On a good, steep cliff was a palace like bricked gate. The towers behind were enough tall to be in the competition for the Alps, their Junior Version. All the towers were interconnected by a wall, which looked like the great wall of China, or something similar. And main, in the midst of the towers, was a huge building which must be at least a half a mile wide!
“Isn’t that a beauty?!” Alex shouted.
“Of course!” Mary answered.
Another gong was heard, then again.
“Ugh! I’ll crawl faster than this boat moves!” I spit through my teeth, unable to hold back my excitement.
As we approached the coast, cool air started to linger in curves around my neck.
“Children, please be careful while you get down. Mind your steps.” The guides and scouts at the coast yelled.
We all got down and first, as a loyal etiquette, bowed to the rower. He bowed back.
The rocky coast seemed to emerge out cool gale. Those asleep goose bumps seemed to wake up to their cool, windy morning.
“Please form a line.” Shizuka Matsuzaka requested.
We all were in 2 lines.
I had Alex in front me, stinking,(as to me) by wearing some horrible sports perfume. And behind me was sweet, humble Mary smiling at everyone she saw.
Shizuka led us in through the school. Those massive gates were already open. It was mostly overcast, so it felt really freaky. It was all grey. It also started to get dark. The bricked wall was filled with vines of moss; give it an exactly 1700 AD ‘The Vampire Comes Out’ effect. The difference was that this was 2012 AD.
It started drizzling. We entered the big building. Still, the same. Overall darkness.
A Ten feet staircase approached. And seven doors headed us, only the last two were open. The two lines dispersed in two parts. After climbing the staircase, the first line turned left, the second line, that is ours, turned right. And then straight again….As we ascended in, everything changed! The lights flickered on, and then- “Yeah!!!” A roar of applause filled the misty air.
It was all that the seniors were greeting us.
The atmosphere here was something totally opposite to the weather outside. Bright, happy, warm…..soothing.
“Welcome, the first years!” the headmaster said, his voice breaking all the walls of noise.
There was silence then. Only hums were heard. I looked all over the place. It was a rectangular hall, with a Musicschool symbol on the ceiling right in the center. A chandelier partially overlapped the emblem. And it had something hanging to it, were they music notes? Exactly underneath, was the podium from where the Headmaster was speaking. There were desks arranged above around the podium in steps, where the students were supposed to sit on, who were apparently standing.
On the lowest row of sitting arrangement were the teachers. The hall was massive. There were five rows, of the sitting arrangements where the pupils were to sit by their grades. I figured that out because the first row was entirely empty.
“So, here the First Years arrive. Hello, to all! I am your headmaster, Sir Francis Thurston.” A breeze entered through the ajar door, and a music note that the chandelier possessed fell down on head master’s shoulder. Headmaster almost jumped at its sudden fall.
He was a bearded man, his eyes rather friendly, he was fairly slim, and too tall, I wonder how his fat moustache let him speak. And , for that did come to my notice, a straight descendant to Miss Juliette Felix Thurston.
“Okay, so now before we disperse,” He continued. “I’ll like to make some announcements. As a tradition followed since the very first year of our school, this year again we’ll have a Pierre De Cape Concert. And this time it’s going be grander. So, we have to prepare good. And, Oh, Sorry Quavers, I am afraid you may not be allowed to perform. You are permitted just in the choirs. You have to be second years, and more to do other performances.”
He cleared his throat.
“And of course, the houses. There are four houses, Terra Firma, Skies, Fireballs, and Aqua. Each of them holds the same royalty and superiority. Each house has a wonderful history for its name, no competition. The sorting will be done in some minutes. I’ll like if the staff assembles in the staff room, until then the first years can settle down. The prefects guide them.”
He smiled and then walked away, and then, the teachers followed him soundly. I recognized Miss. Caterski in the crowd. The prefect called out- “QUAVERS! Please settle down on the first rows.”
Naturally, I sat down with Mary and Alex, facing the Podium.
“Look, the Podium, isn’t it beautiful. Carved so properly, the lady with a dagger in heart…..” Mary’s words stunned me.
Lady with a dagger in her heart……..
“Bella?” Somebody shook me.
“Oi, Bella?” Mary called me.
I looked at her.
“By the way, Mary, the Podium is called Juliette’s Death Carve .” Alex told matter-of –factly.
I looked at Juliette’s Death Crave again, it was exactly identical to my glimpse, and I felt as it gave me a memory.
“Bella? Bella!” Mary called out, anxious now.
