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in which the curfew bell rings and your character goes to bed and hopefully, eventually, to sleep
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Ribo finally returns to her room after dinner. She's made some useful contacts she thinks and perhaps if she's lucky some will become friends. She spends an hour doing exercises to build mana and then uses a small amount of that mana and her trusty wire to dismantle all the furniture in her room. She reassembles the parts into shelves, terrariums and a desk built into the walls and uses the materials from her mattress to make a high tension hammock also anchored into the walls. She leaves the spare materials carefully stacked in a corner. She'll trade them away or make something out of them given some time.

The hard part done she casts some simple wards and feeds all the critters her mother sent her with carefully running a diagnostic on each one to ensure it's still within parameters and also petting them and telling them she appreciates them. As expected they're all ok, it would be bad luck if any went bad on the first day. She makes sure they're all situated in their terrariums and that the alert bugs have a good view of the room so they can wake her if her wards fail for some reason.

She unpacks the rest of her possessions, mostly mana storage, spare clothing and bits of crafting materials, she'll decorate a bit tomorrow.

She lies down on her hammock and falls asleep instantly, being engineered has its benefits.


There's a skittery black thing under Anastasia's pillow.

All legs no substance. Like a hand with dozens of spindly fingers. As soon as she finds it, it scuttles into the nest of furniture with a jerky quickness.

She sits in the far corner of the room and hugs her knees. She really really hates creepy-crawlies, but her blind spot is expensive. One activation costs hours of being seen and she'd have to turn it off anyways to trade tomorrow and she's not sure if this one even has a brain. It didn't look like there was space, but insects manage okay.

"Excuse me, miss school. I'm sorry to bother you on my first day but could I get a spell for murder? An itsy-bitsy murder, I don't need anything fancy. I bet there are lots of crappy little hexes no one else wants that are just gathering dust, and I'd gladly learn one of those."

"I saw your blueprints on the wall. You're very pretty and I love you already. Do you like it when people think about your blueprints? Or do you prefer to be a bit more freeform? I could tear them down if you wanted, erase them from my brain. Or I could hang one up in my room."

"I'm going to pay you back, okay? I know you tend to lend out books without asking anything, but I won't take without leaving. Is there a way you prefer for people to die so you get as much mana out of it as possible? I might be doing that soon, so I just wanted—"

"—probably it's maw-mouths. Sorry, but I'm not going to jump in Fortitude for you. I guess there might be something big enough you could trade me that I'd jump in Fortitude for you, but we're fair trade partners, not—"

Anastasia notices the open spellbook on the floor nearby, thick and black, leatherbound and dust-scented and in English. What a perfect book. She whispers a soft thank you.

An hour later, she has made precious little progress learning the curse because she is DUMB. She digs her heels in, pushes the dresser aside with a screeeeeech against the floor, and when the mal scurries out of the darkness she slams the book down on top of it then steps on it and grinds it into the floor. She listens to the sound of hundreds of tiny little joints cracking under her weight.


When she doesn't hear it anymore no matter how hard she presses down, she apologizes to the spellbook and goes to bed.


Bobbie runs back to her room as soon as she's escorted El to her's. It's not that close to the bell, she doesn't need to run, but it's early in the year and she's starting off behind in terms of resource accumulation. The jog gets her a smidge of mana, (downsides of being fit, exercise only ever gets her the tiniest smidge) and she needs the extra time.

She takes apart her drawers and puts up a trap-ward with the mana from disassembly. She uses a grease pen to write up her priorities on the wall.

1. Shoes

2. Mana storage

3. Armor

Then what? She's been here one day and only met a handful of people, but among that handful she's found two serious maleficers ( of whom she's indentured to for the next six months, or until she finds something else with which to pay off that debt) and a wannabe crime lord. This does not speak well for the overall population of the school. She might be in over her head. She needs her time back.

