Dawn swallowed. If Gerlina had really been after Troy and Link all along, then they were extremely lucky. How had she missed them on every night but that one? It surely hadn’t been the first night they’d been out on campus… though maybe it was the first time, at least since Gerlina had been paying attention, that Troy had been out on his own. Maybe she only cared about the prince himself, not his servant.
After all, the prince was the one her sister had loved. If she hadn’t been paying attention to what was on campus in the intervening hundreds of years—and she probably hadn’t, if she hadn’t attacked the Djanaea before now—she might not have even realized that the prince usually had a friend to watch over him and help him learn about humanity.
Troy was going to feel awful when he found out. It was because of him that Sean was dead after all—even if there wasn’t anything he could have done about being who he was.
“It seems likely,” Professor Lal said with a nod.
“Then why attack Elrath and—any of the others?” Edie asked. “I guess Meg said Payton and Elena were hurting her, but what about Sean?”
“Elrath was most likely hurting her as well,” Professor Rook said. “I understand that he was experimenting with magic, trying to get the protections back that he had been enjoying in his time at Chatoyant College.”
Dawn winced, remembering the time that Elrath had walked up to the three of them on the path and demanded to know why people were suddenly asking him questions about his unusual life on campus. “Of course he was. He said so. I’d forgotten about that.”
“What exactly did he say?” Professor Lal asked sharply.
“Let me think.” Dawn tried to remember what exactly their conversation had consisted of. They’d explained to him what was going on—he’d complained that everyone was suddenly treating him as though he were weird, and Edie had realized that the magic had always protected him from being noticed, but now that he had ended that by abdicating the throne, people were aware of the things he did that were strange.
“He said he would fix the magic,” Corrie said.
Dawn nodded, memories becoming clearer at Corrie’s words. “That was exactly it. He would fix the magic on his own.”
“You told me of this,” Professor Strega said. “Lal, Rook, I passed the information on to you. You knew of this. You knew of his plans.”
“Of course,” Professor Rook said, ruffling his wings so that the feathers stuck up on his shoulders. “But we did not have any details. We did not know what he would do.”
“He didn’t tell us any details,” Corrie said. “He wouldn’t have shared that with us.”
“He didn’t even want to listen when we tried to tell him that there was nothing he could do,” Edie said.
“He must have been accomplishing something,” Professor Lal said. “Even if it was not what he desired. I wonder if his meddling was what brought her onto campus in the first place.”
“You don’t think she might have been hiding on campus all along?” Professor Rook asked.
“No, I think that is unlikely. She could not have hidden for years and only been pushed into action by Elrath’s rashness. She likely had her own hiding spot within the borders of the faerie land, but outside of campus, as so many do.”
Dawn wondered whether Professor Lal included herself in that list of many. She had never been willing to tell them where she lived.
“Then how did she get on campus?” Edie asked. “That new barrier was put up before Elrath did anything.”
“The gates are open from sunrise to sunset,” Professor Strega said. “Perhaps they will now be closed.”
“Perhaps, until we catch her,” Professor Lal said thoughtfully. “I will speak to Officer Gossett.”
“So you think she attacked Elrath as well as Payton and Elena because they were hurting her,” Corrie said. “How? By messing with the magic on campus?”
“She is a bodiless being,” Professor Rook said. “Therefore, she subsists on magic. Therefore, it is highly probable that any change to the natural magic that suffuses everything is painful to her. Perhaps the change when Elrath abdicated the throne is, in fact, what brought her onto campus.”
“But what about Sean?” Corrie asked. “Could he have been doing the same thing?”
“He may have been only an unfortunate in her way,” Professor Lal said. “The next person to appear after Troy escaped her.”
“If it’s the magic that brought her onto campus, that explains why she didn’t attack Troy first thing,” Dawn said. “She might not have even realized he was here.”
“My thoughts exactly,” Professor Lal said with a nod. “Other than those hurting her, she had no interest in attacking anyone until she realized that a Djanaea was on campus. That may have been her only attack that was out of anger, not self-defense. When Link fought her, she could not maintain her resistance.”