A flicker of comprehension spread on my face.
“Isabella, what is wrong?” Alex asked now.
“Nothing.” I replied; lied.
I wanted to tell them that had gone berserk, insane, stupid, and completely pathetic!
“Hello, my students! Let us start with the sorting.” Sir Francis entered.
A girl followed him, carrying a wheeled table and then the teachers entered.
“This is a box with the house emblem cloth in it.” Mary whispered in my ear.
“The box holds the house colors in it. Every piece of cloth resembles a house. It will have the color and the emblem. The colors are- Terra Firma dark green, Skies- Silver, Fireballs- Dark Orange, and Aqua- Navy Blue. ” He continued.
“Miss Caterski, please could you do the honor of calling the names?” A giggle cracked in the crowd.
Miss came to the pod- Juliette’s Death Crave, and started calling the names.
“Anderson, Katherine.” She called.
The girl slowly laid her hand on the crystal ball. “Don’t be so scared, dear.” Miss soothed her.
Suddenly there was a stirring, red color smoke, in the crystal ball. And the color changed into silver.
“Skies” Miss Caterski called.
And a huge applause filled the hall.
As Katherine walked back to her seat, she was grinning wide. The girl who carried the table gave her something in her palm.
Katherine smiled and rushed back to her seat.
All the names were being called out then.
And so on…….
And then-“Sterzer, Alexandre”
Literally, Mary must be hearing his heart pounding loudly.
Mary clapped cheerfully. And I joined her.
Again, after six to seven names, few Terra Firma Fireballs and Skies, It was my chance.
I walked down the stands. The red mist in the ball made me more tense. I slowly laid my hand on the ball. The mist spun and then eventually changed its color. Navy Blue.
“Aqua” Miss Caterski exclaimed.
I smiled, and then walked back to the girl who was at the table.
She wore me my house batch. I walked back to Mary and Alex.
“Congrats!” Mary told.
Now only Mary was left. Hope that she even comes in Aqua.
After some names Mary’s name was called.
“Hope you all your luck.” I encouraged.
As she walked down the island, she was muttering something under her breath.
Alex and I stood and gave her a standing ovation, we both were really rejoiced.
As Mary came up the island and grinned excitingly at us. ‘We’re all together.” She informed.
Then suddenly a name was called- Tamaye Matsuyama.
And he was sent in Fireballs.
Miranda Kelvin and Amanda Smith, both were sent in Skies.
There were about one hundred and twenty two or twenty three Quavers, no more. About 75 percent of international students whereas only 15 percent of Japanese students.
When the last name, Jonathan Matthews, who was sent in Aqua, was called, the crowd gave a final enormous applause.
Then a new teacher came to Juliette’s Death Crave and spoke softly but roughly. He was wearing a black shirt and an unpleasant expression.
“Seniors, you all know the rules and regulations. But still, if your dumb minds have forgotten anything, please get them fixed. Okay so the Quavers, listen. Nobody is allowed to enter the woods during school hours. And bunking lectures, nobody can be worse than me if you do. And lastly, this has to be a secret. None of the other people know where the real location of Musicschool is. And they’re not supposed to know! For them, the school is the big mansion outside. Clear? And on the other hand, give your curiosity to know why it is so, good strong fences, because…..it’s none of your business.” He lectured.
“Clear?” He asked.
“CLEAR?” He repeated.
“Yes!” We all answered loudly.
“Who’s he?” I queried Alex.
“The English teacher and Music theory prof. .” He told me.
“He? For English! Oh my gosh! What a grief.” I bellowed.
When Miss Caterski came to Juliette’s whatever, she smiled and said- “Hello, my dear pupils! I am Elizabeth Caterski, your Choir conductor and a science and math teacher. I am even the house teacher of Skies. And the supervisor, of course.” She cleared her throat loudly. Actually she asked the girls in front to shut up.
“So I shall tell that the first years, that is the Quavers, have their dormitories in the Beethoven tower, second years, crotchets, in the Mozart tower, third years, minims and the fourth years, dotted minims, the in the Schubert tower, and lastly, the fifth years, that are the semibreves in the Chopin tower. Just as usual, the rest of the academics and music periods will held in this building itself. Oh yes, and Physical education, baseball practices and badminton practices will be held in the lawns. Any queries?” She assisted.
A boy raised his hand- “Miss, where will we go to excrete?”
Everyone burst into a great laugh. I couldn’t help myself. I was laughing loudly too. Miss Elizabeth was trying to hide her smile.
