“Do you know where I could buy some small logs? Perhaps in the city or something?”

Harper and Fenston both turned from their conversation to look quizzically at him.

“Logs? Why do want stuff like that?” Fenston said.

Kason flushed slightly. “I, err, I like to carve sculptures out of wood and stuff like that,” He mumbled.

“Sculpting? Why do you do that? Isn’t it boring? I mean, it’s just sitting chipping away at some wood.” Fenston said, his voice taking a derisive tone.

“Ah, no not really,” Kason replied in a small voice to hide the hint of irritation that had crept into it. Fenston’s attitude reminded him of what most of the children at the school at his home thought about his little hobby. They had sometimes made fun of him for what they called his ‘strange’ hobby, and although it had never gone further than this, it had still annoyed him to no end when they did. After all, he put hard work into and was proud of the sculptures he made and to have other people disparage them didn’t exactly make him feel jubilant.

“Sculpting eh?” Harper said, “You’ll have to show me some of the stuff you’ve made.” His voice, in contrast to Fenston’s, did not contain ridicule, but mild interest.

“I don’t have any with me, I left them all at home so I want the wood so that I can make some if I feel inspired.” Kason replied, a small smile replacing the frown that had been creeping over his face.

“Ah well,” Fenston sighed, “I don’t understand why you’d do something pointless like that, but I think there’s a lumber shop in Constantin where you might be able to get some wood. It’s near The Stars at Midnight, the jewellery shop on the main street.”

“Where’s that?” Kason asked, having only been to Constantin for the first time a couple of days ago, he didn’t know where anything was.

Fenston thought for a moment before replying, “The main street at the end of one of the pathways leading out of the plaza where the monument is and then The Stars at Midnight is a short way to your left I think. Or was it right? Anyway, you should also know that the main street isn’t actually called ‘The Main Street’. It has got an actual name that I don’t remember but everyone who lives in Constantin just calls it that.”

Kason thanked Fenston for the information but felt that they were rather lacking in the usefulness department. He looked rather helplessly at Harper, trying to ask without words if he could give some better instructions as to where The Stars at Midnight was. Harper, however, wasn’t looking at him and his silent plea went unnoticed, so he slumped back in his chair and began brainstorming how he would find out how to get to his destination.

He immediately speculated that there must be maps of Constantin around in the college somewhere so he asked Harper and Fenston, who had begun to chat again, if they knew where any might be.

“Maps?” Harper said and paused looking thoughtful, “I dunno, I could ask my brother next time I see him if you want.”

Kason turned his hopeful gaze on Fenston, who shook his head. “I was thinking of going next Tarisday, do you think you’ll see him before that?” He asked turning back to Harper.

Harper immediately shook his head, “He’s away from college for the next two weeks so I won’t get to see him until he’s back.”

Fenston looked interested at this bit of information, “Is your brother in the senior division?” He asked.

Harper nodded. “Is he a member of the quest society?” Fenston asked, upon seeing his answer.

Harper looked surprised, “Yeah, he is. How did you guess? In fact, how come you know so much about the college? It hasn’t even been a week since we entered and yet you know all sorts of things.”

Fenston’s face cramped up again and then began to morph into an expression of discomfort. He was about to answer but was saved from doing so by the arrival of Kayla and Lexia. They entered the room chatting but stopped once they entered to look around the room and, spotting the three of them sitting near the fire, they walked over to them.

As they got nearer Harper turned in his seat to look at them, “Do either of you know where you could find maps around here?”

They both shook their heads almost immediately, “Not unless you mean the one on the table over there,” Kayla said as Harper began to turn back to Fenston and Kason, “Why do you want maps anyway.”

Harper, however, had frozen at the mention of the table map and ignored her. He looked over at Kason and, nodding his head in the direction of the table, said, “You could check that.”

Kason nodded, stood up from his seat, and walked briskly over to the table with the map on. He scanned it expectantly but after a few moments, was forced to accept that the map only showed the college grounds and nothing else. He began to make his way back to his seat, but then his eyes fell upon the small library area in the alcove and it suddenly came to him that there must be books containing maps, if not in their small library, in the large on in the main building.

He changed course and made his way to the little library area while Kayla began to pester Harper, demanding to know what they needed maps for. He looked scanned the spines of all the books on the shelves but unfortunately, there were none that seemed like they would have any forms of maps in.

Disappointedly, he walked out of the alcove and saw that his seat was now occupied by Kayla, who was talking to Harper, who seemed to be refuting whatever it was she was saying. He made his way over to a different seat, sat down, and propped a book he had brought over from the library section open on his knees. Although it didn’t have any maps in, it was called ‘Beasts of the Blackwood’ and, mainly because Selmore village had been in the outskirts of the Blackwood, seemed interesting so he had brought it with him to read until it was time for dinner.

