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Chapter 32: Hydrus

Sebastian was tired, bone deep tired that made his head ache with every beat of his dark heart. He just wanted to lie down, to close his eyes and go to sleep.

There were buzzing thoughts swirling in his mind that would not grant him peace. The elements be damned, he needed stillness and quiet.

Shut up! His head wouldn’t settle, the thoughts bouncing around inside his skull. Contributing to the aching that was slowly building in intensity.

The note, the message, a threat to his family. Most of whom couldn’t defend themselves right now. Alina was still unconscious and his uncle was…

No, now was not the time to fall back into his grief and anger. He had to be strong, he’d embarrassed himself enough already.

Should he do as it asked? Sneak out and meet Gabrielle for one final battle. Both of them alone. His family safe from harm but himself only relying on his own strength.

If it went wrong, if he lost. She would go after them next, Sebastian knew that she would. He would have to win; they had suffered so much for him already. Alina burnt because of him, he needed them to be safe.

I’m strong and I have something she doesn’t know about yet. Or at least I hope she doesn’t. The Peacemakers were good spies. He hoped his most powerful techniques were still secret.

If uncle had been healthy and at full strength, Sebastian would have told him what was going on, but as things stood right now he was better off not knowing. Saving his strength, he was in no condition to fight.

Sebastian crept down the stairs, hoping that the soft pink of the sun about to rise wouldn’t wake up his family. He peeked into his uncle’s room as he passed.

Poor uncle was drenched in sweat, his lower half emitting a gentle green glow even in his sleep. Sebastian’s heart nearly split in two having to leave him behind when he was sick. When Sebastian should have been there caring for him.

His face wasn’t relaxed but almost wincing, Sebastian didn’t know how bad this was going to get or how long it would take. Could his uncle fight this?

He would do this for him, he would end the war that his Uncle so desperately wanted to finish. Sebastian would find a way.

“Hold on uncle, I’m going to finish them, and I’ll be back before you even know I’m gone” Sebastian hoped it was true. He would do everything in his power to make it true. Gabrielle would be the one losing today. He had family who needed him to return alive.

He had thought it would be hard to find Gabrielle but it wasn’t. In fact, he didn’t even have to try and search. There was a very obvious beacon of light shooting up into the sky. Sebastian knew that it was her. She had always had a flair for Melodrama. She must have gotten that from her father.

They met at dawn as the sun was only barely sending its first rays over the horizon. A gentle wind blew; it would have been a good day. If not for the black cloaked figure standing on the other end of the abandoned block of land the beacon had led him to stand on.

“So you came to fight me then Puppy, good thing because otherwise my army was more than willing to attack your family and they all would have died. Their deaths would have been on your shoulders” this was the absolute worst thing about fighting her. Aside even from the fact that he had once held strong feelings for her. She knew how to press his buttons.

She was the first to strike, probably knowing Sebastian would be distracted by her words. He’d been training for this, so he dodged the searing bolt she threw with ease. Now was his time to show just what it meant to be a water Elemental.

“You can’t win!” it was like a dance between the two of them, lightning almost faster than the eye can see colliding with wall after wall of water. The air was still damp from the winters latest deposit of rain. Perfect for Sebastian to draw water from.

“Let’s see how you feel when you see my newest skill!” he closed his eyes and imagined water twisting and growing. Taller than two of Gabrielle, almost to the treetops. He imagined ice forming and solidifying itself as if creating armour.

When he opened them he turned to see if it had worked as well as it had in practice. Behind him, its icy scales glittering in the sun and its almost translucent tongue testing the air. His biggest and most formidable creation to date.

Hydrus. A water and ice snake. It took a lot of power and he felt sweat beading already as he concentrated on controlling it. Able to take many blows and do damage Sebastian could only dream of alone. This was the secret he had been saving for a moment like this.

The gaps between its icy scales glowed blue with Sebastian’s power, its eyes held an even brighter shade of blue as it stared down at Gabrielle. It would fight this with him and help him finish this alive.

Gabrielle had been staring at the snake for the last few moments in what could well be fear. Now she shook herself out of whatever thoughts she’d been having and struck out at the serpent.

The lightning bounced off its scales, doing no damage but agitating it quite a lot. The Hydrus let out a hiss that sounded like it came from deep within a well. It took so much power to manage but the sound was comforting.

“Don’t you understand? There is no winning for you! You can’t get your happy ending! It’s just not how you are meant to live! You are meant to suffer!” her attempts to distract him may have worked in the past, but it wouldn’t anymore. Too much of Sebastian’s mind and power were on his snake. His ears barely heard what she said.

Gabrielle was becoming more desperate the more agitated his Hydrus creation became. She backed up but must have known that there wasn’t anywhere she could go. Snakes have incredible tracking abilities and are drawn to warmth. Lightning was very warm and Gabrielle was basically swimming in it.

There was one thing Sebastian hadn’t counted on however, that was Gabrielle not being so afraid that she couldn’t think. She was thinking, and she had found a weakness in his plan. Which was that for Sebastian to control the Hydrus it took almost all of his focus. Slowing down his reflexes.

She shot a small but very hot blast of lightning at Sebastian that he didn’t notice wrapped up in his Hydrus as he was. It hit Sebastian before he could do anything to stop it. In the same place he had been burned by her father.

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