Sioned, lying in the grass, had mentally run through all the kata variations she knew and had now moved on to pondering the pattern bomb question. She wasn’t actively focusing on it, rather letting her thoughts meander around the core of the problem, which was the only part she had yet to successfully map out. Occasionally she would wander into other thought patterns; missing Roshar and wondering how things had moved on (fast time shadows, all her friends would be long dead), searching for Oberon, playing with theoretic conjuratoric variations on simple items and previously mapped out patterns, the smell of Esmond’s hair, the fascinating movements of cogs in a watch, her fathers……oh….OH!

She sat bolt upright, her mind quickly pulling a tantalising thread and unraveling the idea caught within it until she could see it clearly.

“Of course…OF COURSE!”

Lara stared at her. “Of course what?”

“The manipulation of conjuratoric space, and time, how could I not think of that. I’m only thinking in three dimensions, and I should be thinking in at least eight. This will work! I’ll only be a second….maybe more than a second. But don’t go anywhere, I’ll be back.” she pulled out a trump, and whilst Lara attempted to clarify exactly what was happening, she made contact and was gone.

Lara sighed. Hopefully Sioned would remember to come back.

Esmond wasn’t quite sure what Sioned was talking about, the conversation from her end had moved too fast for him to grasp. He pulled her through and she leapt at him. If he had not been as physically aware of her as he was, that would have ended on the ground. As he was, he caught her, she wrapped her legs around his waist and planted one right on his lips.


“Sioned, can you get off me please.” There were sounds of stifled laughter from a group of rangers resting near the front of the tent.

Sioned lowered herself to the ground, and continued to talk. All her words ran in to each other, but it was obvious that something had happened and she was bursting with energy.

“Sioned…stop…” she finally took a breath. “You asked me if I was with the Warden.”


“She’s inside,” Esmond cut her off, “but she’s giving a brief…”

“Great!!” Sioned turned and was inside the tent before he could finish.

“…ing to the….oh for crap’s sake,” and he followed her inside.

It’s hard to burst into a tent, but Sioned somehow managed it. Runa, Janek and Julia all turned in the same instant, and the hounds flinched and started growling. She made a bee line for Julia, her words never stopping. It took Julia a minute before she began to latch on to recognisable words in the babble and was finally able to step in to the stream. She shushed the dogs with a hand movement and began to fire back her own fast worded responses.

Sioned stepped up to a map covered table in the middle of the room, removing a gold torc from her neck and through a series of eye twisting movements, rendering it into a small copper tablet. With another wide gesture she extended it to cover a large portion of the table, and then began pulling elements in to three dimensional space from the surface.

Esmond joined the other two stewards as they watched with both concern and amazement.

“This construction isn’t new, something we’ve been working on and can easily put to bed.” The warden spoke quickly, but could still be easily understood.

“Yes,thismatrixherecanbeslightlyimprovedtoincludeafailsafeifwechangetheintenthereandaddatertiarytriggerlikethis.” Sioned, not so much. One element changed abruptly as she inscribed something new into the surface of the copper and it rose to replace what had been there before.

“Butthisisaboutthecore,somethingthatonlyjustpoppedintomyhead.” There was silence. She quickly scribed into the copper a complex series of matricies, actions, triggers and rules. Her hand moved rapidly, she gnawed on her lip and tapped her left heel rapidly on the floor. Esmond knew these signs from past experience. She was getting something extremely complicated down as fast as possible, and that was very, very fast.

Finally she stopped, and a new, denser cluster of elements rose from the sheet. She dismissed the remaining exterior elements, and they faded in a sparkle of falling gold. With a pulling gesture she expanded the rising core making the details clearer. The Warden was smiling.

“We don’t have to suppress or constrain the core result…” Julia said.

“No, we just place it in a bubble of extremely slow time…” Sioned was finally understandable.

They stood either side of the slowly rotating matrix, locked eyes with each other, grinning.

“We can make a pattern bomb!” They said it simultaneously.

“And the application is limitless…” Sioned continued, stopped suddenly in the middle of a thought, her mouth forming an O.

“Oh…oh, I’ve just thought of something,” followed by a chuckle. A second later the copper sheet was reverting to a torc which she gathered quickly and ran for the door.

She yelled “I’ll be back! I promise!” over her shoulder as she grabbed a trump from her pocket and was gone.

“Is she always like that?” Asked Janek.

Before anyone answered, she ran back in to the tent “Nowaitletmejustgetthatdownsoyoucanhaveitsorryihavetogodosomething.” She flipped one of the maps over, grabbed the closest piece of drafting charcoal and rapidly mapped out the core again in two dimensions. She finished, pulled Julia unexpectedly into a hug and on her way back out the door snatched a kiss from Esmond. As the tent door flapped closed again, they could hear her yell back “This is so going to work!”

There was silence for a few minutes.

“Mostly always, yes.” Esmond supplied.

Lara pulled Sioned back through the trump.

“Lara!” Sioned took her face in both hands, grinning like a maniac. “I have an idea.”

[Continues in Abrupt departures and The calm before the barrier]