Chapter 14: Trustworthy
“Is that safe?” Annie asked. Her eyes were wide, but she was chewing on her lower lip in a thoughtful fashion. She didn’t look opposed to the idea of learning directly from the book, just nervous.
“I don’t see why not,” said Corrie.
“But we have to use this magically shielded equipment, and Professor Rook has to be around in case of injury,” said Rico. “If we’re hiding this from them, we can’t use their equipment or their healing.”
“We don’t have to,” said Dawn. “That’s another thing. Did you see that, Corrie? There’s no danger in the first steps of Miranda Swick’s method for learning magic. It’s trance, not elemental magic.”
“What’s trance?” asked Roe.
“It’s a kind of magic that apparently works with the magic in the earth, not the magic in yourself, and it’s about looking at things, not creating things. She has you work with it for a while before moving on to elemental magic, in the book.” Dawn gestured at it, still in Annie’s hands.
Corrie nodded firmly. “There’s another point in its favor. Why would Professor Lal start us out with a kind of magic that can be dangerous when there’s another simple kind that isn’t? I mean, she even started us with fire magic—surely air, water, and earth are all less dangerous than that.”
“You have a point there,” said Annie, looking down at the book and frowning.
“But who is this Miranda Swick?” Edie asked. “I’ve never heard of her. How do we know we can trust her book? Professor Lal and Professor Rook are teachers.”
“They probably never went to actual schools for degrees,” Roe pointed out. “They’re faeries. They might not have gotten hired through the normal process, either. The only reason to think we should trust them is because the school put them in positions of authority.”
“And there’s an easy way to find out who Miranda Swick is,” Corrie said. “Look her up online.” She immediately turned around in her seat and woke up her computer. “Let’s see… it’s S-W-I-C-K, right?”
“Right,” confirmed Annie.
Corrie sighed. “There’s a ton of them.”
Dawn got up and looked over her shoulder. “Well, eliminate Twitter, Facebook, that kind of thing… she’s obviously not on any of those sites. If she’s still alive today she’d be over a hundred. Actually, there’s not much chance she’s alive today at all.”
“Unless she’s a faerie,” Edie said quietly.
Dawn sighed and rested her arms on the back of Corrie’s chair. “Right. But if she’s a faerie, she’s using a different name now, most likely. I mean, we saw in the yearbook how Professor Lal and Ever kept changing their names over the years. So we’re not going to find any proof of that.”
“So, okay, looking for an older Miranda Swick… here’s one on a genealogy site.”
Dawn shook her head. “We don’t need proof she exists; somebody by that name obviously existed in 1921. We need proof she had a degree or something. Try adding Chatoyant College. If she had a degree she got it here.”
Corrie typed, then shook her head. “Nothing.”
“Try searching her name with ‘degree,’ or ‘education,’ or… ‘teaching,’ or words like that,” suggested Edie.
There were still no results. They tried searching the title of the book, with no results again. They went back to the search results for just the name and skimmed them page by page.
Finally Dawn got up and stretched her back. Rico, without saying anything, came up and started rubbing her shoulders gently, making her smile. “Okay, this isn’t getting us anywhere. If she didn’t write any other books, and she wasn’t famous for anything, I guess there wouldn’t be records of her online. Try the Library of Congress catalog.”
“Good idea,” said Corrie. “If she wrote any other books she might be some kind of expert.” But after another search, there was still no sign of her.
“That doesn’t prove anything,” Roe said. “I bet you wouldn’t find much if you searched for Professor Lal or Professor Rook.”
“You don’t,” said Annie. “I’ve looked. There’s nothing on any of the magic professors. I guess they’re still trying to keep it a little bit quiet that they’re teaching magic at this college.”
“We just wanted to know if there was any reason to trust her or not, right?” said Dawn.
“Right,” said Corrie.
“So we didn’t find those. That doesn’t mean we should distrust the book or necessarily trust it. I don’t think there’s any reason not to try what’s in the book, if we’re careful.”
Annie shook her head. “I think I’m going to let you guys try it, if you want. If it works for you maybe I’ll experiment.” She held out the book, looking around at the others.
“I’m up for it,” said Corrie. “I’ll start reading this book… well, I should probably start tomorrow, since I still have a bunch of homework for tonight. If one of you wants to start reading it first that’s fine with me.”
“I’ll take it,” said Edie.
Dawn shook her head. “No, I will.” She took the book from Annie. “Edie… you’ve never done magic before. We have to make sure we can do it before we let you.”
Edie reluctantly agreed, and Dawn hung onto the book. She had homework to finish tonight, too, but she thought she’d have time to read a chapter or two of the book. She just hoped she’d be able to understand it.