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Chatoyant College

The Ballad of Troy & Roe, Part 1

It was a beautiful day—cold, but it was November, after all. At least it gave Roe an excuse to wear her nice velvet jacket. Her mother hadn’t wanted her to bring it, but Roe had hoped she would have an excuse to dress up a little, and now she did. She had a black dress on underneath the jacket, with a silver necklace and stockings that didn’t do much to cut the chilly breeze, but at least looked nice. She didn’t know where they were going, but he was a prince, right? And at least whatever happened, she wouldn’t be underdressed. Talia had proclaimed that she looked gorgeous.

Chapter 60: Power

Monday, November 3

“Here they are,” said Corrie. “My poster, Annie’s poster, and Edie’s bag. We decided not to worry about the voodoo dolls, but you can have them, too, if you want.” She, Dawn, and Roe were all standing in front of Professor Lal’s desk after class had ended. Energy was still racing through her from the magic practice they had done, and her veins felt like they were tingling.

Chapter 59: Friends

Edie ran down the stairs as fast as she could without fear of tripping down them. When she threw open the front door to the dorm, Leila was standing right there with the umbrella. The rain only dripped on Edie’s head a tiny bit between the door and the umbrella. She wrapped her arm tightly around Leila’s waist and leaned into her, smiling. “There you are, dearest,” Leila said before Edie could even greet her, wrapping the arm that wasn’t holding the umbrella around Edie’s shoulders. “Where have you been all day?”

Chapter 58: Gone or Invisible

“So,” Brandon said, “if you don’t have any more questions, I think it’s time for me to be on my way. It’s late.”

“Wait,” said Corrie. “Do you know where Professor Lal goes when she’s not on campus?”

Brandon guffawed, startling Edie and making her cringe back. He laughed for a while longer, then shook his head. “Oh, no way am I telling you that. Lal is a scary bitch and if she didn’t tell you, she didn’t want you to know. No, I like my skin in one piece, thanks.”

“Fair enough,” said Dawn. “Do you know Tom, just out of curiosity?”

Chapter 57: Conference

There wasn’t much time to react. They all bolted toward Gilkey. Edie was always glad it was the closest dorm building to the western woods, but she was even more glad today. And she was glad to feel Corrie’s hand grab her and help her along—she was already a little tired and out of breath from her quick walk through the woods, and she wasn’t used to running.

Chapter 56: Stormy Weather

Edie held her breath until they had passed the last of the tables and were in the small clearing before the forest started up thickly again. The same hollow-faced woman who had greeted them was walking slowly around the trees, perhaps pacing the perimeter. She smiled at them, a creepy, death-like smile, but didn’t say anything. Brandon strode confidently directly into what, to Edie’s eyes, were trees too thick to let anyone pass.

“Wait, just a second,” Dawn called after him. “Uh, you guys still can’t see the path, can you?”

Edie shook her head. “Just the trees.”

Chapter 55: The Rat-Faced Spoke a Word

Edie didn’t realize Corrie had stopped until she’d gotten a couple of steps past her. Then she stopped, realizing she couldn’t feel the presence at her side anywhere, and turned. There was Corrie, right behind her, staring down at a table. The little man behind it, who had a long rat’s face, beady eyes, and a slinky, furred tail he kept stroking, was keeping up some kind of chatter. He was talking about the jewelry laid out on his table. It was sparkly and interesting, but it didn’t seem worth stopping for, not after Professor Lal’s warning. “Corrie,” she called.

Chapter 54: Come Buy

“But then why did you go?” Corrie protested, still finding it difficult to believe that Professor Lal was being entirely above-board and honest.

“For the food—which is not harmful to me, or any other faerie—and the company other than the hosts. It’s simply a social event, and there is no need for me to list the specific faeries I wished to see at the ball. Have you never attended a party with people you disliked, in order to see the people you did like?” Professor Lal raised her eyebrows at Corrie.

Corrie nodded reluctantly. “I guess I have.”

Chapter 53: Rules

“Any other questions?” Professor Lal asked, taking a nibble of her apple. “Since I don’t have anywhere to be right now, I may as well take as much time as I can. Of course, I might refuse to answer some of your questions. You girls don’t need to know absolutely everything.” She smirked. “But I do want to keep you safe.”

Chapter 52: Questions

“So do you think we should avoid buying anything on campus?” Dawn asked.

Professor Lal gestured as though she was waving away their concerns. “Most of it should be harmless. I only want to study the posters because it sounds as though they are affecting your lives in unpleasant ways. The other things you’ve bought are not so bothersome, are they?”

“The bag is okay but only because I tested it first,” said Edie. “I bought it as a knitting project bag, but I can’t use it unless I want whatever’s inside to turn into green cotton.”

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