It only took about a half an hour to reach the city of Piedmont by train. As the train rumbled up into the station, they could see a crowd of children with their parents getting ready to board the train. As with the children from Lyroron, they varied greatly in age.

Amelia saw one girl who looked even younger than Miles head back to say good-bye to her parents three times before she finally boarded the train. Others were boarding the train boldly and with a great deal of enthusiasm. She sighed and returned her gaze to the Ballards.

Miles was dozing, in spite of his father’s words. Emery was, like she had been, gazing out the window. He watched everything keenly for several moments, and then rose to his feet. “How long is the train going to be here?” he asked.

“Not long now,” Amelia said. “They only planned on stopping long enough for the passengers to embark.”

Miles sat upright and looked over at his brother. “Stay put,” he said sharply. “I know what you’re thinking, Brother, and the answer is ‘No’. If we miss the train, we have neither the time nor the money to get the next one.”

Emery sighed heavily and settled back into his seat. “We’ve never been to the city before. I was hoping for a little time to explore. I guess it’s near enough to lunch-time.”

Both boys opened the bagged lunches they’d been given. Within each was a sandwich wrapped in wax paper, a small box and a bottle. After examining the sandwiches for a moment, they traded.

Amelia chuckled and said, “I’m sure there’s an explanation for that?” By all appearances both were bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.

“Miles gets dressing on his sandwiches and I get mayonnaise,” Emery said around a bite of food. He chewed for a moment before he continued, “Otherwise everything is the same; so Dad mixed them up.”

“He did it all through school too,” Miles said. He took a sip from the bottle and made a face before handing it over to his brother. “Peach nectar,” he said.

“He doesn’t like peaches, but they’re good for my aura,” Emery explained. He rolled his eyes as he handed the bottle that was in his bag. “I think this is orange juice.”

“Thanks, Brother,” Miles replied. He looked keenly at Amelia for a moment before he asked, “Did your parents pack you a lunch?”

“Grandmother gave me some money for something off the snack cart,” Amelia said with a shake of her head.

“They have snack carts?” Emery asked. He glanced toward the door, then beamed and said, “Hi.”

Miles and Amelia both looked at the door then. There they saw a girl about their own age. She was tiny with short dark hair. Her eyes looked huge behind a pair of thick glasses. “Is there room here?” she asked softly.

“Sure,” Emery replied as he pointed at the seat across from him. “I’m Emery Ballard and this is my little brother, Miles. This young lady is Amelia Fairisle. We all come from Lyroron. Are you from Piedmont?”

“Yes,” the girl replied. “My name is Michelle Drummond. Do you all know what year you’ll be in?”

“Fourth year,” Miles said in a quiet voice.

“Wow, I’m only going into second year,” Michelle said. She leaned forward in the seat. “Next year you’ll specialize. Do you know what in?”

Emery shook his head and grinned, “Not yet. If we’d stayed back home, we’d have been research mages, like our dad, but I’d like to see what other specialties there are before I narrow my focus.”

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