Bryn hurriedly checked her mirror. Her shoulder-less black gown flattered her nicely, the bodice of shiny black leather with a black suede skirt. Metal studs edged the bottom hem of the skirt, and her black leather choker bore a red leather rose. Her brown and dark green hair was tied back, and complimented the dark green shawl draped over her arms, leaving her shoulders bare. The ceremony was due start in just a few minutes. Pulling the customary quill from her hair she dashed towards the Great Hall, where the cadets, heroes, and teachers had gathered.
The Hall had been decorated with colorful streamers, lamps, and a huge buffet would be brought out. The bands were warmed up and ready to play. She hoped the gods that had RSVPed would show up. Ares hadn't responded, thankfully. She didn't need him showing up and causing trouble and mayhem-which was what he did best of course.
The Chancellor who was returning had been communicating by owl messenger for several weeks, and was unsure if she'd be able to return in time to announce the new Chancellors tonight.
Reaching the Great Hall, she slipped in through the back. She would serve as Master of Ceremonies, which meant she had to keep Iolaus off the stage and under control.
Bacchus was the first to arrive, sweeping in grandly in his shimmery red and black cloak. Three companions were with him, but he assured Bryn they would behave. He took his place at the table decorated for the Gods. His eyes landed on Neila and he smiled.
They were soon joined by Apollo, Hermes, and Athena. Discord appeared in her customary dominatrix outfit, eyeing Gorax hungrily. Kora even arrived, looking perturbed yet lovely, as usual.
Aphrodite arrived fashionably late as always, resplendent in her pink lingerie and accompanied by several lovely young priestesses. Smiling and waving, she joined Bacchus at the table. Hephaestus arrived and glared at Aphrodite.
The lights dimmed and Bryn took the stage to thunderous applause.
"Thank you, thank you," she smiled nervously. "I would like to formally welcome you all to the Grand Reopening of the Young Hercules University!"
The crowd roared its approval and she had to wave at them to quiet. "We have some fun stuff tonight, including a clip show of some old Hoolies and live music, and we are honored to have such esteemed guests among us!"
The Gods present raised their glasses to the applause.
"Our first act will be a little show by Iolaus and Hercules-" Bryn had to wait for the cat calls to die down, "-showing us a little demonstration of what we can expect here at the Academy."
"Shake it baby!" someone yelled from the back of the room. Bryn frowned at the disturbance and stepped off stage.
From opposite ends of the stage, Hercules and Iolaus vaulted forward, staves in hand, and immediately went into a spar that seemed more like dance than a fight. Both boys were grinning as they ducked, dodged, jumped over the other's staff and tried to knock the other off his feet. The girls cheered and whistled as the boys began to sweat.
Finally they called it a draw and bowed to each other, then to the cheering crowd.
The band, Herry and the Troglodytes broke into an enthusiastic song that had the cadets up and dancing. Discord slid up alongside of Gorax to lure him into a dark corner. Gorax retreated in alarm, looking for a place to hide. Bacchus moved towards Neila, who was safely whisked into a dance by Jason. Casche smiled coyly at Apollo, who was gliding towards her with a big smile.
Bryn was startled as there was a soft tremble under her feet. The cadets glanced around.
"What was that?" Iolaus asked.
The soft tremor came again.
"An Old One," Bryn whispered, forgetting she qualified as an Old One. "An Ancient!"
The cadets turned as the door to the great hall began to swing open. A hush fell over the crowd.
In walked a short, slender young woman with shoulder length brown hair and bright blue eyes. She looked exhausted and had the air of a weary warrior, but she wore Amazon leather. A green vest and black pants, bands on her upper arms, and she carried an Amazon staff. With her was a tall, lean, handsome man with very short dark hair and green eyes.
"Kalina!" Bryn shrieked.
The whispers ran through the crowd. Kalina Fairlight, of Iolaus Hall, scribe and warrior, was back. A true Ancient was here!
"Methos!" Bryn rushed forward and hugged the pair. "You made it!"
Kalina nodded, looking over the old and new faces as Iolaus hurried forward to hug her. The other heroes followed and there were several minutes of hugs and new cadets came forward to greet the pair.
