Thursday, September 28, 2017

08 ~ The Academy

Robert struggled to keep up with the long strides of Miss Bowman, who had confirmed his enrollment into the Academy.

She gave him a soft smile as they walked down long, empty hallways that seemingly lead to nowhere. At every junction Miss Bowman would make a decisive turn or movement and Robert wondered how she managed to figure her way around these halls that all looked the same.
After a short bit of walking a floating paper raced up alongside them and Miss Bowman plucked it from the air carefully as they stopped at a junction.

“Very good, your paperwork is processed, Mr. Egan.” Miss Bowman smiled at him brightly and she began to walk again. “Do you mind if I ask… why are you here alone, Mr. Egan? Normally students have their families with them when they come this way…”

Of course it had to come up. This had all been too easy. Robert swallowed and tried to not slow in his pace. “I… I…” His voice dropped to a whisper as he tried to ignore the sting in his eyes. “I don’t have any left.”
Miss Bowman stopped, her face twisting with pity. “I’m sorry to hear that.” She looked down at her clipboard and took in a breath before putting on a smile and looking back at him again. “The good news is, you will make a new family here. We always take care of our own! Come, this way.” She motioned him through a different doorway this time and he followed her.

Darkness assaulted his eyes and he shielded them at the sudden change, just as he finished wincing away he was flooded with brightness again and the sound of birds.

They were outside.
“For safety reasons we cannot be dropped right into the Academy, so we’ll have to walk some. This way!” Miss Bowman began her walk along the dusty ground.
Robert looked backwards only to discover the door they had just gone through was gone. “M-My bag is back there…” Not that it really mattered, he hardly brought anything with him. He didn’t have much to lose anymore.

He didn’t have anything at all.
She smiled at him warmly. “Don’t worry! They’ll be delivered to your room, Mr. Egan.”
He nodded slowly and began to walk alongside her. It felt as though his feet were made of lead. He looked around the hills of France and his stomach twisted. He hadn’t been here since he was a child running through the streets of Gallia. Things had been different then.

His mother had been alive then.
What good was his knowledge and magic when he was alone in the world?
Miss Bowman interrupted his thoughts. “Looking through your file, your adviser at the Academy will be Professor May. She’s actually the leader in spirit studies right now, so that works out wonderfully!” Her fingers brushed down the page and she tapped slightly. “Oh, and your student mentor’s name is Cain - he’s seventeen and been with us for a little over a year. He’ll show you around campus and help answer some of the questions I’m sure you have.”

Robert wasn’t even sure what to say, but it wouldn’t matter as his eyes widened at the building that came into view.
“Ah! Here we are!” Miss Bowman beamed. “Quite a sight, isn’t it?”
That was an understatement.

It was like a palace blending into the French countryside. Robert blinked several times, as if he expected it to disappear. “Wow.”
“I know!” She practically gushed. “It gets me every time I see it, too! I’ll walk you up to the doorway, ok Mr. Egan?”
Robert gave a slight nod and Miss Bowman launched into the history of the building and how it had been around for centuries.

“Voici l'Académie, Robert. Peut-être qu'un jour tu vas venir y étudier?” 

“Oui, papa!” 

When had the world gotten so dark?
It was all unfair.

“-and after we patched up from the French War of 801 things resumed as normal. It’s been smooth ever since, and I actually quite prefer the new statues in the courtyard.” Miss Bowman nodded as they walked through the beautiful gardens.

They had reached the big doors that lead to inside when she nodded her head. “This is where I leave you, Mr. Egan. Your room is number 305.” She handed him a set of keys. “Your roommate's name is Victor. Your schedule will be found in your room on your bed alongside with the items you brought. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask your student mentor or your advisor.”

She extended her hand and Robert stuffed his keys away to shake hands with her. “Thank you, Miss Bowman,” he managed quietly.
Her smile widened and she nodded. “I’m sure you’ll love it here, Mr. Egan. Have a wonderful day, and I look forward to seeing you in a few years when you graduate.” With that she turned and began her walk into the courtyard, vanishing before she made it to the end of the walk.

This would all take a lot of getting used to.
Perhaps this wasn’t a good idea after all, but this was the only way forward he had.

With a deep breath in, Robert went to reach for the door handle when the door swung open on its own, revealing a pristine blue and white foyer. He took hesitant steps in, being drawn by the drizzling fountain and the soft sound of voices being carried from other rooms.

