Although The Fellowship (in particular, The Dean) think that Old College is all about them, the illustrious institution would be nothing without its eclectic array of fine young minds. Clogging up the cloisters and dominating the Dining Hall, the students of Old College bring colour and catastrophe in equal measure to the ancient organisation.
Events of The Vanishing Lord occurred during the Summer Vac, so we saw little of College’s favourite mischief-makers, Hershel and Penelope. Whilst they spent a good deal of First Lady Of The Keys causing mayhem for the Porters, picking fights with students from rivals Hawkins College and doing their best to avoid the wrath of The Dean, their presence was sorely missed when lectures ended. But now on the cusp of a brand new academic year, we find them back at Old College, a little older and – just maybe – a little wiser.
Their friendship is blossoming into something rather special but this is soon threatened when Penelope’s head is turned by over-attentive new Fellow, Professor Palmer. Hershel’s involvement with infamous College drinking society, the Lesser Dragons, also places strain on the fledgling relationship. Doing her best to save them from themselves (not to mention Professor Palmer) is Deputy Head Porter, who has grown most fond of her clever young charges and is keen to keep them on the straight and narrow.
In fact, Hershel becomes of vital importance when it comes to investigating the mysterious deaths of Old College scholar Maurinio and his Traveller boyfriend Ryan. With DCI Thompson and DS Kirby drawing blanks when questioning the unhelpful students, it falls to Hershel to prise vital information from his peers. Even whilst trying to navigate unfamiliar ground in his first proper relationship and juggle his responsibilities as a Lesser Dragon with his studies, he still manages to strive for justice for his fallen fellow student. Often showing a tenacity and compassion beyond his years, Deputy Head Porter is quietly impressed.
When Professor Palmer takes things a step too far, Penelope is desperate that no one – especially Hershel – finds out. How will Deputy Head Porter take revenge for the heinous act without revealing Penelope’s secret? Well… that would be telling, now, wouldn’t it? But rest assured – when entitled Fellows over-step the mark with her students, Deputy Head Porter is having none of it.