I did it. The concealment pouvra works.
I didn’t realize it at first, because it doesn’t conceal you from yourself. But it makes you feel different, a little numb, like everything is happening just an inch beyond your fingers. That’s going to be a problem if I use it while I’m stealing things, but I think it might just be a matter of learning to compensate for the difference, like learning to grab a stone from a riverbed despite its visual displacement. So I knew something had happened, just not what. I left my room and went down the hall to the cavern, and wandered around a bit. No one paid attention to me, but that’s normal. Cederic was at the circle, kneeling on the floor and drawing th’an with his fat writing tool. I walked over to him and crouched opposite, watching him work. He didn’t raise his head, but I’m used to him knowing I’m there, so I assumed he just didn’t see a need to greet me, which he usually doesn’t. I said, “Does it matter what you draw the th’an with, or can you use any pen or pencil?”
He dropped his writing tool and shot to his feet. I’ve never seen him so surprised. “Sesskia,” he said, and then he regained his composure and his expressionless demeanor. “I take it the pouvra worked,” he said.
I stood and waved my hand in his face, and he grabbed it and brought it closer to his eyes. “I can see you, now that I know what to look for,” he said, and released me. “When does it end?”
“Presumably, when I tell it to,” I said, “though I didn’t know it was working until I startled you. So I’m not sure how to turn it off.” But I concentrated for a bit, thought about the shape of the pouvra, and almost immediately the numb feeling disappeared, and I could tell by the way Cederic’s eyes focused on me that I was visible again.
“I didn’t think it was invisibility,” I said. “What did you see?”
“Nothing, at first,” he said. “But it was as if I did not want to look in your direction. As if something far more interesting were happening elsewhere. Then, when I did see you, you seemed to take the shape of what was around you. You were a very short bookshelf, for a few seconds.”
“That’s unexpected,” I said, laughing. “Well, I think I need more practice, but I was serious about the question. I never see you using that writing tool for notes, just for th’an.”
“Any writing implement will work, for th’an,” Cederic said. He retrieved his writing tool from where he’d dropped it and scrawled a th’an into the table; it vanished, and the smell of apricots wafted from the wood. “But we use these, or chalk, because they make the most definitive lines. One can even write th’an with water, or oil—anything that leaves a visible mark. Though those are always transitory.”
“Why do some vanish, and others persist? Like the ones in the storage room?” I said.
He sketched the same th’an on the air, and this time I really did see amber light around his fingers. Apricot scent brushed my nose and cheeks. “Some th’an have an immediate effect that is powered by the magic bound up in the th’an. The effect happens, and the magic and the th’an disappear. Other th’an have ongoing effects. Their magic…replenishes itself, you might say, drawn into whatever object it is scribed on to power the effect, until the magic can no longer regenerate. Then a new th’an must be drawn if the effect is to persist.”
(to be continued…)