You have lived a somewhat normal life so far. There may have been a few oddities, but you didn’t think anything of them. Then the letter came. The seal is odd. You’ve never seen anything like it. It seems to move when you’re not looking at it. There’s a phrase in latin, and the letterhead says COLLEGE OF THE ARCANE.

It’s a letter from the Dean, congratulating you on your admission to the college. Here, you’ll study magic in all its forms, the letter says. You should arrive at the school at the beginning of September. The owls will show you the way.

You don’t remember applying.

But when the day comes, an owl waits outside your house. When you venture outside, it starts off. As you follow it, you find that you are deeper in a forest that shouldn’t be there, the city left behind. You can’t see it when you look behind you.

Eventually, you come to a clearing and, ahead of you, a castle that looks ancient, older than it should be for America. Its construction resembles the pyramids of Central America, but larger, in places. Taller, with towers shooting up toward the sky.

A tall man with a white beard stands waiting for you. He leans heavily on a staff. Several others emerge from the forest behind you. The man smiles, the dark skin around his eyes wrinkled, the only sign of how unbelievably ancient he really is.

“It’s good to have you all here,” he says. “My name is DEAN KANIEHTIIO. Welcome to the College of the Arcane.”

Several others stand behind him, what you assume to be teachers. They lead you inside, show you to your dorm. In the stone-walled room, there is a free-standing wardrobe, already filled with your clothing, and a small bed already made and ready for you. When they drop you off, the teachers tell you when dinner will be served. Attendance, they tell you, their faces stern, is mandatory.