The Rise

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Chapter Sixty-Nine

“Oh, dear.” The Woman on the Mountain shook her head. “I can’t escape. First, I’m stuck on that damn mountain, now I can’t even leave my apartment to explore the world without being followed or being bombarded with questions.” She began pacing around her small living room. “So, you know what I did. I cursed them assholes out, but they still didn’t go away.” She opened the blinds just barely to peak out of them. “They’re still damn there.”

I nodded my head. “We have bigger problems than that.” I didn’t want to force this position on her, but I needed her. “Have you seen the news?”

She cursed under her breath and snatched the TV remote to turn the news on. Each channel had a segment about the sudden loss of crops around the world and the drying out seas and streams.

She widened her eyes. “You really killed her?”

Again, I nodded. “Yes, I did. I killed her less than twenty-four hours ago, and this has already started. Imagine what will happen in the next week. Imagine how many people will die.”

She swallowed hard. “A lot, I imagine.” She pressed her lips together. “If I… if I do this, will they be saved?”

I gazed at Valerio. He nodded. “We believe they will. If you inherit the powers of Mother Nature, you can save the planet. You can help the trees regrow, you can bring the crops back, you can fill the fresh water again.”

She still looked a bit uneasy. She had sacrificed her whole life to Aeron, it was terrible to ask her to sacrifice everything again for others. I stepped forward. “And, I mean… you get the power to be any and all of the places that you chose. You won’t be locked in this tiny apartment or on top of a mountain. The media can try to find you, but you’ll already be somewhere else.”

She gazed out of the window and at the reporters crowded around. “I don’t know the first thing about being a mother. I’ve never had kids of my own. I wouldn’t know the first thing about keeping people alive.”

I walked over to her and grazed a hand against her shoulder. “I didn’t know the first thing about being a Moon Goddess when I ascended.” I laughed. “Hell, my mom told me nothing. She literally left me three visions that made no sense.”

“I think you could do it,” Valerio said. “And Mae and I will be there with you through everything.”

Her gaze traveled from Valerio to me and then she smiled. “Do you really think so?” We both nodded. “Okay… okay, I’ll do it.”

I wrapped my arms around her and drew her in for a hug. After everything going wrong for the past year, some things were actually going right. “We should go now,” I said.

She gathered a few clothes and necessities. After locking her apartment, we walked to the elevators and took one down. Valerio still wouldn’t let me use my powers, so we were going to have to walk through the reporters again. When we approached outside, Valerio gave her the same advice he gave me before we came in.

She looked nervous, but we walked outside anyway. Instead of stopping to talk this time, I aided Valerio with shielding her from the cameras and walking her to the car. The camera crews ran after us, but Valerio pushed them out of the way so we could get into the car.

As Valerio ran to the opposite side, I watched the cameras flash into the car, trying to get another picture of us. As fast as he could, Valerio sped out of the parking spot and merged onto the highway. I gazed in the rearview mirror, thankful that we weren’t being followed.

When we made it to the edge of my property, the Woman on the Mountain looked shocked. “There are no trees, no forest.”

“I had to destroy it to destroy her,” I said.

She raised her brows, her eyes becoming wider. We parked out front. Still the property was empty and still it felt really weird. We walked back to where the Great Oak once stood and where she had officially died.

I didn’t know exactly how this was going to work, but I knew that I had to do this. I remembered that Aeron was the one who had cursed her, who had put magical powers over her, so I needed to be the Night for a moment.

I ordered her to lie down on the spot where Mother Nature died. How did an ascension for Mother Nature work? I hoped it worked similar to my ascension. To be honest, I hope what I was going to do - whether it was like my ascension or not - would work.

A black film blurred my vision almost immediately and the snakes made their appearances. They had no more trees to eat, so they actually listened to my silent orders. They each slithered into the ground until their bodies wouldn’t let them anymore.

Then, their heads emerged and they slithered around her neck, around her arms, around her legs and torso. They tightened. She shrieked and began trying to get out of their hold.

I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t. This was our only hope. She continued to squirm, yet the snakes continued to slither over her, pulling her deeper and deeper into the ground. They were like roots holding her to her spot.

When she was fully submerged under the dirt, I took a deep breath, continuing to let the snakes do their thing. She was submerged in the earth, submerged in the dust of the previous Mother of Nature.

They must’ve brought her deeper and deeper because I stood there waiting for them to emerge again for at least five minutes.

Suddenly, the first snake emerged from the ground, then the next. Then they were all back in my palms. And when she didn’t emerge with them, I knelt to the ground. I didn’t want her to die for this. If she wasn’t the right person for this, we needed to get her out now.

Valerio grabbed me and pulled me back. “Mae, look.” He pointed to a few feet in front of me where the ground started cracking. Suddenly a huge crack parted the earth and she emerged from it.

Her older features were accentuated by absolute beauty. Her hair dressed in dirt and leaves, her eyes had a sudden green tint to them. She gazed down at her fingernails which were lengthening into vines. I smiled.

Mother Nature at her finest.

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