"I have a table over here, a special table in case any of you Ancients showed up-" Bryn guided them to a circular table near the front. The chairs were draped in white and tied with gold sashes.
"We don't need-" Kalina started.
"Of course you do! Sit, sit, make yourselves comfortable." Bryn snapped her fingers and two cadets rushed forward to bring wine and food. Methos held the chair for Kalina to sit, and then joined her as the cadets eagerly watched them. Ruff had scurried over to sit in Kalina's lap.
Lilith was the next performer, twirling fire batons as she spun in a tight circle and threw in a few back flips.
Catching a baton with each hand, she bowed to the audience who roared with approval and a few whistles.
Bryn took the stage again, smiling and applauding Lilith as she did a handspring off the stage.
The lights suddenly went out, plunging the room into pitch black. Tom fervently hoped it was Aphrodite, not Apollo running the hand along his back. Both had been nearby when the lights when out.
"Iolaus!" Cheiron boomed.
"I didn't do it!"
"Iolaus, that better not be your hand on my butt!" Hercules shouted.
Bryn snapped her fingers but the lights didn't come back.
A colorful burst of fireworks on stage silenced the murmurs as the cadets and teachers stared.
Thirteen male figures appeared on the stage in a hazy white light, standing in a semi-circle. A loud pop of white smoke and familiar gold dust drifted down as a tall, robed figure appeared. Throwing back the robe to reveal instead of a dress, what appeared to be a glittering diamonds covering parts of her body, yet didn't quite reveal anything other than some cleavage, the statuesque woman stepped forward, hands out.
Bryn laughed out loud. The thirteen men surrounding the woman were some of the most handsome she had ever seen, and she could identify them all. The poet Homer and the cadet Zylus, from their own time. They were accompanied by the redheaded, Bill Weasely, the Immortal Duncan McCleod, good ol'boy Bo Duke (John Schneider), and the cowboy Curly McClain (Hugh Jackman), science genius Quinn Mallory, reporter Clark Kent, ghost hunter Dean Winchester, special ops Riley Finn, police officer Lucky Spencer, the redheaded woodsman Jim Frayne, and a decidedly looking bad boy, Dan Mangan from Sleepyside, New York. Every one of the strapping men wore nothing but a gold loincloth.
Bryn clapped her hands excitedly. Only one woman traveled with such a harem. And while several owls had arrived bearing messages over the last few weeks, she had yet to appear.
"Well, well," the woman spoke as she threw her hood to reveal flowing, coppery red hair and bright blue eyes. Some recognized her. "Here we are yet again, old friends and new. I've been away a bit longer than I expected. Now, let's get this party started!"
Tern O'Brien, YHU Chancellor and Artemis' Chosen, had returned.
Followed by her harem, she joined Kalina at the table for the Old Ones, where she hugged her old friend and Methos and Duncan hugged tightly. While the four had remained in constant touch over the years, get-togethers were near to impossible.
"You always were something of a show off," Kalina smiled. Tern grinned.
"I know. It's just so much fun, I can't help it every now and again!" she laughed.
"I want a harem like that!" one of the girls whispered. Tern turned and winked at her.
"Take your prerequisite classes, and then apply for permission at level six."
The cadet nodded eagerly.
"Wow, this is turning out to be quite a night!" Bryn was back onstage, her feet leaving prints in the gold dust onstage. "I can't believe I forgot your calling card Tern! We've been trying to get it off the archery field for weeks!"
Tern laughed as she was handed a goblet of wine by Quinn as Curly took her cloak. Bryn motioned to her.
"I'll be back boys," Tern drawled, heading for the stage.
Excitement rippled through the crowd. In a matter of moments, they'd have the new triumvirate of Chancellors.
"Well, cadets, Gods, everyone, after that um, dramatic entrance, I present to you Chancellor Tern, who will be announcing our two new Chancellors!" Bryn stepped away form the microphone.
The crowd applauded as Tern grinned at them, joining Bryn onstage. Behind her on stage, three large, gilded, jewel encrusted thrones appeared.
"First, let me say how good it is to be back here at YHU. Let me also tell you, Wisdom Quests aren't all they're cracked up to be. Some of you remember me, some of you are new, but I'm thrilled to be back and get acquainted with each and every one of you. It is with regret that Aura, Thalia and Euterpe will not be returning, but we will hold them dear to our hearts. In fact, I'd like to take a moment of silence to honor all of our cadets who aren't here tonight, and to hope that they are well, and will someday rejoin us."
