Feeling much safer on level ground, the sickness in him fading away, Will and Tayna walked back to the commonroom. Andrel and Arlamus were still in the commonroom – on opposite sofas not making eye contact – but Anala was nowhere in sight.
‘Where did Anala go?’ Tayna asked,
‘She bailed,’ said Andrel. ‘Probably went to bathe in rose oil or melted gold or something.’ Will suddenly felt nervous about being left alone with the three of them, with neither Anala nor Paradam there to help him or familiarise him with anything. He tried his best not to show it, trying to smile as Andrel complimented him on his clothes and Tayna made a snide comment about Andrel having lost most, but not all, of his baby weight. After another brief altercation between them, Tayna and Andrel led Will out of the commonroom and to the many staircases mapped across the grand hall. They told him how most of the paths zigzagged in a way that made journeys twice as long, but luckily for them all, the principal’s office had a direct route.
‘We’re visiting Percival?’ Will asked curiously,
‘You need filling in on more details,’ said Tayna,
‘And you might want to call him Principal from now on,’ added Andrel. ‘The armoury’s imprisoned students for not doing that.’ Will’s eyes widened, but Tayna quickly told him it was a lie, chastising Andrel for it.
A stone helical staircase was built into the wall from the ground floor up, and it was this that the three of them wound themselves around, the space tight with worryingly low railings, but four floors up, they were glad to come to a varnished door with a golden plaque reading: PRINCIPAL.