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Korin awoke early and alone. He was used to that. Ádan would be back tonight or tomorrow night, and then they’d talk. In the meanwhile, Korin had plenty of other things on his mind.

Sheluna was in her workspace, at her cluttered desk, writing. Cír was sprawled at her feet, twisted into a pose that only a cat could find comfortable, with his back feet pointed one way and his front feet up in the air, pointed the opposite. His tail twitched when Korin came into the room, but the tiger had gotten used to Korin, and didn’t even bother to open his eyes.

Sheluna, likewise, didn’t look up, until Korin said, “What if everything I’ve ever been taught about magic is wrong?”

That made her smile, but she kept writing, holding up a finger for Korin to wait. Only after she got to the end of the page did she set down the pen and turn her chair to face him. “What brought this on?”

“Everything. All the things you’ve been saying. Every new thing I’ve tried. These experiments you and I have done—why haven’t I been studying magic like this all my life?”

Sheluna’s eyes pulsed a soft red glow of pleasure. “Now you’re starting to see. There are entire worlds outside the rules you’ve been taught.”

Korin sat down next to Cír, who tilted his head back and looked at Korin through narrowed eyes—an imperious demand for chin skritches. Which Korin obeyed. “Then why have the rules at all?”

“Because magic is dangerous,” Sheluna answered in a matter-of-fact tone. “And because there are people who would abuse it. Wizards who would be a danger to themselves and to the people around them without the rules. But then there are the brilliant, gifted few—like you, Korin—who can transcend, for whom the rules are unnecessary restriction.”

Not just like him. “Like you too.”

“Well of course.” Sheluna waved his statement away like it was a given. “I’m an Archwizard. The rules for us are different.”

And if Korin became an Archwizard, like Sheluna kept telling him he should…

“I still have so much to learn.”

“We never stop learning. But you’re already accomplished. Gifted.” She pointed at him. “Confidence, Korin. That’s your real lesson. Be confident. Be bold. All the rest is already within your grasp.”

Last night, Korin had been bold. And that had been amazing. “I’m ready to try.”

Sheluna nodded. “Good. What, then, shall we focus on today?”

Korin was ready for the question. “Magical effects. Maintaining them—a number of them—and how to weave them into a larger pattern so I can handle more of them at once.”

Sheluna’s eyes grew thoughtful and their morning work began.

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