5.13

Nilien slipped carefully off the table, testing her weight on her feet. The pain had settled in to a very dull ache that could be ignored with impunity.

“Be careful on that ankle,” Dr. Alaroq reiterated, “and come back if you feel any new symptoms. In the meantime, do try to stick to a walk when wandering places you’re not supposed to be.”

“Yes, Doctor.” Nilien smiled at the doctor and then looked down at Ember. “Where’s Lorque?”

Back in the room, being irritated about crickets. She does not like crickets. Ember licked its lips again.

“Well, I suppose we should’ve come up with something else then. Thank you, Doctor.” She scooped Ember up and began walking carefully back towards her room.

“They didn’t get caught?” she whispered to Ember, when they were out of earshot of the doctor’s office.

No. They did not get to a situation where they would get caught. They are irked and want to know what happened.

“I don’t blame them! Thank you for warning them.” She shifted her hands enough to pet the top of Ember’s head.

There were crickets. Ember seemed to think that was thanks enough.

“So you’ve said.” The halls back were getting easier and easier to navigate, and her ankle seemed to be doing decently at holding her weight. It still throbbed occasionally, but the pain seemed to be subsiding.

There should be crickets more often? Ember twisted to look up at her with the most ridiculously adorable look.

“I’ll see what I can – oh!” She stopped as she turned a corner and nearly ran into Chason. “Oh, hello!”

“Hello.” He smiled brightly at her, but the smile faded quickly as he got a good look at her. “What happened?”

“I was out in the woods,” she admitted, “and I got spooked by a falling tree.” It was the truth… wasn’t it? “And then I fell down and, well, I’m a mess.”

“I see you’ve been to see the doctor, though. Your roommate said you were probably on your way back from something like that. The leaves are really good – just let them stay on until they vanish or fall off, and they help a lot.”

“Magical plant medicine.” Nilien shook her head. “It’s pretty amazing.” She looked down at her ankle. “It’s actually stopped most of the pain, too.”

“Dr. Alaroq is really good with that sort of thing. Oh, this is why I was looking for you. It’s rough, but it ought to get you started, at least.” He thrust out a folded piece of paper.

“What-?” Nilien put down Ember so she could take it from him. Unfolded, it proved to be a rough map of the school. “Oh! Oh, this is wonderful, thank you!” She glanced around and then looked at the map. “And here, I can find myself…. here, right?”

“That’s right! Do you want me to walk you back to your dorm, just in case?”

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