The next person to be called asked, “Are you sure there aren’t any vampires on campus? Couldn’t they come here if they wanted to?”
Professor Lal assured them that while vampires could, in theory, enter campus, it had never been a problem in the four hundred years that the college had been in operation, and that vampires had proper respect for and fear of faeries. She then assured another person that the vast majority of faeries in and around campus were on the side of humanity and would help protect the students against those faeries who were not. Then she had to assure someone else that the risk of a werewolf attack was extremely minimal.
Corrie started to tune her out, watching her thoughtfully. She hadn’t addressed the fact that a new faerie was teaching a magic class—but of course, why should she? They’d already revealed specifically that some faeries were teaching, as well as students. It was just that one of the teachers was now someone who had tried to kill students.
Well, maybe not tried to kill. The faeries apparently put great stock in technicalities like that. Mardalan had kidnapped more than one student, possibly a lot more than that over the years, and trapped them in the faerie court as musicians. She wasn’t like Marlin and Gerlina, who actually had murdered students. The difference seemed small to Corrie, but maybe it was bigger than that for faeries. After all, if Mardalan trapped a human now, they could be easily freed.
And it was also true that Corrie didn’t know the history of many faeries. Maybe before Professor Lal had decided to try teaching, she’d been as bad as Mardalan. Corrie should know that people were very much capable of changing their minds.
Should she ask about Mardalan? She didn’t want to undermine the other students’ faith in Lal and the administration, if only because she didn’t want to be surrounded by students freaking out about how faeries were out to get them all semester. And she didn’t really think that Mardalan was going to hurt anyone. She just wished they’d had some warning.
Professor Lal was going over all the precautions again, patiently repeating herself. Corrie glanced at Roe, who was doodling on her notebook, then started looking around the room again.
Meg seemed to have relaxed; she was no longer staring quite so fixedly at Lal. She was still watching her, though, a small frown on her face. Corrie had to wonder what she was thinking. Could Payton and Elena have been saved by this information? Corrie thought it was possible, but unlikely. Payton and Elena had been incredibly arrogant and performing magic that would have been dangerous even if they had known what they were trying to trap. Seeing her coming wouldn’t have helped.
Sean might have been helped by one of the protections against faeries. If he’d had a four-leaf clover or a stone to look through, he might have been able to run. If he’d had iron on him, he might have been able to fight back enough for help to come. But it was hard to know; his body hadn’t been found until early morning, so there might have been no chance for someone else to come by and help him.
It was a depressing thought.
Corrie realized she had tuned out Professor Lal when a hush came over the room. Lal was staring at Meg, who had her hand raised. There seemed to be some challenge passing between them. Everyone else could sense it. Why didn’t Lal just ask what Meg’s question was?
“Yes, Meg,” Lal said finally.
“Last year I could see the faerie coming,” Meg said. “Gerlina. When she attacked Payton and Elena.” A whisper went around the room. Meg and Lal were still staring at each other as though issuing a challenge. “Why could I see her and no one else could?”
Lal actually took a step back. There was another silence that seemed to stretch forever. Roe’s pencil was still.
“Thank you, Meg,” Professor Lal finally said. “That’s an excellent question. The answer is something I expected to bring up only in magic classes, but everyone should know that this is possible.” She lifted her head a little and looked around the room. “As you will all know if you have taken the introductory magic class, when you are in a magical trance, you can see other people’s inherent magic. The inherent magic of faeries looks different from that of humans, and while it is possible to hide with a glamour, it takes a great deal of effort and is rarely done. I certainly do not bother with it. If you care to go into trance right now, you should be able to see what I mean.”
Corrie didn’t bother. She already knew what Lal’s magic looked like in trance—and what Edie’s looked like, since it was similar, though not the same. If she didn’t know about faeries, she might never have realized how unusual it was.
“With most humans, inherent magic appears as a glowing ball of a color at a specific point in the body. To some magical senses, it may instead appear as a feeling, a scent, or a sound. Regardless, when it comes to faeries, our inherent magic is spread throughout our bodies. That is why Meg could see Gerlina: she was in trance, so even though the rest of Gerlina’s body was invisible, Meg could see her magic.”
“I could see her coming,” Meg said.
Lal nodded. “And it was lucky that you did, even if you could not save your friends. Without your testimony, we might never have realized who she was and been able to capture her. Thank you.”
“What if I’d had a four-leaf clover?”
“I’m not sure it would have made any difference,” Lal said. “She does not seem to have been using a glamour at the time, since some of the others could see her teeth. She had very little in the way of a physical body, which proved to be a better disguise.”
“Is that a thing?” someone asked in a high voice.
“The faerie who was behind the attacks last semester is the only example I am aware of,” Lal said, looking around the room. “And I have known a great many faeries. Most would die when put through the stress that she was put through, but she went mad instead, kept alive only by magic. The other magic professors and I have also set up many alarm points so that no strong magic, such as that of a faerie, can enter campus without our permission.”