Nilien caught her breath and pulled herself slowly to her feet. Her knees were scraped, and her left ankle felt as if there were knives poking into it.

She checked herself over quickly; other than the blood on her knees and the general disheveled state of her clothes, she seemed okay. There were a couple rips in her bloud and one in her skirt, her palms were chafed, and her ankle looked swollen already. But she was still alive.

“All right.” She whispered it, even though she couldn’t hear anyone around her. “I think… that we need to get back to school and find someone to tell about this.” She smoothed her hair, although she knew that was probably futile, and began walking. “Do you, ah, have any idea where we are?”

We are in the woods, Ember offered helpfully. We have still not found a wall. I did not see much of what we ran through, but at this point, away from where we were running seems still the best option.

Nilien appreciated that Ember said “we were running”, and that it wasn’t rubbing her nose in the fact that it had told her to slow down. “Are you okay?”

Nothing injured but my dignity. You, on the other hand, appear to need to learn healing spells and something to do with clothing repair.

Well, she hadn’t expected it to be entirely without sass.

“I noticed that, thank you.” She moved slowly, trying to put as little weight as possible on her injured ankle, picking her way through a forest that seemed much thicker than it had when she’d been running. “But I think I need to learn how to remove spells first, all things considered.”

That may be the first sensible thing you’ve said all day.

“Hey, the trap was your idea!” She was pretty sure she could see a break in the trees ahead of her.

Yes, and thus was not a sensible thing that you said, now was it?

“…No.” She glared down at the fox. Ember smirked back up at her.

You are not badly injured. I am glad. This could have gone much worse. The smug expression was gone, and Ember’s ears raked backwards. You could have been severely hurt. I think you should not be alone anymore.

Nilien scooped Ember up and hugged it close to her chest. “I wasn’t alone. I had you.” She took two more cautious steps and found herself out of the woods. The wall was to her right, and she could see the castle to her left. “Let’s go explain the situation to a teacher before someone comes up with a story about Wild Runes dancing in the thorn bushes in the forest.”

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