“The question is – how do I ask him?”

“Well,” Lorque sat down on the bottom stair. “You could be direct. ‘Hey, I think your friend is trying to kill me; could you ask her to stop, please?’ That might get a response.”

“It would definitely get a response,” Nilien muttered. “I think I might get slapped. And I don’t really want him to slap me. Hrrm. I could be sneaky, like I was asking about Heldira’s familiar. Just slip it into conversation… somehow.”

“That sounds tricky.” Lorque looked at Niliens book upside-down. “Oh, you’re on the next assignment!”

“The more I get caught up or ahead, the more time I have to practice magic. Magic is hard,” Nilien sighed. “Like tracking down the friend of a friend who might be trying to kill you hard.” She looked down at Ember, whow as pretending to nap on the stair next to her. “What do you think I should do?”

Ember opened one eye. Well, you could point to where on the map you were damaged. “And this is where I got another tracking spell,” and so on. Or you could ask him about the forest and how dangerous it normally is.

“Didn’t I already tell him something about being hurt…?” She was beginning to lose track of where she had said what and to whom. “I think I did. It was rather hard to disguise for a few days there.”

Well. Ember’s mental tone was beginning to sound exasperated. You could simply go up to him and confess that you have a problem. Lorque’s method, I suppose: “Is your friend trying to kill me, or do you all merely have ridiculous senses of humor?”

Nilien snorted. “Nothing seems right. I don’t really want to confront him as if I’m angry with him.”

“Nilien,” Lorque turned so far around on the stair that she nearly fell off. “If it turns out he’s involved, are you going to be able to handle it? You’re very concerned about him thinking well of you, and I’m concerned you might walk into another trap if you’re too hung up on the wrong details.”

“I’m not that concerned with him!” She just liked having friends.

I might bite him, Ember offered thoughtfully. But if I don’t, you should just walk up to him – alone, but with me – and share your concerns. All of them. Be honest. If he is a buffoon, you would rather find out now than later. If he is not, he will understand.

“Ember,” Nilien says slowly, “is suggesting either the direct route or biting. I don’t think I really want to bite Chason – or to have Ember bite him! – so I suppose the direct route is the way to go.”

I wonder if his familiar bites? Ember mused.

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