1. I’m Doomed
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The day my life utterly and completely changed started off perfectly normally.

My alarm clock began chiming, steadily getting louder as I struggled to stay asleep. I was in the middle of a weird dream where a woman with dice for eyes was laughing at me. Something told me it was important to figure out why she was laughing, but the incessant chiming dragged me awake.

“I'm up. I'm up!” I said.

My alarm ignored me, as usual, the tiny golem kept striking the bronze bell with its hammer, until I was on my feet and tapped its marble head. My parents could have set it up that a vocal command would make it stop, unfortunately they thought I wasn't mature enough, and would just go back to sleep if it did that, so it was set for heavy sleepers. The golem watched as I headed to the bathroom, its hammer raised if I dared get back into bed to get a few more minutes of sleep.

After getting the most important business of the morning done, I went to the mirror, which was showing a beautiful summer day in my home of Seven Springs. The weather was supposed to be nice, but you never knew when some weather god, demon or spirit, would decide to mess things up because they were having a bad day, decided to play a prank, or wanted to blackmail mortals for some more prayers and offerings. Splashing water on my face, I started to feel awake. Rubbing a hand over my chin I unhappily sighed, still no whiskers. I was fourteen and still didn't have to use a razor, I also hadn't become muscular, broad or tall, despite my attempts at working out and spending money on potions that promised to make me manly.

“Maybe I should go to the Temple District and try praying again,” I muttered.

Going back to my room, where the alarm golem was once more inanimate, I threw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, making sure to put my wallet in my security pocket, which was specially enchanted to make any non-magical pick-pocketing almost impossible, ran a hand through my short hair to smooth it out, and went downstairs for breakfast.

My parents were there already, it being the weekend, they didn't have to go to work, so it was time for a family breakfast. It was nice, usually Dad had to go to work early in the morning, as an accountant for Goblin Co., he needed to make sure the goblins hadn't messed with the books too badly over night. And Mom was a co-owner of a clothing boutique, keeping her busy designing new clothes and working as a seamstress, while her friend and partner dealt with the books.

“Good morning, Peter,” Mom said, scooping some basilisk eggs and bacon from the frying pan. Dad nodded in my direction.

“Morning,” I said, taking a seat as my breakfast hit the table.

She sat down across from me with her own plate, and slid an envelope towards me. “You have some mail.”

I looked at the envelope curiously. Who would send me a letter? All of my friends were in the city, they could talk to me in person or by magic mirror. Ignoring my breakfast, I opened the envelope, and started reading.

You have the honour of being accepted to Doom Valley Prep School, as a first year student.
Please be at the Seven Springs Rookery, at two pm, today. A ticket will be waiting for you under your name.
Bring whatever supplies you believe you will need, uniforms and school supplies will be provided for you upon reaching school.
Failure to appear at school on time without a valid reason would be unfortunate, and force us to send hell hounds to retrieve you.
Doom Valley Prep School

The flaming sigil at the bottom of the paper proved the letter was authentic. No one sane wanted to risk angering Doom Valley Prep School, which was run and funded by several demons, a few gods, and a large number of world leaders in business, religion and politics. The only school that was more powerful than Doom Valley was the School of Righteousness and Honour, it's sister school and not so friendly rival.

The letter fell from my hands, as the world spun around me. I was doomed. I'd be lucky if my soul escaped intact.

“What's wrong, Peter?” Mom asked, seeing me turn deathly pale.

“I-I-I-” I couldn't speak, so I just handed over the letter.

She read it over, and grinned. “Oh good! They accepted you!”

“Really! Congratulations son,” Dad said, reaching over to pat me on the back.


“Your father and I wanted to keep it a surprise, but we applied to Doom Valley for you,” she said. She acted like it was perfectly fine, even a good thing, and she hadn't just signed me up for a death sentence. “What's wrong? You've been asking to go to a boarding school all year.”

Fighting back tears, I said, “I wanted to go to the School of Righteousness and Honour, not villains school. Do I look like the next evil overlord to you?”

