Nilien stared at the pen. It was a nice pen, with marbling throughout in green and purple and mauve and a gold nib. She’d had a pen like that before she went away to school, a gift from her aunt…

Ember’s teeth touched her finger. Concentrate, it suggested. Nilien nodded mutely. If she couldn’t focus, she’d never go anywhere in class.

She focused on the pen lifting. Should her hands be in some special position? Should she be feeling something? Nothing happened. The pen, if anything, seemed more resolutely on the table.

Relax, Ember chided, and focus.

“I am focusing,” she muttered, and tried again.

The pen went nowhere. Nilien sighed. She was going to be in this room forever.

“If it helps, perhaps, get your body comfortable first. Your hands just so on your familiar’s fur. Your back straight against the chair. There you go.” Professor Hestinger beamed at her as she followed his instructions. “Now… you won’t need it forever, but for the moment, think of that posture as your ‘magic posture’. Now that you’re in it, the only thing you need to focus on is magic. And you.” He tapped the top of Ember’s head lightly. “Don’t distract her, and don’t scold her. It’s harder for Wild Runes. They’re so much more formed already by the time they get their magic.”

Ember ducked its head and said nothing. Nilien took that as a positive sign. Back straight, hands sitting lightly in Ember’s fur, she looked at the pen again and concentrated on lifting it.

This time, it rose. It lifted a hand’s-width in the air and stayed there for a moment before dropping.

“Very good. Now, again.”

Nilien checked her posture, took a breath, and concentrated on the pen. Again, it lifted, and this time it stayed more steady in the air.

“Very good. Down and, again.”

Down and up, down and up. The pen lifted over and over again until Nilien could do so without fail and she felt as if she were going cross-eyed from the staring.

“That’s enough pen work for today, I believe. You can try that in your room, if you feel up to it, but I’d say you’ve done very well for the day. Now, one more exercise before we break.” He produced a wooden bowl full of white pebbles. “Somewhere in here is a black stone. I want you to close your eyes and find the black stone.”

He set the bowl down on the desk in front of her. Nilien looked it over for a minute. The stones all looked very uniform in size, and there was nothing but white stones showing on the top.

She straightened her back and closed her eyes, reached out with her magic, and found nothing. She took a breath, reached out again, and nothing.

She tried one more time… nothing. “There’s no bowl,” she whispered.

“Keep trying.” Professor Hestinger coaxed. “You can’t expect all tasks will be equally easy, but you should try as many as you can. One more time?”

“Yes, sir.” Nilien took another breath and tried again.

2 thoughts on “3.10

  1. I voted for seeing, because the difference between a white stone and a black one is perceptible only by sight– unlike lifting an object, which one could (physically) do in the dark, sensing/feeling/hefting its location, position, and mass.

  2. Chose seeing as well. I figure there has to be some way for her to perceive the contents and which is the black stone.

    And I liked the, “There is no bowl.” line

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