4.5

Nilien stared down at Ember. “I’m sorry, you can what?

I can find the person that marked you, Ember repeated patiently. I got the spell’s spoor before the teacher removed it. It’s not difficult.

Nilien blinked at her familiar. “You can — I didn’t know you could do that!”

You didn’t ask. Ember yawned again and put its head down, tail over its nose.

Nilien looked up at Professor Vaudelle. “Ember says that it can find the person who put the tracking mark on me. I didn’t know familiars could do magic.”

You thought it was all for you? Ember opened one eye at Nilien. How selfish.

“All familiars can do magic, yes,” the Professor explained, “although it is very limited. Each familiar can do one specific thing. In Ember’s case, it appears that that is magic tracking, which could be very handy here indeed.”

“So — it has magic?” She glared at Ember. “Really, ‘I didn’t ask?’”

You didn’t ask, Ember repeated. And you have much to learn today. You didn’t need extra information.

“Oh… you!” She huffed out a frustrated breath. “So this is a common familiar ability?” She looked up at Professor Vaudelle.

“The ability? Not necessarily. But familiars having powers is.”

“I guess I probably missed that in a class I didn’t take,” she sighed. “How am I ever going to catch up?”

“With diligence and effort.” Professor Vaudelle’s smile was small and sad. “And with the help of any and all professors, as needed. Don’t feel too bad about Ember not telling you, dear. Candle-hopper didn’t tell me anything at all for months and months. And I’m not sure anyone could have anticipated that this skill of your familiar’s would have come in handy quite so soon. Besides.” She aimed a sharp look at Ember. “Maybe it’s worried its powers aren’t good enough.”

Ember lifted its head and stared at the professor, its ears back, its mouth open. Did she say I thought I wasn’t good enough?

Nilien managed to stifle her giggle enough to pat Ember’s head and reassure it. “I’m sure you misheard.”

I do not “mishear.” I have very good hearing.

“Of course you didn’t mishear.” Professor Vaudelle smirked at the fox. “And of course I can’t hear you. But your expression says it all, doesn’t it? So if you’re not worried about your power, maybe you should be a little more forthcoming, mmm?”

This woman is unbearable. Ember huffed audibly and hopped down onto the floor. Worried. Me! Of course I’m not worried. What would I be worried about? Worried! It turned to look at Nilien. Well? Are you coming or not? We’re going to go track down this magical-tracking-spell person of yours.

Nilien glanced at the professor just in time to catch a wide, amused smile on her face. “I’m coming.”

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