There had to be a key, she simply hadn’t found it yet. Twisting a curl of her black hair, the mage girl mumbled to herself as she paged back through her book. That was the way with everything; no matter how complicated a knot, as long as you kept picking at it, it would eventually give way.
Envesi didn’t recall how long she’d been studying. It was her uncle’s notes that had first intrigued her, drawing her into this field of study. His peers thought him odd, but they’d never spent as much time working with him as she had. At first, her position as Tanvar’s apprentice had only been to keep her out of trouble. It wasn’t that she’d been in trouble, precisely, but that was just the sort of people her parents were.
Had it not been for her uncle’s superior strength in magic, she might have thought herself an oddity. Neither of her parents made particularly powerful mages, and as far as she knew, none of her younger siblings had yet manifested any sort of Gift. Her family preferred politics to sorcery, as they called it. But they recognized the value in having mages in the family, and so had indulged her desire to learn, placing her beneath Tanvar’s tutelage.
It was then that she’d become acquainted with his work.
It was a fascinating notion, the idea someone could loosen the ties of magic. Anyone who knew anything about magecraft knew that an affinity to a particular type of power was permanent; only her uncle had thought to challenge the idea.
Magic was a river, they said. Once it cut its path, it was impossible to change the flow. This was how the bonds of affinity worked, limiting the path one’s power could take, the same way a river was limited by its banks.
Tanvar thought it worked differently. Rather than a river, the forces of magic were but droplets on a windowpane, tracing a path downward. As it traveled, it gained momentum, drawing in the droplets around it. But, like a rivulet streaming down the window, enough force could change its direction.
Of course, there was little reason to try. Even if Tanvar’s suspicion proved correct, shifting the direction of one’s magic would only push them into a different affinity, and what difference did that make? Perhaps with enough practice, a mage could learn to shift affinities on demand, but there had to be a better solution.
If there weren’t, there wouldn’t still be free mages.
“Still here, little blossom?” Tanvar chuckled as he stepped into the room.
“Yes, uncle.” Sometimes Envesi forgot that her study space was his office; she spent more time there than he did.
He turned down one of the lamps, making the office just dim enough that she couldn’t keep reading. “You know you ought to be sleeping. Your parents will be here early in the morning, and they have important news.”
Envesi tried not to groan. “I already know what they’re going to say, and I don’t care.”
“You’re nearly twenty pents, blossom. You should be happy to marry.”
“And at nearly twenty pents, I’m one of the youngest women to ever wear Master white,” she replied, mindful not to be curt. Tanvar was kind to her; it wouldn’t do to snap at him for something that wasn’t his fault. “I have no intention of being married off.”
“And what do you intend, child?” her uncle asked, raising a brow.
To determine what truly limited power. To discover how to manipulate it. It was not a knot that tied their magic to one element, but a tapestry of something, woven and thrown over their Gift to leave only a narrow channel exposed. To understand the limitations her uncle hadn’t yet determined. To find the woven powers that held them, and determine how to pull them apart. To find the tapestry’s edge and rend it.
Only then could she understand the true nature of magic, understand the power that flowed in her veins as surely as her blood.
Only then could she harness it all.
She licked her lips. “To expand on your research, Uncle. That’s all.”
And all she could now imagine.
This week’s prompt was “Obsession.”
The lovely Megan Cutler covered this prompt back in September!