“Now, Edith,” Leila said, “will you answer my question? What has happened while I have been gone? It seems to be a great deal.”
Edie took a deep breath. She wished she could look at Leila’s face while she explained what had happened, but maybe this was more intimate. Clearly, it was more comfortable for Leila.
“Okay. Before I start, how much do you know about the treaty between Thengul and Alienor Chatoyant before the school was founded? You weren’t around then, were you?”
“No, no. I am not quite that old.” Leila laughed.
That had been Tom’s answer, too, Edie remembered. But Leila was nicer about it. Were any faeries around who had been there when Thengul signed the treaty? No, they’d gone over that. Elrath and his siblings were the only ones, but both of his siblings were dead. All the other faeries from that time had either died or left.
Where would they go?
“I didn’t think so.”
“But I know about the treaty,” Leila said. “Thengul sold the land to Lady Chatoyant on the condition that it not be used for anything that was harmful to faeries. At least, that is the story I heard. I do not know whether I can really trust those who told it to me. I do understand that the treaty specifies that humans are not to harm faeries, and faeries are not to harm students.”
“I didn’t know about the first part,” Edie said. She wondered whether it was true. She hadn’t found anything that said humans should not harm faeries in the pieces of treaty she’d been able to translate, but it obviously wasn’t the whole thing. “Anyway, that’s not important anymore. I just wanted to make sure you knew what I was talking about. There was an exhibit at school about it, but they just had a small piece, and someone was searching the library’s records, messing things up.”
“Is this what my sister was involved in?” Leila asked.
“Yes.” Edie decided to skip the parts where she’d gotten involved. She hadn’t really had anything to do with the treaty, anyway—she’d just been looking for a way to get Leila back. And it turned out to not have been necessary.
“Mardalan had other faeries looking for the treaty for her,” Edie explained. “I don’t really know what she wanted, but she was really mad that she couldn’t find the whole treaty and couldn’t read what she did have. It’s in an old form of French.”
“Ah, oui, I knew that would be the case,” Leila said.
Edie grinned. “I didn’t know you spoke French!”
“It has been a long time,” Leila admitted. “I would not try to have a conversation in French now. So, what is it that Mardalan did?”
“She was looking for a way to break the treaty,” Edie said. “But she couldn’t find it. That’s why the magic professors put up that barrier. I guess they figured that even if she couldn’t break the treaty, she was too dangerous. And, um, they wanted us to stop going into the woods and messing with the court, I guess.”
Leila laughed again. Edie smiled. Her laugh was so lovely. “I suppose they did not want you to keep making Mardalan angry.”
“Pretty much.” Edie wondered whether they’d also wanted to keep Professor Strega on campus—after all, she was the one who’d taken them into the forest to confront Mardalan.
“Okay, so that happened, and after that I guess Professor Strega didn’t want to teach here anymore, so she came to me and Dawn and asked us to help her find a way to leave campus. The other magic professors told her she couldn’t leave.”
“Yes, that’s what I expected. She would not be able to leave campus.”
Edie nodded. “Do you know about Alaineth?”
“Yes, he is the one who enforces the treaty, correct?”
She wondered how long Leila had been off campus before the last year. Could she have been in Faerie, or in her tree, or wherever she hid, since before Alaineth died?
“He used to be. But I guess you know more than me. He died over a hundred years ago, they said.”
There was a long pause, then Leila snorted—a delicate sound, more like she was trying to get something out of her nose than like she was annoyed. “I see that it is useful to have someone who remembers what time has passed while I am away. No one sees fit to give me the news. I suppose Mardalan knew it and never thought to mention it. Very well, then, he had an heir, I suppose?”
“Apparently. It was Elrath, but Elrath thought it was their sister, Mourith. She’s also dead.”
“I remember them. Alaineth had no children?”
“Apparently not, since the power passed to Elrath.”
Leila sucked in a breath. “That surprises me. But if you saw that the power passed to Elrath, it is incontrovertible. So he is our king now?”
“No,” Edie said. “He ended the treaty and renounced the kingship. There is no king.”