Clare K. R. Miller

Chatoyant College Book 13: Chapter 5: Thick and Deep

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Edie woke up in a panic from restless sleep. After flailing her arms around for a moment and realizing that the only thing covering them was her sheet, she managed to sit up and shut off her alarm. That was all that had woken her—nothing nefarious. She still had to sit in bed and catch her breath.

She still felt fuzzy-headed, and she knew she hadn’t gotten anywhere near enough sleep. She, Corrie, Dawn, and Rico had stayed up for at least another hour after leaving the gathering in the common room, talking over the same things again and again. With no new information, they were unable to come up with any explanation as to why someone might have been killed on campus.

She was tempted to roll over and go back to sleep, but it was Wednesday, and her first class was magic class. Now that they were in the practical portion, she never wanted to miss magic class, and today they were starting on water magic. Knowing that her faerie ancestor was a water faerie, she wondered if she would have any special affinity with that kind of magic.

Edie swung her legs out of the bed and pushed herself to her feet. That was when she realized that Corrie was still in bed.

Frowning, she checked her clock. The alarm had gone off at eight o’clock like usual. By this time, Corrie was usually back from her run and either in the shower or just coming back from it. Edie had never known her to go back to sleep after her run—she always said it was better than coffee.

And it wasn’t that her clock was wrong, because it was much too bright out to be earlier than Corrie usually woke up. In fact, it was really bright out. The sky must be totally clear.

Edie climbed back onto her bed and pulled the blinds up a little from her window. The sky was not clear; it wasn’t covered in cloud, either, but it was fairly cloudy. When she looked down, though, all she could see was fog. It was so thick and white that it almost made her dizzy. She couldn’t tell how much fog there was until she realized that all she could see above it were the canopies of the trees—no trunk was showing at all.

The fog had to be at least six feet high.

“Oh, hey, Edie,” came Corrie’s muffled voice. Edie turned to see that Corrie had rolled over in bed and was talking to her without sitting up. “See that fog?”

“Yeah,” Edie said, sliding back down so that she was sitting on her bed. “It looks really deep.”

Corrie pushed herself upright, rubbing at her hair. “It’s impossible to see through. I went outside, took two steps, and realized that I wasn’t going to be able to find my way back to Gilkey if I kept going. Classes are canceled, so I just went back to sleep.”

“How do you know classes are canceled?”

“Email.” Corrie yawned, putting her hand over her mouth. “But now I feel gross.”

“You could run up and down the stairs,” Edie suggested, turning to her computer and starting it up. “That would be a different kind of workout than a run, but it might help.”

“You may be on to something there,” Corrie said. “It might freak people out, though… Hmm, maybe just walking up and down would do.”

Edie heard Corrie getting up and moving around as she checked her email. Sure enough, she had an official email from the school saying that classes were canceled and students were not to leave their dorms. Corrie must not have seen that before she went out for her run.

Edie remembered the security officer warning them back at the beginning of the school year that sometimes the fog was so bad that everyone had to stay in their buildings. It had never happened while Edie had been here, though they’d seen bad fog. If it took a death on campus for the fog to be this bad, how many times had it happened before?

This did confirm several things for her. One was that the death must have been faerie-related—they had already noticed that thick fog correlated to the faeries being upset for some reason. Maybe it was even a faerie that had been killed. That was looking more and more likely, and would help explain why they hadn’t released her identity.

It also told her that the fog had some source other than the same campus magic that made people forget when someone left or was taken from campus. That made sense. The fog wasn’t smoothing things over—it was drawing attention to what had happened.

And of course, it told her that she wasn’t learning water magic today. She also found an email from Ginny in her inbox. Ginny did not live on campus, but must have been told about the fog. She reminded her students not to leave their dorms and to stay safe. She said that they could practice earth and air magic if they were careful, but not to try fire magic in their dorms and not to start water magic on their own. They would resume water magic on Friday.

Edie sighed and closed her email. She wasn’t nearly as upset about missing her literature and theater classes, but taking away magic just seemed unfair.

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