Edie couldn’t believe how fast the semester was drawing to an end. They would be having exams next week! It didn’t seem like enough time. Of course, for some of her classes, the end couldn’t come quickly enough—she was really looking forward to getting the student-written plays in her theater class over and done with, and while she liked her French class well enough, she was really looking forward to the French classes she’d signed up for in the fall semester, which would be more challenging and immersive.
She wished her magic class wasn’t coming to an end quite so soon, though. True, next semester she’d be taking even better magic classes, but she felt like Ginny’s class hadn’t even scratched the surface. Part of that had to do with missing a class, of course, but she thought it was also just because there wasn’t enough time to fit in all the interesting things in one semester.
She was sitting quietly with Derwen and Darcy when Ginny finally (so it seemed) arrived in class and announced that they would be learning trance magic that day. “Unlike elemental magic,” she explained to them, “I believe that a few of you in this class will be unable to achieve an actual trance state. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Hey, you could prove your professor wrong, and wouldn’t that be cool?” A few people laughed.
“Trance is harder to control than elemental magic, but it does allow you greater scope in your abilities, especially if your own inherent magic is limited. You will be able to sense, reach, and use the magic that is in other living things. This can be dangerous, however, so today and most likely on Monday we will only be working on learning to go into trance and sense others’ magic. There will be plenty of magic to look at in this room. Now.” As she spoke, the lights in the room dimmed. Edie wondered whether she had used magic to do that or whether she had them on a timer—or had a secret accomplice by the light switch. “I will guide you into trance. Please begin by closing your eyes.”
Edie closed her eyes obediently, then breathed carefully in time with Ginny’s instructions as she gave them. The professor moved on from explaining how to breathe and getting them into the rhythm to asking them to sit straight and relaxed with their feet planted flat on the floor. Then she told them to imagine roots growing from their feet, down deep into the earth, digging in and grounding them there.
Edie followed all the instructions, though it felt awkward. She was sure she was just imagining the roots, not that anything was truly happening. She remembered doing trance magic with Corrie and Dawn last semester, when they’d had the book that the court faeries had planted on campus for them to find, and it had seemed easier then. But they’d been outside.
Was it obvious to everyone that putting down roots from your feet only worked when your feet were on the earth, or was that something particular to her? Maybe it was just something she’d learned from Leila, or at least gathered from her influence. Roots were for trees in the ground.
She realized her breathing had sped up past the slow, steady pace that Ginny had set them to and took a deep breath, trying to slow it down. She wouldn’t go into trance at all this way. She listened carefully to Darcy and Derwen’s breathing on either side of her and slowed her breath down to match it.
She imagined the tree roots again, sending them down, deep down, through the building and into the earth below. It still felt foolish, but she probably needed practice.
Ginny encouraged them to keep it up with the roots and steady breathing, but to slowly open their eyes. Edie did. She didn’t feel any different, and nothing looked different to her. The room was just a bit dark.
“If you’ve achieved a trance state,” Ginny said, “you should see my magic.” She gestured at her chest. “It’s like a bright red ball of light behind my ribcage. You can also look around the class carefully—at this early stage of learning, any movement may break your trance—and see your classmates’ magic. Do not attempt to reach out to it; you could hurt yourself or them. If you have not succeeded, keep working on your breathing and your roots. Make sure you are calm and the roots are strong.”
Edie gritted her teeth. She didn’t see anything like that at all. She wanted to ask Derwen and Darcy if they were succeeding, but the classroom was so quiet that Ginny would definitely hear her.
She was supposed to keep working on her breathing and her roots. It didn’t matter if she felt silly; she was doing magic. She slowed her breathing and tried again.