Chason looked startled. “I mean… if you need help finding your way around the school, or, uh, making things shiny, I’m your guy. If you need to know the shortest route to classes from your dorm or where to catch a nap without anyone noticing – that’s me. This sounds like it’s something to ask the teachers about.”

“I’ve tried.” Nilien made an effort not to sound too frustrated. “They don’t believe there’s any real danger, even when they know that someone tried to kill me back home. Or they act like it’s none of my business. It’s my life!” Some of her irritation came bubbling out and her voice rose. “It’s hard for something to be more my business than my own life is!”

“They don’t have anything useful to say?” He frowned. “That’s unusual. But if they don’t, I really don’t know what to tell you. Like I said, I can help you with the map. But I can’t really help with, well, assassins.”

She flopped back against her chair. “I don’t really expect you to be able to,” she admitted. “but I’m out of people to ask, except, well, I suppose I could write to the police.” She wrinkled her nose. “They’d probably say I was better off out of it, too.”

Ember nuzzled against her legs. There are still other adults, it suggested. Or maybe, Chason can help with other things?

She looked down at her familiar and giggled a little, helplessly. “Ember thinks I should ask you for help with my homework, I think.”

“As long as it’s not mathematics. Or chemistry. Those aren’t really my favorite subjects. But magic, I could help with your magic homework. Or literature. I’m pretty good at those.” He gave her a crooked smile. “Or just following you around to make sure you don’t get into trouble by accident.”

“Mostly that’s what Ember does,” Nilien admitted. “Follows me around and gets me out of trouble. But I wouldn’t say no to some homework help.”

“Cool. What are you working on now in Literature?”

“The Ballad of Sir Malloric.” Nilien pulled her notes out of her bag. “I was fine with most of it, but Professor Barnifor’s interpretation of the symbolism has me a little lost.”

“Oh, well, Professor Barnifor is like that. You have to remember that he’s ninety years old, and sometimes his ideas are twice that age or more.”

end chapter

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