Dad frowned at me. “Doom Valley isn't all about evil overlords, our last four rulers have all been graduates from the school.”

“Yeah, and they all took power by assassinating the last leader. They're still rebuilding the parliament buildings from the last coup,” I pointed out.

“I want to be a hero.”

“We looked into it,” Mom said, “but there was just no way we could afford the fees. Do you know how much a magical sword and steed costs? Doom Valley Prep School is just as good and only half the price. Just because you'll be learning alongside the children of the Mad Immortal Emperor of The Arp Empire, the Barbarian Warlord of the West, and the Dark Necromancer doesn't mean you have to be just like them.”

Dad ruffled my hair, much to my displeasure. “Exactly, you can learn about magic, sword fighting, ruling a nation, managing minions, even how to be a lawyer, and than use that knowledge for good instead of evil. Think of it as getting an inside track on how the enemy thinks. If you do really well, you could start a revolution and take control of our country before you're thirty.”

“If I survive. Only about half of the students actually reach graduation. How about I just go play in traffic, while running around with a dagger every day? I'll have a better chance of reaching twenty.”

That got the look, from both Mom and Dad.

“Now really, Peter,” Dad said, “it's not that bad. Most of the students who don't graduate, survived. They might not be strictly human anymore, but you have to admit being a frog, or a cat, or a statue isn't all bad. Most of them recover after a few years. Douglas, your second cousin was turned into a dog for over five years before he woke up as a human again, and he's a wonderful dog trainer. Now eat your eggs before they get cold. We'll pack up your things for you so you can spend the morning saying goodbye to your friends. So you don't have time to sulk.”

Mom gave me a hug. “Don't worry, dear. Once you get a chance to see what it's like, I'm sure you'll love it.”

Groaning, I started to eat. It would likely going to be my last breakfast, some crazy student would probably run me through as soon as I arrived.


I was suppose to be going out to say goodbye to my friends, but I didn't want to. It was my last day of living, and all I could think of was how I was doomed. I knew from watching the magic mirror, that to survive Valley Doom School, I had to be really strong, really sneaky or really smart.
Standing shirtless in front of the mirror, I raised my arms and made a muscle, straining as hard as I could until I was red in the face, my arms still looked like wet noodles, and my ribs stuck out. I tried to look tough, giving the mirror my best sneer, and it looked like I had to go to the bathroom.

So strength, was not one of my strengths.

How about being smart.

Grabbing my junior grade magic book that my teachers swore by, I flipped it open to one of the harder spells, the deflector shield. I'd been practising it all month and if I could do it I'd at least have something to protect myself from being stabbed to death.

Waving my arms like I was fending off a flock of birds, I said the words, willing reality to bend to my will. My stomach did a flip, my hair rose up, and my voice seemed to boom. It was working, I was going to do it.

A giant invisible hand picked me up, flipped me upside down, and threw me across the room straight into the bookcase. Sliding to the floor, I was buried in books, and my prized statue of the Greywind Paladin landed right on my head. Groaning, I laid there trying to ignore the pain, hoping it would get bored and go away.

So I wasn't as smart as I hoped.


Yeah right. I was the kid who blushed and mumbled whenever I tried to lie to my teacher about not having my homework done, and couldn't get a snack from the kitchen at night when everyone was asleep without getting caught. Lying on the floor I realized I was a dead man before my fifteenth birthday. I hadn't even kissed a girl yet.

Getting to my feet, I wanted to crawl into bed and go to sleep. Maybe I'd wake up and this would all be a bad dream. I knew it wasn't, but I could hope, even if the situation was utterly hopeless.


Maybe I could get divine intervention.


Hopping off the packed golem caravan, which tramped along the street on dozens of legs, following its pre-planned route that was drawn out in runes, I allowed myself a bit of a hope.

Temple Street was full of people looking for a bit of divine help, the air was thick with incense, holy people sold artifacts, begged for coins, offered ancient wisdom for a suitably large fee, and holy favours, also for a large markup. I marched through it all, my backpack full of holy symbols and different offerings I'd gotten from home.

