One of Lord Vay's closest four red mages, Xander—the tallest of the four guards of the Melody-Harmony Engine—guides Nalowei of the Violets, and her sister Macadera, through a narrow alley built of bright red brick and honey-suckled vines, up a thin metallic stairwell that zigzags to the second floor of the Red School sprawled across Second Street.

Ovelia and Lord Alistar of the Verdant School, and Lord Hahn of Suns, follow close behind Xander and the twin violet mages, at least until the staircase; then the rush of wind, carrying down the harshly spaced steps, entangle their emerald and gold robes around them, weighing them down with pockets of air they can't repel with sashes, belts, or cloaks. 

They weren't prepared for any resistant weather—much less interdimensional travel—when they joined the celebratory unveiling of the Melody-Harmony Engine, so they're donned only in the loosest walking clothes, nothing particularly well-thought out, except the tiny packets of magically enabled technology to their ears and collars, machines they can't live without.

The two verdant mages are driven by stubbornness to push ahead without complaint, and the sun mage is excited by the strangest combo of duty and curiosity, so none of the three question whether or not they should prepare better, and Nalowei or Macadera are too focused on Xander's quick pace to turn around and discuss dangers with anyone.

Chante fears slowing the momentum of this desperate crowd; Lady Aleria's disappearance may be the only opportunity the elochild ever has to experiment with this risky theory of extending Nalowei's dimension-traveling abilities into a field through what, until now, Chante's only calculated as a theoretical manipulation of light. As s/he taps childlike feet along the tinny stairwell from behind Xander, the twins, the verdant mages, and the sun mage, s/he runs the numbers again in an elomind like yet different from our minds, a fine-tuned brain that simulates the structure developed by evolution, yet extends into an enhanced framework for leaps of logic beyond us, thanks to the genetically modified clams that create elochildren biannually.

Behind Chante, Elexus follows despite bouncing around the prison of her mind, two parts terror and one part irritation; how did the elochild know she studied at the Cyber School? Did s/he know Elexus was one of Lady Lorelai's closest pupils, before her and her husband passed away, and the Cyber School fell into shambles under Lady Umbra? Elexus was only a first-year then, and thought she transferred to the Violet School of Seventh Street quietly enough; yet she can't help see a confidence in Chante's posture—the elochild's confident and small, yet fast pace—that only comes from playing chess an extra move ahead the rest. 

And Elexus doesn't like the dragon shit that often lies under the bouncy step of someone playing an extra move ahead.

On Elexus' heels, feeling hardly there, Jet watches his two shadows fold and unfold against the sides of the the red-brick buildings. Gaseous lights float around the higher reaches of the Wizardhood, genetically modified sponges made by the same age-old magicians who designed the clams of elochildren, or the crystalline walls perfect for interdimensional travel, yet intended for everyday teleportation. 

Jet marvels at the spongy lights as they inhale information from the third and fourth dimensions of space and time, then exhale that information into the fifth dimension of lost data; and in that exhalation, they also keep themselves aloft, teeter-tottering ten-to-fifteen feet above the ground. He used to read quite a bit about these genetically modified creatures, when he was a kid.

 At the front of their single-file line, Xander raps his knuckle seven times on a gold-plated doorknob, in a tempo that he's mastered to the tenth of seconds; it's this need to learn perfect rhythm and pitch that brought Xander, and many of the other red mages, to the Second Street of the Wizardhood, despite the shadier reputation Lord Vay's held for generations of students. 

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