19 ♦ Aleria

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Seven Violet Mages

Nalowei and Macadera walk shoulder-to-shoulder next to me; and Elexus follows on our heels, booting pebbles through pine needles, kicking and crunching.

Occasionally, Elexus asks me questions, and I try to answer best I can.

"How'd you finish your masters in magic so early?"

"I read a lot of books."

"Why'd you accept the position as Lady of Violets?"

"Young leaders become great leaders. We have more opportunity, as leaders, to grow."

"Yeah, but why'd you want to do it?"

"Because I want to grow."

"You looking forward to your twenty-fifth birthday?"

"It just means I can legally drink and smoke."

Elexus laughs dryly to that one.

Behind us, Chante and Kara break twigs under their cloth slippers, saying nothing; I glance over my shoulder occasionally, smiling reassuringly at both of them, though neither look particularly concerned.

It's Jet, the last of us, who always seems on the verge of flight.

Jet walks not behind us, but to the side of us, as a shadow cowering from sun. Half of this is the result of his illusion magic, I'm sure; illusion magic relies on frightening not just its victims, but the magicians who practice it, too. It's the magic of fear.

Yet that's also why I'd say, the other half of the argument might be that his flighty nature is just who he is. The magic didn't make him this way; he chose the magic because it aligned to him.

Jet is always scared, wide-eyed, quiet to the edge of disturbia. I cannot remember why I selected such a fragile young man to come with us.

But in truth, the more I look back at the Choosing Ceremony, the more I think Chante orchestrated my decisions as much as I did. And I let her do it, mind you; unlike illusions, enchantments are pleasant, warm, and welcome.

An enchantment comes to the door of our mind, and we tell it to come in.

Yet the victims of enchantments always feel like they're to blame, don't they?

So did I let Chante enchant me, or did she victimize me?

I can't wrap my head around my feelings towards the strange child. I suppose, I've never been good at sitting with my feelings, though; I've never found the formula for sorting out guilt.

I still think about what I've done to Ovelia.


First to Arrive

I expected the Sun Mages to arrive on the cusp of Second Street before we ever made it here; or perhaps, my sister's school, the Verdant Mages of Third Street, would see the Melody-Harmony Engine before we did.

I expected this because those are the Red School's neighbors, First Street and Third Street.

Walking here from the Seventh Street—the opposite side of the Wizardhood—must've taken us a half hour at least.

So where are the others?

I try not to worry about my sister.

Yet if we're the anomaly—the furthest, somehow the first—I should instead worry about myself; about the Violet Mages who I brought here.

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