3. Armor Freedom

4. Armor


5. Stop El?

She's not sure if she should bother. She's going into security when she gets out but that doesn't mean she needs to start hunting down maleficers in here.

She smudges it out. She's still thinking about it, but it's a bad idea to leave written on her wall. And she's got time, she should not be plotting to maybe kill El while also under contract to keep her safe.

Bobbie can sleep wherever and whenever, it's a skill she's been honing since she was eight. She's out as soon as her head hits the pillow.


When her door is hidden from mals and her drawers disassembled and her possessions unpacked and organized neatly so as to present as few hiding spots as necessary, Malak sits on her bed and takes the time to build mana and think.


What she thinks is this: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Today started well - OK actually it started horribly, but it got better pretty quickly; Most of the other freshmen were less competent than she was expecting, which means that she is better off than she thought she was. She's met some competent people and hopefully not given them too terrible an impression of her - Marcy, who is smart and practiced and confident and smart and prepared and kind of scary, the platonic ideal of an enclaver. Probably that won't be a close connection, Marcy has her pick of associates, but Malak has some useful skills and once she demonstrates that missing her room number was a fluke maybe that will count for something. Annisa who is - a little bit in over her head already, but only because she's swimming farther out than the rest of the freshman, and inviting Malak to swim out to join her, sharing the dangers and sharing the rewards. Naima who has a great affinity and no ability to tell anyone about it and will hopefully be overlooked by everyone else. Dennis who takes mals seriously and is clever enough to make good inferences even when distracted and will probably either go far or burn out.

But then she'd talked to Annisa after dinner and - not even tried to talk the Toronto girl out of suicide. She didn't talk her into it or anything, but she lied and pretended to want to help and then deliberately failed. She doesn't know if that makes her a bad person, leaving the enclaver to die like that. It's not like not stopping to help someone in order to protect her own life - she's letting this girl die-or-worse so that she can have a share of her stuff. (a voice in the back of her mind whispers she would have done it eventually anyways and she was so sure though, I couldn't have done anything and you're in the scholomance, anyone who would do any different is an idiot. She wonders idly if it is the voice of Shaitan, lurking in the graduation hall with Patience and Fortitude, whispering evil into the hearts of children. Perhaps it is, but it is also the voice of Mother, teaching her how to survive so that she might someday be loved by another mortal. No soul escapes the Scholomance unstained, but God knows this and He is loving and will not hold it against her.)

She's - committed, already, on the moral question. She does not have time before curfew to rush off to the Toronto girl's room - which she still does not know the location of - and beg her to reconsider taking her life. She still has room to decide on the practical question of whether she should help Annisa plunder the room afterward and maybe earn the enmity of Toronto and any other enclaves upset at their boldness.

She is still undecided when the curfew bell rings, which - by convention, as the Scholomance has no true day or night - marks the evening call to prayer. She sets aside the embroidery she was building mana with, orients herself in the direction of Mecca - again, chosen by convention of course (There had been some debate, in the early days, whether one ought properly to face the graduation gates as the school's tether to the Earth, but the logistical difficulties of prostrating oneself with one's head pointed straight down killed that idea even before the hall became overrun with mals) - and knelt on her mat to pray. It's different, praying alone without the communal call-and-response. She cannot rely on rote or habit and instead must focus more on the words, turning them over in her mind. She gets a bit more mana this way, which probably means she was not being sufficiently intent on her prayer before. She resolves to do better henceforth.

And then, at the end, a new prayer, not a part of the normal routine outside but which will over the next four years become ingrained as deep as any of the others in her life and those of the other faithful students here. All glory rebounds to God, who guided the prophets and who guides me through these days of peril. All praises to You, God, who I thank for my life, who guards me in peace while I sleep. With the ritual prayers done, she remains prostrate and speaks her own words to God. Almighty God, glory be to You, be kind to the spirits of the child from Shanghai who is slain already, and the girl from Toronto who hurries to You tonight. I beg You, God, to forgive her her haste. Protect me from peril, and Annisa, and let us not be falsely accused. Protect the children from Chicago who did not know where they were going and have only Your hand to guard them. Continue to guard Maryam and Safiya and Alexios. I submit myself to You, God, who is worthy of all praise.


