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“I… I think you might be right,” Viv said. It was weird; she supposed she did feel somewhat different, in that she’d never felt powerful before, never felt this awareness of power in her body, but…
She felt like herself, just more powerful and less messed up. Not like some weird conglomeration of magics was all mixed up in her. Would she even be able to tell if that had happened?
I”I sensed you dying,” Viv said, uncertainly. “I can’t do that, so I think that implies that you’re right, some of your powers came to me. It could have been our magical connection, I suppose, but it felt like it stopped working before that. There might be other things too, just… I’m just so overwhelmed.” She took a deep breath. “I should probably run some tests before we go rushing into a fight, right? Try to see what my magic is capable of. Try to figure out what’s changed. But…”
Thys shuffled closer, taking up Viv’s hands and chafing them between their own. “But?”
“Do we have time?” Viv found she was abruptly close to tears, overwhelmed, afraid. “I feel like I have to do that before we have a chance to win. Even just a little. If I speed through my practice, do you think we can beat it? I want to keep it from getting through the gate at all. We could call Dandelion to meet us halfway with his band, and I could try to study more magic on the go…”
Thys’s fingers were tracing Viv’s, one at a time. “I genuinely doubt think we can beat it there,” they said frankly. “My abilities are not in manipulating space, or I would have had a much easier time escaping. The lanternfish, though, Lithway implied could move through shadows. It’s night. The gate might not be right outside, but it’s close enough that I do not see how we could outrun the lanternfish. We could try, of course, but I think it might be wasted time and energy. Unless you think you can alter space right now?”
Well, she did have to experiment. She focused on the far corner of her apartment, imagining herself appearing there, trying to pour power into it.
Nothing happened. She remained anchored on the sofa, Thys’s hand in hers. “I… I don’t know. It didn’t feel like something I could do. I guess even if I’m sharing your power, if you can’t do it, I couldn’t either.”
“It’s possible that you could learn a spell to transpose yourself through space, I suppose, if that falls within your sphere of learning,” Thys said dubiously. “But that would take too much time to learn for it to be relevant here. I agree that we should go fairly quickly so we stop it before it gets too far, but I don’t think we can plan on stopping it before it gets there.” They gave Viv an encouraging smile. “So let’s take a little time to eat, drink, perhaps let you take some painkillers for that limp. And help you learn your new abilities. And then go in a couple of hours?”
Viv’s stomach clenched. “Is that safe for you?” she asked. “Will going at all put you at risk of discovery?”
“Oh. No, not really,” Thys said, lips quirking in a wry smile. “There aren’t hunts on for me or anything like that. I’m safest out here, since court business stays in court territory, mostly. But in the Otherworld, away from fae realms, is pretty safe also. And fae realms that are not mine are… okay. And even in mine, I might not get caught, it’s just much riskier. Even Dandelion could come with us if we’re not entering the fae realms. He could not go as far as we, though, and I do not want him to catch on about our concerns, as I said. He is… loyal.”
“That’s good,” Viv said. She knew she should mention her own problems with the gate, but… if it was a choice between catching the lanternfish before it got there, but entirely unprepared, or preparing even a little and having to go through, then there really was no choice. She needed to know what she was capable of, so she was going through. She’d just have to suck it up. “So… studying, I guess. If I’ve absorbed some of your power, I wonder what else I have. You said you could sense disasters?”
“Our people can. Yes,” Thys said. They steepled their fingers, making some sort of roof- or bridge-like structure, then folded them in, miming a collapse. “If we are in the general vicinity of where a disaster might occur, we may be able to sense it. I suppose our powers really do align in some ways, then, because it’s a form of divination, I suppose.”
Viv nodded, and was about to continue, when a thought occurred. “Wait. Are you the mothman?!”
“I… I am not the mothman,” Thys said dubiously. “I suppose I am… a mothman? Or the mothman was… an us?”
“Holy shit, I’m dating the mothman.”
“Engaged,” Thys corrected primly.
“I’m gonna marry the mothman,” Viv corrected, and let out a nervous giggle. She was letting herself get distracted. “What’s fae magic usually like? I just pushed all my power out at once to make the lights go on, but I don’t know if that’s how it works.”
“Fae magic is primarily about… perceptions,” Thys said. “Illusion, but also… it’s hard to explain. Glamour is belief. There are many things we can do—binding, and changing someone’s age, and so on, that you may not think have to with perception, but it’s because people usually think of illusion as seeing or hearing something that isn’t there. But glamour is about making something be there by altering the perception of it.”
“Isn’t that just… altering reality?” Viv asked weakly.
Thys puffed their cheeks out. “You may have to be able to think as a fae does in order to use it. I do not know if you can, just as I do not know if I could… think as a human. Humans are unfettered, but fae have so many rules. We come with terms and conditions in a way that humans don’t. Human magic usually does, but it does in the form of spells, in the forms of the things humans do, not what they are. So even if we’re connected, I’m not sure you can do fae magics.”
Viv sighed. “So you don’t think the lights were that?”
Another moment of consideration, but Thys shook their head. “‘Shoving Power At Something’ sounds pretty different.”
“I mean. If you put it like that,” Viv said, with another nervous giggle. She drew a deep breath, bracing herself against the pain in her leg, and rose. “Okay. Quote book.”
With deep confusion, Thys asked, “You want me to quote which book? Why?”
“No, I’m going to get my quote book,” Viv said. She found it on the floor behind the couch, and could only assume it got flung there by one of the cats. Or maybe by herself in her terrified rampage in the dark. She decided not to think about that, because even remembering it was bringing back her fear and grief and rage. She sat down with the book. “I want to see if my powers of prediction are going to work any differently.”
Thys sat attentively. “Go on.”
Viv flipped open the book and put her finger on the page.
“Those tyrants who rule by lies are the worst tyrants of all, for not only will they send their hopeful citizens to die, they send them to die believing that they are doing the thing that is right for their country.”
– Sophia Animus
“This one… doesn’t involve much interpretation,” she said, then frowned. Not only did it not involve interpretation, she wasn’t sure that she’d ever seen this quote in the book before. She’d never heard of Sophia Animus either. “And it’s got some pretty ominous implications.”
“I am… more worried than previously,” Thys admitted.
Viv drew a deep breath. “All right,” she said. “Painkillers. Some kind of food or drink that’ll really pump us up. Can we get energy drinks delivered? That’s a joke,” she added wryly. “I’m going to go next door and quickly unpack my spellbooks. Once I’m back, I’ll do some studying, so while I do that, can you call people for me? Call Isaac to see if he did get the spell prepared already at the counsel or not, maybe, but otherwise…”
“I can do that,” Thys said. They rose, lanky and elegant even just while hunting for their phone in the couch cushions. “Otherwise, then, who should I call and what should I tell them? Varsha will be off work soon, Dandelion will be around, but… should we bring them? Who else, if anyone, and how soon should we tell them we must move?”
[Please suggest an action in the Comments.
Note that this is the final ‘planning’ section before they will get on the move.
Have your comments in by 4 pm PST Oct
EDIT: I’m really sick today so I have to take a break for a day. I’m really sorry about this!
Feel free to turn in any time before the usual deadline on the 25th]