Silver cloud academy, a rather odd public boarding school. It is a place of learning for the elite of society and trains those destined to become of the highest importance. Like any respectable establishment meant for polite society, it is divided into four houses: sapphire, ruby, emerald and zircon. It is isolated from the world in a fruitful valley in the northern green lands, away from prying eyes. The story thus begins here:

Daniel Westmarch, was a young aristocrat and by the grace of the King, a nobleman. It was by the shrewdness of his father that he came to possess such great wealth and status. Although he was a highborn, his father was not, in fact he came from the lowest of the low, where not even a penny be sparred. Upon reaching the age of seventeen, his father sought to compensate his youngest son's lack of inheritance by giving him the best of educations and sending him to silver cloud academy, unlike his oldest brother, who would inherit the title given to his father by his majesty the king. His other brother, Ellis would join his majesty's armed forces and his sister is to be wed to a Scottish viscount. Indeed. Daniel's life was not an easy one, ignored most his life by those that would call him kin, maligned by whomever, felt the slightest threat from him. He wasn't violent but rather too intelligent for his own good. There was a sense of superiority that would be born in those who learnt to use his own kindness against him and managed to dominate a man of his stature: Even though he be kind, his towering height and unsightly appearance would stir up the feeling of uneasiness, when in his proximity or let alone be subjected to his gaze. His parents thus thought of a way to remedy both their problems by sending him away, where he could not spoil their good reputation. An early Saturday morning, they sent for a carriage to escort him from Cambridgeshire to Allerdale.

The ride was long and full of thoughts. He knew nothing of the school to which he was going. He had only once heard of its name, when he had spoken to a young lady who was fond of him, Leonor was her name. She told him that her brother studied there and that it was a rather odd school, with a code of conduct unseen in their time and that they had produced most members of the king's privy council. He also thought of her, would he ever see his only friend once more or will the past depart to never be seen again? He was curious as to why a Marquis's daughter would ever subject herself to him, who was despised by all who laid eyes on him, he correctly guessed that she fancied him. He loathed the idea of having to start anew, and worse of all be forgotten. Whilst thinking, he would look onto the road, the breeze gently caressing his soft skin, blowing his black hair backwards, it would however prove to not be sufficiently strong so as to force him to look away. He eventually grew tired of this and laid his head backwards into the darkness of the carriage. He arrived late at night, to a rather grandiose palace, clearly divided into five structures. They were built of smooth stone and decorated in a baroque architecture. He was in awe; the entire school would prove to be several times larger than Windsor castle.

Upon arrival at the court of honour, he was swiftly greeted by a young-looking woman, she was beautiful. She had black hair, tied up in an elaborate chignon. She donned around her neck a discreet but beautiful collar, made of a mixture of platinum and white gold and encrusted with sapphires. It held the shape of a caduceus. Whilst she stood in front of the carriage door, she introduced herself to him:

_ " Hello. My name is Alexandra Aurelia Sidhebourne, I am the headmistress of sapphire house", she warmly uttered to him.

_" Hello to you too, my name is Daniel …"

_" I know your name, Mr Westmarch ", she interrupted, all the while opening the carriage door. " Would you care to come with me?", she said whilst extending her arm to him. As soon as he stepped off the carriage, he immediately noticed her stature. Indeed, she was as tall as a man. " Ah, you now see, why I too have been exiled ", she said as a smile began covering her pale face. They entered the main building and soon found themselves walking along a rather long hallway, that lead to a grandiose staircase. As she took her first step, Daniel stopped and said:

_ " If I may be so bold as to ask, may I inquire as to why an all-male boarding school, has a woman as the headmistress of one of its houses? And why exactly do houses require headmasters?". Already on the first step, and eye to eye with Daniel, she answered:

_ " Of course, you may, it is natural that you have questions about our "special" academy. And it might as well be, if we are to live together for several years. Silver Cloud is unique, in that it ignores previously held beliefs, completely. It is a gift, almost a refuge. Here, not even god can reign."

_ " What? I don't understand." He impulsively replied

_ " I guess you didn't notice the black tulips in the court of honour"

_ " What does that have to do with anything?" He riposted, as he raised his voice.

