“I don’t remember all of it,” Nilien admitted. Lorque was watching her and not the path in front of them, but it didn’t seem to be endangering her at all. “I woke up in the infirmary, and the fox was there with me.”

You wanted to live, the fox reminded her.

Nilien smiled wanly at her familiar. “I wanted to live, the fox says, and then it was there. I remember a voice in the darkness, and then there was some bright light.”

And you…

“The fox thinks the ‘I wanted to live’ was the important part. It says it over and over again,” Nilien interrupted.

“We have really got to get you a name for it.” Lorque made a face at the fox. “Something nice and easy to say, preferably, since you obviously got a talkative familiar.”

“River isn’t?” They were nearly to an arched door off to one side of the building, and Nilien hoped they didn’t have to far to go once they got inside. The trunk was getting heavy.

“River talks, of course, but not nearly as much as your fox seems to. Then again, if you get a reputation for listening to your fox a lot, you can get away with making strange faces and just blame it on your familiar.”

River pushed the heavy wooden door open with its nose and leaned against it, holding it for them. Lorque shifted so she was backing into the building. “So tell me more. What happened? All the details.”

“I, well.” Nilien frowned. “I think someone tried to kill me, but the memories are coming back very slowly.” Truth be told, she wasn’t sure the memories were ever going to come back. “I woke up feeling sore all over. With the fox.”

“Someone tried to kill you? You didn’t just slip and hit your head on a brick or something? Someone honest-to-goodness was trying to assassinate you?” Lorque had stopped in the doorway and was staring at Nilien.

“Are we almost there?” Nilien hunched her shoulders as much as she could while carrying her luggage. “This is heavier than it was when I packed it.”

“Oh, just a few rooms down.” It was enough to get Lorque moving again. “But… seriously?”

“That’s what they told me. Someone tried to poison me, I heard.”

“But why?”

“I don’t know,” Nilien confessed. “I can’t think of a single reason anyone would want me dead.”

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