8.12

Riva looked suddenly excited. “I do! I have three, actually. So we could put everything we know into the book, and nobody but us will be able to read it! Oh, that would be fun! Think about it! She was nearly bouncing. “So, we could put in the story of Nilien, and being a Wild Rune, and then we could talk about what Ember told her, and compare it to what our familiars first said to us, and then-”

“We could talk about gossip,” Lorque cut in. “You know, who we know who’s doing what that they shouldn’t. I’m sure if we all put our heads together, we could come up with quite a bit of dirty laundry. I mean, Nilien, how does Benoir find all these secret passages?”

“Mostly by being hungry, I think?” Nilien offered. “But maybe some of them the upperclassmen showed him. And you four must have a lot more interesting gossip than I do. I mean, you’ve been here so much longer. You have to know all the stories about who’s gotten into what trouble.”

“There was that mess with Brien last year,” Riva offered slowly, “but if we wanted gossip, we should have invited Thesri, and I was pretty sure that was off the list. I mean, unless we want someone second-guessing Nilien at every turn and telling her nobody really tried to kill her.”

“Someone tried to kill you!” Chason jumped. “I mean – oh, you mean the way you became a Wild Rune?”

“The police are pretty sure it was an assassin,” Nilien agreed, because she was sick of people not believing her.

“That was in the letter, right? You got the letter after the thing with the tree? And your necklace-” Riva put a hand over her mouth.

“Necklace?” Chason raised his eyebrows. “There’s a necklace missing?”

“What sort of necklace?” Augustin leaned forward. “Is it some sort of secret Wild Rune necklace?”

“If it is, it’s a very big secret. Since almost all I know about Wild Runes is what I know by being one – so, mostly what Ember has told me – nobody has initiated me into any big secrets of the wild, or anything.” Nilien tried to soften it with a smile, but Augustin did seem to think that she knew some deep mysteries that she just didn’t.

And now everyone was comparing notes! And she couldn’t remember what she had told whom and what she hadn’t.

“There was a necklace. It had runes on it, and it appeared in my room back at my old school, and vanished from my room here. But the adults here don’t seem to think it matters.”

“People are trying to kill you,” Riva pointed out indignantly. “To kill you! It ought to be very important!”

“Wait.” Chason frowned. “People, plural?”

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