar max out for today when she returned the gesture.
She crossed the bridge to the northern shore, walking normally again. There a young man walked straight towards Sharla. He wore white trousers, heavy military boots, a tank top and a padded vest in Juniata´s national color, dark blue. „Hey there!“ the student greeted Sharla. „The name´s Gavigan, Isaiah Gavigan. I couldn´t help but notice how you rebuffed the Athis-trash back at the dorm. Good job!“
Sharla paused. The man was cute, even though was talking nonsence. Talking nonsense was what made him cute. Had he just kept his trap shut, he would have to be considered handsome. „Gee, like I´m one to judge this“, Sharla thought. „I must count myself lucky that people do not attempt to bring me home from vacation for thinking I´m a monster.“
Her looks had always been working for Sharla: they were more than suitable to keep others at bay. But this Isaiah suddenly made her wish she´d look more like the pretty girls. There was something in the air, call it chemistry, call it attraction… Perhaps it was the man´s voice, which was very soft for a male. It made her dreamy… Sharla suddenly knew, this was a man she´d like to take to the cinema once or even twice a year! Every year!
„Your thoughts seem elsewhere.“ Isaiah smiled. „That´s okay. Everything must be new and overwhelming to you.“ He turned around, took a few steps, turned back and waved, all the time smiling warmly. „See you on campus!“
„Waaaatcheeeer…?“ Sharla whispered. „Do not attempt anything stupid, now, please!“

Pic: House of Glory members marching up, looking to cause trouble
Gabriella Newson, Isaiah Gavigan, Georgia Newson

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