Authors: Amy Reece
“Will they be staying here?” I asked. I had only seen three bedrooms upstairs and couldn’t imagine the other six council members sharing one room.
Fionnuala smiled. “Yes, dear. You are staying in the original part of the house. After dinner I’ll show you the new wing, if you like.” It turned out that Fionnuala and Jon had built a large addition to their house that wasn’t visible from the front. It more than doubled the square footage and included four additional guest rooms, two bathrooms, and a large recreational room, where we would apparently be working. Yay. It made me tired just thinking about all the training they had in store for us. My dreams of a relaxing summer disappeared.
The ladies arrived bright and early the next morning; the sound of their chattering and laughing pulled me from sleep way too soon. I peered at the bed across from me and saw Mina was already up, bed made—of course—and gone from the room. By the time I showered, got ready, and made my way to the kitchen, elderly women were perched all over the room. The whole crew was here: Fionnuala, Caoimhe, Iona, Aine, Eithne, Bridget, and Maire. The noise level was incredible and I wished I could retreat back to my bedroom. I found an empty seat next to Rémy and gratefully sipped the hot, black coffee that Jon brought me.
“How about an omelet, Ally? I can have one whipped up in a few minutes.”
“I don’t want you to go to any trouble,” I began.
“No trouble at all,” he brushed off my concerns. “It’s what I do. I enjoy cooking.” He bustled away to prepare my breakfast.
“Where’s Mina?” I asked after another sip of coffee.
“It was too chaotic here for her. She went out for a walk,” Rémy said over the top of the newspaper he read. “Did you sleep well, chérie?”
“I guess.” I shrugged. “I’m dreading this training, though.” I shuddered as I looked around the room at the noisy members of the Seer Council.
He folded his paper and nodded in agreement. “This is going to be a long two weeks.”
Once I finished my breakfast and Mina had returned from her walk, we all retreated to the large recreational room in the new wing of the house; all except Jon, who didn’t belong to the council and left to shop for what he needed to prepare the rest of the day’s meals. They started things off by having Bridget take turns touching each one of us separately in order to get a baseline reading. I got to go first.
“Oh, Ally,” she sighed after a moment. “I was right. Your powers have developed so much in just a few short months. Your abilities far out-strip anything I have ever encountered. My goodness. I don’t know what to think about this destructive power you seem to have. I just don’t know.” Well, that made me feel
She turned next to Mina. “How are you, dear? We missed you while you were gone.” Bridget smiled at Mina and stroked her cheek before taking her hand. “Oh, my dear. Your ability to read others is incredibly strong. There’s more there, too, that is just out of reach.” Before moving away, she leaned forward and whispered something in Mina’s ear. Mina appeared relieved and whispered ‘thanks.’
I wasn’t sure I approved of these secrets and was about to say something when Bridget approached Rémy. She seemed unsure and asked, “May I?” before taking his hand. I remembered all the Seers in their experience were women and this whole business of male Seers must rock their world a little bit. She grasped his hand and closed her eyes. After a few seconds she shifted uncomfortably and added her other hand. After another few seconds she lifted her hands away and frowned into his eyes. “You’re blocking me,” she accused. “No one has ever been able to block me before.”
“Rémy,” I began.
“It’s all right, Ally. I will play nice. I just wanted to make it clear I am here voluntarily. For the moment. And it would be better for all involved if we cooperate with each other.” He looked around at each council member, forcing them to meet his intense gaze. “Our two clans have a history of distrust, made much more serious by your generation. If there is to be a renewal and rebuilding of relationship, it will start with the three of us: Ally, Mina, and myself. You would all do well not to forget that.” It was moments like this when I was reminded he was not simply the happy-go-lucky teen he enjoyed portraying; he was a full-grown man who could handle himself in the adult world. I felt very young and naïve in that moment. He smiled a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes and gave his hand back to Bridget. “Shall we try again?”
She looked around at her fellow council members before taking his hand somewhat shakily. She held on for a few seconds before letting go and whispering, “Amazing.” She turned to look at the rest of us. “He is indescribably powerful. I just, I don’t know…”
I was shocked. I knew Rémy was good at reading my thoughts and keeping me from reading his, but I had no idea of the depths of his power. He certainly downplayed his abilities. I wondered what else he kept from me.
Next, the council wanted to see my destructive abilities. I had worked with Kate enough so I only needed to think of something that annoyed me to make it work. Plenty of things annoyed me, including being here in Ireland instead of home in the U.S., so I gladly gave a demonstration. Fionnuala picked a cheap knickknack she claimed she didn’t mind losing and set it on a low table. It took me about two seconds to focus my annoyance and turn it into powdery shards. I had also gotten better at making smaller, more controlled explosions so nobody got hurt. The council ladies were quite impressed by my abilities, which gratified me somewhat. They all then wanted to hear the story of how I made contact with Ashley Hayes’s spirit and solved her murder. Rémy piped in with details every so often, especially his view of the final chapter outside David Moore’s house. He told them how the blue pulse had exploded from me, knocking down both Jack and Moore right as he fired his shotgun.
“Ally, dear, I cannot approve of your involvement in this kind of criminal activity!” Caoimhe exclaimed.
I laughed slightly and gave my favorite council member a hug. “Believe me, I have no desire whatsoever to get involved in any more criminal situations. I just want a calm, peaceful year.”
“Good luck with that,” muttered Rémy. “You are a trouble magnet, chérie.”
I glared at him as Fionnuala announced that it was time to break for lunch.
lunch, several of the older women claimed they needed an hour or so of rest time before we resumed our training. I was about to say that I would enjoy some time to write Jack a letter—snail-mail letters were all he was allowed at this stage of his training—but suddenly heard Rémy’s voice in my head telling me to say I wanted to explore the gardens. I gave him a curious look and noticed Mina doing the same. He raised his eyebrows expectantly at both of us, so I duly claimed my desire to take a walk after lunch, which Mina echoed. Rémy then declared his desire to join us.
