EPISODE 5

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Eight adults crammed around Rhian in the Head Mistress' office.

"Tell us again how you got outside." Mr. Jones, the crafting instructor, squinted his rabbit-like eyes.

Rhian sighed. She'd been questioned so long her pyjamas had begun to dry. "There was a paper stuck to the door, it had a word on it."

"What did it say?" Mr. Jones continued.

"I don't know, like I've explained, it was in Welsh."

Ms. Rhys, the Welsh language teacher, clicked her tongue. "But you knew enough Welsh to identify the creature as a golem?"

"I told Rhian what to say." Mrs Mackerel moved from her standing spot by the door and rested her hand on the back of Rhian's chair. "Now I think we've gone through this enough. Let the poor girl wash up and get some rest."

Whispers passed between several members of staff.

The headmistress waited for silence to return before passing her verdict. "Very well, Apprentice. We'll send for you if there is more to discuss."

Rhian was followed by Mrs Mackerel out of the stuffy room. The stone floor was cool under one foot and crunchy under another.

"About tomorrow's... well today's exam." Mrs Mackerel covered a yawn. "There's no need to attend. I'm awarding you a score of eighty."

"An eighty, Mrs?"

"You're welcome to take the exam if you think you can do better on no sleep."

"No, no eighty is fine. More than fine. Thank you." The pair walked in step up the staircase.

"You know having an innate ability is more reason to study hard, not less. Don't waste your talent."

Rhian dug her hands into her coat. "Yes, you're right. sorry, Mrs Mackerel."

They finished up the rest of the steps in quiet until they reached the door to the student dorms.

"Mrs Mackerel, about the students we found... are they okay." Rhian squeezed her hands into fists. She'd not had an opportunity to check Gretchen over before being whisked away to the office. Mrs Mackerel however, had joined the interrogation late.

Her composition teacher shook her head. "I'm sorry, Rhian. Gretchen Wells should recover soon enough, but Afia Phillips remains in critical condition and the third, we were unable to identify."

"I see," said Rhian because she felt she should say something. The spider hadn't been real, so it wasn't eating them, golems don't eat. "What was it doing to them?"

Mrs Mackerel looked side to side. Her hesitation to answer made Rhian fear something unimaginable.

"Do not repeat this." Mrs Mackerel leaned over beside Rhian's ear. "The golem was siphoning their mana, stealing away their abilities. Be careful Miss Peregrine and get some rest."

Rhian nodded and entered the dorms in a daze. Dawn's light brightened the hall. She entered her room and threw her coat on the floor. Perhaps Katie Phan had the right of it. No education is worth all this, even a magical one.

She pulled out a towel from her dresser. A hot shower and some sleep, then she'd go check on her friends in the infirmary. She couldn't help but feel a spot of pride. It was touch and go, and incredibly foolish, but she'd saved them.

Rhian spotted a piece of folded parchment laid on her pillow. No one should have been in here. She picked it up and read.

"This is only the beginning. Now... cysgu."

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