6.9

Nilien wrapped up her conversation with Chason with a few more comments on the map and a couple additions from him, one “oh, have you found-” which led to her mentioning the garden – the outdoor one, not the secret one – Benoir had shown her, and both Chason’s addition, a small rare-books library addition, and Benoir’s courtyard made it onto the map.

She almost gave Chason a hug, but she didn’t know him all that well yet, and when she and Ember left him behind, she did check herself for tracking spells.

None. If Professor Vaudelle hadn’t confirmed both of the ones she’d found, Nilien might have begun to think she’d made them up.

Well, maybe it just meant that Chason wasn’t part of whatever Heldira was. She looked down at Ember. “So, I’m going to go tell Lorque what’s going on. Could you-”

-go get myself “lost” and see if I can find this green badger? If I get my nose clawed, I am going to be very annoyed with you.

“If you get your nose clawed, I will do my best to make it up to you. Would someone else’s familiar do that?”

They might. Would some other familiar’s human drop a tree on you?

“You have a point. A rather unpleasant point, but still a point.” Nilien hugged herself, suddenly chilly. “Thank you, Ember.”

I am your familiar. Ember looked haughty again. It is my job to make sure you don’t do anything too particularly stupid. In this case, that means exposing myself to the chance of a clawed snout.

“And I really appreciate it, Ember, I do.” She bent down to give Ember a warm hug. “Thank you.”

“Appreciate what?” She hadn’t heard Benoir coming up on them, but there he was, looking very curious to find her hugging her familiar in the middle of the hallway.

“Oh!” Nilien straightened up. “Saving my life. Twice, not, at the very least; Ember’s been amazing. Go on,” she told Ember, hoping she sounded casual enough. “I’ll catch up.”

“Twice? Oh, you’re not lost again, are you?” Benoir smiled crookedly, clearly teasing her. “Because if you are…”

“Oh, not this time.” Nilien started wandering towards the dorms while Ember trotted off ahead of them. “No, I was out in the woods this past weekend, that’s all, and I almost missed a tree falling on me. Ember warned me just in time.”

“That’s once.” His forehead furrowed. “That sounds horrible, though. A tree dropping on you?”

“It was pretty terrifying.” She kept up her casual stroll towards her dorm. By now, she could manage this much without the map – or a guide. “And Ember appearing, well, Ember always says it showed up because I wanted to live.”

“Oh! Right.” He slapped his hand to his forehead. “A Wild Rune! Right! Well, looks like you’ve got a very handy familiar there.”

“Yeah.” She kind of wished Ember could hear him, but Ember was out of sight, presumably going to find Heldira’s familiar. “I got really lucky, getting Ember.”

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