The ground was cold.

Desmond warily clutched at his backpack, his Converses streaking dry mud on the immaculate pavement before him, ignoring the plain disapproval on the austere counselor's features. Quietly standing while said figure blabbed on and on about school protocol and prohibitions, he took in his environment in a blank manner and dug his fingers deeper into the material of his white hoodie; there wasn't much time, however, in the assessment, for as soon as he glanced at the academy's large insigna of a golden sphere, the stern voice snapped him back to attention to stare into flat, boring eyes.

"And that will be all, Monsieur Miles," the nasally tone levelly finished. "If you have any questions, please go to the main lobby and ask for assistance." A glance at his watch. "Au revoir."

And he walked away.

Like the rest of the morning.

The teen held up his schedule, silently cursing at how the entire paper was neatly printed in Latin—it wasn't as if he could desperately call back the mediocre counselor, considering how he somehow disappeared through the thickness of the early afternoon haze, or trace his path to the front of the school, which seemed several miles off, if the mindboggling stretch of the campus had anything to do with it. Besides, he really did not want to be under the lens of scrutiny once more, the horrific time with the dean was enough for one day, and there was that significant itch of something familiar begging him to drop his books and run from here as fast as he could. But he stayed—with a chewed-up ball of gum in his mouth and his lips twitching—in the cold, knowing that anywhere was better than there.

There.

He didn't want to think about it.

Robotically, he trudged forward and came to a standstill, not a few seconds later: No notion of where to even start off, he glanced at the looming, gothic towers of the west wing and sighed—leave it up to his inauspicious shadow to ruin things for him: on the first day of school, no less.

A moment was all it took for the bell too ring.

And Desmond Miles was forced to find his way alone.