Author’s Note: Time to accelerate things a little.
“I felt Stone. I know he’s alive.”
“We all know that,” Sherwin said, kneeling next to her. He put a hand on her shoulder, and she shuddered, falling against him. He frowned, not sure what was going on with her, but then nothing had been right with her since Stone died. Not that he was dead, but still…
“I felt him. Just now. Not that long ago. It’s… bad,” she whispered, shivering. He wrapped an arm around her and held her as she did, trying to calm her. He’d seen Cress go off with Moira, and he knew that his sister could use some help for a change, but he needed to get back. They both did, if what Terra was saying was true. They might have taken too long already, and none of them would forgive themselves for that.
“What is it?”
Sherwin looked up at Flint. “You seen Moira or Cress lately? Even Occie?”
“No, both the water twins were doing their best to act like fish and disappeared on me. Your sister nearly killed me because I got too close to her, and I haven’t seen her since. Limped out here to find everyone since I figured you were all down by the lake.”
“Stone…” Terra said, and Sherwin rubbed her back, trying to keep her calm. “No…”
“Are we that close? Can she really sense him?”
“Either we’re close or he’s in major pain or…” Sherwin grimaced, not finishing that statement. Terra started to sob, and he ran his fingers through her hair. If they didn’t get Stone back, they were going to lose her. That was clear. She couldn’t do this on her own.
He heard footsteps and looked up with relief to see Cress there. He knelt down next to Terra, taking hold of her hand, and she threw herself at him. He grunted, letting her hold on as that sense of calm washed over all of them.
“Hmm. Glad I missed when he did that for your sister.”
Sherwin frowned. “What?”
Flint shrugged. “If you think about it, a guy who can do that should get all the girls, right?”
“Boys.” Moira fixed them each with a pointed glare, making sure they knew not to step out of line. “How’d this start?”
Sherwin let out a breath. “She was fine, then she stopped, dropped to the ground, and she’s been like that pretty much ever since. She says she can feel Stone, but it’s bad. He must be in trouble. Not that we didn’t know that before, but… we might be running out of time here.”
Moira cursed. Cress shifted, gathering up a handful of dirt. He steadied himself and passed it to Terra, and the emotional backlash from that almost knocked him over as she focused on what the earth was telling her. The dirt fell free, and she went back to sobbing.
Cress pushed himself back up. “All I got from that was pain, so I’d say bad sums it up rather well.”
Moira bit her lip. “We need to move.”
“I’ll get her calm and then I’m going to need another hour or so in the lake. I’m sorry. I know it’s urgent, and I am not wanting to leave Stone where he is any longer than we have to—”
“We need you at full strength, or as close as we can get under the circumstances.”
“I guess that means no more lessons in control,” Enya said, giving Cress a worried look. Sherwin sighed. He wished he could help her. Hell, if any of them could do anything close to what Cress could, it would be nice.
“Not necessarily,” Flint said. “If we stick to the basics, you shouldn’t be able to do anything I can’t counter.”
“And you don’t need me, Enya. If you’re going to have control, it will be because you did it, not me, not even in a support role,” Cress said. He adjusted Terra’s position against him. “I think she’s about asleep now. Will you take her inside, Sherwin? Or Flint? Either of you would be fine…”
Sherwin moved in, needing to be useful. Terra felt tiny when he lifted her up, and he couldn’t remember when the last time she’d eaten was. They had to make sure she took better care of herself.
Enya bent down next to Cress. “You’re exhausted again.”
He gave Enya a small smile. “In pain, actually. I opened myself up to what the earth was telling her, and it hurt. Stone’s in trouble. Help me up. I have to get to Occie.”