“Lily-flor?” I cry, my body beginning to glow.
But I hadn’t touched water.
I run around the empty flat rock, screaming her name, no Lily-flor in sight. Tamir grips my shoulders, my feet almost flying out from under me.
“Let go of me!” His hands stay firmly on me as I struggle to get away. “Lily-flor!” Tears well up in my eyes as Tamir wraps me in his arms. I try to push him away. I need to get to her. She needs me. I need her…
I break down, sobbing. We collapse to the ground, my head against his chest. I shake with worry, my heart bleeding out for the little girl I’ve helped raise her entire life. She can’t be gone. She can’t be dead. Lily-flor is just as much a part of this tribe as I am and we were all supposed to be safe from harm, like Damian promised, like everyone else was. But where is she?
Evil giggling breaks through the thoughts in my head. I sit upright, the sound making my blood run cold with its utter familiarity. Sniffling, I stand to my feet as anger boils inside me. My eyes search the waters surrounding us. The only way either of them has been able to do that, speak in my head, is when they’re touching the water. But how can they be touching the water? It must be flowing across the land too quickly to swim, let alone survive in it.
Magic, my brain tells me.
Impressive, Cressa-la. Dametria’s voice reverberates inside my skull. Looks like your little deal with Damian worked.
“Where are you?” I growl at her, whipping around to search the waters again. The tribespeople stare at me like I’m insane. But I’m not the one that’s insane. “Where’s Lily-flor?”
Give up, Cressa-la. We’ve won and you can’t stop us. Just say you surrender and this can all go back to normal. Say you won’t fight anymore and you can have back the little girl you adore.
“What did you do with her?” I shout, circling the wall of water trapping us in an invisible dome. “I swear that if you hurt her—”
My blood bubbles over with hot disapprobation and my glowing expands to a terrific extent; I can hardly see past it. The skin covering my muscles begins to tingle and then tremble. I can feel the moon pushing me, urging me to use my power, and it’s almost too tempting to fall to; would the moon make me even stronger too, since it, and not just the sea, chose me?
Don’t worry, dear Cressa-la. She sneers in my head. She’s perfectly fine, thanks to your stupid deal with Damian.
Most of my brain relaxes, relieved Lily-flor, is in facet, okay. But the rest of my being shudders with worry. I want her here in front of me. I want to hold her, to tell her everything is okay. But they have her.
“Why are you doing this?” I glare into the water. I want to see through it. The need to see Lily-flor courses through my veins, and the desire to make Damian and Dametria pay for what they’ve done tugs at my prickling fingertips. “Somewhere inside you, you know you’re on the wrong side of this. You were raised with love, not with war, Amawa-na.”
Dametria’s laugh is razor-sharp in my head after hearing her real name.
“You know nothing about how I was raised, Cressa-la.”
I jerk around and face her within an instant. Dametria stands on the other side of the circle, the people still stuck in here making a walkway between us, frightened to be near the water but afraid to be caught up in whatever is about to go down.
Dametria’s stance is cocky, one leg out while her hands rest on her hips, her eyes glowing green and her body matching. Dripping wet, strange, black skin-tight material covers her skin from her neck down to her toes, while her red lips are dressed up in a smirk.
Instantly a ball is formed in my hands and I aim it towards her, watching as it catapults through the air. She chuckles, lifting up a hand. She moves her hand to the side, the ball of light following. It crashes into the wall of water, fizzling out.
“Where is she?” I find myself shuffling a bit closer.
“Patience,” Dametria says, waving a finger at me. “Now. I have something you want, and you have something I want.”
She shakes her head. “It was at first.” She begins to make her way through the crowd to me, stopping right beside Namrina-mah, whose face is hard and eyes are filled with uncertainty.
“But now what is it you want?”
We stand about ten feet apart, the intensity of our glares making the dead air buzz with rivalry. She smiles wickedly and takes three more steps toward me.
“The one thing that ever mattered to me is slipping from me each and every time you come around. It’s as if I have become invisible and unnecessary. He doesn’t want me anymore.”
“Damian?” I inquire, and then laugh in spite of myself. “You can have him.”
“But he doesn’t want me,” she bursts, getting in my face. “What I want is for you to completely disappear—I want your life.”
Dametria’s hand thuds onto my sternum, knocking the wind from my lungs. I’m momentarily weakened as a jolt slams through me. Is this how they drain the powers of people?
I try to reach up to slap her hand away, but my body doesn’t move. I’m frozen in place. She has complete control of me. Excruciating pain like I’ve never known blossoms throughout my body, as if it’s imploding one vein at a time. I cry out.
