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Annisa lands and throws up - there's nothing in her stomach, so it's not very dramatic - and then rolls to her feet and blinks rapidly.  Her room's floor is a thin grate over void, which is too bad, the best roll is a void ceiling, but it's fine. At least she'll never have to sweep her floor. The luckiest thing is to be near the bathrooms and not too near or too far from the stairs, which she'll have to leave the room to check. 


She's seen pictures of all the rooms but she holds still anyway, taking it in. 


Dorm rooms are five feet by ten feet, narrow enough in the one dimension that you can hold out your arms and brush both walls. They have a bed, a desk with drawers, two bookshelves, and a chair. You're supposed to dismantle the desk, drawers are places where something can hide, but not first. First you're supposed to step outside, memorize your room number, and find the cafeteria. The cafeteria is in the middle, and the other kids should be going there too, and there's safety in numbers, and there's older kids in the cafeteria, eagerly awaiting their letters. 

Annisa opens her door. All around the hallway there are kids doing the same thing. Someone is shouting "open your door, memorize your number, and come to the cafeteria!" as they pass each door, though why is deeply unclear to Annisa - what parent wouldn't have told their kid that already? And if you're the kind to freeze up and forget, well, you're not going to make it. 

She's having a hard time breathing. Some kids are crying, though they're way too old for that. 

And she joins the flow of students heading hopefully cafeteria-wards.

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Whatthefuckwhatthefuckwhatthefuckwhathefuck uuuuuuugh sick - what the fucking wall is that wall it's just pitch black- She - nightmare...?

...Someone's shouting instructions, and people are moving outside her door.

-She can start moving while whatthefucking, fold the knife up and put it in a coat pocket and zip it up, peer out the door and - follow everyone else some of whom have weird stuff and lots of them look Asian - where what augh-

Look bored and not to be fucked with, that's usually a pretty good default, she thinks? She has no idea what is going on but it hurts too much to be a dream. She follows the crowd.

-Turns around and mutters '245B' to herself several times, and saves it in a draft text (no signal??), then follows the crowd.


Lucy lands flat on the floor of her room, heaving. There's nothing to come up, which is good. She glances around--void wall, excellent. She bolts out of her room, turns to memorize the door--635B--and then joins the throng. She glances at her wrist widget--actively fighting the flow of students would be dumb, but she can make her way through the mob of freshman as they flow towards the cafeteria towards the direction Wilbur will also be going. 

Wilbur catches up after only a few minutes, which is an enormous relief. Being alone in this place isn't safe; the crowd isn't alone, and anyway she's been assured that everything is much safer for the few weeks following graduation and induction, but it's better to have her brother by her side regardless. 

"Six-thirty-five B," she mutters to him under her breath. 


"Six-seventeen A," he replies.


Jaime allows herself a brief moment of intense nausea and discomfort, and resumes looking like she’d been sculpted by someone who’d just gotten the hang of making faces and still hadn’t quite figured out how to make them move. Her mice squeak in alarm and then settle down. 

She inspects her void ceiling, exits her room, memorizes the sequence ‘715A’, and heads down to the cafeteria.



Well this isn't the woods, she thinks, as she throws up the granola bar into the endless void below the metal grate at the bottom of the room she now finds herself in.

She doesn't know enough to panic; it's not a dream, she can tell that much by the level of clarity she feels about the fact that it is happening, but this is so outside anything she's ever encountered that the only thing she can think is -

Okay. Blackness. Void below her feet, no visible stars but certainly more like vacuum than like anything else. Some kind of - teleportation mechanism, into some kind of custom-built - is it too unkind to call it a cell - and there are other people outside, calling in human languages that she understands, saying to come out, memorize her room number, and head to the cafeteria. Wherever that is. But it's a hint, isn't it, cafeterias are found in schools and hospitals and maybe some workplaces, so - that suggests some kind of building run by some kind of organization.

Okay. Okay. Pending further evidence, her theory is going to be that she's been kidnapped by aliens. But is not the first such human to be so kidnapped. That's - absurd - but it's better to have a theory and update it than to just stare blankly into the camera while absurd things are obviously happening.

She slings her packs over her back and gets to her feet, unsteadily. Opens the door. There's a bunch of people outside - weirdly Asian for her town - okay, obviously not all pulled from her town, this isn't quite an unbiased random sampling of humanity around her - not enough black people, she thinks - but it's close enough that she thinks it supports the aliens theory. 

