“So, she was clearly up to something.” Lorque sat down on Nilien’s bed with Chason’s map and her notebook. “But the question is, what?”

“Hoping to find me alone?” Nilien hazarded. “Or looking to do something to the room if we were at dinner? I should really check for another tracking spell.”

She petted Ember some more, both to calm it down and to focus herself, and studied her whole body with her magic sight. “Nothing. I suppose it would have been pretty obvious if she’d shown up and then poof, I had another tracking spell.”

“She doesn’t know that Ember can track magic, I assume.”

“I don’t know how she would, unless there’s listening spells, and she doesn’t have one of those on me. And I don’t think she has a way to listen to Ember’s communication, either. I don’t know if anyone does…?” She lifted her eyebrows at Lorque.

“Nobody does. There’s no way to do it, it’s just you and your familiar. I mean, they can mime, sure, but that went so well when Ember came to tell us where you were, and, besides, it’s not like Ember would intentionally tell anyone what was going on…”

“But familiars.” Nilien bit her lip. “Familiars are really important – of course you’re important, Ember – but I mean, to every Rune, right? So maybe we should find Heldira’s familiar. Neph… Nephrite. Little Nephrite, Chason said, so we’re looking for something small and green.”

“Well, that narrows it down.” Lorque made a note at the top of her page anyway, and then began sketching a copy of the map. “In the meantime, if you can coax Ember to do it, maybe you should try on the other end of the school and see if the ‘somewhere’ is more or less anywhere than it is there – don’t look at me like that.”

I will try, Ember allowed, but only two more times.

“Ember will give it another try.” Nilien petted Ember a little more. “So we’ve got to get through some classes, and we can start looking a little at a time once I can put weight on my feet again.” She sighed down at her ankles. “You were right, Ember,” she said, not for the first time, “I shouldn’t have just run like a madwoman.”

You were scared. Ember butted its head against her leg. It was understandable. Someone trying to drop trees on you is frightening

Nilien pulled Ember up in her arms and buried her face in her fur. “You made everything okay,” she told her fox. “Thank you.”

Everything wasn’t okay, not really. They still had to find the pendant. They still had to determine who was trying to kill her – and if Chason was involved, too. But she was willing to pretend for a minute.

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