TW: Almost-suicide and bloodshed
The water engulfed me, and I smiled as the salty currents touched my skin. I was in my home element. Here, I was at peace. I breathed in and out, feeling the sea fill my lungs one last time.
I closed my eyes, and I felt myself dissolving in the water. Dissolving into sea foam. The sensation was fuzzy, like I was sinking into Fauna’s warm blankets made of feathers from the seagulls that wandered out island.
I shook my head, chiding myself for thinking of Fauna.
These were my last moments. I didn’t want them to be filled with pain and worry.
What would Daku and Fauna do? What would our entire tribe of Isulam do? When they find that I’m missing from the island. For once, I wouldn’t be there. They would search everywhere, but I wouldn’t be found.
How could I live with the feeling that I had abandoned them?
I sighed, feeling bubbles floating across my face. They were all stronger than I. This was for the best.
Besides, I had waited for this day for centuries. The day I would finally become one with the sea. A death with no pain.
There was no going back now.
I felt myself slip. Slip from the ledge of life I had been holding onto for a thousand years. And I let go willingly.
I fell. My spirit floated down. Deeper and deeper. . .
A hand latched onto mine. The grip was strong, keeping me tied to the world. The hand felt thin, yet familiar. Like home.
I was tugged out of the water, emerging into daylight. My body was thrown onto the back of a blue whale, as if I weighed nothing. The sun hit my face, and I soaked in the golden rays. A light breeze blew, and I smiled as it ruffled my dark black hair.
My feeling of tranquility only lasted a moment. Fauna was glaring at me, as if I had tried to kill myself or something.
“What were you thinking, Avisa?!” she shouted, throwing her hands in the air. “Becoming ‘one with the sea’ now? Do you have any idea how much we were worried? We were afraid you were already gone! We--”
Fauna stopped, her anger melting away as quickly as it came. She wrapped her arms around me, shaking. I was surprised by her embrace, but I didn’t let go. I just wrapped my own arms around Fauna and held her. Her body was so frail and thin.
“I was so scared,” she whispered. She sniffled, a tear rolling down her cheek. I flicked my finger, and the tear evaporated into mist.
After a few moments, Fauna broke from the hug.
“Just answer one question for me, Avisa.” She said, her eyes changing color to match the whale’s back. “Why?”
I frowned. “What?”
“Why would you even think about leaving us?”
Leaving the tribe. Leaving my home. Well, not just my home. My family. My friends. How could I consider leaving?
I sighed, knowing the answer to that question. I traced my fingers across the whale’s back, making drawings with the water on it. The drawings dissipated with just a touch. I didn’t answer Fauna. I didn’t want to admit my intentions.
But of course, Fauna knew. She knew me better than anyone.
“This is about your parents, isn’t it?”
I refused to give her the satisfaction that she had read my mind correctly. But I didn’t deny it, either.
“Look,” Fauna said, fiddling with the hem of her feather dress. “You’ve experienced so much pain. Losing your parents at such a young age.”
“They dissolved in the sea,” I said quietly. “They couldn’t stand this-- this war. They left me behind. Without even a goodbye.”
“Hey.” Now it was Fauna’s turn to wipe the tears off my face. “What matters is that even though they’re gone from this world, a part of them lives inside your heart and soul. I can see them in you. They would be proud.”
I smiled through watery eyes. “Maybe you’re right. Thanks.”
Fauna smiled. “That’s what friends are for, right?”
The whale came close to the shore. We jumped off its back, landing in the cool sea. Fauna whispered to the whale a few words, it happily swam away.
She glanced at me. “Can you--”
She didn’t even have to ask. A gigantic wave rose out of the water, forming into the shape of a simple rowboat. I exhaled sharply, and the boat froze into ice. I still didn’t understand how the boat never melted when I used this power, but nonetheless, I hopped on the boat. Fauna did the same, and the boat steered itself toward the shore.
“I thought you were dead!” Daku exclaimed, tackling me in a bear hug. I grunted, surprised with the impact. He let go just as quickly as he hugged me, and punched my arm playfully. “Don’t try disappearing on us like that again, Sea Foam.”
I chuckled, rubbing my arm. After talking to all of the people in the tribe and apologizing, my body was quite sore. “No promises, Sandman.”
Daku’s expression turned serious. “I’m not joking. After all of those deaths and attacks by the tribe of Urbs. . . We can’t afford to lose you. You’re the last Sea Spirit in the entire tribe. Sea Spirits are now rarer than ever, and they’re the most powerful types of spirits in the world. We need you, Avisa. We all do.”
I sighed, not liking all of this pressure. “I know.”
But did I?
Daku smiled, not noticing my thoughts. He buried himself into the sand, teleporting away. He was always an Elementum of a few words.
I wiggled my toes in the grainy sand, thinking.
