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Interlude: Winter Break

Epilogue: Fire

The snake-woman’s body burned. Dead—truly dead—she was, and dead Mardalan intended to keep her.

She burned the body in a place out of the way, a place no one would stumble upon it. In the brightness of the early morning, her people slept; her most faithful servant kept watch on the two traitors in their cage. Mardalan did not wish for any of her people to see this. If they knew for certain that she was destroying her old enemies, they might turn on her, and that was exactly what she wanted to avoid.

Chapter 139: Packing Up

Friday, December 19

Chapter 138: Solutions

Thankfully, Professor Lal was still in that evening; she had mentioned in class that she would be extending her office hours in this last week before final exams in case anyone wanted to get in more supervised practice or borrow any materials for practicing on their own. When they got there, they found Kira looking through the Tarot decks to pick one to take with her.

“Hey, guys,” said Kira when she saw them. “Do you want to borrow Tarot decks too? I think I’ve decided which one I want. They’re all yours.”

Chapter 137: Paul

Wednesday, December 10

The next day, just as Corrie was about to go to history class, her phone rang. She wondered if it was Belinda—she hoped the werewolf girl hadn’t changed her mind about the music classes—but when she looked at the number, it wasn’t one she recognized. She answered the phone quickly, expecting it to be a telemarketer that she would get to hang up on before going to class. “Hello?”

The woman’s voice on the other end of the line was vaguely familiar. “Hello, am I speaking to Corrie Vine?”

Corrie swallowed, suddenly nervous. “Yes, this is she.”

Chapter 136: Magic Testing

They showed Derwen the fifth floor, pointing out where Roe lived with Talia, where Annie lived, and where Dawn and Naomi lived, and finally bringing her into their own dorm room. “Wow,” Derwen said, looking around. “I already feel more at home here than I do in my own dorm room, and I technically live there. You guys have such organic messes.”

Corrie laughed. “I don’t think my mess has ever been complimented before.”

“Sorry,” said Edie. “I keep meaning to get things organized so they’re easier to pack when we go home next week for winter break, but I haven’t had the time.”

Chapter 135: Derwen

Corrie watched Belinda go happily. She felt like she’d really made an improvement in the world, making a bargain with Mardalan so they got all their friends back and getting the faeries some musical education to boot. Of course, now she should probably do some homework, but she had time yet. “Want to stop by and visit Ever on our way back?” she asked Edie.

“Sure, sounds great,” said Edie. “Professor Lal, you want to come along?”

“That’s quite all right,” said the professor. “I have my own work to do. I’ll see you in the morning, Corrie.”

Chapter 134: Not Alarming

“Whew!” said Belinda as soon as they stepped out of the woods and back onto campus. “That was completely crazy. Thanks for coming with me, everyone. I would have totally freaked out if you hadn’t been there.”

“Really?” said Corrie, surprised. “You seemed to be handling it well. I mean, you made faces sometimes, but you stood up to them. I would have been too scared to do that.”

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Chapter 133: Puppetry

“I’m not going to be your damn musician,” said Feloc. “Kill me if you will. But I won’t stand for this. I am fae, not human. I won’t—won’t be your plaything.”

“Oh, won’t you?” said Mardalan, her lips curving into a decidedly frightening smile. “Well, not mine, perhaps. Let me see.” She beckoned to Belinda. “Come here, werewolf girl.”

Belinda sighed and stayed where she was. “I have a name.”

“You’ll have to get used to living without one,” said Mardalan. “We use them as little as possible, and you are the only werewolf likely to be among us.”

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