Chapter 4: Trance Repeated
Monday, November 24
Corrie was delighted at first to have another day of trance in magic class. It wasn’t that she thought she needed the practice—there was no way she could overdo trance like she had with elemental magic, and she was pretty much confident with any type of magic now. But she was glad that she was able to make up for the problems she’d had in Friday’s class, when she had been unable to achieve trance at all.
However, it quickly got boring. They stayed in trance the entire class, and Professor Lal had them look around at each other and try to see each other’s magic. Evidently, the rest of the class needed practice seeing the magic that was around them, or at least Professor Lal thought they did. Corrie certainly didn’t seem to need it. Everything was bright and vivid to her.
Except for Professor Lal’s magic—that seemed oddly cloaked somehow, like there was a misty veil shading her. There was a glow somewhere in there, but Corrie couldn’t pinpoint it. Hadn’t Dawn said that there was something different about the professor’s magic? Corrie tried to focus, but by the time she’d made up her mind to work on seeing Professor Lal’s magic clearly, the class was being told to bring themselves carefully out of trance.
“We won’t see each other until next week,” said Professor Lal once everyone was out of trance, looking around at them. “Is anyone remaining on campus for the Thanksgiving holiday?” When no hands were raised, she nodded. “I would like you to practice magic while you are away, especially if there are any areas you feel uncomfortable with, but please—be careful. If I could, I would only allow you to practice magic within this building, as it is specially shielded, but I know that is impossible. However, if you are practicing elemental magic, please use all reasonable caution; I would prefer if you did not practice fire magic at all. If you are practicing trance magic, please make sure you are in a quiet, shielded space. However, unless you are in a magical space, you may find the results rather underwhelming. Please do not practice trance magic on campus without supervision.” Corrie exchanged a guilty look with Dawn at that. Professor Lal had warned them to be careful just the other day, hadn’t she? Well, nothing seemed to have gone wrong at the library.
“I will be available with my usual office hours until Wednesday afternoon,” Professor Lal continued. “If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. I am happy to set up tutoring times as well, though I will probably not have time for those until after the holiday. All right, have a lovely break, all of you, and come back prepared to work.”
Most of the class left, chattering about the upcoming break from classes and their plans to spend time with their families. Corrie was looking forward to Thanksgiving, too—her mom and grandmother always made a great little feast, though her excitement was tempered by her plans to work at a nearby department store for Black Friday. But she and Dawn stayed behind, and Roe, a little uncertainly, with them.
Professor Lal smiled at them, leaning back against her desk as they approached her. “Hello, Corrie. I trust you have no more trouble with trance?”
Corrie shook her head, smiling. “Not at all. It’s great now. But we had a few questions to ask you.”
The professor nodded. “Ask away, though I don’t have much time.”
“I didn’t think of this until after we talked to you yesterday,” Dawn said, “but there were a bunch of other books in the box along with the one Mardalan wrote—The Practical Use of Magic. At first I just figured those were camouflage, but she could have done something to the rest of the books, couldn’t she?”
“Indeed, that is well thought of. Do you have a list of the books?”
Dawn shook her head. “That’s part of the problem. Apparently their origin wasn’t recorded, and I can’t remember all of them. I mean, they’re all in the library system, I just don’t know which ones came from that box and which didn’t.”
“Hmm.” Professor Lal tapped her fingernails against the desk. “Do you have copies of the listing of the book from before and after the day they were added?”
Dawn wrinkled her eyebrows, confused. “I don’t know, I mean, it’s all in the computer.”
“There are computer techs who work in the library, are there not? Ask them to see if they can find copies. I don’t pretend to understand computers, but that should be able to be done.”
“Oh, that’s a good idea,” said Corrie. “It probably has lots of backups. They can find the backups from before and after.”
Dawn nodded. “Okay, I’ll try that. I also noticed that the Miranda Swick book was still in the system.”
Professor Lal smiled. “It is not now. I spoke to the librarians this morning and had it removed, though I have not yet destroyed the book. It has occurred to me that it might provide a useful link to its creator.”