Tamir’s body begins to glow bright blue as he crashes into his old friend. Chaos is erupting all around us, my side having the upper hand. We know how to fight up close and use bows and arrows. Revli grew up with no violence, except for when they would go out to hunt for meat. Even that was a rare occasion. And the One-Hundreds they had casted spells upon stand still or run to hide, scared, their doe-eyes confused. I have a feeling that magic is all they know. They were humans formed into weapons, Damian stripping them of their lives and free will.
A body comes flying at me, full speed. I take a step back, barely missing it as it tumbles by me, summersaults on the ground, and finds balance on her feet. The girl’s eyes flash with anger as the water creates ravines down her face. She bares her teeth at me, and growls. I shake my head and put my hands up in front of me. I don’t have a bow and arrow to protect me this time, but I have my power.
She springs up, much like an animal, with her hands out and ready to claw me to pieces. I sidestep and jab her in the ribcage. She flinches but she turns back on me, hitting me across the face. I stumble to the side as she jumps again. We hit the ground with a thud, and I wedge my knee up between us as my hands wrapped around her wrists begin to glow. She cries out as the light burns her, but it only seems to make her angrier.
I use the moment to shove her off of me. I create a ball of light with my hands and release it; it collides with her body. She’s sent flying into the air, and lands on the ground, her arms and legs looking like the branches had with the impossible wind after the world stopped moving. Unnatural.
A sound behind me.
I whip around, my body glowing as the rain falls harder. Damian mirrors my stance, a green ball floating before his hands. Peering past him, I can see Tamir picking himself up off the ground, blood dripping from various places on his face and his chest and his glow fading in and out rapidly. Rage boils inside of me.
“Give me it,” Damian threatens.
“If I didn’t know how when you first kidnapped me, then how would I know now?” A ball forms in my own hands as the war rages around me.
“I’ll show you.”
His eyes flash.
“No, Damian,” I growl. “That doesn’t work on me anymore.”
“It seemed to work back there with the chairs,” he says quietly over the rain, walking slowly towards me. The water seems to evaporate from his skin as it touches him, yet he glows even brighter than I’ve ever seen him. “You wanted to be with me.”
I shake my head. “Since I first saw you, never have I ever wanted to be with you.”
He smiles mysteriously, the ball of light disappearing from his hands. They fall to his sides. What is he doing?
“Then do it, Cressa-la,” he says darkly. “Destroy me.”
My breath quickens. Did he just say…? But I can’t—
“Just do it,” he shouts.
Tamir forces his arm around Damian’s throat, squeezing with what life he has left in him. Damian laughs. My head throbs with worry and goes light.
Damian flips Tamir over his shoulder in one swift motion, a loud crack echoing through the air. He screams. My blood runs cold.
Tamir chokes on his breath.
Damian laughs again.
The light around me grows brighter as I stare, frozen, the frigid water making icy rivers down my back and into my hair. It feels as if a chunk of my heart has been ripped out. A lump rises in my throat.
Damian presses a hand to Tamir’s sternum, making him jerk with helplessness. He smirks as his prey sputters and coughs on the pouring rain. Tamir arches his back, crying out once more.
I let a ball of light fly.
It crushes into Damian’s shoulder, sending him flying backwards. I rush to Tamir, the sky’s water splashing onto his face mercilessly. I clutch his hand as he stares up at me, his jaw tight.
“Cress,” he breathes painfully.
Damian chuckles as he stands up. “So much power moving through your veins, Cressa-la,” he says, his eyes trailing the glowing spider webs all throughout my hands. “You must be feeling destructive right about now.”
“Shut up,” I snap up at him as Tamir’s glow begins to fade faster.
“All Ones are evil,” he sneers.
I’m up and in his face within a moment, holding a small ball of light to his Adams apple. A mocking smile plays on his dripping face.
“You’re the only evil One here.”
“Really?” A throaty laugh bubbles from his mouth. “I would say threatening me like this would make you evil, especially after you took the eclipse’s power from me.”
The ball of light touches him on his neck and he hisses.
“So fiery,” he whispers.
I remove the light from his skin. “Surrender, or your head will be removed from your body.”
“I don’t think so, princess.”