Marcy and her squad have furniture configurations they like and all their own possessions and decent room wards and have swapped gossip on their own social interactions and anything they heard secondhand. The class is collectively about what they expected, with the exception of the Chicago mess and the number of emotional breakdowns. On an individual level:

Destiny is fun and will be a fun sparring partner and very convenient going-places company.

Malak found her room, so if that was a fluke rather than her not being the sharpest shuriken in the box she's good to go.

Bella seems competent.

Sacramento has fucking epic unit cohesion and has managed to keep Sadness McDeathwish alive for five months, which makes them a relationship worth cultivating even given Sadness McDeathwish himself.

New York is Orion Fucking Lake and his pack of coattail-riders and Marcy is kind of glad she's less stuck in Lake's shadow than them even though this is stupid and hanging out in a nice safe shadow is a perfectly valid way to get through school. Still. Fuck New York.

Shanghai, if she can believe the gossip through the game of bilingual telephone it reached her through, has managed to lose someone already and also has kind of terrible unit cohesion.

Names and faces and key facts reviewed, Marcy spends the next thirty minutes exercising to build mana and tire herself out so she won't wake up unless her ward pokes her. It's hard to build mana with bodyweight exercises when you have Marcy's bodyweight and muscle tone to work with, but she can do arithmetic in her head at the same time and she's only a normal amount of dissatisfied with her results.  Not long after curfew she puts up a cheap "wake me if something happens" ward, gets into bed, tells her dagger that they had a good first day and that she'll see it tomorrow, and goes to sleep with it under her pillow and her father's joking voice in her mind's ear: "Early to bed and early to rise makes a girl healthy, stealthy, and wise."


Theun goes back to his room early enough to see the outrage that is Julia Sanderson enlisting a dozen people to decorate like it was the most important thing in the world. Fucking enclavers. And also dwelling on the dozen poor bastards who got drafted and are dead meat walking, and the fact that he really can't afford to do much more for them than he did for the redhead - Wendy.

Plenty to make him angry. More than usual. But it is usual. And while anger is not very conducive to sleep, burning off his anger and turning it to mana is a familiar problem with a known solution, namely meditation. Which he dislikes even when it isn't a reminder of all the injustices he has to ignore to survive, meaning he absolutely hates it, meaning it's very good at generating mana.

After he's spent an hour or so on that, he considers what positives he saw. Boston's interesting and seem a cut above the enclavers he's met before, so he may manage not to offend them for a long while. He wasn't the only one trying to help the mundies, there was a pair going around trading with them and he saw others taking them aside to give them advice. Wendy had good situational awareness and seemed resourceful, so she's probably going to be in relatively good shape for a mundy. Does he actually feel good about Chicago? Maybe a little schadenfreude, but no, not really. Probably someone did something to deserve it, but the most inconsiderate, self-important enclave kid he's met - so, Julia Sanderson, probably - still hasn't been that awful. Similarly with whatever the hell is wrong with Shanghai. Closer to home, he lucked out with furniture and didn't have anything that needs disassembling, so that's a small blessing.

He lays his basic ward - mainly alarm, slows things down a little - on the threshold, and the air vent, then takes some time to skim the family spellbook again, thinking about which are worth practicing sooner rather than later. Soon he's nodding off slightly, and he goes to sleep properly.


Alexius unpacks his precious alchemy equipment and clears out his room after dinner. 

He cries for the dead. Briefly. It's not a waste of time, it centers him, clears out the day's accumulated grief. 