Time passed quickly and the hour designated for dinner came around within what seemed to be only an hour or so but was actually around three. Fenston had left earlier on to do something and he had been replaced with Alford sometime during the time Kason had been reading, and so they all made their way down to the dining hall for dinner.

After eating, Lexia left in a hurry saying she had to meet with someone before she went to bed, and Kayla left with Alford leaving Harper and Kason to do their own thing before going to sleep. Harper wanted to go back to the Meditation Gardens and check out the meditation area but when they stepped out of the exit doors from the nexus, they were met with a dark courtyard, lit in some areas by the familiar silver glow of moon crystals hanging in the air above the flagstones.

The moon crystals created small paths of lighted ground that snaked across the otherwise dark surface of the courtyard with a path leading to each of the doors on the various buildings that lined the courtyard’s edges. Harper and Kason stood just outside the doorway and admired the sight for a few moments before Kason commented to Harper that the Meditation Gardens would probably be dark and so it probably wouldn’t be the best time to visit them.

Harper agreed so they decided to just go to their own rooms for bed after all Harper reasoned, lessons began tomorrow so it wouldn’t do any harm to get some more sleep.


The next five days passed quickly enough. The topics covered were mainly the basics in each of the subjects they had to study and so it was quite easy to understand. Fenston also returned to the class on the day lessons started properly, his ankle having healed fully by that time.

Before Kason knew it, the Tarisday he said that he would visit the lumber shop on came around. He had breakfast and then went back to his room and collected some of the money that his mother had given him to spend during his time at the college. He also took with him the smooth black stone he had found in his shoe a few days before, he figured that since he the lumber shop was near a jewellery shop he would go in and see if he could get the black stone made into a necklace or something of similar sorts. He didn’t know why he particularly wanted the stone to be made into an ornament he could wear, he just felt that it was a shame to have it lying around on a shelf.

He left the junior dorms, through the main building and out the front doors, looking back for a moment upon its magnificent facade shining white in the morning sun and the two multi-coloured glass windows inlaid into it high above. He made his way back along the path, following it in reverse of the way he had come with Harper several nights ago when he had first arrived.

He passed through the forest that grew in front of the main building around the path and along past the path to the coliseum and senior dorms. He was just coming up to the area where the monument was when suddenly started feeling that something was off. He stopped to think for a short moment, looking around at the vibrant green, grassy slopes that were on either side of the path. He could not, however, think of anything that might be amiss so he continued on his way, although the slightly uncomfortable feeling remained with him.

A short while later, he made it to the monument, rising straight and tall into the sky. He was just walking towards it when he suddenly realised what had been causing the uncomfortable feeling, the trees were gone!

He thought back to the evening when he and Harper had arrived and recalled that there had definitely been trees surrounding the small circular compacted dirt area where the monument was placed. He paused in his walk to the monument and made a slight detour to examine the grassy banks of the pathway, they looked perfectly normal and healthy, as if there had never been any trunks splitting the surface apart nor gnarled roots twisting up the earth.

He shook his head in puzzlement, thinking back to what Ms Luxford had said about there being only one real forest in the college grounds. Then he remembered what he had heard Ashton muttering when they had arrived in this place and realised that the forest was probably created by the botanists for some bizarre reason. As he touched the monument and was engulfed by the illusory light, he tried to fathom why the botanists would grow such a large forest but soon gave up in defeat.

He arrived on the smooth cobbles of the plaza where the monument stood in Constantin to the whisper of loud conversation carried over a long distance. He took his hand away from the monument and took a look around the plaza to take in his surroundings properly now that he was viewing them in proper daylight instead of the illumination of moon crystals.

There were several places that looked like shops with doors that opened onto the plaza, all of them had their names printed in large letters above their doors and had various images adorning the remainder of the shopfront, obviously with the intent of luring in more customers.

Kason then stretched out a hand, the one with the ring sitting snuggly on one of his fingers, and rubbed counter-clockwise around its circumference to activate the map function of his ring. During the past week, he had been asking around for the location of maps and, although Ms Luxford had told him where he could find them, she had recommended that he just use the map function of his ring.

This suggestion made sense, too much sense in some ways though because it made Kason feel stupid for not thinking of it before, and so he decided to just use this method to find his way around. He looked on as the lines on his palm wiggled about and arranged themselves into a map of his surroundings before settling down in their places.

The map looked to be fairly accurate and even had the names of the streets on, which Kason hadn’t really expected to happen. He had managed to find out that the name of the so-called ‘main street’ and so he looked for it on the map and so, spotting it at the end of one of the roads that led away from the plaza, made his way in that direction.


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