Memorize your room number, the voice said. She's totally not going to memorize it, not under stress like this. She fumbles through her backpack for a second to get at - okay, pen, yes, easier to use a pen to write on her arm than to get out a notebook. She writes down "198 A" on her arm. And then she follows the crowd.


- Julia has a void floor! Julia redoubles her determination to petition for the next set of Scholomance improvements to include letting students pay for room assignments, so she can room next to her friends instead of complete randos, and also not have a void floor that she's now going to need to acquire a rug for. Julia's room looks like a bleak metal box with shabby wooden furniture. Which she was warned about, and she has art supplies on hand to spruce it up, but still, eeesh. Next set of Scholomance improvements: fake illusion windows that look out on the Manhattan skyline. Once a month as an easter egg they should have Spiderman in the distance. 


She opens her door, notes her number - 56B - and hesitates for a moment because there aren't that many kids in the hallway yet - oh, there they come, they were all just busy puking. Cafeteria will be inward. Maybe Annaka'll have a rug already.


Julia sighs and marches off.


The place is just - incredibly bleak? The walls are made of metal, grey, with screws showing where it's bolted to support beams. The lighting is tepid. There's a smell of recycled air and something gooey. Julia is adding to her list of suggested improvements almost faster than she can keep track of it. 1) if walls have to be metal, they should be chrome, going for a spaceship aesthetic 2) maybe people can buy lights dedicated to their dead kids, and then there'll be some variation in the decor - which will help with tracking where you are in the hallway - and some consistently decent lighting in here and hey, also a reminder to be careful, like those memorials along the side of the highway. 3) if we're going for the spaceship aesthetic you could also have flashing lights in the floor pointing arrows towards the cafeteria, some kids look like they can barely reason through which direction 'in' is gonna be 4) WINDOWS, jesus fuck people, windowless rooms give people depression, and depression is not good for your grades. 5) honestly, some cheery elevator music wouldn't go amiss? LIke, Julia would absolutely be rolling her eyes if they were playing Mariah Carey over the speakers but it'd be a reassuring kind of rolling your eyes, like, oh, those grownups, no idea what's cool, rather than "wow uh this place is going to be traumatizing". 

There are potions for trauma, of course, and Julia has packed some. If you take them after a scary event you are very likely to remember it clearly but without any negative emotions attached. Julia plans to avoid scary events, and she's not sure the potions work on 'being locked in a dull grey box sucks'. but 6) it's probably cheaper to make the place not suck than to give all the kids therapy.

There's a girl in front of Julia crying and slowing down progression towards the cafeteria. Julia pats her. "The boxes of tissues are in the back," she says when the girl jerks around to look at her, and then passes her by.


—in the back? In the back of what? But the other kid is already too far ahead to ask. She sniffles and tries to walk faster.


With enough deep breathing and positive attitude he manages not to throw up! Huzzah! Oh, wow, void floor. They undersold how creepy it was. Well, he knows what to do now- Hoist his big old backpack onto his back, affectionately pat his lightweight violin case, note down his room (112A), and delve into the stream of humanity. Safety in numbers.

Smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave. Well, in this case it's more smile, make sure it reaches the eyes as a sort of grim resilience, nod. Hello everyone he passes, here is a cheerful and sturdy looking sort, remember this face even though he's not saying anything! He pauses to ask if someone who stumbles against the wall is alright. 

"M'fine, mind your own business."

"Glad to hear it!" He responds brightly.

"Just the nausea."

"Yeah, it's nasty. I'm lucky, stuff like that doesn't hit me that hard."

"That so?"

"Yep! Well, let's get going. We're kinda blocking the way."

The stranger snorts and starts walking again, pushing past Kevin. That's alright, he needs to cultivate the reputation of friendly guy, inasmuch as he can do it without risking his neck. People like talking to and trading with a friendly guy. Cafeteria-wards he goes.


El notes her void wall, memorizes her number (425A) and puts her bags down on her new bed for the next four years and extracts the letters packet and tromps out with the herd, taking note of who lives near her and who joins up later. She wishes, stupidly, that she'd had another hour to watch the sun rise.


Orion isn't right next to anybody he knows but he nods at everyone, winces inwardly at the obvious mundane-extracted kids - there are a weird number of them this year, he's pretty sure they usually don't get in at all, he'll have to look out for them - writes 457-B on his arm in the tiny stub of eyeliner pencil his mother gave him for the purpose, follows the herd like a sheepdog.


