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R Pantheon

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Late summer heat, the sort that made one long for the frosted gusts of winter. Sweltering and damp, with only a warm breeze for relief. Unsurprisingly, the new students of Pantheon Academy looked sweaty and miserable as they flooded out of the buses. It had been hours from the airport, and they were all exhausted, hungry, and hot. The scent of the sea lingered somewhere in the air, but with the smog of heat upon them, it was difficult to tell from which direction the sea might have been. The misery left the students quickly, however, when they caught sight of what waited beyond the fastigiate cypresses.

 

Through a shrubbery-bathed gateway and following the neat stone pathway was an immense building, Mediterranean in style, with earthen tiles on the shallow roof, and beige stucco walls. With its long arcades, arched windows, and smaller cypresses along the colonnades, it looked more like a mansion than a school.

 

Prefects led the new students up the long pathway and into the front park, filled in on all sides by exquisite greenery. There was an immense archway cut into the central feature of the academy, a round tower of sorts. Through the archway was a shaded portico, home to the main entryway. The aged wooden doors were wide open to welcome the students, surrounded on both sides by potted fan palms and a marble statue of a satyr offering grapes.

 

Inside was a huge entrance hall with a towering, roaring fountain in its very center. A rush of cool air met the group, fresh and relieving in comparison to the humid summer they had just stepped in from. Surrounding the fountain, an elegant double staircase wound upwards along the circular hall. The ceiling boasted glass skylights that filtered in the sunlight, inflaming the whole of the hall with a warm and surreal glow.

 

Before the fountain, a distinctive figure awaited the group with a smile. Relatively tall but nothing so giant that it betrayed his superhuman blood, his long hair looked like spun gold in the sunlight from above. He wore a simple ensemble: clean white shirt, black tie, and double-breasted waistcoat. His eyes, the color of honey, regarded the students as they all tried—and failed—to stop their astonished gawking at the paradise that was to be their new school.

 

"Welcome to Pantheon," the man said, his lipped smile widening into a steady grin. His voice was just as honeyed as his eyes, elegant and deep, with just the fairest hint of a French accent from long ago. "My apologies if you expected Chancellor Hera to greet you, but she's out on business at the moment. I am your vice-chancellor, Alexis de Ste-Croix."

 

"Apollo." The student who mumbled it suddenly covered her mouth as that hawk-like gaze turned sharply onto her. But the vice-chancellor merely laughed softly.

 

"That's right. I know my name is a bit of a mouthful, so feel free to simply address me as sir, chancellor, or even just the VC." He turned to one side, clasping his hands gently before his chest, his fingertips kissing as he silently remembered what he wanted to say. "Returning students arrived yesterday. After the prefects have taken you to your rooms to settle in, please join us for dinner. No rush. Take it all in; this is your new home, after all."

 

Smiling once more, he bowed his head slightly to the prefects, who wrangled up the newbies to take them into the west wing, where the dormitories were located.

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Angus Blair emerged from the bathroom in naught but a single white towel wrapped around his hips. His medium length, flaming red hair was wet and scruffy looking. His lean, natural muscle was still wet and dripping, but in this heat he knew he would dry off soon. He walked casually through the common room of the men's dormitory without much of a care, noting that nobody else was fussed by this display of flesh. They were all fairly used to it by now. The common room itself was a rather splendid affair with stacked book shelves, a fireplace that was rarely required, and particularly aristocratic furnishings with bold red upholstery and dark, smooth oak frames. The floor was solid marble and was clean enough to eat your dinner off of.

Not that such an act was acceptable around here. Angus had to admit it was always a challenge returning here after a summer back at home. Scotland was a beautiful country, and not the warmest set up, but most importantly he was not of a wealthy background. He had spent his summer playing soccer on a public pitch, and also dabbling in a it of amateur ice hockey, something his hometown of Kirkcaldy was particular well known for. Still outside of sports there was little else to do. The night life was stale, all the same old faces, that was the trouble with small towns.

He had made a few trips to the Capitol, Edinburgh, on occasion. Now there was a city he had more time for. He enjoyed the hustle and bustle of a city, everybody seemed to have something to do, somewhere to be. Not to mention the night life was far better, with plenty of clubs to frequent from dive bars to classy affairs. It was somewhat an expectation of Scottish culture to drink and party. He had settled down a lot in his previous two years at Pantheon. This place was a completely different world to him.