The Great Hall went silent until Tern spoke again.
"Now, we get to the good part. It is my extreme pleasure and delight to announce my new co-Chancellors."
There was some whispering, giggling and loud THUNK, and Iolaus called out "Don't worry, I'm alright!"
Tern waited patiently until silence settled over the room.
Holding out her hand, a bound scroll appeared. Breaking the seal, Tern began to read.
"Choosing a Chancellor is a difficult process. Qualifications must be taken into account, dedication to the cause and of course, my favorite part," Tern grinned, "the bribes. It is no easy feat to choose one or two people to fill this position, but I have succeeded in doing just that. The second Chancellor position is going to be filled by a bright, industrious, ambitious young lady who has devoted copious amounts of time and energy into setting YHU on the path to its well deserved glory. I am proud to announce Brynhild as your new Chancellor!"
Squealing, Bryn jumped up and down, then rushed forward to hug Tern happily as applause filled the room. She'd prepared an acceptance speech just in case she'd been selected, and she pulled the small scroll out of her bodice and unrolled it with a flourish.
"Friends! Cadets! Fellow Greecians!" Bryn said, her eyes scanning the crowd to include everyone. "In the words of His Highness Martonius Lutera the Small, "I have a dream." And indeed, I did have a dream. Less than two months ago I dreamed that this University would come back, stronger and better than ever. Thanks to your support and help, my friends, that dream is now a reality. The YHU is finally re-open and accepting admissions, and I'm sure that Tern and the third Chancellor share my determination to make this the best academic year in the history of the Young Hercules University. We're looking forward to a year full of challenging tests, mythic adventures, and spellbinding Bard performances."
Bryn paused a moment to wipe happy tears from her eyes. "I am honored to have been selected to be a Chancellor, and I vow that I will do my best to make this year exciting and fun. My office door is always open, and I'm always willing to listen to anything that's on your minds. At this time I'd like to thank Chancellors Aura, Euterpe, and Thalia for starting the YHU, Chancellor Tern for all her help with the re-build, and all the cadets who have helped out and turned in their parchments - and for those of you who still haven't turned in all your scrolls, I know who you are." Bryn looked sternly at a certain few cadets who slouched under her mild glare. "I am expecting those scrolls on my desk by the end of the week. I'd also like to thank Alayia and Casche for their artwork, Ty for her art and board help, Gorax for his sound advice, Fatsus for warning me that I was going to spill punch on my shawl (which I avoided!), Cheiron and the Chancellors for accepting me as a student, Aphrodite for raising and training me, Ares for making life interesting, Laughing Lizzy for designing the dress I'm wearing tonight, and... um..."
Bryn trailed off, tapping her fingertips as she counted, "...yeah, I think that's everyone. I'm thrilled to be one of your new Chancellors, and I can't wait to get my first bribe." Bryn coughed on the last word, "I mean, *pride*. I'm bursting with pride." Bryn grinned and winked. "As long as everyone stays active, we're going to have an awesome year. And as Flavus, who still hasn't managed to get all the blue paint off of his face, said after prank day last year: They may cancel our show, but they will never take," Bryn thrust her fist in the air and yelled the last two words, "OUR OBSESSION!!!"
The cadets went wild, standing as they clapped, yelled support, and high-fived each other. Bryn took the throne on the right end, beaming happily.
Tern turned back to the crowd with a smile as she applauded her old friend.
"Young lady, you have a bacchi hanging over your shoulder," she said into the audience.
Everyone turned. Alex let out a small squeak as the pale faced bacchi pouted and slunk back to Bacchus' side.
"Our third Chancellor is another who has been around for a while. His knowledge of how things operate, and his background make him ideal for the position. And yes, I said he. For the first time in YHU history, we have a male Chancellor. Please welcome your new Chancellor, Gorax!"
