Fire and Water

- A Serialized Novel -

Enya Royston has hidden from herself and her abilities, fearing the destruction that always comes with using them.

Author’s Note: This isn’t really the choice that Enya and Cress should discuss, but they went into it anyway.

Skimming the Surface

“I would have thought you’d say mountains.”

Cress shook his head, leaning back against the cabin. “The higher the altitude, the thinner the atmosphere. Less air for Moira and Sherwin, and he needs to heal. Mountains weren’t an option. This should forest is a better compromise. They get their air, Occie and I get the lake, and Terra gets everything else. I suppose I could even say you get the local campfires.”

“Not funny,” Enya said, giving him a shove, and he ignored it since his comment had warranted some kind of reciprocation. “Do you always think like that? Talk like that? Sherwin needs air and you have to find a compromise—”

“I’ve been leading them for a long time now. Maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I always tried to do my best. That means factoring the needs of everyone into the decisions, weighing the risks and the consequences and—”

“And never one minute for yourself?”

He shook his head. He was not that selfless, and she, of all people, should know better than to assume that. She’d been the one that had to deal with the worst of his choices. “No, if I want time alone, I know how to get it. I just lull them all to sleep and wander off to do as I please. It annoys them, but I find it very useful and enjoyable.”

“Do I want to know where you get your money?”

“I can’t tell you where all of it came from,” he said, pushing away from the cabin. He walked down to the shore and picked up a rock, skipping it across the lake, letting it land on the other shore.


He laughed. He was. He was also a lot worse than that. “I take pleasure in small things. Occie’s smile. Moira’s frustration with her brother’s latest antic. Hearing Terra sing to her plants when she thinks none of us are listening. Stone used to make models. Wood carvings, stone ones… We could sell those for money. Terra can grow us anything we need if we’re settled in for a while. That kept some of our expenses down. We camp a lot, since the we have the advantage of always being able to shower or have clean water. Not ideal, but not terrible.”

“It’s still the life you told me to avoid.”

He picked up another rock, throwing it in and letting it sink this time. “Those men went into your house. They threatened your life. The fire came out and destroyed them—and that wants to destroy you, just as it always has. That is our life nine days out of ten. Moira, Sherwin, Terra, or Stone would find some trace of a rogue—though lately it’s been that damned agency—and we’d go to the source. Not every rogue abuses what they can do, but a lot of those encounters are unpleasant. Power corrupts.”

“Not you.”

“Honestly, Enya, is there anything left of me anymore? I let in so much of that other place, let that dimension change me. I can do impossible things, but I lost track of who I was in the process. I don’t remember ever just being a boy. I remember being that boy who played with water. I am defined more and more by my element and not by my name or personality—hell, even my name is an indication of what I am.”

“Yeah. Nice of our parents to pick names according to the attunement, huh? I wonder what would have happened if any of them had managed to have a child without an element.”

“I always figured ‘little fire’ suited you and would even if you weren’t attuned to it.”

She looked away. “I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

“We all need a bit of spirit, strength enough to fight for what matters, to stand up for what’s right. That’s all I meant. Don’t start down the road of guilt and pain. I’ll have to shove you in the water to snap you out of it. I don’t have another emotional cleanse in me at the moment.”

“You need to stop running yourself so far into the ground.”

“Actually, I need to go skinny-dipping.”

She stared at him. “You… You’re kidding, right? You don’t joke that often, so it’s hard to tell with you, but you are kidding, aren’t you?”

He shook his head. “I find I do better after long baths or time in a pool or lake, and the more of me I can get in contact with the water, the better. That’s generally when I lull them all into sleep—I’d rather not have any witnesses to that.”

“Are you turning part fish on me?”

He didn’t need any reminders of that day, either. “You would say that.”

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