He had quickly stripped off and got changed into something for dinner. He had learned quite quickly to dress appropriate to the occasion. He wasn't often the type for dressy, however, so smart casual was the best they were going to get out of him. He had chosen a pair of white plimsoles, with grey chinos, a simple black leather belt around the waist, a tight fitting white t-shirt with a blue and white, short sleeved plaid shirt over it. On his arm he had a silver watch on, Tag Heuer, a gift from his father when he first went to Pantheon.

As he passed through the common room once more he could see that other students were already following suit and preparing for dinner. Angus stopped to look at himself in the mirror above the unused fireplace. He gazed into his cold, blue eyes and flashed himself a cheeky smirk as he played with his hair, making sure it was controlled scruffy, rather than just plain scruffy. Another student passed him by and shook his head with a soft smile.

"You're worse than a woman when it comes to that mop of yours" the student said, his tone light-hearted.
"Aye, lad" Angus replied while maintaining his focus on himself, "You didnae think this handsome chappie standing before you just rolls out of bed looking like perfection, did you?"
"Modest as ever..." Came the response
"Insecurity is an ugly, ugly thing, lad. And if there's one thing I am not, it's ugly."

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The end of summer was torture this far south. Dietrich Stauder sat in the coolest corner of the dormitory common room, stray strands of naturally platinum hair beginning to stick to his skin. Home had been warm, but nothing as sweltering as the sunny Mediterranean climate. Yet the school was at its most ethereal, shimmering in all its warmth, bathed in the renewed energy of hundred of collective souls. Spirits were high, hopes were up, and social proclivity heightened.

 

Dietrich eyed the new and the old with icy reservation. He caught sight of Rindfleisch strutting half-naked across the way, head ablaze with the light shining through his red hair. His body was built like a cow, though chiselled, yet thick, and his face- to Dietrich- was somewhat bovine. Angus might as well have flexed in the mirror muttering praise to his own image.

 

“Ah, Diet.†The familiar velvet voice of Nies, more memorable to Dietrich as Thanatos, glided through his ears and refocused his attention. “It's been a time. How was your summer?â€

 

Dietrich offered a small smile, but did not make eye contact. “Uneventful. How does your family fare?â€

 

Nies exhaled a short, bitter laugh. “I finally took father, but surely you already knew that.â€

 

Dietrich only inclined his head. Nies frowned.

 

“Well,†Nies touched Dietrich lightly on the shoulder. “I must prepare for the dinner tonight. I shall see you later.†He stood and left abruptly, disappearing into the hustle of bodies.

 

Dietrich himself sat in adequate dress, a sleek designer vest and matching slacks fitting the grace of his form. The white laced short-sleeved blouse opened low, revealing the black fishnet shirt he wore underneath at his chest and arms to the elbows. The boy's neck came wrapped in a plain black satin collar, his hands in gloves of the same nature.

 

Dietrich rose and moved against the flow of straggling freshmen down into the grand hall where Alexis yet lingered. So he, too, lingered. Their Vice-Chancellor was every bit as youthful, sharp, and poised as he had ever been. The man was gifted, truly. Dietrich watched him at length, until his gaze became well overstayed and the man acknowledged him.

 

He bowed his head and smiled, charming on his angelic face but insincere in his blue eyes. “It is good to see you again, Vice-Chancellor.â€

 

With that, he hastily made his way onto the campus grounds- his only available exit- and wandered across its grass before the dinner began.

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Alexis remained in the hall as the last of the new students filtered out into the west wing. He sighed gently, practically imperceptible, as older students were pouring out into the hall now that the new kids were gone. Curious as ever, looking down the fresh meat like lions surveying a herd for the weak and vulnerable. Avatars of gods or not, teenagers were teenagers. And teenagers were a vicious bunch. Alexis remembered his days as a student at Pantheon, and nothing had changed. Granted, it hadn't been all that long ago, but it was still enough of a gap to entrench Alexis firmly in his status as a distinguished adult figure.

