“It’ll be okay, Anna,” said Matt reassuringly. “We are here to protect you – you’ve got the whole Telcontar on your side!” She nodded but inside, her heart was trembling.
“What of Aelvyn? I’m worried that they’ll hurt him, to try and stop my training.” Anna was many things, perceptive being one of them. Matt hadn’t even considered that.
“They can’t do much to him, Anna,” he pointed out. “He is already dead, in case you hadn’t noticed.” Anna smiled at the lame joke.
“But they can still destroy him,” she said. Her voice cracked, sinking to a whisper. “They can still stop him from teaching me.”
Matt looked her in the eyes, and told her something he had never meant to say.
“Anna, I’ve been told what Aelvyn’s powers were like in his youth. I’ve been told what it was he could do; by his pupils, by others who fought alongside him; by his descendants. They were strong, but they weren’t that strong.”
“What do you mean?” Anna asked in such a soft voice he had to bend to hear her. “What weren’t they as strong as?”
“Yours,” he replied. “From what I saw this afternoon you have powers that already excel his, and though there are pointers he could give you to tell you what you can do, I don’t think there’s much left for him to teach you.”
Anna’s mind was in turmoil. She was more powerful than her teacher was? It was too much to take in, and she put her head in her hands.
“That can’t be right,” she said. “You must have made a mistake.” Matt should his head.
“I know what I’m talking about. I also know that no one – fairy or otherwise – has ever mastered the skill of lighting a fire beneath their flesh to keep them warm, and yet you did it without being taught.”
“Don’t talk like that, Matt, please. It can’t be true – it just can’t.” Anna’s voice was pleading, begging to be led back onto subjects she understood; things she could get her head around.
“Okay, I won’t. But that won’t stop it being true.” Matt lapsed into silence, staring at the computer screen. “How are you going to reply?”
“I’ll click ‘reply’ and type a message,” said Anna slowly, as though talking to an idiot. Matt laughed sarcastically.
“No, I meant, what are you going to say?”
“No, of course!” she responded, as though it were obvious. Which, of course, it was. “I could hardly agree.”
“That’s true. But, Anna, you must be democratic. Don’t give them a straight ‘no’; don’t give them an excuse to get angry at you.”
“They’ll be angry at me anyway,” she told him. “It’s not my fault.” He shook his head sadly.
“No,” Matt said. “It’s not.”
He watched as Anna’s slim fingers flew across the keys, words appearing instantly.
I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request, she wrote, mocking that film that she had watched years ago, in another life. I am afraid there is no way I could agree to what you are asking – you must look elsewhere for a tame puppet with my sort of skills, because I will NEVER fight alongside you.
Before Matt could stop her she sent the message.