After dinner, everyone, even Marco, gathered out back again to show my parents more of what each of us were capable. Well, Marco was probably there for the show. He did appreciate martial arts. Alma cleared the yard of snow, first lifting the snow from the ground, and then turning it to steam.
“She can control snow?” asked mother.
“She used several spells with residual energy and then her natural magic to heat the snow.” I explained.
“But why lift the snow first instead of just heating it?” asked mother.
“She’s being nice to the grass.” replied Emma with a grin. “Alma could easily slowly melt the snow and then dry the ground, but that’d take more time and not look as flashy. If she heated the area too rapidly, the grass would be damaged by the sudden change in temperature. She probably could heat just the snow, but that’d be tricky.”
“Emma would have an easier time of heating just the snow in a small area than I would. Her awareness of the plants is exceptional.” stated Alma.
“Who would you like to see first?” I asked.
“You, dear.” blurted mother. “Sorry, I just… I want to see what you can do.”
“Mind if I help him demonstrate? James tends to hold back immensely when left to his own devices.” claimed Alma.
“I’ll make us chairs!” offered Emma. “Oh. Portentia’s joining us.”
“She is?” asked father.
“Yes. I can hear her now.” I told him.
“Her suit’s damaged again.” stated Alma, sounding displeased.
Shortly thereafter, Portentia appeared, rounding the house, coming to a stop, and looking surprised to see us all.
“What happened?” asked father, seeing the number of holes in Portentia’s outfit.
Alma told him “I’d wager some fool shot her with an automatic weapon from behind. That’s rare.” As she spoke, she was signing something to Portentia.
Portentia nodded and started running again.
As I turned to ask Alma what had been said, she told me “I asked Portentia to join us after she’s changed is all.”
“She doesn’t get shot often?” asked mother.
“I am quite certain Portentia has been shot more times than anyone else alive. I was merely meaning that being shot with an automatic weapon is rare. Most criminals tend to use some form of handgun, especially an older weapon which was illegally obtained.” explained Alma.
“She can scratch that one off her bucket list now.” suggested Mai as she started to laugh.
Laughing as well, Ai said, “Can you imagine the guy’s face when she turned around?”
“She’s really going to have a large fan club in prison at the rate she’s going.” stated Jarod.
Nodding, Alma said, “Quite. I have been debating whether or not I should attempt to do something regarding that problem. As things are, criminals are probably becoming afraid of her, but allowing too many people to talk about what they saw could create an issue.”
“You could spread rumors about her using a type of high tech, white body armor with regenerative properties under her suit. I doubt many of her opponents get a clear look when she’s fighting, and those that do probably can’t believe what they’re seeing.” suggested Jarod.
“I’ll consider your proposal.” replied Alma with a smile.
“She actually is helping the city?” asked father.
“Portentia has single-handedly stopped hundreds of crimes, but I can’t vouch for how much she is helping.” insisted Alma.
I was sure Alma thought heavily on Portentia’s negative impact, causing misfortune wherever she went. What would I have done without Regina’s help? Portentia would be hazardous to my other friends and my business.
“Well, then. James, you should probably take a quick trip to the forest before we begin. I do not plan on being gentle with you.” warned Alma.
“Ah. As you wish.” I told her just before running to the forest..
How did I look to my parents now? Were they frightened? Could they accept me with how I’ve changed? I pushed the thoughts to the side and absorbed a large amount of energy, being careful not to overdo it as I did when fighting the twins. I had somewhat of a feel now on how I was doing, but I wasn’t confident in it.
Hurrying back out, I found Alma spaced apart from the assembled group. She probably expected me to attack. I hated attacking. I was too indecisive about how I should proceed. Ruling out silly notions, such as creating a blaze around her, I formed a spell to shove her forward with the energy behind her as well as a spell to hold her feet in place and another to bind her arms.
I wasn’t remotely surprised when all three were blocked with as much ease as she blocked my punch on arrival. She threw me into the air and started forming a spell for lightning. I created a force against my feet and pushed off back toward her.
Oh. I had missed the modification in her spell to increase the concussive force from the lightning. Clever, but ineffectual. As I aimed a kick at her as well as a couple spells, I considered that she might have made the concussion to blast the onlookers with air. Need I be more showy?
Alma easily sidestepped my kick and flipped me toward the ground. I caught myself with my hands, and shoved off, pulling my leg from her grasp while countering the spells she aimed at me.
I felt energy from my little fairy friend. I had forgotten to warn her what we were doing. Oops. A large beam of light struck Alma and the ground behind her. She glared at my little friend as she formed mist around herself.
I felt Alma’s thoughts as she instructed my little friend to go sit by the others. The tiny fairy flew behind me, holding onto my shirt. I felt fear from her though her thoughts showed her playfully blasting Alma repeatedly as Alma and I sparred. Alma attempted to be soothing, picturing herself gently setting the fairy on Emma’s shoulder.
