“There is another reason why I'm here,” Gwendolyn said, setting aside the empty cup. Her placid smile did not fade, but the words were cutting. “You have destroyed a spirit of this forest, without prior authorization. As the witch assigned to Grimwood Forest, you must know it is your duty to assist and protect all things belonging to the forest. That includes ghosts.”
“Rosalba was attacking the villagers,” Toadmila answered. “And I'd like to know why I wasn't informed of her presence when I was assigned to this place.”
“We were afraid you'd run away,' she said. “She'd already killed at least one witch, the one we placed here two years ago. The one from last year disappeared without a trace. She's either been killed, or she has found a very clever way to defect. We thought you might do the same.”
“There is only one way for a witch to disappear without a trace,” Toadmila said stiffly, “and that's to stop using magic. Do you think that after so many years of studying, after so many years of being the best at every subject taught at the Academy, do you think that I could just give it all up and run?”
“We had to take every precaution,” Gwendolyn answered. “But I think now you understand why you were assigned to this place. We needed the very best witch to fight off that thing. We'd thought you'd only contain it, of course. We never thought you could destroy it. How did you destroy it, anyway?”
Gwendolyn leaned forward eagerly.
“With Lefroy's spell,” Toadmila said, trying not to show how much it annoyed her that she'd had to use a spell created by Augustus Lefroy.
Gwendolyn's eyes narrowed into a fond smile.
“Our Auggy,” she said. “Yes, we all have great hopes for that boy. And he has adjusted nicely to his assignment. Of course, he moves the wizard's tower every week. He says he wants a better view. Most wizards would just move their things from the West Tower to the East Tower or to the South Tower, but our Auggy just moves the whole tower wherever he pleases. Some say that he's showing off. And some say that the King will get tired of all this moving and will put an end to it. But it's been half a year, and the King doesn't seem to be complaining about it.”
“The King?” Toadmila asked, one eyebrow twitching in spite of her best intentions to stay calm.
“Of, haven't you heard? Auggy is the new Royal Adviser. The King requested him specifically. Well, he requested the best wizard of his year, of course, but we all know that could have only been Auggy.”
“But we were in the same year,” Toadmila protested. “And I was the best of the year.”
“Indeed you were,” Gwendolyn admitted. “And possibly the best witch of the past ten years. But the King requested a boy.”