Unpublished Expanded Prologue

Love, Magic, Displaying: A Crash Course in Categories and Conventions for Convenients 

It’s never too late to learn all those silly little things you barely paid attention to in school. 

By Kim Martinez 


I know what you’re thinking, babes. 

You’re thinking: Kim, I’m a Convenient, not clueless. 

But let’s be real with each other here: our education system sucks, and with Convenients making up roughly 80 percent of the population, the curriculum only requires a perfunctory explanation of Big Four magic and Immunity. So yes, we all know how rude it is to ask someone—even another Convenient—what they can do, and sure, you might know all about the taboo of Displaying, how it carries more weight for Big Fours than it does for us. But do you know what magic falls under each category? Do you know why most people, even Convenients, won’t Divulge their magic and be Known by just anyone? Do you know why Displaying ever got wrapped up with sex and love in the first place? 

For some of you, the answer might be yes. But for a lot of you, no was probably an answer for at least one of these questions. Which is why I’m here, to break it all down for you so the next time someone Divulges they’re a Shifter, you won’t offend them by asking them to change the color of their hair like a Modifier. 

Magic can be split into six distinct categories: 

  • Magic of Immunity 
  • Magic of the Heart 
  • Magic of the Mind 
  • Magic of the Body 
  • Magic of the Exterior 
  • Magic of Convenience 

First, let’s start with what we all know: Magic of Convenience is a terrible name to describe what we can do. While I concede someone somewhere might think it’s nice, can being able to hear birdsong, no matter how loud my surroundings, really be considered a convenience? I think not! Since the things Convenience can do ranges anywhere from never losing anything (an actual Convenience) to having contagious enthusiasm (a fraction of Empathy), wouldn’t it be easier, more apt, to call it Common Magic? Obviously. But then, would we want to be called a Commoner? I’d say hard pass, so maybe the old dudes who named all these things were onto something. 

Second, I want to note all data is provided by the International Census of Magic, and while this list is organized least to most common in terms of categories, it does not mean each individual magic is arranged in ascending order. For instance, Magic of the Heart is the least common of all Big Four magics, but Omnivision, a Magic of the Mind, is the rarest of all individual magics, second only to Immunity in smallest population percentage. 

Third, I’d like to remind you that Big Fours can improve their magic, and you could meet two people from the same category, on the same day, with the same exact magic, and they wouldn’t necessarily be on the same level. With most things in life, some people are naturally more talented, others have the drive to reach their maximum potential, and then there’s the ones coasting through life perfectly content with the magic they have, unbothered by how much more powerful they could be if they just put the work in. 

Magic of Immunity 

The rarest magic of all, found in as little as 0.4 percent of the world’s population. Those with Immunity disrupt the magic of others, making them impervious to it. Which might seem neat if you’ve ever had an Empath call you a liar when you were, in fact, lying, but it does have its downfalls—Healing is magic and magic doesn’t work on Immunes, ergo, no magical Healing for them. Which is truly too high a cost to pay in my opinion. 

Magic of the Heart 

The least common Big Four category only has two distinct magics and makes up about 3 percent of the world’s population. There are the Empathswho can read and impact the emotions of others, and the Healers, who—you guessed it!—heal living things. Unfortunately for us all, Healing only goes so far, can only beat so much, so no matter what a fifth-year senior at a frat house tells you, immortality is not possible, and sometimes, cancer spreads too fast for even the strongest of Healers to beat. 

Magic of the Mind 

This category makes up about 5 percent of the world’s population and consists of five distinct magics. There are the Omnis who are split between language and sight. Omnilinguals can read, understand, and speak all languages. Meanwhile, Omnivisions have perfect vision (yep, they sure can see in the dark!), will never need glasses, and can see the unseeable, which ranges anywhere from the wind (which seems about as useful as never missing birdsong) to the magic surrounding us (which is, frankly, dope as hell). Then there’s Instacognition, the magic allowing Instacogs to master any and all skills immediately after being told/shown/taught how to do it. Like, imagine reading an IKEA manual and then never having to look at it again to build your furniture? Undeniably awesome, in my opinion. 

Up next is Clairvoyance, the ability to glimpse the future. Clairvoyants’ visions get triggered by their senses, coming to them in dreams or flashes of sounds and images while wide awake. But no matter what we hear every time a national tragedy happens, they’re not tuned into endless possibilities and probabilities and aren’t responsible for “letting” bad things happen. Rounding out the category is Telekinesis, which should not be confused with the mythical Telepathy (though, I will give it to the fifth-year frat bro this time: some empaths can read the nuances of human emotion so well they might as well be reading your mind) and don’t do anything with your mind. Instead, they can move things with theirs. Which again, super cool, 10/10 magic in my opinion. 

Magic of the Body 

This one makes up 7.5 percent of the world’s magic and encompasses four magics. Like the Omnis, Concealment comes in two varieties—Invisibility and Camouflage. But unlike the Omnis, the difference between Concealers is undetectable to people other than Omnivisions. Despite one being totally see-through and the other perfectly mimicking their surroundings to hide themselves, you cannot tell because they are flawless in their Concealment. So why do we even make the distinction, then? Because Concealers can tell which they are, and isn’t that what really matters? (Yes, the answer is yes.) 

