I’ll talk to her. All of the ways that could go horribly, horribly wrong went through Nilien’s mind all at once. She swallowed. “I appreciate it, I do, but, ah, please, be careful? I’m not sure just talking to her is the best idea, or I would have done it myself.”

“Oh, but Heldira’s my friend. I’m sure whatever’s going on is just a misunderstanding, or something about her particularly prickly – well, everything, but sense of humor, in this case.”

“It’s not – I don’t think she’d going to hurt you, I’m just worried.” Nilien fiddled with her skirt and tried to come up with a way to phrase her concerns that didn’t involve the words someone is trying to kill me.

She looked down at Ember, hoping for some guidance or advice. The fox looked up at her. She’ll come up with something else if she knows about the tracking spells?

It was actually a really good point. “The thing is,” she offered carefully, “I know how to find the tracking spells. The ones she’s been using, at least. I – I’m not very good at magic, remember?” She hated admitting that, hated even thinking it, even though everyone else seemed to think it was perfectly normal. “I can do about three things, and one of them is locating those spells. If she knows I can find them, if she’s doing something – anything – for a reason, she’s going to come up with something I can’t find. And I already spend far too much time bothering Professor Vaudelle.”

“It’s not bothering if they’re helping you. That’s what they’re here for. And you’re the only Wild Rune we have, so it make sense that they’d spend the most time with you.”

“I suppose that’s fair, but sometimes it seems like other students must need help, too. I can’t be the only slow one…”

“You’re not slow. You’re just a few years behind in classes. You wouldn’t expect to walk into calculus when you’d never cracked a math book, would you?”

“No,” Nilien admitted slowly, “but I’ve always learned quickly.”

“You can already spot a tracking spell. That’s pretty quick.” He frowned, having clearly been reminded of the thread of the conversation. “I really can’t imagine Heldira doing anything to hurt you. She might be prickly and hard to get to know, but she’s not a bad person.” He looked at Nilien’s face — at the face she was trying to keep all her doubt off of — and sighed. “I’ll try to be subtle. But I bet it’s just her idea of a prank, or a welcome-to-Reinmonte.” He smiled sidelong at her. “So, ah. Welcome to Reinmonte.”

Most welcomes, Ember offered snidely, do not involve murder attempts.

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