“I think…” Nilien considered for a minute. “Professor Vaudelle, please? She’s been very helpful.”

“Professor Vaudelle it is. It’s a longer walk,” Thesri warned. “Are you up to it? If I had to, I could go get her, but that leaves you sitting in a public place looking like you had an argument with a garden rake and lost.”

“Thank you,” Nilien responded as dryly as she could. “No, I think we should go all the way to her office. Like you said – anyplace else is just ripe for gossip.”

“Whereas I, at least, will wait until you are at the professor’s office before I begin to gossip. And, what’s more, I’m going to ask you what I should tell people – as long as you don’t go all stuffy on me again and say nothing.”

You might as well decide what’s going to be said, Ember advised. It may even aid in catching your attacker. Although I would suggest you stick to things that are at least mostly true.

Nilien sighed. “Ember says tell you,” she admitted. “So I suppose tell people I was out looking at the rotundas in the woods – did you know there’s a foundation of an old one out there? – and my familiar saved me from a falling tree. Then I got a little turned around and twisted my ankle, and you and Liltivere helped me back into the building.” She smiled crookedly. “And – when I find out anything else, I’ll tell you first, how’s that? After Lorque and Ember, of course.”

“Room-mates have to come first,” Thesri agreed solemnly. “So I get all the gossip?”

“You and Liltivere are really helping me out here,” Nilien pointed out. “This would take forever without you.” It was still taking a long time, but it wasn’t as tedious and horrible as she’d feared it might be. They were almost to Professor Vaudelle’s office.

“I’ll leave you here, then.” Thesri bowed politely. “And I look forward to hearing all about it.”

“As soon as I know something.”

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