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Jumping, as Evos called the strange magic, was one of the unique spells engraved on the Ageless Sword; one that allowed her to move near instantaneously to another point in space. There were other, more common, spells on the sword, like the ones that granted an increase to her physical strength and gave her protection from harm, but though Tavia had done her best to decipher the esoteric spell-sets engraved on the blade, the complex circles, lines, and symbols were far beyond her meager understanding of Althieology.

 

She didn’t really need to know though, that was Evos’s job, but either way, it was thanks to some of them, and the protective aspects of the coat she wore, that she was now only suffering from a bump on the head after hitting the wall.

 

Tavia focused on her destination, and the spell triggered when Evos sensed her focus. The world seemed to melt away around her, leaving her in a void that was neither dark nor light. Despite it being a place of emptiness, there was a sense of movement, like a breeze that swept past her, pushing her forward, but where that breeze led, she didn’t intend to follow. She focused instead on moving to her destination, the point in space across the room where she wanted to be, but in order to actually make the Jump, to complete the spell, imagining wasn’t enough, she had to really believe she had crossed that space and was now standing in that spot. Tavia worked to convince herself, a feat more difficult than she had imagined it would be before she started practicing this. She knew where she actually stood, and trying to convince herself — trying to convince her very body that she stood somewhere else was difficult to say the least.

 

The void began to fade as the Althier sustaining the spell began to dissapate without Tavia fixing her destination in mind. She grasped at the remains of the spell as panic set in — the same thing had happened last time and she’d been sent tumbling into a wall — and her focus shattered. The void around her was replaced with the real world, and more specifically, the rough black of the floor just mere inches from her face.

 

She landed, face first with a thud, and lay on the ground for a long moment, too fed up with her own incompetence to even bother standing. After a minute of stewing in her frustrations, she rolled over onto her back and stared up at the ceiling so far above it faded into darkness.

 

“I give up,” she said, “this is never going to work.”

 

The Ageless Sword had slipped free of her hand when she fell — at this rate she was going to need to tie the thing to her hand to keep from losing it — and a vibrant glow enveloped the sword. The shape of the glow shifted, transforming into something much larger, and when it faded, a young man was standing above Tavia, looking down at her with a mix of concern and annoyance in his features. As soon as he appeared — and the sword disappeared — the coat Tavia was wearing also faded away in a shimmer of blue, revealing her clothes well stained by her hard work and repeated tumbles across the dusty chamber.

 

“If you think like that, it never will,” Evos chided her in a voice too soft to even echo.

 

He stood above her, looking down as if trying to decide what to do with the lost cause at his feet. At a glance, Evos had the appearance of a ghostly pale young man of around twenty or so, but age was irrelevant to Evos. His fair skin seemed to reflect the cyan light of the walls, almost as if he himself was glowing, and his silver hair had a blue sheen to it in the light.

Though he was tall, Evos’s frame was slender. He hardly looked strong enough to even lift the sword he had transformed from, but because his body was created from Althier, it wasn’t wise to judge him based on looks.

“I’ve been trying to get this down for weeks now,” she said. “I should be studying instead.”

 

She heaved herself to her feet, rubbing the back of her head where — yup, there really was a lump growing there.

 

“You’re taking too long to fix a destination in your mind,” Evos said. “That’s why it keeps failing.”

 

She gave him what she hoped was a withering look, but the throbbing in her head was too distracting to really put any energy into the expression. Evos could only share his emotions with her when he was the Ageless Sword, when he was all...persony like this, they had to settle for words.

 

“You think I don’t know that?” she replied.

 

“I know you can do it, just stop thinking so hard, let it come to you intuitively,” he said.

 

With a sigh, Tavia headed for the chamber’s only functional exit — the other two blocked by collapsed walls a short way from the chamber. The exit was a short hallway culminating in a cruelly steep set of stairs. Located behind a disused classroom a short distance from the bustling center of the university, the entrance had lain undisturbed long enough to become covered by a collection of thick bushes and trees. Evos had mysteriously known about the entrance, guiding her to it without any hesitation. He hadn’t explained how he knew about it, but that was hardly the first time he’d failed ot explain.

 

“I hardly think I’m the right person to pull that ‘intuition’ scarver-shit on,” she muttered.

“I can’t think of a single person who finds anything magical to be less intuitive than me.”

 

She didn’t turn around to check, but the soft footsteps behind her told her Evos was following, and presumably listening. His clothing manifested with his body, he claimed it was made of Althier — like himself — and after several experiments, had settled on something resembling a white shirt and black jacket, along with a pair of black slacks and matching black shoes. Pale as he was, the mix of monochromatic colors did nothing for his complexion, but he had claimed anything more complicated took more Althier, and since Tavia herself had to supply that at regular intervals, she’d given up.

 

“Actually, why aren’t you the one directing that spell?” she asked. “I may be doing the channeling, but you’re the one actually handling the Althier and casting all the other spells, what’s different about this one?”

 

He didn’t answer immediately, and she glanced over her shoulder to see him staring at the ground, a frown on his face. He noticed her after a moment, and she looked back down the hallway.

 

“It’s not like I know where you want to Jump to,” Evos said. “In the heat of battle, we can’t take the time for you to tell me where, and even if you did, it wouldn’t be exact. I may be controlling the spells, but you’re the one actually fighting. I can sense your intentions to an extent, but a precise location is beyond me.”

 

A logical and simply stated reason, but one that didn’t seem to sit right with her. She shook her head. It wasn’t as if Evos would lie to her about something like this. Considering how much she’d been struggling to master the spell, if he could handle it himself, he likely would have done so without a fuss.

 

She reached the stairs and began ascending. The conversation died as they trudged up the steep steps; the pair falling into a comfortable silence even as they reached the top and pushed their way out of the darkness and into the warm afternoon sun.

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A note from GracelessLiar

It's time to announce the winner of the Time Eater Fanart Contest! There was only one winner selected this time around. SakuraTemple with their beautiful comicalized rendition of Chapters 41 and 42! Let's all give the winner our congratulations! SakuraTemple is also the winner of the drawing for the $50 Amazon card for their efforts in spreading the word about the the contest and novel!

The next chapter will be posted on Friday!


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