Authors: Jaymin Eve
What the hell did that mean?
Were my last thoughts as a hard shove from behind sent me, and I’m assuming the others, straight into the dark depths.
I panicked as an
inky blackness closed over my head. I’d taken a second to prepare myself for the icy cold, but the water was warm and thick as it sucked me down. Despite the fact we’d been standing on the edge, this lake did not have a gradual tapering down to the deep part. I sank like a rock, and there was no ground in sight. I expected the white suit to fill with water, dragging me down faster, but it stayed light and close to my body.
It felt like hours, but could have only been seconds before my survival instincts kicked in and I started to fight the cloying suction
surrounding me. But I was helpless, unable to fight and unable to rise against the powerful force. Closing my eyes, I reached for my energy. I was still weak but one thing my training on First World had done was teach me to control my power. And to find more even when I thought it was empty.
I drew a shield around myself,
expelling the water and finding free particles of oxygen to fill it. I then sent out small energy balls to light the surroundings. From what I could see I was alone; there was no person or animal around me. I was still sinking at a rapid rate through this never-ending lake.
was not drowning there that day. Dying was not an option for me or my friends. I needed to be alive to fight, for the worlds, for my family and most of all for Brace. Because I knew without any doubt he was fighting for me. As I had this thought a light appeared beneath me.
Okay, anyone want to explain how there
’s a light at the bottom of the lake?
illumination drew closer I tried to determine the source but it was bright, too bright for me to see anything. As I sank into it, its intensity forced my eyes closed for a brief moment.
And then I was free.
I dropped the shield
and re-opened my eyes, having no idea what I was about to see. I was sprawled on the edge of the lake again. Lucy, Talina and Lucas were beside me. And I was completely dry. I shook my head a few times. Had I just imagined everything that had happened? The three other faces looked just as shocked as I felt.
“Can someone tell me what the hell
that was?” Lucy was angry. She jumped to her feet, her dry blond curls flying everywhere. “I couldn’t swim or fight that water. I was actually preparing for death, you know, choosing my funeral songs and everything, and now somehow we’re back where we started.”
“Not exactly where you started, I’m afraid.” The voice came from the shadowy
wall to our right.
I spun around
, an energy ball already formed in my hand.
“Blast them, Abbs
. I’ve had enough for one day.” Lucy crinkled her nose.
“You do not need to defend
yourselves; since the water did not reject you I know your intentions are pure. Water is our most untainted source. Nothing can lie to it.”
He stepped out of the shadows, walking into our light. He was average height, as
was everyone on this planet so far, skin purple-black, and bald-headed. He wore intricate wooden shields along his forearms and large bone ornaments threaded through his ear lobes and nose. He held himself with a strength and majesty that spoke of leadership.
“I am Jordan
, the high priest of the Craicor, the underground people of Crais.”
I lowered my hands, letting the energy fizzle out in small streams of light.
I really loved the control I was gaining over my powers. We were becoming attuned to each other.
“Tell us what happened in the water
,” I demanded.
“And how the hell do you survive living under the ground?” Lucy added in annoyance.
“What lives above ground in the suns’ light here?” Lucas said without inflection.
I turned to Talina, expecting her to add a question, but she remained silent.
Jordan smiled, his teeth the same flat polished ivory as Channa’s.
“Curiosity is a gift, and its rewards are knowledge. Allow your minds to broaden enough and nothing will take you by surprise.”
I sighed, casting my eyes in Lucy’s direction. Great! We had another soothsayer in our midst. Bring on the obscure random babble.
“Please sit and I will explain as much as you need to know, nothing more and nothing less.” He waved in a gesture to a nearby area
realized that wherever we were right now was much smaller than that cavernous hall from before. We followed him, and it was with relief I noticed chairs scattered around. They were made from vines, in a kind of hammock style, with wood as the structural support. I sank into one, grateful as it cushioned my weight and gave my muscles a reprieve.
When we were all seated he began to speak.
“A millennium ago our people lived above the rocks. Our world has always had two suns but they were further away, the world was cooler and water flowed above the land.”
I was instantly captured as his strong, soothing voice weaved
But then something changed. Slowly the world began to heat, millions of us were lost. We could not survive in the harshness that started to ravage Crais. The air changed. What we needed to breathe was being replaced by ash and death.”
He paused, letting his eyes roam our faces for a moment.
“It was my ancestor, from long ago, one of the first priests, who discovered the water. It led him under the ground; it revealed a grotto of the finest forest in which greens could be cultivated. It provided clean air, and a sanctuary for the animals that we both nurture and hunt. The water showed him how to survive. We now are small people. Those who survived and evolved live in the rocks. We have twelve tribes, numbers only in the thousands.”
I wanted to interrupt at that point
. I had a million questions, but something warned me not to speak yet.
“This has been our life for a thousand years. And I believe that eventually the suns will consume us but until then we survive.” He clasped his hands
beneath his chin, the dim lighting reflecting off the hardened scales of his skin. “Tell me where you are from. Why have you come? Are you our saviors?”
