“Illusions,” said Lilja. “Interesting.”
Sif nodded enthusiastically. “I can’t believe illusionism doesn’t have a guild of its own. You can do so much.”
“It’s less about how useful it is,” Einar said, “and more about how bad it is for the weave. Making a whirlwind or a firestorm—those don’t just happen. Making someone see something which isn’t there? That happens all the time already.”
Sif canted her head. “I hadn’t thought about it that way.”
“Torgrim Alvarsson put it in those terms during our game,” Einar replied.
Sif’s eyebrows went up. “Maybe I should learn how to play after all.”
The others laughed. To Sif, it was oddly loud. She frowned. Something felt wrong. Lilja and Einar carried on talking as Sif tried to figure it out. Suddenly, it came to her. She stopped mid-step. “The rivers,” she blurted out.
Lilja gave her a close look. “What?”
“Listen,” Sif said.
Einar and Lilja exchanged a look, but obliged her. The Hrimdal and Heimdal, the two rivers which frame the High Quarter north and south, and met at its east end, were broad and fast-flowing. The thunder of their passage was the ever-present undertone to the whole of the district.
Now, though, that roar was muffled, whisper-quiet. Even the wind through the lodgepoles of the park to their left was louder.
“Huh,” said Lilja.
Sif stiffened. She felt an unpleasant buzzing in her teeth. She knew that feeling. “Someone is working magic,” she hissed.
Lilja tensed. Einar opened and closed his hands, looking side to side. “Where?”
Sif lifted a shoulder, closed her eyes, and pushed her awareness beyond the bounds of her body. She saw it immediately, a twist in the weave centered in the park. “There,” she said.
Einar was ready for action. If a magiker was working his craft in the High Quarter off of guild grounds, he was sure to be doing something illegal.
Sif moved her hands in a form Einar didn’t know, then spoke a few rising syllables in ælfish, then simply disappeared.
“Sif!” Lilja shouted, near panic. Einar put a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“I’m right here,” said Sif’s voice. A dimple appeared in the fabric of Lilja’s sleeve. Lilja made a high-pitched ‘eep’. “It’s an illusion.” There was a moment’s silence. “Stay here. I’m going to take a look.”
“Wait,” Einar said. There was no reply. He glowered.
Lilja looked up at him, concern clear in her eyes. “She’s going to be okay, right?”
“I don’t know.”