Nilien looked down at Ember, then back at the room. The green-skirted one was obvious, right in the middle of the group.
Well, Professor Vaudelle had only said to come back if it was an adult. These were clearly all students. Nilien stepped into the room, Ember on her heels.
“Excuse me?” It took no acting ability to sound lost and nervous. “I’m sorry, but I’m lost.”
“Lost?” The one in a chocolate-brown skirt and tie turned around to stare at Nilien. She — no, he, Nilien thought — raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “Really?”
“Really. I’m sorry,” she repeated. “My familiar decided it wanted to wander off, and by the time I found it—” She scooped up Ember and ignored the imprecations it was muttering in her mind. “Well, I don’t know how I got here and I don’t know how to get back. I’m Nilien,” she offered. “And this is Ember.”
The one in green turned around and looked them over, along with a boy in mustard-yellow. “Hi, Nilien.” He, at least, gave her a smile. “So you got turned around?”
“I don’t see how,” the brown-skirted boy scoffed. “I mean, everything’s nice straight hallways. And it’s not like she’s new.”
“Well, yeah. Come on, Tarin, she’s the Wild Rune.” The one in mustard rolled his eyes. “Red skirt, red fox — right?”
Nilien cleared her throat. “That’s right, yes. I’m, ah. I’m new. And I’m a Wild Rune.”
“No wonder you got lost.” He didn’t quite sound sympathetic, but at least he wasn’t blaming her. “I’m Chason, by the way, and these are Tarin and Heldira. Is this your first day?”
“Yes.” Nilien looked down at Ember uncertainly. The fox, in turn, was still giving her a dirty look. “Well, you didn’t have to get us lost,” she muttered, loud enough to be heard. It did not improve Ember’s expression, but it did get Heldira to laugh at her.
“Oh, come on, you’ve at least got to learn to control your familiar. That’s just one of the basics of being a Rune.”
“Well,” Nilien retorted, “when I’ve been a Rune for more than three days, maybe I can pick that up.” She glared at Ember, even though it really wasn’t the fox’s fault.
Chason snorted. “She’s got you there, Heldira. Besides, I remember what your little Nephrite was like when you first got her. It’s not like you can talk about bratty familiars or anything.”
“Like yours was any better! Maple-leaf there nearly took my hand off once! And Tarin’s familiar just glared at everyone every time we went out to the stable.”
“See, though? That’s what I mean. Give her a little slack.” Chason stood up. “Come on, I’ll get you back to your rooms.”
♪Poll time poll time poll time poll time poooolll tiiiiiiime♪
— MARKED (@MarkedSerial) March 1, 2017