So we’re lost. Ember twisted around to look at Nilien. We are lost and do not know where we are.

“Those two things are functionally the same,” Nilien pointed out. “Well…” She glanced down the stairs thoughtfully. “Let’s keep going. I don’t think back that way is the way to our room, at least.”

It has to go somewhere, one hopes. Ember settled back down into what was presumably a comfortable position, and Nilien, who was starting to regret picking the fox up in the first place, headed right down the hallway.

The doors here were further apart, but they were all closed as well. Maybe they were more dormitories? But Nilien didn’t hear any noise coming from them. Teacher’s offices? One door was carved intricately and so deeply that the door itself had to be as thick as Nilien’s hand was wide. Another one, quite a bit further down, was done all in a marquetry copy of a famous painting, each bit picked out in another color and grain of wood.

She was paying more attention to the hall now, but there didn’t seem to be any turns worth taking: two short offshoots of the hallway, both of which ended in a narrow window very quickly; one stairway downwards that looked narrow, treacherous, and unused, and was close off with a single rope; closed door after closed door.

Finally she found a stairway wending upwards that looked promising, safe, and interesting. Up didn’t seem like the best idea, not with Ember leaning on her shoulder and the books getting heavier and heavier, but it was better than walking along the same hallway for eternity.

“You’re going to walk for a bit,” she told Ember.

If I must, I suppose, it agreed, and hopped down with better grace than it was playing at. Up all those stairs?

“Up all these stairs.” She started walking, pretending she wasn’t listening for Ember’s footsteps behind her.

She didn’t have to listen for long; the fox bounded up in front of her and led the way, turning once to grin at her.

The stairs wound upwards; after a flight, Nilien could hear voices from further upwards. She hesitated; did she really want to deal with more people today?

Ember answered the question for her, bounding up the stairs. Nilien hurried, not wanting anyone to think her familiar was running away from her.

She came up short a couple steps behind Ember, right inside the entry to a common-room area. There were three students there, one with a pigeon the same fuchsia as his trousers and necktie, one with a maroon falcon, and one wearing purple trousers with no familiar in sight.

“Ah, hello.” Nilien smiled cautiously at them. “I’m Nilien; I’m the new student, and this is Ember. And we seem to be lost.”

“Hi, Nilien. Hello, Ember.” The boy with the fuchsia pigeon stepped forward. “I’m Benoir, and this is Caprice.” He gestured at the bird on his shoulder. “Do you want someone to walk you back to your room? Or we could show you around here first, if you’d like?”

3 thoughts on “2.7

  1. Hmmmm. Which of the other two is Caprice? Why doesn’t Benoir introduce the third? Is the third one not there? Invisible to the others? And where is Purple-trousers’ familar?

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