Leave me alone! I'm not what you think! Kinnet pushed the thoughts as hard as she could, fingers so tight around the sea-glass pendant that it cut into her.
Companion. The word ached with such loneliness that Kinnet felt tears slip from her eyes. How could such a magnificent creature be lonely? Why had it reached out to her?
I'm no one special. I can't be your companion. She wondered if it even understood. The leviathan had retreated beneath the surface, but she could feel it there. It brushed the ship, ever so delicately, and Dawn Star shuddered. Behind her, Arama was shouting. Prince Vistaren stood at the railing next to her, that general holding him in place like they might both fall down if he let go.
Oh gods. How could she not? Kinnet squeezed her eyes shut and stretched one hand forth as if she could touch it. How? You are so much greater.
It didn't answer. She felt its presence, determination laced with confusion. It hummed through her ribs, making her feet tingle, but no words came through to her. Then something made her bones catch fire.
Kinnet jumped, letting out an involuntary shriek. What was that? Then she realized her hair was prickling, trying to stand on end. Lightning flashed above them in clouds that were gathering from thin air. What was happening? Another lick of fire ran through her bones.
Where was the leviathan? She leaned over the railing, peering into the sea. Rain lashed at her face, soaking her hair and making it stick to her cheeks. Lightning flared again. It made Kinnet realize how dark it had grown.
Companion! The word crashed into her just as fire licked through her again. The leviathan was singing! Kinnet looked up, her gaze surprising a dumbfounded expression on Prince Vistaren's face.
"What?" she demanded.
He shook his head, mouth open.
"Ah--it's singing," he said.
"You hear it?"
"Don't y--oh. Yes. Sorry. I hear it. It's almost like it's singing up the storm." Vistaren rubbed the back of his head. "That is, you didn't call that, did you?"
"No!" Kinnet shoved her hair back from her face and hung over the railing. She could just see the leviathan through the frothy surface of the waves. Stop, she implored. She could tell at once that it couldn't hear her.
An arm seized her around her midsection. Kinnet flailed and the back of her hand struck something. The arm didn't let her go, so she hit again, harder this time. A hand seized her shoulder and wrenched her around.
"What are you doing?" Arama demanded. "Get belowdecks!"
"I can talk to him," Kinnet insisted. "Let me go!"
Kinnet found herself grinning. "Maybe I am."
"If you sink this ship, I'll have your guts for a harper to play on." Arama's eyes blazed, her lips thin and white. Kinnet shook her head. She pulled out of the captain's grasp and knelt against the railing, looking between the braided ropes at the sea below.
Please, talk to me.
Stubborn silence. She hadn't wanted to hear him before, so why should he speak to her now? Kinnet shoved aside her frustration and reached up to rip the sea-glass rings from her ears. She curled her fingers around them, thrusting her will through them.
I am not your companion. But we can find one. There are others, aren't there? Other leviathan? She couldn't tell if she was still crying. The rain was cold and it needled into her cheeks. I feel your song.
It was singing up the storm. Kinnet gasped. Leviathans had once been called stormsingers. There were bits of lore in the college that suggested the stormsingers had taught the first stormwitches, back when humans had first conquered Amethir. Maybe there was truth to those legends.
She extended her awareness, touching the storm, skimming the very surface of the power. Stormsinger, welcome, she thought. May I join your song?