Okay, so, New Year, new story, and I'm going to make an effort to actually finish this. I'm also going to try to update this with reasonable regularity, but I make no promises. As this is being typed up on my school computers, there is a spell-check, so there shouldn't be any glaring spelling errors for now. I also feel inclined to warn you that this is, in fact, entirely serious. Most of my high fantasy works in the past few years have been comedies, parodies or satires, so I have no idea how this is going to turn out. But here it is, whatever it is.

The Magician's Academy was hardly the most welcoming place Erryn had ever been. By all rights the castle should have been a pleasant sight – the old, grey stone was cut and lined up almost perfectly; there was not a single crack or fissure in the stone that she could see; the towers immediately gave way to thoughts of dragons and trapped princesses and the ornate, stained-glass windows reflected a rainbow of light on the vines and ivy growing up the walls. But there was something off about the place. Something was not quite right about the set of the stone. Something in the sharpness of all of the angles, the harsh spike of the towers, the way the light reflected from the windows seemed to twist and distort in sinister ways that Erryn couldn't quite make sense of and the vines and ivy almost seemed to be out for blood.

She quite quickly decided that she didn't like it there. Although she wasn't quite sure what it was, Erryn was sure there was something wrong with the Academy, and she didn't intend to spend any longer there than was absolutely necessary. The gates seemed to taunt her, creaking as they swung open, and she made a point to drag her feet as she walked through. The gates creaked even louder as they swung shut.

What little luggage she had floated a few ft. above the ground beside her, suspended in the air by the magic of Tharos, the man who'd come to collect her from the village and bring her to the Academy. Soon enough, she had been informed, she would be able to accomplish such feats herself. It made no difference to them that she was not interested in learning silly little parlour tricks, and would have been content to while away the years on her small farm in her small village in what small portion of the world had been hers.

Whoever showed any affinity for magic was sent to the Academy, whether they wanted to be or not. It was on the order of the king. They would all work for the king, whether they wanted to or not. Erryn had already been informed that escape from the Academy would be impossible, and that nobody before had ever accomplished it, but she still took note of every possible hiding place and blind-spot that she saw as Tharos led her to the living quarters of the students.

There were only four other female students at the Academy. Magic was a rare gift, and apparently women lacked the strength and control of their minds to be able to wield it properly. Erryn could have scoffed, but it would be better to keep her head down for the time being. She quietly picked an empty bed in the corner of the room and set about unpacking her luggage, taking in as much of her surroundings while she did so as she could.

Of the four girls, only one seemed to be younger than Erryn. She was sat on her bed with a thin, flimsy looking book with a pink cover and the title printed large enough that Erryn could read it from across the room. A silly romance novel. Erryn turned her attention to the three other girls. Two of them were sewing, their fingers identically quick and graceful. Their identical green eyes moved across the silk they were embroiding in an identical fashion, and they both stopped to push identical brown curls from their identical faces. They must have been twins.

Erryn was careful when casting her glance towards the last girl, who seemed to be the only one who'd noticed her as she entered the room. She was clearly the oldest there, and by far the most striking. Tall and slender, with long, dark hair that almost reached her waist and seemed to have the same odd, bluish sheen as raven's feathers. She was so pale as to look like she'd never stepped outside a single day in her life, and that, along with the impractical length of her hair, made it quite clear that she was nobility.

Cold grey eyes met Erryn's, and she instantly looked away. It was best not to draw too much attention to herself, at least not until she knew who she could trust. She finished packing away her things and sat down on the edge of her bed. The bed creaked, treacherously, and the three girls that hadn't noticed her before each looked up from what they were doing.

It was surprisingly easy for Erryn to force a small, shy smile and faux-nervously stammer out, "Hello." The two identical who'd been sewing hmphed and turned back to their sewing, ignoring her once more. The girl who'd been reading set down her book, though, and came straight over to Erryn, a welcoming smile on her face. "Why hello there. I'm Myshka. It's very nice to meet you…" The look on her face made it clear that Myshka was waiting for an introduction of some sort. "Erryn." She said, and feigned a smile. "And it's nice to meet you, too."

Myshka spoke with very much the same soft, rural drawl as Erryn did, suggesting that she too was from further north, and most certainly from peasant stock. Though Erryn knew it was stupid and could prove a costly mistake, she immediately put her in higher regards for it. Few people from small towns and villages wanted to go to the Academy, and Erryn was sure she would be able to use that to her advantage. Perhaps Myshka would provide a valuable ally.

Slowly, the older girl made her way over. She held a hand out for Erryn to shake, an odd thing to do given the clear class difference between them. "Veronica." she said, curtly. Erryn shook Veronica's hand and gave a quick nod to make it clear that she'd heard. "Lessons start just after sunrise, so I suggest that you get to bed early. They won't go easy on you just because you're new. Make sure your uniform is flawless before you get to class, else there will be hell to pay for it." said Veronica, before heading back to her own bed.

Erryn did as Veronica had suggested and went to bed early. Although she would have preferred to stay up and learn the other girls sleeping patterns if she could, she knew she would suffer for it in the morning if she did. And giving an impression of complacency would make it much easier to search for escape routes unnoticed.