“Silence.” Miss commanded. She looked at the Terra Firma’ boy. “Mister, I hope you don’t plan to dirty the grounds, so the toilets would be a good place. Don’t you think?”
He turned green.
She turned back. “So, as we’ve discussed all the VIP questions,….I mean, Very Important Peeding questions, I think we shall all disperse. And for the meals come to the Food Avenue, that’s what we call it. Or you can eat in the lawns too. But avoid going to the lawns after twilight, there’s a hazard because of the snakes. Well, thank you. Please go straight to your dormitories, no wandering. Meet you soon.”
And as we were on the first rows so we walked down first.
Outside the hall, I saw, in fact we saw that the towers were painted. They were huge portrait painted on each. Portraits of Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven and Chopin. Wonderful! So that’s how we get to know the towers. And the name was painted too.
“Oh my goodness, what can be better?” Mary exclaimed.
And from behind the Skies, Miranda and Amanda chorused-“ O.M.G.! Isn’t it so tot-awe?”
Mary asked, confused- “Tot-Awe? What’s that?”
“Oh Miss Mary, are you so out-dated? Tot-Awe is a compound adjective. Totally and Awesome.” Miranda explained.
“Hey, Isabella. You can join and stick with us. You know, like, instead getting yourself devastated with this cheap stock. You remember the day at the party? It was so, like, grea-fun. Ah, you wouldn’t understand, I mean, like, it means great and fun.” Amanda Convinced.
“Um…I am sorry Amanda, I don’t think you should consider me with your expensive, spoilt, rich material. You know, because my mother didn’t spawn me in a limo.” I replied.
Mary, Alex and I laughed together as we watched Miranda and Amanda walk away in defeat.
“Really, Bella. I won’t think that your mother gave you birth in a limo, but for sure, you are super- awesome new material!” Alex complimented me and I elbowed him.
“You’ll change your opinion.’ I clarified.
“Never.” Now he clarified.
We walked to the tower on the great wall of China like structure.
Suddenly a girl came to us.
“Hey! Alexandre, the geek!” Alex stuck his tongue out to her.
“Hello,” she said to us, now. “I am Mia, Alex’s sister. And a dotted minim. ”
“Hi, Mia.” Mary greeted.
I made the matter better….and worse.
“Ah, so you’re Mia. I am Isabella. Alex told us so much about you. Just on one boat ride. ‘Mia is so nice, she’s so experienced, so talented, so this so that.” I explained.
Alex and Mia, both of them stood with their jaws falling. The difference was that Mia’s was affection-struck and Alex’s was awe-struck.
“Alex? He said that?” She asked, amazed.
“Yes, don’t you believe me? Ask Mary then.” I lied as I gestured towards Mary.
Mary first looked at me in a weird sight of pristine confusion and then comprehended. “Oh Yes, Mia. He loves you.”
“Whoa. Cool, brother. Alas, somebody put sense in you.” She smiled and walked away.
“What the hell was that?” Alex asked me angrily.
“I wanted you to stop judging me wrong, you prettily misunderstood my abilities. I am not that good.” I answered confidently.
“Oh, Yes. I take my words back.” He surrendered.
As we approached the tower, I could see a big main door with a navy blue streamer with ‘Welcome Back!’ printed in silver.
“They’re too enthusiastic about the new year.” Mary commented.
“No worse than a chandelier with clinging notes.” I snickered.
As we entered, after trying hard to open that door, we all tripped together. Thud! And our butts hit the ground.
And everyone laughed. We had skipped a step at the entrance.
The room was big, with two ramps leading to different sides. And on the couches there, sat all the Aqua. The room’s interior was mostly the house colors and with a faint silver touch to it. And a Chinese staircase led to the balcony of the floor above.
“Hey, don’t laugh, they’re Quavers.” A boy insisted as he helped us up.
“They respect the juniors. I don’t think we’ll have to face any bullies here.” Alex muttered in my ear. I giggled.
“I am Edward.” The boy said. I went completely red.
“Ooh..” people who knew my name chorused from behind.
Well, my bad luck is always at my back. I was sure. His name was Edward, my name was Isabella and mostly people preferred calling me merely Bella. And I didn’t want people to start up with a new ‘Twilight Saga’ out here.
“I am a second year, a crotchet, but I am the head of the Aqua house. The head of the first two years. I am not supposed to stay here, but I am escorting you guys.” He continued.
