Chapter 13: Control
Corrie glanced at Edie, wondering what Professor Lal meant. Edie sighed and nodded. “She’s kind of… well, I guess she’s just really tired lately,” Edie said. “I think it took a lot out of her to be social with you guys yesterday.”
“Jeez, I’m sorry,” said Corrie.
“It’s okay,” Edie said. “I mean, she wanted to do it. But she went right back to her tree.”
“She did leave kind of abruptly,” said Dawn. “But I guess it makes sense that she would be tired in the winter.”
Professor Lal nodded. “Exactly. As the trees slow down and sleep, so will a dryad, whose life is tied to them.”
“But we can ask,” said Roe. “Right? It can’t hurt.”
Corrie nodded. “From what she said yesterday, having her spy on Belara and Feloc might be easier for her than telling us stuff about Mardalan that we don’t already know.”
“I’ll ask her next time I see her,” said Edie. “And make sure she knows that I won’t be upset if she’s too tired.”
“That is fine,” said Professor Lal. “But I had another task in mind—or rather, another faerie who may be able to assist, and that is the one you know as Ever.”
“But doesn’t she live with the court now?” Corrie asked, frowning.
“Precisely why she is a good choice,” said Professor Lal. “She lives there undetected among them, and I know her—she has no love for those folk. I am sure she will not mind playing the spy. I simply need you to contact her.”
“How can we do that?” Dawn asked.
Professor Lal shrugged, lifting her long-fingered hands out of her lap. “If I knew, I would do it myself. But I think you will find a way.”
“We can probably do that,” said Corrie, thinking of how Ever had helped them get away when Leila and Mardalan had been fighting. “If nothing else, we know how to get in contact with Tom anytime, and he would be able to help us find Ever.”
“Oh, that’s a good idea,” said Dawn. “I’m sure he wouldn’t spy, though.”
“I would certainly not ask it of him,” said Professor Lal.
“Isn’t she tied to the trees too?” Dawn asked, drumming her fingers on the arm of the couch. “I mean, when she traded herself, she turned into this… bushy leafy thing. It’s hard to describe.”
“She is connected to oak trees in general,” said the professor. “However, as her life is not tied to trees or any particular tree, her energy does not change with the seasons.”
“That should be easy enough, then,” said Corrie. “Find Ever, tell her about the book, get her to spy.”
“Don’t forget to tell her that it is my plan,” said Professor Lal. “That should eliminate any doubts she might have.”
“Hang on,” said Roe, leaning forward into the group. “I’m not saying this isn’t a good plan, but I’m really confused. Aren’t Mardalan, Belara, and Feloc like the queens and king of the faeries? Don’t you and Ever and everyone else have to do what they say?”
Professor Lal let out a short, harsh, but not mocking laugh. “I am sure they would wish for that, and they certainly do style themselves king and queens. But they are king and queens only of their particular court. They always wish to bring all other faeries to their court, to be part of it, because then they believe they rule them.”
“That’s why it was worth it to them for Ever to trade herself for Annie,” said Edie.
Corrie nodded slowly. “That’s kind of what Leila was saying yesterday, isn’t it? They just want everyone to join the court.”
“But aren’t… some of the magic professors friends with them?” Roe asked.
“There may be friendships, but we do not consider them sovereign. Because of the control they do have within their court, it is difficult to communicate or make connections with anyone other than the king and queens, but their court is the only place they truly have control.” Professor Lal frowned. “Though it is possible they are trying to extend their control—I am still not sure how they got the book onto campus.”
“Okay,” said Roe, sitting back with relief. “I guess I thought everyone was part of the faerie society, like in feudalism.”
“Do not believe everything you read in books,” the professor said, her smile returning. “Though you may certainly believe many things.”
“Okay, is that all you want us to do?” Corrie asked. “Just contact Ever?”
“For now. I will make further plans when I have more information. I am grateful to you for your help.”
“Of course,” said Dawn. “It affects us, too. We want to help keep the campus safe.”
Professor Lal stood. “Then have an enjoyable vacation, and I hope to speak to you after your return.”
They got up, gathering up their coats, and hurried out of the building.