Suddenly I have life again as someone knocks her from me and pins her to the ground. Tamir stands up a split second later, Dametria’s eyes on fire as she shoves at him. My stomach drops as I regain my balance. Tamir can’t protect himself from her. He has no powers and we’re in the center of the large dome of water. He could never reach it in time.
Dametria lifts her hands, green glowing growing bright from her hands. She lines up her shot, focusing on Tamir. A sneer cracks on her stone-cold face.
“I never loved you.”
The ball of light explodes from her hand. I find my feet and leap in front of him, the magic coming towards us fast.
A confused and raging Dametria stares back at me. “How’d you do that? You don’t know how to—”
“But I do.”
The deep voice appears from nowhere, it seems, as I snap my head around. Damian, his body glowing bright green, strides over to us, his eyes locked on Dametria.
“I told you not to harm her.”
“But, my love, she—”
“I don’t care what she did,” Damian almost shouts at her. “I am still King of the Unwea Clan, and you will do as I say, seeing that you aren’t my wife.”
This, her face looking as if he’d slapped her, takes her aback. “You know I’m not, only because it’s not what you want.” Dametria says tersely. “Because you want someone who doesn’t match.”
Damian waves her away and turns to me. The moon’s power pulses through me with every beat of my heart. I brace myself for manipulation from him, but his eyes don’t flash, don’t even flicker with a hint of green.
I can feel Tamir’s presence behind me, there to protect me if he has to.
“Where is Lily-flor?” I ask him through a clenched jaw. “What did you do with her?”
“She’s right here.”
Damian steps aside, Lily-flor standing behind him, her eyes closed. A gasped whimper escapes from my mouth and I fall to my knees in front of her. I reach to take her hand, but a shock keeps me from touching her.
“What did you do to her?”
“It’s a simple sleeping spell. After all, I promised to keep your tribe from harm.” Damian smirks, and then his voice darkens. “It can only be broken if you agree to something.”
I glance up at him, my words thickly abhorrent. “And what would that be?”
“You to be my Queen.”
“Don’t do it Cress,” Tamir says before I have time to process anything else.
“Why?” I growl to the enemy as I stand to my feet. Damian peers down at me, his blue eyes clear as day. I feel a wind begin to pick up, swirling around our little army. The water is beginning to lower.
“Because the water levels are going down and the wind will pick up again, never to slow down due to the atmosphere’s momentum. Your tribe will die slowly from oxygen loss and the constant blowing of the wind. They won’t be able to move and starvation will begin to eat them from the inside out. The Wurn Tribe will be blown away and thrown from the atmosphere, dying immediately. The Earth and moon are still, Cressa-la, and I have all the power in the world.” His eyes narrow as he stalks closer to me. “I can save them all. All you have to do is say yes. Or, rather,” he chuckles. “I do.”
The crowd of people stares wide-eyed. The Wurn tribespeople hold their chins up, looking ready to fight if they have to. But my tribe… We were bred for peace. Even if I commanded them to attack Damian right here and now, it’ll be utter chaos. And even if we win, even if we survive, how will we get everything back to normal?
“Cress…” Tamir’s eyes are filled with sorrow, longing, regret… It breaks my heart.
“How would you save them?”
“I’d make a dome around them and part of the island so they are able to scavenger for food and drink the water from nearby ponds.” He touches my shoulders. I wrench away. “Just say yes.”
My eyes drift over the people left, probably in the entire world. If they can survive, just until I can figure out what it is I need to do…
They stop on Tamir. He’s lost everything to Damian. His love, his tribe, his friends… probably his newfound parents…
And now me.
I nod, staring at the ground. “Fine. But only if you save them.”
Damian smiles, a dark tint falling over his face. “I knew you’d come around.”
He raises his hands up just as the wind begins to blow harder. I watch as the water parts more and more, the level decreasing with each moment passing. The liquid seems to be caught up in the strong wind as it cuts off, the dome trapping in a small fraction of the air the wind had blown in.
There’s a slight green shimmering as the dome stops moving, trees stilled, most of them leafless.
No one cheers as everything comes to a standstill. They stare at Damian and I, unsure of what they should do.
Avoiding Tamir’s eyes, I sweep over the view of the tribespeople.
I take a shaky breath. “You are all safe now.” My voice cracks as I hold back the tears.
Damian’s arm slides around my waist, making me cringe away, and we begin to sink into the ground. One last glance at Tamir makes the first tear fall from my eye.
Find me, Tamir, I plead as the ground cuts him off from my sight.