How much of the images were the others seeing?
“Sorry for the interruption, but I need to go change. I’ll return momentarily.” announced Alma before running off.
“That was my fault.” I told the others as I walked toward them. “My little friend got a bit excited and wanted to play. I forgot to tell her what we were doing.”
“That was a thick laser. I wonder how much energy went into it.” pondered Jarod.
“The fairy did that?” asked mother.
“Yes, Alma did mention my little friend can create lasers. Had Alma been expecting it, she would’ve protected her clothing from the heat. I owe her another outfit as things stand.” I explained.
My little friend didn’t understand why Alma left, and I felt she was wondering if the fun was over.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get accustomed to seeing images in my head.” stated father.
“Did you see Alma admonishing my friend?” I asked.
“Yep!” exclaimed Emma.
“She felt so angry.” muttered Brandon.
“I didn’t realize how intense her anger was.” agreed Brenna.
I had to agree. There was the obvious anger, which Alma probably meant to be in her projection, but there was far more in the background of her thoughts.
“I-I’ve seen w-worse.” stated Raine.
There was a pause where no one spoke. I didn’t believe anyone doubted her.
“Can all of you do that?” asked mother.
“No. Apparently, you need a particularly strong connection to fey heritage.” I explained.
“Out of us, only Alma and I can pull it off. She’s still a bit better at it than I am.” claimed Emma, sending out an image of smiley faces with a great feeling of joy.
“You win on content in my book!” exclaimed Brandon.
“It’s the one for easy reading.” added Ai.
Nodding in agreement, Mai said, “Look on the short shelves marked ‘children’ if you want a copy.”
“They know my brother so well.” agreed Brenna with a sigh.
Brandon crossed his arms and did a poor attempt at a stern expression.
Alma arrived, looked around, and asked “What did I miss?”
“Brandon’s commentary on your thoughts.” replied Jarod.
“I’m sure that was enlightening. Shall we continue?” she inquired.
“Yes, but would you mind my little friend joining us? She seems pretty eager, despite your reprimand.” I insisted.
Alma sighed, and I felt energy encompass her. She was probably protecting her clothing now. Then she said, “Fine.”
Unfortunately, she didn’t resume her mental protections. That would make coordinating more difficult. Oh great. Alma shut her eyes as she took a stance. My little friend wouldn’t be of any help now. I had hoped I might be able to have my little friend give a brief distraction.
Before I could give more thought to a strategy, Alma attacked. I flew backward from the impact of her kick, despite blocking it, and had to catch myself with a spell. A bright flash appeared in front of me from one of Alma’s spells, but I somehow saw through it enough to grab her arm as she punched. I moved to throw her, but she altered her direction with a spell and twisted out of my grip.
The fighting continued in a very one-sided manner as Alma relentlessly assaulted me, but I didn’t feel I made a complete fool of myself. When at last she stopped, I didn’t bother attempting to continue the match.
We walked back toward the others hand-in-hand, much to my surprise. Though we often held hands these days, doing so in front of my parents seemed bold, for her.
“See. He’s completely uninjured.” stated Alma once we were close.
“I can’t say I really caught much, honestly.” replied father. “I might as well have been seeing special effects.”
Nodding, Alma started replaying our fight from her perspective through her telepathic ability. Ai and Mai dropped their protections as they caught onto what was happening. I wasn’t prepared for how she saw me or the feelings that accompanied the images. There was pride, joy, and so much more. Even as she had created an explosion under my foot, she loved me. They all surely felt it. Everyone seemed speechless for a moment after it stopped. I didn’t know what to say. Believing someone to love you and quite literally feeling it weren’t comparable. Her emotions were very intense. I felt I understood better why she rarely used this ability. She always tried to appear calm.
“Your feelings really came through with that one!” exclaimed Emma into the silence as she winked at Alma.
Alma blushed, and said, “I’m terribly sorry. I obviously need more practice.”
Mother was smiling and crying. She stood and hugged Alma, saying, “Never be sorry for that. I wouldn’t have guessed how much you care.”
“That… that was incredible. Why was the world sparkling though?” asked father.
“Oh. I always see residual energy, so that’s how the world looks to me.” replied Alma.
“M-me too.” added Raine.
“James doesn’t actually give off light. I’ve checked. He just seems to glow.” teased Jarod with a smile.
“If not for Lady Pendreigh’s spell, all of us would probably be attempting to hug him.” stated Mai.
Then Ai said, “It’s happened before.”
“Quite embarrassing.” they claimed together.
“There are worse things than urges to hug.” I replied, still glad that Alma had taken precautions. Things could be far worse.