Rebecca is having a super weird dream!

Also she's so tired, which she doesn't think normally happens to her when she's having dreams?

Also people are shouting? To... memorize a number and go to a cafeteria?????

Well, she doesn't have a weird dream feeling that this is a TERRIBLE idea, so she'll... go out of the room and look at her number. 303B. That isn't hard to remember. She hums to herself, a little tune mentally lyricized as "303B", and goes where everyone else is going, for lack of a better idea. She is still barefoot in her music note pajamas.


There are a really weird number of people who are probably of mundane extraction here. Did something happen to a whole bunch of wizard kids at once? ...There isn't much that could be done about it at this point, even if they weren't stuck in here for the next four years hopefully

What they CAN do something about is the fact that all of these mundane-extracted girls with their long, long heads of wizard hair and their imminent need for information that won't cost them anything to provide present an opportunity for an artificer with an affinity for fiber. She puts her head together with Wilbur, murmuring about possible strategies. 


Alyona is deposited in her room and manages to swallow back the nausea. She doesn't quite trust that someone isn't going to go looting improperly secured dorm rooms while everyone else is busy, and she doesn't have the time to properly secure her room, so she keeps her pack on and heads out into the hall. She pauses outside her room, flips open her clipboard, and scribbles "516B" in the top corner of the paper.

As she follows the crowd to the cafeteria, she tries to develop her spatial sense of the place - the walk from her door to the hallway intersection is about so long, there are so many lights along the path. Not that those things are tremendously likely to stay constant, given the vast horde of freshman all moving in the same direction with the same intent. Still, if the path is shorter than usual right now, that means whatever landmarks she happens to pick out are more likely to be the ones that will still be there even if she needs to walk this path alone in the dark.

She also tries to keep an eye out for familiar faces, or even ones that -- look like they could be her kind of person. It's important to have allies.


Marcy gets a void wall, which is awesome, because it means she has a normal floor she can exercise on and also if she feels the need to parkour it's easier to do it without using one wall than without using the ceiling. Also she can dry-heave bile into the void, which you can't do with a ceiling.

She memorizes her room number--429A--spends a few minutes looking for hiding places to empty of mals and fill with valuables, then runs to the cafeteria because she only walks when she has a specific reason to. All the Boston kids have agreed that while they'll usually eat together this first trip is for seeing who else is around. They already know about Orion Lake, of course (and Marcy is extremely envious) but there are hundreds of other students and anyone could be a valuable ally or a potential threat.


Wow, okay, that was super uncomfortable but at least he can throw up the very stupid sendoff breakfast into the wall of 216A. Lysander is a little late to join the throng, staring at his room number muttering to himself for a full sixty seconds before he's sure the number isn't going to slide right out of his head the second he looks away. "Oy, Vedelev, one of those is for my bro, right," says one of the Berlin kids, jogging up to him and holding out a hand for a letter. This is quite rude, denying him the introduction that is normally part of that deal, so he smiles a glittering Customer Service Smile, hands it over, and resolves to start with someone else's maintenance shifts. There will soon be a wealth of options! 


Void wall. She was hoping for a ceiling but at least it's not the floor. Wow she feels like she rode a roller coaster and it hated her. She takes a few deep breaths, pukes into the floor drain, and jogs out of the room with her letter packet and her pen. Writes 563-A on her arm, up under her sleeve so sketchy people won't follow her home for some reason by reading it off her. Continues jogging in, tonguing acid off her teeth so they don't melt in her mouth. Maybe the cafeteria will have milk or something, she can dream. She notes the faces and general demeanor of the people on her hall and the adjacent ones. In the cafeteria she starts calling, "Suze? Suze Inoue?" in search of the New Orleans sophomore.


Zeke arrives with the exhilarated whoop of someone on anti-nausea medication who really likes rollercoasters and immediately does a handstand! The room looks kind of depressing but it’s hard for something to look depressing when it’s upside down and it’s gonna be even harder for it to look depressing when he collects his possessions and paints it all ORANGE. He kind of wants to punch a mal in the face but no mals immediately present themselves, which is, like, fine, and if it were an important mal he’d have to buzz for Orion anyway and Orion’s great but needing his help with stuff is embarrassing and thinking about that scenario is making him feel sad and small so he resumes thinking about painting everything ORANGE.

