Chapter 39: Melting
It was tedious, unpleasant work, with the dim light, the cold, and the frozen ground. Dawn wished she’d brought a flashlight or some other portable lamp, then immediately realized that she didn’t need one. She lifted her hand and created a small flame. It wasn’t much and she didn’t want to bring it too close to the ground for fear of melting the mud, but it lit her way better than just the emergency light.
She made her way in toward the center, moving as slowly and carefully as she could, so that she could be sure not to miss anything. Her section of ground was right next to Rico’s, and they met at the edge occasionally, grinning and squeezing hands when they bumped into each other. It warmed and encouraged her a little.
However, by the time they’d reached the center, there was still no sign of anything like a knife or a root. Roe and Ginny caught up with them shortly, and by their expressions it was obvious that they hadn’t found anything either—though Ginny had conjured up her own little flame.
“Is there any magical way of searching for it?” Dawn asked, looking at Ginny. “You know a lot more magic than the rest of us…”
“I can sense certain things,” she said. “Yes… let me see.” She turned slowly in a circle, holding out her hand, then shook her head. She did it again, but this time grimaced and drew her hand back quickly, shaking it.
“What is it?” asked Roe.
“You said the knife was made of stone, correct?” Ginny said.
“Yes,” said Dawn. “At least, that’s what it looked like.”
“Well, there are enough stones here to confuse my magical sense, and none of them seem to be knife-shaped. Corrie said that she tried to turn it into a tree root, but with the amount of grass and other plants growing here, there are enough roots in the area to completely overwhelm my magical sense.”
“What if you look for metal?” Rico asked. “I’m not saying you’re wrong, Dawn, but it could have been deliberately made to look like stone. And it’s pretty dark, after all.”
“No, you’re right,” Dawn said, squeezing his hand. “If Paul, or whoever gave him the knife, was trying to confuse us, it makes sense that they would make it look like something else.”
“It’s worth a try,” said Ginny, and she did the same circling motion several times, only to sigh and shake her head. “There are only traces of metals here, except for what appears to be a tin spoon, buried over there.” She pointed toward the science building. “Either some strange experiment or litter from many years ago, before the college started using plastic flatware.”
“They never used steel flatware, because of the faeries, right?” Roe asked.
“As far as I know, yes. They’ve tried to make some of the most subtle accommodations possible, and some faeries have an easier or harder time of it, but if there is one thing that is consistent among all the fae, it is the inability to touch iron.”
Dawn sighed, staring down at the mud, churned up in strange, frozen patterns. “Any other ideas, or should we just give up?”
“I think there is one more thing we could try,” said Ginny. “Roe, Rico, why don’t you create flames as well? It will be easier if we are all participating.”
Rico grinned and quickly conjured a flame, larger than either Ginny’s or Dawn’s. “The dragon,” he whispered to Dawn, and she grinned back at him. Roe took a moment longer, but then she had a flame, too.
Ginny crouched down. “Now, let us attempt to melt away the mud. Be very careful—if we are looking for a root, we don’t want to burn it. But we may be missing it because it has become covered in mud and ice.”
“Sorry about that,” Dawn said, crouching down and bringing her flame low to the ground. “If I hadn’t blasted all that water at Paul, there wouldn’t be any ice here.”
“Don’t apologize,” said Ginny. “You did what you had to do to protect yourself.”
“I could have done a lot of different things,” she said. The ice was beginning to melt away under their onslaught, water running past them toward the front of campus. “I could have tried to make a stone wall or something. I could have set his hair on fire. I could have just tried to knock him down, because Edie was calling security.”
“You did the first thing that came to you, and it worked. It saved your life, or at least most of your Sight.” Ginny shook her head. “We’ll either find it or we won’t. It’s not your fault either way.”
“Oh!” said Roe after a moment. She let her fire die away and lifted up something pointed, brownish, and as long as her hand. “I think I found it.”