He should’ve asked Miss Bowman how, exactly, he would find the people he was meant to. Just as he managed to take another step in, someone walked into the entryway.

She couldn’t have been much older than he was. The girl popped the rest of a pastry into her mouth as she studied the book she had carefully. Her eyes came up, noticing him immediately, and her face lit up. “Someone new?”

In a heartbeat she had shoved her book into her bag and rushed him. Robert hadn’t been prepared for an attack-hug.

“This is so exciting!” She practically bounced up and down next to him. “Did you just get here? Those paper-pushers always drop students off here without a single clue! I remember I walked around for two hours before a professor found me when I first got here.” She finally stepped back and held out her hand. “I’m Ming! What’s your name?”

That is what had happened to him. Robert slowly felt himself relaxing and he smiled. “I’m Robert.” He shifted slightly before looking around. “I’m supposed to be looking for someone named… Cain, I think?”

Ming jumped that time, her hands coming together as she squeaked. “Oh! You’re Cain’s mentee? He’ll be so excited to know you’ve made it here!”
Robert wasn’t sure he could survive another person excited to meet him.

“Come this way! He’s still in the dining room! We’re just wrapping up breakfast, are you hungry?” Ming had turned around completely, gripping Robert’s arm as she pulled him back towards where she had come from. Robert had managed to shake his head at her question and she carried on. “Cain is really great, so don’t worry. You’ll know him right away - he’s got pink hair, you can’t miss it! Have you decided what you’re studying yet?”

He wasn’t even sure where to begin, but it was getting easier to smile. Ming felt different from Miss Bowman - she felt more real. “Spirits, mainly. How about you, what are you studying?”
“Anatomy and neurology! My father was a doctor; his father was a doctor; his father’s father was a doctor; his father’s father’s mother was a doctor… I suppose you can say it kind of rubbed off on me!” She grinned as her hair swung behind her. “Is that an accent I hear? Do you speak French, by chance?”

It amused Robert how quickly Ming could direct a conversation and he nodded. “Oui. I was born in Gallia, but I moved to Taewe in Dragon Valley when I was little. Is my accent that noticeable?”

They entered a rather large empty room and the noise of talking was getting louder. Ming still had a grip on his arm. “Not really, it’s very slight, actually. I grew up in China so the French accent feels fairly obvious to me.”

He stopped walking, looking at her with interest. “You don’t even have an accent that I can tell! Do you speak Chinese?”

“Shì.” She nodded. “It was my first language, but there was a big push for English as I was growing up, so in all honesty I’ve lost a lot of my native language.” She shrugged lightly and gave him a slight smile. “Oh, look! There he is! Cain!” She began waving at a group of kids sitting at one of the long tables.

Bright pink hair swiveled around and Robert was met with equally bright eyes.
Ming had bounded ahead of Robert then, dragging him along behind her. “Cain, your mentee is here! I ran into him as I was heading up for my P.A.E.!” She cleared her throat and adjusted, slightly flustered as she stood closer to Cain.

Cain had stood up to greet them, his pink hair curling out from underneath his beanie. He seemed to straighten and smiled warmly, yet his eyes lingered slightly longer on Ming before finally looking towards Robert. “Robert, right? I’m Cain.” He held out his hand and Robert shook it quickly. “Nice to finally meet you!”

“Oh, hey! New guy!” A girl had been sitting on the table near the group and she leaned back, grinning behind the big frames of her glasses. “Where did you find this one, Ming?”
“Just by the entrance!” Ming grinned. “His name is Robert!”

“Got dumped off in the pit by the counselors from happy-hell, Robert?” The response came from a boy with dark hair shielding glowing eyes and fangs protruding in his smile.

“Nah, Stefan; you’re the only special snowflake to nearly fall into the pit in this joint.” Another boy shifted, lifting his head off the table lazily with a smirk. “Here I thought this was a school meant for smart people.”

The vampire boy, Stefan, shrugged nonchalantly. “What can I say? I have a natural curiosity.”

“They say curiosity killed the cat,” the girl down the table quipped.
Robert pursed his lips and his own smile grew. “-but satisfaction brought it back.” He finished the familiar phrase.

Stefan grinned wider, giving the girl a playful stink eye. “Robert beat me to it, nice to know someone else here is versed in idioms too! That’s one up on you, Sarah.”

The girl stuck her tongue out in retort.
Cain rolled his eyes and gestured to the table. “Proper introductions are in order. You’ve met Ming, so let’s see here-”

“I’m Mincia!” The girl with glasses interrupted as she leaned back on the table.

