6.5

Nilien woke slowly to the feeling of a tail in her face, the last bits of a dream lingering in her mind.

She couldn’t remember most of her dreams, although she did know, much to her disappointment, that it hadn’t had anything to do with the pendant. (So much for Riva’s reading, she thought, a little unkindly.) There had been something about a mechanical goat of some sort, which had seemed very interesting, but she could not quite put her finger on any details, and there had been a woman covered in flames. Covered, but not looking like she was all that upset by the whole situation, which suggested not burning – or just that Nilien’s dreams had no desire to get messy.

“Is there some sort of spell that lets you wander around covered in flames?” she asked a sleepy Ember.

Ember blinked up at her. There is a torch, or dipping one’s tail – or skirt – in the fireplace – but it’s not recommended.

“You’re so helpful, thank you.”

Ember looked indignant. Perhaps next time I will not yell “tree” when one is falling on you!

“I take it back. You are generally very helpful, and I really appreciate all your help yesterday-”

-and the headache.

“I really do appreciate the headache. I’m sorry you got one trying to find my pendant.”

It wasn’t a good pendant. You are probably better off that it is gone.

“I’d agree, except that it shouldn’t have just vanished from my drawer. Nor should it have just appeared in my drawer back in my old school. I’m worried it has something to do with – with everything.”

Then it is better far from you.

The door opening saved her from having to retort again. Lorque came in, balancing a tray of food.

“You didn’t miss anything exciting at dinner. Istore is going off about something in history class and Augustin spent the whole time arguing with him. It might have been thrilling, if they’d been making any sense at all.”

Nilien pulled herself up as Lorque brought her the tray. “Thanks so much for this.”

“My pleasure. I got out of the argument early, just as they were asking Riva to referee. So.” She picked up one of her school notebooks. “Let’s make a copy of this map that Chason made you, and then we can divide it up into a plan of some sort. Is Ember’s head still hurting?”

“I think Ember is just cranky about the whole thing.” She petted Ember between the ears for a moment before she produced the map, then held the map with one hand while she continued to pet Ember. “All right. I think we ought to start in a corner, maybe here,” she gestured with a thumb at what was probably the top of the school. “And work our way downwards.”

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