“A tour?” That had been on the agenda, hadn’t it been? “Could we rest for a minute, first? I know sitting on a train isn’t that exhausting, but I would like to sit on something not moving for a moment.” Nilien sat down on the edge of her bed. “What is it like here?”

“Well, if I gave you a tour…” Lorque trailed off, grinning. “When I give you the tour, you’ll see. It’s easy to get lost, but I can help you find your classrooms, and once you’ve gotten yourself settled, it all makes sense. The people are mostly nice. Sometimes someone gets a little too wrapped up with their familiar and forgets to talk to other people for a little while, but more or less everyone’s friendly.”

“What about the classes?” The fox — Ember — slunk up on the bed next to her, so Nilien petted it between the ears. “I’ve heard they’re really hard.”

“Oh, well, of course, they can be sometimes.” Lorque’s shrug turned into a laugh as River tried to sit in her lap. “And some of the teachers can be a little impatient. But you were at a boarding school before, right? It’s probably quite a lot like that — only with Runes.”

“I’ve never met a Rune before,” Nilien admitted.

“Well, now you’ve met two, Headmistress Draufer and me. And yourself, if that counts. But you’ll meet plenty more once we start wandering around.” Lorque’s grin was shameless. “So, as I said: a pretty normal school. The classes are only hard if you don’t pay attention. The food is good; River likes the food they have for familiars, too. And, of course, you’ll get to learn all about being a Rune, which is not only the best part but the whole point.” Lorque looked suddenly thoughtful. “You’re going to get attention, you know. Being a Wild Rune. You’ll probably have to answer the same questions a few times.”

“Oh, good.” Nilien wondered if she could just have a couple cards printed up. No, that wouldn’t be polite nor friendly. “Maybe I should rehearse my answers.”

Lorque bounced back to her feet, shifting River to the side of the bed as she did so. “No time like the present! Let’s go out and look around, and you can practice on the people we encounter, one at a time. What do you want to see first?”

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