When Nilien left her magic tutoring the next day, she couldn’t immediately find Lorque or even Lorque’s friends – she had yet to manage to think of them as her friends, although Riva and Augustin were coming close.

“Well,” she murmured in Ember’s direction, “I guess we could try to find Chason.” She pulled the map out and looked. “Maybe in the dorm area? Seems like a good bet, if we missed the end of classes.”

He’d marked out his dormitory area – the small herbivore wing – with a smiley face, separate from any of the other dorms areas, so it was easy enough to find him. Nilien felt a bit like she had a target on her back, trying to look like she wasn’t sneaking through the halls.

When they were about halfway to Chason’s dorm, Ember nipped her lightly on the ankle. Calm down. You are going to visit a friend. There is nothing wrong with visiting a friend. That is all you are doing.

Nilien smiled sheepishly down at her familiar. “Thank you.”

Keeping you from being foolish is part of my purpose. Ember, unsurprisingly, looked smug. Nilien decided she could forgive that this time.

“Thank you anyway,” she answered, a little more primly than she might have if she hadn’t still be nervous. She managed to walk normally the rest of the distance to Chason’s dorm area.

His room was easy to find; he had the door open and was talking to his rabbit familiar. “Nilien! You found me!” He sounded delighted, and was grinning widely. “I guess my map really is helping!”

“It is,” she agreed. “Can I come in?”

“Sure, sure. Come on in. Have a seat,” Chason gestured. “My roomate’s out getting some help with homework, I think. The history lessons are a little bit rough this year. How about you? How are you adjusting?”

“The academics are going all right,” Nilien answered as she sat down, “but the magic classes are still giving me a little trouble. Sometimes I feel like I’ll never catch up.”

“You’ll get there. Just keep practicing. You’re being tutored, right?”

“Yes, Prof. Hestinger and Professor Vaudelle have been helping me.” That was a better opening than she could have hoped for. She jumped on it before Ember nipped her again. “Speaking of Professor Vaudelle… she’s been helping me with tracking spells that keep appearing on me. We tracked the spells back to the originator -” That was true, and it avoided giving away Ember’s ability for the moment “-and it turns out it was Heldira. You wouldn’t know if she was planning some sort of prank would you? It’s just, I have enough to worry about, with classes…”

“Oh!” Chason looked genuinely startled, as far as Nilien could tell. “That’s not all that nice. No, I haven’t heard anything about that. But I’ll ask her what she’s up to.”

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