Miles sat alone in the room he’d shared with his brother until just a day ago. He looked around the room and frowned. Soon another boy would share this room with him. While he and Emery had very randomly split the space, the newcomer would probably expect a clearer demarcation of territory. Shelves that had been mutual would now be individual. Chairs that had been up for grabs would now have clear assignments.

He stood and headed over to the shelves on the other side of the room. One was his – meant to be on his side of the room. The desks, too, would have to move back to their former positions. The beds were already on opposite sides of the room. The chests and dressers stood nearby, also in their proper positions.

He cleared first one shelf, then the other. He chose a shelf at random and moved it to the foot of his bed. The desk followed it. He ended up with a neat little alcove for studying at the foot of his bed. Sitting in his desk chair, he began filling the shelves with his books and little knick-knacks.

Each item had a memory for him. This was the first journal that his father had given him. It was full of childishly drawn glyphs and hardly comprehendible notes. This was the book discussing common trace found at crime scenes. His brother had seen it in a bookshop and bought it, thinking it might help in Miles’s future career. Then a trinket – a crystal engraved with Miles’s personal glyph joined the books.

He looked up as the door opened. A boy about his own age stepped inside. “Are you really finished with all your classes?” the boy asked without preamble.

“Apparently not,” Miles replied softly.

The boy nodded and began unpacking. Miles watched him silently. If Miles had a box of memories to house on his shelf, this boy had even more odd and ends. The books were crammed on the shelf in any way they would fit. Some stood; others layed down in stacks. Knick-knacks, likewise, were squeezed into every nook and cranny.

It was these that caught Miles’s eye. To say they were strange was an understatement. Animal paws and tiny skulls peeked out from between books. Bags of power and stones leaned on one another on the top of the shelf beside a treaure box that appeared to hold many glass baubles. Bottles of strange liquids and jars with eyes staring out lined the edge of the shelf.

The boy looked up and smirked. “Alchemy,” he said. “Studying the same thing my dad did, though he wanted me to do something more lucrative. I spent my whole young life watching him practice alchemy, I can’t imagine anything different.”

Miles relaxed and nodded. If it wasn’t for Emery’s almost polar differences with their father’s personality, he would probably have followed in their Master’s footsteps too. It wasn’t unusual. That was, in fact, the reason why the school had been founded. “Did you study under him?” Miles asked softly.

“Wouldn’t let me but I’m here now and he can’t stop me,” the boy replied. “Travis Nash,” he added, pointing at himself.

“Miles Ballard,” Miles replied. “I guess we’re room-mates.”

“Might not be for long,” Travis said, pointing toward the door. A grim-faced school official stood in the doorway. Miles recognized her as the woman who’d escorted Emery to the train station that morning and stood.

“You’ve been requested by the head master,” she said before she turned and left.

Miles nodded and with a wave at Travis, he left the room to follow her. What, he wondered, could she want now?

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