the train and the river

Places of Note On/Around Campus

The Borders

The campus is enclosed by a river, a highway, and train tracks.

The river is called the Argent, at least by students and locals. It’s not terribly wide - four or five meters - but its very, very deep. The speed doesn’t appear to be constant, possibly a result of magical fallout from places where time flows strangely. Sometimes it floods in spring.

The highway is as mundane as highways can get. Two lanes, flat as paper, slightly worn. Don’t pick up hitchhikers anywhere near the college. Always put something in the passenger seat if you’re in the car alone.

The train tracks are abandoned. You think. Sometimes you hear trains at night. Sometimes you hear the scream of steel. Sometimes there’s the light blazing out of the fog, visible through the trees and making the shadows move. But the train tracks are abandoned. The train tracks are abandoned. The train tracks are abandoned. You do not ask why.

Outside the Borders

The town. You don’t know the name. It might be Fairfield? Something-ville? Or maybe….? In any case, it’s small. There’s a total of five named streets. Maybe that’s why you can’t ever quite remember the name. It’s entirely generic. The townies are quiet but agreeable enough. They don’t have much patience for damn students and the noise they make up there on the hill.

The only thing of note in town is the quintessential student cafe, Kenning’s. Packed with big armchairs and serving strong coffee till late at night, it’s one of the safest places to discuss the forbidden major, as it sits beyond the reach of the Gentry. It’s run by one Mrs. Margaret Kenning, who’s reportedly the seventh such Kenning to own the cafe, and certainly has the disaffected demeanor of someone with six inherited generations of customer service. There are poetry slams on Thursdays.

Within the borders - Non-EU buildings

The EU buildings cluster largely in the center of the several square miles of school land. Around the edges are:

The Walmart. It squats right by the highway turnoff onto Elsewhere land. It doesn’t look big, for a Walmart, but inside it is virtually endless. They employ a lot of students. You have probably found yourself working there two or three times over the years, although you can’t remember applying, or arriving at all, for that matter. No one lasts longer than three days. This is not because of any particular danger. Rather, you quit because roughly half the cash you accept turns to dead leaves in the morning, and it’s taken out of your pay every time. On particularly busy nights you end up owing the Walmart money. In every sense of the phrase, you aren’t being paid enough for this. But at least it’s safe to visit as a customer.

(More often than not the person on the next register has horns/five arms/hands that are more or less just suction cups, and they seem as confused about wearing the official uniform as you are. The Walmart is a liminal space for all entities on campus, without discrimination. This is also the only known situation in which one of the Gentry can be seen using a computer without something awful happening, but then the computers seem weirdly…organic? So who knows what’s up with that.)

The Denny’s: It’s in the same Walmart parking lot. It’s a perfectly normal Denny’s by night, and it’s possible to get a perfectly average job there provided you only work the night shift. When the sun rises it turns transparent and then vanishes entirely with everyone inside, leaving only ruined foundations. It reappears at sunset, fully formed and empty. Do not be inside when the sun rises.

A particularly beloved EU tradition is to gather on the Denny’s curb twenty minutes before sunrise the morning following a school dance, and throw things at the building until it’s gone entirely. It’s generally agreed that seeing what happens to a syrup cup as it passes through a wall that isn’t entirely there is A. highly entertaining B. literally indescribable and C. a hell of a warning. The Denny’s parking lot segment is true neutral ground, ideal for deals and duels.

The Forest. The heavily forested area in the south, which borders the highway and a good portion of the river, is sometimes called Morganwode. That’s the name that shows up on old maps, at least - the ones that date back to when the University itself had a real name. These days it’s more commonly just called the Forest. It looks very small on Google Earth, which shows a small clearing in the center of a sparse group of trees. In the center, you can see the round roof of something that might be a gazebo. No one has ever found this clearing. On foot, the forest appears dense, enormous, and virtually lightless. Optimistic outdoorsfolk have set up an intricate system of color-coded hiking trails over the years, which are generally safe provided you don’t stray at all. Sometimes people say that the deeper you go, the older the forest gets, until you’re walking in true wild forest, ancient and untouched and uncaring, thousands of years old - creaking oaks and cedar and birch, taller than you can see, wider than you thought possible… But the trails do not go that deep, and so you don’t know if this is true.

The Wishing Well: it sits on the edge of the woods, and cannot be reasoned with.

The Swamp: a boggy area in the east, the area that’s usually flooded by the river in the spring. Home of the swamp hag.