20 Coloine, early (continued)
“They were going to kill you,” Jeddan said. “I couldn’t let that happen.”
“They weren’t going to kill me, they wanted me to help defend the village,” I said.
He shook his head. “That was the council. There were a lot of villagers who wanted you dead. They’re afraid of any magic, and yours…I didn’t even know fire was possible.”
“Oh,” I said. “Then I really am grateful.” I probably would have escaped on my own before the villagers were a threat, but if not, I couldn’t have fought them all off.
“Like I said, you’re a fellow sorcerer,” Jeddan said. “I knew there had to be others, but I’ve never met any.”
“We’re called mages, and neither have I,” I said. “Can you teach me your see-inside pouvra?”
“I don’t know. Is…pouvra…what you call magics? Can you teach me yours?” he said.
“We’ll have to see,” I said, and then I remembered my actual goal. “But I don’t have time to find out. I have to be on the road again.”
“I’m coming with you,” he said.
That threw me. “No, you’re not,” I said, which sounded stupid then and it still sounds stupid when I write it now.
Jeddan was just a big dark shape against the trees, but I could tell he’d squared his shoulders like he was expecting a fight. “I’ve been studying magics—pouvra—for four years,” he said. “I was caught in a mudslide, thought I was dead, then I was sliding through it—between it—and I knew I’d done something I couldn’t bear to give up. Magic is everything to me, and I’m not going to lose the chance to learn more of it. And I know you want to learn what I know, too. So I’ll stay behind, if that’s what you want, because I’m not going to force my company on anyone. But I think you want me with you.”
It was true. I did. “You’re right,” I said. “We need each other. And there’s so much more to magic than you realize.” I looked around, remembered Jeddan couldn’t see in the dark, and reached for his hand, which is really big and strong. I keep forgetting to ask what he does for a living. “We’re going to find a place to sleep, and then in the morning we’re going to pay a visit to some people who may or may not be friendly. And they don’t speak our language. So you’ll just have to trust me, okay?”
“All right,” he said, but he sounded dubious. He’s been very patient since then, even letting the Viravonians take him to his own room rather than stay with me—I’m sorry, but even though I’m excited about meeting someone else like me, I draw the line at letting strange men share my bedchamber.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. We slept under some trees that had already begun to shed their leaves, so with the dampness it wasn’t a very comfortable sleep. I probably shouldn’t bitch too much about the mattress I slept on last night, since it was far better than a pile of wet leaves on the hard ground.
In the morning, before we went anywhere, we shared some of the food and I told Jeddan my praenoma—return courtesy for courtesy and all that—and all about the convergence. Everything, not just the event and what came of it—all about th’an and kathanas and Castaviran magic, and what I knew about pouvrin, and that I was trying to find my husband and that’s why I was going north, or would be going north eventually.
Jeddan listened in silence, only interrupting me with questions once or twice, until I explained about my pouvrin, and then he got the kind of look you get when you find out your grandmother’s paste brooch is a twenty-carat diamond.
“Show me,” was all he said, and I demonstrated everything except the see-in-dark pouvra, which has no discernable effect and would only make me blind in the daytime, anyway. Then he just sat there staring at me, or past me, or something, until I said, “Are you all right?”
“I thought I was doing well with two,” he said, but in a joking way.
“It took me ten years to master all those,” I said. “But who knows what we might accomplish if we work together? It has to be easier than reading those old books.”
“I didn’t read any old books,” he said, and now it was my turn to look stunned. “Seeing inside things…it’s just a variation on being able to slip between them. I didn’t know it was impossible to learn a pouvra that way. I didn’t even know they were called pouvrin.”
“If you hadn’t already told me you were coming along, I might have kidnapped you,” I said, and he laughed, probably because there’s no pouvra in the world that would let me overpower someone his size.
Anyway. That took a few hours, and then we circled around the village and headed off south down the road toward the Viravonian town. I decided it would be best for us to approach it in the opposite direction to the one facing Jeddan’s village, in case they were also expecting foreign invaders. That took us about an hour and a half, between walking the couple of miles to it and then staying out of sight while we made our way around to the southern side. Then we just walked up the road toward it.
to be continued…