After a final mal sweep (die, spawn of Ungoliant) he goes through his evening exercise routine and recasts his gut adjustments to handle the carbon residue from half-burned dinner calories. Next, he recasts the spell that speeds hair growth. Selling his haircut to artificers should recoup the costs later.

Speaking of long-term rewards, it'll look especially impressive if he shows up to breakfast on Day Two with his potions already prepared. And the eidetic memory will help him with all those delicious, delicious new spells. But homeroom, drat that Scholomance scheduling, is at 6:30am, neatly in the way of any brewing he might do. It's okay, he has ingredients and knows how to set up a makeshift brewing station in his room. He casts the more controllable of his stimulant spells and sets to work. It takes nearly all night to do the setup properly, but eventually he's got a poor man's working station. He's got just enough time to batch the eidetic memory potions and quaff one before he has to head to homeroom. 


Ghassan returns to his room in a good mood. He’d been hopeful when he arrived, that he might be one of the lucky ones. He lucked out with just a desk, not a dresser; nowhere for mals to hide. The Dubai upperclassmen all know him and are expecting him to ensure his fellow freshmen make it out . He met a kid (possibly a maleficer, but then, Ghassan has a poison affinity) who can find mals that no one else can see that clearly needs someone to take him under their wing, and Daria, who could be his ticket to finally making his affinity useful.

Ghassan did get a human eye out of his supply run, though he didn’t make any new connections. Still, it’s early. During dinner, he got a second chance to impress Daria, and he thinks that could be a fruitful collaboration. After dinner, he stops by her room and they brainstorm ideas for creating a ward that incorporates his poison.

He still has four years to go, so he’s not going to get cocky, but- Ghassan has always worried that his affinity would be useless in the Scholomance unless he turned to murdering every student who had a better shot than him. Things aren’t looking nearly that dire, yet. He does push-ups, building up some man, and he heads to sleep feeling the good kind of tired.


He's got some time after dinner. No classes, yet, so he can't read ahead, which he's absolutely going to do at the first possible chance because he really doesn't trust more stuff not to come up in the weeks to come, and any time crunch he can save his later self could easily be the difference between life and death. 

Today he needs mana, and also to fix his room (and Owoye's room, and the kids from Ethiopia). Luckily fixing the rooms should give him some mana, and it's not like he can do maximum intensity exercise for three hours straight anyway. He does about fifteen minutes of it, and that's some mana, and then figures he'll multi-task catching his breath and fixing rooms.

He does the same thing for each of them: goes over and over the walls, moving all of the furniture, looking for anything that looks like it might be a crack in the wall. Anything he finds, he seals up with his metal glue, which says it's good for four thousand pounds of force, which might not be enough, but hopefully it's at least good enough to convince the mals to go after someone else. For a while, anyway.

Owoye's desk has drawers, so they use those for wood. He measures the length and width of the doors with a piece of string, saws that much wood off, and then tries his best to glue that piece of wood on under the bottom of each door, taking the cracks underneath them from a couple centimeters to a couple millimeters. He needs Owoye's help for it; it's hard to apply force under a door, but they have some strips of material that they brought specifically to run under the doors, and if both of them pull it up towards the door as hard as they can for about fifteen minutes, that's - well, it's probably not as good as a clamp, but it bonds. Probably some mals can fit through a couple-millimeter space, maybe even some nasty ones, and probably some of them can burrow through the wood. It doesn't make them safe, but it'll at least make them a pain. 

They go to the bathroom together and fill up the water bags and transport said bags back to their rooms (five for Dennis, five for Owoye; Ethiopia brought their own). Then it's up to everyone to build their own mana, enough to set their own wards and to put some apology mana back into their storage. He has enough for a ward, but his storage is a different matter. It's a mask, and it's being stubborn, so most of his body is aching before he gets enough mana back into it for it to stop leaking so badly. And then, of course, he doesn't have any mana left over for anything that comes after him tonight, even though probably nothing will. Maybe he can do math problems. He's really pretty good at math problems, though, and right now he's not thinking of any that he doesn't immediately know how to solve.