Upon hearing this, Gorax choked on the wine that was in his mouth, sending some of it dribbling to the table. He quickly swallowed the alcohol that remained in his mouth as he wiped his face with the tablecloth before too many people could see this little accident. He pushed his chair back and stood up, nearly losing his balance in the process. Damn, maybe I overdid it with the wine, he thought. Gorax waved to the crowd and smiled, hoping the rest of the guests wouldn't notice the nervousness in his mannerisms.
He managed to make his way to the stage without any further slip-ups, and gave Discord the evil eye after seeing her licking her lips as he passed by. Once on stage, Gorax was hugged by Tern, who then sat in the middle throne. Gorax looked awkward, much like he normally did when receiving hugs.
He realized that he had no speech ready the moment he turned to face the crowd. His face fell as he saw all the expectant looks coming from every direction, all merging towards him.
"Ehhh, hi!" He said nervously as he raised an arm to wave once again. Something wet landed on his wrist, and one quick gaze toward this liquid reminded him that he had forgotten to put his wine glass down before leaving the table. So there he was, unprepared and in front of a large crowd with a large glass of wine in his hand. He quickly put the glass on the ground next to him and hoped that no one noticed. The laughter eminating from the room told him the contrary. Curses. It was too late to back down now, though, so Gorax smirked and tried to go with it.
"Now... I know you are all expecting a speech right now, or wait, no. You probably aren't because it's me... But this is convenient because, you see, I left the scroll I wrote my speech on in my room." Gorax thought about that last bit, that he wrote a speech. He hoped that the crowd wouldn't remember that his writing skills were extremely sub-par, or that they were at least too drunk to care. "Anyway," he added "I'll just say a bunch of things that are coming to my mind right now." He did his best to remember how Bryn's acceptance speech was formatted so that he could loosely shape his speech the same way. Nothing came to his mind however; he was somewhere in daydream land as Bryn was giving her speech. He mentally kicked himself for this. Come on think of something, damnit...
"What does this say about your mind?" came a comment from the crowd, obviously referring to the time it was taking for Gorax to proceed. The room burst into laughter.
"Asshole." Gorax muttered under his breath with a dry smile. "Hey, you know what they say: Sometimes the things that come slowest are the greatest. Or at least I think that's how it went..." He trailed off. "Anyway. I couldn't have made it here myself. Well, okay, I made it on the stage by myself, but what I meant was Chancellorship. So there's a bunch of people whom I'd like to thank. These people are," He stalled again. "Uhmm, okay, maybe there are too many to name, so I'll say thanks to everyone just to be on the safe side. Except the people who don't like me, that is. Those people suck. However, I think the biggest thanks should go to Bryn, for re-opening the Academy, because without an Academy then we all wouldn't be here getting drun--I mean merry. Thanks to Tern for coming back as well, because more Chancellors mean less responsibilities for me." Gorax grinned.
Having found his stride, he continued to talk. "I would also like to thank Cheiron for giving me the chance to stay at the Academy in the first place, because otherwise I'd probably be off somewhere murdering people." He stopped for a few seconds, re-living some of his earlier memories, and smiled. "Celest, for always having something funny to say. Tom for sharing his wild dreams of having absolute power; those discussions were always interesting! And Silver, Ty, Selene, Chrys, and... Well, everyone who is still at the YHU, for sticking around and being a friend. Come to think of it, even the ones who have left YHU have contributed stuff too, so thanks to them as well, and we can't forget Euterpe and Thalia. Lastly, I'd like to thank the little people in my head, too, because they're good to have when no one else is around. Sometimes."
"That's about all I can think of. Sorry if I accidentally left anyone out." He paused. "But yeah, like Bryn said, all you cadets can look forward to an exciting year at the Academy, with a bunch of stuff like... Like all the stuff Bryn mentioned in her speech earlier. If you don't remember what they are then, one, you'll find out soon enough, and two, shame on you for not paying attention."
"I almost forgot that this is an acceptance speech," he added. "So yeah, I accept! And I'm honored to be one of the new Chancellors, the first ever non-female one, on top of that. This came as a bit of a surprise, actually, seeing that I'm a little... Off, at times. But I'll do my best!" He looked at Bryn "And don't worry, you'll have my scrolls on your desk soon."
The crowd applauded and whistled as Gorax took his seat to Tern's left. Brilliant gold light filled the stage and the three thrones began to float up, to the crowds impressed murmuring.
