The Last Tear
The Elements watched Hysteria rush to Bedlam’s side, gingerly scooping her up in his large hands. The earth Avatar’s strength had long been exhausted, so he held her close for support. Seeing the cracked stone in her forehead, the usually numb Avatar furrowed his silver brow angrily. No one had the heart to disturb them, quietly observing from where they were.
“They did this to you...!”
“No...” Bedlam’s whispered weakly to him with a wearily smile. “I wanted to make up for what I’ve done... This was the only way I could... They broke the link for me...”
“But why?! Why would you want them to break you?!” Hysteria cried as he searched her face, seeking understanding.
“I wasn’t designed the same as you... My stone bound me to our creators, but you...” Fresh tears fell from the corners of her eyes as Bedlam gazed up at him with hope. “You were never tied to that design... That’s why you never knew your purpose... You’re free to choose, Hysteria... Winter spoke of being set free to fight for his existence... but this is the freedom I deserve after the harm I have done... Find the freedom you want to fight for...”
“All I want is for us to be together, like before,” Hysteria’s voice trembled as he spoke of the selfish wish. “I feel we’re connected in my core. I don’t understand how, but we were created to work as one...!”
“If that’s what you want... I will remain as long as I can... but I doubt Spiral will listen to either of us...” Bedlam closed her eyes to rest in his strong arms. “The moment you released me from the energy’s hold... I think I understood the feeling you do... If only I’d realized sooner... I would have relied on you instead...”
“Why are you talking like this? Like you’re going somewhere?”
“My connection to the Principles has been severed... Without them... my existence will fade away... but I would like to remain here with you until then... You’re always so kind... I’m sorry I rejected that, Hysteria... If only I had more time... I could try to mend what I broke...”
“You mean, because your stone’s broken, you’re going to go away,” the titan Avatar whimpered, pulling Bedlam’s head to his chest. He stared at the ground, thinking aloud, “I won’t let you fade away, Bedlam. I’ll fix you. I’ll find a way to fix you.”
Above the park, silhouetted against a blood orange sky, an ominous cumulonimbus tower swelled further into the atmosphere. The longer it lingered the darker it became. With no thunder, lightning, or even wind inside of it, one could only assume it was condensing every molecule of moisture in the air to continue its growth.
Inside the daunting cloud, two voices echoed off the insulated walls. One was Rain’s vengeful outcry, reverberating off the very atoms of the vapors comprising the cloud. As if a display of his emotional turmoil, all manner of precipitation swirled about the space, as if thrown by thousands of hands. Hailstones, icicle spikes, frigid droplets, and thick mist huddled at the Avatar tossed about the core of Rain’s storm.
The other belonged to Spiral, laughing wildly with ecstasy at the experience. Though his clothes were shredding, the daemon didn’t seem to be injured by the blows. Even the slick air passing his stretched lips did little to quiet the menacing cackle. The dark orbs almost looked ready to roll into the back of his skull as he was knocked back and forth, up and down, flipping in every direction.
"Yes!" The mad daemon cried with bliss. “Such display of destruction...! This is the power of my Pillar! I knew you would be the key!”
Rain’s cries only worsened as his efforts appeared fruitless. It was too much. First, Lane and the Seasons had fallen. Then Flash and Fauna had been injured. Skye had breached the Rift, and they discovered how powerless they really were. He’d tried so hard to protect the family he had left and find a way to fight back. Just when he thought they’d gotten an upper hand, this daemon had invaded his body and harmed an Element sharing it with him.
The stab to his chest hadn’t just been his pain. Flash’s agony coursed through him moments before they were separated. There were no words to convey his wrath and sorrow, and Spiral’s excitement only rubbed acid into the fresh wounds.
“This energy is pure,” Spiral mused in a drunken voice. “I can sense the Crystal energy that created you... You must be its guardian, which means an even stronger opponent awaits me!”
“I AM YOUR OPPONENT!” The water man bellowed angrily at the jab at his strength again. “I WILL RETURN THE SUFFERING YOU HAVE BROUGHT US TENFOLD!”
“Oh, I welcome you to continue,” the pallid Avatar huffed with a wicked grin on his face, “as I further grasp the nature of your existence! I already feel your presence down to the makeup of your vapors! Shortly, I will discover your core self, which will lead me to where my elusive Pillar awaits!”
“I WOULD DISPERSE BEFORE I ASSISTED AN AVATAR!”
“You speak as though you had a choice, guardian! Just as Nature, you have grown weak over the revolutions! The Principles have been observing this defective world from the beginning! Need I remind you how a pathetic husk dealt with four of you alone?! Once I grasp your form a second time, I’ll convert whatever remains of your vessel into a beacon, leading me straight to your master!