His hand is against my chest faster than I can react. But I don’t have that same feeling I had had when Dametria tried to take my powers from me. Instead, I feel nothing.
Damian looks at me, puzzled. I push his arm away. He takes me by my arms forcefully, but I slip from his grasp.
And then there’s a whisper in my ear.
I cock my head in the direction I had heard it.
Nothing but the battle. No one is even near me, besides Damian and Tamir, who lies on the ground behind me as if I can protect him.
The world slows down. Not the Earth this time, but everything around me. It’s as if time has stopped momentarily, just for me. I hear the whisper again.
I do a full one hundred and eighty degree turn. A figure cloaked in the same blue I radiate drifts down from the treetops. It forms a shape as it gets closer. A woman.
With a tail.
Her face forms, different colors appearing through the light. Her eyes, blue, smile down at me. Her dark hair, auburn, sways around her mystically. And her face, it reminds me of… me.
“My daughter,” she says, her grin bittersweet.
“Mother?” I croak as my skin rises with goose bumps. Could this be my mother, the Queen of the Murlan Clan? What is she doing here? And how did she find me? Is she still alive? I’d been told she was dead, that she died giving birth to me; that’s why I have the powers I do.
She nods, her eyes wet with tears. “Yes, my dear Cressa.”
My mother shakes her head, silencing me. “I came to tell you something that will help you. It’s a simple something, but it’s one of the most powerful things you will ever try to comprehend.”
“I don’t understand.” Uncertainty tugs at the back of my brain.
“I know you don’t, Cressa,” she says softly, touching my cheek. Her touch feels like a lick of wind, cool and soft. “But you will. It’ll take you a moment to process, but you’ll understand at the right moment, which is coming up fast.”
She glances behind her once, as if someone is watching her.
“Desire without action will collapse all hope built inside.”
I take a moment to try to understand. My mind comes up blank. What could she possibly mean? What moment could I need those strange words of wisdom for?
“I still don’t—”
“Have faith in the powers at work, Cressa, because when you do, you’ll believe. And when you believe, mountains become like feathers.”
I open my mouth to speak again, but she’s already beginning to fade out.
“I love you, Cress…”
Everything is thrusted into motion once again.
Damian pushes me to the ground, pinning me down with his weight.
“Hand over my rightful powers. Now!”
“I—can’t,” I breathe, struggling. “I don’t know how to!”
“Or you choose not to.” Holding one of my wrists to the ground with one hand, he shoves the other against his chest. “Give them to me now.”
My hand glows, growing hot as the light brightens. I can see the pain in Damian’s eyes as I burn him, as his clothing begins to give way and make a hole. But he doesn’t let go.
“You’re not doing it correctly.”
“I’m not trying to—”
Damian is thrust from me. I sit up, noticing Tamir immediately. His hand is slightly up and his face is pained; he’d used his powers to help me, even when these moments could be his last. His glowing is drastically dimmer than it had been moments before.
Tamir’s hand drops to the rock below.
I scramble over to him as Damian picks his pride off the ground and pries a few of my people off of him as they try to take him down. Tamir’s breath is unsteady and he’s barely even able to keep his eyes open. Tears well up in my eyes as the rain floods around us.
“Cress…” he whispers, his voice barely audible over the falling water. “I’m… sorry…”
“There’s nothing to be sorry about,” I respond, my voice quivering.
He reaches up to touch my face, his hands already cold as he smiles at me. I take it in both of mine, hoping to warm them up, wishing everything was different and that this wasn’t happening. What had Damian broken inside of Tamir that is making him fade so fast? He can’t be…
My throat knots.
Tamir’s hand grows heavy.
His eyes have stopped moving.
“No,” I whisper, a tear falling over my bottom lashes and mixing in with the rain draining off my face. “No—no, Tamir!”
I place my hand on his chest like Damian and Dametria had, willing my powers to go to him somehow.
But they don’t.
I’m thrown to the ground, my side smashing against the flat rock below. The sky is all I see as I roll over. The clouds are departing, moving in a different direction and the sun is poking out behind them. Dread fills my heart as the One-Hundreds start to cheer. We’ve lost.
Damian stomps in my direction, his fists glowing and his smile gone. He’s all business now.
Another searing pain rips through my leg.
He hit me again.
