Rann turned over the letter in her hands again, hardly able to believe it. She wasn't sure whether to be happy, furious, or just plain relieved.


Tonight, you showed remarkable restraint. While some on the Council may worry that you lack the power necessary for Archmageship, the most important facet is when that power is wielded — and when it is not. I commend you for your brave restraint under pressure, and have no compunctions about voting for your promotion to Archmage the next time we convene.


The letter wasn't signed.


Are you kidding me? Rann thought. I couldn't -do- anything! And it turned out it wasn't me who was making it worse! I should have been helping! Zen nearly died tonight and I was completely helpless.


She shook her head as she pocketed the note, mounting the gryphon that would take her from Stormshield back to the fortress. But with the wind blowing through her hair as she took to the sky, it occurred to her. Maybe being "helpless" isn't so bad once in a while. Let people do what they're great at. Flipswitch and Robin and — hell, even Zenladin — they all did magnificently tonight, even if Robin thinks she made it worse. How much worse would it have been if I'd been in there too? …Maybe I should stop thinking of that as a shortcoming. Just…be okay with not having the answers all the time. I don't have to take charge of every situation. I can be the expert in frost magic. But when there's a man with a fiery curse inside him and he's bleeding everywhere…sometimes the best thing to do is stand back. Maybe that's what they mean.


As the fortress came into view, she asked herself quietly how she could apply that lesson to dealing with Claret. Perhaps the broader lesson here was about getting out of her comfort zone. Her comfort zone was, and had long been, leadership. Whether that meant leading a class in its studies, or taking charge of a spellcast gone wrong, she had always been the one with the answers, and she was comfortable that way. Uncomfortable would be doing something she didn't know so well — like being taught. After so long as a teacher, it was easy to forget what it was like to learn.


It seemed the way forward against Claret right now meant learning an entirely different form of combat. She would have much to learn…


And try as she might, she just couldn't see how she was ever going to work a gun.

Author Rann
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