"Some people have natural magic; something which comes from the earth. They are celebrated for their care, for their peaceful ways, and for the land. Others have more destructive powers. The man responsible for Ingrid's village burning is a sorcerer in the King's court, and he is born of fire. Destruction is in his veins." Althea paused next to a willow tree and leaned against it, wrapping her arm round a branch. "Some of us possess what is known as magic. Just magic. We have the power of spells, generally helped by an object such as a wand, or a staff, or an amulet. This is the power which I possess."
"And what helps your power?"
"Once again, such a curious girl. My power source is a secret. Even the woods have ears." She smiled, and released the tree, falling back on to the path and taking my arm. We walked in silence for a little while.
"So, are there any other types of magic?"
"A few. There is the simple magic, which is simply the knack of conjuring tricks. There are some people who do not know they are magic, but have a skill in something way beyond what it is truly possible to do. Kiri for example. She is highly skilled in medicine, herbs and whatnot. Her power lies deep inside her, and the potions she makes tend to heal the body faster than others."
"And you think, I could have one of these powers?"
"It is possible. Tell me, have you ever done something incredible?"
"Not that I know of."
"Some powers show themselves before the eighteenth year. Kiri saved a young man's life when she was fifteen just by making him eat some of her stew with a little medicine in it. They married eventually..." Althea's gaze was far off, and I coughed a little to bring her back. "Yes... so are you sure? Absoloutely nothing?"
"No I... I can't think of anything."
"Well then you are more likely to have magic, or natural magic, not one of the smaller gifts."
"So I could be like you?"
"Why would you wish that?"
"You're so strong, so brave, so beautiful... I've seen the way people love you. I wish I could have that."
She smiled sadly, and leaned close, kissing my forehead.
"You are sweet. But no one can be truly loved by everyone. No one is truly perfect."
She turned away and continued down the path. I had the feeling that she did not wish me to follow. I turned and headed back to the village.