Chapter II: The Fish and Spear [20]Mature

He thought about everything Wilmina had told him, parents she would not speak of yet claimed to know well enough to adopt their son, how a single beating had erased years from his memory. One by one, every small uncertainty was rising up. He felt the five scars on his scalp again, tracing them round in a circle, a jagged wine bottle he had always thought, or as if somebody had grasped him there and dug their –

          For what felt like the hundredth time, he shook his head.

          “No, no – it can’t be possible,”

          “If you run off again –,” Anala began, her voice at first threatening, then fading out soft. She clicked her ankles resignedly. “Uncle won’t come after you. Neither will I – it’s not like I could catch you in three-inch heels anyway.” She stepped closer to him, enough so that he noticed every breath pressing her chest against her bodice, a reluctantly-shown look of weakness in her eyes. “But I implore you to think about this. If you go back to that troll, she’ll tell you lies again, and you’ll probably convince yourself for a little bit that they’re true. But you’ll realise when it’s too late that you don’t belong here, that you never have. There’s so much you don’t remember, and so little anybody will tell you. You’re not a criminal, Will. You don’t look it and you don’t act like you want to be. Do you really want to turn away from all the answers we’re offering you?”

The pain in his body increased, and Will realised it was part of himself crying out in desperation. He had admired magi, against all that had been said of them by Courtiers – their wicked powers, their motives only troublesome, he had wanted to be one of them. He wanted to believe her; but it was not so easy.

The End

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