He stops doing a handstand, mimes a fist bump with his void wall, exits his room, memorizes his room number - “282B, cool!’ - and barrels down to the cafeteria to collect his stuff from the random students bribed to carry it, only occasionally distracted by the existence of pretty people.


Caio is in... 754A with a void ceiling. 7-4-5 was the combination on his lock for the pool locker before his swim bag was stolen lock and all, so that's easy enough, just reverse the last two digits. The ceiling is good. The room is dismal. He puts his stuff on the desk and pulls out the letter he's supposed to bring and walks to the cafeteria with his neighbors, making sure to lock his door on the way out.


David is in 228B. Void wall, thank God. He sets the vodka and mix powder on his dresser, locks his door, heads to the cafeteria. He's got letters and bad news to deliver.

He notices all of the kids who look confused. Yeah, he fucking bets.


Edmund's room has a void floor. He'd be irritated about that, he hates the idea of walking on cage bars, but he's too busy retching into it. Fuck teleportation. Fuck magic in general. Who thought this was a good idea?

656B. Soon as he has some mana he'll burn it into his brain. He brings his backpack with him to the cafeteria, joining the people who are shouting "open your door, memorize your door number, head to the cafeteria!" That's a good idea. He's glad somebody thought of it.


Gladiola keeps her food down and pauses for a moment to look out her void wall, then gathers her reserves and her belongings, notes that 145B makes a square on a phone keypad, and starts towards the cafeteria with the rest of the students.


Anti-nausea tablets are weight. Dasha dry-heaves once and grabs the side of her bed for balance before she remembers she should check it first. Looks under the bed, does a pass with the enchanted multitool she had tucked into a pocket, picks up the blanket and shakes it out, and then she lets herself sit just for a moment. The noise from the hallway is an indistinct roar in her ears but after a moment she gets up, drops her pack on the bed and heads out.

The noise is louder when she opens the door and she nearly retches again before catching herself. She's in 263A at the Scholomance and if she cannot handle memorizing a three-digit number over some shouting she is going to die, so she fixes the image in her mind and turns towards the cafeteria with the crowd.


Eliza's first thought, when she lands, is to avoid throwing up. It's a struggle, but she manages it.

Her second thought is, I have to find Justinian

Her third thought is, something bad happened

She glances at the wall made of void, hugs her bag tighter, and goes out into the hall. 

680A. She presses the number into her arm with her shortened nails to remember it better and goes off. 


She's held up on the way out of her room by needing to clean and sheathe her weapon, but makes it out into the hall before the last confused stragglers pass her door.

The first thing she notices is the hair, specifically how much more of it she has than everyone else. It'll be the weight limitations, of course. She had no chance for a final weigh-in with her stolen bags, so she just made sure to drop enough stuff to cover a decent margin of error between a reasonably well-fed Canadian child and herself plus knife. Letters, mostly; there was an obvious packet of them, and while they represented a source of goodwill to the Canadian child, in her hands they're mostly just a source of awkward questions she would rather not have to answer.

529A, and she scratches a quick rune into the door so it will remember her, then joins the flow toward the cafeteria.


She opens her eyes and realizes that she must have passed out in transit. The ceiling above her isn't. She can hear footsteps and voices outside so probably she was only out for a moment? Better hurry then. She pulls herself to her feet and - immediately sags against the wall. She's exhausted and her head is spinning and she wants to throw up - judging by the bile in her mouth her body has already tried its best while she was out - she has to go, if she can't even make it out of her room that would be the stupidest way to die, and Alexios and the twins wouldn't get the supplies she has for them and then maybe they would die too, and then Nadira would be alone and Ekene and - maybe none of them would make it, ever, and it would be all her fault -

She notices that she is sobbing. Her face is dry, though? That must be from the dehydration. She feels a moment of pride that she endured so little water that she can't cry anymore. That was important, because it meant that she could... do... something important? Something that she needed to be good at being dehydrated for. She's doing really well, all things considered, she's a little shaky but she could probably walk if there was anywhere worth walking to. Somewhere with water maybe. The sea, or a pool where she could float and sip iced pomegranate juice... or... or a CAFETERIA where her siblings were WAITING FOR HER and would have all the water and food she needed, Sabah promised...

She opens the door and stumbles down the hallway in the same direction as the other stragglers. "Thank you, God," she rasps, but this hurts her throat so she continues in her head alone, for guiding me out of my despair.

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