I dreamed of Cederic last night. It was a very intense dream, so much so that when I woke up to nothing but bare ground it was so disorienting I had to go for a walk so Jeddan wouldn’t see me cry. I’d resolved to stop dwelling on the possibility that something bad has happened to Cederic and all my friends, to be strong instead of weak and tearful, but I could feel his arms around me and his lips on mine, actually feel it, and when he wasn’t there…. I hope I don’t dream like that again.
Today there was more walking and more talking about pouvrin. Sometime around noon, just after we’d eaten and rested for a bit, Jeddan said, “I’m going to go insubstantial for a bit. I want to try something.”
I nodded, and watched him go in and out of that state. It’s hard to tell someone is insubstantial, actually, because it’s not like they turn misty or pale or resemble any natural object that’s capable of slipping between things. It’s more in the way they move, as if parts of them get to places before the rest of their bodies. Jeddan can hold that state longer than I can, longer even than I think he’s capable of holding his breath, but we haven’t talked about that so I don’t know how he does it. He can’t talk while he’s insubstantial, though, and he does start to fall through things if he stands still long enough, though again it doesn’t happen as soon as it does to me.
After about half an hour, he stopped walking, went solid, and leaned over to put his hands on his knees and breathe deeply. “I got dizzy,” he said.
“That’s happened to me when I use that pouvra too often,” I said. I waited for him to rise, and then we walked on, though I was impatient to find out if he’d learned anything, or even just what the point of that exercise had been.
“There’s definitely a shape there,” he finally said. “It’s like…a cage, maybe? Or a mold for iron or bronze? But I’m on the inside, not on the outside as you seem to be.”
“Can you describe the shape?” I said.
He shook his head. “Eventually, maybe,” he said. “I just think discovering we are doing things the same way is important. I was afraid our magic was just too different for us to learn anything from each other.”
“I think Castaviran magic is easier in some ways,” I said, “since each th’an is clear, and you know when you’re getting it wrong because it just doesn’t work.”
“But you said you’d learned to create a pouvra using th’an,” he said.
“Yes, but I don’t know enough th’an to make that a practical method of learning magic,” I said. I did the binding pouvra then, with no results—I practice it occasionally, hoping to work out what it’s for.
“If the two countries can learn to coexist, maybe you’ll have the chance,” he said.
“Do you think that’s possible?” I said. It was something I’d been thinking about, off and on, between wondering what we’d find at Calassmir and what the God-Empress’s next target might be.
“It’s either that or the strangest civil war anyone’s ever seen,” he said. “Two countries invading the same piece of land at the same time.”
“But maybe war is inevitable,” I said. “Balaen and Castavir can’t remain autonomous; their lands overlap too much. One of them has to come out on top.”
“Just so it isn’t your God-Empress,” he said. “You’re lucky she didn’t have you killed before.”
“I know,” I said, and then I think we both ran out of things to say for a while. With Jeddan, that’s not awkward or uncomfortable; he’s good at quiet, and so am I, so we went a couple of miles before I picked up the topic of pouvrin again, this time talking about things I thought might be possible. We went back and forth coming up with ideas until it was time to camp for the night, and now I’m sitting by the fire across from him. He’s watching the logs. I wonder what he thinks about.