Exhausted had never felt like more of an understatement, and Ezre was certain he'd never been more grateful to see the red stone fortress-thick walls of Brunnhold loom into his vision before in his short time living in the Kingdom of Anaxas. Everything ached, and while he'd made the walk to Ghost Town and back again several times since transferring from Frecksat, he'd never made the journey like this, never made the journey after having his young body become a vessel for a ghost to restlessly inhabit, even for the shortest of times.
Were the Collies at the gates at all a little suspicious of two disheveled, cold-burned inhabitants, galdori or not? Did one of them eye them with more than simple curiosity while the other made remarks about the frigid weather? Indeed. The dark-haired boy grit his teeth at the comment about how perhaps the Incumbent was getting too on in years to be out in the cold, but thank the Circle neither of the pair just as frozen as the unlikely travelers were asked about where they'd been or why they'd been there. It was a small favor.
Right now, the Hoxian was grateful for every small favor that followed: Clara easily tucked into the public stables, the breath of wind-sheltered warmth in a cab through the Stacks, the temptation to doze taken, and the nearness of his upper form Dormitory C to the cobblestone road where the cab deposited the two bodies without any ceremony.
Ezre was persistent, practically tugging Tom inside by a coat sleeve, promising a warm place to rest and something warmer still to drink, waggling numb, sore fingers at the dormitory monitor who was, himself, quietly curled around a cup of steaming fresh coffee, settled by the large common room of the lowest floor's crackling fireplace like a content banderwolf. If he quirked a bushy white-haired brow at the man the young student had with him, it was Bethas after all and Incumbent Vauquelin wasn't a name to be taken lightly. It was a class assignment. It was schoolwork. It was a mandatory dorm tour, a walk down memory lane. Anything to let them slip past without having to expend too much effort, the dark-haired boy so very close to simply melting once in from the cold, melting from a tiredness that gnawed all the way to the marrow of his bones.
He dragged his way up three flights of stairs, apologizing quietly, all but dragging his satchel, too. Everything felt so heavy. A late afternoon on the weekend and his upper form dormitory hall was silent, the rooms empty save for that one boy who had probably not even woken up yet from the night before. Everywhere had to have one of those, right?
Galdori students didn't need to lock their doors, though locks were present. Ezre didn't need to fumble for keys because he had nothing worth stealing: no one wanted his careful curation of animal skulls, no one wanted his Hoxian tea set, and no one wanted his obscure collection of unusual Scrying devices. He just pressed a forehead and shoulder against the painted wood and let his inked fingers wrap around the handle, revealing a room that was neat and tidy, as well kept as one would expect of such a meticulous boy.
The upper form dorms were built like suites: four separate bedrooms with their own entrances shared a bath and a small common area with a sitting room and a hearth with enough of a kitchenette to make tea and wash dishes—not that Ezre's suitemates could ever clean up after themselves if their lives depended on it, Anaxi through and through. They knew a passive would do such things if they did not, and the sheer laziness of it was frankly horrifying to the Kzecka-born student who even knew how to wash his own clothes.
He drifted through his bedroom, tossing down his satchel and shrugging off his coat as if it weighed a million pounds. He stepped out of his boots, curling still-tingling toes into the thick wool rug that dominated the floor of his room. He ran hands over his face, through his hair, bringing himself back into focus, wavering on his feet for an extra moment or two before he crossed the room and reached for a tray on top of his bookshelf. The clatter of metal and porcelain rang out in the quiet and Ezre hooked his delicate chin toward the other door in his room,
"Please make yourself comfortable on the sofa. Do you want a blanket? I will wake up the hearth and set the kettle on. I can only pray to any of the Circle who will listen that someone has cleaned the flue. Do you know how to care for a hearth, Tom? Gods, this Kingdom—" He rolled his dark eyes, laughing awkwardly in order to push through the tiredness that clawed through him, the Hexxos acolyte obviously eager to still be a good servant, to still continue to serve the raen he considered his guest.
He kept himself from rambling too much, moving with the shambling grace of pure muscle memory, leading them both into the small common lounge with three other doors leading to bedrooms and one door obviously leading to the toilet and bath, scrawled with a crude sign demarcating it as "The Head," courtesy of one of his gregariously gross-humored suite mates.
There was a sofa and a leather chair. Another bookshelf. A coffee table laden with someone's homework, a deck of cards, and a full ashtray—totally against the rules, but since when had his godsbedamned suite mates cared? Not once, apparently. Not once in their spoiled lives. Two empty bottles of Neverbetter made it obvious that not everyone in the ninth form was as mature or meticulous as Ezre Vks. Then again, the Hoxian shoved half of the junk right onto the floor without any pretense or concern for the safety of a single page of notes to set his tray down heavily, sighing with thinly veiled frustration,
"I apologize for the inhospitable nature of my fellow galdori students. I doubt they would do anything differently had they known an Incumbent would be visiting. You understand that I spend too much time in the Crypts below the Church of the Moon for many reasons." He smirked, pausing for a moment to lean against the chair and let the ache of his body sink in further, arms crossing over his narrow, chest. With a deep breath, he shoved himself up again and began to make his way toward the hearth,
"I promised chan. My dorm mates probably will not crawl home until well after midnight, so you can rest. I can share my notes."