After the attack, it looked very different. The glass ceiling had been crashed in, and to keep the elements out, blue and clear tarps had been laid over it, giving the room an odd glow. Shattered chandeliers and glass were still on the floor, as well as broken chairs and tables. The floor and walls were blackened with damage from the fire and smoke.
“Why are we here?” I asked. My voice still echoed, thanks to the room’s massive size, but it wasn’t as crisp thanks to the tarps.
“I like it here.” Tove held his hands out, using his telekinesis to push the debris to the sides of the room.
“Does the Queen know where we are?” Duncan asked. He was uncomfortable being here, and I tried to remember if he’d been present during the attack. I hadn’t been paying that much attention, and I’d met far too many people that night to say for certain.
Tove shrugged. “I’m not sure.”
“Does she know you’re training me?” I asked. He nodded, looking around with his back to me. “Why are you training me? Your abilities aren’t the same as mine.”
“They’re similar.” Tove turned around to face me. “And no two people are exactly alike.”
“Have you trained anyone before?”
“No. But I’m the best suited to train you,” he said and started rolling up the sleeves of his shirt.
“Why?” I asked, and I could see Duncan wearing the same dubious expression I was.
“You’re too powerful for everyone else. They wouldn’t be able to help you tap into your potential because they don’t understand it the way I do.” He’d finished rolling up his sleeves and put his hands on his hips. “Are you ready?”
“I guess.” I shrugged, unsure what I needed to be ready for.
“Move this stuff.” He gestured vaguely to the mess around the room.
“You mean with my mind?” I shook my head. “I can’t do that.”
“Have you tried?” Tove countered, his eyes sparkling.
“Well … no,” I admitted.
He shrugged. “Figure it out.”
“You’re really good at this training thing,” I said with a sigh.
Tove laughed, but I did as I was told. I decided to start small, so I picked a broken chair nearby. I stared at in concentration. The only thing I knew how to use was persuasion, so I thought I’d go that way. In my mind, I repeated, I want the chair to move, I want—
“Nope!” Tove said, snapping me out of it. “You’re thinking about it wrong.”
“How am I supposed to think about it?”
“It’s not a person. You can’t tell it what to do. You have to move it,” Tove said, as if that clarified his point.
“How?” I asked again, but he didn’t say anything. “It’d be easier if you told me.”
“I can’t tell you. That’s not how it works.”
I grumbled a few unseemly remarks under my breath then I turned to the chair, preparing to get down to business.
So I couldn’t tell the chair to move. I had to move it. How did that translate to thought? I squinted, hoping that might help somehow, and repeated, Move the chair, move the chair.
“Now look what you’ve done,” Tove said.
I didn’t think anything at all had happened, and then I saw Duncan walking toward the chair.
“Duncan, what are you doing?” I asked.
“I, uh … moving the chair. I guess.” He seemed confused but coherent, and once he picked up the chair, he gave me an even more bewildered look. “I don’t know where to, though.”
“Set it anywhere,” I told him absently and turned to Tove. “I did that?”
“Of course you did that. I could hear you chanting loud and clear, and if you’d harnessed it better, I’d be the one picking up the chair.” He crossed his arms over his chest, giving me a look that bordered on disapproving.
“I didn’t try to do that. I wasn’t even looking at him.”
“That makes it even worse, doesn’t it?” Tove asked.
“I don’t understand,” Duncan said. He’d set down the chair, and, now free of his duty, walked over to us. “What are you expecting her to do?”
“You need to control your energy before someone gets hurt.” Tove looked at me solemnly, his mossy eyes bravely meeting mine for almost a minute before he turned away. He gestured around his head, in much the same way Loki had when he explained how he knew I had persuasion. “You have so much going on. It comes off like a…”
“Static?” I suggested.
“Exactly!” He snapped his fingers and pointed at me. “You need to tune it, get your frequencies in check, like a radio.”
“I would love to. Just tell me how.”
“It’s not a matter of turning a dial. You have no on or off switch.” He walked around in a large lazy circle. “It’s something you have to practice. It’s more like being potty-trained. You have to learn when to hold it and when to release.”
“That’s a pretty sexy analogy,” I said.
“You can move the chair.” Tove stopped suddenly. “But that can wait. You need to learn to rein in your persuasion.” He looked at Duncan. “Duncan, you don’t mind being experimented on, do you?”
“Um … I guess not?”
“Tell him to do something. Anything.” He tilted his head, still watching Duncan, then turned to me. “But make sure I can’t hear.”
“How? I don’t even know how you’re hearing,” I pointed out.
“Focus. You have to focus your energy. It’s imperative.”
“How?” I repeated.
He kept telling me to do things without giving me any clue how. He might as well have been telling me to build a damn rocket ship. I had no idea what to do.
“You were more focused when you were around Finn,” Tove said. “You were more grounded, in the way electricity is grounded.”
“Well, he’s not here,” I snapped.
“It doesn’t matter. He didn’t do anything,” Tove continued, unfazed. “You’re the one with the power. You grounded yourself around him. You tell me how.”
I didn’t want to think about Finn or the way I had been around him. One of the reasons I had been excited for this training was because it would distract me from thoughts of him. Now Tove was telling me that Finn was the key to my success. Perfect.