Dawn wasn’t sure what Ginny would be doing with the Circle of the Goddess members, but since she was the professor who was best at healing, she felt reasonably confident leaving them in her hands. Besides, she wanted to know what Professor Lal and Professor Rook had to say. Maybe the end of this mystery was finally here.
She hoped it meant they could catch the killer and end the reign of terror. The professors didn’t seem in any hurry. But was that because they didn’t think they could catch the killer anyway, or because they had a way to protect the students, or simply because their morality was different from humans’ and they weren’t worried?
She had to tell herself that it was one of the first two. Professor Lal, at least, had been pretty consistent about caring enough to protect the students.
They went up to the lounge, and she crowded onto one of the couches with Corrie and Edie again. This time she sat in the middle, wanting to feel the comforting pressure of her friends’ living bodies after seeing all that blood. Corrie put an arm around her shoulders.
“I believe that Professor Rook and I have the same idea as to the identity of the killer,” Professor Lal said without preamble, glancing at Professor Rook as she sat down. He nodded, but remained standing.
Professor Strega sat down in one of the chairs. “Will this help us stop the murders?”
“Yes, I am sure of it.” Professor Lal hesitated for a moment. “Perhaps with some help. But I understand at least part of her motives now.”
“We thought she died long ago,” Professor Rook said. “Her name is Gerlina.”
Corrie gasped. Dawn felt startled herself, though she wasn’t sure why. She’d heard that name somewhere before. But where?
“You know the name?” Professor Lal said.
“Yes,” Corrie said, leaning forward, her arm slipping off Dawn’s shoulder. “She was—“ But she stopped, looking at Edie.
Edie’s eyes were wide. She swallowed. “Link told us about how the Djanaea first came to make an agreement with the faeries. There were two faerie sisters, one of whom fell in love with a Djanaea prince. He wouldn’t take no for an answer and discovered that she was a faerie, and when her sister found out that he’d followed her, she attacked him. She protected him against her sister and made all the faeries promise not to hurt Djanaea, in return for the Djanaea keeping faerie secrets. We, um—I asked Leila for more details, and she told me their names. Balyan and Gerlina. Balyan died after the prince she loved married someone else, but she didn’t know what happened to Gerlina, just that she wasn’t around anymore.”
Professor Rook nodded. “That will do as a summary. I certainly believed that Gerlina was dead.”
“She wasted away,” Professor Lal said. “I was here at the time, and I saw it happening. Her grief was so great after her sister died that she no longer ate or did anything else to keep herself alive. I saw her body fading, and then no one saw her around anymore. We knew she had not left, so we believed her dead.”
“But she had not died,” Professor Strega said.
“It would seem not.”
“You don’t know for sure that it’s her,” Corrie said, frowning. “You can’t see her or recognize her face.”
“Everything matches,” Professor Lal said. “A faerie with no body would of course appear, to trance sight, to take the shape that her body had taken when she had one, if such a thing occurred. Gerlina’s body had certainly been very thin. She also had long, sharp teeth. I do not remember the red eyes, but that may be a consequence of the loss of her body, or perhaps something that Meg only imagined she saw.”
“Why didn’t you think of her earlier?” Dawn said. “You knew Elrath and Sean were torn to pieces by something with long, sharp teeth. You must have seen the bite mark in Troy’s arm as well, right? And there was Roe’s vision.” She turned to Professor Strega. “She must have described the teeth to you. Didn’t you tell anyone else?”
“I did.” Professor Strega looked steadily at Professor Lal. “I described those teeth to you as exactly Roe described them to me.”
“I regret that I did not make the connection,” Professor Lal said, looking down. Dawn wasn’t sure if she was acting or not. “My only excuse is that I must have been thoroughly convinced that she was dead. It had been hundreds of years since I had seen her, after all.”
“I never knew her,” Professor Rook said, frowning. “I didn’t know about the teeth. But I had heard the story, and when Meg described the wasted shape, I realized what the connection to the Djanaea was.”
“Of course,” Corrie said. “She must hate them—it’s their fault her sister is dead. Do you think Troy and Link were her intended victims all along?”