Not quite so far south, in what will become France, G’lyna watches her new recruits and sighs. Anybl had warned her the other girls would need guidance; Glyna had hoped it wouldn’t require this much guidance. The youngest, Syva, is almost feral, to the point she tried to eat a spoon on the first night.
The beautiful Agga on the other hand can’t stop herself from complaining about every little thing. “Why do we have to stand out here in the cold?” she whines.
“In order to learn control, you need to get in touch with the world around you.”
“Can’t I do that in front of the fire?”
“No,” G’lyna snaps. She supposes this is the problem with trying to manage a bunch of teenagers. She wasn’t this bad when she first began to quicken, was she? If she was, it was because she had to fear for her life, until Anybl found her. Girls like Agga were just spoiled brats used to having everything their own way.
“Patience,” Anybl whispers in her ear. Her friend has a talent for appearing out of thin air the moment G’lyna needs her. “It’s a big adjustment.”
At that moment there’s a scream. G’lyna turns to see Syva on top of Sofe, the brightest of their recruits. The younger girl shrieks something in her native tongue while trying to claw Sofe’s eyes out. G’lyna is going to intervene until Anybl puts a hand on her shoulder.
A moment later, Syva goes flying and lands at G’lyna’s feet. Sofe stands up, her hands glowing. Anybl hurries over to her to put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s all right, Sofe. You can relax now. No one will hurt you.”
“You should send that thing back to the woods where it belongs.”
“I want to go home,” Agga whines.
Most of the others seem to share that feeling, all except the stoic Hise, who just stands there with her arms crossed. She hasn’t said more than five words that G’lyna can remember since she arrived from the farthest end of the world a week ago. And yet she’s already the second-best student behind Sofe.
“Hise, take the others inside to warm up,” G’lyna says. She grabs Syva by the arm. The girl struggles to free herself, but can’t. “Syva and I are going to have a little talk.”
She drags the girl into the forest, where no one else will be able to see or hear them. At first Syva continues to struggle, but eventually she stops and plods along with G’lyna. At a thicket, G’lyna motions to a log. Syva sits down.
G’lyna brushes the wild dark red hair from Syva’s face to look into her green eyes; they’re the eyes of a frightened child, not an animal. With a spell Anybl helped her with, G’lyna speaks in Syva’s native tongue. “You don’t have to be afraid. No one is going to hurt you.”
The girl only grunts at this. G’lyna takes her hand. “What happened? What did Sofe say?”
“She said I was a dirty savage,” Syva says.
“And you thought that was a good reason to kill her?”
“I wasn’t going to kill her. I just wanted to scare her.”
“I understand, but that was wrong. Sofe is your sister and you should never, ever hurt your sister.”
“She’s not my sister. My sisters are back home. I should be with them, not out here.”
Now G’lyna began to understand. Most of them had left family behind when they began to quicken, but for Syva it was different. She had cared for her sisters like a mother, but then she had been forced to leave them behind so they wouldn’t be marked as demons and executed.
G’lyna sat next to Syva on the log. She put an arm around the girl’s shoulder. “I’m sure your sisters will be fine. You taught them to take care of themselves, didn’t you?”
“They’re still so young. Emba is just two summers old. I should be with her.”
“I know, but you can’t. None of us can be with our families. But we have a new family now. We’re all sisters: you, me, and even Sofe. And we have something very important to do.”
“Yes. Anybl and I haven’t told the others yet, but very soon a darkness will descend upon the land. We have been chosen to fight it.”
“I don’t know, but I do know when the time comes, we will all need to work together. It will take our combined strength to destroy this evil. If we don’t, then it’ll overtake the whole world—including your sisters.”
Syva considers this for a few minutes. She finally nods. “Then I will do what I must to help,” she says.
“Good. You can start by apologizing to Sofe. But first, let’s get you a bath. You do stink a little.”
Syva grins at this and gives G’lyna’s hand a squeeze. Then they go to the stream to wash up. G’lyna helps Syva clean her clothes as well and ties her hair back so it no longer covers her face. “Now you look very pretty,” G’lyna says.
“Thank you,” Syva says. The girl leans against G’lyna as they trudge back to the camp, where their sisters await them.
TO BE CONTINUED...