Well snipping at it with tiny silver sithers, really.
Trying to expand on stuff is always fun, even though technically I’m supposed to be trimming. Here’s a reworked scene, out of context etc. Iliana and Calissa are sisters. Jek is their bastard half-brother. Jek and his…bat-thing just killed five servants with some kind of magic.
Above us, the heavy alien magic is dripping through the ceiling, spreading like a black stain. “There’s something very strange in this house,” I say. “I’ve never seen the like.” The unnatural magic is fading. With every sense enhanced, I can see the edges slowly dissolving.
The firelight is too bright when I open my eyes, and I realise Iliana has forgotten to raise her shields while I’ve been in a scriven trance. She’s churning with a grey-green colour, so thick that I can almost taste it in the back of my throat, acrid and chalky. She’s so sad. I suck in a breath. I’ve never seen my sister like this, never. I pull my gaze from that dreadful lonely misery and glance up at the stained magic. “Iliana,” I say. “The house is soaked in magic. Soaked.”
“Can you see it?” She perks up. “Is it something we can use? Like scriven?”
I shake my head. “I don’t know, but if we could – if we could harness the kind of power that ripped those men apart,” I stare at her face, “Illy, the Mekekana wouldn’t know what hit them.”
“But we can’t – we don’t know how.”
“No, But Jek - or the bat, I’m not totally sure – one of them can. We need to know how. And they’re the only ones who know what really happened in that room.”
“J – Our brother is as good as dead.” She looks at me, the sadness that is shrouding her tempered now with resignation, with quiet hurt. “You know that. Not even Father will be able to pretend otherwise.”
“You’re right.” I sigh, and lean back in my chair. Iliana forgets though, she forgets that we have one more person on our side. Someone who is not of our House. “He will die. Unless someone speaks for them at their trial . . . .” I wait. “We need that information. It’s House Ives’ chance to gain face.”
She puts a finger to her mouth to chew at a nail, a habit I thought Mother had long ago discouraged. “You want me to save them? Save Jek?” Her voice rises in a muted shriek on his name, before she clams her mouth shut.
“I want you to save the magic. And that means Jek and his bat. You can talk to Trey, you can make sure there’s a voice in the Mata that will speak for them.”
Her expression doesn’t change, but her aura wavers, rippling with a milky uncertainty. “No,” she whispers. “I won’t do it. I don’t care…” Her voice is far away and I don;t think she even sees me anymore.
I press my palms together and bow my head. I know what I can do. “Illy,” I say softly. “You will.” I look up at her, hold her gaze. “You will, or I’ll tell Trey about what happened with you and Jek. And I will tell them both who you still-“
”No!” She stands, her face white. Her aura disappears as she brings down her shields. “You-” she says, then covers her mouth with one hand and glances at Mother.
“I know,” I say.
“Shut up.” Her words are muffled still. She drops her hand and stares at me like it’s the very first time she has truly seen me.
“I will do it,” I tell her and I keep my face hard as glass, even though with every word I feel my inners crumbling to dust and nothing, I never thought it would destroy me so utterly, to use her love against her. I thought it would be a victory. My mouth tastes of ash. “Unless you agree.”
Illy crumples, sitting down on the chair with a solid thump. There is still no colour in her face. She tilts her head and looks up at the ceiling, at the slow drip of magic that only I can see.
“If I’m right, it will make the Ives’ name good again.”
“And if you’re wrong?” she whispers.
“Really, if I am, what does it matter? Ives is a tangled mess, it certainly can’t get worse.”
She covers her fear by carefully placing the scriven box back in her bag and fiddling with the clasp. With a whisper of silk she stands, and holds her hand stiffly out to me as if we were strangers. “I’ll see what I can do.”