 

He was young enough that students were far more open and friendly with him than they were with older staff members, namely the chancellor. Alexis smiled to himself, however, noting that even if she had been a twenty-something rather than a middle-aged woman, Hera still would have been quite the fearsome figure. She was not to be trifled with, and it was her vice-chancellor who brought the warmth and feeling to their administrative duo. Thanks to his status among the students as a candid and amiable sort of person, he filled in an unofficial role as a guidance counselor despite there being someone else on that job.

 

Frankly, at a school like this, the kids needed all kinds of help.

 

"It is good to see you again, Vice-Chancellor."

 

Ah, and talking about kids who needed help.... Alexis cleared his throat, banished that altogether rude thought, and smiled at Dietrich perhaps just as insincerely. The blond student was an odd one, but always polite. Really, going around in fishnet and gloves like some sort of goth idol, and in the Mediterranean, no less. Well all right, being a goth teenager wasn't that out of the ordinary, especially given that Dietrich happened to be the incarnation of Hades. But Alexis was Apollo, after all, and true to that, he was a creature of light and sun. Nothing suited him better in the day than being out beneath the sun, soaking up the sea breeze, and at night, he hungered for every last light turned on to banish the shadows.

 

"Mr Stauder," Alexis replied politely. He would have asked if Dietrich was coming to dinner, but the boy rushed right out of the building before the words left his mouth. Well, then. Alexis just stared on after him for a few seconds, before turning his attention across the room again. He shooed the curious students back towards the dorms. Dinner was soon, and they needed to get ready.

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Rhea sat atop her designated bunk bed, delicate feet cross, bright blue painted toes protruding from beneath one knee. Her shoulders bare save for the thin spaghetti strap of her demure, yet elegant yellow sun dress and the waves of thick black hair bouncing around her. Her skin was rich as caramel and glowing in the sun light peeking through the window. Wide, doe eyes stared intently at the books in her lap, her softly hands fumbling through the pages. She pulled chunks of pages from the spiral notebook, each coated with scribbles and notes from various subjects. She filed the torn out pages into a plain folder and stored them away into her trunk of personal belongings that carried very little even though this was her second year. With the notebook now empty of the previous years content she stored the book with several other's that had obviously also been reused into a burlap messenger bag decorated with her own personal drawn-on designs. As with the notes she dropped the bag into her trunk and let it fall closed. 

 

Snatching up a pair of well-worn and well-loved brown sandals she slipped them easily onto her feet and scampered out of the room only to stop at the door glancing back in a great smile spreading across her face. "Come, come," She cooed softly and from beneath her bed a small fox pulled it's body free and hurried after her, dancing around her ankles as she let the door slide closed. Rhea kneeled the small creature easily bound up onto her shoulders and buried itself in her thick tresses. With that Rhea continued on, bouncing down the stairs heading towards the dinning room where everyone would gather, now that the new kids would also be with them tonight, it should be packed. 

 

She waited impatiently at the bottom of the stairs, fiddling the ends of her hair between her fingers as new students and old students rushed by, some filling up stairs to prepare for dinner, other's already heading to the dinning room, and other's still who seemed lost in the large structure. Rhea was far too shy to aid them on their journey even though she knew her first year she had been the same way and if not for Talia she probably would have run screaming from the mass of people. In reality there weren't that many students, but for a girl who grew up on a remote island in a fishing village where everyone knew everyone it was a daunting experience. 

 

Finally, Talia came sauntering down the stairs in all her regal beauty, if Rhea had grown up around social media and the pressure to be 'beautiful' she might have realized how plain she looked next to the goddess of beauty, but she barely batted an eye at it, instead she viewed the other female as she did all females: lovely and beautiful. Rhea's own reflection held little significance to her, before coming to the school the only reflect she had ever seen had been in the water, but even now, she noted her appearance with mild acknowledgement that she was a pleasant looking female, but beyond that, she cared little. 

 

The small fox on Rhea's shoulder raised it's head from it's hidden location in Rhea's mass of hair, peeking out it's little muzzle and acknowledging the familiar female fondly. "Come! I'm starving!" Rhea's voice was soft, even with her exclaim it came out gentle.

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Talia loved her home, but it was never a chore to leave it to go to school. She was simply vacating one Mediterranean country to go to another, and with the climate, she retained the same healthy glow all year round. Her golden skin practically shimmered in the sun, contrasting beautifully against her long, shining blonde locks, and with her toned and slender figure, she knew she was a picture of radiance. Modesty was a good companion for beauty, but Talia knew exactly how to use her appearance to get exactly what she wanted, and was hardly what one would call shy. She'd made herself rather well known in her two years at Pantheon. 

