Chapter 63: Entertainment
The campus seemed dark and forbidding as they walked through it, Dawn in the lead. “Tom was friends with my aunt when she went here for college,” she explained quietly. There didn’t seem to be anyone else up and about—certainly all the lights in the academic buildings were out, and those were the buildings they were walking among—but she still didn’t want to be overheard. She’d already told Naomi and Corrie a little about Tom, so this explanation was mostly for Troy’s benefit, but they all needed to know where they were going. “He seems trustworthy. And he knows who Leila is, and didn’t seem to like her that much, so he should be on our side.”
“And you think he’ll be able to find Edie?” Troy asked.
She shook her head. “I don’t know. But he said he would help me if I needed it, and he said he was keeping an eye on Leila… I don’t know if he is tonight, but he’s the only other chance I can think of.”
“It’s worth trying,” said Naomi, nodding. “Even if he can just tell us where he knows she’s not.”
They crossed the empty field at the north end of campus and reached the woods. “Troy, I know you can’t use a clover, but Corrie and Naomi, you have yours, right?”
“I’ve been holding it since we left the magic building,” Corrie confirmed.
“Yeah, I have mine, just a second…”
Dawn waited for Naomi to get her clover out, then walked into the trees. They needed to have every sense available. She didn’t see anything as they walked, though, and she stopped as soon as they’d crossed the line into the faerie’s territory. She couldn’t see the slab of rock where she and Tom had talked before, but she knew it was not far past the trees. “Tom,” she called, and waited, looking around. Her friends kept looking around as well. The woods were even darker than the campus had been, with the nearly full moon barely shining through here.
She was just considering calling again when he appeared, evidently having dropped down out of a tree directly in front of her. He was smirking. “Miss me already?”
She held her ground, trying not to show how much he had startled her. She had a feeling he would respect her more if she seemed brave. “I need your help.”
“Oh, yes?” He looked around at her three friends, raising his sculpted eyebrows. “And those three, do they all wish boons as well?”
“No. We all want the same thing. I told you about my friend, Edie.”
“The dryad’s lover.”
“Right. Well, she’s missing. Apparently she’s not even on campus. We’re pretty sure Leila is messing with her head somehow. We were hoping you could help us find her. You said you were keeping an eye on Leila…”
“That’s true. I’m not sure I can help you, though.”
“Why not?” Corrie asked impatiently, crossing her arms.
“I know where the dryad is, but your friend is not with her.”
Dawn bit her lip. She didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. If they’d separated in the time it had taken the four of them to walk to this part of the woods, then Edie could very well be back at Gilkey by now. But if they’d separated earlier, then Edie was even more lost than they thought. “So, you were watching her tonight?” she asked Tom, trying to marshal her thoughts and get whatever information she actually could in this situation. “What did you see?”
“I was only watching her for a few minutes,” he sighed, leaning against a tree and contriving to look very put out. “Then you called me. It was entertaining, though. I watched her wrap something in leaves and crawl through the woods. I believe she was aiming for her main tree. She was clearly injured.”
That wasn’t good. Dawn might not like Leila at all, but if she was injured, someone might have kidnapped Edie away from her. She turned to look at her friends. “Do you think we should look for her?”
“Definitely,” said Naomi. “She’s our only lead.”
Corrie nodded firmly. “She probably knows where Edie is. She might not want to tell us, but we might be able to get her to, especially if she’s injured.” She held up her wrist.
“I did find something else out that you might be interested to know,” Tom said.
“Tell us while you lead us to where you last saw Leila,” Dawn said, gesturing toward the east, where she guessed they most likely were.
“Certainly, fair lady,” he said with a grin, linking his arms through hers. They started walking in the same direction she’d guessed. “I found out who is hurting the trees.”
“Yeah? Did she get that messy revenge you were interested in?” Dawn was mostly paying attention to where she was walking and thinking about Edie, not Tom’s words.
“Not yet, which is the only reason I’m willing to walk so far with you. I hope to see that revenge tonight. Very little could be more entertaining than a confrontation between those two sisters.”