Nilien looked between her friends, then down at Ember, who stretched in what she thought was probably the fox equivalent of a shrug. Certainly the familiar didn’t “say” anything useful.

“I… I’ve heard of a couple different things,” she offered cautiously. “I read about one of them in a book…” She sounded like Riva, didn’t she? Well it wasn’t like other people didn’t read! “It would be hard to do, but it’s a bucket of paint or water balanced over a door, so that when they go through the door, they get drenched.”

“The hard part would be why you were in the room, and finding a room nobody else was going to go into,” Riva mused. “We don’t want to accidentally drench a teacher, for example, or someone’s familiar.”

I do not want to be drenched, Ember agreed. And paint seems a little extreme if all they were doing was tracking you.

“Maybe I really should just get Professor Vaudelle to remove the spell,” Nilien sighed. “It would be easier in the long run.”

“Until the next one,” Lorque pointed out. “This is two in one day. You don’t want to have to keep running back down to the offices every day, do you?”

“We should get her attention with a return prank,” Riva agreed. “That’ll let her know we’re on to her, and then maybe she’ll leave you alone and go on to easier targets.”

“But if we can’t think of anything, then we’re just leading her out into some random place in the school for no reason. That’s not a prank, that’s just asking to cause trouble.” Nilien frowned. “I don’t mind being bait if we’re actually going to do something… hrrm.” She looked down at Ember.

What? Its ears raked back.

“Not you,” she reassured it. “I’m just thinking. There was one time, back in school. Someone was giving one of my old friends trouble, and so we — well, they, I acted as lookout — put crickets in her bed.”

Lorque giggled. “We could do that. I know where we can find some, and then if you lure her out, we can sneak into her room and do that while she’s chasing you down.”

“I’d have to get really ‘lost,’ then,” Nilien mused, “because we wouldn’t want her coming back too soon. I think it could work… as long as it’s really her, and as long as she takes the bait.”

It’s her. Ember gave her a pointed look. I am not wrong about these things.

“Then I guess it’s a plan.”


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