Lal waved her hand, and a projector screen lowered. The lights dimmed, an image appearing on the screen. Corrie smiled, remembering how impressive it had seemed when she went to her first magic class and Professor Lal had made things happen without touching them.
“Faeries can look like almost anything, though we generally have a humanoid base,” Lal said, moving to stand beside the screen. It showed a picture of a young woman and, beside her, a creature with gills and huge, blue, shining eyes. The picture changed, showing a young man, then the same man with his head turned to the side, showing a delicately lacy ear.
“Do not think I am giving you the full range of faerie appearance,” Professor Lal said. “These are merely examples. The point is, we can look like many things, and we can all hide our true appearances with glamour, so that we look like ordinary humans if we choose.”
The picture continued to change every few seconds as she spoke, the human faces and true faerie forms swapping sides. A picture of Elrath came up; one side was a tall, muscular man with great branching antlers rising from his head, and the other side was a slim, smiling Asian girl. Corrie shuddered.
Professor Lal continued. “The best way to defend yourself is with iron. Most of you have some iron on your person at all times—your keys. They are not the best weapon possible, but they are convenient, and they will be effective against random menace. If a faerie is weaponizing their glamour against you—using it to fool or attack you specifically—then touching iron will allow you to see through that glamour.”
Corrie felt her eyes widen. Had they ever gotten an explanation before as to why touching keys had allowed her to see through the court faeries’ glamour, but not Lal’s? She didn’t remember, but this certainly cleared it up.
“Iron cannot touch a faerie’s skin without pain and harm,” Lal continued. “However, any thin layer of cloth or even leaves will protect us—the iron must touch the skin directly. Keys are enough to cause discomfort.” The image on the screen switched to an arm with a bright red line, like a healing scratch, on it. “Purer iron will do worse harm.” The line on the arm grew wider and bubbled, like the one time Corrie had spent an entire day getting sunburned the summer before sixth grade.
“Salt is also harmful to faeries, though we can use some magic to protect ourselves from it. We must, however, be prepared. If you are being attacked by a faerie and can get within a circle of salt, that will stop them.” The picture showed a boy standing in a circle of thick white powder on the floor. “Yes, we must try to avoid eating too much salt. Those with weaker magic might have to avoid it entirely.”
Corrie remembered Derwen telling them that she couldn’t eat salt and tried not to laugh. So Derwen had weak magic, did she?
“Those are the two best ways to harm faeries, but of course, you should only use those if you are actually being attacked.” Did Professor Lal look at Corrie when she said that? It was dark in the classroom. She could pretend she hadn’t seen it.
The picture changed to show a four-leaf clover and a stone with a hole in it. “If you are not being attacked by a faerie, these are the two best ways to see through the glamour to their true form—a four-leaf clover or a stone with a natural hole in it. Both can be found in nature and easily carried with you. You must look through the hole in the stone, but need only be touching the clover. These will allow you to see through any glamour, even if the faerie is simply going about their business.”
Lal looked around the classroom, then added, “I advise you to ask before you go around breaking the glamours of your friends. We faeries have feelings, too, and we will be much happier if our friends ask us what they want us to see.”
Corrie glanced at the faerie with the leafy hair, but she couldn’t see him in the dimness—at least not past Meg, who was still staring at Professor Lal so hard that her forehead was wrinkling.
“Now for some smaller threats—and I promise these threats are smaller.”
The picture changed to one of a wolf. Corrie felt her heart leap in her chest. Were they really admitting to the existence of werewolves? And—was that a photo of Charlie in his wolf form? She couldn’t be sure, since she’d only seen that form a couple of times, but the picture looked familiar.
“Werewolves exist,” Lal said. “It is extremely unlikely, however, that they will be a threat. For all intents and purposes, they are humans with the ability to shift into a different shape, as well as a few enhanced abilities—they are stronger and have better senses of smell than ordinary humans. There is no way to detect a werewolf unless they choose to tell you what they are, but again, there is no reason to worry about it. I only tell you about them because werewolves are out there, in the area of campus, and occasionally one might lose control. If you should find yourself menaced by a werewolf, your first course of action should be to get off the ground—go upstairs, if you are in or near a building, or climb a tree, if you are in the forest. Then, if possible, call campus police for help.”