We had lost so many Sea Spirits, Sand Souls, and Animal Associates in the last few centuries. Daku had lost his boyfriend. I had lost my parents. Fauna had lost her sister. Every single Elementum in this tribe had suffered from loss, wounds, and captivity. All because of the ruthless Metal Manipulators, Electricity Eidolons, and Mortal Managers in the tribe of Urbs, some in the places called “cities”.
For years, I had tethered between giving up and revenge. I was standing at the crossroads of destiny. Would I give up this hopeless war and dissolve in the sea, reuniting with my parents like I had always wanted? Or would I fight in this war with my friends, and die trying to win?
Either way, I would die. The question is, how?
I flinched in surprise and turned around to find Fauna sitting behind me. How she had snuck up on me, I had no idea. Her eyes turned bright white as a colony of seagulls flew overhead.
“Don’t think about suicide, Avisa.” She said, her eyes turning the same color as the hermit crab at her feet. “It won’t do you any good.”
I sighed. Over the last few days, this was a constant topic between the two of us.
“I can reunite with my parents, be a part of the sea, and escape the war. Dissolving in the sea doesn’t sound so bad, doesn’t it?”
Fauna growled in frustration, running her fingers through her hair. “Weren’t you listening to a word Daku was saying? Our tribe needs you! You need to understand!”
I frowned. “You were spying on us?”
Fauna’s face turned beet red. “That’s not the point. What my point is that you cannot die on us! It’s not just because of your power. You’re the glue that keeps our tribe together. Do you hear me?”
She grabbed my shoulders and shook me.
“I hear you. I understand.” I said, gently grabbing her wrists and taking them off my shoulders.
Fauna studied my face, looking for any signs of lying or doubt. She smiled, apparently satisfied.
“Good,” she said, standing up. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to train the Animal Associate kids.”
Fauna morphed into a seagull and flew off.
I stood up and started walking around the island. If you close your eyes, you could hear the light chatter of Elementums. Sounds of various animals. The waves crashing on the shore, and the sound of sand blowing and crumbling. You could almost believe that this place was a happy safe haven for our tribe. A peaceful island with no problems.
But if you open your eyes, you’re exposed to the slight harshness of our land. Many of the huts have been burned or destroyed. All of the tribe wore traumatized expressions that no smile could mask. We would flinch at the smallest sound, anticipating an attack. Even our powers weren’t what they used to be.
I stopped by the shore and concentrated. A gigantic fist the size of my hut rose out of the water, copying my movements. I tried adding another hand, but the fist in the sea dissolved into mist.
I growled in frustration. I had been working on this trick for days now. Why couldn’t I get it right?
I was about to try again, but the call of a white bellbird blasted through my eardrums. I was instantly on guard. That call meant one thing: An Animal Associate had shifted into a white bellbird. We were being attacked by the tribes of Urbs.
I raised my arms, and a large ball of water shot out of the sea and into my arms. It wasn’t a second too soon. A jet made of metal was hovering right above the island, and from it, dozens of Elementums dropped out. The older Elementums from our tribe, including myself, ran to intercept them.
The next few minutes were a blur of fighting. I blasted water at every Elementum from the tribe of Urbs I could find, knocking them down. As I looked around, I realized that we were actually holding them off. Our numbers were strengthening, but theirs weren't.
“Things are going smoothly,” I thought.
That’s when everything went wrong.
A scream echoed in my ears. I recognized it. It belonged to. . .
“No!” I yelled. A blast of water sent itself at a Metal Manipulator, knocking her down only a second before her sword would’ve cleaved Fauna in half. She was lying down on the sand, brown blood rushing from her chest, only a few inches from her heart.
“Are you okay?” I rushed over to Fauna, avoiding stray bolts of electricity and metal weapons flying through the air. As I got closer to her, I realized ‘Are you okay?’’ was a stupid question. Clearly, she wasn’t.
Fauna coughed up blood, her breathing going shallow. That wasn’t good. Water formed at my hands, glowing bright blue. I placed my hands on her wound, applying pressure and power.
Please, please, please. . .
Fauna gasped, her expression radiating pure fear.
“Behind. You.” She rasped.
The hairs of my neck stood up. Electricity. I muttered a curse. My water wouldn’t do much good against that. We were as good as dead.
That thought made my veins fill with energy. And rage. No matter what happens, Fauna wasn’t going to die because of some stupid Electricity Eidolon. Controlling the brain wouldn’t work. I had to be able to see my target in order to do that, and I couldn’t risk turning my back on Fauna.
So there was only one solution.
Time seemed to slow down. Footsteps thumped against the sand behind me. This Elementum was nothing more than the enemy. Nothing more than a body filled with water.
I hadn’t even mastered the technique yet, but I had to try. I thrust out my hand and closed my eyes, imagining the blood in the Elementum’s body. I raised my hand slowly.
I heard a yell of pain, and bones cracking. In a sharp gesture, my hand clenched into a fist. I heard the thump of a large body falling to the sand. A small smile formed on my face. I had mastered the technique.
