Instructions for Control Magic
(Papers left in a hidden location in the city of Lavine)
I’m writing these down because the knowledge needs to last.
Now that you have it, one choice you’ll make is if you’ll share it, arrange for someone else to find it when you die—if you die—or simply leave them to be discovered. That’s up to you.
First: all of this magic is real.
Before you start thinking it’s some joke, pick up one of my talismans or make one of your own, then touch an animal (not a person yet; no witnesses) and try to find the trick of concentration that will let you reach the creature’s mind. If the mental keys don’t come easy to you yet, think about how this power will change every single part of your life, if it does turn out to be true.
It’s also dangerous. If you lose control of the magic, you can miss out on years of your life, and there are worse things it can do. Mastering it takes courage.
Also, if you feel that controlling the power feels like juggling two forces rather than one, that’s because it is. My proudest moment has been finding the secret of a second magic, and learning to join that energy with my own so they reinforce each other. You’ll be learning to grasp one while compensating for the other, until you can switch between them as fast as thought.
(I believe there have to be more forms of magic than these two that have hidden in Lavine. I mean to keep looking.)
Possession is the more flexible magic.
Hold a talisman and learn to move your thoughts into another mind to control it, by touch. You’ll find your control is weak and dangerous to you unless you push your will into theirs far enough to overwhelm them and abandon your own body. (Returning will be easy, if you do it right.)
Once in control, you can move that creature from the inside, view the world through their senses, and then touch another to shift into that body, and so on. Most important, those affected will have no memory of the time you were in control.
–Because of course, the magic’s value completely depends on people never suspecting you can turn anyone and anything against them. You’ll learn to find people who will convince themselves a few lost minutes only mean they were tired. With practice you can move through a crowd by seizing someone for the moment it takes to brush against the person ahead, and keep shifting forward faster than any of them notice. People find it easy to ignore missing moments because they have no reason to believe anything else—and only your carelessness can open their eyes. Disguising the time you take would be easier in the days before clocks were in view everywhere.
The most difficult skill would be to control a person around people who know him, without giving everything away. Every moment can involve more knowledge you don’t have (believe me, you can’t read their memories) and another test of how well you’ve learned to imitate how they speak.
Much easier is to control animals. Since what you most often want is mobile eyes around the city, this usually means birds. –Yes, birds. Now you see my interest in keeping them.
You should see the challenges in making the best use of your control. The other truth is that you can always release your hold on a mind and return to your own body in an instant.
–Practice that skill. Even small injury to a body you’re in will be painful to you. The most likely danger might be as you’re first learning to control animals and avoid the hazards around them. A hawk killed the first pigeon I flew, and I am always grateful I got out before it struck.
Sleep is the deeper magic.
By touch you can also put someone to sleep, for minutes or for much longer.
This works best combined with possession: if you’re leaving a body in a position where they’d notice too much, you can knock it out as you leave. Or as a simple weapon, it’s less trouble than taking control.
But let me be clear: when you send yourself to sleep, you do not age.
Think about that. Which hours of the day are actually worth living in? What days would you have plans you need to check on, and which do not?
Taking full advantage of this means learning to leave your body protected. It means rethinking every moment in your life ahead, and whether it needs to reconnect with the people that have been tied to you, or not. You can learn just how often to visit people to lull their suspicions—you’ll see how often someone expects you to waste the time you have because they have no idea you have better choices. Ordinary people become… ordinary.
I would say I’m older than I look, but you’ll find other factors have been at work.
The key is the talismans.
Magic is an energy that is drawn into talismans we prepare. Each use of it drains some of that power, and needs it to be restored.
When you shift your mind, you carry some of that energy from your talisman with you, but the bulk of it stays on your real body.
There are also ways to use talismans to extend your control beyond your touch.
First, create a talisman from a piece of–