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Chatoyant College

Chapter 65: Lights

“Cold iron,” Leila breathed, staring at Corrie’s bracelets. “Like this stick.” Her head came up swiftly before Corrie could reply. Her green eyes bored into Corrie’s. “You created these as a weapon against me.”

Corrie swallowed. It was the truth, but she couldn’t say that. “We created them to protect ourselves. People keep attacking us—Edie and our other friends. Edie probably told you about Marlin?”

“Yes.” Leila made some gesture with the steel wire that made Tom jump back again. “But this wouldn’t be the first time you used iron to attack me.”

Chapter 64: In Danger

“Leila has a sister?” Dawn asked, startled.

“Oh, yes. They hate each other,” Tom said matter-of-factly. “Which is, I suppose, why Mardalan felt it necessary to torment those trees. She might be even a match for the dryad.”

“Mardalan?” Dawn glanced back at Corrie, who was hurrying to join them.

“She’s involved? That’s not good.” Corrie shook her head hard.

“Oh, you do know her?”

“She, um, kidnapped one of our friends. We got her back.”

Chapter 63: Entertainment

The campus seemed dark and forbidding as they walked through it, Dawn in the lead. “Tom was friends with my aunt when she went here for college,” she explained quietly. There didn’t seem to be anyone else up and about—certainly all the lights in the academic buildings were out, and those were the buildings they were walking among—but she still didn’t want to be overheard. She’d already told Naomi and Corrie a little about Tom, so this explanation was mostly for Troy’s benefit, but they all needed to know where they were going. “He seems trustworthy.

Chapter 62: The Banquet Hall

Mardalan let out a wrenching shriek and whirled around, clutching at the back of her neck as she did. But the wire had already fallen, though Edie couldn’t see where it was. There seemed to be a mist in front of her eyes. She clutched at the ground, dragging breath into her lungs. Had Leila made her stop talking again? She was breathing, but it seemed difficult. Everything seemed difficult.

Chapter 61: Lost Something

It was only moments before the door was opened and the little old faerie woman came out. Naomi gave a squeak of surprise. Dawn was just glad she was wearing something this time—a shapeless shift that might have once been somebody's undershirt, but fell nearly to the short faerie’s knees. She stared up at them, or at least Dawn thought she was staring; her huge eyes made it difficult to read her expression.

Before any of the humans could say anything, the faerie spoke, clutching at the edge of her door. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

Chapter 60: Mardalan

Leila squeezed Edith’s hand almost painfully hard as she whirled around to face her. “How do you know Mardalan?”

Edith shook her head, trying to clear it and figure out what the answer to Leila’s question was. “She was… in the woods? Oh! She kidnapped Annie. We went to rescue her.” She wanted to turn her face away, to ask Mardalan some questions, but her eyes seemed glued to Leila’s bright green ones. She hoped that looking into her eyes would at least convince Leila of her honesty. Why was she so upset about Edith and Mardalan having met?

Chapter 59: Seeking

“This is great!” Corrie agreed. Dawn looked around at her and Naomi, seeing that they were camouflaged in the same way. “We should be able to hide with no problem,” Corrie continued. “Have you done this kind of thing before?”

“Sort of,” he said. “Not out of the water. But it was the same magic.”

“And you’ll be able to take it off of us when we’re done?” Naomi asked, pulling one of her dreadlocks in front of her face to see how the camouflage covered them as well.

Chapter 58: Camouflage

Dawn led the way to Troy’s dorm room, diagonally across campus from Gilkey. (Sometimes it seemed like everything was across campus from Gilkey—everything except the threat of the faeries in the woods.) She knocked on his door, feeling slightly nervous. They hadn’t talked to Troy in some time; what if he thought they only went to him when they wanted something? Then again, she remembered, Corrie, Edie, and Annie had class with him. They probably talked to him every time. And he would want to help Edie, if he could.

Chapter 57: Back to the Trees

“Nothing’s going on,” Genesis said quickly. “Why would you think something was?”

“You’re both acting really weird,” Edie said. “I don’t think you’re telling me the truth. When I saw you I thought we would all help the trees together, but now I remember Leila said that she needed me specifically. Right, Leila?” She turned to her girlfriend, frowning and uncomfortable. “You said I had special…”

Chapter 56: Making Plans

“So it is the orchard,” Dawn said as soon as Edie had left. “That is where she and Leila have been going.”

“Oh yeah, that’s right,” said Corrie. “I meant to tell you before, but I guess I didn’t get a chance. Leila was waiting outside when we went with Charlie yesterday. She’d apparently been expecting Edie to go with her again last night, but Edie didn’t know about the plan. She could see Leila’s ears, though. I thought that make some progress in convincing her, but…”

“She’s still her girlfriend,” Dawn finished. “Yeah. Well, we still have no proof that Leila is hurting her, do we?”

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