“All the Incarnate are the same,” said Anala. “It’s a sign the magick’s growing stronger in you; it gradates in your blood. It seems that being around other magi stimulates the process…”
In another unexpected move, she grabbed hold of his collar and tried to pull it from his shoulder, but this time he managed to shake her off.
“See for yourself, then,” she said, exasperated. “Something that looks like a birthmark near there. They cauterise new-born royals to see if they have Incarnate abilities; the mark shows accelerated healing.”
“How do you know all this?” Will asked, subtly trying to look on his shoulder. He looked again at his wounded palm, observing as the edges of the cut began to knit together like a mesh of threads. The blood had worked into his hand like ink into cracks.
“I read,” she answered matter-of-factly, “and Uncle’s family have had plenty of dealings with Incarnate way of life over the centuries. He knows what he’s talking about, and he knows when he’s talking to one of the Incarnate –,”
“No,” he retorted. “All he knows is that the Avaric prince might be in Vincula, and that he’s the same age as me. So are thousands of other boys. How do I know you can’t do spells to make blood change colour or strange marks appear?”
“What profit would we have in doing that?”
“I don’t know! But if you’re seriously telling me I’m – I’m him – then that means –,” pain tightened like a Gordian knot in his stomach, “that they’re all dead.” He had dreamt of being a magus for so long, of having even the slightest power to escape the East. As his heart ached with a familiar seizure, princedom and power regardless, he knew he wanted to be any magus but Willow Avaric.
But then he began to think.