“Stefan, pleasure to meet you.” Stefan nodded.
“I’m Sam-”
“-and I’m Sarah!”

“We’re twins.” They said together.
Sam continued on. “-and there’s going to be a pop quiz on this later so you better take notes!” Sarah was nodding along with him.

Robert chuckled slightly. “As long as I don’t get thrown into that pit if I get something wrong.”
Sarah shook her head. “Nope, you just have to fish Stefan out of it the next time curiosity strikes.”
Three times and you guys will never let me live that down.” Stefan shook his head.
Cain was laughing when he looked at Robert. “You hungry at all? Breakfast is winding down but they keep food out all day.”

Robert shook his head. “I’m good, thank you.” He hadn’t really had a desire to eat after the funeral, but now his stomach was entirely a ball of nerves.

“Well, I’m all done here anyways, so why don’t we take a walk and I can show you around. We’ll probably need to head up to your room to figure out your schedule too.” Cain nodded with a warm smile.

Mincia grimaced. “Probably got etiquette to start with, as everyone does.”
“Fuck that class.” Sam grumbled as he rested his head against his hand again.

Stefan held up his hand then. “Wrong, it’s ‘with all due respect and admiration, fuck that class.’ The class, from which, you learned nothing, you heathen.” He grinned.

“Well excuse me!” He swiped some food from Stefan’s plate and chomped on it noisily.
Stefan gave Robert a look of amusement. “I swear by the gods, Robert, we’re always this terrible. You better run and find the normal people while you still have a chance.”
Mincia shook her head with a wide grin. “Nope, he lost that chance the minute Ming found him.”

Ming had been quietly staring off into space when she shook her head. “Huh? Me?”
Cain smiled softly at her. “Don’t worry about it, they’re just up to their usual stuff. Don’t you have P.A.E.s you mentioned you were taking?”

That caused her to open her eyes in alarm and she leaned over to grab Cain’s arm. “Oh my gosh! I do! I completely forgot! Thank you, Cain! I should go!”

“Hey wait up! I’m meeting Chrys for some studying up in the Library anyways. I’ll come with!” Sarah pulled herself out from the bench and dusted herself off. “Come join us for lunch later, Robert!”
“Yes, please do! It was great meeting you!” Ming gave him a happy wave. Before they both started to head off towards the doorways.

Mincia stood up from the table and stretched. “I need to stretch my legs and go for a run, so I think I’m going to head out for a bit too! See you goons at lunch, and you too, Robert!”

Robert waved at her and Cain pointed to where Mincia was walking. “The kitchen’s that way. We have rotating chore lists so you may find yourself in there on cook or dish duty one of these days. We’ll have to take a look at your schedule, but generally they’re pretty relaxed for your first few weeks. Do you remember what room number you were assigned? If not I have it in my notes somewhere.”

“305 was what I was told, my roommate's name is Victor, if I remember correctly.” Robert fished into his pocket for his keys.
“Ouch.” Sam hissed slightly. “Victor’s roommate?”

Stefan rolled his eyes. “Don’t take it personally if he hates your guts right out, Robert.”
Sam nodded. “Yeah, he does that with everyone.”
Robert grimaced. “Great…”

“Hey now, he’s not all bad.” Cain made a slight face. “He just takes time to warm up to people.”
Stefan shook his head. “Sure, sure. Nymphen blood just helps that warm up happen a lot quicker, right Mr. One-Fourth-Pink-Haired-Nymph? Say, Robert, you don’t happen to have some Nymph hidden in you, do you?”
Robert shook his head. “Can’t say I do. Just… French and Valley blood.”

“You’re from Dragon Valley? I grew up there on the east side of Lunaris. It’s got some gorgeous mountains.” Cain looked at him curiously.
“Outskirts of Taewe for me, by the Spirit Spring.” Robert could feel his throat tighten thinking about it. It was funny how for a brief moment he actually forgotten the weight that was once crushing his chest.

“Wow, that’s incredible - you were just a village hop away! You know I didn’t even know there was one nearby there until I started here? It’s definitely a well-kept secret.” Cain smiled and motioned. “Let’s go head up to your room, it’s on the third floor, so I can show you around along the way. See you guys later!”

Stefan and Sam waved.
“See you, and nice meeting you Robert!” Stefan nodded.
Sam grinned. “Welcome to the Academy, man!”
Robert nodded his head. “Nice meeting you as well.” He turned to follow Cain when he heard Sam shout from behind him.
“Oh, and try not to fall into the pit!”

