Ander climbed to his tower and found according to the parchment outside the door that he was going to be sharing his room with yet another roommate. Two others, in fact. While he wasn’t wild about the development, he knew that one usually tended to like one’s roommates after getting to know them. He just hoped that he would be able to find quiet time to study.
And how typical, how very ironic for him. He’d found, as he’d climbed those stone steps and passed potential classmates, that now he would not stand out as he had at home, back in his original home, at his private school, for his orange hair. For in this Land, a wealth of orange hair, of every shade, surrounded him, equally as much as blond hair. And he would not stand out for his ability to manipulate both k’yors, as he’d feared, for an abundance of students appeared to wield just such the same power. No. Instead he stood out as the focus of other students’ curiosity because he had skipped the First and Second Cycles… without having had proper schooling or tutelage in a private Academy. News of this had spread about, it seemed, faster than he’d been able to climb the stone steps to his Level, and while he granted that was not exceptionally noteworthy in speed, the looks he’d attracted had been. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another, he sighed miserably.
Ander started to knock at the heavy oaken door to his dormroom and then paused, his hand raised. This was, after all, his dormroom, he needn’t knock. He took a deep breath and shoved the door open, finding the door uneven on one side. Resolving to later remedy that nuisance with a charm, Ander hauled his belongings into a partially lit dorm room that smelled of charred tapers, SevenScent, and some sort of sulfur. He stood and allowed his eyes to adjust to the lantern light.
Two boys of an age with him looked up from a desk they leaned on. It showed signs of recent experimentation. Ander noted the glass window just above it and determined to open its sooty frames to let some of the smoke out. He nodded at each of the two and, feeling enormously self-conscious, dragged his belongings over to the only other unused bed and began unpacking.
“Aye, so you’re the new classmate,” said one, rocking back on the rear two legs of his chair.
The other stood and wiped his hands on his shirt. “I’m Bosworth, and that good-for-nothing is Norgan.” He reached his arm forward and Ander shook wrists as custom demanded. “Well-met.”
Ander started placing his clothes into the empty trunk in front of his bed, feeling his roommates’ eyes upon him.
“So… everyone knows I’m new here then?” he tempered.
His new roommates exchanged a glance and Norgan smiled on one side of his face. “No offense, mate, but… you’re the only new one among us.”
Bosworth nodded and clasped his hands behind his head as he leaned against the wall behind his bed. “If anything, people usually leave, they don’t just begin attending suddenly.”
“Don’t take it like that, though,” Norgan continued, reading Ander’s expression easily. He ran a hand through his brown hair and said, “See, you’re thinking of it as such: no one here knows me, an’ how do I get about this place on my own, an’ where’s my classes? Aye?”
Ander rose an eyebrow, not sure he wanted to hear the rest of this freely opined commentary.
“Ah but the thing is, no one here does know you, think of it that way.” And he leaned forward conspiratorially while Bosworth waggled his eyebrows. “No one knows your inadequacies yet. Aye?” He paused for effect. “Us, they all know us, they know who can’t do an incantation to save a star, who’s brilliant at charms, who’s downright dreadful at writing reports. And, ahem, who’s good at cheating?” And he winked at Bosworth. Bosworth rolled his eyes.
Ander took all this in staring, trying to decide if he’d stumbled into an alternate dimension’s reality show or if this was just a sad continuation of his life taking a dovetail for the worse. He realized his mouth was open and closed it with a click.
“See, we’ve things like… that little matter of setting the Chancellor’s robes on fire First Cycle,” said Norgan. “But no one knows your exploits.”
“Glad that went away,” commented Bosworth. “I was afraid of expulsion.”
“And I was afraid of one more night of demerits, let me tell you.”
“At least we know now, Kemple’s robes are flame-retardant.”
“But that little matter of that tracer spell – got to learn that one.” And they high-fived each other with grins.
“Now you, my friend, you’re starting out with a fresh record, clean parchment… no one knows the first thing about you. What luck,” asserted Norgan with a trace of jealousy.
Ander didn’t think it was something he would appreciate in the same way his roommates would.
“Actually, I’m not on my own here. I have… siblings who just entered the Academy as well. One in Healing, another here in K’yor, she’s got a double Gift, though – ”
Norgan sat forward, his eyebrows raised. “Really!” He looked over his shoulder at Bosworth, who seemed equally impressed. “That nearly never happens. All in one family?”
Ander shrugged. He hadn’t even mentioned Dar or Rick yet.
“What Cycle is your sister? I’ll find her, I will, overcome her feminine wiles with my glorious sense of style, my – ” Norgan suddenly stood up. “Did you hear that? Did you?”
Ander, unsure whether or not to be alarmed, glanced surreptitiously at Bosworth, but he did not appear overly concerned.
“I rhymed, did you hear me? I rhymed?” Dramatically, Norgan flourished his arms. “Dreams of wizarding in combat now poof!” He clasped his hands. “Left behind! I shall soon become the Land’s most superb entertainer, Regaler of Royals, Norgan the Brilliant! Castles and keeps, strongholds and palaces all the Land wide will pay nobles merely to bask in the glory of my company and all along the great and powerful Boz will be burgling them blind the entire time. I can see it now, can’t you?”
Ander’s mouth found his mouth had dropped open yet again. Bosworth shook his head mildly and remarked to Ander, “He’s worse on better days.” He held his index finger and thumb up to indicate a small bit and whispered loudly, “Slightly random.”
Norbert shoved Bosworth. “No faith. ‘S’ what I get, after all this time, no faith.”
He turned his attention back to Ander. “No fears, you’re in a unique position.”
Ander nodded, a bit amazed at his current company, and continued unpacking his clothing.
“From where do you hale that you need carry such a weapon?” asked Norgan curiously.
Ander glanced about and saw they were staring at his sword. He mumbled something about coming from a bit south. Knowingly, Bosworth said, “Ah. They’re seeing quite a bit of action out in some parts down there. Didn’t know it was that bad, though.”
Ander didn’t pretend to make sense of this and asked instead, “Why, don’t you two? Carry swords, I mean?”
Norgan and Bosworth exchanged looks and shrugged. “No, just a boot knife. You?” said Bosworth.
Norgan said, “Belt knife, when I can find it. Don’t really need it, anyway. Was trained up a bit in the sword and the like as a lad, then they sent me off here once they realized I was having more fun making the other lads’ swords disappear while we was fighting during practice.” He looked at Bosworth and tapped a finger on his chin thoughtfully. “Now there’s a trick I’ll have to summon back up, say, down at the Practice Rings some weeksend?” They laughed.
Bosworth explained to Ander, “Our Weapons Academy lads, not the sharpest blades in sheathes, are they now,” and he knocked his head with his fist to imply the idiocy of the Weapons Academy students. Ander stifled a smile, thinking of his own comrades who attended the Academy over there and wondered how they would respond to such a jest.