I stared at the paper in my hands with green eyes and raised an eyebrow. The teacher, a creepy blond-haired man with lipstick (you heard correctly) who went by the name of Dr. Crowler grinned as I put my DuelAcademy entry exam down, a perfect score. A stocky bald man wearing red was also beaming down at me, and to be perfectly honest, it was pretty uncomfortable.

My name’s Danny. My parents called me a Duel Monsters prodigy, but I had never really put much thought into a career surrounding a simple card game. They set up an entry exam date for me right after my seventeenth birthday. The field test was a breeze… poor Crowler succumbed in a mere two turns to my deck, themed around the Chaos Sorcerer. The written test didn’t pose much of a challenge either, although I had always been a good test taker since my days in elementary school. Still, I never expected a perfect score.

“So I guess I’ve been accepted,” I said to break the silence, giving an indifferent shrug. Chancellor Sheppard (the bald guy) laughed heartily, the way you’d expect someone of his stature to laugh.

“No one’s ever earned a perfect score on the entry exam since Zane Truesdale!” he chuckled with delight. I swept my white hair out of my eyes and looked back down at my exam. I had said to myself previously that I wanted to enjoy my time at DuelAcademy if I were to be accepted, and now it sounded like Sheppard was ready to graduate me on the spot.

“However,” Crowler chimed in. I shut my eyes. His voice made me want to retch. Even listening to him talk wouldn’t help someone determine his gender. “Like all new students, you’ll have to start off in the Slifer Red dorm and work your way up! Perhaps your work ethic can teach those slackers a thing or two!”

Ah, the Slifer Red dorm. I’d heard endless stories of its horrors. The bugs, the rats, the shoddy upkeep. Not like I was going to complain. Hell, I hardly sleep anyway.

“I have no objections,” I replied. I snatched my exam paper off the desk, folded it into quarters, and slipped it into my pocket. “So when do I get my uniform?”

“I’ll take you down to get measured,” Sheppard answered with a nod. “But it might not be worth the time, you could be in Obelisk Blue by the end of the first week!” After another jolly bout of laughter, he led me to another section of the academy, where the tailoring was done, I assumed. I was measured, fitted, and walked out with my very own Slifer Red blazer and other school appropriate garments, which personally didn’t appease to me at all.

“Chancellor,” I asked while inspecting the outfit, “would it be against academy policy if I were to… modify my uniform?”

“Well… I suppose adding your own personal flair to it couldn’t hurt!” came his strangely enthusiastic response. “As long as it doesn’t conflict with the dress code, of course.”

The fact that he had to think about his answer made me wonder if this academy even HAD a dress code. I nodded in understanding and folded up my new clothes. As we headed back to his office for the inevitable paperwork that had to be done, my eyes silently scanned each hallway, taking in each trophy, photograph, or school event poster I noticed. One name in particular seemed to pop up everywhere. Zane Truesdale certainly had a reputation here, even following his graduation.

With the paperwork finished, I was ready to take the next ship home to prepare for the upcoming term. I waited by the pier with my deck in one hand and my school clothes in the other, my luggage resting beside me. I took another look at the island landscape, my eyes coming to a stop on what I deduced to be the Slifer Red dorm. At least it seemed more satisfactory than the rumors led one to believe.

With some time to kill, I took a seat on a nearby bench and laid my uniform on my lap. Reaching into my right pocket, I pulled out a small notepad and pen, and began flipping through my cards. Anywhere I noticed strategical flaws in my cards, I made sure to scribble down ideas for improvement. I tried to imagine myself as my own opponent, scrutinizing my collection, trying to discover the weaknesses of my deck. I had just filled up a fourth page of notes when I heard a horn sound in the distance. I looked up and saw the ship approaching, and quickly pocketed the pad and pen. Sheppard was coming to see me off, apparently. He was facing the ship as well, holding his arms behind him with a bold smile on his face.

“Well, Danny, have a safe trip! And we’ll see you in two weeks for the first day of classes!” he boasted. I couldn’t help but grin, anticipation enveloping me. The ship docked and lowered the passenger ramp as I turned to Sheppard and shook his hand.

“Thank you Chancellor,” I replied with a nod. “I look forward to it.”

I boarded the ship and waved farewell as it departed for the mainland. I decided to drop off my things in my room before enjoying the refreshing scent of sea salt in the mid-summer air. I opened the door to my suite and stretched, setting my luggage by the entryway. Pocketing my deck, I laid out the red Slifer blazer on my bed along with the rest of my soon-to-be uniform and grimaced. There was a lot of work to be done.

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