28 Coloine (continued)
Lost track—okay, I told them the reason each of them only had one pouvra is that when the magic wakes up inside you, it has to take shape somehow, and that shape is a pouvra that meets your need. After that you have to learn to bend your will to the magic if you want to gain more pouvrin.
I hope that wasn’t a lie. It was just something I realized after remembering my own experience, and hearing Jeddan’s story, and watching Cederic sweep the God-Empress’s soldiers across the room, and knowing each of these “new” mages only had one pouvra…anyway, it feels right, but I’ll keep looking for more proof. And we showed them our pouvrin, as many as we could. Baltan and Gismara both have the mind-moving pouvra, and Nanissa has the walk-through-walls pouvra.
By the time I was finished (I probably told them more than that, little things I’ve forgotten now) they were all staring at me like they’d been slapped in the face by a slab of rock. Jeddan said, in a low voice, “I think you overwhelmed them.”
“They deserved to know,” I said, feeling stung.
“True,” he said, “but it’s a lot to take in, all at once like that.”
I nodded. Baltan said, no longer antagonistically, “How many more of us do you think there are?”
It was such a logical question coming from someone I’d pegged as hopelessly irrational that it caught me off guard. “I don’t know,” I said. “Your town doesn’t have more than a thousand people, does it? And there were three of you.”
“Nanissa and I came here from other towns,” Gismara said. “I frightened so many people in my home town that I had to leave or risk being torn apart by a mob. I feel lucky to have found this place.”
“So one out of a thousand,” I said. “Though that might not be normal.”
“Are there any other people with those eyes in this town who didn’t develop magic?” Jeddan said.
“No,” said Baltan. “I’m the only one.”
“And I found maybe ten people in my journeys with those eyes,” I said. “Ten people in ten years. Granted, I wasn’t interacting much with others, but that’s not very many.”
“We’re just guessing at this point,” Jeddan said.
“True,” I said. But I was thinking of Venetry, which has a population of over a million people, and wondering how many of those were green-eyed mages now. Even a tenth of a percent of that population was an unbelievably high number. The city might not care about an invasion; it might already have torn itself apart. But Jeddan’s right, and that’s all guessing. It’s not like we can do anything about it.
“It sounded like you’ve had attacks by strangers who don’t speak our language,” Jeddan said. I think he was intentionally changing the subject.
“Yes,” Nanissa said. “There’s a town about two miles from here that wasn’t there before the convergence. They’ve sent fighters against us, and some of their scribbling mages, four times now. The first time they hurt a lot of people before we drove them off. We’re better prepared now. We don’t know what they want. It’s not as if we’ve done anything to hurt them. They came after us.”
“Remember from their perspective, you’re the ones who appeared out of nowhere,” I said. “Not that I’m excusing their behavior, but they might just be afraid of what you might do to them.”
“Or they have someone in charge who’s aggressive. Or thinks he or she is justified in defeating you on the God-Empress’s behalf,” said Jeddan.
“Who’s the God-Empress?” Baltan said. So I had to explain something about Castaviran politics, and the coup, though I didn’t say that my husband is a Castaviran mage—no sense giving them more questions to ask—and I didn’t go into any detail
Oh no. I’m such an idiot. That town is right on the Royal Road the God-Empress’s army is going to take once they’ve conquered Calassmir. They’re all going to be slaughtered.
We have to go back.