The Silverstone Academy

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Chapter 3

Chapters 4, 5 & 6 have been uploaded on Patreon. This is a surprise update and I hope you enjoy it.

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“Is that someone at the Sticks Lake?” Zoe mumbled to herself, “I thought no one was allowed there.”

Zoe stared at the figure harder; with the skies cloaked by dark clouds, it was difficult making out the figure. She observed it getting closer to the lake, a dark cloak adorned and struggling against the wild storm. It was an odd sight. She placed her hands on the window sill and leaned forward as if the minuscule centimetres would provide a clear view. The hooting in the background disturbed her focus, but she willed to get a good look. The figure was too small to make out, but a tickling began in her fingers, and she wanted to reach out and remove the cloak and reveal the figure’s identity.

Zoe had always been a curious creature; she always knew about everything, details never escaped her, and she possessed the ability to remember things from a long while ago, like how her Mother had almost burnt the house down attempting to make chicken wings. Zoe had only been two then; she remembered giggling through the entire episode. The memory only brought a wistful warmth now.

A cold hand on her shoulder brought Zoe out of her reverie; she flinched at the stark temperature and turned around. It was Daphne.

“Your hands are cold,” Zoe shivered.

“I know, I have been told a million times,” Daphne said and gave a smirk, “anyhow, we’ve been asked to assemble in the dining area.”

“Oh, for dinner?”

“What else?”

“But there is no electricity?”

“I guess we’ll have a candlelight dinner then,” Daphne shrugged and walked out of the door, leaving Zoe confused and irritated.

“Honestly, Daphne is getting on my nerves,” Zoe mumbled and walked out of the room.

“Mine too,”

Zoe stopped in her tracks and turned around. The hair on her skin stood in alarm, her scalp prickled and knees almost buckled. She licked her lips and tried to calm her palpitating heart. A sheen of sweat appeared on her back, and she turned around, fearful of examining the room. Perhaps scared of finding something or … someone.

She swore she’d heard someone; it was a mere whisper like a gentle breeze whooshing past her ear, but the draft spoke; it agreed with her. Zoe stood for another few moments and then walked out of the room, her heart still beating wildly against her chest.

Zoe turned around again to stare at her room, so idyllic with her books and neatly made bed and yet something existed within it. An eeriness, a perfect illustration fading into the darkness like a vignette. She shook her head and jogged towards her siblings.

“It is the first day back to school; I hope they’ve prepared a feast for us,” Levy said, rubbing his stomach.

“You are such a glutton, Levy,” Claire huffed.

“Hey! I am a big man, I need my food, lady,”

Zoe grinned, but it dropped when Joseph joined them. Everyone pursed their lips or looked away, but Claire narrowed her eyes, stopping and glaring at him.

“Since when did you become a part of our group,”

“Since today,” Joseph said, “I am not letting the new girl hang out with pariahs like you.”

“Thank you, Joseph, but I don’t need a chaperone. I can take care of myself,” Zoe stepped forward.

“You heard the ‘new girl’,” Claire sneered, “now leave.”

“Claire, please mind your tone,” Markus admonished.

“He thinks we are bad people,”

“And you’re only proving Joseph right, so what if he decides to hang out with us?” Markus sounded tired, “honestly, I just want to go to sleep.”

The group slowly moved down the stairs; Levy had his arm around Daphne’s shoulder, keeping her warm. Joseph smirked at a glaring Claire, and Markus walked beside Zoe. Students from other grades crowded around them as Warden Rowan screamed instructions. The tower was dark, and the only illumination was the setting sun trying to peak its fading light through the curtain of thick clouds.

“We’ll have dinner early?” Zoe asked.

“I guess so; usually, we don’t start assembling for it till an hour later.”

“You don’t sound so sincere about it; Daphne said this is for dinner,” Zoe pestered. It was probably the remnant of the fear trying to find an expression.

Markus didn’t hear her. His eyes scanned the crowd, the Prefect in him itching to discipline the students close to the railings. They walked out of their tower, and Zoe stuck close to the group. She was reliant upon them for the next few weeks till she became comfortable with the institution.

As they walked down the grand staircase, they were joined by the neighbouring house of Dashwood. Nothing differentiated the students, but tomorrow, things would be stark when they would all be in their uniforms. Zoe had read in the Silverstone Academy brochure that the main aim for houses was to introduce a spirit of camaraderie amongst students who lived long after school was over. In fact, there existed elite clubs for the four houses where ex-students would reunite every year. It was exclusive and envy-inducing. Zoe realised she was a part of something permitted only to the privileged.

The grand dining area was similar to the one she had seen in Harry Potter movies, four long tables, each dedicated to one house. The teachers sat on the balcony overlooking the tables. The walls were covered with murals dating back to the nineteenth century, and Zoe’s mind begged her to examine them. The Locksley house took its seat, and she sat beside Markus, who quickly explained everything.

“If you ever desire to have friends outside of the Locksley house, go for anyone except the Felix.”

“Why?”

“They are involved in all sorts of nefarious activities. Other prefects of the Locksley house and I make sure we are free of drugs and other criminal activities, but the Felix house is filled with it. You’ll find underworld princes, kids of corrupt politicians and many more in that house. Innocence is not cherished.”