 

Standing in the bathroom of her dorm, she smoothed down the light material of her white playsuit, the shorts falling precariously high on her slim, brown legs. The top was strapless, allowing her to stay cool in the sweltering heat, and the only additions were the small sandals on her feet, and the flower in her hair. She was definitely ready to start another school year.

 

Walking slowly down the stairs to the entrance hall, she saw Rhea waiting for her at the bottom, and smiled in greeting.

 

"Girl, you can't rush perfection."

 

Oh, the joys of vanity. She hadn't been long at all, but she knew Rhea would beat her; she always did. Even if Talia was ready first, she always stalled, just so the other person had to wait. She loathed having to stand around for others, but had no qualms forcing others to.

 

Her friend looked lovely, she really was unaware of her own beauty, and she slipped her arm through Rhea's fondly, grinning at the small fox on her shoulder, before they started walking.

 

"Hello Vice-Chancellor. I hope you had a pleasant break."

 

Always sweet and seemingly innocent. Talia enjoyed charming people, teachers included, and all it usually took were a few flutters of her eyelashess and a smile, and she got exactly what she wanted. Of course, it didn't always work, but she didn't like to acknowledge those incidents.

 

They'd passed Alexis on their way to the dining hall, and it appeared that quite a few people had already arrived, mostly returning students. The newbies would either be unpacking, still getting ready or hiding in the toilets. This place could be quite daunting when you weren't accustomed to it.

 

"So, Rhea, what have you been up to? Tell me everything."

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Stealing away from the clamour was refreshing. As enjoyable as Dietrich found it to be in school, to be among other immortal incarnations, the fact remained that Pantheon was a large school populated by a large number of irritating people. It was easier to tell the dead from the living on the campus grounds- a gift he had garnered early in his years of study here- and much easier to think above the rabble and the bustle and the deplorable bullshit that comes with drinking, partying students.

 

Dietrich slowed to a halt and surveyed the open area. Hot as it was, the campus looked beautiful with its brushy grasses, glittering cobbles, and trimmed shrubs. His eyes always fixed on the smattering of trees around the Pantheon building itself. Darker, somehow cooler even in this heat, and somehow inviting.

 

Dinner would start soon.

He turned and went back into the entrance, through the large doors into the grand dining hall, where most of the student body had sectioned off and found seats. He stalked quietly, back straight, until he found a spot near the luminous Talia-Aphrodite and her near-permanent fixture, Rhea-Artemis. He smiled to them warmly, charmingly, but for the thinly masked contempt in his gaze. Her aesthetic beauty was conceivable, but its ethos was removed, as if beauty could be manufactured. Were he a painter, she would be at her best when laid to rest, features soft and body relaxed, skin oiled and barely perfumed. Yes, then he might conceive of the truth in her features.

 

Dietrich caught himself staring. He averted his gaze with a gentle tilt of his head.

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Angus found himself within the grandiose dining hall, seating himself on one of the lavishly decorated tables. After only the briefest of moments spent waiting, a server had filled the goblet in front of him with red wine. He took a sip from it. He wasn't big on wine, but free drinks were free drinks. It had a fruity aroma and as he washed it around his mouth he noticed the full body, and it was quite dry despite the fruity flavour. He swallowed and nodded approvingly of its finish. It wasn't half bad. It wasn't the corona and lime he would have preferred but it would definitely sit well with dinner. 

 

Angus' eyes wandered around the dining hall. His eyes fixed on a few familiar faces. Rhea and Talia were together, not a surprising sight in the least. He had always found Talia to be incredibly attractive, not surprising for miss Aphrodite. She might not have been the most intellectually rich students but then again neither was he. Besides which he was a young man who focused mostly on physical attributes. He was far more interested in getting between a girl's thighs than getting into her head. Despite this Talia was, as of yet, not available to the likes of him. She was nice enough, but it seemed like Angus wasn't remotely on her radar. No big deal, plenty more fish and all that. 

