"History," Professor Darkrider began his class mere moments after the bell had rung, "is often presented as a series of facts in a line, but we must take care to see that it is more than that. Though what has happened in the past is in many cases directly observable thanks to recordings, even that recording is from a single point of view. When one neglects to take into account others' points of view, one risks ignoring the others' motivations. Even in our own lives, we see things from only our perspective, and this tends to lead naturally to assumptions that someone is working off the same knowledge that you have. In truth, there are very few people who do not believe that they are on the right side of any misunderstanding." The tall, slender man raised his hand to point at the classroom's blackboard, his impeccable calligraphic chalk-writings listed with his instructions of the lesson from two days ago. "One thousand words, a fictional journal entry from the eyes of someone on the opposite side of whatever the most prominent conflict on your home planet was." In equally-large print, Darkrider had put a side note, detailing that students who had arrived at the school without memories of their former life or from somewhere that had no violent conflicts would need to choose a major planetary event and write from the losing side. "The purpose of your assignment was to attempt to see a conflict--one you yourself took place in--through someone else's eyes. I am going to take your papers now, and after a few moments, I will choose two of them to read aloud. Do not reveal if it was your own paper. After I read them, I will put you in groups to discuss the papers, and your groups will vote on which paper you feel was written by someone who genuinely took part in the event and which one only read about it."
As her teacher moved from desk to desk, nearly gliding despite his clear leg movements, Azura slumped her shoulders slightly. If she had been able to fit into one of the chairs, she likely would have tried to slide down it, but as a Gorgon sporting a massive, long tail, the closest thing she could do was loosen the bottommost coil and lower herself slightly. Her paper wasn't terribly good. Ever since she had arrived at school, Azura realized that she had a tendency toward the artistic, and while she'd gone out of her way to write her assignment on some very beautiful paper, she felt the contents weren't up to her usual standards. The grade itself didn't matter terribly much to her, as she had already completed most of her required work for the class. A couple more tests were all that really remained for most of her classes, so assignments weren't any worry. As a student specializing in Miss Tulip-Blossom's art classes, she needed to score more points in art-based assignments than in any of her other studies anyways. The real problem was that this wasn't the first time she hadn't been able to give a piece her all. Her work was suffering. Not just homework, either, her latest sculptures were drab and uninspired as well, and being reminded of this, the snakes that comprised her hair all drooped down slightly, and as Professor Darkrider walked by Azura's desk, he paused for a moment before picking up her paper. Azura made sure not to look him in the face as he continued his rounds, collecting the last of the assignments before laying them in a neat pile on his desk.
"Good. Now, make groups of three and talk quietly amongst yourselves while I look over your writing." That was a little odd, Azura thought. Normally, Darkrider had this class go into groups of four, and seeing as the classroom had 20 students today, it was going to leave a number of the normal groups leaving a member out. Azura's group was no exception, and apparently her funk had her moving more slowly than normal. By the time she had turned to look at her group of friends, a Valkyrie, Domestic Wukong and Devil that she had met on her first day, they had already clustered their desks together, with only a helpless, sympathetic shrug from Eirrun, the Valkyrie, in response. Looking around the room, she wasn't the only one forced out of a group, but those left out were quickly reorganizing themselves, until only two students remained.
Azura focused her attention on the other straggler, a young male with a tanned human skin tone, magenta hair and pink eyes. Barely visible through his hair was a pair of pointed ears, allowing Azura to peg him as what was likely a Wild Elf. He was wearing his student uniform, which was a bit unusual as most of the others who had been in their first year this long had already picked out more distinctive clothing that had been crafted to assist them with whatever form of fighting or spellcasting they preferred. Azura herself typically wore an artist's smock, and had in her first week at school gotten it enchanted to assist her with her painting and sculpting. Thinking back on her memories of this class, Azura couldn't remember herself seeing this young Elf wearing anything other than his school uniform. He approached Azura's desk and nodded politely before speaking.
"I guess we're the last two left. You're Azura, right?" Azura nodded back, trying to smile over her sour mood.
"Yes, and you're...um..." Azura stammered, searching for his name. She was certain she'd heard it before, but it just wasn't coming to her.
"Reuben. It's nice to meet you." He extended a hand, and after a short and slightly awkward handshake, he pulled his chair next to Azura, taking care not to bump it into her tail.
In the fifteen minutes that followed their meetup, the pair had little to say to each other. They had managed to confirm that Reuben was indeed a Wild Elf and Azura was a Gorgon, but past that and a few pleasantries, it seemed that both had their own distractions preventing them from doing much other than trailing off after a half-hearted response. While waiting for their teacher to finish, Azura noticed that Reuben had pulled out a small, spiral-topped notepad and had taken a pencil to it. Her snaky tendrils perked up at the idea of someone else possibly doodling on the pad, but a furtive glance around him showed that he was merely tapping the tip of his pencil against the paper, leaving a small dot that, while many post-modern critics may have declared it an ironic work of genius, probably wasn't meant to be anything more than an idle time-waster.