"Hey, how high are these going?" Bryn asked nervously.
"Eh, don't worry," Tern answered but her face was tense with concentration.
The cadets applauded.
"Jump!" Tern said.
"Jump!" The Chancellor leapt out of the airborne throne. Gorax closed his eyes and followed suit. Gulping, Bryn did the same.
The three floated down to the stage gently, amidst the thunderous applause.
A harem member of Tern's stood at the edge of the stage, and quickly escorted her to the Chancellors'table. Gorax and Bryn followed. Herry and the Troglodytes took the stage for another round of raucous music.
Bryn studied Tern. The woman in front of her didn't look like the fierce, hot headed warrior and prankster she remembered.
"You look different," she commented. "More like a priestess of Aphrodite than Artemis."
"It's the red hair," Tern replied. "I was blonde before. Combine that with a Wisdom Quest, and you undergo some changes," she laughed. "Don't worry, I'll be back in regular leathers tomorrow. Besides," she said with a wink, "there are many publicly unknown sides to Artemis. But the extreme always makes an impression, don't you think?"
Bryn agreed. "I do enjoy looking at your harem. You've added a few since you left."
Gorax rolled his eyes as he took a sip of wine.
Tern grinned. "A perk to time traveling."
Bryn sipped from her goblet and looked at Tern with a gleam in her eye.
"Hey-since I'm a Chancellor now, can I have a harem?" she asked innocently.
Tern grinned. "Knock yourself out."
With an excited squeal, Bryn dashed away. Tern glanced at Gorax. "You too, you know."
Gorax just grinned.
The cadets were dancing now. Alayia and Ty were boogying with the bacchi, and Eily was getting down with Hermes. Bacchus was trying to charm an enthralled Neila.
Discord leaned herself over the table to beckon to Gorax, who simply waved back at her with a smile.
"What?" He asked loudly. "I can't hear you too well, there's too much noise." Although it was true he couldn't hear her, he knew full well that she wanted to get him to the dance floor. He wanted to avoid this as much as possible, so he spilled what was left in his wine glass on himself. "Ah damn! I need to go clean this up." He said with fake annoyance. "I'll be right back!" And with that, he disappeared through the crowd, a little faster than he had to.
Discord pouted, but cheered up a moment later as she caught sight of the Tern's harem. Surely she won't notice if one or two of them went missing for a little while, she thought.
Lilith pulled Tom onto the dance floor as Heph and Aphrodite started to argue.
The doors flew open and Bryn strolled in with a big grin, followed by her new harem, all whom were decked out in matching black leather. Right behind her was the poet-turned-vampire Spike, wearing his signature black duster over black jeans and shirt with a satisfied smirk on his face. Next to him was the surfer Starcat, looking around the Hall in stunned amazement as he smoothed down his gray tunic and black leather pants. Behind them walked another pair of men, the poet Mark and the singer Curt Wild, both wearing nothing but matching black leather pants and smiles. Behind them were - surprisingly enough - two figures in skirts. Tru Davies tossed her long brown hair over one shoulder as she strutted, garbed in a black leather corset and a short black leather skirt that made Discord flush with envy. Next to her was the elegant Miss Vida Boheme wearing a much more concealing black dress that had also been designed by Laughing Lizzy. The last two men following Bryn looked like they had raided Ares'wardrobe. The mercenary Jayne Cobb and the alien hybrid Future Max Evans were both dressed super-snazzily in black leather pants and vests, with large black leather belts held with big silver buckles.
Bryn sat back down next to Tern with a grin that almost split her face. Her harem grabbed seats at a table nearby and began chatting with Tern's harem.
Tern winked at Bryn. "Nice choices. But what about Ares?"
Bryn winked back. "Ares can get pretty busy with his wars sometimes, so it'll be nice to have other options." Bryn bounced in her chair happily. "I have a harem!"
Iolaus poked Hercules in the side, frowning at the two harem men Homer and Mark who looked exactly like him. "Should I be worried?"
Hercules snorted. "Only if Gorax decides to put another guy that looks like you in his harem."
The party raged. YHU was officially reopened.
At this time cadets may hang out and party.
Or they may get an early start on the Treasure Hunt.