Robert looked back with a smirk. “I’ll do my very best!”
Cain shook his head as they walked. “We have an old exhibition drop that’s walled off that everyone fondly calls ‘the pit.’ It’s actually pretty neat, I’ll have to show it to you sometime.” They walked back into the mostly empty room with a piano stashed into the corner. “Ah, ok, so here is where our formals happen. We have them monthly and students are required to attend 7 out of the 12 that happen annually. Basically it’s a lot of mingling and important people from the inner circles come around and it’s your time to show your stuff if you want to eventually work with them.”

The room suddenly had grown a lot more intimidating. “That… doesn’t sound difficult at all.”
Cain smiled. “Don’t worry! It sounds a lot more difficult than it is. You’ll be going through a month and a half of etiquette courses, as the others pointed out, so you’ll be more than prepared for them when they happen. The course will seem ridiculous and rigorous, but by the end of it you’ll be able to recite the rule-book of manners in your sleep.”

“When is the next formal?” Robert looked around curiously before returning his gaze to Cain.
“We just had one, so it’ll be another month off. Another thing of note is the pre-holiday formals are required, but those are a lot more laid back with no outsiders allowed. Let’s head on back to the foyer. This main room over here is just a living area. Anyone can use it to study, but a lot of the students tend to prefer the library on the fourth floor. It’s less likely for a professor to walk in and rain on our parade when we’re up there, so that’s probably why.”

Robert kept pace beside him. “This place is beautiful.”
“It really is.” Cain nodded. “It’s also very intimidating at first too, so don’t feel bad if you get a bit overwhelmed. Before you know it, this place will feel like a second home - at least, that’s the idea.”

They headed up the stairs where Cain pointed down the hallway. “That direction leads to the office used by all the professors and the classrooms. Oh, another noteworthy thing is there’s a bathroom on this floor and the third floor. They’re gender segregated, but it shouldn’t be too hard to tell them apart. If you drowsily walk in at three in the morning and are assaulted by pink walls, then you know you’ve hit the wrong one. Simple enough, right?”

Robert chuckled. “Well if the walls didn’t do it, I’m sure someone screaming certainly would.”
Cain laughed with him. “We’ll head on up, your room isn’t actually too far from mine.”
Up one more flight of steps lead to another beautiful set of hallways. Robert could already feel himself getting lost in this place.

Thankfully his room wasn’t too far from the stairs, so hopefully that would prevent him from getting too lost.
Either that or he was just optimistic about it.

Cain knocked on the door lightly before speaking. “Hey Victor, your roommate is here.” He opened the door and motioned for Robert to follow him inside.

Robert had seen Nymphs before when he would go into Lunaris with his mother while she was still well enough to make the trip, but he had never actually been so close to one before. There wasn’t a whole lot of difference between them and humans, from what his mother told him, yet the appearance difference was stark.

Victor looked at him coldly with icy eyes peering up from his book. His features were sharp and bright, and the whole room seemed to chill upon Robert’s entry.
He could only put his best foot forward. “Hello, I’m Robert!” He tried to smile warmly, yet he was still met with a cold glare.

Victor blinked slowly and sighed before his head turned back to his book, leaving Robert to bite his cheek awkwardly as he looked to Cain for guidance.
Cain shrugged loosely and began to walk over to the perfectly-made bed across the room from what Robert assumed was Victor’s bed.

Robert was tempted to sigh with relief upon seeing his bag there along with some paperwork, though there wasn’t really anything important for him to have.
“Is this all your things, or did they forget something?” Cain looked at him with concern.
Robert shifted and pursed his lips slightly. “I didn’t really have much to bring.”

His head hadn’t exactly been the clearest when he had packed. He certainly didn’t pack anything formal enough for a formal.
Cain gave him an easy-going smile. “Don’t worry, we can run into town and pick up some more things if you need it. We have a lot of freedom in our downtime.” He looked down at the paperwork and ran his hand along it. “So now that we have your schedule here, I can show you the rest of the place.”

Robert gave a quick glance at Victor before he nodded. Anywhere seemed better than the awkward silence brought on by whatever reason Victor has found to hate him.

They walked back towards the stairs and Cain pointed out his room to him. “That’s mine, feel free to drop by anytime. It’s a single, so you don’t need to worry about waking up someone else if you need help with a last minute paper at two in the morning.”

