30 Senessay (continued)
“So what about the things in the storage room?” I asked. “Those th’an are made of metal.”
Cederic grimaced, the faintest drawing down of the corners of his mouth. “Experiments,” he said, “from years, sometimes decades, ago. Occasionally someone revisits the idea of permanent th’an with permanent effects. Those aeden still have power, some of them, but it’s an unpredictable power, which is why they are locked away. Not that anyone but Master Peressten would dare to use them.”
“You didn’t want him to,” I recalled.
Cederic shook his head. “I did not think it fair to you to subject you to such a dangerous experiment,” he said. “I told Master Peressten to speak with you long enough to learn your language, so he could gain your consent. But he is often impatient. I’m afraid I lost my temper at him.” He looked away from me and began twiddling the writing tool in his fingers. I think he was embarrassed.
“I forgave him for it,” I said. “But thank you for trying to contain him.”
He smiled. “I am glad it worked,” he said, “even if our conversations are occasionally…strained.”
“That’s because you’re stubborn and irrational,” I said.
He raised his eyebrow at me. “You are only able to say that,” he said, “because you are so intimately familiar with those characteristics.” He smiled as he said it, and that made me laugh.
“Can you use the pouvra again, while I watch?” he said.
“Maybe,” I said, and reached for the shape of the pouvra in memory. It took a few tries, and Cederic standing there watching me made me nervous, but eventually the numbness spread over my body again, and Cederic’s eyes began to water.
“I can still see you,” he said, “but it is difficult not to want to look away.” He turned his head briefly, then looked back at me. “And now you are once again part of your surroundings.”
I released the pouvra and shook out my fingers. “I wish I knew how this could help with the kathana,” I said.
“Anything might help,” he said. “What will you use it for?”
I knew what he was really asking. Why did I tell him I’m a thief? Why do I tell him anything personal? Even if I do consider him a friend, now. “I’m not going to sneak around and spy on people, if that’s what you mean,” I said, “and I have no need to pursue my former profession, since there are all these books lying around and no one minds if I read them. But practicing pouvrin makes me better able to learn new ones. So that’s what I’ll use it for.”
“I did not mean to imply that I distrust you,” he said in a low voice, though there wasn’t anyone around to hear us.
“Then what did you mean?” I said. I swear I didn’t intend to sound hostile, because I didn’t feel hostile. Just a little disappointed that he thought less of me because of who I’d had to become to survive.
He paused, looking off into the distance, then said, “You see the world in ways no one else has thought of. The pouvra has obvious implications. I am interested in the non-obvious ones I am certain you will discover.”
“Oh,” I said. It felt like—still feels like—a tremendous compliment, and yet I’m not sure what he meant. I’m a mage because I see things others don’t, or I wouldn’t be able to learn pouvrin, but I could say the same of every mage in the Darssan. Aside from the obvious, I don’t think of myself as anyone special. Well, I am, though, because after the magic woke up in me, I could have ignored it and not learned any more pouvrin. But seeing the world differently…I think he might be mistaken about that. But it was a nice compliment, so I accepted it at face value.
After that, he drew more th’an and we talked about kathanas, which I still haven’t seen, and I began to grasp some of the underlying logic behind the shapes of Castaviran magic. I still don’t think I’ll ever learn to do magic their way. Maybe it’s more flexible, but I’m so used to encompassing magic with my body and giving it shape there that I think I’d feel hampered by the need to learn all those fiddly th’an. Learning the concealment pouvra, though, has made me think about the possibility of crafting pouvrin of my own. It’s a huge stretch, because I don’t even know what’s possible, but what a challenge! Maybe learning more about th’an will give me some ideas. But I’m going to master the concealment pouvra first. And maybe see if I can find some non-obvious applications for Cederic.