Twelve of the most powerful Celryn sat assembled in a circle. These were their leaders, chosen for their skills on a battlefield, their sly intelligence, and their cunning. They were ruthless, and hideous to match.
They had only one focus at that moment – the video cube in the centre of the room, which was in fact the only thing in the room apart from their brushed aluminium chairs. It was slowly revolving; showing an image of a young girl whose extraordinary Gifts far surpassed those of any other being her own age.
“She is dangerous.” The speaker was a particularly ugly member of the Celryn. It had horns and warts in excess; you would occasionally see its likeness carved into old churches and cathedrals.
All the others turned to face it. Their faces were hostile, resenting the interruption, and ready to fight.
“What do you propose that we do about it?” said a creature that had just got up to pause the video cube. Its voice was icy cold; you could almost sense the temperature in the room drop a few notches.
“We should kill her,” the Celryn suggested. “She cannot be allowed to walk away alive – she will destroy us.” This suggestion was met with icy silence by the rest of the meeting.
“No, we cannot kill her.” The decisive words were spoken by a tall Celryn, one who radiated authority, and it was evident that he was a formidable leader.
“Well, why not?”
The leader stood up. He almost seemed to grow, towering over the other Celryn like the commander that he was.
“We should kill her,” he stated. “She is far too strong to be left alone. The problem is that we cannot kill her. Her powers, combined with those of the ones who protect her, are too strong for us.” There was a stunned silence.
“What is this nonsense?” The roar of a young Celryn, fresh from the fighting squads with a temper to match, broke the silence. “She is just a child! This is defeatist talk! How is it possible that we could not destroy her?”
“No,” said their leader, and the fighter shrank back from the venom that was imbued in his voice. “Watch her, and then you will understand.” He switched on the video cube, which displayed a live feed of Anna’s training. The foolish girl had not noticed the hidden cameras around her, but then why should she? Even fairies missed things sometimes, especially those that were half-human.
The cube very slowly rotated, creaking on its stand. Irritably, several of the Celryn made a mental note to have one of the slaves oil it. The squeaking was irritating – therefore, it must be stopped.
Anna was whirling her sword in a flurry of action through the air, while it snowed heavily around her. She was dressed only in a thin summer dress, but her skin glowed with healthy warmness, a fire burning beneath the surface.
Now it showed the blade on fire as she spun, throwing out sparks in its speed. Anna continued to send more and more fire down its blade, lighting the air around her in a glowing nimbus.
There was silence – shocked, awed silence – among her enemies, who realised the first time what it was that they were up against.