Robert was able to smile, the icy glare of Victor behind him now. “I take it you have a lot of late nights?”
Cain shrugged. “I like when it’s quiet around here. I can think a little easier.” He motioned up. “We can head on up the stairs and I can show you the library.” 


Cain had shown Robert all around the Academy, stopping to answer each of his questions. Mincia had been right, Robert’s first four weeks were heavily focused on an etiquette class taught early in the morning. Apparently Victor was fairly new as well and there was another new student named Jacob who was still in them so at least he wouldn’t have to suffer alone.

Though given how Victor seemed, Robert wasn’t so sure that was entirely a good thing anymore.
They had finished up in time to run down and grab lunch with the same group he had met earlier plus one or two new faces. It still amazed him how easily they accepted him into their group - they talked to him like he had always been friends with them.

They made it easy to think less about the fact that Robert had just buried his own mother or the crushing depression that came along with it. It was a strange thing to feel happy again after everything. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long.

Robert could feel the weight pulling on him again as Cain walked back up the stairs towards the library. His mother would’ve loved to have seen this place.
“Hey, are you alright?”

Robert snapped from his thoughts to look at Cain. He swallowed, looking down to gather a solid breath. “Yeah… it’s, uh… just been a rough week.” He tried to keep his voice from breaking and thankfully it held.
Cain’s concern melted into a smile and he nodded. “I know it can be a lot to take in at first, but trust me - it gets much easier as you get adjusted. Besides, winter break will be here before you know it and you can head home for a bit to catch your breath.”

Robert’s gut sank. “Winter break?”
Cain nodded. “We get breaks off around the holidays where all the students go back home to show our families that we’re still alive and that we’re actually learning a few things. Our breaks usually last about a month, but it depends on the time of year and exams among other things.”
Robert frowned slightly, weighing his options. “What… what if you…” He struggled. “Are there ever students that stay here during breaks? Is that allowed?”
He wasn’t ready to face the empty house yet.
He wasn’t sure he ever would be.

Cain pursed his lips. “You know, I’m not sure. I’ve never actually stuck around. I imagine there has to be, as not everyone wants to make trips back home… If it’s an issue of money, you have no reason to worry, the Academy will take care of that for you. Heck, sometimes a professor will teleport a student back home themselves if need be! It’s pretty cool!”

Robert wished he could be amazed by it but instead his gaze dropped to the floor. He knew what was coming on. He should’ve been more aware of it a while ago. His grief tended to come in waves and with every high period there was always an equally low period shortly behind. He clenched his fists and tried to suppress it for just a little while longer.
Cain might have said something, but Robert was too lost in his own thoughts.

Maybe Victor will have left their room? If not would he dare be that one person who hides in a bathroom stall to sob about how hard life is?
Would he have a choice?
He was moving suddenly as Cain gently tugged on him, moving him out of the hallway and into the room he had pointed out as being his earlier.

“I-I don’t have anything to go back to.” Robert finally whispered, trying to give Cain some semblance of an explanation for the impending outburst. “I-I’ve lost everything.”
Cain ushered him to sit down on his bed and Robert buried his head into his hands as he cried. He could hear his mother singing, and the way his father’s voice fluctuated as he laughed. He missed his mother’s stories and how she made the house smell like the herbs from her concoctions.

He would never get her back. He would never get any of it back. He was alone in the world, crying on the bed of a kind stranger who had just met him this morning. He hated that he had melted down so quickly. He hated that he had forgotten this pain earlier. He hated that this was even happening at all.

Cain had stood up at some point to grab something before sitting back down. He carefully handed Robert a cloth and Robert took it slowly. “I’m sorry.” He finally breathed. “M-My mother died last week. She was all I had left.”
Cain put a careful hand on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry… that’s so recent. You’ve not even had time to grieve.”

The waves of grief were beginning to lift, being replaced with guilt and embarrassment as he realized exactly how he had come off. He mopped up his face with the cloth and sighed. “I didn’t mean to break down like that. I’m sorry for putting you in that position.”
“Please don’t apologize, I can’t even begin to imagine what you’ve been through. One thing I know is that you’re holding up far better than I would be in your shoes.” Cain’s voice held empathy and kindness.

Robert tried to straighten himself, sniffling as he did so. “It comes in waves. Some moments I’m mostly put together and others… well…” He swallowed. “I just hope I don’t make a fool of myself in front of everyone else.”

