A soft chiming echoed around the room, and a gentle warm light followed soon after. Rose's eyes fluttered open and she blearily looked out her window to see a pretty sunrise on open fields. Rose sat up slowly, rubbing the sleep from her eyes as a gentle voice whispered in the back of her mind...
It's time to wake up, little maiden.
The voice sounded vaguely familiar, and Rose wondered if it was the castle. The thought of a castle waking her up seemed silly, but it was magical, so who could say? Rose got out of her bed and headed towards the bathroom.
Still a bit groggy, Rose opened the door expecting to find a perfectly normal bathroom... only, she did not have a perfectly normal bathroom.
Rose stared at the giant cave in front of her. To her immediate right was a seemingly normal toilet, sink, and mirror, but they were made from black stone. Then the room turned into a massively expansive cave that was big enough for Rose to get lost in. Most of the cave floor she could see was covered in huge pools filled with glowing blue liquid. In the far back, Rose noticed a reddish light behind more rocks.
Rose gently closed her bathroom door.
She counted to ten. Rose then opened the door again and the cave was still there. She had to get ready since class started that day, but she really didn't feel comfortable having a cave for a bathroom.
But you're a dragon now, Rose thought to herself. Maybe this is what dragons are supposed to use? At least the toilet seems normal.
Though reluctant, Rose decided to give her cave bathroom a try.
Once she was done getting ready, Rose grabbed her schedule and her new black backpack and started putting in notebooks and pens. She had to look over her schedule—which had appeared overnight on her desk—a couple of times to find the names of the textbooks.
She was relieved that everything she needed was already on one of the shelves. She wasn't sure if she would need them in class, but she thought it would be better to come prepared.
Rose expected to find her backpack heavy or even bigger by the time she was done, but it remained light and small. Curious, Rose opened it and found that it was much larger on the inside than it appeared on the outside.
Considering everything that happened, Rose should not have been surprised, but lo and behold, she was. She fiddled with her cloak for several minutes longer than necessary—she had never worn one before, so it took a couple tries to get it on evenly—before she deemed herself ready.
Rose swung her pack over her shoulders, almost forgetting about the glass sphere that Nigel gave her yesterday. She grabbed it from where she had put it on the nightstand next to her bed last night, and the smoke within swirled, pointing towards her door.
Rose quickly stowed it away inside her backpack, deciding to only take it out when she needed it. She didn't want to lose it, after all.
Rose finally left her room, wondering if breakfast would be served in the lounge like the night before.
Lanna was standing outside Rose's door, flipping through a small brown leather notebook. She noticed Rose immediately and gave her a big, toothy grin.
"Hey, chicky. You ready for breakfast?"
Rose gave a small nod, naturally smiling back. "What time does breakfast usually start?"
"Breakfast is 6-9 every day," Lanna began, turning away and motioning for Rose to follow her. "Classes always start at 10 AM and go to 6 PM, which is when dinner is served. Dinner goes on for an extra two hours from there. Oh, and lunch! Lunch is at 11."
"Do we have to eat for so long?" Rose wondered. Were there magical creatures that chewed as slowly as Old Man Gregory?
Lanna laughed. "No, no. It's more like a free period with food being served to those who need it. Anyway, what's your first class today?"
"Blue this morning, Green after lunch, then Red," Rose responded, pulling out her schedule and looking it over. Lanna glanced into it and then headed out of the Warrior dorms with Rose close beside her.
"Professor Yūei is a good professor to start with," Lanna said approvingly. "She's awfully nice and easy to understand. Just don't sleep in her class like Galio!"
Rose wanted to ask what the colors meant, but she thought she would be able to find out for herself by the end of the day. The next day was White in the morning, Community after lunch, then Black. Wednesday was the same as today, then Thursday was the same as Tuesday. Friday only read as Kingdom.
Curiously, Rose asked, "What do we do Friday?"
"Kingdom class all day," Lanna said happily. "Professor Nigel is our advisor this year, so he'll teach us all day."
"But what do we do?"
"Lots of stuff. Battle practice, writing, flying—um—I mean, it really depends on what you are," Lanna said with a shrug. "I'm a thunderbird, so it's important I learn to control my storms."
Rose's brow furrowed. "And Professor Nigel teaches you how to do that?"
"Yeah. We all need help with a specific aspect of our nature, and the advisor helps us."
"Why not—I mean, your family—I mean—"
"Magical cores take a while to develop," Lanna explained, "and it's ill-advised for every Nehebur to try and learn magic while their cores develop. It can be extremely dangerous to not only themselves, but everyone around them. People don't come to school until their cores are developed, and then we come here right away. The school has to show us the basics of magic, but we can't skimp out on our personal training, too.
"Vampires have to learn to hunt safely. Gargoyles need to learn how to not accidentally break a human's mind with their thrall. Harpies need to learn to control their voice to not wrongfully enslave others, and so on and so forth.