Zoe saw the boy she had walked into; his smouldering gaze was full of mirth as he enjoyed a chat with his friends.

“That’s Roman, isn’t it?” Zoe asked.

“The one and only,”

“So, his family is part of the underworld?”

“Yes, his father is a Greek shipping magnate, Apollo Demetrius, trying to wipe away his family’s murky past. I’d say, stay away from him at all cost. He is manipulative and dangerous. I have heard of stories about his family,”

“His name’s Roman; he has a French accent but is actually Greek?” Zoe snorted.

“Roman’s mother is Italian, and he was brought up in France, hence the accent. Apollo Demetrius wanted Roman to be away from all the dark shit his family was involved in.”

“What dark shit?” Zoe cupped leaned her body against the table.

Markus looked deep into her eyes, his gentle eyes had hardened up, and Zoe felt uncomfortable.

“When the police raided Roman’s grandfather’s house fifteen years ago, decapitated bodies of fifteen individuals were found. There was also black magic and ritualistic crap found along with it.”

“Shit,”

“It was in the news, although their influence in the media lessened the devastating consequences. Since then, they have been on the down-low. Roman’s father is also pumping money into their PR department. Anything to make them look like angels,”

Zoe nodded, perhaps this sordid history was the reason behind his obnoxious behaviour. She pulled out her chair and sat down.

“So, Zoe, tell us about yourself,” Levy asked, “we haven’t got a proper introduction from you. Where are you from?”

“Nothing too special, I lived in a small town near Boston. My Mother, Olivia Rudolph, was a primary school teacher in the day and a librarian by evening. I went to the local schools all throughout my life till this summer when she passed away in a car accident,” Zoe tried to not choke up. The mere mention of her Mother brought forth a smiling image replete with happiness and love, “and well, here I am a few months later.”

“I am sorry, Markus told me that you were close,”

“She was my best friend,” Zoe wiped the tear trailing down her eye, “I am sorry.”

“No, I am sorry,” Levy whispered, his eyes full of concern, “I shouldn’t have asked.”

“That’s alright,” Zoe looked away, using a napkin to wipe her face clean.

When Zoe looked up, she found Roman staring at her. His jaw was set in a straight line. His eyes observed her like a hawk. Zoe wiped her clammy hands on her jeans and turned to her friends. She felt naked and embarrassed under his gaze. Markus pressed his hand on her back.

“Are you alright?” Markus whispered, “I will ask the staff to bring the food to your room.”

“No, I am fine,”

There was a gong of a bell that echoed across the hall. The students turned towards the balcony. An austere looking man stood. He was thin with greying hair pulled back into a sleek bun. Dressed in a long overcoat, he looked over the students with a surprising air of benevolence.

“He just looks strict, but Headmaster Dion Duvall is a nice man, fair and just. Our school has only grown under his tutelage,” Markus’ eyes twinkled.

“Well, he had to be a fair man. He’s a Locksley after all,” Claire added.

“My fellow students,” a soft voice floated across the hall. Zoe turned to headmaster Duvall again and smiled when his eyes caught hers, “welcome back to a new session at Silverstone Academy.”

“Sessions will resume from tomorrow onwards. Until then, I advise you to make yourself comfortable. Electricity should be back in a few hours. We have our expert technicians looking into the matter. Your respective house wardens will start taking names for prefect appointments tomorrow. Keep that in mind.” Headmaster Duvall pressed his hands together and looked over the students. He was getting restless and a little uncomfortable, pulling at his collar but resumed an exuberant persona as a calmness appeared on his features. “We have also decided to have five more counsellors this semester. We are still shaken by Carla’s unfortunate demise. Please utilise their services, confidentiality is promised, and if there is any problem, my office doors are wide open.”

The mere mention of Carla’s name caused ripples of murmurs in the dining hall.

“No counsellor can treat crazy,” one girl said.

Disgusted, Zoe turned back to Headmaster Duvall, his eyes turned red, and the assistant rang another bell. Its loud sound was enough to calm everyone down.

“Carla was a nice girl. We are to not make any assumption about her. She didn’t have friends because we decided to remain attached to our cliques. I went to her funeral, and I was the only one from The Silverstone Academy. I have heard the kind of things that many think about her. Crazy, loner, weird… such big words coming from children who haven’t even identified themselves.”

“I will not tolerate bullying of any sort this semester; strict actions will be taken against any who engages in such activity. Even your parents’ bank balances will not be able to save you.”

There was pin-drop silence in the room.

“See, just and fair,” Markus whispered.

Zoe nodded.

“The cooks may bring in the dinner,” Headmaster Duvall said before sitting back on his chair.

Zoe turned to the table and stared at her newly made friends.

“Aren’t you having an eventful first day,” Daphne taunted before taking a bowl of custard and jelly from the servers.

“You’ll have dessert before dinner?”

“I have only desserts for dinner,” Daphne mused.

“Should I ask?” Zoe asked Claire.

“One must have a few whimsies,” Daphne shrugged, “it sets you apart from the rest.”