“So, why did you want to get us away from everyone?” I asked when we were a good distance from the house.
“Before we get any deeper into this training, I think we need to come to a few agreements I do not wish the council to be privy to,” he replied.
“Such as?” asked Mina.
“Nobody except my grandmother knows the extent of our mental communication abilities, and she will keep it to herself,” he said to me. “And nobody knows how well Mina and I can communicate.”
“Including me! What am I missing?” I stopped and faced them both. “Spill!”
“Calm down, chérie. Mina and I seem to have a direct conduit to each other’s thoughts. That’s all. It is even stronger than the bond you and I share.”
“Oh, that’s all, huh? When were you going to tell me? I thought we were supposed to trust each other! You guys have been keeping secrets from me! Ugh! Do you have any idea how that makes me feel?” I fumed.
“Apparently it makes you angry,” he said with a smirk.
“Yes, it does! Don’t be such an ass, Rémy!” I turned toward him and let loose with a small pulse of energy that knocked him to the ground, sprawled ignominiously in the dirt.
“Rémy!” Mina rushed to his side to help him up.
He took her hand and stood back up, brushing leaves and dirt from his backside. “I’m all right, Mina. Thank you.” He smiled at her gently before turning to me with a scowl. “Merde, Ally! I will try not to make you mad again! That was incredible, by the way.”
“Ally, we weren’t trying to keep anything from you,” Mina broke in. “It’s just—”
“It’s just that Mina is not ready to talk about any of this, yet,” Rémy interrupted. “She has not been close to any one for years, and suddenly she has two people invading her thoughts whether or not she wishes it. I’m sure it must be disturbing.”
“It’s not like any of us asked for this!” I was still mad, but I could see where they were coming from. I paced for a few seconds before hanging my head in defeat. “Yeah, I get it. Sorry, Rémy. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“You didn’t, chérie. Don’t worry about it. Still friends?” He looked at me hopefully.
“Of course,” I said, impatiently waving aside his concern. “So, you two are able to read each other even better than Rémy and I? Are you constantly in each other’s head? That must be kind of miserable.”
Mina shook her head. “No. Rémy is incredibly gifted at blocking people from reading his thoughts.”
“That’s an understatement,” I muttered.
“You are not too bad at it yourself, Mina. It is only when you are not paying attention that I am able to get in,” observed Rémy.
“I would really appreciate if you would refrain from doing that,” Mina whispered and turned away from Rémy and I.
I looked at him with raised eyebrows.
Jeez, sensitive much?
I asked silently.
He shook his head slightly and approached Mina, putting his hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry. I will be more careful in the future, I promise.” She nodded and turned back around.
“Why are you both able to block people out better than me? I would really like to be able to keep Rémy out of my head,” I groused, my crankiness showing yet again.
“Stop whining,” Rémy said, laughing. “Neither Mina nor I can explode anything or knock people down with our thoughts. Don’t be greedy. Do you think I enjoy being inside your head when you’re thinking about Jack? I assure you I don’t.” I made a move toward him, but Mina stepped between us with a warning look. “Can we get back to the reason I brought us out here?” he asked and Mina and I nodded. “I think it would be best if the council remains in the dark about our mental communication abilities. I have a feeling that it could be our ‘ace in the hole,’ if you will.”
Mina and I looked at each other for a long moment before turning back to Rémy and nodding.
“I’m not completely convinced that either group—this Irish council or the French conseil—has our best interests at heart,” Mina said. It shocked me to hear her express this distrust. “I’m not sure their agenda allows for the feelings or desires of three young adults.”
I appreciated her referring to me as a young adult rather than a teenager. “I agree with Mina. There are several agendas going on around here and none of them are ours. I think we should consider what’s best for us. We’re the ones who have to live with the prophecy, after all. We’re the ones who have to figure out the stupid who’s who riddle. This is such bullshit!”
Rémy and Mina stared at me with wide eyes for a moment before bursting into simultaneous laughter. I narrowed my eyes at them evilly, but couldn’t hold out and joined them, laughing until I snorted, which made the other two laugh harder. It was therapeutic for all of us, easing some of the strain we had been feeling. We returned from our walk ready to train, but prepared to keep some of our mental gifts to ourselves.
The council wanted to see what would happen when the three of us touched, as we had in Rouen when the windows exploded. Because of said explosion, I insisted we conduct the experiment outside. We stood in a small circle under the shade of a grove of trees, joined hands, and…nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. I opened my eyes—which I had closed in expectation of flying splinters of wood—and stared at Rémy and Mina.
—What is going on, Rémy?
—We expected it. We all have our barriers in place.
—So, should we let them down, or what?
—Perhaps just a small amount, enough to give them a bit of a show. That should satisfy them.
—Are you in, Mina?
I wondered why she was so reluctant to let us in, even for the briefest time. What was she trying to hide?
All right, on three.
We all let down our mental barriers, a little bit at the same time. I felt a mild version of the energy that had glued my hands to the other two the last time, but was still aware of what was happening around us. I felt the energy radiate out from us and shear a large branch from the nearest tree. It fell a few feet away from the members of the Seer Council, causing an outburst of squeals. We released our hands, but I could have sworn Rémy held Mina’s hand a second longer than was absolutely necessary.
“That was amazing!” Caoimhe exclaimed. “Is this what happened last time?” she asked Fionnuala.
“Yes, but it was even more violent. I’m certainly glad you insisted on coming outside, Ally. I have no desire to have my windows replaced,” Fionnuala said.