Several more chairs were available, but Dawn didn’t want to sit down. Whether that was because she didn’t think there was any point in trying to relax or because she didn’t want anything in common with the four blood-spattered girls in the chairs, she had no idea. But obviously Corrie and Edie had the same feeling, because neither of them sat down. Dawn nodded at Meg encouragingly. She didn’t think she wanted to hear the story, but she knew she needed to.
“We had our meeting tonight like always,” Meg said. “Payton and Elena said they had an idea. Something we needed to do, that obviously no one else was capable of doing. They wanted to find the killer and bind it.”
Dawn felt air hiss between her teeth. Corrie was right about the Circle of the Goddess being arrogant and stupid. They didn’t know it was a faerie, she was sure, or know anything about faeries, but why would they think that six college students with no actual magic training could bind the creature that had already killed two other students?
“It was a good idea, or I thought so,” said one of the other girls.
“It was stupid,” Meg snapped, her knuckles turning whiter as her two hands clutched one another. “I knew it at the beginning but I was afraid to stop them. I shouldn’t have been so afraid.” She stopped, taking a deep breath, her shoulders hunching up toward her ears.
“Take your time,” Ginny said gently.
“I was nervous about the binding, and about leaving the path,” Meg said. “I don’t know why, but I never like leaving the paths on campus.”
“You are right to feel that way,” Professor Lal said.
Meg nodded. “Well, we went out into the grass in the middle of campus. I guess that seemed like the best place to call something that we knew was somewhere on campus, but not exactly where. We got into our circle and Payton and Elena started to cast. I went into a magical trance.”
“I thought you guys didn’t like the actual—the magic we learn in magic classes,” Corrie said.
“I took the introductory class before I joined the Circle,” Meg said. “I don’t do any of the other magic, but I’ve found trances helpful when casting. Payton and Elena said it was okay as long as it didn’t distract me, and it never has until tonight.”
“I do the same thing,” said one of the girls who hadn’t spoken before. She had long, loose hair, and was wearing a white skirt and white, long-sleeved blouse. “Being in trance helps me get into the right mental state. And I think that’s why we saw…” She shuddered, unable to go on.
Dawn looked at Corrie and Edie, raising her eyebrows. She had assumed that the attacker would only be visible using Sight, or one of the other methods to break through faerie glamour. But these girls seemed to think that their trance was what had allowed it. Maybe they’d really been touching four-leaf clovers and been unaware of it.
“We started to bind the killer,” Meg said. “We called it as a group, but Payton and Elena were the ones chanting the binding. When they started, this… cold wind came around us.”
Dawn gasped. It sounded like they’d been right about the cold spot.
“Wait until they’ve finished,” Professor Lal said softly. Dawn nodded.
“I could tell something was wrong, but I didn’t want to say anything,” Meg continued, as though there had been no interruption, still staring into space. “Not at first. But then I started to feel… I don’t know how I knew it, but something was in pain. We were hurting it. And I was really scared. I tried to stop the chant, but they wouldn’t stop.”
“I felt it, too,” said the girl in white. “I didn’t know whether it was one of us or something outside our circle.”
“But we didn’t have too much time to worry about it,” Meg said. “Something swooped in at us. It was—it was mostly teeth.”
Dawn nodded, and saw out of the corner of her eye that those around her were nodding, too. Not that she’d thought they were likely to make a mistake, but this agreed with Link’s account.
Except for the ‘mostly’ part.
“It had only the suggestion of a body,” Meg continued. “It was all blue and cloudy, the shape of a very skinny person, with glittering bits throughout. It reminded me of the way Professor Lal’s magic looks when you look at her in trance, just without a body around it. And there were red eyes.”
“I didn’t see the eyes,” the girl in white said, nodding. “But everything else is right. I looked at Professor Lal’s magic a few minutes ago, and it’s not the same, but it’s similar.”
“We were all scared,” Meg said. “It attacked Payton first. I started to run. I could feel her blood all over me. I just ran until I saw Professor Lal and she stopped me. I didn’t want to look at what was behind me.”
Meg’s mouth shut, leaving nothing but a ringing silence behind.