Nilien bit her lip. She looked down at Ember, who turned to look at her. “A tracking mark? So whoever put it on me, no matter where I am, they can find me?”

“That’s the idea. Sometimes students do things like that as a prank, dear. It’s probably nothing to worry about.”

“Nothing,” Nilien repeated numbly.

You do not think it is nothing, do you? Ember’s ears raked back.

“No, I —” she turned to look at Professor Vaudelle. “Could it be, I mean, might it have been done by the assassin, professor?”

“I’m sorry? The what?” The professor stared at her. “I assure you, dear, whatever stories your fellow students have been filling your head with, Reinmonte does not have assassins.”

Nobody’s trying to assassinate the school, Ember pointed out.

Didn’t she know? Nilien twisted further around in the chair, one hand on Ember, until she could look straight up at the professor. This left her half-kneeling on the plush chair. “Professor Vaudelle…” How was she supposed to tell her?

“Yes, dear? Oh, here, sit down properly and I’ll come back around. Is there someone you think may be pulling an unkind prank on you? I know it must be hard, being a Wild Rune and coming into school late as you did.”

Nilien turned back around as Professor Vaudelle took her seat again; on her lap, Ember rearranged itself until it was looking straight at the professor. “It’s not that, it’s more that — well, I was told someone tried to kill me. I don’t remember, but that’s how I ended up with Ember, as far as I know. I thought — well, I thought someone would have told people,” she admitted in a small voice.

“Oh. Oh my. Someone tried to — to kill you? And you don’t know who, of course not. Not if you don’t remember it. Oh.” The professor furrowed her brow and stared at Nilien’s midriff. “Now that does add another aspect to this, indeed. Well, yes. The mark would allow whoever placed it on you to know where you were. It’s not horribly strong, which means they might have planned on being in the school, which,” she grimaced, “makes me quite unhappy. Now, let me see. I can remove that mark, but I would suggest you get in the habit of checking for such, especially if you plan on wandering the hallways too much.”

“But how could it have gotten there in the first place?”

“Oh, well, that’s not all that hard. As I said, students do it for pranks sometimes. Sometimes they do so with Professor Chevlin; he’s so bad at being on time to class, they say, that they just want to know how long they have until he shows up.” She spread out her fingers, steepling the tips against each other. “Now. Let’s get that pesky tracker off of you, and then we’ll walk through checking for such things a couple times before I send you on your way.”

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