They were suddenly interrupted by the headmaster. Seen as Alexandra was tall and that the institute was renowned, he expected the headmaster to also reciprocate in height, as well as bearing other prominent features such as a heavy face, broad shoulders and an impeccable physical condition. But much to his dismay, Alexandra was right and there, nothing is as expected. The headmaster of a quite advanced age, was only just about 1,70 metres tall, although he usually wore a rather large hat, that gave him an additional 10 centimetres. His hair was mostly white with a few stray grey strands of hair on the sides. He bore a large and refined moustache, one would expect to only see in caricatures. It too, had its colour worn out. The "sun king" as the student host commonly mocked him, had a conspicuously large belly, from which his epithet came. His attire like all in the school, consisted of a suit, a white shirt and a red tie. He however took on the licence to change his wardrobe to distinguish himself from all others and wore a bow tie. Anyhow, he approached them both at just the right distance so that he didn't have to stare up at them. " Ah, Mr. Westmarch. We've been expecting you. My name is Emmanuel blod, I am the Headmaster of this wonderful academy." He said

_ " Pleased to make your acquaintance." He replied

_ " Would you please come this way, to my office" he said as he began walking up the stairs.

They walked up the red, carpeted stairs, into his office just at the end of the hallway, facing the court of honour. He slowly opened the door, as if making sure that all was as it should. He then extended his arm towards the inside of the room and invited them in. Daniel let Alex pass first, then immediately followed her, before being himself catenated by Emmanuel. He had a quite spacious office, bearing decoration and wallpaper, with a striking resemblance to the rest of the edifice. They were decorated in a French classicist manner. The walls were white with golden with woodwork attached to them, the floor covered in a red and gold carpet, a wooden cabinet displaying finely garnished Chinas, two ornate wooden chairs, facing a magnificent davenport, with a small yet comfortable chair. Nothing less than as expected from such a reputable and wealthy family. At his request they both sat on the twin chairs, and begin to face him, that is if he like them, were to sit down. He instead insisted on presenting them some sweets, he had previously obtained, whilst away on vacation. Now all seated, he began to inquire about his previous living conditions, status and education: " So, I've been told you...are from Cambridge. Am I correct?" He said, whilst placing his hands together in front of him.

_ " You are indeed, headmaster", Daniel replied.

_ " But, excuse my prying... Why is it that a young noble from Cambridge, who from what I've heard managed to impress the dean of trinity college, would ever step foot in an academy nearly a thousand miles away?", he curiously inquired, all the while attempting to unwrap a candy wrapper. Daniel's face was frozen in both contemplation of his ill-fortune and amazement of the headmaster's deductive reasoning. The silence was then abruptly broken, by the headmaster just having failed to get a hold of his sweet: " Bollocks, why won't this bloody thing open?" He nearly shouted. Upon realising what he had just said, he leaned his head back, with his hand over his mouth and his enlarged eyes. The taken back Alexandra; then readied for speech, but before she could fulfil her objective, someone knocked on the door. "Ah. That must be Mr. Freudekraft", said Emmanuel, taking the opportunity to let his indiscretion pass unmolested. He then stood up, went around the table and opened the door, which revealed a handsome young man, with dark brown hair, light brown eyes, with a round face and an impeccable wardrobe. He proceeded to walk up to the desk, now at Daniel's right, and presented himself: "How'd you do? My name is Alexander Finnigan Leopold Freudekraft, and I am Sapphire's head prefect, I am here to take you away, so to speak", he said whilst looking exclusively at Daniel. He however, was not paying much attention to what his superior was telling him, but instead focused on the little details about him that have now become clear, due to their proximity. He already had a fully-grown beard, although it was shaven, the marks were still visible. He had a quite round face, with no prominent cheek bones as Daniel had, he however more than made up for it with a perfect white-teeth, genuine-looking smile, that covered his face nearly every time he was in the presence of superiors. It took him a few seconds to snap back into the present, at which time he responded with a swift and shy: "Yes, of course. Shall we?". The headmaster then said his final statement of encouragement, and upon its cloture, Finn placed his hand on Daniel's shoulder, prompting the latter to look at Alexandra who greeted his blushing face with a smile. And after saying their goodbyes to the headmistress and the headmaster, the two young men retired to their house.