Cain stood up and grabbed a set of keys off his dresser that he handed to Robert. “Here, take this. It’s a spare key to the storage room right next to the men’s bathroom. If you ever need a minute to collect your thoughts or just to be alone it can be a safe haven.”
Robert looked at the key and then up to Cain quickly with uncertain eyes. “I couldn’t possibly take this from you… what if you need it?”

Cain shook his head, smiling easily. “I can get another from Professor Millgrim easily if I tell her I lost it. She’s losing her keys all the time too, so she’s really easy going about it. Besides, I would much rather you have it. I may not have ever lost someone so dear to me, but I do know that sometimes everyone needs a little room to breathe away from everyone else. I can’t imagine throwing a roommate like Victor and an Academy filled with students you don’t know taking up every empty room will make your life any easier.”

Robert felt awed by the kindness and he looked at Cain with grateful eyes. “Thank you… thank you so much. You’ve been… unbelievably kind to me. Everyone has.” He let his gaze drop. “I just would hate for anyone to see me like this.”
“You’re always welcome here, too.” Cain gestured to his room. “And, for what it’s worth, everyone really likes you. We’re all a little odd at times, but we make fierce friends. I know it’s not a replacement by any means, but I hope you’ll come to consider this place your home with time.”

“I hope so too.” Robert smiled weakly. It seemed foreign right now, but he was already growing to like it. He felt his smile warm a little more. “We should probably get upstairs before they think we’ve fallen into the pit.”
Cain laughed. “I bet Stefan is already halfway to the pit thinking he’s sending a search and rescue party.”

They laughed and Robert stood up, looking out of Cain’s window to his view of the city.
J'ai reussi, maman, papa.

Victor had remained as warm to Robert as a mountain icecap, or perhaps even colder upon the discovery that they were both studying spirits. Robert had been at the Academy for all of three days and he already tried to spend more time outside of his room than in it. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep it up, though.

Perhaps if he just insisted on not leaving, too, then Victor may be forced to leave if he didn’t like it?
Robert remembered day two and shuddered.
Victor being a Nymph meant he had more elemental magic, and Robert could see his breath after two hours.

When he had told the group at dinner that night Sam and Stefan volunteered to come sit out the cold next time with him.
All-in-all Robert was loving it more and more here even if some days were still difficult to get out of bed. It hadn’t taken long for the rest of the group to figure out what happened and they were all supportive. It was an uplifting feeling.
Maybe he wasn’t as alone in the world as he thought?

Robert had etiquette classes first thing in the morning at 8 that went on for four hours. It was an individual tutoring with Professor Dagnir, which in hindsight makes a lot more sense than just throwing three individual students together who are at different levels of etiquette.
He had just gotten out of class and stepped into the empty hallway, his stomach rumbling. His mind began to think about lunch when he heard the sound of glass breaking.

Robert had turned his head in turn to hear the accompanying “oh shit,” as the door to the lab classroom flew open.
The boy that burst from the door had messy hair covering his face, his eyes locked onto Robert and suddenly he was shoving him. “RUN! RUN! RUN!”

Robert’s eyes widened as he picked up the pace from the boy’s shoving. They picked up into a run and had just made it around the corner when a small explosion was heard from right around the corner.

The boy laughed and coughed between breathing hard. “Oh shit man!” He had an unplaceable accent that was very foreign to Robert, yet it reminded him a little bit of Sam and Sarah, who said they were from Twinbrook.

Robert began to laugh with him. “What in the world…?”
The boy shook his head, flipping the hair away from his face. “Apparently ‘Do Not Touch’ signs are legitimate around here.”
Robert laughed even harder when they heard the sound of one of the Professors. “Hey! Who did this?”

They shared a look and mutually bolted for the stairs together, laughing the entire way.
When they had made it safely out of range they were both sorely out of breath. The boy who had been with Robert doubled over, leaning on his knees while he caught his breath. After a moment of silence between them, he brought his hand up. “Jacob.”

Robert took his hand, laughing easily. “I’m Robert.”
“Woah, you got yourself a French accent there! That’s awesome! Are you from here? I mean, France, not the Academy.” He slowly stood up, shifting awkwardly.
Robert laughed, nodding. “Yeah, I was born here, but I grew up in Dragon Valley. Where are you from? I’ve never heard your accent before.”