I swallowed loudly
, wishing I had the answer he was looking for. After hearing his story I wanted to save them. But where could they go? I +couldn’t transport thousands of Crais inhabitants to Josian’s little planet. I looked at Lucas. He shook his head. And apparently First World wasn’t an option. Maybe we could re-evaluate their situation after I had spoken with Josian. He knew a hell of a lot more than I did.
m sorry,” I began. “I wish I could say that we’re here to take you all somewhere more hospitable for survival. But we just don’t have that sort of power.”
His face fell then
. It was so minute I doubt most people would have noticed, but I did.
However, I will take your situation to my family and see if they have any solutions.”
He nodded as he spoke dismissively.
“We have survived, and we will continue to. Why are you here then?”
His expression was harder
now that he knew we weren’t there to provide help. Did he suspect we were asking for it instead?
“We come from another world, one that is part of
the Crais star system, connected to your planet,” I started.
Lucas interrupted me.
“First World is the name and I am its ruler.”
“Future ruler,” I said drily. “I’ve been sent on a mission of the highest importance, an undertaking to save all of the planets in the First Worlds star system. I need to find a Crais female.”
“Which tribe is she from?”
“We have no idea
. All I know is she is half-Walker – my race of people. I’m guessing she would look or have abilities that differ from the average Crais inhabitant’s.”
His expression never changed
. He would be an excellent poker player.
“You will be looking for Fury, from the Palasands people.”
I hadn’t expected him to have a ready answer.
“You need to travel back through the sacred waters
. She will be on the other side.”
, no.” Lucy jumped to her feet. “That was the most horrible, freak-me-the-hell-out experience of my life, and that includes getting sucked through Abby’s wormhole Walker doorway.” She crossed her arms. “Not going to happen.”
Once again he regarded her with calm eyes
. Jordan was the coolest and most collected man I’d ever met.
“Crais has two sides
. The dark side, where there are no suns, is where the sacred priests make our homes. We survive only on the good will of our people, since nothing lives without the suns’ light. It is both deadly and essential to us. To traverse between the two sides you must use the sacred waters. It runs through the centre of Crais and is our life-giving savior.”
“What would have happened if the water
hadn’t accepted our intentions?” Talina spoke up for the first time, her voice harsher than usual.
Jordan shrugged, his skin rippling again. “You would never have made it to the other side.”
Talina looked at us. “I take it back. Spurns are downright hospitable.”
Lucas let the smallest smile grace his cold features. He liked Talina, but unfortunately not enough to leave me alone.
“Your journey will be shorter and less uncomfortable on return. Channa will help you. Tell her you’re looking for Fury and that she is to assist you in any way.”
said, Jordan got to his feet and led the way to the water. Struggling out of the hammock seat, I followed, not at all excited to travel back. I could probably have traced or used a doorway, but I was pretty sure that would create mistrust and fear and we still needed their assistance.
“Hold my hand, Abbs
. I don’t think I can go through that again. Wait, how was your claustrophobia?” Lucy tugged me to a halt.
I thought about it for a beat.
“Honestly, I was so busy trying to free myself that I never even gave it moment’s attention.” Weird. Usually if I’d been surrounded by that cloying water fear would have consumed me. “Maybe I’m getting over it.”
Yeah, just like that I
’d move past a life-long phobia.
She snorted. “Abbs, I was there when you screamed yourself hoarse because the bed sheets wrapped around you and you couldn’t get your arms out. Don’t tell me it
’s just disappeared.”
. You laughed until you cried, and at no point made any attempt to free me. Remind me why we’re friends again?”
She laughed. “It was the funniest thi
ng I’ve ever seen. And you like the friendship perks.”
I raised my eyebrows.
“You know: quirky wit, fashion advice ... free shirts.”
“Maybe the shirts
,” I acknowledged.
We were at the edge of the water now. Lucy was holding my right hand so I reached
with my left for Talina’s. Lucas didn’t bother, simply stepping off into the darkness. I breathed a little easier when he wasn’t so close.
, girls?” Lucy said, barely a stutter in her voice. She’d put on her brave-girl panties.
I gave each of their hands a hard squeeze, and then we stepped off together.
’t lied. The journey back was not as bad. The girls were torn from my grasp, but it took us less time to reach the original bank again. When we surfaced we found we had drawn a crowd of curious Crais inhabitants. They kept their distance. Only Channa crouched close to us on the rock floor.
. It’s dining time. We will replenish your strength and then you may explain the story so I can assist.”
With a heavy sigh I pulled myself up
. These worlds required delicate handling. Sometimes I wished I could simply walk in, knock the girl out and drag her back to First World. I hated politics and I just wasn’t great with the small talk and creating amicable bonds. But of course if you don’t make these efforts people are far less inclined to help you.
“Calm yourself, Abby. We
’ll find your girl soon enough.” Lucas, the ass, was apparently also a mind reader – okay, yes technically he
a mind reader, but you know what I mean.
m perfectly calm,” I ground out between gritted teeth.
Talina placed one of her cool hands onto my shoulder
, and I have no idea why but peace flowed through me. Since Brace’s possession I’d been on edge, which until that moment I hadn’t even realized.
“You’re not alone, Abby
,” Talina reminded me softly. “Don’t try and take on the burden of the world by yourself. You will not survive it. And I don’t want to see you crushed.”