Miles caught his brother’s hand as they walked through the crowded streets of the capital city. Soon they would be safely at the Academy. For now, they were caught up in the hustle and bustle of the crowd.

“Brother, I’m… nervous,” he murmured as Emery slowed down a bit.

“I didn’t realize it was going to be so crowded,” Emery admitted. “Look for a warden,” he added, as he began to scan the crowd.

“Can I help you children?” a mature voice said from behind them. Both boys spun to find an old man regarding them through piercing gray eyes.

Miles debated with himself for a moment. Their father had always told them not to talk to strangers. However, they were lost and didn’t want to be late for the orientation at the Academy. Finally, his anxiety about being late won out over his caution. “We’re looking for the Academy,” he said at nearly the same time as Emery.

“Ah, I can show you the way there,” the old man said. As he moved to lead them, Emery tugged on Miles’s hand, stopping him from following.

“Maybe you can tell us how to get there, instead,” he said. “We have to meet someone first and we wouldn’t want to hold you up.”

“Ah, of course,” the old man said. He gestured in the direction he had been heading and said, “The academy grounds are just beyond the south-east gate. If you’ll excuse me.”

After the man had left, Miles looked at his brother questioningly. “I didn’t trust him,” Emery said softly. “I don’t know why. I just didn’t.”