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One by one, five figures appeared in Angelica’s room. They lit special lights on their wands and began searching.

“She’s awake,” said Hardy Vyner, peering at Angelica, whose eyes were glittering meanly.

“Darn right,” said Angelica, flicking her wand. Vyner fell back and was unconscious when she hit Plymouth Class and fell to the floor.

“Crap, what’s this?” said Fortis Hook, a second year.

“That’s me,” said Rachel Rabat. They locked in magic combat. A third year girl named Genevieve Rome joined Hook, and Rachel, in her nightie, was waving her yellow-brown tiger striped maple wand back and forth in a nice pattern, managing to block each burst of attack. But she couldn’t attack back, and meanwhile another third year girl attacked Angelica. It was a big redhead named Elizabeth McNing, and she had a lot of magical muscle. She raised her wand to swing a nasty curve of force at Angelica.

“Ag sek min,” said Angelica.

The big redhead immediately failed to resist the spell, and fell to the floor without ado. The landing woke her up, but she fell asleep again immediately. By that time, Fortis Hook had Angelica’s wand in his back.

“Looking for something, Fortis?”

“Sek nyk min,” came a girl’s voice from the back of the room. Angelica turned to throw her power at Emma Curie, but found herself held in place as with supple plastic. She struggled for a few seconds, trying to throw spells, but she gave up just as the supple plastic was vanishing and she was free.

The doorway was open. Mistress Ash stood there, Ahir Shaheen next to her, both with their wands out. Gen Rome was just vanishing, but Fortis Hook had just succumbed to direct attack by the two women in the door. He fell to the floor, dozing, his wand in his hand.

“Kick the wand from him,” Ash commanded. Angelica did as she was told.

The sleeping McNing was just vanishing as well, evaporating over a second or two. Vyner was already gone.

“Darn it,” said Angelica.

“Did they get anything?” asked Ash.

“No, no,” said Angelica. She looked at Rachel, who reached into her underpants, then nodded. “It’s safe. Well, we got Fortis anyway. He’ll have trouble getting off the hook.” She squatted by him. “Magic combat ring. You guys want it?”

Ash walked briskly over. “I’ll take that,” she said. “He was, after all, Ahir’s kill.”

“You didn’t—?” asked Tom, coming up. Cloudius and Daphne were behind them; Arnulf was behind Ash on the right.

“No, Mister Hexane,” said Ash, “he merely sleeps. Well, sleep may not be the right term. At any rate, he is unconscious.” She took the ring and handed it to Ahir Shaheen.

“But Mistress,” said Ahir.

“This is not because you are poorly equipped and you need it. No, this is more like giving your slugger the magic bat. You imagine what he can do with it.”

“Well,” said Arnulf, “I suppose the death rate would go up.”

“Miss Shaheen,” said Ash, “you are under instructions not to kill anyone.”

“Yes, Mistress,” said Ahir.

“All right. Anything else?”

“Money?” asked Angelica.

“We leave them their money,” said Ash impatiently. “Anything else with a magical charge?”

“His wand’s crap,” said Ange. “Ma’am.”

“You may call things crap if they are crap,” said Ash, kneeling across Fortis Hook from Angelica. “And this one is crap. We should return it to the bin.”

She stood up. Angelica was still patting down the sleeper, as best she could while maintaining decorum. Rachel asked, “Is he going to be expelled?”

“It’s worth a try,” said Ash. She looked around at Rachel and and Ahir and Angelica. then out at the others in the hall. “Listen. We are going to have to do something about security.”

“Hey,” said Arnulf, sidling past Tom Hexane into the room.“Nice statuary.”

They all looked where he was looking, in the dim back corner of Angelica’s room. There stood a lovely life size replica of Emma Curie, rendered in yellow wax.

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