“Get up, Cressa-la. I’m not finished with you.”
I don’t want to.
I stare at the disappearing moon, every fiber of my being calling out to it for power. Strength. Hope. Knowledge.
The light he had casted had scraped my arm.
The rain has stopped falling to the earth.
I want everything to be okay again. I want the Revli Tribe to be the Revli Tribe and not pawns for someone to take over the world. And I want this war to stop. Now.
Something rushes through me. Authority. Power. And I hear something change outside of me. Something drastic. Things become quiet.
Lily-flor’s voice. She calls out my name again. Screams.
And then I’m moving.
A ball of light leaves my hands before I can remember creating it. Damian moves it out of the way with his own magic as I send another one his direction. Miss.
He tries to hit me, but it halts in midair as I lift my chin. My muscles take over as my hand circle around the ball. It’s as if I’ve done this thousands of times before.
It grows larger and larger, and then I cast it his way. Damian throws his hands up to try and move it, but it’s too big. It thumps into him and he goes flying, hitting a tree with his back. He falls to the ground, groaning with pain.
Faster than I thought was possible, I’m before him, and I’m the one that has him pinned against the tree. My hand is at his throat, my entire body glowing with energy and emotion as the stench of his burned flesh reaches the back of my throat.
“You will forever be a pig,” I spit, wishing for it to happen with every muscle, every thought, every breath, and every beat of my heart and body. His form changes quickly, the ugliest of all people now standing before me. He charges me, only to be stopped as I lift my hand.
“And,” I continue feeling the moon’s power race through me. “You will never hurt another living creature ever again.”
I let my hand fall back down to my side, the white material surrounding my frame drying quickly. Damian stays still for a long time, staring at me with narrowed, beady pig-eyes. And then, with a final, nasty oink, he disappears into the trees.
Cheers erupt from everywhere around me as I turn around. The Revli Tribe stands with confused faces next to my tribe and Wurn as they applaud me for what I’d done. But what have I done besides betray my tribe by touching the water and letting those I love go to war and die?
My eyes shift to Tamir’s still figure. A lump rises in my throat and a tear creates a river-like line down my face as it falls. Lily-flor is kneeled beside him, her hands on his chest and her eyes closed. I make my way over to her, my own questions rising in my head.
“What are you doing, Lily-flor?” I ask quietly.
“I saw what that lady did to you and what that guy was trying to do too. And then you tried doing it to him.” She opens her eyes. “I wanted to try.”
“But, Lily-flor, you’re not—Tamir…” How am I going to explain this to her? “He’s…”
He inhales sharply.
I jump, another tear falling.
“Look! I did it!”
Taking a closer look at Lily-flor, I can see a bright pink glow shifting around her tiny figure.
Tamir’s chest falls still again, and I stop breathing. Could we—could I bring him back to life? Could magic go that far?
“But he breathed—” Lily-flor exhales in frustration, placing her hands back on his bare chest. The people of the three tribes and freed of Damian’s magic close in, making a loose circle around us.
Desire without action will collapse all hope built inside. My mother’s mysterious words replay in my head. Could this be what she meant?
Lily-flor scrunches her face together and presses harder.
Have faith in the powers at work, Cressa, because when you do, you’ll believe. And when you believe, mountains become like feathers
Maybe this is it.
“Lily-flor, let me try,” I say. She begins to protest, but Tani-mah touches her on the arm, silencing her.
“Let her try, Lily-flor,” she whispers quietly.
When she looks back up at me, I see no trace of disappointment, of anger towards me, of hatred. There’s a certain kind of clarity in them that words wouldn’t be able to describe. And it gives me confidence in myself. It’s as if I’m finally good enough for her.
I just need to act upon what it is I desire to happen.
My hands touch his skin, tingles making their way from my fingertips and through my shoulders. His skin is becoming cold, although I can feel that small bit of warmth coming through. I focus on that. On every time he’s touched me. The first time on the beach, when Damian and Dametria had threatened my tribe. And then when he would pull me along behind him in the water. When he taught me how to use my powers…
His smile moves to the front of my mind. A beautiful smile. A smile I don’t want to live without.
Please, Tamir, I plead. Find me here. I’m here. Come back to me.
His chest moves.