It’s not they crying that hurts most
The flowing waters cleanse as they sting
It’s when you’re beyond crying
The rivers dammed up and dry
That the blade cuts deepest between ribs
Not just for myself, a selfish hoarded pain
But for those who I don’t know how to salve
Who live and die despite all my efforts
To care is to open your shirt and beckon
For the knife to glide in, sever, keen
Yet the stone cannot choose to feel
Just as I cannot choose to ignore

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Danya wasn’t terribly good with firearms, but the rules of her order forbade open use of elemental power among the uninitiated (she, along with many of the younger initiates, glibly referred to this as the “Harry Potter Rule”). Many cantrips involved a small projectile, a sudden burst of speed, and maybe a flash and crack for theatricality–not unlike a gunshot.

So by loading a pistol with blanks and heading down to the Rio de Janiero shooting range (creatively named after the January River that wound through downtown Sutton, Ohio), was a way to practice in public without much suspicion. And, if an assailant threatened on a lonely winter’s night, who could have told the difference between a clean gunshot and an Invocation of Stony Ignition and Animation?

She was enjoying herself, and attempting to draw a star on the paper target using Invocations of Base Metals From Air combined with Invocations of Airy Speed, when a shooter in the next booth leaned over.

“You have wonderful aim. Where’d you learn to handle a pistol?”