Annie cringed, but when Mardalan walked away, she began to hand out the syllabi. Dawn glanced over hers. It was a single piece of paper, printed back and front, with a complete list of the dates the class would meet that semester. Each class had a topic assigned to it, and they were divided into four sections: Knot Magic, Candle Magic, Potions, and Spiritualism. That was pretty close to what Dawn remembered reading in the course catalog.
“This is the introductory Ritual Magic class,” Mardalan said, standing with her hands behind her back like a kid reciting a story. “You will have the opportunity to take the more advanced Ritual Magic class in future semesters. You have all taken the introductory magic class, so you understand the basics. We will explore types of magic that are similar to witchcraft and classical necromancy.”
“Similar to?” asked someone from the back—Dawn thought it was the same person who had originally interrupted her about Mardalan, but she wasn’t sure.
“Witchcraft and classical necromancy are only stories. They may have a basis in fact. I wouldn’t know.” Mardalan gave an exaggerated shrug. “We will spend relatively short amounts of time learning to cast spells using knots and spells using candles. Then we will learn the basics of mixing potions, and, at the end of the semester, spend some time learning to communicate with the spirits of the dead, if such spirits exist.”
“What do you mean, if such spirits exist? If we can communicate with them, don’t they exist?” This was a new voice.
Mardalan gave an eerie smile. Dawn wondered what it looked like to the rest of the class. “We will have to find out together, won’t we?”
“Professor—uh, Mardalan?” This was the guy who had agreed with the first voice. “Shouldn’t you know how to do this stuff if you’re going to be teaching it to us?”
“I have done magic with knots and potions. I know the theory of the other two.” Mardalan shrugged again. “Lal assures me that this will be sufficient. If our candle spells and our spirit-seeking do not work, it won’t be because I am an inexperienced teacher. They are finicky magics. As are, I can assure you, knot magic and potions. But I will guide you, and we will all do our best.”
Mardalan’s confidence that she could teach some kinds of magic despite not having done them before sounded ridiculous to Dawn, but it actually made Mardalan’s story more believable. If she were trying to fool them, she would pretend she had expertise in all kinds of magic.
“How are you going to test us?” someone else asked.
“There are no tests scheduled for this class.”
A couple of people laughed at that. “Okay,” said the same voice, sounding skeptical—Dawn turned around to see a girl with a pink mohawk speaking—“but we get grades in this class, right? It isn’t pass/fail?”
“Yes, you will be graded,” Mardalan said. “I will observe your efforts in class and select a number based on that. It is similar to your introductory classes. If you try, you’ll do well.”
Dawn could see a flaw in that plan, but after the questions that had come when she’d first spoken, she was too embarrassed to speak again.
“Um…” It was still the girl with the pink mohawk. “Are you going to call roll, or anything?”
“Roll?” Mardalan asked.
“Our names,” said Dale—Dawn recognized his voice from her elementalism class, though she hadn’t remembered his face. “You’re going to have to know whose face goes with each name to grade us, but you haven’t called roll yet. You only know Dawn and—I guess Annie?”
Mardalan blinked and looked around. She held her hands out in front of her as though measuring something between them. “Ah… one moment.”
And with that, she turned and walked out the door, closing it behind her.
One or two people giggled. Dawn turned around again to look at the rest of the class. It wasn’t a big one; she saw Dale and the other girl she’d had a class with before, the pink-haired girl, and three others. Just seven people. And they had to deal with Mardalan by themselves.
“So, Dawn,” said the pink-haired girl, looking at her as Dale and one of the others whispered together. “How does she know you?”
Dawn sighed. “It’s a long story. I have the Sight. I can see through faeries’ glamour. So I’ve known about them for a long time—almost as soon as I came to campus.” She glanced at Annie. Annie shook her head slightly, which Dawn took as meaning that she didn’t want to be part of the explanation.
“Really?” the pink-haired girl asked, leaning forward a little bit. “What does she look like to you?”
“A really tall, pale woman with bright red hair. She’s pretty human-looking. What does she look like to you?”
The pink-haired girl settled back in her seat, looking disappointed. “Same.”
“How tall? To me she looks about seven feet.”
The girl’s eyes widened, and she grinned. “I’d say definitely less than six feet. Normal tall, not supernaturally tall. So that’s interesting. Are there any other faeries in this class?”
“I don’t see any obvious ones. But it would be kind of rude to out them if they don’t want us to know, don’t you think?”
“You outed Mardalan,” pointed out the guy who’d been speaking before.
“Yeah, because I’m scared of her. I kind of freaked out when she showed up at the front of class. I’ve only ever seen her in the woods. I really don’t understand what she’s doing here.”
Dale leaned forward. “Other students are—they’re on the same level as us, our peers, right? If the teacher is a faerie, she has power over us, so we have a right to know.”
“I agree,” Annie said. Dawn gave both of them grateful smiles.
“But—“ the pink-haired girl started.
Before she could finish, though, the door opened again and this time Mardalan entered, clutching a piece of paper. She shut the door behind herself. “I will call your names,” she commanded. “You will identify yourselves.” She cleared her throat. “Dawn Carroll.”
Dawn resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “I’m here.”