“I know that the daemons ever seek to invade and influence our world,” said Claudia.

“Yes, but do you know that all too often that influence takes the form of, shall we say, tainted children?” Miss Tiberia said. “I presume that I need not go into further sordid detail.”

Claudia nodded. “No, Miss Tiberia,” she said.

“Good. Tainted girls are brought to us from all over the countryside, just as tainted boys are sent to our sister school at Illumoor. Our job is to see that the taint is extinguished.”

“You’ll pardon me for saying so,” said Claudia, with a nervous glance upward as her words echoed into the Gothic rafters of the ex-cathedral, “but how do we do that, and how do we know it’s done?”

Miss Tiberia harrumphed a bit. “It is intuitively obvious, is it not, that the daemons are reliant on lies and illusions in their dealings with mortals?”

“Yes, Miss Tiber.”

“Then it ought to be equally obvious that the girls in questions will be protected by the very same.” Miss Tiber reached into a pouch on her chatelaine belt and produced what appeared to be a set of reading spectacles. “But with the diopters, all becomes clear.”

She unclipped them and handed them to Claudia, who donned them. Suddenly, the scene before her was awash in a yellow glow; it took a moment’s adjustment to see that the glow was coming from the girls in their dormitories, perfect silhouettes visible even through walls and fading only with considerable distance.

“They…they are aglow!” Claudia whispered.

“Indeed so,” said Miss Tiberia. “They are aglow, each of them, with a daemonic taint from their ancestors’…intimate…dealings with the unholy. It is our charge, Miss Withers, to diminish this glow through discipline, rigorous virtue, and moral certitude.”

Claudia was still agog from the view before her. “So when a girl is no longer glowing, she will be released from St. Gaius’s?”

Miss Tiberia nodded. “Naturally. But if the glow remains, or strengthens, it is our duty to see that the taint is contained.”

“So the girls remain here?”

“That they do,” said Miss Tiberia. “Forever.”

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