One more try. She could do it. She closed her eyes and reached out for the bowl, for the black pebble somewhere inside it.

Nothing. “Maybe…” She furrowed her brow and considered the bowl. If she could see the stone, she could find it without a problem.

So first, she needed to see it. She stared at the bowl. Focusing on seeing a thing, that’s what Lorque had said. So she just needed to focus on seeing a black stone.

She petted Ember a little bit and focused her power on vision. She had to be able to see it. It was there; it had to be a simple matter to find it, or Professor Hestinger wouldn’t have assigned it to her, would he have?

The bowl still looked like a bowl. She sat up a little straighter, took a few measured breaths, and steeled herself to to it.

Ember nuzzled against her hand. You will do it, it assured her. Like the teacher says, it’s like standing and then running. You will be able to do it.

Nilien petted Ember behind the ear. “Thanks,” she whispered. Sometimes her familiar wasn’t a complete pain. She focused on the bowl and concentrating on seeing.

For a moment, she thought it had worked. It felt a little different, like when she’d managed to get the pen to float. But when she looked at the bowl, it was still a bowl, and she still couldn’t see inside it.

She tried a little harder, furrowing her brow and focusing as hard as she could on the bowl. Somewhere just out of her vision, down on her lap, something began to glow red.

She looked down; Ember was glowing red, and so was the rune mark on her hand. She glanced up at Professor Hestinger; a mark glowed on his upper arm. At his feet, his familiar was glowing, too, in the same purplish-pink light.

She looked back down at Ember and her own hand. This was — well, it wasn’t what she’d been trying to do, but she was fascinated nonetheless. “I — oh.” There seemed to be something glowing on her back. It was fainter than the mark on her hand, but looking down at Ember — and at her navel — she could clearly see it, which was in itself rather strange. She looked back over at Professor Hestinger; he had no such mark, nothing but the runic mark on his arm.

With a surge of hope, she looked back at the bowl. She still couldn’t see the black stone.

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