“But before we depart, I’ll finish off the abominations Bedlam failed to crush to drown this passion that drives you...” A frightening venom began to seep through Spiral voice as he reflected on the Elements. “After all... my pure wavelength easily overwhelmed the one hiding inside you! One by one... I will harness your vapors to fulfill my cosmic purpose to destroy this cannibalistic planet!”
“What do you mean by...” Rain’s anger suddenly quelled. The wild precipitation calmed as he absorbed what Spiral had just called their world. What was he talking about? “... cannibalistic...?”
“Curious, aren’t we?” The daemon hummed as he finally got the water man’s attention. “As a pure entity, I will grant you this request. From the beginning, this planet was condemned after consuming another core, mutating spawn of its own to further consume and evolve. It is a threat to the cosmos and must be eradicated before consuming its own system. Fortunately, after revolutions of ambiguity, the Principle Cosmos has grasped the core design and created its own counterbalance against it!”
A unique ripple in response to his answer caught the insane Avatar’s notice. Turning his baton toward it, Spiral focused on its epicenter. Furrowing his brow, he felt resistance pull against it. A sadistic grin exposed the stark white teeth once he grasped his prize.
Anxiety overwhelmed Rain as he felt his vapors drawn toward the tip of Spiral’s wand. Just as Skye had before, he was unable to resist the Avatar’s control over his form. Scrambling to draw away, streams of water began to twist toward the Avatar as his emblem began to take form.
Spiral gawked in wonder at the gemstone as Rain grunted desperately. The crystal blue teardrop began to materialize it metal-wrapped frame gradually. The Avatar reached slowly for the pendant as the woven chain links appeared. Such innocent awe made the frightened water sprite’s panic descend into madness.
In a last-ditch effort, Rain released his resistance to form one last hailstone as large as he could. Using the force drawing him, he let the momentum swing the boulder into the Avatar’s forehead, shattering his concentration. The backlash broke down the cloud and Rain’s form, dropping the distracted Spiral to the earth below.
As the onlookers watched Hysteria weep over Bedlam’s limp form, the stillness of the park lake was disturbed by Spiral's landing - face-first on the ground. While the mourning Avatar ignored the appearance, the Elements and teens all turned to see what Rain had done to him. A sudden dump of rain blanketed the park as the cloud’s water was released. The Avatar didn’t even flinch.
“He did it...” Flora whispered as she walked toward the lake’s edge. Chelsea and Leif had stopped their dance when Bedlam’s outcry reached them. No one else dared to move though, unsure if the daemon was truly done or not. “Rain did it!”
In the scorched place Spiral had ripped Flash from him, Rain’s transparent form gradually condensed down. Flora clasped her hands with joy to celebrate with him, but before his visage came into view, a pure white mist appeared over the darkening area. The sun was dropping below the horizon, giving limited red light to illuminate the park. The only place that was clear was the lake, where Rain and Flora faced one another.
When Rain’s form was completely condensed, he was holding his right hand in front of him, looking down at it. Flora saw his necklace chain dangling from his palm. She couldn’t make out his face from the distance though, but her chest froze with fear. Why did he look sadder than she’d ever seen him right now?
“Rain,” the plant girl called in a small voice across the water, “what’s wrong?”
Turning his face to look at her, Rain’s expression was hollow with tears falling down his cheeks. He couldn’t see her well, but he made out the tension in her body language. Thoughts of the day’s heartache flooded his spirit, and his promise tore at his heart. It was too much for him to process, but there just wasn’t time.
How did it all come down to this? If what Spiral said was true, then Lané never stood a chance in this endless war. Skye had said he had caused all of this, but their demiurge creators didn’t seem to share his perspective. What was the truth? What was all of this pain and suffering for? What was he even created for if it all came down to this moment? Skye was right. He was tired.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough.”
The whisper on the vapors drifted to Flora’s ears as her emerald orbs swelled in horror. Turning his hand downward, the youngest Element shook her head for a denial. In the seconds it took for the pendant to touch the wet soil, Rain and Flora felt an eternity watching each other. Once Rain heard the jingle of the chain, he lifted his boot heel as his lips quivered. He knew what had to be done, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t terrified. Bringing his foot down with all the strength he possessed, a piercing shatter of the pendant echoed off the water droplets in the mist to every ear.
Rain’s body turned to formless water instantly, falling apart in a blob. All the mist evaporated, revealing the dim, red twilight. The soil was unable to absorb anything further, so the water assimilated into the lake. As Spiral began to move from his stun, the Elements and youths waited to see if the sprite would return.
The stillness as Spiral started to push himself up made Flora’s eyes swell to their limits. Gripping her chest through her shirt, she felt something foreign inside her. It was as if her heart had imploded. Knowing what had happened to the Seasons earlier that day, the reality she had witnessed crushed any hope she had left. She’d already felt her mother fade away, but seeing Rain disintegrate before her very eyes was more than she could bear...