"We can't pop home in the middle of a school year to learn, so we have to learn here," Lanna finished.
Despite Lanna's explanation, Rose struggled to grasp the concept, frowning. "Why can't you go home? I understand why I can't, but..."
"We come to this school to curb our isolation tendencies," Lanna responded. "If we go home every week, or something, it'll be harder to come back. What's the phrase? We have to go cold turkey?"
Rose couldn't agree with that. There were children who went to school and came home every day, but she didn't know if she could argue with Lanna about it. She didn't know a lot about the Magical Community, or even about all the species that were a part of it. She thought it would be rather silly to argue against someone when Rose herself didn't know all the facts.
"Thank you for explaining this to me," Rose settled on after a moment's deliberation.
"No problem!" Lanna gave her a toothy grin and ruffled Rose's hair in an obvious gesture of affection. "Like we said last night, we look out for one another. The whole reason the Community exists is to help one another. If we can't bother to do something as simple as answer questions, then what are we even here for?"
Lanna had led Rose through stony hallways with stained glass windows before they entered a large corridor with an even bigger skylight. It looked more like they were inside a greenhouse than a lunchroom, especially with all of the vines and flowers growing along the windows. There were small, stony white tables scattered about, and certainly no more than thirty students were currently eating.
Rose saw Chester waving her over and she looked up at Lanna. Lanna gave her a nudge and Rose started in his direction, noticing he had company—it was the boy from the Aisling Kingdom that appeared with Professor Yūei yesterday.
Rose approached the group and smiled hesitantly. "Hullo, Chester."
Chester gave her a jovial wave, lifting a slice of toast with rainbow-colored jam spread across it. "Morning, Rose. Enjoy your first night?"
"Yeah. Um, where do I get the food?"
Chester pointed towards a small black stone in the center of the round table. "Pick it up and pick what you want. The castle will summon it to you shortly."
Rose took a seat next to Chester and picked up the stone. It was smooth all around, like marble, and although it was black, it shone brilliantly. Upon peering further at it, though, she saw a tiny little white light at the center. The light slowly filled up the orb before expanding into a picture of eggs and toast. Rose hesitantly poked at the picture, and a new picture appeared, one of pancakes.
Instantly intrigued, Rose continuously poked at the pictures, seeing many classic breakfast dishes and even some odd foods she didn't recognize. She cycled through the choices—counting fifty options—before settling on toast and eggs. She stared at it uncertainly, wondering what to do next. Though after a few restless seconds, the stone glowed on its own accord, and engulfed in a white light before her was her breakfast.
Rose gasped in surprise. "How does that work?"
"Well, the stone's enchanted," Chester told her.
"It's a rune enchantment," the boy beside Chester added.
He had light brown hair with pale skin and two canines poking out from over his lips. The boy's pale blue eyes had a glossy look to them. "I'm Keinan. We're going to be lifelong friends."
Rose blinked at that. "Um, oh, okay. Hello, Keinan, I'm Rose. It's a pleasure to meet a lifelong friend."
Keinan nodded his head at that.
Chester told Rose quietly, "Better to accept what he says than try to fight it."
"Mother said I would have a good school life if I befriended a rose," Keinan explained. "I'm not much of a seer myself, yet, though. Mother's a sky nymph."
"I see," Rose responded, not entirely certain she understood him. "So, what's a rune enchantment?"
"It's a type of White Magic," Chester explained. "White Magic is the magic of permanence. Enchanters project their White Magic onto the physical realm to enchant an item. The actual process I've never seen before, though. That's something we'll learn about later, I suspect."
Rose scratched her cheek as she thought about that. Magic sure seemed to be able to do a lot, and the more Rose saw it, the more fascinated she was. She wanted to know how everything worked and why it worked that way. She only hoped she'd have enough answers to sate her curiosity by the end of the year, or she might go nutty with the overwhelming urge to find them herself.
She hoped there would be a library at the school with easy answers.
"Your first class is Blue, right?" Chester asked, and Rose nodded in response. "Good, just wanted to be sure. All first years share classes together, but every now and then, the school will get that crazy talented student that skips some years. Want to walk to class together?"
"Oh, that would be great, thanks," Rose thanked him. "I'm not familiar with the castle."
"How was meeting your kingmates last night?"
"It was great," Rose answered with a smile. "Everyone's so nice."
"That's good. No one gave you trouble about being a dragon?"
She scratched her cheek at the question, going back over the events of last night to confirm. "Mm-mm. They were surprised like you, but then they all said they'd help me."
"It's good for kingmates to look out for one another," Keinan murmured, looking up at the skylight with narrowed eyes. "It's gonna storm tonight."
Chester frowned at his friend. "Is it? That's unlucky on the first official night of school."
"Maybe... we should finish eating, though. Class will be starting soon."
Rose hurriedly devoured her breakfast, Chester and Keinan doing the same. Once the trio were done eating, Chester guided them to the Blue classroom.