A Cold August Day
9:00 AM, August 6th, 1210PW. 34 Degrees Fahrenheit. Raining.
The Queen was spotted at a party late last night wearing a crinoline. Fashion outlets are in an uproar, with actress Elissa Ardvulf, starring in The Wondrous Laboratory (Coming out Summer 1211 in nickelodeon theaters near you!), issuing the statement, "I don't care if the Queen herself wears one of those horrid old things. Crinolines? Please, I don't need one of those to look good, and neither does anyone else, Queen Milla included. They're not worth the fire hazard." - The Unoctoc View
Far to the south in the grey, overcast skies, a series of red streaks through the clouds just above the horizon. The Deadlands are still being pummeled a thousand miles away and the stream of dust returning to Earth brings a pleasant orange glow to match that of the sunrise an hour earlier. Soft pattering sounds pop in and out of existence as small droplets of rain splash onto the corrugated steel roof over the Institute train stop, with mud visibly forming in the grassy woods on either side of the railroad tracks and the path away from the station and the scent of petrichor sweetening the air.
The first load of newcomers steps off of the train in single file and wanders down the path away from the station, as per the instructions on the acceptance letters sent to each applicant. The new students and teachers are all of various ages and shapes and sizes, though they're predominantly human of normal size and shape. A few chimeras walk behind the rest of the crowd, opting to keep to themselves, and a single sapient Monster in the form of a small, blue-grey, four-eyed housecat walks to the left side of the line of students, sticking to the muddied grass in favor of the gravel that would irritate its footpads.
Upon realizing that he's still rather dry, one of the older men in the procession looks up to the sky to discover that the rain is being parted above the path, and a bemused look crosses his face. I suppose this is what Magic is..., he thinks to himself, having never been exposed to it before.
In fifteen minutes, the procession arrives at the frontal gates of Mordhaben's Institute for Aspiring Mages and enter the courtyard for the opening ceremony. The gates are wrought iron in an ornate floral pattern, twenty feet wide and twelve feet tall. In the center of the gate is a plate of thin metal with the words 'For the Sake of Progress' cut into it in cursive text, and upon arrival, the gates open on their own, revealing a circle twenty meters wide paved with flagstones, surrounded on all sides by the most beautiful flowerbeds and miniature trees in the country, each of which is warm to the touch. The administrative building front steps are on the far side of the courtyard, with a podium standing at the top, and the walls of the administrative building wrap around the entire courtyard to meet the iron fence.
Standing about the courtyard are a handful of figures, who judging by their olive-colored military overcoats and Institute badges are staff members. A short preteen girl in a comically large witch's hat is chattering away in the middle of the courtyard to an incredibly athletic man who could be described as 'abnormally tall for a human'. Two professors of average human height are also chatting away at the front entrance, both clothed so heavily that not an inch of skin can be seen, one of whom has their face covered in bandages beneath a hood, and the other appearing to be wearing a theater mask. Those who are familiar with the Institute would recognize them as Professors Emilya and Hans Vance, and as Professors Brovak and Leere, respectively. Brovak, the bandaged man, gives off an aura of undeniable creepiness which all but the most absolutely moronic would feel simply by looking in his direction. Perhaps it's something about the way he carries himself - almost as though his movements are too smooth and perfect by half.
The rain above the courtyard is, like the rain above the pathway, splattering upon an invisible barrier and rolling off to the sides.