The sunlight is crisp; clouds, pearlescent.

I adjusts the collar of my robes, where a small crystal is affixed to turn my voice into telepathic soundwaves, tiny oscillations that move through language-speaking intelligence a hundred feet around. This was one of my favorite technologies, when I first moved to the Wizardhood, so I was delighted when they gave me one of these baubles as part of my new station.

Beneath the celebratory shawls of the Violet Mages, below their simplified faces, they're all donned in the simplest, lavender-gray robes, no jewelry, no makeup; they are the youngest, strangest branch of the Wizardhood—we are the youngest, strangest branch of the Wizardhood—sharp in intellectual advancements, comfortably lonely.

"Amongst themselves, as they wait for me to begin, they whisper and brood; every word they exchange with another, they do so with urgency, a sense of importance. It's like watching the ocean ripple nonsensically, quickly, from a sudden gust of wind.

"I'm sorry," I say, and all the adults, some of the children, and none of the elders turn my direction to listen. Not the strongest way to start a speech, is it? They do not need to face me for the telepathy to work; although I speak aloud, I'm also speaking within, so where some of them may prefer following the movements of my mouth with their eyes—synced with the sound in their heads, naturally—others prefer to close their eyes, or look away, in order to tune in.

"I never wanted to be your leader," I tell them. "I didn't want to rule anyone; but most of you know how I came to this spot. Those of you who don't, you are already leaning into the ear of your neighbor.

"I am tasked, as Chosen of the Violet, regardless of my reluctance towards my station, with the immense task of determining which six of you will join me tomorrow, as we travel to the Melody-Harmony Engine at the center of Second Street to celebrate the seventh—can you believe it, seven!—engines designed to unpeel the onion of reality."

Some of the elders offer me a sheepish glance.

Others adjust their earpieces, to increase volume, decrease volume, or perhaps mute me.

I'm careful in watching the older among the Violet Mages; they are the ones who are most disgruntled by about my coming into office—their fair-complexioned, fragile, greenhorn leader; and I don't blame them for it. I'm quite a change from what they knew before.

"I should like everyone represented," I tell. "Men, women, and elochildren. Young and old. First-generation wizards; and mages from long lineages."

Then the crowd stills completely. Even the younger ones are adjusting their volume. My nerves twitch behind my eye, yet I keep my face still, as I survey every slack body, every malleable expression; every hard and loud stare; some of them reject my thinking. They think, only a young and foolish leader would try to choose fairly, would not exercise some restraint in some way or another.

Or is that what they think? Who am I to read their faces?

As I tuck a sliver of silver hair behind my ear, and lower my gaze to my glittering silver shoes, I try to picture my sister Ovelia, to the left of me, standing next to me; I wonder how my sister is doing now. I worry the Melody-Harmony Engine, this seventh invention, may be the last one. I worry for my sister's future.

Then I shake myself out of it, listening to the bangles and jingles of opal and amethyst earrings, bracelets, and anklets, jostling myself to the present moment with my increasing collection of adornments. I am running out of time. But my sister isn't, and I don't want the other six, who are also supposed to watch over the Wizardhood, to instead oversee their folly, to blunder our future with reckless invention.

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