“Now Nilien,” Professor Vaudelle frowned, “if there really is someone here who wants to harm you, you should let the adults handle it. We don’t want you to be hurt; Reinmonte is meant to be a safe place to learn, not a place to get into more danger.”

“I’ll be all right, professor.” Feeling a little guilty, Nilien added on a fib, “besides, it’s probably just another student pulling a prank, right? If I bring in a teacher for something like that, it will only make it worse.”

“You can go look,” the professor relented, “but if it turns out that it’s not another student, do come find me or one of the other teachers. Don’t try to take on another adult by yourself. Understand?”

“Yes, professor. I’ll be careful.”

Are you coming or not? Ember was standing by the door, looking impatiently between the door and Nilien.

“I’m coming. Thank you for all your help, Professor. I really appreciate it.” She followed Ember before it could run off without her — and before the professor could tell her not to go.

You’d think you didn’t want to find this person, the way you were dawdling, Ember complained, as it trotted down the hallway. They were going further away from the classrooms, deeper into places she hadn’t been before.

“I don’t want to get in trouble, either,” she countered. “I mean, I just got here. I don’t want the professors annoyed at me because I went running off on my own.”

You’re not on your own. You’re with me. Now shush. We want to sneak up on them so they don’t know we’re tracking them.

“All…” She dropped her voice to a whisper. “All right.”

Ember’s route took them around the corner and down a short set of steps. Nilien could hear people talking nearby, but so far, she saw nobody. They passed what looked like a small study room with nobody in it and a supply closet left open. “Are you sure…”


Nilien fell quiet. Lorque was going to be looking for her and she was nowhere near the classrooms. And Ember was leading her further into the school. It was going to be hard not to get in trouble this time — and what if it really was the assassin?

There. The fox stopped just before another doorway. In there.

Nilien peeked in. There were a few students in the room, talking in a group. She looked down at Ember.

Them, in the green skirt. That’s where the magic came from.

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