Jacob’s face lit up and he grinned. “Roaring Heights, born and raised! France is so different here. Everyone is so much more… buttoned up. No offense, of course. I’m just… having trouble getting used to it.”
“You’re new here too, then?” Robert gave him a sympathetic smile.

Jacob nodded. “It’s been two weeks but I still don’t know where anything is.”
That was odd. Robert had gotten a little turned around every day, but he always had a general sense for the building thanks to Cain. “Did your student mentor show you around?”

Jacob shook his head. “Nope. Teague dropped me off at my room and went on his way. It’s been… a challenge.”
Robert felt his brow furrow. “That’s messed up. Hasn’t anyone helped you find your classes or anything?”
Jacob scratched his head and shrugged. “This nice guy with pink hair showed me my classes once, so I’m grateful for that at least.”

“Cain.” Robert immediately filled in. Cain was impossible to miss with his haircolor. Apparently his grandmother was a nymph, or something to that effect. “He’s pretty great. Hey, are you hungry? The group I usually eat lunch with is likely downstairs, and maybe we can help get you sorted out!”
Jacob grinned at him. “That sounds awesome. Thanks, man.” 


Jacob had fit in perfectly with everyone at the table. Sam and Sarah gushed about the pier in Roaring Heights and Stefan gained extra enjoyment knowing he wasn’t the only curious soul in the Academy. Cain had scowled at learning about what Jacob’s mentor had done and had insisted on finally showing him around the building.
Of course, Stefan and Sam called dibs on the pit.
Robert was just happy to have made new friends. It helped him breathe. It helped him feel a little less alone.
It was after etiquette class the next day that Robert popped into his room to grab one of his books when he saw something different.

Jacob had been pulling some things out of his bag and onto Victor’s bed. “So this is probably going to sound weird…” It was a common way for him to start conversations, Robert had noted.
Robert chuckled. “You going to smother Victor’s things with your stuff? They might end up frozen if you don’t watch out.”

Jacob laughed and shrugged awkwardly. “Actually… I may have traded rooms with him… uh… I hope that’s ok?”
Robert felt his grin growing. “You did? How did you manage that?”
“I had a single.” He nodded back. “I hope this isn’t too weird but you’re the first person who was really nice to me here, and I-”

Robert had started laughing with relief. “This is the best thing that’s happened to me! Victor made a horrible roommate. I was worried I would have to start sleeping in the lounge downstairs lest I wake up in a block of ice!”
Jacob grinned back at him. “Then I’m glad I could be of help! I was never really very good at making friends before. I’m a little awkward, but I’m working on it!”

“I don’t think you’re awkward, Jacob. If you want to see awkward you should watch Cain try to impress Ming.” Robert smirked, shaking his head.
Jacob laughed. “I have seen it, they’re pretty cute together. I mean… not that I think they’re cute like that but… I just mean that it’s a relief to know there’s a little bit of awkward in all of us… well... I mean... everyone except Stefan. I don’t think he could even if he tried.” He shrugged nervously. “I just mean... with his vampire genes and all, you know?”

Robert nodded reassuringly. “I know exactly what you mean.”
“Either way, thanks for… well just being a cool dude.” Jacob finished throwing some of his things into his dresser before looking at him. “I hope you and I can become friends… I mean… shit. I’m really bad at this.”

Robert shook his head. “Don’t worry, I know we will be.” He could already tell.
He was definitely going to like it here.

SimNoWriMo Word Count: 6,190
SimNoWriMo Picture Count: 114

💗 Big thanks to Mpart and Blamsart for letting me borrow their Sims/Characters to adopt into the Academy life. 💗

Blamsart is responsible for Mincia and Cain, two incredible characters from her legacy Light the Way to Heaven. I did everything I could to bring their personalities to life in Atalan, but they're far more wonderful in their original forms. Please go check it out and support her work - it's incredible!


French Translation:
(Blamsart, le gagnant, translated this)
“Voici l'Académie, Robert. Peut-être qu'un jour tu vas venir y étudier?” - “Here is the Academy, Robert. Maybe one day you'll come study here?”
“Oui, papa!” - "Yes, papa!" 
J'ai reussi, maman, papa. - I did it, mom, dad.


  1. Aaacckkk this was so CUTE
    The dynamics!!
    Look at mah Cain goooooo, Ming is super adorable I approve.

    But gosh man ROBERT, ROBERT, i kept pleading him like NO BOY NO NOT THE ANGST, I CAN'T TAKE IT, YOU'VE ALREADY BEATEN ME. Ack poor child, grief is harsh. But you've got a good gang here, IT'LL BE OKAY (hugs)

    This is so exciting, i cant wait to see more of this adorables!

