The following day, after school, Sadde waits for Alistair.
"And you can't stop it with less in the way of fireworks?"
"Like I said, we're willing to listen if you have a good argument. Why does it serve us, and humanity at large, to be subtle?"
"Alistair, if nothing else, you realize that this makes you a target for other sorcerers! To say nothing of the government and their interest in exploiting magic, with no care for us and our traditions."
"Oh yes, my family has a magical sniper pointed this way," Megan says cheerfully.
"She's joking," Nica explains. "At any rate, you've presumably seen what happens when we run out of magic essence..."
"Mana," she says under her breath.
"...so something bad is bound to happen if a bunch of people try it!"
"I try to avoid running out."
"Yes, because you know to. They won't. So it's just a matter of time until someone tries to do something big, fails, and blows up a train station."
"All they need is good teachers. I've never run out, and neither have my parents. One of our allies did, and the consequences were strange, but not life-threatening."
"You never even tried? Even out of curiosity?"
"Not everyone is as okay with self-destruction as you are. And yes, they're strange until someone tries to do anything big, then -"
Megan makes an explosion sound with her mouth, accompanied by visual effects played by her hands.
"It's mostly silly? I thought it must be riskier than that, based on what grandfather always said."
"How risky it is depends on how big a thing it is you're trying to do and how much magic you have left," she says, didactic despite herself. "Small things have small, mostly random effects. Big things have big, mostly random effects, which usually means -"
Explosion sounds again.
"So your grandfather was right. Still weird you never tried, but I guess he must've put the fear of the devil in your family."
"That's Gerard. If what you're worried about is lack of tradition, we can share that. There has to be room for outreach, for some kind of education process. If you think we've been too reckless, then give us an alternative."
"Alistair, be reasonable. The alternative is to keep to ourselves. You can't tell me you trust the average person with the kind of power we have. Any kind of education would need serious vetting procedures, and I wouldn't trust just anyone with that authority."
"So you also think people shouldn't teach quantum physics to AP students? 'Cause you could build a nuclear bomb with that, you know."
"Not without a lot more money than most people have."
"Knowledge is power, and power corrupts. Why were you sent to speak to us if you aren't interested in keeping this secret?"
"The amount of good we can do outweighs a lot of other things. Does it get as bad as nukes?"
"I'm not but I didn't know I wouldn't be when I got sent," Megan shrugs, then looks at Alistair. "No, not as bad as nukes. Usually. You'd have to be pretty creative to get as bad as nukes and want to do something really big? And even then I guess nukes are very big. Not as bad as nukes."
"If you're interested in sending conflicting messages, by all means, continue. I'll be upstairs."
And she goes.