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‘Then why rip them pre-emptively? Why not utilise them?’
‘The Guild doesn’t trust what it can’t understand. Letting those people go is an act of faith they’re incapable of.’
I know she’s right, but I still don’t fully understand the Guild’s motives for the pre-emptive removals, and I don’t think Loricel does either. This is about more than control.
‘I don’t understand why they don’t tell us about Earth or remnants. There has to be a reason they don’t want us to know about them. Even you think it’s important enough to tell me,’ I point out.
‘Some things shouldn’t be forgotten.’
‘Remembrance is never useless,’ I say, recalling my mother’s wise, quiet smile whenever she spoke those words to me as a child. My fingers twist to the techprint on my wrist.
‘It’s important that you understand where we come from, Adelice. Especially if you will be assisting in the mining operations,’ she continues. ‘Earth’s resources can’t last forever, not if the Guild tries to mine without the support of a Creweler. They won’t have anyone who can see the raw materials, but that won’t stop them from trying.’
‘Wait, if we’re pulling the material from the surface,’ I say, my eyes growing wide, ‘then Earth is frozen!’
Loricel cocks her head to the side and regards me thoughtfully. ‘So you’ve discovered warping.’
Warping – that’s the perfect word for it. The moments I made in my quarters weren’t frozen, they were warped. I take a deep breath and admit my secret to her. How I can touch time without a loom. I even tell her about the separate moments I’ve woven, but I leave Jost out of my stories.
‘Yes,’ she says. ‘I knew you could do it, but I had no idea you knew.’
‘It was a happy accident,’ I say. I’m instantly drawn back to the stolen moments spent with Jost in my room. I look away so she won’t see me blush.
‘Are you leading with your left hand?’ she asks.
I pause and consider the question. ‘I don’t honestly know. We were taught to lead with our right on the loom, so I don’t think so. Does it make a difference?’
‘You’re left-handed,’ she says. ‘Crewelers always are. It allows us not to be constrained by the forward motion of time. That’s what helps us catch it.’
‘Should I always use my left hand?’ I ask, flexing my left hand’s fingers now and staring at them in wonder.
‘No.’ Loricel shakes her head. ‘It’s very powerful. If you can warp with your right hand, or using both hands at the same time, it’s much safer until you’ve truly honed your ability. The fact that you can warp without starting with the left is impressive. But be careful.’
‘Okay,’ I say, inhaling deeply.
‘There’s something else you have to understand about warping,’ she explains, holding out a hand in warning. ‘Yes, it pauses the moment around you. But it also puts you on a different time line. Within the warp, you can live a whole life.’
‘Can I die there?’ I ask. Would wasting away slowly with Jost be better than a quick, painless remap? I’d be dead either way.
‘And I would be dead everywhere – in the warp and in the real world?’
‘Yes,’ she says emphatically.
‘But the world outside,’ I say, biting my lip slightly in concentration, ‘is locked in that moment.’
‘That’s what you have to understand,’ Loricel says, leaning toward me. ‘Only the moment where you’ve caught the time is frozen. Essentially you’ve created a field of safety. The time and matter around it is frozen and no one can enter it. But merely in the immediate area where you’ve warped the weave.’
‘Outside that, time continues?’
‘Yes. And eventually the Guild would be able to break through your warp, but it would take a while.’
It’s a warning not to put too much faith in my happy little bubble. It can only keep me safe for so long and certainly not long enough to make much difference.
‘Can you move backwards along the time line of the warp?’ I ask, my voice filled with hope.
‘You already know the answer to that,’ she says, shaking her head sadly. ‘You can’t turn back time. We can harvest it, and stop it in the mining fields, but the time lines always move forward.’
‘Then Earth?’ I prompt.
She sits back in her seat and clasps her hands in her lap. ‘There are dead spots in the mining locations where the coventries rest. These are where we capture the time and elements for Arras. The drills create warps in those locations that freeze the Earth around them.’
‘But outside the warped areas, the rest of it is untouched? There could be people there still!’
‘I doubt that,’ she says with a hint of sadness. ‘The only people left on Earth were bent on its destruction.’
I frown, watching Arras spread around me through the wall illusion. What lay beneath it?
‘You know, I promised Enora I would never tell anyone I could weave without a loom,’ I confide.
Loricel gives me a sad smile. ‘She was protecting you. She knew it would mark you as a Creweler, but you must have known the Guild was aware of your talent.’
‘I didn’t want to worry her,’ I admit. ‘And I thought maybe if I pretended not to know they would think they had made a mistake.’