Two hours after landing, and after Ugly had been taken by a nurse to be looked after, I found myself sitting in a beautiful office for the first time in my life, and I finally understood exactly what poor old Millicent had meant by her dying words.
Shouldn't be here....
She hadn't meant that a young lad like me shouldn't have been out on the streets after dark.
What she'd meant was that a remarkable, splendid person, such as myself, needn't have been wasting away his life and talents in the dirtiest, lowliest part of the city. Such person was meant for greater things. Clean, indoor environments. Roaring fireplaces. Men in suits. Women in.... Well, I would encounter my ideal sort of woman soon enough, surely.
Cups had landed me and Ugly in the grounds of Crupney University. Everything sparkled with promise there. Cobblestones that were placed for aesthetic purposes and which were actually maintained regularly to ensure you could walk on them without spraining an ankle. The smell of food everywhere, and not just the stench of fish and butcher meat. Faces floating here and there, people with actual smiles on their lips, and books in their arms.
President Paul Candlewager was remarkable. If at any point in my adolescence I was destined to realise my homesexual desires, it would have been the moment he stepped into his office to greet me. He was young, very young for his profession, but having no knowledge of graduates and postgraduates and so on, I didn't know this. All I knew was that he was fantastic, and that I wished I'd been born as him, not as myself.
"Afternoon, my sweet!" he chirped, standing with his broad shoulders pulled back and his hands joined neatly behind his back. His chin stood out from the rest of his face, carrying with it a neat patch of strawberry-blonde fur to match the thick nest that enveloped his head and curled over the tops of his ears.
I was largely taken aback at being called somebody's "sweet", but not because it was a man who had addressed me. My surprise quickly melted into pleasure. An entire lifetime of cold encounters and neglect was instantly made up for that man's single greeting.
"H-hullo," I murmured, eyes darting up and down his body. It was encased all over with leather and silk, all rich reds and purples and oranges.
He slid a hand casually over the wood of his desk and he walked around and plopped into his desk chair.
"My name is Paul Candlewager, Professor of Anatomy, and President of Crupney University. It was I who had you plucked from the rabble this evening."
"You?" I asked.
The President nodded. "I believe you should formally introduce yourself."
"Introduce myself?" I asked.
The President nodded again. I swallowed hard. "M-my name is Silus Harrison. I'm not a president or a prof- a - a - what you said you were. I - to be honest, I'm not too sure what's going on around here."
Candlewager chuckled to himself, blue eyes twinkling at the innocence - or rather, ignorance (not that there's much of a difference) - of his new arrival. "You've gone to school, haven't you, Mr. Harrison?"
Nobody had ever called me, or my father for that matter, Mr. Harrison before, at least not that I'd known of. Everything happening was new and terrifying and delicious.
"What do you know?"
"Not a lot," I instantly said.
"Do you wish to?"
"Then you have nothing to fear." Candlewager reclined in his chair, stretching his spindly arms upwards before tucking his hands contendedly behind his head. "I think you're going to fit in just splendidly here."