Chapter 55: Miranda Swick
Sunday, November 23
Corrie, Dawn, and Edie had agreed that they would all go see Professor Lal. They’d all used the book, and Edie, after hearing about how the book had failed to give Dawn the instructions that would have helped her, and the fact that Professor Lal was worried about it, feared there might have been some malevolent magic on it that affected them. Corrie thought she was being over-cautious, but was certainly willing to indulge her; it was certainly safer to be too cautious than not cautious enough.
So they set out a little bit after three, walking through another light snowfall (the temperature had dropped again, and this one wasn’t melting) to the magic building. Corrie carried the book in her backpack, and she was the one to knock on Professor Lal’s door, which was slightly ajar.
“Corrie, is that you?” called the professor. “Come on in.”
Relieved that she was in (though why she would have thought the professor would have broken her word, she wasn’t sure), Corrie walked inside the office followed by Dawn and Edie. She slipped her backpack off her shoulder. “I have some good news for you, and a book.”
“Excellent.” Professor Lal looked up from her desk and smiled. It was much more brightly lit today, though at least some of that was certainly due to light reflecting off the snow. “Did you learn anything about your connection to the trance magic?”
“Yeah. It turns out my mom did a spell when I was a baby to separate me from my werewolf heritage. She was scared I would turn into a werewolf, I guess.”
“Interesting. Your mother did not attend Chatoyant College, I take it? May I ask what magical tradition she follows?”
“Uh, pagan?” Corrie hazarded. “I mean, we are pagans… She learned it from her mom, my grandmother. I don’t know where she learned it. My mom kind of said that there’s a lot of magic in our family, though.”
“I looked at them both in trance,” Dawn volunteered. “They both have a huge amount of magic.”
Professor Lal nodded. “That would certainly assist an incompletely trained magician to do a strong spell like that. Now, may I see the book?”
Corrie slipped her backpack off her shoulder, pulled out the book, and handed it to Professor Lal. She put it on her desk and bent her lamp to illuminate the cover. “The Practical Use of Magic: A Primer,” she read aloud, “by Miranda…” Her eyes widened.
“What is it?” Edie asked quickly. “Have you heard of her? We couldn’t find anything about her online.”
“A moment,” muttered the professor. She passed a hand over it, turned it over, and then flipped quickly through the pages. Then she put it down and her shoulders relaxed slightly. “I needed to check for malevolent magic.”
“I knew it!” said Edie.
Professor Lal raised her eyebrows. “Luckily, there is none. How did you know, Edie?”
“Uh… I didn’t, really. Just a guess. But if it was giving us bad information, it might have given us bad magic, too.”
“Your instincts are correct.” She frowned slightly, looking carefully at Edie, then continued. “You have, in fact, met the author of this book. She is better known as Mardalan.”
“What?” Corrie gasped. “But… how could she write this book? And why?”
“She has easy access to many materials. You said this book was in the library? I do not know how she might have gotten it there.”
“It was donated to the library,” said Dawn. “I found it in a box when I was shelving. Emi didn’t know who donated it. Do you think she donated all those books?”
“She may have,” said Professor Lal. “I will have to speak to the librarians. This is very disturbing.”
“How did you know she wrote it?” Edie asked.
“The way the name is written.” Professor Lal sighed, but her mouth quirked in a half smile. “Even when she attempts to be subtle, she is not. Though I suppose her ends were well enough served, since the three of you did use the book. If it were not for certain rules, and certain friends that you have, you would be in great danger from her. As it is, you are protected and she is ailing. But please let me know before you attempt any magic outside of my class.”
“Oh, I don’t think we’ll be trying that any time soon,” said Corrie.
“Will doing magic the way the book explained it hurt us?” asked Edie.
“Yes, if you attempt to use the magic on the campus without proper preparation. Dawn experienced that.”
Edie swallowed. “Okay. I won’t do that anymore. Are you teaching the magic class next semester?”
Professor Lal smiled. “No, you will have either Professor Agnew or Professor Strega. I assure you, though, that they are both more than competent and neither will lead you astray. But I’m sure you wish you were taking the class now.”
“I really do,” said Edie. “Now I have to wait a whole semester. But I will wait.”
The professor nodded. “Good. Now I think this book should be destroyed. The librarians will understand. I will see two of you tomorrow, and the other perhaps another semester.”