“Right,”

Daphne smiled and dug into her custard. Zoe rolled her eyes and dug into her roasted vegetables with chicken. Levy was happy to pick a cup of au gratin; Claire only shot him a disgusted look. Zoe popped a potato in her mouth and listened to the conversation running amongst them.

“When are the football try-outs starting?” Levy asked, wiping his au gratin clean and moving on to the chicken. There was something so lovely and warm watching him eat.

“You are planning to play football this year,” Joseph butted in, “what about that ankle injury from last year?”

“I was at my physiotherapist’s clinic the whole summer this year,” Levy explained, “he has given me the green signal. I am good to go, also got my new football gear.”

“Do you play football too, Joseph?” Zoe asked, dipping her chicken into the delicious dressing.

“No, I am not a sports guy, although I do jog every morning,” Joseph explained.

“Really?” Markus asked, “never saw you on the track field.”

“I… I like to take my own path,” Joseph gave a stiff smile.

Markus frowned before shrugging his shoulders and going back to his food.

Zoe had almost wiped her plate when Warden Rowan arrived.

“Hello, Warden Rowan!” Claire chirped, “will you be teaching us this year?”

“I am swamped with teaching the seniors this year, Ms Huntington. Perhaps I’ll have the opportunity next year.”

“If it’s not you, then who is it?”

“I think it should be Mrs Ramona Burke,”

Claire groaned and pushed her plate away.

“I will convey your sentiments to her, Claire. Anyways, I am here to speak with Zoe.”

“About what?” Zoe asked.

“Headmaster Duvall would like to see you in his office, Zoe,”

“Am in trouble?” Zoe asked.

“I am sure he only wants to welcome you,”

“Okay, I’ll be there,”

Zoe expected Warden Rowan to leave, but she stood there staring at her. Zoe wanted a little more to eat, especially the custard and jelly but taking a serving seemed odd. With Rowan breathing down her neck, it felt almost offensive to eat anything else.

“We can go now if you want to,” Zoe offered.

“That’ll be nice.”

Zoe got up from her chair and followed Warden Rowan outside the dining hall and towards the grand staircase. They walked up the flight before taking an elevator to the fifth floor. The elevator itself was very ornate with dim yellow light and gold-rimmed mirrors. Zoe quickly pulled her hair into a neat ponytail. The elevator dinged open, and they walked into a small arcaded lobby. Beyond the pillars was a beautiful balcony looking at the magnificent hills.

Zoe could smell the fresh air; it was cool and tickled her nose. Warden Rowan led her towards a wrought iron gate. There were two cameras on either side, both staring at her. Warden Rowan pressed a small bell and stepped back.

“Headmaster Duvall’s personal assistant will be back from vacation next week. Usually, students need to fix an appointment with him, but this is a special case. If he does not want to see you, he’ll simply not open the door.”

“That’s rude,”

“No, it is very efficient. There is a five minute wait period, post which you can move on with your day. Simple.”

“But what if there is an emergency and I really have to meet Headmaster Duvall,”

“Come to see me first,”

The gate buzzed, and Rowan pulled the gate open. There was a small flight of stairs before they entered the office. The floors were carpeted with luxurious Persian rugs, and a live fireplace crackled. A large rosewood desk rested right in the middle with a wall which was basically a floor to ceiling bookshelf.

“Ms Huntington,”

Zoe turned around and saw Headmaster Duvall walk out of a small room. He had a slight smile on his face.

“We never knew a fourth Huntington existed until a few months ago,” Duvall said and sat down on his leather chair, “but we have high hopes from you. Your siblings are the pride and joy of our school, they are amongst the highest rankers, and we accept nothing less from you.”

“I will try my best,”

“I went through your transcripts from your previous school. You were always an above-average student, Ms Huntington. I understand that our course is a bit advanced, but you’ll catch up in no time. If you need any help, Markus is an excellent tutor; you can book his services.”

“He tutors?”

“Absolutely. Tutored three students last year, and they got outstanding results. He is in great demand every year, you might want to book his services,” Duvall joked.

“With his football, advanced courses, and so much more, how does he get the time?”

“Time management, just like Emmanuel, Markus is efficient with his time.”

“How do you know that?”

“What do you mean? Emmanuel and I were roommates for all four years in school; I know him better than most.”

“Of course, I wasn’t aware.”

Headmaster Duvall’s eyes softened.

“I know your Mother passed away, Ms Huntington, and with that kind of turn your life, I know things will be difficult for you,”

Zoe didn’t say anything.

“Please feel free to come to my office at any time, Ms Huntington.”

“Thank you,”

Zoe walked out of the room.

“That felt a bit odd,” Rowan mused.

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know; he never calls students to his office for welcoming them,”

Zoe frowned but didn’t say anything. when she reached her dorm room, the lights were still out, and everyone was in their room. She felt the exhaustion seeping into her bones and opened the doors of her room. The window was open, she cursed, sensing the lowered temperatures and closed them. A faint warning bell rang in her mind; hadn’t she shut them close?

Changing into her pyjamas, she snuggled into her sheets and let the sweet oblivion beckon.


And the plot thickens....

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