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: A bit of a wake up call, a bit of recrimination, a start of something…

Troubled Waters

“Why weren’t we born fish?”

“Because we’re humans, silly,” Oceana said, tempted to shove her brother’s head under the water. He was being ridiculous again, but she almost preferred it over his usual mood. This was good for him, this time in the lake, but she knew nothing would be enough, not after the way he’d been pushing himself. He needed to stop. “Is that what you think is on the other side of the barrier? Fish? Enya said she saw a woman in the mirror before it broke, remember?”

“Enya is different.”

Oceana looked at him, sending a splash of water his way. “You always say that. The others always assume you’re making excuses for her.”

“I don’t make excuses for anyone. I do see her as different. It’s unfair to expect her to conform to our rules and our lifestyle and embrace her attunement. Hers is dangerous, and we’ve all seen what happens when she uses it. She’s not like her parents. As far as I can tell, they were exceptions. Almost every other fire elemental we’ve run into has been insane and destructive. They’re usually caught as pyromaniacs and locked away.” Cress scooped up some water and let it drip onto his head and down his back. He sighed, closing his eyes. “You ever think one of these days we’ll just… become our elements? We just fade away, lose all of what we are, and succumb to it…”

“Cress, this is one of those moments where you’re scaring me.”

“Terra seems to believe that Stone is alive, and I have to wonder if that’s what happened to him. If he somehow became part of the earth. Maybe he hid. Maybe we were wrong. I may have made the biggest mistake of my life back there. I made us leave him behind.”

Oceana stiffened, and then she remembered where she was. She walked out onto the shore and sat down, feeling sick. “No. Cress, tell me you are wrong. She’s wrong. You’re both wrong.”

Cress ducked under the water and then came back out, letting the water drain off of him. “I did my best to filter out her emotional confusion so that she could focus on what the earth was telling her. It says he’s alive. I’m sorry, Occie.”


Cress came over to her, sitting down at her side. He put his hand on her shoulder, but she shoved him off, shaking her head. She wouldn’t let him do this.

“Don’t. Don’t try and calm me. I don’t want to be comforted by you, not now. I can feel how drained you are, and you don’t get to appease whatever guilt is eating at you by helping me. Go back in the water. You know you need it.”


“If Stone is alive, if we can find him, that’s what I care about. I don’t want you killing yourself before that happens. You’re still human. You will make mistakes, everyone does, but you have led us for a long time, always protecting us and taking care of us…” She let out a breath. “I was going to say it before, and I’ll say it now—it’s time for you to step down. You’ve been doing this for too long.”

Cress frowned. “You… I know, if Stone is alive, that I—”

“You are stepping down, and it’s not because of Stone.” She rose, looking back at the cabin. She didn’t know how the others would react to this, but as far as she was concerned, Cress was done. He had to stop. “I love you too much to let you keep doing this. It’s your turn to leave.”

He shook his head. “I’m fine. I don’t need to do that. All of this just hit at once, but you know it’s not always like this.”

“You are. You’ve never known when to stop.”

Cress looked at the ground. “You know I’d be doing similar things no matter where I am. You know I can’t turn it off. Don’t ask me to leave the people I care about to do this for strangers. It’s not the same for me as it is for Enya. She’s better off if she doesn’t have to use her abilities. I don’t have any choice about some of mine.”

Oceana sighed. She reached over to touch her brother’s shoulder, kneeling down next to him. “Something has to change, and you know it.”


She kissed his forehead. “Go back to your swim. I’ll talk to the others.”

“I’m coming with you.”

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