5.4

Nilien looked back at Ember. Who? she mouthed, uncertain if Ember would be able to understand her.

What do I look like? It smells like… well, nothing helpful. Like a human. Ember flicked its tail at Nilien in irritation. It is not the one who put the tracking spell on you. But it might have been following you.

Nilien bit her lip. She could try the “lost” line on someone else, but she was already likely to be getting a reputation as someone who had no sense of direction, in addition to being that oddity, a Wild Rune.

Whatever you do, do not blame it on me this time. Ember glared indignantly at her.

There was that problem, too. Ember could ruin a good act if it decided she was blaming it again.

Nilien scooped up Ember and hurried as quietly as she could away from the direction of the sound. If she hid, she wouldn’t have to explain anything at all, and she might learn something.

She found the biggest tree in the area and ducked behind it, holding Ember tight in her arms. The fox glared at her, but kept itself tucked in so its tail wouldn’t show from the other side of the tree.

Nilien held as still as she could and held her breath. She didn’t want to have hidden just to give herself away. Was the mystery person coming closer? Were they sneaking up on her; had they seen her despite her attempts to be sneaky? She couldn’t hear anything at all, no more sticks breaking, not even leaves rustling. Somewhere a long way away a bird was singing.

Was it Riva, who knew where she was going, just pulling a prank on her instead of on Heldira? She had to breathe. Nilien let her breath out as quietly as she could and took it back in just as quietly. Where was her unknown guest? Had she imagined the whole thing?

If Heldira wasn’t here, were Lorque and Riva getting in trouble?

A loud creak interrupted her worried. She looked around; nothing. Nobody was coming up on her. A crack like a gunshot followed the creak, making Nilien’s ears ring as she looked around in panic. What was going on?

Move! Ember barked. Nilien turned around. There was a tree falling right towards them and their hiding spot.

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