3.3

Nilien looked at her food, then back to Lorque. “You can— well, I believe you, but just by looking?” She tasted her food — not the beans, taking Lorque’s warning to heart. It tasted the same as it had a moment ago. She took another bite and gave it some consideration. “So you can look at any food and tell if it’s poisoned?”

“Yep.” Lorque grinned at her. “Neat, isn’t it? And it’s a handy skill to have, living with you.”

“You make it sound like she’s going to poison your food,” Riva complained. Slyly, and in a tone Nilien thought was teasing, she asked, “are you?”

“Of course not.” Nilien tried to sound like she was taking it as a joke. Riva didn’t seem all that bad, and she didn’t want to discourage her if she was trying to be friendly. “She’s a good roommate. Besides, I’m not the sort of person who goes around poisoning people.”

“Just the sort that goes around being poisoned,” Lorque pointed out, far too cheerfully.

“That was only once! And,” Nilien trailed off, not wanting to admit she still had no memory of the event. “Anyway, it does seem like a nice skill to have, especially if someone might try again. I mean…” She looked down at her plate. “I don’t know why anyone would try to kill me. I’m not anyone important.”

“So it’s a total mystery?” Augustin leaned forward over the table. “That’s fascinating. Someone tried to kill you, you nearly died, and you have no idea why? I can’t even imagine! And you get to be a Wild Rune!”

Nilien smoothed her hands over her skirt. Augustin sounded so excited about the whole thing. He was staring at her and grinning, like she’d just had a meeting with the Emperor. But the more he talked about it, the more it made her stomach sink. “I don’t know why they tried to kill me,” she repeated. “I don’t have any idea. And I don’t know if they’ll try again.” Suddenly, she felt very obvious and easy to find in her bright red skirt and tie. “How did you do it?” she asked Lorque. “How did you test for poison?”

“Not everyone can do everything equally well,” Lorque warned her. “You won’t know if you can do it well until you try a few times. But mostly, well. You look at it and you concentrate your magic, so you’re focusing on seeing a thing. Poison, in this case.”

“It all sounds so… simple.” Nilien looked at her food. Would she be able to sense poison? Could she risk her life on her abilities with this new magic?

“It sounds simple until you’re doing it,” Lorque assured her. “And then there’s still just a few steps, but it feels a lot different. You’ll get there! It’s almost time for magic classes.”

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