Fauna’s eyes widened. She seemed to be afraid. Afraid of me.
“What-- what was that? You-- you. . .” She choked on her own words.
I stared at my hands. The hands that had killed an Elementum by controlling the blood in his own body.
I was a monster.
I covered my hands in the healing water and placed them on Fauna’s wound again.
“I’m sorry,” I managed. “I shouldn’t have done that. But at the thought of you dying. . . I couldn’t let you get hurt.”
Fauna’s lips twisted into a small smile, but she said nothing. Even in the midst of the chaos, there was a moment of peace.
That was ruined when Daku ran up to us. He formed balls of sand and heated them up. Sharp bits of glass hurtled toward a Metal Elementum that would’ve stabbed us. The Metal Elementum grunted in pain, silvery blood trailing down her forehead and into her eyes.
“Hey!” He said, out of breath. “Shouldn’t you be. . .”
His sentence wavered when he noticed Fauna.
I nodded, my expression grim. “I don’t know what to do. My healing isn’t having much effect on her.”
“Poison,” Daku said with disdain. “The tribes of Urbs came prepared to the T. Even though there’s only Electricity Eidolons and Metal Manipulators here, they’re winning. We were winning, but now, we can barely hold them off.”
“I’m still alive, you know.” Fauna breathed. “Your-- your water is. . . helping. I’ll be-- be fine.”
I raised an eyebrow. Her expression of pain and anguish told me otherwise. Her face was slowly turning a dirty grey.
Fauna sighed. “Why. . . did I even try t-- telling you that? You can tell. . . I’m lying. I-- I’m going to die from this.”
I squeezed her hand, trying to reassure her. “I’m doing everything I can. Hopefully. . .”
I was so focused on Fauna that I wasn’t even paying attention to Daku. A big mistake.
“In a fight against the tribe of Urbs, always pay attention to your surroundings. You never know when an Elementum will sneak up on you and kill you or your ally.”
That, along with countless other tips, warnings, and rules, had been drilled into my head since I could remember. Only now did I realize how useful they were.
The point of a sword emerged from Daku’s chest. The motion was silent, but deadly. I didn’t have time to fight it off.
Daku collapsed on the ground right next to me before I could even process what was happening. Once I realized what had just happened, I cursed so loudly that I was sure that it could be heard across the entire island.
I checked his pulse. It was still there, but it was weakening. It won’t be long until he’s as good as gone.
I looked back and forth between Daku and Fauna helplessly. Both equally injured. Both on the verge of death. But I was only one Sea Spirit. Even when I had focused all of my energy into one of them, it had almost no effect. How was I supposed to successfully heal both of them before. . . before the end?
An idea clicked in my head. If the tribe of Urbs were defeated, I could focus on healing my friends. A bubble of water formed around me, Daku, and Fauna. I gestured with my hands, and everyone else in the tribe of Isulam had a bubble of water surrounding them, like a shield.
I closed my eyes, breathing in and out. A wave rose from the sea. It was so tall that it seemed to block out the now setting sun. The Elementums from the tribe of Urbs tried to run, but there was nothing they could do.
The wave crashed onto the island, covering the entire island in water. All of the Elementums who weren't protected by a bubble of water fell to the ground, knocked out cold by the power of the wave. I would have to do something about that soon.
All of the water on the island then evaporated into mist, including the bubbles of water that surrounded us.
Our tribe cheered, but I barely heard it. All I could focus on were my friends.
Fauna’s eyes were glassy. Her chest wasn’t moving. Webs of poison had crawled its way to her heart.
I couldn’t move. My body seemed to be paralyzed. In defeating the tribe of Urbs, I had shifted my concentration away from Fauna. Her death was my fault.
I couldn’t control the tears streaming down my face. Fauna was gone. My chest heaved, and my vision blurred in grief. I had fallen in a hole of darkness and emotion. And I wasn’t coming out.
I gazed at Daku’s body.
He was barely breathing. The poison was centimeters from his heart. I unfroze, pouring all of my energy, all of my power into healing him. His breathing got stronger, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough.
Daku realized it, too.
“Strike. Water. At my. Heart, Avisa.” He muttered. “It’s too. . . much pain. Let-- me go. Last request.”
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t kill the last friend I had. I couldn’t do it. But looking at Daku’s pleading golden-brown eyes, I had to. For him. To ease his pain.
With tears in my eyes, I sent a blast of water, honed to a sharp edge, right at Daku’s heart. I closed my eyes, not wanting to watch his last breath.
When I opened my eyes again, they landed on his expression, which was at peace. Like he was in a better place.
My sobs echoed through the island, broken and shattered. As I sat there on the shore, with my two dead friends, I looked up at the stars.
They were beautiful, and shining. It wasn’t fair that after all of this darkness and bloodshed, the stars were still intact.
Through my tears, scanning the constellations, I wondered if I would ever be happy again.