Ghia was surprised, even shocked, to feel Jules’ arm come around her and pull her back against him. He’d not been overtly physically affectionate with her today, aside from that small leg pat earlier. Why the sudden change?
Oh, he must have thought she was asleep. She’d fallen into a light trance state so easily she didn’t even realise she’d done it until she felt his arm around her.
Now that she was here, she was going to contact Rosa.
She stretched mentally, letting her thoughts travel back to Atherton on feather light gusts of air.
Rosa…. she called, and instantly felt the presence of her mentor.
Yes, child – where are you now? Heading to Mudflat? …oh, I see.
It was nice how rarely Ghia had to extrapolate things with the magea.
Rosa, have you discovered aught of Anala?
No, child – there is a most vexing wall around the island. I can’t penetrate it.
You too, huh?
Quite. A sigh, like the rustling of tree branches in a gentle breeze. I’ll keep trying, however, and will make sure you are as informed as I. You’re heading to Harbourtown after Mudflat?
After a good night’s sleep, yes, she said with a mental smile. … How’s my mother faring?
There was a pause. She’s stable, the magea said. But still comatose. Do you wish me to….
No, said Ghia quickly. She doesn’t want interference. They fell silent then, Ghia brooding on her mother’s stubbornness. And some other things that were bothering her.
What troubles you? Rosa said, instantly picking up on Ghia’s mood.
Relieved she didn’t have to bring it up awkwardly, she launched right into her concerns. I’m wondering where all this strength came from. I was tired during the outbreak, but then I went to the clinic and worked like a fiend. The only thing that slowed me down was the drug. I’ve never felt such power flood me, Rosa. Her mental voice quavered. It frightened me.
Ah, said the magea, and there was a slight pause. You have discovered the great secret and greater weakness of the Magi. Our powers expand to near limitlessness when we are consumed with anger.
Ghia frowned. How is that a weakness?
Another sigh, this one the sound of a tree barren in winter, branches creaking and clacking together in a cold wind. Have you ever been consumed by a fury so great you know naught else? An anger that eats away at your soul until you can feel nothing else…no love, no compassion, not even hate nor desire save the hunger for blood to be spilled. Just a terrible, cold madness that takes you over and makes you forget anything you ever were before.
The magea went silent, and Ghia felt she’d opened a very old, very tender wound.
I’m sorry, she said, unsure that was the right thing to say.
Hm? Oh, there’s nothing to apologise for, child. I just hope you don’t ever understand what I’m saying. I’ll let you get back to your journey, and tell you when I know somewhat of Anala.
Before she could say goodbye, the magea was gone, leaving Ghia feeling strangely bereft.
What darkness, what sadness and great fury existed in the magea’s past? And why did Ghia get the sinking feeling that her own future would hold the very understanding that Rosa feared she might gain?