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James nodded. Sounds like old Chancellor Franklyn has been hard at work since he left.

Ill say, Ralph agreed. Dad visited them over the summer and they took him on a tour of the school and grounds. The whole campus is packed into a single yard surrounded by a stone wall in some old neighborhood of Philadelphia. Youd never even notice it if you walked past it. Talk about unplotted space! They even have a Timelock!

James furrowed his brow. Whats a Timelock?

Oh, its totally cool, Ralph enthused. Its the only way into the school. Its kind of like an airlock. You know how when rockets connect to a space station, they have this locked off chamber between them?

James raised his eyebrows sardonically.

Oh yeah, Ralph said, I keep forgetting you were raised by wizards. All right, an airlock is kind of a closed chamber between two places with really different atmospheres. It has doors on both sides. When you go into the airlock on your side, you bring your atmosphere in with you. Then the doors lock and your atmosphere is swapped out for a new one. Thats the only way a spacewalker can get inside the breathable environment of a space station.

James expression didnt change.

All right, Ralph said defensively, so I grew up watching science-fiction films. Not all of us were born with a silver wand in our mouths, you know.

James laughed. Go on, Ralphinator. So whats a Timelock?

Well, thats just it! Its an airlock for time! Not only is the Alma Aleron campus hidden inside some magical stone wall that makes it seem loads smaller than it is, its hidden in time, too! You have to go in through the Timelock to exchange your time for whatever time the campus is occupying on any given day.

Thats impossible, Rose chimed in, lowering the book shed been reading. Time travel is not only highly unstable, but extremely risky. The Ministry has even outlawed Time-Turners because too many people were fiddling around in the temporal fluxstream, making history all wonky.