Stopping at the first temple on my list, The Temple of the Holy Virgin, I pulled out a small necklace with three white pearls and put it on. Walking up the marble steps, first bowing to the faceless boy and girl statues that stood beside the doors, I entered the temple.

A yellow cloaked acolyte came up to me, dipping her hand in a bowl of holy water and patted both my cheeks before ushering me further into the temple. Entering the large pure white room, which had about a dozen worshippers, I dropped a few coins into the offerings box, lit some incense in front of the holy fire and knelt to ask the Holy Virgin for help staying alive.

“You look troubled, young man,” a robed priest said, when I got up to leave.

“My parents are sending me to Doom Valley Prep School,” I whispered.

The priest looked down at me, patted my shoulder, and whispered, “I shall pray for you, my son. Good luck.”

On that cheerful note, I left the temple and went across the street to the pure black stone of the Sepulchre of the Dead God. I took off the pearl necklace and placed a thin circlet of ebony on my brow. Walking down the bone stairs into the earth, a zombie groaned while dabbing dark red blood on my forehead.

I placed some more coins into an ancient bone urn, and sat on a hard stool with my head bowed, sprinkling some scented bone ash into an open grave. Having done that I prayed that I wouldn't die anytime soon. I didn't spend much time praying as I had several other gods and goddesses to ask for help from. So after a few minutes I went to leave, only to be stopped by a priestess clad in shadows. She raised an eyebrow and motioned for me to speak.

“I'm going to Doom Valley Prep, so I'm praying for help,” I explained.

She nodded once, placed a hand on my head and whispered, “We shall see you soon.”

“Thanks,” I squeaked, and hurriedly left.

At the temple of the Demon of Murder, the bloody priests laughed and gave me a dagger, after I made a large donation. Testing the dagger on my arm hair, I found out it was duller than a butter knife and also made of tin. The nubile maidens of the Father of the Sky cried and promised to sing a lament for me that night. In the Maze of Mysterious Ways, the gatekeepers told me not to bother going through the maze of life, it would be over soon. The Krakens Disciples dissected an octopus and refused to tell me the results saying it wouldn't help me.
After that it went downhill.

Three hours later, smelling like a potpourri explosion, a useless dagger in my belt and significantly poorer, I returned home with just enough time to eat and head for the rookery.

I was doomed.


My parents took me to the rookery at the edge of the city.

The cries of the giant roc's and the smell of there droppings meant they weren't pleasant neighbours, so not even the poorest people lived near the place. I watched the birds which had wingspans of a hundred and fifty feet, swoop down to grab the large balloon carriages capable of carrying three hundred people who needed to move quickly. I'd travelled by roc once before, and even with the balloon keeping us afloat, I had been terrified that the bird would drop us, or stop on top of a convenient mountain and eat all of us if it got hungry.

Dad parked our elemental powered wind carriage in the parking lot, and we headed inside. As promised a ticket was waiting for me, it was even a special fast track ticket, so I didn't have to wait in line. We walked past the security dragons who sniffed each of us. The emerald blue dragon that checked me out must have liked my deodorant because it shoved its thin scaly head right up my shirt and licked my armpits for five minutes as it's handler tried not to laugh.

With that bit of indignity over my Mom finally decided to fawn over me, while we loaded my bags onto the conveyor belt. She started sobbing, smothering me with hugs and kisses, and calling me her special little guy as she pinched my cheeks, right in front of a group of cute girls.
I honestly think she wanted make sure I'd stay a virgin until I was old enough to leave home.

The waiting room for the special flight to Doom Valley was full of parents and teens, some were like me, with parents who were sobbing and making a big fuss over them going away from home. Others were standing there looking very formal and cool, in all black and red robes, sharpening swords, waving wands and staffs around, or cackling quietly together. I decided that for my continued survival, I should stay away from the bald girl who had several scalps sewn onto her leather armour, and the boy who was knife fighting with his father off in the corner. Something about them just seemed a little off.

