Toar said the best way to test control was to practice in the dark.
A good keimon, he told Jaera, could spread her hands and do her Work in daylight without the glow on her palms even showing in the sunshine. She could thread her energy onto the air like beads on lace, hiding it under the pattern of the light that was already there. It would only show in the shadows, motes on shafts of sunlight that didn’t exist. She could Work quietly, spread her energy thin and have everything she needed ready in the air.
The very best keimon, he said, leaning down to look her in the eye, need never even glimmer in the shadows. She could Work in the dark, and never dispel a shade of it. She could cast energy onto the air as if she was only putting its proper skin on it. With perfect, iron control, she could spread her energy everywhere, and still blink sightlessly into the pitch black.
Toar had held her eye to make sure she understood what he intended her to be. Jaera had nodded.
“I can smell your bleeding heart from down the hall.”
Vardan looked up at the sound of the other man’s voice, unsurprised at the half smile on Donnemey’s face. His eyebrows were bent together, examining Vardan as he approached in the stone hall. It was such a familiar expression, this false confusion poorly painted over his amusement, that Vardan hardly registered it anymore. There was so much more to dislike about the man than the vaguely insulting lines of his face.
He met Donnemey’s eye dully. “What does it smell like?”
The sheath relinquished the sword with a soft click like a key turned in a lock. Jennika paused with her hand wrapped around the hilt, and tried to decide if that was a bad sound echoing in her clever little silence.
Going still, she cocked her head, and listened just to make sure that her silence was still clever, and not the thing that fell when heads suddenly came up and breaths were held to hear what was not there.
Below her, the first floor of the house laid as quietly as before. Before she came, there had been a light hum through a cracked window, but she’d shut that up tight before it could wake anyone who might be willing to get out of bed to investigate. The second floor ached and cracked with its usual nighttime shufflings. A man snored. A sideboard creaked in the breeze outside. Some timber in the wall decided to shrink in the cold and groan about it. But none of them were loud enough to break the silence that Jennika had brought with her through the second floor window she’d shimmied into.
She slid the sword a little farther out.