Then there’s Strength & Durability, which is so self-explanatory you might be wondering what I could even enlighten you about. Well! Healers are probably the most Known of all magics, the ones the taboo of Displaying has left mostly unscathed, the ones who use their magic the most freely (let’s be real, the ones expected to use their magic for the greater good), but S&Ds outmatch them in terms of name recognition. The Athletic Enhancement Cap is a convoluted thing I can’t even begin to explain to you, but what matters is, in an effort to level the playing fields and make sports fair, a bunch of little old men got together and came up with all these restrictions on how many Big Fours could be on a team, and most importantly, on an active roster. 

It technically only requires athletes to Divulge to their club and the league they’re in, but the problem with S&Ds, as compared to other Big Fours in sports, is it’s a lot more obvious what’s going on when someone immediately bounces back from what should have been a devastating injury. So, while all athletes have their category listed publicly as part of the Cap, and a lot of athletes end up Divulging publicly to circumvent nagging questions from fans and reporters, most S&Ds don’t even make it past their teens before their sports community knows just what type of Body Magic they have. Which sucks, and I have a lot of thoughts on, but if I get on my soapbox about the ethics of magic and celebrity, this article will never end.

Next up are the Shifters and Modifiers, who can both change their body at will but differ in what they can change their body to. Form shifting enables Shifters to take on the properties of nonhuman things, both living and inanimate, while Self Modification lets Modifiers change their body into other bodies. So, a Shifter could turn into a table or a cat, but not your best friend Jill, and a Modifier could turn into a carbon copy of your sister, but they couldn’t turn into a chair or a bird. Simple, right? Well, it wouldn’t be magic if it wasn’t unknowable in some way, so please, don’t ask me why Shifters can keep their human eyes in animal form or Modifiers can make their hair look exactly like silver. There’re just some things we’ll never understand about magic, and really, that’s okay. But don’t worry, I’m sure some Magicologist will figure it out one day, and if they don’t, well? Who doesn’t love a little mystery! 

Magic of the Exterior 

Last, but certainly not least. Seriously. This one is the second most common category, clocking in at 9.1 percent of the population, and is arguably the most straightforward in terms of understanding what each type can do. There’s Elemental magic, which allows Elementals to control the Elements, and while they can command allof them, it isn’t uncommon for Elementals to have one element they are significantly better at using. Then there are Illusions which can range anywhere from unreal firework shows to meticulously detailed virtual realities full of characters you can interact with (though, I’m sure that takes a shit ton of practice even if the Illusionist is naturally gifted). Finally, there is Object Manipulation, which allows Manipulators (seriously, we couldn’t have come up with a better shorthand here?) to manipulate inanimate objects however they please—or, within their realm of capability. From what I’ve gathered it’s easier to manipulate the look of one object than it is to manipulate one object into another. 

Now, I’m sure you’ve heard of them before, the ever-elusive M4s, the lucky ones who hit the jackpot of being a Multiple with magic from more than one of the Big Four categories. And look, I’m not saying they’re not real;I’m just saying, it’s super uncommon for Multiples to be anything more than multiple Conveniences—though double Convenients don’t even make up 10 percent of us, so Multiples aren’t exactly common on any level. But it’s rare for there to be a Multiple with Big Four magic and a Convenience and even rarer for there to be someone with two Big Fours from the same category. And since there are about as many reliable sources detailing an M4’s existence as there are of Bonds being real, I’m just saying it’s improbable M4s are anything more than a myth. 

There you have it, babes! You know all about what each category can do, so let’s talk about those pesky little social conventions we all know and love. (Ha!) I think most of us can agree, Divulging being a signifier of trust is an outdated principle incongruent with the post-Convenience world. But that’s the thing with conventions; they’re hard to shake—just look at the way we still think about sex and virginity! So even though Traditionalists only make up a tiny, albeit loud, part of the population, and we all know magic is coursing through everyone, most of us aren’t out there rallying to de-stigmatize Divulging and Displaying freely. And it’s not hard to see why, not when before the Revelation of Convenience, 80 percent of us didn’t have words to explain the odd little things we could do, and the rest of us were risking death if word got out what we could do. It might seem like a long time ago, a dark stain on the past, something we should have moved past by now. But see, Big Fours were still being lethally punished for being witches in league with the devil decades after the Revelation, and beliefs built around the need for protection, especially against death, aren’t easily eradicated. 

And if Divulging their secret was the riskiest thing a Big Four could do, forget about Displaying. Seriously, it’s no surprise Displaying became the ultimate form of intimacy for someone with magic that could well and truly be seen. Because back then, even if you trusted someone, even if you believed they’d never rat you out to a persecutor, even if you Divulged, you didn’t outright Display until you were, like, building a life with someone, making babies, the whole shebang. So here we are, more than five centuries later, metaphorically not putting out on the first date even though we’re both totally game. So please, cut yourself some slack if you find yourself getting worked up over who knows what you can do, who might have overheard you talking about the lightshow your Illusionist bestie put on for the Fourth, who could have seen your work husband turn the stack of files on your desk into a bouquet of paper flowers even though no one should have been looking. 

And if your partner gets squeamish about Displaying, despite all the other intimacy in your relationship, be gentle with them—we as a people still have so much unlearning to do.