Patreon reward for Aurum. A mix up with a train station sends the tiger to a different school than what he was planning. But, with the Christmas spirit he might prefer this one.
School for the Holidays
Aurum could not believe his luck. He had gotten a letter saying he had been accepted to one of the most prestigious magical schools in the country. He’d learn a lot more than just barrier magic there. Right now the gold and white tiger was at the train station, waiting for his train to arrive. As he approached the gates, he was so excited he wasn’t watching when he walked into someone. Suddenly, both him and a small deer kid were knocked flat onto their butts, dropping all their belongings in the process.
“Um sorry…” Aurum muttered as him and the deer kid exchanged embarrassed apologies and quickly gathered up their things and moved on their way. Putting that behind him Aurum approached the ticket gate, he checked his train ticket to make sure he was going through the right gate. Good thing to! He had almost gone through the wrong one! He quickly turned left to go through a different gate and down to the loading platform. It wasn’t long before the train pulled into the station, Aurum quickly boarded, found himself a seat in a private car and soon the train was off.
It was taking longer to reach his destination than he expected. After two hours had passed, Aurum assumed they would be close, but there were no announcements about approaching the next station. Realizing it might take longer than he expected, the tiger decided to take a nap.
When he woke up, it was snowing outside the train window. That wasn’t that surprising. It was winter. But, the snow was excessive. Based on comparison to the height of the train there had to be at least a solid foot of snow atop the ground. Aurum didn’t remember the school being in such a frigid place. He thought it was in a more southern region of the country.
“Final stop! North Pole!” The train conductor announced over the intercom. “End of the line, everyone please check for your belongings then exit.”
“The North Pole?” That couldn’t be right. It had to be a joke. Aurum got up. He was not dressed for the North Pole. Sure, he had a vest on over his jeans and shirt, but they weren’t that warm. And he wasn’t wearing shoes. It couldn’t really be the North Pole, just some kind of joke since it was snowing and close to Christmas. Yet, as Aurum stepped off the train and was greeted by the winter winds he was suddenly no longer convinced it was a joke. He was shivering in the cold. He wanted to hurry and get inside the school. But looking around, he didn’t anything resembling a school. A few small buildings. But, as he squinted and stared through the falling snow he saw the outline of a larger building in the distance. That had to be it! He started across the snow.
“Whoa where do you think you’re going!” A squeaky voice sounded from somewhere near Aurum’s knees as something grabbed his tail. It turned out to be a tiny little human looking creature with pointed ears, but quite small and dressed entirely in green. “You can’t go walk in on the workshop like that! Everyone is really busy! Come on! Let’s get you changed and to the school instead.”
“Uh… Sure…” Aurum went along with it. The idea of getting changed into warmer clothing sounded nice. And he wasn’t sure which direction the school was so having a guide helped. He followed the strange tiny man through the snow until they stopped at a stable.
“Alright we’ll get changed here. You’re going to want to take your clothes off.” The little man spoke. “I’ll turn around. Don’t worry, just being inside the stable will do it. You don’t have to do anything special.”
“What does that even mean?” Aurum asked through chittering teeth. “You really expect me to take my clothes off in this weather?”
“Suit yourself.” The little man shrugged and turned away.
Aurum considered what to do. He didn’t exactly see any other outfits in the stable to put on so wasn’t about to strip away what warmth he had. And why was he in the stable? And… He felt kind of strange. Suddenly, his clothes were much looser.
“Wait, wait a second…” Aurum spoke in a higher pitched voice, a younger voice. He had been reduced to various stages of youth enough times to know when he was getting younger. Not only that, his fur grew thicker and more coarse. He suddenly found himself tripping over his pants and barely managed to catch himself on all four paws… Except they weren’t paws anymore. He had hooves! And his muzzle was a long longer! He felt two tiny stubs protrude from his head, the beginning of a pair of antlers. His long feline tail shrunk into a small, tiny one. And then it was done. There was now a silver and gold reindeer colt where the tiger had been, tangled up in a mess of clothing. Aurum tried to walk forward and got tangled up in his own pants and fell flat on his face.
“I tried to warn you.” The little man turned around. “Should have taken your clothes off first.”
“Huh.” Aurum squinted. He also discovered he could still talk despite being a feral reindeer. He looked the little man up and down. The man was clearly an adult, had blonde hair and no fang. “You wouldn’t happen to be being paid off by a small orange kitten would you?” He recalled the usual person lecturing him about clothes.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” The little man shrugged. “I’m one of Santa’s elves. Was just warning you it’s easier to get out of the clothes before the change. Now let’s get you to school.”
“School? Santa?” Aurum struggled out of his old clothes and stumbled onto four hooves. He realized something, he was no longer freezing. That was nice at least. “There’s some kind of mistake. I’m supposed to be attending a magic school and-“
“Yes, yes, to learn how to fly I know.” The elf explained. “We don’t get anyone but new students in on that train. Now, study hard and you’ll be flying before Christmas day. You’re too young to pull a sleigh right now, but if you work hard in class you can still accompany them and fly beside the older deer during Christmas eve.”
“Ok but…” Aurum paused as he recalled something. He had bumped into a deer child in the train station and both of them had dropped their stuff. Then he had almost walked into the wrong gate before he checked his ticket… Except, that wasn’t it at all. He was heading to the right place! He must have swapped tickets with the young deer on accident when they were gathering their stuff back up.
Wait… That also meant.
“Santa is real, and there’s a school that turns people into young reindeer and teaches them to fly so they can pull his sled?” Aurum asked in disbelief.
“That is what it said on the pamphlet.” The elf shrugged. “Are you that surprised we’d deliver?”
“Okay but there was a mistake see I-“ Aurum paused as he thought about what he was doing. This wasn’t what he had planned. He had not intended to become a young reindeer colt. But at the same time… Learning how to fly had a certain appeal. And, if Santa was real, getting to eventually pull the sleigh and help deliver gifts to kids all over the world. Why was he trying to fight this again? “Actually, never mind… Where am I staying?”
“We’ve got an indoor stable dorm combo for the students.” The elf explained. “It’s heated. I’ll take you there and you can get settled in and have you first flight lesson tomorrow.”
“Sure!” Aurum grinned and trotted behind the elf. He couldn’t believe he was actually going to learn to fly. This might be way more fun than magic school.