The door opened up into a small room like a reception area, where all of the walls had notices either papered or drawn on from years past. Will idled there for a moment before Tayna, without hesitation, threw open a pair of doors concealed to the right, leading into quarters that seemed more like a museum of artefacts than an office. Objects new and shining, dull and antique occupied every angle of sight, with old oil paintings and more strangely blown lamps of all colours, shapes and sizes hanging from the dark ceiling, each like a new shining star. Will had no idea how Paradam went about changing the oil in them, but he pushed the curiosity away to admire the rest of the room.
It was square, with a heavy wooden desk as the centrepiece, accompanied by a high-backed leather armchair. On either side of the desk were two rearing unicorn statues, the horns stabbing clusters of pocket notes, whilst the rest of the desk was covered in bound stacks of paper, fat envelopes and multiple sigil stamps in a preserve jar. At diagonal corners of the room were two staircases made from reddish wood, leading up to a gallery where built-in bookcases shelved more books, files and archives than Will had ever seen in a lifetime. He could see doors leading off of the gallery into private rooms, and straight ahead through a stone archway was a balcony with a ledge full of potted flowers and cascading plants.
‘Principal?’ called Tayna, walking into the centre of the room. Andrel looked around corners and headed onto the balcony, but he was nowhere in sight. When he returned inside, his eyes fixed mischievously on the armchair, and he raced over to collapse into it sideways, letting out a sound of satisfaction.
‘I could get used to this. Hey, Tayna, what do you think? You think I could run an academy?’
‘You have better prospects than being a synchronised swimmer,’ she murmured under her breath, rolling her eyes.