Sigh. He writes up a to-do list in careful, beautifully formed Chinese characters. That's a pain. He needs to read as far ahead as possible on his assignments tomorrow, and he needs to find study groups for whatever his classes end up being, and he needs to ideally make second contact with some of the people he met today, so he can use them - Ghassan might really be useful, if he's got poisons, maybe they can make something alchemical and put that in the millimeter-thin space under the doors. And Annisa and Malak had good affinities and no enclaves, he might be able to benefit from making friends with them, too, especially if they don't snag anyone better. Maybe even if they do snag anyone better, it's got to be a good thing to hedge your bets.

This is not enough mana and he doesn't know what else to write. Maybe he'll... but does he have time...? You know what, no, he doesn't have anything else to do for the next hour, and he's only going to have one day of classes before the weekend, there's never going to be a better time to focus on learning some extra spells.

He goes up to the void hatch and asks for a book of spells to learn. The void spits out a book of Hausa folktales, written in Latin letters and with English commentary.

"...thanks," he says, and tries to sound like he means it, even though this doesn't look like it's going to be very densely packed with spells and also doesn't look like it's going to be that hard to read, which isn't great in terms of how long he's going to have to spend time-wise to get enough mana out to protect himself. But that's just gonna be how it goes, sometimes.

The first fifty pages are a guide to Hausa grammar, which he doesn't need, which leaves about a hundred and eighty pages of folktales. He reads for about an hour, and then the bell tolls to let him know that it's curfew, and then he reads for maybe another half hour after that, at which point he's halfway through the book. He finds only four spells, but he dutifully begins the process of memorizing them, and writes down their page numbers so that he can find them again easily tomorrow. He sets the book on his shelf, and tells it that it's a good book and that he liked reading stories that reminded him of home.

Then he sleeps, and hopes that nothing comes in the night.


The first thing Hira does when she gets to her room is start smashing apart her dresser drawers with her axe. It'll make some noise, but that's her neighbors' problem. Maybe they'll get some mana out of it. It's only for this first night, when there isn't homework to bleed for mana, too. She checks her clothes for mals- it's the first day, but anyone who has takes that thought seriously doesn't respect the power of good habits.

Her conversations in the cafeteria were somewhat productive. She wanted to find a charming boy and she did! Hira doesn't think Alexius will be her best friend or close ally, but he's charismatic and she doesn't mind soaking that in. Ennis, with his Manchester links, might be more helpful.

Hira spends the better part of the night trying to coax something good of the void, but she doesn't get anything. Maybe she hasn't impressed it yet. Hira Khan is not going to let the void or the school pretend she's not impressive; she'll just need to prove herself. As she goes to bed, she practices her English and Mandarin in her head; she might be conversationally fluent, but she's sure there's room for improvement.


The two new Callocontis visit the family terrariums to deposit eggs and get keyed to the wards that keep anyone else from reaching in, physically or magically - it's not impossible to sabotage them or for someone else to poach their malia, but it makes it tricky. The snake one even lets you draw on it if anyone keyed in is standing sufficiently nearby, though they are reminded (basically by rote) that this is primarily for graduation and if you use it while not in mortal peril you will owe substantial favors in their internal economy. The sophomore cousins swing by Marino and Teresa's rooms, warding them better and using utility spells - cheap for them - to secure the furniture.

She was disappointed with how the cafeteria entrance went, she didn't garner much attention, but the freshmen merchants were an excellent opportunity and she's gotten one over on the older cousins in the bargain. Which reminds her, she needs to get proper mana to pay them - they'll want to store it, and most storage dislikes malia. Not Teresa's, she can stick the rat's power in hers (and does), but in general. She works out a while - never hurts to look hotter or run faster - and then does her favored detail-work mana generator: imaginary piano, both picturing the music in her mind's eye and moving her fingers through the motions along a flat surface. Crochet is slightly more efficient and produces something useful, but aesthetics are important, and she likes the music better.

