Diego did know of the Hollow Place, a secret room in the Scholomance where, it was said, a pool had been filled with enchanted water. To gaze into the water was to gaze into your own soul: to see all the evil you had ever done, intentionally or otherwise.
They turned a corner and encountered a blaze of light. It was Rayan, standing in the middle of a long corridor, wearing a grim expression. He had a massive sword strapped to his back.
“They dragged him into the Hollow Place,” he said. “I couldn’t follow them—I don’t have my stele on me. Do either of you?”
“I do,” said Diego, and they jogged down a short, sloping hall to a set of closed doors. Loud giggles spilled out from inside the room.
Diego scrawled a quick Open rune on the door. It wrenched open with a puff of rust and they charged inside.
The Hollow Place was a wide space with granite floors, clear of any furniture. The walls were rough rock, glittering with mica. In the center of the room was a tile-lined pool with water so clear and clean it reflected like a mirror. Gold metal lettering deco- rated the floor: And God split open the hollow place, and water came out from it.
“Well, thank the Angel,” drawled Manuel, who was leaning against a far wall in a pose of total disinterest. “Look who’s here to save us all.”
Zara giggled. She was surrounded by a group of other Cohort members—among them Diego recognized several Scholomance students and their family members. Mallory Bridgestock and Milo Coldridge. Anush Joshi, Divya’s cousin. Several Centurions were there too: Timothy Rockford, Samantha Larkspear, and Jessica Beausejours were standing around smirking while Anush dragged Kieran toward the pool in the center of the room. Kieran was jerking and twisting in his grip; there was blood on his face, his shirt.
“It’s a fair punishment for the princeling, don’t you think?” said Zara. “If you look or swim in the water of the pool, you feel the pain you’ve inflicted on others. So if he’s innocent, it should be just fine for him.”
“No one is that innocent,” said Rayan. “The pool is to be used sparingly, to allow students to seek for truth within themselves. Not as a torture device.”
“What an interesting thought, Rayan,” said Manuel. “Thank you for sharing. But I don’t see any of the teachers running in here to stop us, do you?”
I swore I would protect Kieran. Diego reached for his ax, only to realize it wasn’t there. He saw Zara’s eyes narrow and turned; Divya had yanked Rayan’s sword from its scabbard and was pointing it at the Cohort.
“Enough,” Divya said. “Stop it, all of you. And I’m especially ashamed of you, Anush,” she added, shooting her cousin a dark look. “You know what it’s like to be treated unfairly. When your mother finds out . . .”
Anush let Kieran go with a shove. He landed at the edge of the pool with a grunt of agony. Move away from the water, Diego thought, but Kieran was clearly wounded; he knelt in place, dazed and gasping.
“We’re just having a little fun,” protested Anush.
“What are you going to do, Divya, attack us?” said Samantha. “Just for having a little fun?”
“He’s bleeding,” said Diego. “That’s more than just ‘a little fun.’ And what happens if you kill him? Do you really want to deal with the consequences? He’s the son of the Unseelie King.”
There was a rumble of discontent among the Cohort. Clearly they’d never thought about that.
“Fine, fine,” said Zara. “Be killjoys. But I knew he was here, hiding out in your room,” she said to Diego. “I saw a hollowed acorn on your floor. So this is your fault. If you hadn’t brought him here, none of this would have happened.”
“Give it a rest, Zara,” said Divya, still holding the sword levelly. “Diego, go get Kieran.”
Diego started across the room, just as Manuel spoke. “Why don’t you look in the water yourself, Rocio Rosales?” he said. “If you think your soul is so clean. It should be painless for you.”
“Cállate la pinche boca,” Diego snapped, nearly at Kieran’s side; the faerie prince was coughing, blood on his lips. He’d started to pull himself upright when Manuel moved with the speed of a snake: Planting a boot in Kieran’s back, he kicked him into the water.