Finally, Darkrider stood back up, shooing away the cluster of girls that had been reading over his shoulder and offering unhelpful commentary that mostly focused around how handsome he looked while deep in thought. "Alright, I hope that all of you are ready. I have chosen two papers, one of which is genuine and one which was manufactured by the student using historical information. Keep notes on each of these papers as I read them aloud, and try to determine give-aways that indicate which is which." At that, he began reciting the first assignment he had chosen, without needing to look at it.
The story was from an Angel's perspective, telling of being given the order to fire on a crowd of innocent music fans at a festival. Even without directly describing the lead musician, Azura was able to distinguish the story as her Devil friend Tersh's, which was a dead give-away thanks to the narrator's stereotypically straight-laced Angelic Protectorate personality and the lengths to which he described the skill of the guitarist's intense shredding. He'd told this story to the group multiple times, though over his multiple retellings the crowd had grown from hundreds to millions and the orbiting gunship slowly morphed into a carrier, than a battleship, then some sort of gargantuan moon-like space station that took him out. Unfortunately for Azura, this knowledge did nothing to help her figure out whether the story being told was the accurate one or not, as she was never quite sure whether Tersh was telling the truth in the first place. As Tersh's story was read aloud by the teacher, she caught the devil grinning and looking around, gauging for a reaction to confirm that he was, in fact, awesome.
With only a moment's pause between them, Professor Darkrider began his reading of the next story. This one clearly took place during the great shift, a mass activation of the shape-shifting gene carried by magically-inclined people all around the galaxy. A number of students here were ones that lost their way or were hunted down before their mass migration into EL space, and Azura had heard some particularly tragic stories come out of that period of time. This one, however, was from the perspective of a man whose son and wife both had the gene activated and left him to make the migration. Of the stories that had been submitted, most of them likely ended up in an eruption of violence, but this one was much more potent, showing how a good man could become embittered by events beyond his control. Feeling that his family had been lost, he searched for someone or something to blame, and these natural reactions led to him becoming distrustful and outright racist. Though he never directly attacked anyone, his opinion becoming the more prevalent among his society led his planet to enact laws that targeted potential shape-shifters and punished them for the acts committed by the few bad apples among the new racial group. Looking around the room, this story had the other students enraptured, with a perspective none of them had even considered. At the other side of her desk, however, Reuben sat with one hand propping up his chin and the other tapping the pencil down every few words, as if he were punctuating some of them for emphasis.
"It's your paper, isn't it?" Azura whispered to Reuben as the teacher finished his paperless reading. Reuben nodded wordlessly. Darkrider took a step back toward his chalkboard, visually scanning the room to gauge reactions and assure that the quiet discussions that were taking place hadn't distracted the students too much to continue. Giving them a few moments to fully react, he then spoke up as all of the students had simultaneously paused at the same time.
"Now, how many of you think the first story was the real one?" Of the twenty students in the class, only three had their hands up, and of Azura's own group the only one doing so was Tersh himself. Azura found her own hand half-raised, and in what came as a bit of a shock, Reuben was the only one who seemed terribly confident with his own hand raised. "And those who think the second one was true?" The classroom filled with raised hands, minus the three that had guessed otherwise. At that, Darkrider smiled slightly, nodding to the class to let them know that they could put their hands down. "The first paper was, in fact, the real one. It is important for all of you to realize that just because something is well-constructed or moving, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's true. For today's assignments, I want you to stay in the groups you're in now and each group shall provide me with ten examples of people being swayed by falsifications throughout galactic history. Five of the examples should end in a positive outcome, while five of them should end poorly. I assure you, it will be much easier to find the latter. I will allow you all to leave class early, though I suggest you spend the free time wisely."
Darkrider had barely finished his sentence before most of the students had taken off out the doors, nearly crashing into a few other students that had apparently also been let out early from next door's theatre class. While the majority of the students were taking off to the left back toward their lockers and the lunch room, Azura and Reuben decided to heed their teacher's words and headed toward the school's library. Finding a table nearest the history section of books, Azura finally worked up the nerve to turn to Reuben and speak. "So, then, you came to the school without any memories?"
It took a bit longer than Darkrider had hoped to convince his fan club to disperse for the day, but after the squad of girls had gone to do whatever it was that they did when they weren't five feet away from him, he peered around the corner of his classroom's door. Assured that the coast was clear, he darted into Megumi's classroom to find the Harmony Elemental already chatting happily with Tulip-Blossom. The two turned to look at him expectantly, and he nodded as he spoke to them. "It's done. The two of them are alone together."
"Great job, dear!" Tulip-blossom cheered in her high-pitched voice as she fluttered around him. "The two of them should be able to figure out everything on their own from here!"
"I could feel it as they walked by," Megumi chimed in, the normally-vibrant shifting colors of her hair possessing a shine that seemed abnormally bright for what Darkrider was used to, "Azura and Reuben certainly have a chemistry that will enable them to work better together than they could on their own!"
"And once they've found this out, you believe they'll both be ready to move on to their second year?" Darkrider inquired, still not convinced by what he'd seen from his own observations. The two got along, but there was no obvious connection that he could see. As much as he trusted the judgement of his fellow teachers, he was going to need to see more before he would be able to say for sure if pairing them together was as dire a need for the two as Megumi and Tulip-Blossom were certain.