She studied her face in the mirror

It proved difficult to study the color of her own eyes. Each time she tried to focus on a new point in either iris, her eyes flickered and lost focus, breaking her concentration. And she could only study one eye at a time, a quirk of vision that had never bothered her before.

No matter how long she stared, she saw nothing remarkable. Her eyes were still brown, so dark they were almost black. They hadn’t changed.

But they would.

The mirror fogged when she exhaled, the breath she’d held until it burned in her chest carrying the weight of her worries with its release. Sera straightened, adjusting the multitude of tiny dark braids around her earth-brown face. She wasn’t worried about her hair, it would turn white eventually regardless of the life she chose. But her eyes were her mother’s eyes, her father’s eyes, a family legacy she’d carried with her in the travels that took her far from home. They were as much a part of who she was as her long, slender fingers and her wide, mischievous smile. As much as the power she carried, which threatened to take their color away.

Most magelings looked forward to the day their eyes changed color. As a yellow-rank mage she knew she was likely some time from having to worry about it; most mages didn’t see their eyes change color until they were blue-rank, or even named Master. But eyes always changed before their hair turned white. Their teachers said it was a mark of their power, but Sera had heard other stories. A Master once told her the sudden change in the color of their hair was a mark of trauma, attained when they reached the pinnacle of their strength and attempted to reach beyond it. She didn’t know what that meant, not really, since the Master had refused to speak of it any further, but the pinched expression that had crossed the woman’s face said more than words ever could.

Sera didn’t regret the choice to pursue training of her Gift. She didn’t think she’d be a powerful mage, but she had finesse and clever ways of solving problems without expending much of her own energy. Her teachers were fond of her, and she of them; their kindness made the loneliness of being so far from her family worth it. With the unrest in the southern trade kingdoms, she didn’t know how much longer they’d be apart. The last letter her mother sent her told of their worries and asked many questions. Though her mother hadn’t said it outright, she knew her family still considered leaving their homeland. She had tried not to sound too eager in her reply, but the coastal country that was home to the Grand College of Magic was as good a place to live as any, and she did want to see her baby brother before he grew too much more.

But even if they did come, it would take months to cross the sea between continents. Gating had been forbidden after the feuds began, keeping Sera separated from her loved ones for longer than she liked.

How old would Garam be when they finally saw each other again?

And would her eyes still be brown, or would they have changed to the strange, crystalline, almost luminescent blue of an accomplished mage?

Frowning, she pulled herself away from the mirror, adjusting the collar of her training robes and peering through the window at the tall courtyard clock. It was almost time for her next lesson, she couldn’t dally any longer. Her eyes were still brown today; that was all that mattered. Even if her eyes were blue when she reunited with her family, she’d still be herself.

Wouldn’t she?

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