Corrie took her usual seat in the classroom, with Dawn by her side. Edie sat down next to Corrie, and Troy and Link, after a little hesitation, sat down on Edie’s other side. The professors chose chairs from around the room; Professor Lal and Professor Rook showed no compunction dragging chairs to suit themselves and face the others. Corrie hoped that Professor Strega hadn’t been too attached to the current arrangement—she couldn’t remember any student ever moving the chairs or even asking to move them.
“You know that we are on our way to capturing the murderer and we wish to ask for your help,” Professor Lal said, nodding at Troy and Link. “Ginny will explain what we have discovered.”
“The faerie who attacked you and killed several other students is called Gerlina,” Ginny said. She looked very comfortable perched on a tall stool. “Does that name mean anything to you?”
Corrie looked sideways at Troy and Link. They both shook their heads.
“Well, you know the story of your ancestor, who fell in love with a faerie woman, leading to the treaty between your people and the faeries,” Ginny said.
This time they both nodded. “Isn’t she supposed to be dead?” Troy asked.
“Yes, but this is her sister. The one who attacked your ancestor when he followed his beloved into the woods.”
“But she lost,” Troy said, glancing at Link as though for confirmation.
“Her sister triumphed, yes,” Ginny said. “But she seems to have wasted away into a creature composed only of teeth and anger. And pain. We’re not sure what’s brought her back onto campus now, but that’s why she attacked you. We believe she killed Sean because he was the most convenient available target after you escaped—“
Troy jumped to his feet. “You mean it was really my fault he’s dead?”
“There’s nothing you could have done, Troy,” Edie said quickly. “If you hadn’t escaped, she might have just killed both of you.”
“But I really—I liked him,” Troy said, turning to Edie, his eyes huge with sadness. “And she wouldn’t have been anywhere near him if it hadn’t been for that.”
“She would have attacked someone else some other night, then,” Corrie said. “It’s not like you were hiding. It was probably inevitable that she would find you, even if she didn’t come onto campus looking for you specifically.”
“How do you know she didn’t come here looking for Troy?” Link asked, his voice tight.
“We don’t,” Professor Rook said. “But it seems unlikely. She would have sought him out right away, rather than focusing on Elrath first.”
“But now that she knows he’s here, she may be looking for him,” Ginny said.
“Then it was more important than I knew to keep him inside until his wound had healed,” Link said.
Ginny nodded. “Your instincts are good. And he has not been outside except in daylight since then, right?”
“That’s right,” Troy said, sounding miserable as he turned back to Ginny.
“Good. What about you, Link?”
“I’ve been outside at night,” Link said. “Not alone, though. At least, not for long.”
“Who were you with?”
“Well, Roe, mostly. My girlfriend.”
“I doubt she would provide enough protection to make Gerlina hesitate,” Professor Strega said. “She must know that you are not the prince.”
“Have you talked to Roe?” Link asked, leaning forward. “About her vision, I mean?”
“Yes,” Professor Strega said. “Alas, it has not given us any more information than we already had. I believe its repetition is a warning, if an unhelpful one.”
“It will go away once the killer is caught,” Link said.
“We believe that is likely, yes,” Ginny said. “But we only know two things that have drawn Gerlina out of hiding. One is when people have created disruptions to the school’s magical field, causing her pain, and the other is when she has seen the Djanaea prince.”
Troy sat down. “You want me to show myself to her so you can catch her.”
“No,” Link said immediately, putting his hand protectively on Troy’s shoulder. “Absolutely not. My prince is not bait.”
Troy turned to Link. “What difference does it make? Once you tell my father the whole story, everything I’ve told you, he’ll be all right with it.”
Link shook his head at Troy. “Just because you’re—“
“Not a suitable heir,” Troy supplied when Link hesitated.
Link shook his head again. “That’s for him to decide. Not me, and certainly not you.”
“We won’t push you into making a decision,” Ginny said, looking uncomfortable for the first time. “You can take as much time as you need to think about it.”
“We don’t have that much time,” Link said. “I’m graduating in a few days, and then Troy will be on his own here.”
“Do you have an actual plan?” Dawn asked. “Something more specific than just sending Troy out there and hoping Gerlina will show up? Maybe that will help.”