    1. Thank you! Ugh I died writing this with such joy. Banter = life.
      Cain is super spectacular and so is Mincia, thanks for letting me steal them! <3
      I DO TOO. STEFAN is like my MCM right now (I can say that because despite how late this comment response is... it's a Monday. ;) ). (You HEATHEN) *snorts* *hard giggle* *flops on ground*

      ROBERT KEELS in this chapter, and like it all exploded out on Cain who, of course, took it in stride like he does.

      I can't wait to write more of it! Unfortunately until then, life will destroy me!

  2. Awwww...poor Robert!
    Damn it, Miss Bowman.
    I'm glad everyone was so nice to Robert! I love how excitable Ming is! Also recognized a certain Cain and Mincia. Eeep! I love, love Stefan and Sam. Poor fella fell into a pit but at least he ain't a heathen like Sam. XD
    Not going to lie. Had a bit of an identity crisis reading Jacob's dialogue. It sounded eerily familiar... >.>
    Wonderful chapter! I'm growing attached to all these new characters you have introduced! Still torn up since you killed Marie BUT- (Sniffles)
    (Sobbing is heard in the background)
    I'M FINE.

    1. I know! That creepy woman should go burn somewhere... maybe in a pit... *snorts* *you HEATHEN.*
      HAW I adore Ming and Cain and Stefan and Sam and Sarah and Mincia and EVERYONE. UGh I gush over all of them. They're just so perfect.

      Heh, I do like Jacob, he's a cutie. Awkward but adorable, so I'd argue that's a good identity crisis to have. *nodding*

      HA YOU SOUND ABOUT AS FINE AS I AM. HAHAHAHA *laughter slowly becomes wailing*


    Cameos of my most favouritist sims in the entire simdom!!!! Although, is it a cameo if they're there to stay?!?!

    moar please, Liv!!!

    1. (Whips out contract between Blams and Livvielove)

      THEY BE HERE TO STAY. (Slaps table)
      Stefan (jumps out from under table): "YOU HEATHEN."

  4. Yes you've done it Robert!

    Goodness Livvielove, I've only started this story and I seem to meet a bunch of new characters that I adore each chapter. I have a huge list of favorites now, how did this happen? I tried but I can't seem to have specific favorites from the little gang. They're all fun and cute! I am curious about the romance between Ming and well as this pit haha

    Only a single week? That's still so painfully recent. This darling needs lots and lots of hugs, and definitely not people like Victor. I used to have a roommate like that. Well just a little similar haha. He really liked turning the heat down to below 18C. I don't know if it was just to spite me or if he really was cold blooded.

    Things really feel like they're going to go uphill for Robert. I'm glad!

    1. Yesssssssss!

      I swear these characters were entirely accidental. I wasn't MEANT to spend a lot of time here and then they barged in and said, "HEY SO about this storyline..." Oh man, oh man I know exactly what you mean. I went through and made all these Academy students and they each got SUCH personalities. Sam and Stefan I have such a particular soft-spot for, and even wrote an AU request for some friends who wanted to see their bro-mance become more... romance ;) Hehe.

      Yes, a single week (give or take a few days). I think what's more painful to me is realizing how close Robert's mother died to his birthday (on August 3rd). He left for the Academy when he turned 16 exactly (as that's when they pull in students) and that was a week after his mother died. Lol, sometimes I don't realize how deep into my stories I get until I realize I've assigned birthday/years and have this massive timeline on excel I keep updated with info. I LOVE getting into the nitty gritty!

      Ugh, I'm so sorry! Roommates like that are vicious, hopefully you had a great, awkward friend come save you, right? Right? I need to know that story has a happy ending! XD

    2. I do really enjoy watching Sam and Stefan interact haha, oooh is this secret AU available somewhere?

      Aw that's even worse, poor darling isn't having it easy.

      Haha, I wish I had a Jacob! No, I eventually found my courage aka my boyfriend and we got our own place.

  5. OMG, freaking love Sam and Stefan already! Definitely need to check out the AU romance, it's yelling at me already. And it's really nice that they all became such friends so quickly and easily, I struggle so much with that IRL. Good on Robert for not letting his grief prevent him from finding happiness as well. I really like how you're writing that, the grief absolutely does come in waves and it's a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Hopefully the new friends will help make the highs last longer and the lows shorter.