Antian was indeed bent over his notebook when Sifani, Lorin, Namiss and Jatan climbed two flights of stairs to his level of the tower. His light hair fell lank over jug ears, and his thin right arm moved rapidly with the scratching of his pen. He bolted from his chair when Jatan said his name.
“Sifani!” Antian’s expression was all pleasure as he approached her, and he and Sifani touched each other’s shoulders. “I could hardly wait for you to come back. Welcome, welcome.” He hauled two rickety chairs from the wall and brushed a layer of dust from each of them with his hand, gesturing for Sifani and Namiss to sit after he did. “Did Jatan tell you about our next test?”
“Only that there was one,” Sifani replied, declining the seat. “What is it this time, Antian? I expect a great discovery from you today, as always.”
Antian’s nervous foot-shifting, which had long since ceased to irritate Sifani, commenced as he told her of the plan. “Well, it’s quite clear – as you know – quite clear that your power to reconstitute is much fiercer than we originally thought. Your breakdowns in the real world have allowed you to do things we didn’t think possible. We saw this in the test where you turned every leaf of a tree into fibrous strands, somehow, and of course, made the Head Counselor’s home—“
Blessed sweet man – he covered his mouth in mortification, realizing the incident he had just called up. Sifani waved her hand to indicate it was fine. Even if she let herself think about it, she would never admit that she continued to be disturbed by what happened on the day the study and practice of reconstitution was outlawed in Hashiram and its joint cities of Enell and Ashare.
Though Namiss had been with her, the situation had been entirely Sifani’s fault. That was the first time Sifani had experienced a breakdown – a particularly fierce one, for few things angered her as much as betrayal – and she had accidentally brought the Head Counselor’s manor down in dust.
Lorin studied his fingernails as he addressed a still humiliated-looking Antian. “Are you going to finish describing the test, or is this where we insert our own ideas for consideration?”
With an abrupt shake of his head, Antian remembered himself. “Ah, yes, Lorin. The test.” He regarded Sifani again. “Because we know how strong you can be in moments of anger, we’d like to see what your anger, coupled with control, can do within the epheria.”
Sifani tilted her head, resting her chin on one fist as she stared at Antian thoughtfully. “It’s worth a try. Though, who’s to say that my anger will yield that level of power whenever – and wherever- I use it?”
Namiss’s mouth formed an awed “oh.” “Imagine, Sif,” she said breathlessly, “if your anger is as strong in the epheria as it is in the real world…the possibilities!”
Namiss had always been captivated by Sifani’s description of the epheria. There was no Reehler blood in the girl’s veins, so she’d never truly know what it was like – Jatan had recruited Namiss as a scout or sorts, as she outstripped most street toughs in terms of survival instinct and ability.
“It would be amazing,” Sifani admitted. “What do you need me to do, Antian?”
“We’ll go out, as always,” he said. None of them wanted to an accident to happen in their home in the tower, since it had been hard enough to secure the building for themselves as it was. “Lorin will canvass with you, and help anger you, if you need help. Then, I want you to try to reconstitute something you accidentally reconstituted during one of your breakdowns in the real world. Only if you judge it safe, of course,” Antian amended swiftly. Jatan hadn’t wanted them to dare test the limits of reconstitution. There had been no stories, no lore, that even Ileniel the scholar could find of what happened if a Reehler tried something beyond his or her ability. “Pour all your concentration into it and see what you can do. If that goes well, you can try something even more difficult next time.”
Sifani heard Lorin snort behind her. He always chafed at rules. She knew the importance of them, though, and submitted to Jatan’s final judgment about such matters even when it was difficult. There was so little known of Reehlers, anymore. So much had been lost after the Fifth Era Migration that Sifani was determined to see the precious knowledge they gained preserved for future generations this time around.
“Perfect,” she told Antian confidently, to offset Lorin’s scoffing. “Take me where we need to go.”