Page 32

Rio’s face hardened and his jaw twitched. “And you have not killed him why?”

I raised both eyebrows. “Did you not just hear me? He can control your mind. He has power over all five elements, Ender. Do not go in bold. Kill him in his sleep.”

He nodded slowly. “I do not like it. That is the coward’s way.”

“Then be prepared to live under a madman’s rule.” Already I could see how Raven would play it. He would claim he was displaced from his family, a family that had not banished him but instead cast him aside. That he needed only a place to live a little while, that he would help them if they would allow him a measure of peace.

Samara was far from soft, but Raven was handsome and charming. If he used Spirit on her, there was no way she would deny him. I wanted to pull my hair out in frustration at the thought of Raven getting away with destroying another of the elemental families. Though the Sylphs were not my favorite cousins, they were cousins, and I would not wish Raven on them.

Rio and his companion stepped back, and the bubble around us burst and let in the raging storm once more. We watched as they rose and swept away to the east, back to the Eyrie. Silently, I wished them all the luck in the world. They would need it if they were going to have a chance at Raven. For a moment, I thought I should call them back, tell them that I would help them take him out.

No, Cassava first. Take out the root and kill the plant. The words were not my own as they echoed in my skull, but I agreed with them, as a shiver ran down my spine.

Norm put his hands over his ears and grimaced. “This is shitty, friend. I want to go back to the mountains.” At least, that’s what I thought he said over the roaring torrent of wind that cascaded over us.

I nodded, pointed at him to move, and then I turned away from the cliff. That last was a mistake.

Because within the water I’d left an Undine alive, banished and mad with the loss of her home.

An Undine who was pissed as hell with me for stopping her storm.


ater raced up the cliff behind us and washed over me in a single gulping wave. Norm yelled once and I spun, trying to get my hands or feet on the earth, anything to anchor myself. But the water held me away from it, keeping me only inches from salvation—tempting me with a possibility that wasn’t there.

This was the fear of many Terralings: to be dragged to their deaths in the watery bowels of the ocean. We were considered weak because the other elements could so easily overpower us. Only, what I’d learned and seen from Lark was that our family was far from weak.

That I was far stronger than I’d realized.

In a blink, we were pulled into open space and then drawn down into the frothing waves at the base of the cliff. I caught a glimpse of a grinning mouth and a pair of wild, madness-filled eyes, but then the vision was gone and I was tumbled about over and over, crashed against the rocks and pummeled from one end of my body to the other.

As I was smashed into a particularly large rock, I grabbed the edge and held on tightly. Using the power of the earth to strengthen me, I climbed up and got my head out of the water. Barely able to see, but at least I was out of the water and could breathe. I stared at the hurricane-induced waves, looking for the white fur that would be Norm. He was nowhere.

“I’m on the shore!” he crowed, and I spun to see him completely bedraggled, slicked to the skin and clinging to the edge of the rock cliffs of Moher. Not what I’d call the shore, but he was at least not in the full force of the water.

“He is not the one you should worry about,” came the gurgling voice of the Undine. I pulled my right-hand sword and swept it back in a single smooth motion, without even looking. There was a cry that cut off in mid-vocalization. I spun and watched as the Undine’s head fell from her shoulders and into the water, pale blue blood flowing from the stump where the head had been only a split second before.

“Wow, that was good, friend!”

The water eased around me, as though with its master gone it could finally begin to relax its stance on battering the cliffs up and down the coastline. The hurricane still raged, though, and even as I thought it, the elements around us picked up again. Though the Undine and the Sylph were dealt with, they had started something that would have to peter out on its own, to whatever ending that might be. At least there was no force driving it now, no madness powering it.

I slipped into the water and swam the rest of the way to shore, the waves lashing me. I stumbled to my feet. There was not much space between the cliffs and the water where we were, especially not with the way the ocean frothed and raged around us.

Soaked through, the cold began to take hold of me, forcing me to acknowledge its presence. My teeth chattered violently and I could barely walk straight. I pulled the cloak around me tightly and the cold, wet air was blocked.

Norm followed me closely as I made my way along the ground’s edge, searching for the right kind of surface. Finally, I put my hand to the cliff’s rough feel, noticing the different colors in it, the multitude of textures that created it. Coarse and smooth, all of it was earth, and I knew every piece as if they were my own.

I flexed my fingers and the rocky wall pulled away, shifting and crumbling as a small hole, just big enough for the two of us, opened.

“You first, Norm.”

He got in without question, though I knew I was about to ask a lot of him, being a creature of the wild winds of the north as he was. I slid in beside him and then called the rock around us, closing off our own cave.

“Friend, I don’t like this prank,” he mumbled into the complete darkness.

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