Dawn looked behind her to see what other people’s reactions were. Naomi had actually turned all the way around in her seat and was clutching the back of it while kneeling. Was there something back there? Dawn couldn’t see anything interesting, except for other people staring, their facial expressions varying from shock to fear to anger. Some of them had even gotten up out of their seats.
She leaned over to whisper to Rico, who seemed just as startled as anyone else. “I missed something.”
“You didn’t—“ Rico turned to her, confused, but then his expression suddenly changed to a grin. “Of course not. Professor Lal just dropped her glamour. So now we can all see what you’ve been seeing all along.”
“Oh!” Dawn looked around the room again. It made much more sense with her new understanding. People were shocked, surprised, and occasionally angry that there was a monstrous-looking woman on the stage. She remembered how horrified she’d been when she’d first seen Professor Lal without her glamour—and she hadn’t had time to get used to the way the professor looked as a human, like all the rest of them would have.
Even her friends, who knew that Professor Lal was a faerie and had probably seen her true appearance, were shocked that she would drop her glamour like that. Naomi had probably turned around just to look at other people’s reactions. And Roe, of course, had just come to an understanding of why she’d had that vision the other night.
So Professor Lal was about to tell everyone about the faeries. What was she waiting for? Did she expect the reactions to die down? Dawn thought they were just as likely to only get worse.
No—she was waiting for others to join her. Professor Strega and Professor Rook were walking up onto the stage. They must have dropped their glamours as well. The auditorium was starting to fill with murmurs, and more than murmurs; some people were talking loudly or even shouting. She couldn’t make out very many words.
Professor Drehmer joined the professors on stage, as well as another faerie, a woman covered in fine, long, downy feathers. Dawn had seen her around campus, but didn’t know who she was. Now, though, she guessed that the feathered woman was another professor. None of the student faeries were walking up to the stage. She looked around again and spotted Derwen near the back of the auditorium, looking as surprised as anyone. And there was the boy with the leafy hair, with his arms crossed across his chest. She couldn’t blame him if he was upset at the professors’ reveal. Obviously, they had not shared the plan with the student faeries.
Professor Lal finally spoke again, her voice easily cutting across the noise of the auditorium. “What you see now is not magic. It is my true appearance. The same goes for Professor Strega, Professor Rook, Professor Drehmer, and Professor Cantrell. We have been here all along, hidden from your sight. We are not monsters; we are faeries.”
“And we are not the only ones,” Professor Rook said. Did his voice sound more than usual like the harsh tones of a crow? It didn’t make any sense that he should sound different to Dawn; he was probably just playing it up.
“This secret has been kept from all of you for a long time,” Professor Strega said. “But there have always been faeries living in and around Chatoyant College.” She didn’t sound quite like herself; she still had her thick accent, but her sentence structures sounded more like English than usual. They must have rehearsed this—Dawn wondered who had told Professor Strega what to say.
“This land originally belonged to faeries, and faeries still dwell on it,” Professor Cantrell said. Her voice was soft and ethereal, matching her downy appearance. “The reason students are not permitted to enter the forest is that the land there still belongs to faeries.”
“We are not dangerous,” Professor Drehmer said. “We are the same educators you have always known. Some of us may seem no different, while some may seem forever changed. But those who dwell in the forest are dangerous, and they are not the only ones.” Dawn thought it was funny that he should comment on some of them not seeming different. He looked perfectly human and plenty of students were probably confused as to why he was up there.
“We have kept this secret for years believing we were keeping you safe,” Professor Lal said. “But recent events have forced us to admit that we were wrong.” She took a visible, deep breath. “The killer who murdered four students on campus before we could catch her was a faerie. So was Christy Latham, the first victim. If we could have told you all what precautions to take, we might have kept more people safe.”
Corrie snorted quietly. “Maybe one,” she whispered.
Dawn nodded. If students had known how to stay safe from a faerie killer, Sean might have been spared, but Payton and Elena would still have been idiots. And would the information have gotten out in time to save Sean? Until he was killed, Professor Lal had believed that humans were not in danger.
But Dawn was still glad—if shocked—that the information was finally getting out. And she wondered how many people would really be willing to return to Chatoyant College in the fall, now that the students knew the truth.