The first time Jewel caught her older brother Killian sneaking out at night, she was caught off guard. It wasn’t in his nature to get into trouble. Besides, as one of the Academy’s top students, athletes and likely candidate for valedictorian, he couldn’t afford to be off his A-game.
Jewel kept quiet about it. But then she caught him sneaking out again. And again. And again. And each time, he came home a little different. First Jewel saw it in his eyes. They went from a lively blue to dull and bloodshot. He stopped eating. His wings drooped. Worst of all, he didn’t laugh anymore.
Jewel was worried about her brother. And that’s what brought her here.
It was dark. And when the door shut behind her, it got even darker. She had followed Killian all the way back to the Academy, through the maze of halls, into a janitorial closet, to a hidden door latch tucked behind an ancient wood furnace. Is this where her brother disappeared to every night?
Now was not the time to lose her nerve. There was only one way to go: down. She took a deep breath and descended into the underworld of the Academy.
She followed the sound of Killian’s footsteps, hovering ever so slightly above each stair to be sure he couldn’t hear her too. The footsteps stopped. A door creaked open. Jewel fluttered down the remaining stairs, landed in a dimly lit corridor and stopped the door before it shut.