“I am Alex, the gre- Sterzer.” Alex introduced. I think that he knew that people here wouldn’t much adore his the ‘ the great’ joke.
“Mary Flynn.” Mary said. He smiled.
And then looked at me. What shall I say?
“Your name…….” He trailed.
It seemed that he noticed the red on my face, he dropped the question. I really adored my name, but for the first time in my life, I found it so embarrassing to tell.
He got to my side and turned around and said- “So we’ve got another bunch of new comers, as we see, Alex, Mary and Miss..”
“Her name is Bella!” Someone called out.
Edward seemed to be frozen. And red with the same intensity.
I shrunk my eyes and after opening them, I glared ferociously at the girl who said that.
There was a silence between the four of us, but periodically Mary would nudge me in my waist with her elbow. The more she elbowed the more I blushed. I could hear a few gossips in the crowd.
And then Edward made his word. “So as we meet our new comers, I think I got to go…” And he darted to the Chinese staircase. I could see him smiling and flashing his white teeth as he went up.
Everybody started to laugh loudly.
Okay. Now the guide has gone, and I am stuck between a bunch of my fellow students who’d love to make fun of me. But-
‘Come here!” A sweet girl called out.
“I am Sally Marine. A Quaver, of course. Don’t mind these people, believe me, they’re really friendly.”
“Hi, Sally. As you already know my name, I need not introduce, I am from London.” I tried making myself sound confident after have a dose of a real live humiliating experience.
‘Settle down. Hey, Connors, make some place.” The three of us sat on the navy blue couch as the other boy moved to a side.
“Umm, you’re Mary and you’re Alex. Right?”
“Absolutely, my senorita.” Alex tried out his abilities.
“Shut up, my Senor.”
Poor Alex, all his tries of melting down girls were unsuccessful.
“Alex, why don’t you talk to Edward? He’ll tell you about the routines and so on.” Sally insisted.
“That wouldn’t be a bad idea, unless he is in the state to talk or guide….” The three pairs of eyes glanced at me.
“Of course. He’ll always help you. Go from the right ramp, to the boys dormitory and you’ll find him, and yes, collect your luggage from that pile. The instruments are in a different corner.”
Alex took his luggage and went to the staircase.
A dog bounced on my lap, a pug. It startled me initially, but as it reminded of Lavender, I liked the dog.
“Hey, cuddly.” I complimented and disheveled his fur.
“Oh, that’s Tigger, our year dog. He’s awesome. About a year old or so.” Sally introduced.
“You’re really adorable, Tigger.”
“Ugh. I hate dogs.” Mary muttered and Tigger bounced on her lap and licked her face.
“Yuck. Gross.” Mary stated. I laughed.
“So, I am wondering, wait- what time is it?” Sally suddenly changed the subject.
I read my watch. “Seven forty- five.”
“Oh! The meals will start at eight. I think we should get started, fetch your luggage and follow me.”
Mary and I took our luggage and followed Mary through the left ramp.
We climbed up the ramp.
As the ramp ended, we were standing on the balcony of the floor. We could see the corridor below with students chatting loudly. The Chinese staircase led to this place. We had a big door in front of us and a door after a little walk to the right. It was the boys’ dormitory. We walked in the door front of us. The room inside was very big. It was again mostly navy blue but some girlie girls put patches of pink stuff here and there.
And about sixty beds. The arrangement was really appreciate able, because they’d put six bed in a circle and in between was a big round table with six chairs.
“Choose your bed.” Sally offered.
“Which one is yours, Sally?” Mary asked.
“The one in the right corner, see, there.” Sally pointed at her bed in the right corner of the dormitory, the last bed.
Mary and I rushed to the bed besides her, but I took the one besides Sally’s, and Mary took the one besides me.
“Nice catch.” I tried to mean thank you, and so we both gave each other a high five.
“The bed is lumpy.” Mary said.
“Yes, very.” I replied jumping lightly sitting on the bed.
Sally came to us and said- “Come on now, we got to go. Keep your bags under your beds and just turn a corner of the blanket to show it is reserved.”
“Kay.” Mary answered and we followed what she said.
A few girls were sitting around us. Now in our circle, only one bed was vacant.
“Move on, girls. It’s time to dine.” Sally told the other girls.
A plump girl with huge glasses asked-“It’s time already, Sally? I wanted to finish my Math.”
“Yes Terry, and the term hasn’t even started yet, why are you chewing your brain with that filthy math?”
“Just because I love it.”
“Why should I not get surprised…” Sally rolled her eyes.