 

Her friend Rhea was decidedly more down to earth and Angus supposed that she shared more similarity to him than Talia did. However she wasn't the most confident of people, or at least she didn't really stand out. He rarely gave much of his time to anyone who didn't instantly grab his attention. She often seemed to be quite shy around him, actually around most boys. While he didn't overly dislike such a trait, he found it a bit of a bore. There was nothing interesting about a shy person. Although Rhea did seem to be very sweet, unlike other quiet types. 

 

His eyes flitted over Dietrich. He never had much time for this one. He was quiet in a way that Angus found a little unsettling. The guy gave him the creeps. Descendant of Hades he may be, and that was probably quite a strange role to play in this world, but the guy just seemed a bit up himself. Undeservedly so, in Angus' eyes. Sure Dietrich was an intelligent young man, someone who spoke his mind even if people didn't like it, and normally that would be considered admirable. However his attitude just didn't mix well with Angus. He never liked loners. There was strength in numbers. Independence to Dietrich's level smacked of arrogance. The guy had never really slighted him, but he just didn't get a very good vibe from him. 

 

Much like any school, Pantheon was home to a diverse bunch. It wasn't possible to like everybody. Angus took another sip of his wine and waited for the proceedings to begin. At least the food was good in this place. Say what you want about the upper class but they do put on a good spread. He hadn't eaten in hours and he found himself quite famished. He had made use of the facilities to get some exercise in earlier in the afternoon. He was craving protein. He hoped that the menu had a chicken option. He wasn't in the mood for any of the greasy lamb the greeks seemed to enjoy so much. 

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Rhea danced around Talia her yellow dress flaring up around her thighs with her easy movements; all but skipping down the hall as her friend continued her regal walk. "I befriended the local doe around my village and even managed to persuade some of the village girls to approach the deer. I do hope they don't eat them." She stopped her prancing as she mulled over this less than appealing possibility. Her dark brows furrowed with the thought but in seconds the discomfort vanished from her and she returned to bouncing, the young fox found its way into Rhea's arms for security, which she happily held tightly to her bosom, nuzzling its so very soft red fur.

 

Rhea didn't have much to do with her summers beyond fish, hunt, and seek out the local wild life. "How was your summer?" She inquired as she walked backwards facing Talia.

 

They reached the dinning room and they stole away their usual seats, Talia acting as a barrier for her from the male students that she, not so much disliked but found their presence very discomforting. On the other hand, several nymphs greeted her and sat close by, their voices high and musical as they chatted on aimlessly, seeking Rhea's attention and coddling her fox companion. They brushed his fur and fed him scraps for their plate, but in the end the fox would wiggle his way from their grasps and curl up on Rhea's lap.

 

The food that would be presented would be more than would be available to feed her entire village, but Rhea's fleeting attention span barely paid it any attention, instead eating her fill which was unsurprisingly very little due to her limited food supply back home. She had no qualms about eating meat, only that she disliked having not made the kill herself to be sure it's remains were used appropriately.

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"But venison is so yummy, Rhea."

 

She prodded the other girl playfully with her elbow, knowing how fond she was of animals, and her natural ability to befriend them. She hadn't been lying though, venison was yummy. 

 

"Oh, you know, same old, same old. My father was parading me around at his fancy parties, or we were cruising around the island on his yacht. All very normal, day-to-day stuff,"

 

Talia's family were rich. Her father owned several vineyards, which were the source of several expensive wines sold around the world. It made him something of a sociality businessman, who was famous not only for his wine, but for his parties. Maybe one day she could invite Rhea, if her father deemed her acceptable, and her friend recovered from her shyness. Sometimes, she really did wonder how they'd become so close, but they did say opposites attract. 

 

Taking a sip of her own wine, which was average at best, she surveyed the dining hall, which was slowly filling up as the students came back downstairs. Dietrich, the aloof, gothic young man, who never appeared to socialise, but preferred to simply observe, and Angus, the flame haired boy from Scotland. Not a bad face, or body...a possibility, for sure, if she could get past the horrendous accent. Maybe if she made a rule about no talking? She'd noticed his gaze, and gave him a sly smile and wink for good measure, feeling it couldn't hurt. Even if nothing came of it, he could be one of her many admirers. 

 

"Angus, why don't you join us? We never did get to know each other, and I'm sure my friend won't mind, would you Rhea?"

 

If things got too bad, they could simply move away.

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