Peter, Eun, and Kora were sitting in his bedroom, legs crossed, facing toward each other. Their first session had gone surprisingly well.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Peter admitted. “I thought it would be harder, but it’s kind of relaxing, actually.”
“Magic usually is,” Kora said. “It’s fairly similar to psychedelics only a lot more wild—there’s no chemical to anchor your perception onto, so your manipulation of energy becomes pure intent. Anything and everything becomes a focal point.”
“Anything, everything…nothing,” Eun said.
“Exactly.” Kora nodded. “The less duality, the better.”
“It was…” Eun’s brow wrinkled. “It was…meditative. That’s what it felt like to me, anyway.”
Another nod. “Meditation, magic…in the end, it’s all the same. They’re both ways of piercing causality and merging your mind with the heart of existence.”
“ ‘The heart of existence?’ ” Peter asked.
“Words can’t describe it, but all that good stuff they hint at in the books…” Kora shrugged. “Back on Elithia, we called it ‘the True.’ As good a name as any, I suppose.” She shrugged again.
“It’s perfect,” Eun assured her.
“I liked it,” Peter said, looking at Kora. “But still—do you foresee a scenario where I have to use this stuff? I mean, I’m sure it’s good to know, but—”
“You just said it: ‘foresee.’ ” Kora’s eyes turned distant and speculative. “I’ve been having dreams…vivid ones. The skills you’re learning will come into play.”
“The True,” Kora repeated, shaking her head and bringing her attention back to the present. “Everything leads to it. It’s entertaining, sometimes, to pretend that isn’t the case, but the True is woven into all of existence. It is existence. You can’t avoid it. It’s inescapable.”
“In the end…” Eun said slowly, “in the end, we’re in a no-lose game. We can make things unpleasant, but we’ll return to the True no matter what.”
“Exactly,” Kora said.
There was a long, weighty silence. Almost a minute went by, then it lifted.
“So,” Peter said, clapping his hands and rubbing them together. “What’s next? More magic?”
Kora smiled again. “We’re short on time, so I’ll have to give you a crash course. Let’s skip straight to the useful stuff.”
“Which would be?” Peter raised an eyebrow.
“Think I can guess…” Eun ventured. “Battle magics, right?”
Peter clenched his fists. A cheese-eating grin arose on his face.
“Now we’re talking.”