Edie was very curious as to how Professor Strega and Tom knew each other. She didn’t seem happy to see him there at all. Maybe he’d messed with her before—that did seem to be what he liked to do. But presumably he hadn’t done her any lasting harm, because she seemed mostly satisfied with the answer she’s gotten.
The rest of the room seemed to be more interested in what Tom had just said to Troy.
“Um, prince?” Charlie said, looking at Troy.
“I get the idea there are a few more introductions to be made,” Corrie’s dad said.
“Why don’t you all find seats?” Professor Lal suggested. “And we’ll finish the introductions and explain what is wanted of each of you.”
Corrie, Edie, and Dawn went to the other side of the room to sit down where they’d been sitting that morning. Corrie’s dad found a seat close to her, and the werewolves all sat by him. Tom sat on Professor Strega’s desk, swinging his heels against the side, which Edie thought she could have predicted he would do, especially as it obviously annoyed the professor.
“Troy and Link, I think you should explain yourselves,” Ginny said.
Troy looked at Link. Link nodded and straightened his shoulders. “Troy and I are not human. The closest thing to describe what we are in English would be ‘mermaids.’ We live under a lake, but our magic allows us to partly change shape and appear to be human. It’s been the tradition for hundreds of years for the crown prince to attend Chatoyant College. My family serves and protects the royal family, so I was sent here to be Troy’s friend and help him get used to the human world.”
Charlie was staring unabashedly at Link. Troy fidgeted a little. Edie thought it was interesting that Link had left out the part about the prince coming to Chatoyant College to find a wife. But it made sense—that wasn’t relevant to what they were doing today, and the questions that would follow that explanation would needlessly complicate the discussion.
Anyway, that was clearly enough for the others to think about. The older werewolves looked confused. Tom looked bored.
“The important thing is that the faerie we’re trying to trap tonight, Gerlina, is primarily interested in the Djanaea,” Corrie put in, with a gesture at Troy and Link. “She seems to think that she wants revenge against them.”
“That’s correct,” Professor Lal said. “She attacked Troy, but he was lucky enough to escape with little damage, thanks largely to Link’s quick acting.”
Tom stopped swinging his feet. “We can’t allow that to happen again.”
“Exactly,” Link said, nodding at Tom.
“Unfortunately, we only know two ways to draw her out,” Professor Lal said. “She has only attacked when she has seen Troy outside alone at night, or when something has caused her pain by disrupting the balance of magic on campus or doing something to change its flow.”
“Well, if that’s all we need to do, I was practically born to change the flow of magic,” Tom said, smirking. “What happens then?” Edie wondered whether he meant changing the flow of magic wasn’t entirely his purpose in life, or whether he hadn’t actually been born.
“She would likely attack you instead of Troy, trying to stop the pain,” Ginny said.
“Why don’t we call that plan B?” Professor Rook suggested. “I still think that the plan to tempt her out with the Djanaea is the soundest and safest for everyone involved.”
“Except Troy and Link,” Charlie said.
“I’ll be fine,” Link said. “It’s Troy she’s interested in. And we’re not agreeing to this plan unless I’m sure he’ll be safe.”
Troy sighed and looked over at the girls. Edie gave him what she hoped was an encouraging smile. He might have been perfectly fine with acting as bait, but she understood Link’s hesitation.
“That is where we need your help,” Professor Lal said, gesturing toward the werewolves. “We have a solid plan in place, using a magical net to trap Gerlina when she gets close to Troy, but in case she is too fast for us or too strong—though no matter her strength, it is unlikely she will be able to break free of our net—we have sought those who are faster or stronger.”
“I’m sure the four of us can best a single faerie,” Charlie’s mom said.
“This one is pretty nasty, Mom,” Charlie said. “She ripped those four people she killed to shreds.”
“Bit them to pieces, actually,” Professor Rook said.
“Still,” Charlie’s mom said with a shrug. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had to fight a faerie, but I think we are more than capable. She doesn’t have any venom in those teeth of hers, does she?”
“Evidently not,” Professor Lal said. “I hope it won’t come to that, but I am glad to have werewolves as our backup. Tom… are you really willing to provide backup?”
Tom spread his hands wide and shrugged. “I don’t want to let her touch the prince, but I’m happy enough being the third tier.”
“Link, does this satisfy you?” Professor Lal asked.
Link hesitated, then shook his head. “We need a better plan.”