When the curfew bell rings, she stops, casts a pair of family spells in Etruscan only ever written down in cipher, and goes to sleep fairly promptly.


Ennis does her simple ward on her bedroom, and asks the void for some spells to study so she isn't wasting pre-class time she could be using to get a jump on things, and tries to relax. Relaxing is hard, so she studies her spells (they're not terribly useful, but the one for making woad stick is probably adaptable as a general fixative), and does crunches, and finally manages to pass out.


Nia organizes her things. She has TOOLS NOW and she takes apart her desk, sets about the beginnings of a workbench but will make more progress on that later with more supplies. The mana from this process goes in a sapphire; she has enough on her to handle early-in-the-year mals that bump in the night.


After spending most of his day avoiding Riley, who has taken an interest in him for no reason, ignoring offers to cure his depression (he can't trust them, and anyway he doesn't want one), and helping Caio in the library, Virgil retreats to his room. He reads, well into the night, turning page after page in the spellbook the Void happily gives him. Happily, he thinks, because the Void must be happy. As happy as you can be, when there are no thoughts left. He's always wondered what it would be like, inside. There must be something there- a lost city, something kept suspended in a fragile bubble of magic, full of people desperately trying to find their way out...objects that have come alive, traversing the Void with no concern to all the things that make it inimical to one knows what's in there.

Maybe he'll find out someday. Not yet, though. Before he goes to the Void, Virgil needs to do what he can for the people here, first.


Riley misses Dr. Walsh- who is not his mother, he reminds himself- during the hour before bed. It won’t be productive to feel anything like that during the rest of the day, so he needs to put an end to that. His room is almost comforting in its familiarity. It was a good start- he met someone from the Manchester enclave who might be a useful patron, and two alchemists who might be useful collaborators later on.

He’s a little worried about the depressed wallflower, Virgil, that he ended up following when he went for supplies on his own. He did a mundie kid, Wendy, who seems to have good instincts. He’s spoiled for choice, really. There’s someone in this school he can latch onto- he just isn’t sure who. Maybe Manchester. He’s hopeful that he can work something out there. Riley falls asleep thinking of drills with Dr. Walsh and wondering whether he’ll live to see his brother.


Tonight, she dreams of the walls, and the things beyond - the sketched designs, the sword by her side, the little drifting bits of power between them all, and the possibilities of things to come, for them all. 

She hopes that it won't be folly to think that there will be such a thing - that there will indeed be this place, going forward. It's aging, at the end of the day, and the mals are not exactly known for being unable to overcome static opposition and it's not like she has the best chances.

But still. 

She has faith that her sword will reach the stars with her, one day. 

And so. 

She sleeps, the peace kept by the wards holding, for now. 


Alyona spends the evening sorting through hand-me-downs from Santa Barbara upperclassmen. She ends up with some more clothing, a long string of little glowing blown-glass orbs like fairy lights, various school supplies, a chainmail sheet with an odd assortment of minor protective charms woven in, notes on some of the classes she's more likely to take this year, an enchanted comb with nice wide teeth, a small box of spells on color-coded index cards, and a few other odds and ends.

She takes it all back to her room, then does a very careful sweep for any nasty surprises. There's an odd little egg sac on the underside of her desk, which she decides is safer to burn to ashes than to attempt to store for possible future trade. Once she's certain the place is completely clear, she starts laying out wards around her light fixtures, air vents, door, bed, and drain.

She unpacks her bags and puts all her clothing in the wardrobe and lays the chainmail sheet on her bed and hangs the glowing string of lights around the room as close to the ceiling as she can manage. Spell cards and notes and school supplies go on the desk. Once everything is in place, she takes her incense burner and places it on a shelf and puts in a cone of incense and lights it. 

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