“Mom, Dad, could you possibly reconsider, well, everything. I'm quite happy at the city school. Lots of friends, good teachers, a fine, normal, SAFE, education. And it's free,” I said.

“Sorry, son,” Dad said, “we've already paid, and the school doesn't give a refund unless a teacher accidentally permanently transforms, disables, or kills a student.”

“Accidentally kills a student?” I squeaked.

“Yes. If they execute you for punishment purposes, we don't get a refund either, so try not to do anything too bad,” Mom said.


“That hardly ever happens now,” Dad said, way too cheerfully. “The last execution was when a student tried to turn everyone at the school into zombies to take over the world. That was four years ago, and the entire graduating class had to be provided with special magic clothes so that they wouldn't rot away before graduation.”

“I'm going to die,” I cried, glad I'd decided to wear my brown shorts.

“Oh don't be like that. You'll be home for the holidays in three months, and just think of all the stories you'll have to tell,” Mom said, patting my shoulder.

“If I'm still alive and human to tell them,” I muttered.

An attendant came out and shouted that the flight was boarding. With what was all too likely to be a final hug for my kind and loving parents, I got into line, holding my ticket.

“Hey, I'm Micheal. I guess you're going to Doom Valley to?” a very short and skinny boy asked.

“Yeah. My parents thought it would be a great education. I'm Peter,” I said, trying to smile and seem confident.

“Nice to meet you. I'm going on the potions and poisons track. What about you?”

I shrugged. “I don't really know. I think my parents just signed me up for a general education.”

“Ah, a jack of all trades,” he said with a wince. “Good luck.”

“Is it that bad?”

“Well, lets just say a well rounded education might help later on. But while you're at Doom Valley, it just means you find more people who will use you as a guinea pig, punching bag, or unwilling minion. You may want to talk to a teacher about changing that as soon as you can,” he said.

“Thanks. Thanks a lot, I'll do that first thing,” I said my heart sinking down into my stomach. He seemed to know what was going on, so I started wondering if he could use a willing minion. If it helped keep me alive, I'd be willing to kiss butt a little.

“Don't worry about it, guys like us have to stick together.” He reached into his bag and pulled out two chocolate bars, handing me one as we finally reached the ticket agent and were allowed to board the carriage.

“Have you gone to Doom Valley before?” I asked, taking a bite of the chocolate bar.

“Nah, but my Dad and Mom both did. They told me everything I needed to know.”

We found two empty seats side by side and grabbed them, he was nice enough to give me the window seat. The tiny seats didn't leave much room for our feet, knees, or bodies, but at least we were both small so we could fit. The larger students were growling, cursing, and struggling with each other, trying to get a little more room so that their knees were only up around their ears.

Normally I'd be wide awake with nervous energy because of the flight, my impending death, and simple curiosity at seeing dozens of potential fights, murders and mayhem. But I could barely keep my eyes open. Finishing the chocolate bar, I turned to Micheal ready to ask him where he came from when my chin hit my shoulder and I fell asleep.


“Hey Peter, we're here,” Micheal said, giving me a shake.

“Oh wow. Sorry did I sleep the whole way?” I said.

“Yeah, don't worry about it. It was a side affect of the alchemicals I gave you,” he said.

“Wha- what alchemicals?” I asked, pushing black hair out my eyes. Why was my voice so strange? And why was something tickling my neck and ears.

He smiled broadly. “I spent the summer making a new chemical that could successfully transform someone forty percent of the time. Lucky for you, you're one of the forty percent.”

“Transform. Transform into what?” I asked, pulling at my shirt, which felt too loose.

“Transforms your sex, you're a girl now. And the mind control potion should be in affect as well. Popcorn,” he said, staring directly into my eyes.

My brain went a little foggy for a second, but nothing else happened. Breathing hard, I looked down, pulled my shirt out a little and saw that I had breasts, and long black hair hung over my shoulders.

My scream was loud enough to crack every window in the carriage.