The Long Retreat No. 40

Falthejn nodded gravely. “That is the greatest risk that we who weave magic face. When we draw near to that point, the world does not work as it should. You may find yourself violently ill, or floating above the ground, or perhaps catching fire. It is difficult to push the boundaries to breaking. To my understanding, it has happened twice—once before the war with the dweorgr, and once ten years from now.” He paused, realizing he’d slipped into the formal voice. “Sorry. I get a little energetic when I speak of such things. Few realize the true danger.”

“I get it,” Sif said, eyes wide. Utmost sincerity sounded in her voice. “Is that why we don’t just burn down the whole south to stop the ontr?”

Falthejn nodded. “The buzzing you hear,” he continued, “is magic. The world longs to be its proper shape, and groans against the stress.”

“Do you hear it?”

“I learned to ignore it. I can show you how.”

Sif nodded fervently.

“It isn’t hard,” Falthejn said. “Your mind perceives, but doesn’t know how to show you. I show you once, and your mind will see the order of things.”

“I don’t understand.”

Falthejn sat, and waved for her to sit across from him. “You will. Close your eyes. Take deep breaths.”

Sif sat. Falthejn made a fist and placed his thumb against her forehead. She gasped. He took his finger away. Words could not describe it; perhaps aelfish had the words, but norrmanssprak did not. It was as though Sif had been blind her whole life, and then somebody had told her to open her eyes. He touched her forehead again, and her eyes snapped open.

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