6 | A Ray of Light

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A line of prefects barred the way to the Hive. Evanna stopped in her tracks and stared.

The central road cleaved the greenery, orbited the hexagonal fountain and led right up to the terraced steps where their morose forms stood. Students queued up, opening their bags for inspection. Holy cowsies, what the freaking hell.

Evanna joined the queue that led up to a small prefect, who looked less sullen than the others.

When she held out her open backpack, the prefect peered in and checked the contents in a bored, perfunctory manner.

"Your hands," the prefect said tonelessly.


"Hold out your hands."

Evanna complied, feeling ridiculous.

The prefect pulled out scissors from her pocket and handed it to her. "Trim your nails."

An impatient noise emanated from the person behind her. She took the scissors and snipped away the thin sliver of white on her nails.

When she extended her hands again for inspection, the prefect nodded once, retrieved the scissors and went back to her tedious task.

Evanna trudged up to her homeroom, mulling over what just transpired. An air of impending danger hovered in the air. The rules weren't just for show. The school obviously demanded compliance, and the prefects were the enforcers. She gulped.

Marilda materialized at her locker, fascination written over her face. "So you just walked right up to them and said hi? You certainly have nerve—when you're new too."

"What? Oh." Her brain pulled up the embarrassing encounter with Junho and Max the day before. "I didn't realize who they were! Maybe I mistook Junho for someone else. I mean, I did mistake him for this guy I know, and I was super surprised to run into him here. And it was only after I talked to them that I realized it wasn't him..."

"Okay..." Marilda said, though it was hard to tell if she bought it or not.

"How did you find out about this again?"

"Oh, I know what goes on around here."

Evanna squirmed. So the news has spread? Thank heavens no one saw what happened in the music room with the other two members of Obsidian. Why do you always make a mess of things, Ev?

"Why are they not in this class?" Evanna asked in an attempt to divert the conversation. "They're in our house, right?"

"They're in the other homeroom," she replied matter-of-factly. "There are eight A Level homerooms—two for each house."


After Inoue finished taking attendance, Marilda drifted off to literature class. Anukie, who also wandered out, had stopped trying to talk to Evanna, though she threw occasional glances at her.

Physics dragged on for two periods while Evanna kept checking the time. Her mind toyed with the idea of faking an illness to skip school in order to devote her energies to finding Ed Morken. With the dawn of the new day, she had mustered up fierce determination to figure out what happened.

Her new timetable revealed that next up was double-period Literature—to be held in a classroom at the white end of the corridor. The abode of the Gryphons.

When she entered the room, she was struck by the blinding brightness. Whites and off-whites hailed her wherever she looked, amplifying the natural light pouring in from the large lattice windows. Paintings of bronze gryphons popped out from the walls bleached of color.

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